Saying there's no other alternative, U.S. District Judge David Ezra yesterday gave the state until June 15 to correct problems at the Hawaii State Hospital and its mental health facilities. If that isn't done, he'll appoint a special master to take over.
U.S. judge puts state on deadline
to correct mental health facilities
"Unless the state wants to lose control of an essential and important control of government, running a mental health system, it needs to move forward," Ezra said.
Under a consent decree, Hawaii had until this past Jan. 3 to meet certain conditions and bring the state mental health system into compliance with federal laws.
Yesterday, Ezra said the responsibility of ensuring that deficiencies in the state's mental health system are corrected will be with newly appointed Health Director Bruce Anderson. However, it's up to the Legislature and governor to provide Anderson with the funding and resources to enable the department to comply.
"We'll do our best to meet his expectations," Anderson said yesterday.
U.S. Department of Justice officials surveyed the Hawaii State Hospital, Kahi Mohala, and Queen's Hospital's Family Treatment Center last month and noted improvements have been made and basic care needs are being met.
However, problems still remain, said Verlin Deerinwater of the Department of Justice.
Some problem areas cited include the state facility's failure to coordinate services with other state agencies, lack of appropriate or individualized treatment plans for patients and failure to carry them out, and failure to evaluate the effectiveness of these plans.
Ezra ordered that by month's end, the state and Justice Department develop a compliance team to come up with a plan to address outstanding issues.
The state by June 15, must have programs in place to address each of the issues identified by the compliance team. The court will hold a hearing Dec. 20 to determine whether the state has complied, Ezra said.
WASHINGTON -- The Clinton Administration will announce tomorrow a coordinated campaign to stop the spread of alien species, a costly but largely ignored problem that is worse in Hawaii than any other state.
Isle to benefit from Clinton planBy Pete Pichaske, Phillips News Service
to fight alien species
Clinton will order all involved federal agencies to address the spread of non-native plants and animals and call for a national management plan to be drawn up by July 1, 2000.
Two-dozen federal agencies now have some jurisdiction over alien species, and their fragmented efforts are widely regarded as part of the problem.
The announcement will come tomorrow at a meeting at the National Geographic Society headquarters here that will include top federal officials and biodiversity experts.
One of the examples to be cited is the brown tree snake, which has wreaked economic havoc on Guam and threatens to do the same in Hawaii.
The snake is only the best-known of the threats to Hawaii, widely agreed to be the state most at risk from non-native plants and animals.
Last year, BioScience magazine reported that 99 percent of the isles' rare plants and 98 percent of its rare birds are threatened by alien species.
Hawaii officials have estimated that an average of 19 new alien species a year are established in the isles.
Nationally, the economic damage of alien species -- the loss of native species and recreational opportunities, fire hazards, clogged waterways, etc. -- has been estimated at $123 billion a year.
Tomorrow's announcement will throw the weight of the Clinton Administration behind what has been a problem largely ignored by policy-makers here.
Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka, who has spearheaded mostly unsuccessful efforts in Congress to draw attention to the problem, called the impending announcement "an important breakthrough in the battle against alien species.
"All federal agencies will finally be required to adopt a comprehensive 'get tough' approach for controlling noxious alien plants and animals."
Two weeks ago, Akaka introduced legislation consolidating the federal government's efforts at controlling alien plants under the Department of Agriculture.
An Akaka spokesman said that proposal and the president's are complementary.
Hawaii courts have become user-friendly to immigrants.
To help immigrants seek justice,By Harold Morse, Star-Bulletin
isle courts provide translations
The courts launched a legal hot line in seven languages, and radio spots and videos on court procedures in Korean and Ilocano.
Hawaii Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon yesterday hailed the Multilingual LawLine and District Court videos as strides toward making courts accessible to all.
"These are tools that are necessary to help us bring forth that vision -- to make it a reality," he said.
The state has a growing immigrant community, and representatives of foreign-language media, ethnic organizations and immigrant-service providers are appreciated, Moon said.
Associate Justice Mario Ramil said that he, too, is an immigrant, though his Ilocano is rusty.
"Making the court more accessible is not an easy task," he said. "It takes commitment and effort."
Most traffic court defendants come unrepresented by counsel, said Administrative District Judge Marcia Waldorf on Oahu. It's frustrating for everyone when defendants can't understand procedures, including safeguards to help them, Waldorf said.
All videos are available at public libraries and will be screened on TV stations that specialize in Korean and Ilocano broadcasts, said Dew Kaneshiro of the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts. LawLine messages in various languages will be aired on Radio KNDI, she said.
The LawLine number: 528-5297.
LawLine messages are in Vietnamese, Cantonese, Ilocano, Spanish, Samoan, Japanese and Korean, on such topics as domestic violence and landlord-tenant disputes, Kaneshiro said.
Jennifer Kim, vice president of the United Korean Society of Hawaii, said she fields five to 10 calls daily from people who need legal help. "We have so many different problems," she said. "This is really good for the immigrant people."
State prison officials hope to resolve a dispute with a contractor over design of a fire sprinkler system that is holding up the opening of a 200-bed dormitory at Waiawa Correctional Facility.
Sprinklers delay inmate
J. Phil Tumminello, Waiawa warden, said: "The dormitory passes all fire safety codes, but there is a security concern."
At issue are exposed sprinkler heads in the new $2.5 million dormitory, which was supposed to have opened last month in the minimum-security prison. By hanging below the ceiling, the sprinklers are vulnerable to vandalism by inmates.
"The inmates could break them off, knock down or even set off the open sprinkler heads, causing water damages and disruption of the operations," he said.
There are 48 sprinkler heads in the living units and several dozen more in other areas of the dormitory.
Waiawa houses 230 inmates, about 100 inmates more than the intended capacity.
Once the dorm is available, it will allow the transfer of more than 100 inmates from the Halawa Correctional Facility and help ease overcrowding. The new building at Waiawa is to house inmates under the 12-month KASHBOX drug treatment program, which has had an 80 percent success rate in preventing recidivism.
Cayetano defends Hawaii's management
Gov. Ben Cayetano did not have much to say about a study by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and Governing magazine that concluded Hawaii is one of the worst-run states.
"Studies see things differently," Cayetano said through a spokeswoman.
Cayetano cited the Cato Institute, which gave the state's fiscal management a grade of D two years ago and recently raised the mark to a B.
The study released yesterday gave Hawaii an overall management grade of C-.
Six other states received the same grade, and only one -- Alabama, with a D -- did worse.
The study gave Hawaii an F in managing information technology; a C- in financial management; a B- in capital management; a C- in human resources; and a C- in managing for results.
The report blamed Hawaii's poor performance on complacency and a civil service system that hampers managers.
Hilo's such a rainy old town, especially nowHILO -- After extended periods of drought last year, recent rains in Hilo seem to be making up for it, according to National Weather Service figures.
Hilo got 4.69 inches of rain on Sunday, nearly half the total normal rainfall for January, the weather service said.
The downpour pushed the total for the month to 16.68 inches, well above the normal 9.88 inches.
The downpour slackened slightly yesterday, with 1.97 inches falling, equal to roughly a fifth of February's normal 10.29 inches, the weather service said.
The rain caused minor flooding on some streets, police said.
On Sunday afternoon, a lightning storm knocked out power to 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light Co. in Hilo, Puna, and Kona, the company said. The outage was as brief as six seconds for some customers but lasted about an hour for others, the company said.
House committee OKs mixed prison financingDespite objections from state Budget Director Earl Anzai that a privately financed prison would be more expensive, the House Public Safety Committee passed a measure to allow a prison to be built with both private and public funds.
Public Safety Chairman Nestor Garcia (D, Waipahu) also added amendments to require community input and approval of a prison.
The committee also passed another measure that would allow the issuance of $130 million in public bonds to build the prison, sending the debate to the House Finance committee to decide between the two bills.
"We would not consider private financing because it would double the cost," Anzai told the committee. He said private debt added to the debt from the state's other capital improvement projects could have an effect on the state's bond rating.
Volunteers offering free income tax preparationThe public can receive free income tax preparation through the volunteer Tax-Aide program at 54 sites, including libraries, places of worship and community centers beginning this month.
For more information, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040; or AARP at 1-888-227-7669. Oahu taxpayers can also call 275-2000, or 523-4545.
See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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By Star-Bulletin staff
> The Protection and Advocacy Agency of Hawaii filed a federal lawsuit yesterday on behalf of a woman patient who was allegedly raped by a male patient in November at the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe, and the agency asked health officials to provide more security.
Lawsuit filed for patient inBy Susan Kreifels, Star-Bulletin
hospital rape case
The agency said it warned hospital officials a month earlier about lax security after state attorney general investigations said other female patients had been sexually assaulted by patients and hospital staff. The agency asked them to lock more doors and place guards in halls.
The lawsuit said the woman was afraid to tell hospital officials about the November attack. On Dec. 17, the advocacy agency notified the hospital of the assault, but the hospital did not report it to police for another six days.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages and for the hospital to immediately provide a safe environment.
Patrick Johnston, spokesman for the state Department of Health, said he cannot comment on ongoing litigation.
Former murder suspect enters plea in assaultHILO -- Shawn Schweitzer, formerly a suspect in the 1991 murder of Dana Ireland, pleaded no contest today to an unrelated sexual assault.
Schweitzer, 23, pleaded no contest to fourth degree sexual assault for the incident on June 21, 1992, when he was 16 and the girl was 15, according to a statement from Deputy Prosecutor Charlene Iboshi and defense attorney Harry Elliason. No sentencing date has been set.
Elliason had a motion pending to have the charge dropped, saying the girl gave conflicting accounts of what happened, including that her participation was voluntary.
Schweitzer and his brother, Albert Ian, 27, were indicted in 1997 in the unrelated kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder of Big Island visitor Dana Ireland.
Charges against the two were dropped last year when the prosecution said there were new developments in the case, but added that the charge might be refiled.
Maui County being sued over drowning deathsWAILUKU -- The families of four men swept away by winter surf in Keanae in 1997 have filed lawsuits alleging they were not warned about dangerous conditions existing at a Maui County park.
Their attorney Arnold T. Phillips II said no warning signs were posted. "There still aren't any," he said yesterday.
Swept away by large waves near the Keanae Landing wharf were Georgia residents Meghal Shah, 33, Bhupendra Bhakta, 31, and his brother, Mitesh Bhakta, 32, and Utah resident Donald Arends, 50.
All four were flung against surrounding rocks and drowned, the lawsuit alleges.
The bodies of Bhupendra Bhakta and Meghal Shah were never recovered.
Man arrested in theft of Maryknoll computersA 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with stealing computer equipment from Maryknoll Elementary School.
The man was arrested on Wilder Avenue yesterday after detectives investigated several pawn shops, said CrimeStoppers Coordinator Letha DeCaires.
The detectives searched through receipts and found the name of a man whom they recognized to be involved with other burglaries. The man had recently sold a printer and computer to the pawn shop. They recovered the equipment as evidence, police said.
Eight Apple computers and two new Epson printers worth $10,000 were stolen last week from the first- and second-grade classrooms. A refrigerator, VCR, two compact disc players, toothbrushes and an electronic chess game were also stolen.
Vice Principal Carole Ota said the school has already replaced the stolen VCR and compact disc players from its operating budget.
"It's been very difficult," Ota said. "The students feel like their home has been broken into. We just try to tell them that sometimes it happens and we'll try not to let it happen again. And sometimes people do bad things."
The seized computer equipment is being held as evidence, DeCaires said.
The school may see the computers within a few weeks or may not see the equipment for up to two years, depending on what prosecutors want to do.
Knife wielder robbed Kalihi grocer, police sayA heavy man wearing a black T-shirt robbed a Kalihi grocery store yesterday, police said.
The knife-wielding man told the clerk to open the cash register at about 10:25 a.m., police said. He then grabbed the money and ran out of the store. He is described as 6 feet tall, 280 pounds, wearing light-colored pants and a dark knit cap.
See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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