(BIVN) – On Friday, the Hawaiʻi County Board of Ethics met in Hilo where they again discussed drafting a “resolution to conduct an investigatory hearing as to why the rule of law is not being enforced at the Mauna Kea Access Road.”
In December, the board first considered conducting an inquiry into the standoff over the Thirty Meter Telescope. The board planned to focus on Section 2-38 of the ethics code, under “fair treatment”, for the government’s failure to enforce the laws of the county and the state equally.
The Ethics Board heard from both opponents and supporters of the planned observatory during hours public testimony on Friday. Speakers included kūpuna who were arrested on the Mauna Kea Access Road in opposition to TMT back in July 2019.
“The rule of law is not supporting the project’s right” said Gardner De Aguiar, a TMT supporter. “They went through all the protocols of getting their permits acquired. Where’s the rule of law supporting that?”
“I grew up with those telescopes on the mountain,” De Aguiar said. “It’s never hindered anybody’s right to go up there and to worship for any reason. It’s never hindered any of that. Culture and science can coexist on the mountain, you just got to share it.”
“The best advice I can offer to the Board of Ethics is to step back,” concluded Lanny Sinkin, one of the contested case petitioners opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope permit, in his written testimony. “The decision-makers you are targeting for your criticism have made the best of a very difficult situation. They have exercised their discretion to avoid further harm. Would you really prefer the arrest of hundreds of people with the potential for injuries and clogging the court system with petty misdemeanor cases, all taking place with international attention focused on our island? What price are we willing to pay to benefit foreign corporations seeking to use our public trust lands? A good case could be made that those decision-makers chose the path least divisive to the community.”
After hearing a full morning of testimony, the board decided to bring in special counsel to help define the parameters of the board’s jurisdiction and authority, the Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald reported.