Charter amendment to cap taxes fails
The city Charter Commission unanimously rejected a proposal yesterday that would have capped property tax assessments at 2004 levels and allowed for only permitted percentage changes to valuations and taxes.
The proposed City Charter amendment was an attempt to address rising property values facing homeowners, supporters said.
It's unreasonable to expect property owners to bear the costs of rising values, said Katherine Kupukaa of Mililani, whose property taxes rose 35 percent last year and 24 percent this year.
Opponents, however, said that it should be up to the City Council to decide how to offer needed property tax relief.
"The Council legislative process is where timely and carefully crafted relief can be obtained," said Mike Abe, chairman of Democrats for Property Tax Fairness.
Commissioners, in preventing the measure from being placed on the ballot this fall, agreed.
"I believe it's a legislative function, and clearly they're on top of it," commissioner Darolyn Lendio said of the Council, which has several pending property tax measures.
Low electric reserves prompt warning
Hawaiian Electric Co. is asking residents to conserve electricity as energy reserves dip well below the preferred level for the second time in three months.
Oahu residents and businesses could face blackouts if the energy levels continue to fall, because four of HECO's power generators are offline for repairs.
HECO also asked its larger commercial customers, including the Honolulu Police Department, to reduce their electricity use.
HECO spokesman Jose Dizon said yesterday there were only 23 megawatts in its reserve, although the utility prefers to have at least 180 megawatts in reserve.
The last time HECO asked the public to conserve electricity because of a shortage was in November, Dizon said. The generators need more repairs because they are old, which puts a strain on supply.
HECO asks for cutbacks on electricity use especially during peak hours, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Slump in volcano mystifies scientists
HILO » The summit of Kilauea volcano slumped yesterday. Nobody knows why.
The activity, similar to a balloon slowly losing air, was first noted at 5:45 a.m.
By 4:20 p.m. the process, called deflation, had stopped after a total loss of 4.7 microradians. That's the thickness of 4.7 dimes viewed from a half mile away -- not even visible without instruments, but a "fairly substantial" change to what's normal at Kilauea, said geologist Don Swanson.
Normally such a change would signal magma moving underground, away from the summit area toward one of the rift zones on the outer edges of the volcano.
But instruments showed no such underground movement yesterday. A video camera perched on Pu'u O'o cone on the east rift showed nothing unusual. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers reported no increase in lava flowing on the park coast.
It's possible that there could be some kind of delay, and lava flows could increase today, Swanson said. But where would the magma have been during the delay, he wondered.
Another possibility is that the magma moved down, back into the earth. But the movement happened too quickly to make that a likely explanation, Swanson said.
Police, Fire, Courts
By Star-Bulletin staff
More help needed in solving man's death
Police are asking for the public's help again as they seek information on the death of a 23-year-old Makaha man whose burned body was found near Keaau Beach Park in 2002.
John Reverio was last seen on May 11, 2002, camping at Lahilani Park. Three days later, police found his badly burned body. Reverio frequented the Makaha area and was 5 feet 5 inches, 145 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, police said. He was last seen wearing a dark-colored sweater with shorts and slippers.
Anyone with information can call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.
Man suspected of stealing 2 cars
Police charged an 18-year-old man with allegedly driving two different stolen cars within the last two days.
James Lawrence Gouveia is being held on $11,000 bail after police arrested him Monday. Police said Gouveia had been driving another stolen vehicle Sunday in Waianae but officers lost sight of him.
Monday, officers saw Gouveia driving a different stolen vehicle about 12:15 p.m. and arrested him for suspicion of two counts of auto theft.
News spurs missing woman to call family
CrimeStoppers said a Pearl City woman who had been missing since Dec. 23 has been located. Angela Baker, 33, called her family after seeing news reports last week, police said.