Evidence lacking in bureau probe
The state Ethics Commission has concluded allegations of ethical misconduct at Hawaii's property records agency have not been substantiated.
The commission says the allegations appear to be based more on suspicion and speculation than on specific, credible evidence.
It had been alleged Bureau of Conveyances employees received expensive gifts from title companies and others who file documents with the agency.
There were also allegations that certain title companies and individuals received preferential treatment from employees of the bureau.
In January an investigation by a committee of state lawmakers concluded the bureau suffered from "severe mismanagement" and constant office squabbles.
State moves to save bottom fish
Fishing for seven types of bottom fish will be banned in Hawaii waters starting Monday because the total allowable catch of 178,000 pounds for the season has already been reached, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said yesterday.
The bottom-fishing closure, which will be in place until at least Aug. 31, comes more than two weeks before the end of the season on May 1 and is aimed at protecting seven species -- ehu, gindai, kalekale, lehi, onaga, opakapaka and hapuupuu -- according to the state.
The current fishing season began Oct. 1.
The temporary ban will complement a federal bottom-fishing closure that kicks in Wednesday in all federal marine waters in Hawaii.
"Since 2005, bottom fish in the main Hawaiian Islands have been declared to be in a state of overfishing. If the federal total allowable catch were to be exceeded, this could have adverse consequences on Hawaii's fishery in the future," Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Laura H. Thielen said in a statement.
Postal Service curbs tax service
The U.S. Postal Service has stopped providing curbside service to last-second filers of federal tax returns at its drive-by collection boxes.
The Internal Revenue Service estimates that 57 percent of all returns will be filed electronically this year.
This year 27 post offices across Hawaii will offer late collection of mail from specially marked boxes on Tuesday to accommodate last-second filers. Only the airport office will remain open until 8 p.m.; all others will close at their normal times.
The Oahu offices offering late collections are Airport, Downtown, Ewa Beach, Haleiwa, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kaneohe, Kapalama, Laie, Makiki, Mililani, Waialae-Kahala, Waianae, Waikiki and Waipahu.
Neighbor island post offices with late collections are Kahului, Kihei, Lahaina, Makawao, Pukalani, Wailuku, Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Kamuela, Lihue, Kaunakakai and Lanai City.
Workplace marijuana use rises
Drug use in the Hawaii workplace changed little from the last quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008.
Marijuana use rose the highest in the period, according to quarterly statistics released by Diagnostic Laboratory Services.
This quarter's survey involved a sample size of about 9,000 workers or potential workers tested from January through March. The company handles drug testing for about 800 local businesses.
The statistics also show:
» Crystal amphetamine use increased to 0.6 percent from 0.5 percent.
» Cocaine use dropped to 0.3 percent from 0.4 percent.
» Opiates or prescription drug use dropped to 0.4 percent from 0.5 percent.
» Marijuana use increased to 2.3 percent from 1.8 percent.
Event to focus on mental illness
The ohana's role in helping people with mental illness will be the focus of the fifth annual Best Practices Conference April 23-25 at the Hawaii Convention Center.
The state Department of Health's Adult Mental Health Division and the Hawaii Consortium for Continuing Medical Education are presenting the conference, called "Family Psychoeducation: Fortifying Families of Birth and Choice."
About 300 consumers of mental health services, families, professionals and others are expected to attend the conference.
For more information, see www.amhd.org/best or call 735-3435 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police, Fire, Courts
Robbery and thefts lead to 3 arrests
Big Island police arrested two men last week wanted for a home invasion robbery in Hawaiian Acres on Nov. 24.
On Friday, Puna patrol officers arrested 22-year-old Darren Joao at a home in the Fern Forest subdivision.
Joao was charged with theft in connection with two stolen vehicles found at the home, police said. But he had not been charged with the home invasion. He is being held on $100,000 bail.
Police also arrested Joao's mother, 40-year-old Wendy Joao of Glenwood, for hindering prosecution. She was charged Saturday with hindering prosecution and for the theft of a stolen trailer and water tank also found at the Fern Forest home at the time Darren Joao was arrested.
The second man, a 24-year-old from Kurtistown, turned himself in to Hilo police last Thursday, the day after police issued a media release describing him as a person of interest. He was released pending further investigation.
Joao is suspected as being one of several men who entered a Hawaiian Acres home, police said. Two brandished firearms and one wore a mask. They reportedly demanded property and forced three men and a female minor into a vehicle and drove them away. The girl was sexually assaulted, police said.
Police ask anyone with information to call Detective Reed Mahuna at 961-2384 or the Police Department's nonemergency number at 935-3311.