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In the ongoing protests that have blocked construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) as well as shutdown all thirteen other telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Democrat governor David Ige visited with the protesters yesterday, expressing sympathy for their positions.
Ige indicated last week that he was willing to talk to protesters. But his visit and statement Tuesday were the first public steps he’s taken toward that end. “We will be working together to determine next steps that are in the best interests of all the people of Hawaii,” Ige said in his statement.
In a nod to activist preferences, his statement referred to them as “protectors” of Mauna Kea instead of protesters.
Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta said officials must consider not building the telescope on Mauna Kea. She said she met previously with the mayor and governor without making any progress. “We’ve done all of that. But it’s window dressing trying to get our buy-in,” Pisciotta said. “We really need people to honestly consider our positions this time.”
TMT will not be built on Mauna Kea. Bet on it. Ige always favored the protesters. Following standard Democratic Party strategy, he made believe he would enforce the law, but set things up so that the protests would have a chance to swell and block construction. He is now using this situation as a ploy to give the protesters what they want, while making believe he has no choice.
Moreover, Ige’s actions likely mean that the other thirteen telescopes are in serious danger as well. It is very likely that this power grab will allow the protesters, a small minority in Hawaii that does not have the support of the majority of the population, to force their shut down.