Lā 281: 2015: The year in review; Telescope controversy, Kenoi’s pCard abuse, dengue fever among top stories of the year

By JOHN BURNETT Hawaii Tribune-Herald December  31, 2015

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HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A DLNR police officer comforts a TMT protester in April near the Mauna Kea visitors center.

It’s time to bid aloha to 2015 while the world’s attention is riveted to an ongoing fictional war saga in a galaxy far, far away.

Here at home, the island chain’s tallest mountain continues to be a battleground pitting science vs. sacred, state vs. sovereignty and, according to some, past vs. future — which brings us to our 10 top stories of the year, as chosen by the Tribune-Herald editorial staff.

1. Thirty Meter Telescope

There will be no construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes atop Mauna Kea, at least for now. A ruling by the state Supreme Court on Dec. 2 that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources shouldn’t have approved a permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope before a contested case hearing was held has put the future of the proposed $1.4 billion next-generation telescope in limbo.

“Quite simply, the board put the cart before the horse,” Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald wrote in the high court’s opinion.

Construction would have started earlier this year, but protesters — who call themselves “protectors” — blocked vehicles carrying workers and equipment from ascending the mountain. Many of the protesters are Hawaiian sovereignty advocates who consider the proposed telescope desecration of a sacred mountain.

Hundreds turned out for the protests, and dozens were arrested by police and state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers for trespassing or obstructing Mauna Kea Access Road.

The ruling sends the case back to the Land Board for a new hearing, which could take months or years, if the international consortium seeking to build TMT wants to continue forward.

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Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.