Multiple motions filed in TMT case

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Aug 5, 2016

By TOM CALLIS Hawaii Tribune-Herald

HILO — Participants in the Thirty Meter Telescope contested case have filed a flurry of motions ahead of today’s meeting in Hilo, from declaring Mauna Kea sacred to ongoing challenges to Riki May Amano’s selection as hearings officer.

The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Hilo YMCA, will be the first Amano held since June 17 when she increased the number of people and groups participating from seven to 25.

Aside from a site inspection on Mauna Kea, the proposed site for the $1.4 billion observatory, it could be the last meeting before the evidentiary hearing begins, possibly in October.

If the motions are any indication, there is still quite a bit to sort out.

Since the last meeting, the attorney for the original six petitioners renewed a protest over Amano’s selection, claiming the state entered its contract with her prior to hearing objections.

“It was ‘the cart before the horse’ all over again and the Petitioners did not have an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner,” wrote attorney Richard Wurdeman in a motion dated July 26.

He was referencing a comment made by state Supreme Court justices when remanding TMT’s Conservation District use permit back to the state Land Board, resulting in a new contested case hearing.

The court ruled in December the board violated due process rights of project opponents, many of whom consider the mountain sacred, by approving the permit prior to the first contested case, which involved the University of Hawaii and six petitioners.

Wurdeman filed other motions to strike the permit application, dismiss University of Hawaii at Hilo as a party and dismiss the state’s legal counsel.

Hank Fergerstrom also alleged the state took missteps in restarting the contested case process.

He said in a motion the hearing should start over with a new hearings officer since UH-Hilo did not reapply for the construction permit after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Noting that the motion “may appear a little odd,” he said it shows that the state still, again, “put the cart before the horse.”

Another party, Dwight Vicente, filed a motion to dismiss Amano by asserting that the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists and the state lacks jurisdiction.

“Judge (Amano’s) authority comes from the 1959 admission of the State of Hawaii into the union of the United States, such admission was based on the illegal annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii by the United States,” he wrote.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources, which hired Amano, denied that motion July 22, stating that it “rejects the notions that the State of Hawaii is not legally a state in the Union … .”

The Temple of Lono filed several documents, including a protest over the absence of the “Kingdom of Hawaii” and its king from the proceedings and a move for partial summary judgment.

Challenges also have been filed to the participation of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities Inc., a pro-TMT Native Hawaiian group.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.