Baptiste is fined for donations
Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste was fined $6,000 by the state Campaign Spending Commission this week for donating more than four times the legal limit to community organizations and nonprofit groups during the past four years.
Baptiste, who apologized in a statement, said his campaign was not properly tracking what they had given. "I've always tried to support community to the fullest extent possible," the mayor added. "I take full responsibility for this happening."
From 2002 to 2006, Baptiste's campaign made 124 donations, totaling $17,226, to various community organizations and nonprofit groups, said Barbara Wong, executive director of the Campaign Spending Commission.
In donations from $10 to hundreds of dollars, Baptiste's campaign donated to "just about every group on Kauai," Wong joked.
Baptiste also violated a new campaign spending rule prohibiting donations between filing to run for office and the general election, Wong continued.
The legal limit for donations by a mayor is $4,000 within an election cycle, the same as private donations to a mayoral campaign.
Both laws intend to keep politicians from donating to groups in exchange for votes, Wong added.
Flags lowered for LBJ's widow
State flags at all state and county buildings will be flown at half-staff tomorrow in remembrance of Lady Bird Johnson.
Gov. Linda Lingle ordered the flag to be lowered in conjunction with the day of Johnson's interment and President Bush's order to lower the U.S. flag on this day.
Johnson, the widow of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, died Wednesday at age 94.
Hanauma Bay cleanup tomorrow
The Friends of Hanauma Bay Organization is conducting a community cleanup of the Hanauma Bay beach, park and Kalanianaole Highway from 8 to 11 a.m. tomorrow.
The cleanup will start from Keahole Street to the Blow Hole area after Hanauma Bay. Volunteers are welcome and will be provided with work assignments, gloves and garbage bags. Volunteers are asked to bring proof of residency to access the beach for free. For more information, call Harvey Shapiro at 395-1217.
Bodies found after ship's sinking
The first bodies from the sinking of a 420-foot ship that ran into Typhoon Man-Yi were recovered and three more survivors were found, U.S. Coast Guard officials said yesterday. Nine crew members were dead or missing.
The three bodies were pulled from the water overnight where the bulk log carrier Hai Tong No. 7 went down Tuesday, 375 miles northwest of Guam, officials said. The number of survivors among the 22-member crew rose to 13, with eight receiving medical attention in the U.S. territory about 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.
The Coast Guard cutter Sequoia arrived on scene yesterday to coordinate operations as the air and sea search continued for the remaining six missing crew members. The search also included Coast Guard crews from Honolulu. About 100 square miles had been searched.
Survivors told authorities the ship, owned by Fuzhou Haijing Shipping, was en route from Papua New Guinea to China when the cargo began shifting as the vessel encountered 70 mph winds and 24-foot seas from the typhoon.
Nettle caterpillars found on Maui
Two Maui residents each turned in a stinging caterpillar to the state Department of Agriculture on July 6 and Tuesday.
Infestations of the stinging caterpillars, also known as the nettle caterpillar, were found on the Big Island in 2001 and at a nursery in Central Oahu last month.
The Maui residents, living a mile apart, found the caterpillars at their homes in Haiku. Agriculture staff on Maui surveyed the area around the residences but did not find any other caterpillars. The Maui staff set up traps for the caterpillars.
The Agriculture Department is asking residents and nurseries to look out for the nettle caterpillar and report to the state toll-free Pest Hotline at (808) 643-7378.
Police, Fire, Courts
Suspect accused of assault, nudity
Police have charged a South Kona man who allegedly assaulted two police officers while running around a neighborhood naked.
On Tuesday night, police responded to complaints about a naked man running around Ulua Drive near Papa Bay Road. At about 7:15 p.m. a man reported he heard breaking glass in a house after seeing a naked man running with a stick.
Two officers went to the home and entered through an unlocked door to check on the occupant. The resident, Michael David Negrini, threatened the two and ran out, police said. As officers searched for him, Negrini allegedly jumped out of the bushes and swung a metal pipe at one officer, who blocked it with his baton and suffered a cut, police said. As the second officer tried to help, the suspect allegedly hit him twice before being subdued.
Negrini was charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree assault of a police officer, two counts of second-degree assault, resisting arrest, criminal property damage, disorderly conduct, open lewdness, trespassing, terroristic threatening, harassment, disorderly conduct and criminal tampering.
Negrini was later charged with third-degree assault for allegedly slapping his cellmate while in the Kona police cellblock. Bail was set at $50,250.
Man hurt while skateboarding dies
A 22-year-old Big Island man died yesterday at a Honolulu hospital after being injured in a skateboarding accident in the Kailua-Kona area, police said.
The Medical Examiner's Office identified the man as Mark Kurashige of Holualoa. He was medevaced to the Queen's Medical Center after the July 2 accident. An autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death.