Tag Archives: Thirty Meter Telescope

Pro TMT: Didn’t Just Fall Off the Tomato Truck

Through their former attorney Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, some of those who feel the Thirty Meter Telescope should not be built atop Mauna Kea suggest I helped form the pro TMT group PUEO, short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, on the spot – that we just popped up out of nowhere.

You can read that in this Civil Beat article about the TMT Contested Case Hearing, which starts Tuesday.

From Civil Beat:

Apart from the TMT itself, the only intervenor that has taken a stance in favor of the TMT’s construction is a group calling itself PUEO, short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc. As described in its petition for standing, PUEO’s purposes “include furthering ‘educational opportunities for the children of Hawaii in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.’ Its board members and beneficiaries include native Hawaiians that reside in the Keaukaha-Panaewa Hawaiian Homesteads located in Hilo, Hawaii. PUEO’s board members include native Hawaiians who seek knowledge and understanding and exercise customary and traditional native Hawaiian rights on Mauna Kea.”

The original petitioners have objected strenuously to PUEO’s admission as an intervenor. In a memorandum opposing Amano’s decision to admit PUEO, the original petitioners’ attorney, Wurdeman, claims that PUEO was formed for the sole purpose of intervening in the case.

“[G]iven the timing of its formation, the P.U.E.O., Inc., was obviously formed solely to try and participate in the contested case hearing and the Petitioners submit that such an attempt is clearly improper,” Wurdeman wrote.

The Reality

The truth, of course, is that I have been a very vocal supporter of the Thirty Meter Telescope for many years.

For years I’ve written at my blog and elsewhere about the Adopt-A-Class program. We formed that program to help kids in schools that cannot afford field trips. The program, which expanded after awhile to cover every class on the Big Island, paid for buses and admission to send students to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center once a year, where they learned about the world-class science on Mauna Kea as well as our traditional Hawaiian culture. My first of many posts about Adopt-A-Class was nine years ago, in 2007:

My friend Duane Kanuha and I have this big idea, and we’re asking for your help: We want to send Keaukaha students on excursions that broaden their horizons and help them develop excitement for learning and positive attitudes about their place in the world. It’s my opinion that if Hawaiian kids are comfortable with their place in the world, they will not hesitate to participate in that world.

I’m specifically thinking about excursions to Hilo’s new astronomy center ‘Imiloa. ‘Imiloa is particularly powerful because it situates the Hawaiian culture and scientific knowledge in parity with the highest level of astronomy. It is a “discovery center” that celebrates both science (the world-class astronomy atop nearby Mauna Kea) and Hawaiian culture (including the marvels of traditional Hawaiian voyaging, navigation and much more).

It’s a place where Hawaiian kids see that there are careers and avocations directly related to their culture, and that these cultural traditions are important enough that they are celebrated in a world-class museum. And that the people pursuing these careers and passions are people who look just like them and their families.

I’ve written about Kumu Lehua Veincent asking me “What about the rest?” (of the students) since at least 2009, and many times since:

What I keep coming back to again and again is what Kumu Lehua Veincent told me the first time I asked him what the TMT should offer the Big Island as an introductory, good faith gift. I asked him if it would be appropriate to ask for “full ride” scholarships for at least five native Hawaiians to attend the best colleges in the nation.

He asked me, in a very sincere way, “And what about the rest?”

I felt so stupid that I could feel my ears getting hot.

That is the essential question: “What about the rest?” This is about the keiki, the future generations—all of them.

Three years later, University of Hawai‘i President McClain has announced that if the TMT comes to Hawai‘i, in addition to its other negotiations there will be an annual, $1 million benefit package for education emphasizing K-12. It will be effective for the life of the project—50 years—and will begin as soon as all the permits are in place.

It will be set up to address Kumu Lehua’s question: “What about the rest?”

The Process

The first time I wrote about Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, and what I learned from him about how important the process is as we talk about TMT, was also in 2009:

We talked story in the community a lot, and over and over we heard from Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, President of the Keaukaha Community Association, that the most important thing was “the process.”

And as we thought about this, we realized that if the process is most important, then all contributors to the process, no matter what side of the issue they are on, made for a better product. And so we always need to aloha the loud voices, too, who early on told us that things were not quite right. It was about us. All of us. Not me against you.

So when we had our first sign waving in support of the TMT, nearly 150 people showed up. We told everyone that we were meeting to celebrate the process and told them to bring their kids, and they did. It was very significant.

I also wrote about it six years ago in this 2010 post:

As we went around visiting people, Patrick Kahawaiola‘a,
 president of the Keaukaha Community Association, told me that it’s about “the 
process.” And since the process would result in the best possible result, we
 need to aloha everyone who participates in the process, no matter which side of 
the issue they are on. Therefore, we must mahalo Kealoha, Nelson, Debbie, Paul,
 Ku, Hanalei, the Kanaka Council, Jim, Cory, Moani and many others. We would not 
be here today had it not been for their passionate advocacy.

The whole state has noticed that we on the Big Island are
 doing this differently. Our approach is based on mutual respect, collaboration 
and trust. The TMT folks, led by Henry Yang, did it the right way. It
 would not have worked any other way.

And I’ve been writing about the TMT’s money for education, which became the THINK Fund, many times since 2009:

If we teach our keiki the values they need to make a society that is successful and thriving “when the boat no come,” we will have done our jobs. This $1 million that will be dedicated to keiki education annually is key to the survival of future generations. It is no longer about us – it is about the future generations.

We must learn and perpetuate what it was that allowed Hawaiians to survive for hundreds of years out in the middle of the ocean without boats coming in every day with goods from someplace else.

In the future, our values will need to revolve around aloha. We will need to assume responsibility—kuleana. We need to make more friends and stay closer to our families.

We live in the modern world, so how do we use what we have and meld it with the values that worked? We need to have a balance of science and culture in order for all of us to do what we do to help our greater society.

My Pop told me: “There are a thousand reasons why ‘No can.’ I only looking for one reason why ‘Can.’”

What it really all boils down to, as I wrote above, is the process. In the last six years or more, I’ve spoken and written about how it’s all about the process many, many times. If the process is pono, and we aloha everyone on all sides of the issue, then we’re good.

Let’s proceed with the process.

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PUEO to Rotary: TMT Offers Educational Opportunities We Shouldn’t Miss

Keahi Warfield, president of the native Hawaiian group Perpetuating Unique Education Opportunities (PUEO), spoke at the Rotary Club of Honolulu Tuesday. He said the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) offers educational opportunities we shouldn’t pass up.

PUEO
Keahi Warfield, PUEO President

Rotary sign

PUEO
Mitch D’Olier, past president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu

From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

Pro-telescope group touts educational benefits

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

August 17, 2016

Building a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea will come with educational opportunities that Hawaii shouldn’t close the door to, the president of a Native Hawaiian group that supports the project said.

Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities President Keahi Warfield told a Waikiki hotel banquet room filled with members of the Rotary Club of Honolulu on Tuesday that he believes there’s a “silent majority” of the public who support the Thirty Meter Telescope….

Read the rest

And I strongly agree – both that the TMT has educational opportunities for our Big Island keiki that we cannot pass up, and about the “silent majority” in favor of the project.

IMG_2212
Richard Ha, Keahi Warfield

I introduced Keahi before he spoke and here’s what I said:

Who are we? I’m from the Kamahele family in lower Puna. My great-great grandfather had 12 boys and one daughter. All the Kamaheles are related.

I’ve been farming for 30 years. Our farm is Hamakua Springs, which is on 600 fee-simple acres. I describe us as being a triple bottom-line farmer. To be sustainable we need to be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. The “social” aspect includes culture and education. It includes all of us, not just a few of us. This is the part I am especially focused on.

The County of Hawaii has the lowest median family income, and the highest suicide and homelessness rates. The game changer is education. It’s not the largest, strongest or the smartest that survives – it’s the ones who can adapt to change.

The pluses have to exceed the minuses or you go extinct. That applies to organisms and organizations as well as civilizations.

Education is the game changer that allows us to adapt.

Regarding the TMT: Henry Yang is the president of the TMT. And he’s the type of person you can do business with on a handshake. He and Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of Cal Tech and now president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, visited the Big Island 15 times. They became well known in the community.

One visit to Keaukaha was memorable. They dropped in unexpectedly at a Kupuna Day function. They had become so familiar that the people greeted them with, “Come, come, come, go eat.”

Keiki education is the common denominator that everyone on all sides of the issue can agree upon. That’s how the THINK fund was born. The THINK Fund is a one million annual contribution to Big Island student education from the Thirty Meter Telescope. They left it to the community to choose the direction.

I’ve been in the middle of this issue for nearly ten years, and I am very pleased that PUEO has taken a seat at the table.

I have noticed in the last few months that public opinion is shifting. In the Ward Research poll just released, the number opposed to the TMT has gone down from 39 percent to 31 percent. I have a Facebook page that talks about ag and energy and I’ve noticed many more Hawaiian surname “likes,” compared to just three months ago. I also notice more young people participating. This is the most encouraging part to me.

My role now is support. I can see the young people starting to come out and I could not be more pleased.

The PUEO group is made up of very credible native Hawaiian people. In all my years of knowing them, they only talk about the community, the keiki, and future generations. I am very proud to be allowed to work with these people. 

Keahi is the perfect leader for PUEO. I’ll do everything I can to support his efforts. Aloha

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TMT Providing Loads of Classroom & Scholarship Money

I wrote about the THINK Fund back when it was getting started. It’s a grant and scholarship program provided by the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory to prepare Hawai‘i Island students to master science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to become the workforce for higher-paying science and technology jobs in Hawai‘i’s 21st-century economy.

TMT contributes $1 million per year to the scholarship THINK Fund, which is now in its second year. It specifically benefits students only on Hawai‘i Island.

To date, more than 8,000 students and 150 teachers on Hawai‘i Island have been directly involved in a project supported by the THINK Fund  at HCF – and it’s only been 15 months.

THINK stands for “The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge” Fund, and funds are distributed by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) and the Pauahi Foundation.

Of TMT’s $1 million annual contribution, $750,000 goes into the THINK Fund at HCF. Part of those funds go towards building a THINK fund endowment at HCF, so STEM learning on this island is supported long into the future.

The THINK Fund at HCF provides two types of grants:

1. Classroom Project Grants,for teachers in the public and charter schools, support STEM learning projects for grades 3-12. Teachers can post about a project for consideration on DonorsChoose.org anytime, and if they meet the criteria it is usually funded within a week or two.

More than $85,000 has gone to STEM classroom project grants since November 2014. Just since the beginning of this 2015-16 school year, 30 teachers have received funding for student learning materials such as National Geographic Space Building and Ocean Building kits, microscopes, laptops, and compasses.

Some other specific STEM classroom projects that have been funded by THINK:

  • Applied Science supplies and kits to the Volcano School of Arts and Science public charter school, grades 3-5
  • What is STEAM & Why My Students Need Your Help Please, to the Laupāhoehoe Community Public Charter School, grades 3-5
  • Future Health Professional—Providing Hope for the Rural Community, to Ka‘ū High & Pahala Elementary School, grades 9-12
  • Narrow the Achievement Gap in Mathematics, to Konawaena Middle School, grades 6-8

2. STEM Learning Grants, for non-profit organizations and schools, are awarded through an annual application process. The substantial amount of money awarded each year keeps going up.

In 2014, the THINK Fund at HCF gave $200,000 to launch the STEM Learning Grants. So many compelling community requests were received for grants, though, that HCF recruited other organizations to contribute to the funding too, and it received another $300,000.

As a result, in March 2015, $500,000 in STEM Learning Grants were awarded to 23 Hawai‘i Island organizations.

This year, more organizations are contributing to the STEM Learning Grants, the most recent being the Maunakea Observatories. HCF says this year’s goal is to distribute at least $700,000 in grants.

The types of programs funded through the STEM Learning Grants include after-school and intersession programs for students, project-based teams, robotics and student internships, equipment upgrades, STEM curriculum development in local schools, teacher development, mentor training, and STEM professional learning networks.

Twenty-nine applications for this year’s STEM Learning Grants are being reviewed now, and funding will be awarded in late March.

The THINK Fund at HCF also provides college scholarships. In 2015, 24 Hawai‘i Island students received a total of $95,500 in awards ranging from $3-7,500. The students are pursuing 17 different STEM degrees, from aerospace engineering to zoology.

This year’s college scholarships will be announced in May. One hundred thousand dollars worth of awards will be provided to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate level degrees, certificates, or other professional development coursework to become a STEM educator on Hawai‘i Island; or degrees or certificates in STEM-related fields.

Another bonus is that when a student applies to the THINK Fund at HCF scholarships, he or she is also considered for other HCF scholarships (HCF offers more than 200 in total).

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Is Our Culture Falling Backward?

This editorial ran in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald today. In case you didn’t see it, I’ll run what we sent them here.

***

The purpose of the Big Island Community Coalition is to work towards reduced electrical energy costs on the Island of Hawaii – where we pay up to four times the national average for our power.  We are particularly sensitive to electric power rates as very high rates serve essentially as a regressive tax on our population while greatly reducing the probability of generating jobs in any sector that is dependent on electricity.

There are occasions when events are so alarming that groups such as ours feel compelled to move beyond our primary task.  This is such a time.

We have observed with increasing alarm as our community has taken steps that inexorably blunt the forward movement of our economy and even move us backwards.  These include:

  1. Anti-Geothermal activists encouraged County government to ban nighttime drilling, effectively stopping expansion of a major source of renewable and inexpensive electric power beyond already-existing permits.This action was taken despite the existing plant meeting all applicable noise standards.  It appears that government officials took this action without first going to the site to verify that the noise was disruptive.  Once they did go to the site, some years later, government found that the noise was less than other environmental sounds (i.e., coqui frogs) and essentially no more than typical background noise.
  2. Anti-GMO activists lobbied to stop any new GMO products from being grown on the island – despite the fact that the vast majority of scientific, peer-reviewed studies found such products to be as safe, and in some cases more nutritious, as their non-GMO counterparts.  Legislation even prohibited GMO flowers – not consumed by anyone – from being grown on the island.  Thus family farmers lost the most effective new tools needed to reduce pesticide and herbicide usage while increasing productivity needed to keep their farms competitive.
  3. Now we have anti-Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) activists taking steps to stop construction of the most advanced telescope in the world.  If successful in stopping TMT, despite its sponsors following every legal requirement over a seven-year period, we will lose our world leading advantage in understanding the universe.

All of these actions share similar characteristics:

  • The arguments used to justify such actions are consistently anti-scientific.
  • “Anti” groups often obscure the lack of scientific evidence to support their position by using emotional pleas intended to incite fear.
  • The only “win” for many of these groups is to completely stop, thereby making them completely unwilling to consider any facts that refute their position or to make any reasonable compromise.
  • Long-term consequences are significant both culturally and economically.

Cultures that survive and thrive embrace new technologies carefully, thoughtfully and steadily.  Cultures and economies that thrive are innovative beccause they generate ideas and solutions, solve problems and take calculated but careful risks.

Cultures that fall backwards are those that fear advancement, fear change and cling to a mythicized view of yesteryear.  The net result is loss of their brightest and most hard working youth.  Those youth that remain find fewer and fewer jobs – those jobs having greatly diminished economic value and lower wages.  The downward spiral becomes inexorable.

As we look to tomorrow, we need to ask ourselves whether we wish to give our children the exciting and invigorating job market typified by Silicon Valley or a job market that is much closer to the poorer regions of third world countries.  It is up to us to point one way or another.  Driving TMT out will be one more major step to cultural and economic poverty.

Signed,

Big Island Community Coalition

Richard Ha, President,

David DeLuz Jr., Rockne Freitas, Michelle Galimba, Wallace Ishibashi, Noe Kalipi, H.R “Monty” Richards, William Walter.

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TMT: Common Ground Meeting, with Video

by Leslie Lang

Last week, I attended the second of four TMT & Maunakea: Common Ground meetings. The Hilo-Hamakua Community Development Corporation is putting on these meetings to bring together the community to hear about the culture, history, science, safety, economics and other issues regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The announced speakers were Paul Neves, speaking on culture, Peter Adler on sacred spaces, and Michael Bolte on the TMT approval process. Paul Neves called and cancelled, though, citing a possible conflict of interest re: an ongoing lawsuit he is involved in. Hawane Rios, who is active in the Ku Kia‘i Mauna protest movement, spoke in his place.

Perhaps a hundred people attended the meeting, which was held at the Kula‘imano Community Center in Pepe‘ekeo. It was a respectful crowd comprised of people on both sides of the issue, and I found it a very worthwhile and interesting evening.

PETER ADLER ON SACRED SPACES

Click here for the video of Peter Adler speaking or you can read a transcript of his talk.

Peter Adler, who authored the 2007 Keystone Center report Assessment of the risks for sitting the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, spoke about what is sacred, and I could almost see the hackles start rising on the backs of some of the Hawaiians as he began. Who was he to pontificate on what is sacred?, I imagined they might be thinking.

But his was no off-the-cuff dinner chatter. He has thought deeply about this subject for years, he said, and it was apparent. Watch the video and you’ll hear him talking about how hard it is to understand the sacred places of other people. He also spoke about the whole issue we are discussing also has to do with leadership and about building bridges between cultures. He showed a short film clip from the movie Invictus, in which Mandela was trying to build a new country and build a bridge between cultures and make a place for everyone. He added something about not necessarily comparing Ige to Mandela. At that there was murmuring.

He talked about India where there are communal riots, he explained, between bored, angry, alienated young zealots, some of them Hindus and some Muslims, often over cows, which are considered sacred there. He told a very thought-provoking story about an  accidental injury to a bull in India and how he saw the aftermath unfold. That story right there is worth watching the video for. It makes you think about how sacredness means different things to different people.

He spoke of what makes mountains like Mauna Kea and Everest and others sacred, and then about how sacredness does not lie within a thing, but how something being sacred always comes down to behavior, protocol, ritual. Watch the video to hear more about what he means by that.

I’m finding it hard to summarize Peter Adler’s talk adequately. He’s a really interesting thinker and I found it unexpectedly fascinating. I highly recommend watching his talk above. I found him to be a great speaker.

MICHAEL BOLTE ON HISTORY OF THE TMT APPROVAL PROCESS

Click here for the video of Michael Bolte speaking.

Michael Bolte, president of the TMT Board of Directors and a professor of astronomy at UC Santa Cruz, has been involved with the TMT from the beginning.

He talked about two topics. First he talked about the history and wonder of telescopes, and it was a neat overview. Until the year 1609, people did amazing things just with the naked eye. They developed calendars, and clocks, and figured out when to plant their crops. He talked about the tiny telescope Galileo created in 1609, which just had a three-inch lens, and what he was able to discover with that and how it changed humankind’s whole view of the universe. Bolte talked about how, as telescopes got larger, we learned not only that our sun was not the center of the universe, but, eventually, that our galaxy was not even the center of the universe. And they keep getting larger. Now, with the much larger Thirty Meter Telescope, he explained, we will be able to actually look back in time.

His second topic was to give an overview of the whole TMT process, since Mauna Kea was first considered as a site in 2004. He talked about how the TMT board spoke to both supporters and opponents here in Hawai‘i, and found lots of people who were “vaguely negative” about the idea of the project because of how previous telescopes had been handled. Every single person involved with the TMT wanted to do right by Mauna Kea, he emphasized, with not a single exception. He outlined all the things they needed to learn, to ask, to hear, to make right.

He finished his talk with a couple of quick stories of very interesting interactions with people that happened along the way. I’ll let you listen to those at the end of his video, above. They are worth a listen. Great stories and I was glad I heard them.

HAWANE RIOS ON CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE

Click here for the video of Hawane Rios speaking.

Hawane Rios is involved in the Ku Kia‘i Mauna movement. At the eleventh hour, after learning that Paul Neves had cancelled, she volunteered to give a cultural perspective about Mauna Kea. She is well-spoken, did a great job, and you would never have known she didn’t have time to prepare ahead of time.

She opened with the chant Malana Mai Ka‘u. Then she spoke about Hawaiians having a relationship and exchange with Mauna Kea, which teaches them how to navigate the ocean, when to plant food, when to step into the ocean, when not to, and more.

She pointed out that before the construction of the observatories, the reason not many archaeological finds or artifacts were found at the top of Mauna Kea is because that place was sacred and they were not allowed to go to the top.

She said the world is calling out now to protect Mauna Kea but our government is not listening, and talked about what is sustainable for our island communities. She said the earth and land are suffering, and wondered aloud if there will be water and food that has not been demeaned, fresh food, for seven generations. She spoke about being native, about community, about who is making the decisions, and how come they gave those people that power if they are abusing it.

She said she finds this TMT process very disturbing but is thankful for it too because it is awakening her people. We are small but we are mighty, she said. “We have people standing with us and saying, ‘We are Mauna Kea.’” She said that although Governor Ige made his announcement, he made it out of fear, and she has compassion for him because he has fear. There is much more at the video of her talk (above).

COMING UP

The final TMT & Maunakea: Common Ground meeting will be next Tuesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and refreshments will be provided.

A correction to the published information below: Art Kimura and Richard will not be speaking. Cultural Expert Hank Fergerstrom will be speaking instead.

common ground.png

Another way to make sure you’re up to speed on the facts is to read The Facts About TMT on Maunakea, which the TMT put out. It is very straightforward, clear, and easy to read. Definitely worth checking out.

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Why I Have a Problem With the Anti-TMT Movement

I have finally put my finger on exactly what bothers me about the anti-TMT movement.

My entire career has been about planning for the future and adapting to our changing energy needs. It’s been about finding a way to force change in order to get us from here to there, and doing it in such a way that we take care of all of us, not just a few of us. That’s the fundamental principle we go by.

We know that it’s not the biggest or smartest or strongest who are going to survive, it’s the ones who adapt to change.

But they, the ones who are protesting the TMT, have made it clear that they absolutely refuse to compromise. They refuse to adapt to change.

This is the fundamental problem.

They have no plan for adapting to our changing energy situation, and I don’t know what their end goal is. My disagreeing with them has nothing to do with race or racism, but everything to do with their refusing to adapt. I’m waiting for them to make a plan, but what bothers me the most is their unwillingness to adapt to change.

We need solutions that will take care of all of us, not just a few of us.

***

There’s quite a discussion going on over at my Facebook page. A spokesman for Ku Kia‘i, the movement blocking the TMT people from going up to the summit of Mauna Kea, has filed a complaint of war crimes – of unlawful confinement, deprivation of a fair trial, and destruction of public property – in Canada. These war crimes refer to 31 protestors being arrested last month on Mauna Kea, despite what the group considers the illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States, as well as the building and erecting of thirteen observatories currently on the mountain. More about this on the Hawaiian Kingdom blog.

Clearly this controversy is about the Hawaiian Kingdom, which is not due to any fault of the TMT. I am not against the Kingdom of Hawaii, but it appears to me that that process will take a long time to come to any ruling. Nothing has been decided yet. I will abide by a ruling, whatever it may be.

In the meantime, the TMT has followed all the appropriate U.S. laws, all of which allow them to start construction. We are a nation of laws, and we are following the laws of the USA. If we didn’t, we would have anarchy. Our leaders need to lead. The safety of the people is of number one importance.

It’s fine to save the world, but shouldn’t we take care of our people first? Why should our rubbah slippah folks forego 300 construction jobs, 120 full time jobs at first light, $1 million youth education, workforce development programs and $1 million in rent of which $800,000 would go to malama Maunakea and $200,000 would go to OHA? And, $26 million additional to the Big Islands economy – all because we want to make a point?

And all this is free money. No one else will ever give us this much free money for our rubbah slippah folk.

Interesting comments follow my Facebook posts about it:

One person noted that this is why the anti-TMT advocates have “lost all credibility – because they let the pro-sovereignty people hijack the movement and turn it into a completely irrelevant issue.” (He also posted a link to the Department of State’s procedures about how one legally renounces U.S. citizenship.)

Other commenters said:

• Any Hawaiian government, king or otherwise, would need revenue, and would probably jump at any opportunity involving a billion-plus dollar project. I really don’t think many TMT opponents have thought things through to the logical end.

• TMT and self determination are two separate issues. I believe the reason the self determination movement did not catch fire with most part Hawaiians is because tens of thousands of them are employed, own homes, have families, are retired, collect social security, pensions and are covered by Medicare. In other words they already have self determination.

• Most have not considered the loss of things like Section 8 housing, SSI, AFDC, Food Stamps, students loans and tax credits, the loss of tourism that would be inevitable if Hawaii were not under the aegis of the U.S. government, the huge loss of DoD dollars once the separatists kick the military out, the instasbility that would lead many of us to draw our assets out and park them in a safe place, government grants, etc., etc., The federal government expends $17 billion more in Hawaii every year than it collects in taxes. Is that what you call war crimes? The withdrawal of that money and the loss of other revenues resultant from separation would create a death spiral of deflation that would destroy the economy.

• Those that haven’t studied history (and I get the feeling there are far too many of them here) don’t realize that one of the reasons why Hawaiians lost their lands is because it was so hard to raise capital here, and easy to get it elsewhere. When someone needed cash, they ended up selling their property cheap to someone (usually a foreigner or someone who had access to foreign funds) at tremendous discounts, because there was so little capital in Hawaiian markets. If sovereignty happens, it is very likely to repeat that pattern again. Princess Ruth sold Paauhau ahupuaa to Samuel Parker for $1300 because she needed the money and no one else had any funds to buy it.

And it goes on from there.

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What the TMT Controversy is Really About

All the controversy about the Thirty Meter Telescope is not about the TMT. What it’s become is a convenient vehicle for focusing on the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, and on the University of Hawai‘i not doing a good job in the past of caring for the mountain.

When celebrities got involved and the TMT subject went viral, it galvanized the energy of the younger folk. These folks were only in middle school when the TMT project started, so there is a very steep learning curve.

Over the last seven years, the TMT has gone through all the legal requirements and the judge ruled that it is the telescope project can begin construction.

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that in order for a project to be sustainable, it needs to be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. The TMT fulfills all these requirements.

I think people have the erroneous view that the TMT is a big, investor-owned, money making corporation. It is not. It’s a non-profit organization and Henry Yang, its president, doesn’t even draw a salary. He does it because he knows it will bring benefits to our community.

I recognized this from early in the project and it’s the reason I’m such a supporter of the TMT. I’m also a big supporter of the TMT’s THINK education fund, which will allow our youth to dream big.

The problem with dreaming small is that your dreams might come true.

We want our keiki to feel proud of themselves. We want them to dream big!

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It’s Time to Speak Up in Support of TMT

It is time. We need to speak up in support of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) now.

There are two easy ways to do this:

1) Please take this very quick, five-question OHA survey. It will literally only take you a minute or two.

2) In addition to the survey, we all need to speak up and tell OHA that we support the TMT. We cannot be afraid or intimidated to testify. There’s been too much of that, and there is too much at stake not to speak up.

Please email the OHA trustees before their meeting this Thursday, 4/30/15, and let them know, in your own words, that you support the TMT.

For your convenience, here are their email addresses:

robertl@oha.org, colettem@oha.org, petera@oha.org, reynoldf@oha.org, rowenaa@oha.org, crayna@oha.org, hulul@oha.org, dana@oha.org, leia@oha.org

For your own information, here is some good background about the TMT. The first offers clear, accurate, and easy-to-understand questions and answers about the TMT, and the second is a timeline showing the entire TMT process from 2008 to today:

Thank you for speaking up in support of the TMT by this Thursday. We who support the TMT haven’t been speaking out, but we need to. It’s time.
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Where’s The Plan?

My letter to the editor titled Stay Home ran in today’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Stay Home

Regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope: Now, outsiders are coming to the Big Island to run our lives. Since when is that pono? Stay home. We don’t want you here.

The outsiders want to stop the TMT. Listen: We have the state’s lowest median family income. We have drug problems, spousal abuse problems, teenage pregnancies and the social ills that follow from that. The TMT is the only entity actually putting its money — a lot of it — where its mouth is.

They are offering education, the great equalizer. We of the older generation, fortunate enough to have our educations, are lucky. No one can take that away from us. But what about the youngsters coming up? Who will help them?

Usually, the present generation tries to help the next generation do just a little bit better. But on the Big Island right now, it’s just the opposite. And it’s being influenced by folks with fame and money who don’t even live here.

I am a Hawaiian. I respect my culture and its religion and traditions. I also respect its future. The Facebook generation tends to think in terms of today and tomorrow, but we Hawaiians used to think in terms of seven generations.

In 140 years, there won’t be telescopes on the mountain at all. We need to think about this carefully and not just react. How will we save ourselves on the Big Island?

It concerns me that the TMT protestors are reacting, rather than planning. It’s short term and emotional decision-making. Where is their 10-year plan for getting where we need to be? There’s no plan at all.

The Thirty Meter Telescope people spent almost seven years interacting with the community about its concerns and developing a careful plan – now approved – that put lots of money, education, and jobs into our island’s economy. It was unprecedented. I know this because I attended almost every TMT meeting for seven years.

The people protesting now weren’t at those meetings. Most were only in middle school when the process began so they have no idea what went on and how much was accomplished. It was phenomenal, and set the bar for the level of engagement we can expect from a corporation coming onto the Big Island.

Tossing out the TMT people now would be an enormous mistake and send the worst possible message we could ever send to any other company that ever wants to do business in Hawai‘i.

I actually have great optimism about today’s young people. I see it in their faces when I work with them in the many issues I’m involved with – they are smart and passionate and engaged.

What we need now is for the ones who can see the big picture to step forward and lead. There are huge changes going on in the world right now, and some young people don’t understand this yet. Some older people don’t even fully realize it yet.

But everything you hear me talking about is to try to position our island and our next generations: So our electricity will be affordable. So our food will be affordable. So education will improve. So people will be able to find jobs. So our crime rate will not continue to soar. So our children and grandchildren won’t have to move to the mainland because they cannot afford to live here.

My message is always about having a plan for where our island and its people need to be in five, ten, fifteen years. The long-term plan needs to be about all of us, not just a few of us. The Thirty Meter Telescope will, in quite a few different ways, help us move toward that plan.

We need young people to lead us there, too.

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OHA & the Thirty Meter Telescope

Richard Ha writes:

I testified at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) on Wednesday regarding the protests over the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Sixty-five people showed up, the vast majority of them in favor of the TMT.

I introduced myself as a Big Island farmer who produced more than 100 million pounds of fruits and vegetables in the last 35 years. I flunked out of the University of Hawai‘i and then got drafted and went to Vietnam, where the unspoken rule was that we all come back or no one does. After we all came back, I returned to school and majored in accounting to be able to keep score. I was the only person from Hawai‘i to attend five Peak Oil conferences. I have attended most of the TMT meetings over the past seven years.

I made two main points.

1. OHA needs to act like parents and kupuna.

We are starting to see lots of outside Islanders coming to stick their spoon into Big Island business. Activist Walter Ritte even came from Moloka‘i to advocate for the removal of all the telescopes from Mauna Kea.

When Big Islanders were in charge, I didn’t worry about public safety. Now, though, I am very worried. We are seeing folks wearing hoodies and bandanas, and they’re hiding their identities. The leaders have got to stop that. It puts a hair trigger on the situation, and it’s dangerous.

We saw someone like that recently, and we knew he wasn’t from the Big Island because he was driving a bright red Jeep. Nobody drives a bright red Jeep; those are only rental cars.

The folks protesting are getting false hope that they can get all the telescopes off the mountain if only they push back harder. And the discourse is pilau. People are insulting people. This is very dangerous.

OHA needs to act like parents and kupuna. This is not rocket science. You folks all know that the process was followed; that is why the permits were issued. Don’t give people false hope. The young people protesting who are college-age now were only in middle school when we started the process to make sure the project was done right. This is why they don’t know about the intricate, seven-year process the Thirty Meter Telescope people went through to work through all the issues the protestors are just now talking about.

It is OHA’s job now to do the right thing. Just tell them—they’re not going to change the law. Letting them think that will possibly escalate the problem and the mounting safety issues. That’s the kind of thing that is going to cause something to happen. We don’t want anybody getting hurt.

2. Remember what the TMT will bring to our community. The Big Island has the lowest median family income of all the counties. And the Kona side is higher than the county average, making the east side even lower than the county’s average. The Pahoa/Ka‘u/Kea‘au school complex is in the top four in the state for the free/subsidized lunch program. This island’s spouse abuse, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy rates are high.

Henry Yang, president of the TMT Corporation, came to the Big Island to talk with the community fifteen times. He came personally and talked to folks on the other side of the table, and he listened. He didn’t assign someone else to come; he came himself. That’s how the THINK fund was born. Nothing fancy, just listen. They are developing a work force so kids now in high school can follow a path to jobs. They did an environmental study, instead of taking the shorter way.

The TMT set the bar for how other big companies should interact with the community. To turn them away would be the most irresponsible thing we could do.

The Big Island needs jobs, and we need to diversify our economy to protect ourselves from rising oil and gas prices. The TMT is free money. The THINK fund helps our kids not fortunate enough to have gotten a Kamehameha Schools education. They are the ones who need help. Once you get an education, no one can take it away.

Acting like parents and kupuna will ensure that you address public safety as well as move up the folks on the lower rungs of the economic ladder—those not fortunate enough to go to Kamehameha Schools, or to take advantage of the GI bill like me. Education is the great equalizer.

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