Star-Bulletin staff and wire

Leaseholders sue city over fee-simple rights

A group of leaseholders at the Admiral Thomas condominium project is the second this week to take the city to court for allegedly violating their rights to purchase the fee simple interest in their properties.

The lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court yesterday by six leaseholders at 1221 Victoria St., asks the court to order the city to honor its contracts. They are also seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

The City Council is poised to vote today on a bill that would repeal Chapter 38, an ordinance passed in 1991 to help leasehold owner-occupants gain title to the land under their units. The bill would limit lease-to-fee conversions to those that have already received City Council approval.

But attorneys for the leaseholders say the amendment makes their situation even worse and doesn't adequately protect those who are currently going through the process.

UH regents approve new social work dean

The University of Hawaii's Board of Regents approved the appointment of Jon K. Matsuoka to be the permanent dean at the School of Social Work at the Manoa campus.

Matsuoka has been on the school's faculty since 1985 and has served as interim dean since 2000.

"He led the school's successful preparation for reaccreditation and we are well along on the university's commitment to meeting the state's need for social workers," said University Chancellor Peter Englert

In 2003, the Council on Social Work Education granted the maximum eight-year accreditation for the university's bachelor's and master's degree programs.

US News and World Report's graduate school rankings have consistently placed the university's master's in social work program in the top 30 such programs in the country. It is the only master's degree program in that field offered in the state.

Matsuoka has focused his research and scholarship on sociocultural impact assessments, indigenous practices and subsistence economies, community development and Pacific indigenous well-being.

He received a master's of social work from the University of Washington and a master's degree and doctorate in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan.

Volunteers needed for annual whale count

Want to help count whales?

Volunteers on the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai are needed to help with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary's 2005 Ocean Count on Saturday, Feb. 26 and March 26.

Counting whales from shore during set hours (8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.) provides some of the data the sanctuary uses to study whale population distribution.

Volunteers on the Big Island and Oahu can help without advance training. Volunteers on Kauai are asked to attend a free training session.

To register, call (888) 55-WHALE, extension 253, for the Big Island; 397-2651, extension 253 for Oahu; and 246-2860 for Kauai. Results from the three counts, combined with aerial surveys, will be made available on the sanctuary Web site at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov.

Lingle urges solutions for long-term care

The problem of paying for the long-term care for Hawaii's elderly can't wait for a perfect solution, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday.

Lawmakers need to find an answer now, Lingle said while visiting with members of an advisory board to the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. at Maluhia Long Term Care Health Center in Honolulu.

"If others have their ideas, they should bring them forward this session," she said. "But we should agree that we should come out of this session with some help families on this long-term health issue."

During her State of the State address to House and Senate members Monday, Lingle proposed as part of her plan tax credits for those who buy their own long-term care insurance.

About 127,000 people in the islands are age 70 or older, a number that will increase 64 percent by 2025 to 209,000, she said.

"We ignore this fact at our peril," Lingle told lawmakers.

Lingle had unsuccessfully promoted a similar tax credit plan last year.

While a credit for individuals doesn't appeal to Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee, a credit for employers does, because employers can often purchase policies at a lower cost than individuals.

Police, Fire, Courts


By Star-Bulletin staff


Man struck by van remains unidentified

The city Medical Examiner's Office is trying to determine the identity of the body of an Asian man believed to be in his 60s who was hit by a van near North School Street on Monday morning.

He is about 5 feet 3 inches tall, and 173 pounds.

The man has a scar down the center of his chest, indicating he had a heart procedure, and his left leg has a scar, where arteries may have been removed for a heart bypass surgery.

The man was wearing a tan-colored hat with a floral print band, a red T-shirt with a floral design dyed with "chili red," white socks and white tennis shoes, according to a medical investigator.

The victim appears to walk every morning since his shoes appeared worn down, the investigator said.

The man had been crossing Aupuni Street near North School Street when he was struck by a white 1990 van, police said.

The van driver told police that he did not see the pedestrian due to sun and glare when he attempted to make a left turn on Aupuni Street at about 8:15 a.m.

Police said there is no crosswalk on Aupuni Street.

The man was taken in serious condition to the Queen's Medical Center, where he later died.

Woman, 18, detained over forged check

Police arrested an 18-year-old woman who allegedly forged a $13 check, made it into a $4,000 check and then tried to cash it.

The suspect allegedly stole the check from a couple's mailbox and then altered the dollar amount and changed the "payable to" line to include her name. On Monday, she tried to cash the altered check at two separate branches of the same bank, one of them in the Kamehameha Shopping Center, police said.

Police arrested her later in Waikiki for investigation of second-degree forgery after she was heard uttering that she had attempted to cash a stolen, altered check.

Police arrest man for drive-by shooting

An argument between two 19-year-old men in Kalihi turned into a drive-by shooting just before 6:30 Monday night, police said.

Police said that after the argument the suspect drove off, then pulled out a handgun and fired in the victim's direction along Kilohana Street, hitting the windshield of a vehicle.

The suspect fled but was later found by Kalihi patrol officers. He was arrested for investigation of first-degree attempted murder, reckless endangering, criminal property damage and firearm offenses.


Victim reports sex assault after moving

Police arrested a 33-year-old Waipahu man Monday for a sexual assault that allegedly took place in Hawaii Kai last summer.

Police said the victim told them that in July 2004, she and the suspect were in a vehicle and that he pulled into a secluded area and sexually assaulted her. The incident was not reported until now because the victim has since moved away and feels safe, police said.

Patrol officers arrested the suspect at his Pupukahi Street home for investigation of two counts of first-degree sexual assault.

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