Newswatch



By Star-Bulletin Staff

Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Navy tests on whales can continue, judge says

The Navy's need to develop its future antisubmarine technology outweighs the need to stop sonar experiments involving whales near the Big Island, U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor has ruled.

"The hardships do not tip sharply in favor of plaintiffs, and it does not appear that they stand to suffer irreparable injury," Gillmor wrote in her decision declining a preliminary injunction to stop the Navy.

The Navy began experimenting on humpback whales, during their mating season, about 10 miles off the west coast of the Big Island Feb. 26, the day after Gillmor refused Earthjustice's request for a temporary restraining order. The Navy is studying behavioral change when whales are exposed to low-frequency sounds. The information could potentially be used for antisubmarine technology.

A humpback whale calf was reported flailing yesterday near the area of the Navy's testing by a team from the Ocean Mammal Institute.

The orphaned calf breached, or flipped over, 215 times in the first two of five hours it was observed, according to Leigh Calvez, the institute's research coordinator. The team said it notified Eugene Nitta of the National Marine Fisheries Service, who told the Navy to keep an eye on it.

Calves are rarely, if ever, abandoned by their mothers, said Marsha Green, founder of Ocean Mammal Institute, who originally brought the suit against the Navy.

"In all my years studying whales, I've never seen a calf without its mother. It just doesn't happen," Green said. "I certainly think there's a possibility it's linked to the LFA (low-frequency active sonar) testing. The calf is going to die. It's very sad."

State tax revenues were flat in February

State tax revenues were flat last month, and the cumulative total for the first eight months of the current fiscal year shows revenues are running 1.4 percent behind what was collected in the same period in the previous fiscal year.

The state Council on Revenues last week revised downward its revenue forecast for the current fiscal year to 1.2 percent growth. Its prediction three months ago was for a gain of 1.4 percent.

Tax revenues last month totaled $231.1 million, virtually the same as in February of last year, state Tax Director Ray Kamikawa said today.

The state's largest revenue source, the general excise and use taxes, declined $6.9 million, or 5.3 percent, in February as compared with February 1997. "This decline," Kamikawa said, "is almost fully offset by a $6.3 decline in state income tax refunds. Revenue from the (hotel room) tax increased $1.3 million, or 11.3 percent."

So far this fiscal year, more than $1.9 billion in tax revenue has been deposited into the state's general fund.

State to help Kauai enforce boating rules

The state will join Kauai County in enforcing boating regulations in Hanalei Bay, says Howard Gehring, state Boating Division chief.

The state agency sent out notices to 1,500 registered boat owners to announce the enforcement effort among the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, Kauai Police Department and the Kauai County Planning Department.

For several years, companies have ignored a court injunction and launched boats on the Hanalei River without county permits.

County officials have said lack of state participation has hampered enforcement.

Gehring said the state has updated its conservation officers, police personnel and county planning inspectors in current state and county rules regarding Hanalei boating.

Hawaii eats high on hog of 'pork' spending

WASHINGTON -- A group that exposes wasteful government spending took aim at so-called "pork-barrel projects" today, and Hawaii was one of its main targets.

The annual Congressional Pig Book, released today by Citizens Against Government Waste, found that Hawaii receives more pork per capita than any state except Mississippi and Alaska.

Hawaii received $102.7 million worth of pork projects this year, or $86.59 worth for every resident, the group said.

The book also lambasted Sen. Daniel Inouye, the powerful senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as one of Congress' top "oinkers." Inouye received the "Treasure Island Award" for the $849 million "bounty of pork" he has showered on Hawaii since 1991.

CAGW awarded Inouye the "Sushi Slush Fund Award" for pushing a $127,000 grant for aquaculture research in Hawaii, including cultivating edible seaweed.

The group defines as "pork-barrel" spending money appropriated by Congress that meets any two of these criteria: requested by only one chamber of Congress; not specifically authorized; not competitively awarded; not requested by the president; greatly exceeds the president's budget request or the previous year's funding; not debated at congressional hearings; serves only a special interest.

Many of the projects listed in the Pig Book are familiar to Hawaii residents - who might be surprised to see them labeled as pork.

The director of the Sierra Club-Hawaii Chapter, for example, defended as money well spent the funding to control the brown tree snake and algal bloom.

"This group (CAGW) appears to have an anti-environment bias rather than an orientation to saving taxpayers' money," said David Frankel. He said the funds to keep the brown tree snake out of Hawaii "protects our environment and protects the long-term interests of our economy."

Inouye, Akaka back Swindle for FTC post

WASHINGTON -- In his bid for Senate confirmation as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, Orson Swindle today got support from some unusual sources.

During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Swindle's appointment, the two-time Republican candidate for Congress from Hawaii was praised lavishly by Sen. Daniel Akaka, whom Swindle almost ran against a few years ago, and Sen. Danielml6 Orson

Swindle Inouye, whom Swindle blamed for his 1996 loss to Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

"You can be political adversaries and still have respect for one another," said Swindle after the hearing.

Swindle was nominated as an FTC commissioner Nov. 7 as the top choice of Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has known Swindle since the two were prisoners of war together in Vietnam 30 years ago.

Swindle has been serving as a commissioner since December, but the job still requires Senate confirmation.

At today's hearing, both Akaka and Inouye cited Swindle's record as an assistant commerce secretary and Department of Agriculture appointee under President Reagan, as well as his military record and political involvement in Hawaii.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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Police/Fire


By Star-Bulletin staff

Officials investigating series of fires on Maui

WAILUKU - Fire officials are investigating a series of fires early this morning that damaged restrooms at a state park in Keanae, a portable toilet two miles west of the park, and a fruit stand in Huelo.

Acting Assistant Fire Chief Donald Moniz said the first fire appears to have been started at the restrooms and then other fires were started moving west along Hana Highway toward Kahului.

Moniz said initial reports indicated the fires were reported between 1 and 1:30 a.m.

Damage is estimated at $8,000 to $10,000 at restrooms at the Kaumahina State Park, $800 to the portable toilet, and $300 to $400 to the fruit stand, Moniz said.

Assault charge pending in beer bottle attack

Second-degree assault charges are pending on a 19-year-old man who reportedly hit another man in the head with a beer bottle.

The injured man, 26, got into an argument with his girlfriend following a family gathering on Puamaeole Street in Ewa on Sunday night. The man then challenged and attempted to attack the suspect, who is a relative of the woman, police said.

During the attempt, the suspect hit the man with a 20-ounce beer bottle on the left temple area, police said. The injury required two stitches.

Police search for man who threatened his wife

Police are searching for a 54-year-old man who allegedly threatened to kill his estranged wife with a knife last night.

The two, who are separated, got into an argument at the woman's apartment on North Kukui Street at about 10 p.m., police said.

The husband dragged his wife, 54, into a bedroom where he apparently beat the woman and threatened her with a knife for 30 minutes.

The man then fled the apartment.

Police said he faces kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening and domestic abuse charges.

Collision badly injures Ewa Beach residents

Two Ewa Beach residents were hospitalized in critical condition after a head-on collision yesterday on Fort Weaver Road near Parish Drive.

A 23-year-old woman, driver of a two-door sedan, and her 26-year-old male passenger were confined at Queen's Medical Center with head and chest injuries.

They were airlifted by military helicopter after the 7:59 a.m. accident.

The driver of the other vehicle was also flown to Queen's with a chest injury.

He was released after treatment.

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