Next up in our examination of the current legislature’s crop of Mauna Kea bills is SB936.
This bill removes two thirds of the revenue currently going to the University of Hawaii managed Mauna Kea lands management special fund, redirecting the revenue towards two additional funds. One third would go to a new Mauna Kea special fund administered by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. The other third would go to a DLNR administered Mauna Kea natural area reserve special fund.
Walking into the building I saw the first sign. A prominent message placed in the windshield of a car parked by the entrance… “TMT, Too Many Telescopes” The protesters were here. I had hoped they would not be, we had things to get done in this meeting. A disruption of the meeting by protesters would mean another delay.
To that end I had written a proposal for the new instruments with a description of exactly what we wished to do. Attached is an appendix of photos and drawings to answer any possible questions. I was present to answer the inevitable questions I had not thought of and feared would get asked.
The room was filling rapidly when we arrived, far beyond the usual audience of one of these meetings. As I greeted the many people I know, I noted many new faces. They seemed out of place, a little on edge, a sense of having entered enemy territory. Many of those present were young, in their teens and early twenties, one a young mother, child carried in her arms. The t-shirts betrayed their allegiance, they came with cameras and poorly concealed protest signs.
I have no problem with those who oppose the telescopes atop Mauna Kea attending a meeting like the OMKM board meeting. Public participation is a good thing. Indeed, these meetings are open to the public for a reason, to allow anyone interested to attend and to see for themselves how those charged with managing the mountain do their jobs.
I worried about a protest that would disrupt the meeting, making it impossible to accomplish anything. This did not happen. I will give those who attended credit for showing respect for the proceedings and to those discussing the effort of caring for the mountain.