(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Council on Wednesday voted to kill a resolution that would have accepted up to $10 million from the State of Hawaiʻi for Maunakea related costs, as the standoff over the Thirty Meter Telescope enters its fifth month.
After hearing public testimony from those opposed to the TMT project, the council voted 9-0 against approving Resolution 403-19. Two weeks ago, the council’s Finance Committee voted to give a positive recommendation to the same resolution, as well as the accompanying Bill 115.
“I was dismayed to see many of you agree to vote to accept the money,” said Andre Perez, one of the top organizers in the Kū Kiaʻi Mauna movement. “You don’t accept the money because there’s principles, and there’s protocols and there’s right ways and wrong ways to do things. And in your case, it’s codified very clearly in legal language.”
Other TMT opponents, including some of the kūpuna who were arrested on the Mauna Kea Access Road back on July 17, also urged the council to vote “no” on the resolution.
The grant comes with a Memorandum Of Agreement, or MOA, between the state and the county. Councilmembers had not seen the written agreement when they voted to advance the measure in committee.
Councilwoman Karen Eoff noted that the language in the MOA does not match the language in the council resolution.
“I have a very regret from our last discussion that I didn’t vote no with
you,” councilmember Valerie Poindexter told councilmember Matt Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder, who has been a vocal critic of government spending on the Mauna Kea situation. “You were exactly on point on what was happening.”
“To me, the underlying issue is how we got here,” said councilmember Maile David, “and how we got here is not pono.”
“I’m very much supportive of the TMT project,” said council chair Aaron Chung, “but more so, I’m supportive of the rule of law. If I saw some efforts in trying to open up the road, but not just the TMT people but others, then I might be more amenable to something like this. I just don’t see anything happening. That being the case, I have to vote against this.”
“I just want the administration to stop treating the council like a rubber stamp,” said Puna councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz. “I feel like all the time we are getting agreements after the fact and just have to go through the motions of approval.”
Councilman Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder said the no vote could be a “teaching moment” for the administration.