State Briefs 2/27


UH to conduct accountability study

HONOLULU — A University of Hawaii Board of Regents task group will conduct an accountability study of the university system.

The news comes in the wake of last year’s botched Stevie Wonder concert that was intended to raise funds for the athletic department, but instead cost the school more than $200,000. The problem was that Wonder and his representative never authorized the concert.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that the $260,000 study will include interviews of UH administrators, legislators and representatives from the governor’s office. He says the inquiry is unprecedented in its scope and will focus on financial transactions.

University spokeswoman Lynne Waters says the review is expected to be completed within 12 weeks.

Residents to be asked to pay for fireworks

HONOLULU — Organizers of the annual Kailua Fourth of July fireworks do not want the display to fizzle again this year.

KITV-TV reports to keep that from happening, there is a move under way to have residents of the beachside community northeast of Honolulu pay for fireworks.

Free fireworks have been a tradition for residents in Windward Oahu. But Jody Sakaba with the Kailua Fireworks Committee says it has become an ordeal to put on the show. Last year, there was no show.

Now a number of residents have formed a nonprofit organization to ensure that the show goes on. Instead of relying on big contributions from business for the fireworks display, a fundraising campaign will be targeted at residents.

Jail officers shift duties during escape probe

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s public safety director says two jail officers have been shifted from transport to administrative duties while authorities investigate how an inmate was able to escape their custody from a loading area at a courthouse in Honolulu.

Director Ted Sakai of the Department of Public Safety said Tuesday the corrections officers are not suspected of purposely allowing Teddy Munet to escape.

But Sakai says the department is reviewing whether the circumstances that allowed Munet to escape last week are a one-time incident or signs of ongoing issues.

Sakai says he has asked the National Institute for Corrections to review Hawaii’s practices for transporting inmates. But Sakai says the agency will likely be unable to send someone right away because of automatic federal spending cuts expected to take effect Friday.

House finance committee approves voter fraud bill

HONOLULU — House lawmakers will consider prohibiting Hawaii employers, unions and candidates from helping voters complete their ballots after a committee approved a bill aimed at preventing voter fraud.

The House Committee on Finance approved a proposal that would also require people who send in absentee ballots to pledge that they did so in secret.

The bill approved Monday would also and require ballots to include information about voter fraud and its consequences.

Supporters say the bill is necessary because of past problems with voter intimidation. They say the proposal could help protect the democratic process.

County clerks from Maui and Kauai say the bill would impose an administrative burden on their offices. They say state law is already consistent with federal law regarding voter fraud.