1st tobacco payment likely in two weeksThe national tobacco settlement has been expedited with court approval of a master settlement agreement in at least 45 jurisdictions, state Attorney General Earl Anzai announced.
"We expect the first national tobacco settlement payments within two weeks," Anzai said.
The first payment to Hawaii is expected to be $14,790,000. Total payments over 25 years are expected to be $1,179,165,900. Hawaii will use the money to meet health needs through disease prevention programs, and for a reserve or "rainy day" fund.
Health Director Bruce Anderson noted that Hawaii has gained national prominence for its progressive stance in championing use of tobacco settlement funds for health measures.
"Among the states participating in the master settlement agreement, Hawaii is a leader for having dedicated the largest percentage of the funds for health-related purposes," he said.
UH Faculty Senate against power line planThe University of Hawaii-Manoa Faculty Senate voted yesterday to oppose a $31 million proposal by Hawaiian Electric Co. to put 1.5 miles of underground power lines through the campus and 2.3 miles of overhead lines up Waahila Ridge.
Senate members said construction would disrupt the campus and that power poles on the ridge would disturb the environment.
The company says the proposed Kamoku-Pukele transmission line project will improve power reliability.
The public has until next month to comment on HECO's revised draft environmental impact statement on the project.
Ferry should be back in operation MondayTransportation officials expect the WikiWiki Ferry to be back to regular service Monday after mechanical problems shut it down for two days.
A technician from Seattle was scheduled to arrive here to repair the commuter ferry, which halted service Thursday and yesterday. Eric Schiff, vice president of Pacific Marine & Supply Co., said the ferry would be running Monday if repairs went smoothly.
Commuters can call 848-6360 for updates.
First Night seeks major sponsor but will go onFirst Night Honolulu is planning another nonalcoholic New Year's Eve bash, but it needs help in the form of a major sponsor.
Starbucks rescued the $40,000 event last year, even though crowds at the event have become smaller over the years. But Starbucks ended its participation as of September, leaving the city and the Hawaii Medical Service Association as the only continuing sponsors, said Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the event's organizer.
A bit of good news is that the Hawaii Community Foundation came aboard last week as a new sponsor, and the show will go on -- although in a somewhat reduced form -- with a food court and children's activity center in the works. Entertainment geared toward adults also is probable, said Kathy Nelson, MADD Hawaii president.
"We are going to proceed with what we have and would, of course, welcome other sponsorships," she said.
The event might take place at Ala Moana Park, a vantage point for traditional New Year's Eve fireworks.
At its height First Night extended over about 40 downtown blocks and drew some 100,000 people. But in most of its seven years, attendance was about 50,000.
The Willie K and Amy Hanaiali'i concert at Hawaii Theatre took place last night, not tonight as listed with yesterday's record review. We regret the error.
Police, Fire, Courts
By Star-Bulletin staff
Honolulu Police Department Crimestoppers
Police seek red Honda in Ewa Beach shootingPolice are searching for a red two-door Honda hatchback in connection with the slaying early this morning of a 21-year-old man in Ewa Beach.
Police said the shooting began when the victim and his friends got into an altercation with another group in Ewa Beach.
The victim and his friends drove mauka on Fort Weaver Road while three cars gave chase. The cars surrounded the victim's vehicle near Fort Weaver and Renton roads at 12:54 a.m.
A person in one of the cars, the red Honda, fired at least one round, hitting the victim in the chest, police said.
He was taken to St. Francis Hospital and airlifted to Queen's Hospital, where he died. No arrests had been made as of this morning.
Stabbing victim, 28, attacked by male pairA 28-year-old man was hospitalized after being stabbed yesterday in Chinatown.
The victim told police he was attacked by two unknown men near Maunakea and Pauahi streets at 11:45 p.m. No arrests have been made.
Police need help ID'ing man found dead ThursdayThe city medical examiner's office is seeking help in identifying a man who died Thursday.
Earlier, someone called 911 when the man appeared to be lifeless in the 1100 block of Nuuanu Avenue. He was seated under a tree and failed to respond, the caller said.
The man was pronounced dead at 10:35 p.m. at Queen's Hospital.
He was described as about 5 feet 9 inches and 183 pounds, of undetermined age, dressed in a brown print aloha shirt, brown trousers and cowboy boots. He had a tattoo on his right upper arm that appeared to be an eagle or some other type of bird. There was no visible evidence of foul play.
Purse-snatcher remains unknown, on the loosePolice are asking for help in identifying a suspect in a Nov. 9 purse-snatching in the vicinity of the old Byron II Steak House at Ala Moana Center.
The suspect in the 10 p.m. offense accosted a woman walking through the shopping center parking lot. He ran up behind her, grabbed her bag, threw her down and ran off with the purse, police said. The theft was captured on security surveillance cameras.
Police say at least five similar cases occurred between Oct. 27 and Nov. 14 near Ala Moana and surrounding streets. All took place after dark with lone female victims. The suspect in each of these cases is described similarly.
He is said to be between 30 and 40 years old, 5-foot-9 to 6 feet tall, 220-250 pounds with a heavy build, tan complexion, black hair and a mustache.
He was wearing a black cap with a logo on front, a black T-shirt and green camouflage pants. CrimeStoppers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to his arrest. Call 955-8300.
Woman indicted in theft of assistance benefitsAn Oahu grand jury this week indicted Midge Okouchi, also known as Midge Nakamura, on a first-degree theft charge for obtaining general assistance benefits by deception.
Okouchi collected benefits between December 1996 and October 1997, whose value exceeded $20,000, according to court documents. If convicted of first-degree theft, she faces 10 years in prison.
4 rare Hawaiian species closer to protection listA settlement reached yesterday moves four rare Hawaiian invertebrates -- Blackburn's sphinx moth, Newcomb's snail, the Kauai cave wolf spider and the Kauai cave amphipod -- closer to protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund filed the suit on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity. The goal of the Aug. 31 filing was to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take final action on proposed rules to add these four Hawaiian invertebrates to threatened and endangered species lists.
The settlement requires Fish and Wildlife to take final action on the proposed lists no later than Jan. 26 of next year.
"This settlement is a victory for Hawaii's mini-wildlife," said Peter Galvin, conservation biologist for the center. "Although insects and snails are easily overlooked, they are integral to Hawaii's native ecosystems, and the center is committed to championing these less-charismatic species."
Ewa Villages fraud suspect denies chargeA defendant in the Ewa Villages relocation fraud pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a second-degree theft charge.
The charge against Kenneth Lauahi is in addition to second-degree theft and second-degree forgery charges made against him in December, in connection with a scheme that cost the city thousands of dollars in relocation money.
Lauahi is expected to go to trial on those charges next month.
Prosecutors say the scheme was masterminded by fired housing official Michael Kahapea, who allegedly had friends and acquaintances set up bogus companies that billed the city for moving work that was never done or done at inflated prices.
Kahapea and at least six other defendants are scheduled to go on trial in May. He also is charged with fraud in city projects on Middle Street and West Loch.