Maintaining Kapu Aloha even in the face of violence

At least two incidents of vehicular violence have been committed atop Mauna Kea against its protectors, even as state agencies accuse protectors of endangering public safety through their blockade.

Kuʻokoʻa Alo
Prosecutor pushes governor to veto anti-sex trafficking bill

Hawaii's progressive sex-trafficking bill is in danger of being vetoed by the governor, at the Honolulu prosecutor's urging.

Will Caron
Grad student unionization bill in danger of veto

Governor Ige has put HB 533, which would allow grad students to unionize, on his veto list.

The state legislature passed a bill (HB 553) that would allow graduate assistants at the University the right to collectively bargain, but the governor informed the legislature of his intent to veto the bill on June 29.

“This is an historic development that has the potential to greatly improve the financial and employment situations of graduate students at UH and is the result of several decades of efforts from the Graduate Student Organization,” said Jonathan Dial, who became president of the organization at the end of the 2015 semester. “However, I was notified at a meeting with members of the governor’s staff that HB 553 will be placed on a list of bills that will possibly be vetoed as a result of potential complications with the implementation of the measure. While I understand that implementation will not be an easy task, I firmly believe that the benefits to grad students, higher education, and the state of Hawaii, from passing this legislation far outweigh the costs of overcoming these obstacles.

“Graduate education is a cornerstone of higher education, and higher education is crucial in the development of a strong economy and industries for any state,” continued Dial. “Given the poor treatment that grad students have historically received and are currently experiencing at UH, it is no surprise that efforts to unionize have been ongoing for several decades. Furthermore, the poor conditions for graduate assistants make it more appealing for local students to seek their educations elsewhere, thereby taking any potential benefits for Hawaii from their educations with them. This essentially sets up the possibility of prolonged ‘brain drain’ for the entire state. With the passing of HB 553 by the legislature this session, there is hope that the state recognizes the importance of graduate education and is actively working to improve our situations and Hawaii’s professional community.

“However, the possibility of a veto suggests otherwise, jeopardizes the efforts of past and present graduate students in Hawaii to improve their own situations, and that of higher education in Hawaii, and endangers economic growth. The unwillingness to put forth that necessary effort suggests a low valuation of higher education and its benefits for the state,” Dial concluded.

Graduate students and other Hawaii residents can write to Governor Ige or call (808) 586-0034 to encourage him to sign HB 553 into law and demonstrate that he supports graduate students and higher education. 

Will Caron
Gov. Ige: Mauna Kea road must remain open

Governor David Ige released the following statement about recent incidents on Mauna Kea:

We are a patient people in Hawai‘i. We listen to and understand differing points of view, and we respect the many cultures of this land, especially that of the host culture. I have done my very best to follow this process in the case of Mauna Kea and set forth a way forward that I believe is reasonable.

We expected there to be a protest when construction resumed, and there was. We hoped we would not have to arrest people but were prepared to do so, and we did when they blocked the roadway. We also saw, in what amounts to an act of vandalism, the roadway blocked with rocks and boulders. We deployed to remove the rocks and boulders, but the protesters wisely chose to remove them themselves.

And then we saw more attempts to control the road. That is not lawful or acceptable to the people of Hawai‘i. So let me be very direct: The roads belong to all the people of Hawai‘i and they will remain open. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure lawful access. We expect there to be more types of challenges, good and bad days, and we are in this for the long run. We value TMT and the contributions of science and technology to our society, and we continue our support of the project’s right to proceed.

We are currently working to find ways to enable the TMT project to proceed safely without putting workers, protestors and the general public at risk.

Boulders cleared, Mauna Kea road remains closed

An update from the office of the governor

The boulders and rock structures that were found on the gravel road leading to the summit of Mauna Kea have been removed. The Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM) worked collaboratively with volunteers to ensure the rocks were safely and properly cleared from the roadway. The state continues to assess and monitor the situation to ensure the safety of the people on Mauna Kea.

The road has been temporarily closed until further notice. The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan authorizes the University of Hawai‘i to close the road in the event of hazardous conditions and emergencies.

Questions regarding the grading of the road leading to the summit have also been raised during this time. It is routine practice for OMKM to conduct regular road gradings twice a week to ensure the safety and integrity of the road.

The Mauna Kea Visitors Center is also closed until further notice.

Look for notices from OMKM on the status of the access road to Mauna Kea and the Mauna Kea Visitors Center.

TMT construction on hold again

The state government discovered large boulders blocking the road to the TMT construction site which it is working on clearing today.

Ten arrested on Mauna Kea

DLNR says it will arrest no one else today.

UPDATE: the governor’s office released a statement later in the day confirming that 11 were arrested, not 10.

Governor Ige is on the mainland for a conference about renewable energy. While he is away, 10 citizens of Hawaii were arrested on Mauna Kea today for physically impeding construction crews for the controversial Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) project, which has resumed with the blessing of the state. One of those arrested was Ku Kiai Mauna movement leader Kahookahi Kanuha. On behalf of the governor, Chief of Staff Mike McCartney released the following statement:

Statement on TMT

By Chief of Staff Mike McCartney on behalf of Governor David Ige

It is our belief that there will be mutual respect and aloha on Wednesday and in the days ahead as TMT restarts construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

TMT has the approvals needed to proceed with construction. We respect those who oppose the project and their right to peaceably assemble and to protest in an orderly and civil manner.

The State of Hawai‘i’s primary concern is the health and safety of its people. The state and Hawai‘i County are working together to uphold the law and ensure safety on roadways and on Mauna Kea, while allowing the people their right to peacefully and lawfully protest.

There were at least 500 people who gathered on the mountain today to prevent construction crews from continuing work on the TMT. Mileka Lincoln of Hawaii News Now reports that the crews only made it about 1.5 miles up the mountain. Here is a video she posted of the DLNR officer tearfully apologizing to the protesters and informing them that the officers would be turning around.

#BREAKINGNEWS: Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) agents just informed the hundreds of protestors who have gathered to prevent the Thirty Meter Telescope construction, that officers & TMT workers will be turning around and no longer asking anyone to leave or make any further arrests. More than 700 people gathered to stand in what they say is protection of a sacred Native Hawaiian space. Seven hours after protestors began lining up to prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the on the summit of Mauna Kea, only 10 people have been arrested and the TMT crew only made it about 1.5 miles up the road.  More details tonight on Hawaii News Now #HawaiiNewsNow #HINews #BehindTheScenes #WeAreYourSource

Posted by Mileka Lincoln on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Photo posted to Instagram by @kaikea_____, posted here under fair-use

TPP opposition grows in Hawaii

Coalition of labor, environmental, Native Hawaiian, farmer, and social justice groups urges bold opposition to “fast tracking” the Trans-Pacific Partnership