- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii House Majority Leader Scott Saiki is calling on the state Supreme Court to speed up the contested-case hearings for the permit to build a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea.

The hearings have been moving slowly since they started on Oct. 20. Hundreds of exhibits, numerous attorneys and nearly 100 witnesses have been included in the case of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaii News Now reported (https://bit.ly/2hj7Ciy ).

Saiki is concerned the project may be abandoned because of the slow process. He’s asking the high court to appoint a master to ensure the process moves along in a timely manner.

“The master would help take control of the proceedings by deciding things like the scope of testimony, the number of witnesses, time limits that may be imposed. Basically, decisions that would help to streamline the procedure,” Saiki said.

But it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will step in.

Earlier this month, the court dismissed an appeal by opponents of the telescope project who argued the hearings process is flawed. The appeal was dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

Attorney Richard Wurdeman, who has represented opponents of the project, said that ruling means the court may also not have jurisdiction to appoint a master.

Project officials have said they hope to complete the contested case hearings and get a new permit by early 2017. But that could be delayed until late next year, which they say may put the entire project in jeopardy.

Saiki is arguing for a Supreme Court intervention to bring clear guidance to the case.

“Especially in a case like this, the TMT case, there are multiple parties, multiple legal issues, there are a lot of witnesses, a lot of exhibits — there needs to be someone in charge of this,” Saiki said.

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Information from: KGMB-TV, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/


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