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  • UH Regents Should Let Tuition Hike Move Forward

    · By The Civil Beat Editorial Board

    A college diploma has long been the required ticket into America’s middle class. No wonder that, as the price of that ticket continues to climb, so many people are increasingly concerned with keeping it affordable.

    Those concerns are playing out in an interesting way this spring at the University of Hawaii, where system President David Lassner last week proposed lowering this fall’s tuition increase by 2 percent to 3 percent, even though many returning students have already registered for classes at the higher rate.

    His proposal got a chilly response from UH Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman, who has been struggling to keep body and soul together at the system’s down-at-the-heels main campus.

    The University of Hawaii held its 2015 spring commencement on Saturday. UH President David Lassner wants to reduce a tuition increase for next year’s students.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Already responsible for making $18.6 million in cuts for next budget year, Manoa and Bley-Vroma were projecting a $500,000 deficit at the rate being charged. The tuition reductions would only deepen an already formidable financial hole, without any assurance that they would appreciably increase access at Manoa or the other campuses, where increases would similarly shrink.

    Lassner’s idea, in fact, would reduce tuition revenue by an estimated $16 million. Added to the $28 million that the Legislature recently whacked from the university system’s budget request, the tuition adjustment would leave UH scrambling to cover a $44 million shortfall for the coming fiscal year.

    While well-intended, Lassner’s tuition proposal must be rejected,

  • Peter Apo: The Last Telescope

    · By Peter Apo

    I write this in a state of anguish for I know not how to reach out to the protectors of Mauna Kea, staunch in their beliefs and committed to their uncompromising sense of outrage toward the further incursion into the sanctified spaces of Mauna Kea.

    Now that the Legislature has adjourned I fully expect that the governor will now turn his attention to ramping up engagement of all the major stakeholders in a search for some compromise that, however elusive, will forge a way forward so that both protectors and telescope advocates can emerge with a shared sense of righteousness that allows both to step into the future with their belief systems intact and together embrace the wonderment of the mountain and her majesty as one of the world’s great places.

    My anguish lies in my frustration that I want to argue both sides of the equation.

    Silverswords near the Mauna Kea Visitors Center.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Not an equation that divides science and culture but an equation that, if navigated toward what seems a common ambition, leads both sides toward the same search for God and agreement that this very special mountain is a time portal that can connect us to our universal beginnings and the origins of our humanity.

    And for Hawaii, the remotest group of islands in the world, to be blessed with such a call to greatness and human achievement makes it unthinkable for me to imagine that we will not find a way.

    I cling to

  • Ian Lind: The Legal Challenge to the Thirty Meter Telescope

    · By Ian Lind

    I admit it. I grew up reading “vintage” science fiction, including Ray Bradbury’s lyric stories that captured the wonder of the night sky and the curiosity inspired by the enormity of the universe and the meaning of our tiny place in it, along with the works of writers like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, who both wrote fiction grounded in a background of hard science.

    So I’ve been excited, from a distance, at the expansion of astronomy-related research and education here in Hawaii.  As a result, the emergence of the broad-based protest movement against the latest and largest of the observatories on Mauna Kea, the Thirty Meter Telescope, has been so painful for me to watch.

    I’m guessing there are many people who, like me, see this as an unfortunate clash between two positive sets of values, the urge to preserve and protect our natural and cultural resources, and the urge to understand and investigate the nature of the universe around us.  I’m not persuaded by appeals to the “sacred,” at least I don’t think they trump all the other considerations involved in this complex situation.

    The resolution to this clash of values, and the ultimate fate of the TMT, may be decided in the short term by the outcome of the pending lawsuit brought by some project opponents, which is now on appeal to the state’s Intermediate Court of Appeals, and a somewhat parallel case before the Hawaii Supreme Court. And so I decided to take

  • UH Regents to Hold Mauna Kea Meeting in Hilo on Sunday

    · By Jessica Terrell

    So many people showed up to comment on the Thirty Meter Telescope at Thursday’s University of Hawaii Board of Regents meeting in Hilo that the board is scheduling a second meeting in Hilo on Sunday to finish public comments.

    Roughly 120 people signed up to address the board last week, UH Spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said. Because of time constraints, only half the people were able to speak.

    At the upcoming meeting, the Office of Mauna Kea Management and university staff are also expected to give presentations on the history of the project and UH’s management of the site.

    Only one of the 15 current regents, Chuck Y. Gee, was a member of the board in 2010 when UH approved the project.

    Hula Halau dance in support of stopping the TMT construction.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    At the meeting in 2010 where the board gave its collective thumbs up to TMT, most speakers were in favor of the project. At the time, the board office had received 30 written testimonies of support for TMT and nine against.

    The vast majority of speakers at last week’s meeting in Hilo opposed TMT construction.

    The Board of Regents is not scheduled to take any action on the matter Sunday. What, if any, action the board might be considering five years after approving the project is unclear.

    Board Chairman Randy Moore was traveling and could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

    Update: There isn’t much the board can do about existing telescope agreements, Moore said Wednesday.

    “The agreements that are in place are in place, as I think the governor has said on

  • Mauna Kea Telescopes: The Business of Astronomy Is Not an Easy One

    · By Jessica Terrell

    The first telescope built atop Mauna Kea was tiny by today’s standards, an 88-inch instrument that astronomers hoped would reveal new details about the universe, and draw the world’s best researchers to a mountain relatively unknown in the scientific community.

    More than half a century after site testing began, that University of Hawaii telescope is still used — along with a dozen others that have transformed Mauna Kea into one of the most famous sites for astronomical observation on Earth.

    Countries from around the world pour millions of dollars each year into supporting research there, taking advantage of the location’s unique combination of high altitude, dark skies and stable atmosphere.

    Yet even as crews get ready to begin work on the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope — still on hold Monday as state officials and the telescope builder try to work a compromise with Native Hawaiian protestors who have brought construction to a halt — other observatories on the mountain struggle to maintain funding and remain fully operational.

    An artist’s concept of the Thirty Meter Telescope observatory on Mauna Kea at lower left, with existing observatories in the background.

    Courtesy TMT International Observatory

    No telescope operators are getting rich off Mauna Kea, and that figures to remain the case even with TMT.

    One telescope is broken. Another is slated for decommissioning starting next year. A third may soon be operated by a for-profit corporation.

    And while the scientific value of the telescopes continues to surpass anything imaginable in the 1960s, opponents of the telescopes question if

  • Culture Cave: Gaye Chan’s GalleryHNL Wants To Let The Secret Out

    · By James Cave

    If you count the active artists in Honolulu’s art community, most of them have been affiliated in some way with the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

    As the department chair, Gaye Chan has seen most of them go through the school’s halls and then the motions afterward: they’ll make a lot of art at school, graduate, and maybe get into a few shows locally, but no shows will pay.

    To get money, some will grab a job at the Honolulu Museum of Art, either in the cafés, or installing art, or teaching at the art school for a few semesters, while others eventually settle for a job as a bank teller, or barista, or whatever pays them a living wage while taking their time away from producing art.

    GalleryHNL, a new gallery that represents local artists, opens its inaugural show at the Pacific Gentry Design Center on May 2.


    “Artists need to be able to sustain their life, if we continue to be artists,” Chan said. “So many give it up because we make stuff and don’t sell it.”

    That’s why she’s teamed up with a trio of philanthropists to form a new gallery to financially support this student body and its alumni: GalleryHNL.

    Getting the Secret Out

    Yes: the art department often promotes its students in dependably intellectual shows throughout the year at its main gallery (the BFA exhibition, called “Unabridged,” opens on Sunday, April 26, and you should go). But Chan says that they get little attention from institutions and collectors.

    “People based here who support art are all hooked up with the (Honolulu Museum

  • As Mauna Kea Protests Grow, Some Hawaii Island Residents Worry About Jobs

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    Kathy DeMello, 59, remembers when the first telescope was built on Mauna Kea.

    It was 1968, and her father was one of the construction workers. “It was exciting,” said DeMello, a third-generation Portuguese immigrant to the Big Island of Hawaii.

    On Saturday, DeMello sat at a market in Hilo selling handmade jewelry and chatting with neighbors and friends. Like many in the community, she doesn’t understand the staunch opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope that’s erupted over the last few weeks.

    “This is education. It’s jobs,” she said.

    That means a lot to DeMello: Most of her family has moved away because the Big Island’s tight economy means that there aren’t many jobs available.

    Kathy DeMello sells jewelry at a market in Hilo.

    Her daughter is in North Carolina, her brother is in Georgia and her sister is in Virginia. Only one of her sisters still lives on the Big Island. Although her family misses home, there’s little they can do about it other than buy expensive tickets to visit occasionally.

    That’s why DeMello is glad that the astronomy industry is growing in Hilo, a small town on the east side of Hawaii’s biggest island.

    “To me, if it’s done right, there is no disrespect,” DeMello said of the construction of the new telescope. “Only goodness.”

    “You get national news, you get five minutes of fame, you get arrested — what does that accomplish?” — Arlene Hussey, Big Island resident

    But many other Big Island residents believe that the telescope isn’t being “done right,” or shouldn’t be built at

  • Mauna Kea Is a Special Place in Humanity’s Quest for Knowledge

    · By Scott Robertson

    A large demonstration was recently held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to protest the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea. Protestors lined Dole Street all the way from the School for Hawaiian Knowledge to the Founder’s Gate. Drivers honked their horns in solidarity. A lot of people were happy, but as a professor at the university, my heart was broken by this anti-science, anti-knowledge protest in the middle of campus.

    Of course, this movement is not limited to the university campus. To my surprise and dismay, I find that many of my friends in Hawaii oppose the TMT. My social media environment is flooded with protest against the telescope. Influential high school and middle school teachers that I know are encouraging their students and their colleagues to oppose it. Protests are being held on the mountain itself. The governor has suspended construction for more review. Frankly, I am stunned and discouraged.

    A visitor takes a photograph of the various telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Some of my friends have warned me off of engaging in this debate. I am not Hawaiian, after all. I have not really been kamaaina for all that long (eight years), so I should stay out of it, right?

    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. There is a parallel debate in the scientific community about how much scientists should become involved in policy issues. We have traditionally stayed out of such things, but every

  • UH Student Protests Against TMT Continue

    · By Jessica Terrell

    Social media postings about Mauna Kea may be trending on Twitter, but the protest movement against the Thirty Meter Telescope is anything but a fad, student protesters said during a rally at UH Manoa on Monday.

    More than 200 students and faculty members attended the early afternoon rally outside the University of Hawaii’s Campus Center. The event was the second protest held on campus in the past four days, and followed a student walkout at noon called for by Pukoa,  a Native Hawaiian advisory council with representatives from all 10 UH system campuses.

    It was unclear how many students participated in the walkout, and most of the campus appeared to be operating as normal.


    Kaleo O Hawaii Advertising representative Ashley Maria hands out a newspaper to students during the rally.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Speakers at the event said they were frustrated by being portrayed as being anti-science or “bandwagon jumpers” who are protesting because it’s popular. Native Hawaiians have been voicing opposition to the telescopes for more than four decades, UH Manoa alumna and KAHEA staff member Shelley Muneoka told rally attendees.

    “I got really upset with a friend on Facebook who called the Mauna Kea protest the new ice bucket challenge,” Muneoka said, referencing a popular social media campaign aimed at raising awareness about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    Supporters of the telescope expect the protests to “stop being sexy” and for people to lose interest, Muneoka added. “That’s not going to happen.”

    Dozens of students stood in line to have T-shirts silkscreened with protest messages and artwork, and took

  • Hawaii Governor Calls ‘Timeout’ on Mauna Kea Telescope Construction

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea is on hold for at least a week as protests over the $1.4 billion project continue to mount.

    Hawaii Gov. David Ige told reporters Tuesday that there will be a “timeout” to facilitate a dialogue.

    “It’s a significant project and this will give us some time to engage in further conversations with the various stakeholders that have an interest in Mauna Kea and its sacredness and its importance in scientific research and discovery going forward,” he said.

    An artist’s depiction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea as seen from above.

    Courtesy TMT International Observatory

    The summit of the dormant Big Island volcano has become the site of protests — and 31 arrests last week — as Native Hawaiian and environmental groups fight to protect the location, already home to 13 telescopes. The 18-story-tall TMT would be the biggest yet and nine times more powerful.

    “I am not quite sure our people have seen a movement like this in their lifetime and I think it’s a testament to the fact that our people have been ignited and are ready to move forward and resolidify ourselves throughout the world as a people and a country,” Kahoʻokahi Kanuha, one of the protesters who was arrested last Thursday, said in a news release Tuesday.

    Peter Apo, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, pointed at the history of telescopes atop Mauna Kea in a column Thursday for Civil Beat.

    He explained that in 1968 the Department of Land

  • Governor Nominates Six to Serve on UH Board of Regents

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Gov. David Ige has announced six nominees to serve on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, subject to Senate confirmation.

    “Our UH system comprises 10 campuses that provide educational and research opportunities for many Hawai‘i students and faculty throughout our state,” he said in a news release Thursday. “As such, we chose candidates with a breadth of experience who will represent my desire for the Regents to focus on ensuring long-term sustainability of our sole public institution of higher education.”

    Gov. David Ige, pictured here during a press conference in February, has picked six people he wants to serve on the UH Board of Regents.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    From the release, here are his nominees:

    Wayne Higaki, Hawaii County, will serve through June 30, 2016 upon confirmation. Higaki is the chief development officer at North Hawaii Community Hospital, an affiliate of The Queen’s Health Systems. He is chair of Hawaii County’s Workforce Investment Board and a member of the Workforce Development Council for the State of Hawaii. He graduated from Honokaa High School and earned an associate of science degree at Kapiolani Community College.

    Simeon Acoba, Jr., Honolulu County, is currently serving on an interim basis and upon confirmation will serve through June 30, 2017. Acoba served on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court for 14 years. Previously, he served as a judge at various levels for 20 years. He continues to be active in judicial organizations and has received many awards for his work. He received a bachelor of arts degree from

  • Peter Apo: Mauna Kea Under Siege

    · By Peter Apo

    The long-standing overtly contentious face off between Native Hawaiians and the University of Hawaii’s aggressive advocacy of maximizing Mauna Kea as a premier site for astronomical observatories is heading into its most serious period of conflict.

    Time is running out for any diplomatic resolution to the culture versus science impasse as construction begins for a new $1.3 billion, 18-story, Thirty Meter Telescope covering 9 acres of mountain top, adding significantly to the critical mass of the 13 telescopes that are already there.

    The legal and procedural windows of dialogue attempting to resolve the issues are for the most part shutting down.

    An artists’ depiction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea as seen from above.

    The State Land Board had signed off on a notice to proceed with construction on March 6 and now is apparently ignoring a few last-ditch legal challenges. As of this writing, undeterred, and with increasing commitment, opposition to the project has escalated to civil disobedience by protestors led by Kealoha Pisciotta, leader of the organization Mauna Kea Anaina Hou.

    She is quoted as saying: “We are not giving up, and we’re standing for what we believe in.”

    The protestors, in growing numbers, are intent on slowing or halting all construction-related traffic attempting to get to the construction site and police are threatening arrests. Protestors are now beginning to organize on the UH Manoa campus. The project is at a flash point.

    To understand why this is so important to Hawaiians like Kealoha Pisciotta we need

  • Youth Get Glimpse of Future on Job Shadowing Day

    · By Cara Phillips

    Waking up at 4 a.m. was definitely not on my list of fun things to do this spring break, but I’m so glad I did. I experienced the amazing opportunity of accompanying a woman who spends every morning on my television screen. Lost in the excitement of being with KITV’s Morning News Anchor Lara Yamada, the memory of lugging myself out of bed was soon forgotten.

    I was lucky enough to be one of four students invited by the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative (SHYLI) to join its third-annual Job Shadowing Day. On March 17, Sherry Anne Pancho, Juanito Moises Jr., Alex Siordia and I took a big step closer to our future careers. Each of us was given the chance to be mentored by professionals in our fields of interest.

    Oceanit graciously hosted our two aspiring engineers, Sherry and Juanito. Sherry wants to be a bio-medical engineer, designing prosthetics. She was moved after a neighbor, whose legs were lost in the war at Afghanistan, passed away. “I want to help the people facing life-threatening situations like that.” Sherry was touched when Ocean it engineer Frank Price explained how he designs lasers that improve brain function.

    Participants in the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative: from left, Oceanit Director Ian Kitajima, State Director for Sen. Mazie Hirono Alan Yamamoto, Marianne Larned, executive director of SHYLI and students Juanito Moises Jr., Cara Phillips and Sherry Anne Payson. Oceanit Founder Pat Sullivan is on the right, and student Alex Siordia takes part from Washington

  • Proposal to Cut UH Programs Illustrates Misunderstanding

    · By Sterling Higa and Samira Fatemi

    State Rep. Isaac Choy’s recently introduced and deferred HB 555 betrayed a narrow and destructive conception of the University of Hawaii’s purpose. Furthermore, it displayed a startling misunderstanding of the structure of higher education and represented profoundly irresponsible legislative overreach.

    Choy proposed to eliminate all undergraduate programs that graduated less than 10 students a year unless the program was financially self-sustaining.

    Ka Leo reported that among those programs which would have needed to prove self-sufficiency were French, German, Russian, Dance, Physics, Pacific Island Studies, Geology, Meteorology, Biological Engineering, and Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. Also under threat of elimination were 11 of the 12 secondary education programs on offer.

    The proposal was deferred, but in the future, Choy would do well to consider three things.

    First, the number of program graduates is not indicative of utility or value to the University. There will never be a time when Meteorology students are more numerous than Business majors – we need fewer meteorologists than capable business leaders, and foreclosing the possibility of studying meteorology for this reason is irresponsible.

    Further, some small programs represent new and emerging fields. Biological engineering is a rapidly growing field, stretching from alternative energy sources to environmental remediation techniques like wastewater treatment. Competitive research institutions across the U.S. are investing in fields like biological engineering despite the potential for losses in the short term.

    The University of Hawaii, as a land-grant institution, has a responsibility to maintain programs that advance practical science and

  • Top Hawaii Business Execs Tapped to Find New UH Athletics Director

    · By Nathan Eagle

    University of Hawaii Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman has announced the formation of an eight-person search advisory committee to find a new athletic director, who will be tasked with turning around a department that’s expected to end this year $3.5 million in the hole.

    Current Athletic Director Ben Jay said last month that he plans to resign for “personal and professional reasons.”

    Top Hawaii business executives and doctors will steer the committee along with UH faculty members. Warren Haruki, president and CEO of Grove Farm Co. and chairman and CEO of Maui Land and Pineapple Co., will chair the committee, the university said Tuesday.

    Robert Bley-Vroman, right, chancellor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, speaks to media after UH Athletics Director Ben Jay announced his resignation, Dec. 9, 2014. A search committee has been formed to find a replacement by mid-year.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    “We are looking for a leader capable of excelling in multiple areas including community outreach and partnership building, with the dual goals of continuing academic achievement of our student-athletes while putting UH’s 21 teams in the best possible position to win,” Bley-Vroman said. “We also need someone with the ability and agility to lead UH during this complex and important time in the evolving national collegiate athletics landscape.”

    Jay appeared last month before a panel of state lawmakers as university officials made their case for more taxpayer-funded budget support.

    They said athletics is important to Hawaii as a community, not just to the university and students. And as such, they said it’s