5-year window for state to reimburse Hawaii county for Mauna Kea law enforcement

Updated: Dec. 13, 2019 at 5:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The protest against the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea started in mid July. It took the state and county to November 1 to sign their written agreement on how the state will reimburse the county for police overtime relating to the blockade.

Hawaii News Now obtained the memorandum of agreement which says it will "remain in effect for five years."

It will be "terminated once the joint operation to respond to the TMT protests has ended."

Hawaii county council member Maile David who chairs the finance committee says the time frame is the first she’s seen.

"I don't know why it's so long to tie in county police services for that long," said David.

"I think it's an anticipation or an expectation that this may go on for 5 years. I don't know," she added.

Public safety chair State Senator Clarence Nishihara says the five-year window allows state and county leaders to delay the stalemate into the next administration.

"My guess is that looking that it says 5 years, most of these people like the Mayor and the Governor will be out of office by then so it won't be their problem," he said.

The attorney general's office says the five years is simply a placeholder term and that the agreement can be ended sooner.

So far, state and county costs have been roughly $11.6 million dollars with about half coming from Hawaii county.

Hawaii News Now obtained a Department of Public Safety procurement request to extend a contract for rental of four wheel drive trucks and vans from January 1 to June 30, 2020 for $317,942.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii county council is once again taking up a measure for the state to essentially give the county a $10 million grant. David said that would work like a line of credit for law enforcement.

That hearing is on Wednesday in Kona at 9 a.m.

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