Tax assessments hold steady
After four years of sharp increases in homeowners' property values, city officials expect this year's assessments to remain about the same as last year's.
City officials say it is too early to predict how the steady values could affect homeowners, who should be receiving their assessment notices in the mail as early as the end of the week.
"We know the assessments are flat," said city Budget Director Mary Pat Waterhouse. "For residential properties overall, it looks stable."
It might come as a relief to homeowners across Oahu complaining about their soaring property taxes after property values increased by double digits for the past four years. For the city, however, the lower assessments could place them in a financial crunch since property taxes are the city's single largest source of income.
"It's going to be a difficult challenge," Waterhouse said. "We know that it's not going to be an easy year."
Dems' fundraisers feature Dean
Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, will be in Honolulu for a series of Democratic fundraisers tonight and tomorrow.
Dean is expected to attend a $1,000-a-person dinner tonight, hosted by Rich Turbin and Rai Saint Chu. Contributions to that fundraiser will go to the Democratic National Committee, according to Jeani Withington, Hawaii Democratic Party chairwoman.
Tomorrow, Dean will hold a $50-a-person fundraiser for the local party at the Mandalay Restaurant at 7 p.m.
Dean also plans to meet with various interest groups including ethnic organizations and legislative leaders. Dean is stopping in Hawaii after going to Guam to visit with Democrats there.
Meteor shower peaks tonight
The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight, giving sky-gazers a reason to stay up late.
The best time for viewing is generally between midnight and dawn, said Carolyn Kaichi, manager of the Bishop Museum Planetarium. But meteors might be visible earlier in the evening, said Chris Peterson from the Hawaiian Astronomical Society.
The Geminid shower is named after the constellation Gemini because meteors appear to radiate from the area around Gemini, Peterson said. Gemini rises in Hawaii skies at around 8 p.m., he said.
This year, the planet Mars is also visible near Gemini, and Mars is near its closest approach to Earth and at its biggest and brightest, Peterson added.
The best place to see meteors is in an area away from artificial light where a lot of sky is visible.
Looking directly at Gemini is generally not the best place to see meteors, because they fall away from the radiant, Peterson said.
Police, Fire, Courts
Crash kills 1 man and injures another
WAILUKU » A Maui man died and another was in critical condition yesterday after a motorcycle-car collision in Kahului.
Ryan Cornell, 24, of Wailuku died after the motorcycle he was riding struck a car at 6:43 a.m.
Police said Cornell was on the motorcycle on Kuihelani Highway heading toward Lahaina when it struck the side of a car making a left turn out of Maui Lani Parkway.
He died at the scene of the crash, and a 49-year-old Kahului man was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center in critical condition.
Police said investigators were still looking into whether excessive speed, alcohol or drugs might have contributed to the crash.
Cornell's death was the 21st traffic fatality in Maui County this year, compared with 19 for the same period last year.
Knife is used in alleged threats
Police arrested a 47-year-old man Tuesday who allegedly threatened to stab two men.
At about 7:50 p.m. the suspect approached two men in Waikiki, threatened to stab and kill them, and then brandished a knife, police said.
Police arrested the suspect on suspicion of first-degree terroristic threatening.
2 males sought in Manoa robbery
Police are looking for two males who robbed a teenager in Manoa this month.
On Dec. 3 at about 3:50 p.m., a teenage male was approached by two other teenagers on Oahu Avenue. The first suspect pulled the victim's shoulder bag, knocking him to the ground. Police are seeking him and the other male, who are both described as between 15 and 17 years old.
The first suspect is about 5 foot 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, and was wearing a black baseball cap, white T-shirt, blue denim pants and slippers. The second teen, who is wanted for questioning, is about 5 foot 8 inches tall, 200 pounds, and was wearing a white T-shirt, blue denim pants and tennis shoes.
Anyone with information about this incident should call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.