The Maunakea Thirty Meter Telescope impasse has been dragging on for almost a month already. The TMT project has polarized the community against each other, and work at the existing telescopes has grinded to a halt. Yes, the telescope operators and the protesters reached a temporary agreement that will allow vehicular access to the summit.
However, that access will be ultimately controlled by the protesters blocking Maunakea Access Road until this impasse is resolved.
The lack of government action to resolve this dispute makes me feel I’m living in a banana republic. We are a country of laws, which the state and Hawaii County are failing to uphold. The Thirty Meter Telescope, along with all the lawful summit activities, are being held hostage.
This point gets lost among all the rhetoric being spread through social media.
There are two paths forward: The protesters are forcibly removed by law enforcement, or a negotiated settlement takes place.
If the protesters are forcibly removed, it will leave an indelible stain on what makes Hawaii, Hawaii. It will also probably cause them to regroup in larger numbers in the summit area.
But, on the other hand, if the TMT is forced to leave, it will leave a lot of negative economic and social consequences also.
As I stated above, the TMT has the legal right to start construction now. This is why negotiations need to start now between all the parties involved in this impasse. Mayor Harry Kim started these discussions, but he is dragging his feet while Rome burns.
He also stated that he doesn’t want any part of these negotiations, so I believe his efforts going forward are half-hearted at best. These negotiations need someone from the Hawaiian community to bring these diverse groups together to the table.
As it stands now, the state and county are being depicted as spineless on the world stage because of their inaction in this matter.
There is a real opportunity here to change that narrative, without resorting to violence, by bringing all the parties together now for settlement talks.
Hawaii County recently extended the deadline for residents to participate in the three impact status surveys for the Kilauea eruption until Aug. 30.
The surveys collect your mana‘o and will help the county guide ongoing and future recovery efforts. Residents are highly encouraged to participate.
This is not the only way the county is gaining feedback on unmet needs. The recovery team will continue to meet with residents and host events. But the surveys are an effective way to gather as many voices as possible. We want to hear from you.
The surveys address household, community and business impacts and can be accessed via the county’s recovery website — https://recovery.hawaiicounty.gov.
At the website, residents can find other recovery information and sign up for email notifications to stay in the know.
To be clear, recovery is a long-term process that involves community dialogue and tough decisions about the future of Puna. We look forward to working with residents to make a better future for the district and the island as a whole.
Stay informed, stay engaged.
Hawaii County Research and Development director