After reading a Dec. 1 Maui News article regarding the start of bulldozing and construction on the 14-story observatory atop Haleakala, it was as if a heavy weight was resting on my chest.
I realized I was experiencing a kind of spiritual trauma. Despite the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.'s cogent arguments on behalf of Kilakila O Haleakala to stop the proposed solar telescope on substantive merit and also procedurally, I read that work has commenced. I am very saddened and discouraged but also concerned.
I am concerned that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources is being very lax in its standards for protecting conservation district land at the summit of Haleakala. The University of Hawaii and the UH Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have admitted that the project will have substantial, long-term adverse effects on conservation district lands. When such substantial substantive negative effects are known to be going to occur, the BLNR has a duty to future generations to protect the land. Yet, the BLNR has given the green light for the IfA to proceed.
In addition, though I defer legal questions to the NHLC, I'm concerned to witness the convoluted process that was allowed by the BLNR in favor of the IfA - putting the cart before the horse in allowing the project to move forward before due process was followed. The BLNR and District Court decisions will be appealed. Oral arguments regarding procedural questions will be heard by the state Supreme Court on Dec. 20.
Of most concern is the fact that money for Native Hawaiians at UH-Maui College: $20 million at $2 million a year for 10 years, as long as the National Science Foundation believes the money is being well-spent and as long as the Congress can find the money is being funneled through and managed by the administration of the University of Hawaii. Yes, you read correctly. The NSF is giving money for harm done to Native Hawaiians by the University of Hawaii to the University of Hawaii.
The money is what the National Science Foundation is calling part of its mitigation efforts; means by which the foundation believes the harm done to Native Hawaiians and the environment by the project is assuaged. However, by analogy, it is as if a perpetrator has committed a wrongdoing, admits to the wrongdoing and then gets to decide his penalty. So, what is his self-imposed penalty in this case? He will allow himself to manage the money that is going to go to Native Hawaiians.
The principle investigator for the mitigation money is UH-MC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto. Sakamoto and I disagree on this point. He believes, and is showing by his unwillingness to let Hawaiians manage this money, that he knows what is best for Hawaiians. Allowing the chancellor to continue to have final say on how the money is spent - including the indirect costs associated with the money granted by the NSF - is unconscionable and adds insult to injury.
* Kiope Raymond is the president of Kilakila O Haleakala, a nonprofit organization formed to educate the community regarding the harm the telescope will do to the sanctity of Haleakala's summit area and conservation lands therein, and is tenured in the UH System at the University of Hawaii Maui College, where he is Humanities Department chairman and teaches courses in Hawaiian Studies.