Tag Archives: TMT

Judge Grants PUEO Right in Telescope Hearing

Retired Judge Riki May Amano has allowed 20 individuals and groups, including PUEO, to become parties in the upcoming Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) contested case hearing.

PUEO stands for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities. It’s a non-profit we formed that is dedicated to enhancing the educational opportunities of Hawaii’s youth.

Here’s a Hawaii Tribune-Herald article about Judge Amano’s decision.

PUEO

Our group felt compelled to participate because of the decision’s impact on future generations. We also want the discussions to include keiki education.

This is great news. Allowing everyone in will result in a more robust and better-rounded discussion of the issues.

Background

The contested case hearing results from a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling on the TMT’s 2011 conservation district use permit. The court ruled the Board of Land and Natural Resources should not have approved the permit before hearing all evidence.

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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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It’s Not All About Kapu Aloha

Some Thirty Meter Telescope protestors are writing angry comments saying I’m too military-minded, and I’m inciting violence up on the mountain. You can see them after this post. What I don’t understand, they write, is that they’re all about kapu aloha. It’s all about peace.

I remember being that age. I was invincible, and smarter than my parents back then.

Listen, I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve been there and done that. I don’t have anything against conviction, or fighting for what you believe in. I like all the energy, to be honest. I have a lot of energy, and I fight for what I believe in, too.

But I am against doing it in an unsafe situation.

Strategically it would be much smarter for the protestors to move their protest off the mountain and onto the flats. Then they could bring in as many people as want to be involved. They would not inadvertently get into a situation where someone – a loose cannon they don’t know who’s from somewhere else, maybe – causes a situation that goes very wrong because they are in such an unforgiving landscape. Loose gravel. Steep grades. Boulders.

It’s all about terrain. When the government looks at the situation on the mountain, they have to look at the road and the safety issues. It all comes into play, and to pretend it doesn’t is naïve.

If they were on the flats, no matter what the Supreme Court rules, the protestors could still protest. But if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the TMT and the protestors continue to hold their ground on the mountain and someone gets hurts, they’re going to look especially bad and people are going to get really angry at them.

There’s another issue now, too. Once I asked Lanakila, one of the spokesmen for the protestors, why the TMT protestors align themselves with the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. He told me they use the kingdom as a tool. He said those exact words: “as a tool.” What that told me was that it wasn’t about ethics. It was about the end justifying the means.

Now one of the kingdom’s kings has sent a letter to the governor and law enforcement agencies, as well as to the White House. It reiterates a message from a letter he’d previously sent, threatening to send marshals with weapons up to protect the protestors on the mountain:

If you truly are not willing to engage in negotiations to settle this matter, I am contemplating the deployment of my Marshals to Mauna a Wakea and Haleakala to support and protect my people from unlawful arrest and harassments by State law enforcement officers under your authority or the authority of State agencies. My Royal Marshals are Federal Officers of the Kingdom sworn to uphold and protect the Kingdom Constitution and Laws and the Orders of their King. Their protective services would be called upon to respond to violations of Treaty Law, the Laws of Nations and International Law, and to enforce domestic Kingdom Law. 

The Royal Marshals are professionals holding the authority and power issued by me to carry side arms and other weapons to enforce the laws of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. Enforcement includes making lawful arrests to which the arrestees will stand accountable to the proper jurisdiction within our Courts. Anyone acting in violation of treaty law will be subject to arrest and prosecution within the Kingdom. 

There’s no clear leadership in that protest. Who’s running that ballgame up there?

The bottom line is that the TMT is going to be built. The protestors are unwilling to compromise, which is hard to respect. They have no leadership, which I do not think is wise. And now there is a threat of someone coming in with weapons, which will always hang over their cause.

I mentioned before that, early on, when I was up on the mountain for a TMT ribbon-cutting ceremony, the protestors surrounded us in an L-shaped military ambush, and that never should have been allowed to happen.

Most of the people practicing kapu aloha on the mountain probably don’t know much about the military, but if the government ever called in assistance on the mountain, you better believe that sort of thing would be noticed. And whether intentional or not, it would make armed guardsmen nervous. That’s only one example of the sort of thing I hope never becomes an issue, and another reason I hope the protestors move their protest off the mountain.

Vietnam is where I learned basic military principles. Any Army or Marine veteran knows what I am talking about. There were three infantry companies in the valley we were in, and every so many weeks we’d rotate up to this firebase for about a week. It was up high, overlooking the valley with artillery to support the infantry companies. We could see all around in every direction.

I was 27 and it felt like R & R to us when we were up at the firebase, but it wasn’t. One day when we were up there, I was talking to the Colonel and he got all over my case because I wasn’t wearing my steel helmet. I got really irritated, but I had to swallow it because he was the Colonel.

Now I look at what’s going on up on the mountain and realize I’ve grown up. Somehow, I’ve become the one who sees the possibility of danger when the young, invincible, ones don’t. I’ve become the one who wants the young kids to wear the steel helmets so nobody gets hurt. This is what kupuna do.

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A Disaster in the Making

This situation on Mauna Kea continues to be a disaster waiting to happen. A Star-Advertiser reporter asked me what I would do about it.

I’m just a banana farmer, but one that happens to be a military veteran and knows a bit about military tactics. When I was up on the mountain early on for a TMT ribbon-cutting ceremony, I saw right away that the protestors had us in an L-shaped military ambush. That should never have been allowed to happen.

If this continues, more and more protesters will be up there. Are you willing to take the chance that no one rolls a boulder down the mountain? And then the situation escalates, we bring in the National Guard, and somebody shoots? If this keeps going on, somebody is going to get killed.

It’s so clear to me. We need to get our law enforcement people involved and plan for the worst case scenario. Or we can continue to be gentle and somebody will get killed. I have seen this in action in Vietnam. It’s something to see. It is so much better to be safe than sorry.

From the beginning of this situation on Mauna Kea, I’ve been very clear that this is very serious. What’s important – no matter which side of the argument you are on – is safety. We have to maintain public safety.

photo Vadim Kurland / CC  by 2.0 

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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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Bullet on the Mountain – Where are the Leaders?

Someone seems to have shot a bullet into the door of the Subaru Observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea over the weekend.

Richard Ha06-07-15_7 Bullet hole

06-07-15_1 View of east door-2
Richard Ha
This is what I’ve been talking about when I say we need Hawaiian leaders to dial down the temperature on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) issue in the anti-TMT camp for the sake of safety.

Now it looks like someone has shot at one of the observatories. What next? Where are their leaders?

We have also seen posts like these:
post#1

 

post#2

I contacted Lanakila and he told me he advised the police about that second post. We are both concerned about safety for all on the mauna.

My concern is not the folks from the Big Island, but people who may come from off-island.

This is really getting out of hand.

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Dialing Down the TMT Temperature

Here’s a sample of some recent comments I saw about something I wrote about the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Facebook:

Richard Ha

Richard Ha

I’m certainly not trying to tell people they need to change, or think like I think. Everybody can have their own opinion and say what they want to say, but I’d like to see the communication be more respectful than this. We need to keep the spirit of aloha with us.

I cannot remember a time when Hawaiians were attacking other Hawaiians loudly and in public. We need to dial the temperature down. Our native Hawaiian leaders need to step forward and lower the temperature.

I do know the Royal Order of Kamehameha stepped up early on and prohibited the use of the war god Ku up on the mountain. Before they did that, Lanakila was running around with an image of Ku. We need more such positive leadership examples.

If folks want to protest or engage in civil disobedience, that is their choice. People have given their lives so they can do that. But we all know that the TMT will start construction and it’s important to remember that it’s a dangerous environment on the mountain. We all need to be careful and respectful and abide by kapu aloha.

What some of the anti-TMT people are not hearing is that my point is really about the maka‘ainana. I always, always advocate for the maka‘ainana, the “rubbah slippah folk,” who are a huge part of Hawaiian culture.

I often wonder how many of the anti-TMT folks have studied up on and understand why so many of us consider geothermal, GMOs, and the TMT important to the Big Island’s future. We hear so many of their arguments based on incorrect assumptions.

We’re also hearing a lot about sovereignty and Hawaiian Kingdom issues wrapped up in the TMT. I don’t take a position on those issues. They will be decided over time. We’re talking here about the TMT.

Too often in the discussions surrounding geothermal, GMOs and astronomy in general, the consequences to the rubbah slippah folk are not taken into consideration. Too often the end justifies the means whether it makes sense or not. I don’t agree with that.

I’m open to discussion about any of these topics. My Facebook page has always been set to public. I’m pretty active there and also respond here at my blog. But for safety’s sake, we need to see the temperature dialed down a bit.

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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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