By Star-Bulletin Staff

Wednesday, April 16, 1997

Storm delays last flight
of 300 Kurds from Guam

A Pacific typhoon has delayed the last flight of 300 Kurds from Guam as the military prepares to close Operation Pacific Haven, which since September has helped more than 6,600 asylum seekers.

After establishing the humanitarian assistance effort 218 days ago and spending more than $10 million, the military was planning to send the last Kurdish evacuees to Hawaii and their mainland destinations today.

However, Typhoon Isa temporarily postponed that flight.

Lt. Gil Mendez, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said the flight, which was to stop briefly in Honolulu to allow the Kurds to change planes before flying to San Francisco and other resettlement areas on the mainland, was delayed for 48 hours because of the typhoon.

Conferees begin
budget task tonight

Tonight, when House and Senate conferees begin what could be 1-1/2 weeks of negotiations on the state budget, they find themselves deeply divided on three crucial issues:

Where and how deeply they should cut.

How generous they should be with tax breaks.

To what extent they should fund collective-bargaining agreements, given the state's fiscal woes.

Both sides are promising to cooperate to reach a common ground without resorting to the verbal fireballs Gov. Ben Cayetano hurled in denouncing the Senate budget proposal as devastating to government services.

House Finance Chairman Calvin Say (D, Palolo) said he is keenly interested in learning what assumptions the Senate used to forge its budget plan, which included deep cuts in welfare and in many areas in the second year of the upcoming fiscal biennium that begins July 1.

Senate Ways and Means Co-Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) declined to comment. But her remarks last week suggested there are aspects of the Senate budget that could be used for horse-trading. In the wake of a welfare protest at the state Capitol, she conceded the Senate didn't intend to cut the general assistance program, although the Senate had marked general assistance, which costs $27 million annually, for a 50 percent reduction.

The House is proposing an $11.8 billion operating budget for the next two fiscal years. It slashes only $100 million in general operating funds from what Cayetano is requesting. That's because the House budget plan was forged before the latest Council on Revenues forecast, which projects a $257 million revenue shortfall over the fiscal biennium.

As a result, the Senate went deeper -- cuts of more than $541 million in general operating funds. And its operating budget for the biennium totals only $11.4 billion.

Suspected robber
was on furlough

HILO -- Police are holding a 27-year-old Hilo man on suspicion of robbing two Hilo banks while taking part in a prison furlough program.

The man was on furlough from the Hawaii Community Correctional Facility, but was supposed to report back daily to work at the jail's cafeteria, officials said. He had not reported to work for two days, they said.

The suspect, who was arrested yesterday in connection with the robberies, had been serving a one-year sentence for theft and forgery. He was due to be released tomorrow, they said.

The first robbery took place at the Hilo Shopping Center branch of the First Hawaiian Bank April 9. On Monday, the Pioneer Savings Bank in downtown Hilo was robbed by a suspect fitting the same description: A stocky man with a note claiming to have a weapon who escaped on foot.

The suspect was arrested after witnesses identified him in a photo lineup, police said.

Monday's Big Island bank robbery was one of three reported in the state that day.

Couple benefits package
acceptable, gay marriage foe says

An opponent of same-sex marriage yesterday says he can accept implementation of a broad benefits package this year if that is needed to get a constitutional amendment before voters.

Mike Gabbard, chairman of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, said he remains opposed to granting marital benefits to gay and lesbian couples, but the primary focus of his campaign now is to get the amendment on the ballot so same-gender marriage is banned.

"The political realities are, obviously at this point, that we're not going to get the constitutional amendment unless those benefits are given," he said.

The Senate wants to extend some 200 state benefits to couples who register as reciprocal beneficiaries, a category that would be open to any two people who cannot legally marry. The House's latest proposal lists five benefits, but Speaker Joe Souki last week said the House has agreed to go along with most of the Senate's package.

Conferees currently differ over when the package would take effect.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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By Star-Bulletin staff

Purse snatcher,
on parole, arrested

A 17-year-old boy suspected of snatching a visitor's purse at Waikele Shopping Center last July -- dragging him nearly 40 feet -- has been arrested.

The boy, arrested yesterday at 2 p.m., was returned to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Center where he was on parole since February, police said.

The youth allegedly admitted to being the driver of a van that snatched the bag of a Japanese visitor, 59, as he walked through the shopping center parking lot on July 11, 1996.

The visitor was dragged until his bag, strapped to his arm, broke free, police said.

Tennessee murder
suspect nabbed

A Tennessee man awaits a hearing to determine whether he should be returned home to face murder charges.

Honolulu police, at the request of the Memphis Police Department, arrested the 21-year-old man yesterday after he stepped off a plane at Honolulu Airport.

The man is being sought by Memphis police in the shooting death of another man.

Other Police/Fire headlines
in today’s Star-Bulletin:

  • Man damages car after long chase
  • Factory for fake IDs found in hotel
  • Theft, robbery suspects arrested

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
See our [Info] section for subscription information.

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