Letter to Governor Ige from the Business Community
Published as advertisement in Star-Adv, Sunday, October 4, 2015 (pg A-21)
On behalf of the business community of Hawaii Island and the State of Hawaii, we respectfully ask for your support for the Thirty Meter Telescope to begin its permitted construction under safe passage. We believe this is an urgent situation and any further delay could undermine the overall benefits of. this project.
Hawaii's business community stands together in support of astronomy, science, culture and environmental stewardship. This stalemate has already wrought too much damage within the State of Hawaii.
HAWAII ISLAND COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
For the past two decades, Hawaii Island community members have been actively engaged in improving the management and stewardship of Mauna Kea. The Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM) and its two respective voluntary community boards have invested significant time and effort to ensure active and effective stewardship of cultural and environmental resources.
SUPPORT HIGH TECH INDUSTRY
Astronomy on Mauna Kea, now 50 years old, is one of Hawaii’s first high tech industries. Hawaii has worked diligently to diversify its economic sectors and to attract high tech industry. Hawaii's astronomy is a source of national pride. We believe it would be in the State of Hawaii's best interest to continue to support the entire astronomy industry in Hawaii.
According to UHERO, Hawaii's astronomy sector has a total statewide impact of $167 million and generates $8 million in taxes annually. With over $1 billion in observatory infrastructure, astronomy employs 1,400 people in our state. Hawaii County, the highest rates of poverty and unemployment statewide, garners nearly 70% of that total, generating 800 jobs. In fact, the 2000 Mauna Kea Management Plan calls for a next generation large telescope such as TMT.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS REPUTATION
Business and industry cannot function under uncertainty. We believe that following an eight-year public process, the project should proceed. The current status surrounding TMT's inability to proceed has brought national and international attention which we are afraid could further undermine Hawaii's reputation as a place to do business.
RULE OF LAW
Business cannot operate without laws being enforced. Selective enforcement of laws by State, County and HPD is discriminatory. Citizens place their trust in government that Laws will be enforced equally without the need for political pressure to do so. The result of the faulty law enforcement surrounding Mauna Kea is fostering tension, aggression, racism and business uncertainty. Ambiguity surrounding the rule of law has prompted a poor economic climate.
In summary, we reaffirm our request that you make it possible for the Thirty Meter Telescope to begin its permitted construction under safe passage. Mahalo for your urgent response to Hawaii's business community.
Signers: Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Pacific Resource Partnership, Maui Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Island Contractors’ Association, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Kailua Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Molokai Chamber of Commerce, Kailua Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Construction Alliance, Hawaii Island Realtors, Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference, Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association.
Image of Ad: PDF
Flashback: Video: Crying Police Apologize to Telescope Protesters
Borreca: Ige's Mauna Kea Stalemate 'The best he can do'
Borreca Oct 9, 2015: On a crassly political level, you want Hawaii island business groups in your corner. If they trust you, the support continues through election day. Weighing against that calculation is not so much the support of Hawaiian groups, but the possible opposition of Hawaiian groups who consider construction of TMT to be a desecration of ancestral lands.
Ige told television reporters covering the news story that while the state is enforcing the laws regarding protesters on the mountain, “we want to be sensitive to cultural perspectives.”
The governor, who is traveling in Asia, apparently sought to distance the administration from the construction timing.
“The project (TMT) needs to decide when they want to proceed and how they want to proceed,” Ige told KITV-4 News.
Back in June, Henry Yang, chairman of the TMT International Board, said construction was halted when protesters used boulders to block access to the site.
“We are planning to resume when the issue is resolved,” Yang said at the time.
While dithering between supporting local business and Hawaiians’ demands for recognition is not an inspiring way for Ige to wrap up his first year, it could be worse.
At this exact same time four years ago, Gov. Neil Abercrombie had just seen his director of communications, deputy director of communications, his chief of staff and deputy chief all resign. Legislative insiders were saying the “administration was in internal crisis.”
By that time, Abercrombie had already attacked AARP and the Pro Bowl and attempted to tax pensions. He would go on to lose to Ige in a historic Democratic primary defeat.
Ige will not find consensus on Mauna Kea, but his strategy of playing for a tie and not a win may be the best he can do.
Related: Full Text: Hawaii Business Groups Slam Police Refusal to Enforce Law on Mauna Kea
read ... Playing for a Tie