Gov. David Ige deserves our thanks and our respect for keeping a level head and a steady hand in dealing with the issues on Maunakea.
While the favorite game of advocates on both sides of the issue seem to require calling him names, making fun, and denigrating him personally, I believe he deserves our thanks.
Gov. Ige was presented with circumstances not of his making, that put him in a truly untenable position — he would be damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.
Any choice or decision he makes is quickly pounced upon by keyboard warriors of all persuasions. Armchair quarterbacks with baseball bats — quick to bash and criticize but their offering of positive solutions or a path forward, is of course non-existent.
The proposed TMT development was introduced to Hawaii years before Gov. Ige took office.
He is obligated by his oath of office to enforce the law. You can be sure the loudest voices shouting in his ear are those business interests and law enforcement agencies, appalled that he has exercised restraint and not literally sent in the troops to open up the road.
Gov. Ige has instead taken a deep breath and decided not to take the enormous risk that would come through the exercise of force.
For that we should applaud his wisdom and be thankful that he is the one sitting behind that desk on the 5th floor of the state Capitol.
While other politicians make pronouncements safely from the comfort of their positions of non responsibility, Gov. Ige is forced to make the hard decisions. And to his credit, so far he has safely navigated waters more treacherous than any in modern Hawaii history.
The situation could have easily spiraled out of control, but it did not. People could have been physically hurt, or worse- but that has not happened either.
With another governor the results may have been different. Another governor, instead of putting the protection of the people and the social and cultural fabric of our island home first, may have listened instead to the hawks of big business and law enforcement, who even now are clamoring to put money and an unjust system of laws above all else.
There are no road maps to be followed nor text books available to help navigate through this situation.
Mistakes have been made along the way, and mistakes, missteps and course-corrections will continue to be made as this incredibly complex situation continues to unfold and evolve in the days and weeks, possibly months ahead.
But I for one am thankful that our governor continues to put the principles of restraint, respect and dialogue above that of force and intimidation.
I encourage all to think for a moment before hurling that next cheap shot. Instead perhaps consider reaching out to say thank you. Thank Gov. Ige for being willing to take the relentless drubbing and below the belt hits, as the price paid to move with thoughtful deliberation focused only on an end result that is safe and just – a conundrum though that may be.
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.