Local Connection: TMT Board Approval

The Hawaii land board made the right call last week, when it approved the Thirty Meter Telescope for construction on Mauna Kea.

The telescope will be good for science, good for our educational system and for the local economy.

The board also set significant conditions. Its requiring the removal of several existing telescopes, insisting that benefits extend to the local community and ensuring and encouraging native Hawaiian cultural access.

Critics still vow to protest, and appeal, and the land board didn't do itself any favors in the way the decision was made and rolled out.

The 345-page approval document was signed just seven days after closing arguments in the contested case hearing... Since when has state government ever done anything that quickly? It certainly made it look like taking months of public testimony was just for show.

And the board members voted secretly, without any public discussion. That may have been legal – but it looked cowardly and suspicious.

There's a term used in politics and public relations when something is good but looks bad. They call it "bad optics."

How ironic that a good decision about the world's most powerful telescope would end up clouded by bad optics.

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