POSTED: Saturday, October 31, 2009

UPW and mayors pause talks

Negotiations with the United Public Workers union remain on hold while the county mayors review whether to join Gov. Linda Lingle in a final offer to the union.

“;We're examining it right now,”; Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday. “;The basic template is there, which is furloughs—something that we support for county workers. ... As in everything else, the devil is in the details.”;

Lingle said Wednesday she had issued a second request asking the mayors to join her in making a last, final offer to UPW, and she had hoped to hear back from them before leaving for a trip to China. The governor left yesterday on a two-week tour of six cities to promote tourism, business, renewable energy projects and sister-city relationships but said she will stay in touch with her staff should she be needed.

“;We want to be real careful,”; Hannemann said. “;We're going to take the same approach as we did with (Hawaii Government Employees Association)—the four mayors collaborating together.”;

Error brings dismissal of sex assault charges

;[Preview]  Gerard Mueden In Court

Sex Assault Charges Dismissed On School Portrait Photographer:

Watch ]


A state judge, citing a clerical error, dismissed sexual assault charges yesterday against a professional photographer accused of fondling two children during school picture-taking at Lehua Elementary School in Pearl City.

Prosecutors said an Oahu grand jury returned an indictment earlier this month charging Gerard Fernandez Mueden, 31, with two counts of third-degree sexual assault.

But the grand jury foreman told Circuit Judge Glenn Kim yesterday there is a mistake, that his panel did not return an indictment against Mueden. The foreman could not discuss what the mistake was because grand jury proceedings are secret.

Kim dismissed the charges but kept the door open for the state to refile them.

Kalalau Beach area to close for months

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will close portions of Kauai's Kalalau Beach for several months in 2010 to make improvements in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.

Rockfall mitigation is planned for the western end of Kalalau Beach above Hoolea waterfall and the beach cave to improve public safety, a department news release said.

Work will temporarily close that section of the park, beach and Kalalau Trail, and campers will be directed to alternative camping sites and water sources.

The department is working with federal, state, and Kauai county agencies to comply with current regulations and permits. The agency hopes to begin the project before summer and expects it will take two to three months.

Chief medical examiner Kanthi De Alwis retires

Dr. Kanthi De Alwis, who has served as Honolulu's chief medical examiner since 2001, has retired to pursue other endeavors, the city announced in a news release.

“;I've had a very fulfilling quarter of a century in public service and have accomplished my major goals and objectives for both the Medical Examiner's Office and for our community,”; De Alwis said in the news release.

De Alwis has conducted thousands of autopsies and been involved in several high-profile death cases here.

One of her first tasks as chief medical examiner in 2001 was identifying the victims of the Ehime Maru, a Japanese boat sunk in a collision with a Navy submarine off Oahu.

Dr. William Goodhue, who has been serving as first deputy medical examiner since August 2001, will become interim chief medical examiner. De Alwis' last day was yesterday.

Man rescued after injurious fall from tree

Fire rescue crews rescued a man in his late 60s or early 70s who was seriously injured when he fell about 25 feet from a tree and down a steep embankment yesterday in Kalihi Valley.

The man was trimming a tree in the back yard of a Kamanaiki Street home when he fell and landed in mangrove trees growing on the banks of Kamanaiki Stream.

A fire rescue company and two engine companies responded to the 12:15 p.m. call. The rescue workers hiked down and cut the man free from the mangroves, said fire Capt. Terry Seelig.

The man, who suffered life-threatening injuries, was placed on a backboard and into a metal stretcher, which was hauled up the embankment with ropes, Seelig said.

When they reached the top of the embankment at about 1:15 p.m., fire rescue workers turned him over to Emergency Medical Services paramedics, Seelig said.