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Friday, September 27, 2019
Tents, Trash, and Toilets: OHA Funds Make Mauna Kea Protests Possible
By Andrew Walden @ 5:13 AM :: 1788 Views :: Hawaii County , Ethics, Greenmail, Higher Education, Law Enforcement, OHA

by Andrew Walden

Slapped with a subpoena from the State Attorney General, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees, at their September 26, 2019 Board meeting, released financial records of OHA support for anti-telescope protesters illegally camped out on HDoT roads and DHHL and DLNR lands.

The September 19, 2019, subpoena is reported to “demand detailed infor­mation about support that OHA has provided to the Thirty Meter Telescope opponents who are blocking Mauna Kea Access Road.”

OHA contracts totaling $67K through December 31, 2019, cover the cost of protesters’ luas, dumpsters, and large rented tents and lighting systems.  $28,772 of the contract amounts have been spent so far.

This is the first time the source of funding for the protest ‘amenities’ has been officially disclosed.

OHA funding means the the protests could be stripped of key equipment anytime OHA decides to cancel the contracts. 

Previously supportive of the Thirty Meter Telescope, OHA in April, 2015, welshed on a $1M cash deal and switched to a neutral position.  In late 2017, OHA sued the University of Hawaii in hopes of snatching control of the master lease for the top of Mauna Kea.  OHA’s point person on the telescope protests, Kealoha Pisciotta, has publicly demanded $50M rent.  Obviously OHA’s money-motivated position sharply contrasts the ‘sacred’ rhetoric emanating from the protesters camp.

Perhaps of interest to the Attorney General, the OHA-funded contracts illegally place the rented equipment on land belonging to DHHL, DLNR, and HDoT.  DHHL has not been supportive of the protesters who have erected a series of illegal structures on DHHL land at or near the protest site.  One illegal structure was torn down September 6, 2019 at DHHL’s request.  DLNR police have been working for weeks to keep protesters from advancing up the Mauna Kea access road. HDoT and DHHL August 30, 2019 issued a joint statement debunking Sen Kai Kahele’s claim that the Mauna Kea access road is not under HDoT jurisdiction.

According to documents made available the OHA Board meeting, OHA also burned through $39,052.11 pumping up protesters’ social media presence, putting on a “Jam4Maunakea” concert, and editing protest videos.

Another $2,246.35 provided training travel and supplies for pro-bono attorneys assisting the protesters and $991.84 was spent flying lawyers to the Big Island. 

OHA staff spent 159.5 hours on the protests and $3,803.27 on travel-related expenses.  OHA Trustees spent another $3,237.94 on travel-related expenses.

After the subpoena was issued, OHA Trustee Keli’i Akina PhD called on OHA to publicly release the information.

---30---

PDF: OHA Funds Mauna Kea Protests Sept 26 2019

LINK: OHA BoT Reso 19-11

CB: Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Has Spent $39K To Support Activists On Mauna Kea

SA: OHA reveals protest support, subpoena response

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