by Andrew Walden
By now, everybody should know that the 'sacred' anti-telescope protests are really all about OHA grabbing for power and money. Specifically, OHA is pushing to reopen the University of Hawaii's 65-year master lease for Mauna Kea. Currently set to expire in 2033 and paying a token $1 a year to the State, OHA trustees hope they can grab for what Rowena Akana terms "millions or billions" from UH and the other universities and science foundations operating telescopes on the mountain.
The fact that ceded lands are designated for five purposes, including "as a public trust for the support of the public schools and other public educational institutions" would mitigate OHA's claim against the $1 a year rent, but facts aren't supposed to be getting in the way of this 'sacred' rush for the cash. Here is the latest.
Peter Apo and Colette Machado Star-Adv May 1, 2015:
...board members pushed for the neutral position, saying it would give OHA a better position in negotiating for changes to a range of concerns, including the decommissioning of telescopes and the review of the Mauna Kea Master Plan and Mauna Kea master lease, which expires in 2033.
"It's about more than the telescope. It's about the management of the entire mountain," Apo said. He added that "If we oppose, we are going to take ourselves out of the field of play."
Machado said political realities demand that OHA remain neutral. She said the vote puts Gov. David Ige, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources and the UH Board of Regents on notice that OHA will press for important changes....
Carmen Hulu Lindsey Ka Wai Ola, May, 2015:
For me, my na'au started stirring for the last year. It started when I reluctantly voted with the OHA Board to withdraw OHA's petition to contest the University of Hawaii's request for a new 65-year master lease from the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) for the summit area of Mauna Kea....
Little did I realize that UH and the TMT developers were arrogant enough to proceed as if the 65-year lease was a foregone conclusion....
Rowena Akana Ka Wai Ola, May, 2015:
"The bigger issue here is UH and the state Legislature. The state has been a poor trustee of our ceded lands. They are leasing our lands for only $1 a year and it allows UH to sublease the lands for millions, perhaps billions of dollars. Why isn't UH making the builders of the telescope give something back to our community for the desecration of our sacred mountain?....
"Where is all the money going? Is it really going to science? Has the state ever conducted an audit of the University to verify where all of the millions generated on Mauna Kea each year are truly going? UH is frequently complaining they are broke. Where is the accountability? Revenues generated on Mauna Kea are both Hawaiian and taxpayer moneys and yet who really knows how the dollars are spent?
"The state and the legislature need to revisit the autonomy that they have given to UH and pull back that power. UH should not have the power, in the name of science, to do anything they want with our aina."
As Explained: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money
Price of OHA Rent Seeking: OHA driving Hawaiians out of Hawaii
The Free Dictionary: "Rent Seeking is the practice of an individual, company, or government attempting to make a profit without making a product, producing wealth, or otherwise contributing to society."