TMT Hearing: KAHEA Calls for Recusal of 2 BLNR Members
The Hawai‘i State Board of Land and Natural Resources began hearing oral arguments in the Contested Case Hearing for the Conservation District Use Application (CDUA) for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Crown Room of the Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo.
During the hearing, Dexter Kaiama, council for KAHEA-The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, asked the BLNR to reject the CDUA for the TMT project and asked for the recusal of two board members—Sam Gon and Stanley Roehrig.
Attorney Kaiama called for the recusal of Gon based on what he called a “predisposition” due to the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou vs BLNR.
The Supreme Court sided with Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, ruling the permit invalid and remanding it back for a contested case.
Attorney Kaiama explained this was initially brought up by a Supreme Court justice and it was a concern for any current board members who voted on the previous CDUA.
“Its problematic for the board going forward unless those members recuse themselves,” he explained.
In addition, KAHEA is asking that Hawai‘i Island BLNR member Roehrig step down due to conflicts of interest.
Attorney Kaiama argued that there are records that show Roehrig and his family has leased hotel-use property to Chad Warfield and the nonprofit Perpetuating Unique Education Opportunities (PUEO).
“What we glen from the record is that Mr. Warfield, who is the president of the nonprofit organization, also leases and resides on part of the property,” explained Attorney Kaiama.
He argued Roehrig saves on property taxes in addition to collecting rent from Warfield and PUEO.
“Not only is there a financial consideration for Mr .Roehrig but there is a potential of conflict of interest,” he said.
Attorney Kaiama argued that KAHEA believes Roehrig should recuse himself from voting on the TMT proceedings.
He urged the board to reject the CDUA and argued that if they didn’t they would be ruling contrary to current law.
Attorney Kaiama addressed concerns over due process errors in the contested case hearing, the rulings of the officer and the board, and filed an oral motion to appeal should the board approve the CDUA for the TMT.
Big Island Now will publish additional information as the story develops.