Hawaii Island Mayor Clarifies Role in TMT Dispute
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says “he has no authority to intervene or make any kind of deal regarding TMT.” Instead, Kim says his role is “to work with all sides to find a better way forward for everyone concerned.”
The mayor’s office released a written statement on Thursday afternoon detailing Kim’s role in the ongoing dispute between the state and demonstrators protesting the planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
On Tuesday, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced that he was designating Kim as his representative on Hawaii Island for matters relating to the protest.
A special state communications office for handling Mauna Kea related issues is now directing all inquiries to Hawaii County.
Mayor Kim said that his top priority was ensuring the safe flow of traffic on Daniel K. Inouye Highway, formerly known as Saddle Road. Anti-TMT protesters have established a checkpoint blocking access to Mauna Kea on one side of the highway and a pu’uhonua sanctuary camp on the other.
At one point in the first week of the protest, Saddle Road was closed by the state Department of Transportation due unsafe conditions for motorists and pedestrians. The road was reopened later that same day.
In his statement, Kim said “My job is to coordinate the safety of everybody.”
Governor David Ige has previously stated that he wants to find a peaceful solution that will allow construction of the $1.4 Billion telescope to proceed.
Protesters, who have styled themselves as kia’i or protectors, say they will not leave Mauna Kea until construction has been stopped.