State Briefs

Honolulu city council to vote on new $1M tax class

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HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu City Council is planning to vote on whether to establish a new tax class for homeowners with properties worth $1 million or more.

The new class would allow the city to tax the parcels at higher rates, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday ( ).

Council Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said the $1 million threshold likely removes concerns about landlords passing on higher taxes to tenants because the tenants more likely live in cheaper properties.

“We didn’t want their rents to increase,” Kobayashi said.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has said he supports the bill.

The president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii gave written testimony questioning whether it’s fair to tax more expensive properties at higher rates.

“The kind and amount of demand for city services is or will be the same,” Lowell Kalapa said.

Kalapa said the bill could discourage developers from building homes that expensive, and profits from expensive properties are sometimes used to subsidize development of affordable housing units.

The council also plans to vote on a bill repealing many exemptions for homeowners ages 65 and older.

Supporters of the repeal say Honolulu already has rules for homeowners with less than $50,000 in income to pay no more than 4 percent of their income toward property taxes. Homeowners older than age 75 are required to pay no more than 3 percent.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,

Hawaii man gets life for murdering Pa. professor

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HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii man convicted of killing a visiting University of Pittsburgh professor in 1996 was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins gave Jason Lee McCormick the mandatory sentence for second-degree murder.

The 40-year-old McCormick was convicted in June of killing Robert Henderson, a 51-year-old guest lecturer at the University of Hawaii.

Prosecutors say Henderson was strangled. His nude, decomposed body was found in his Waikiki condo five days after he was last seen leaving campus.

McCormick had a stipulated facts trial, where lawyers on both sides allowed Perkins to make a decision based on police reports, mental health evaluations and McCormick’s statements.

The case was unsolved until 2008 when McCormick confessed while being treated at a psychiatric facility. McCormick’s lawyer Michael Green has said McCormick later went to police and confessed again. He was not charged with second-degree murder until two years later.

During closing arguments, Green said McCormick was drunk and went into a rage because he was sexually abused as a child and believed Henderson made sexual advances toward him.

A message scrawled on Henderson’s body accused him of molesting children, which Henderson’s brother said was meant to divert attention. Police said there was no evidence to back up the child molestation claim.

Waianae trucking company owner cited once before

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HONOLULU (AP) — A trucking company owner under fire for hauling material dredged from a Hawaii Kai marina to a private Waianae property has been cited by the city once before.

The city’s planning and permitting department cited Sandra Silva for operating a trucking business on the Waianae property in 2009.

Silva removed trucks, trailers, containers, heavy equipment and other materials and supplies from the property to comply with the order, City Planning Director George Atta told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( ) in a statement. The city didn’t fine Silva.

On Friday, the city ordered Silva to stop disposing of the dredged Hawaii Kai material on her Waianae property until she can obtain a permit. The order calls for daily fines of $150 if a grading permit is not secured by Oct. 7.

Silva, owner of SER Silva Equipment, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine has urged Atta to deny future permit applications to dump sludge from the marina anywhere along the leeward coast.

Atta said the department?hadn’t received a request from the company for a permit as of Tuesday afternoon.

All grading permits, he said, must be approved if the applicant follows best management practices, including stabilizing the site and protecting abutting properties, for the material being used. He said the department will take additional steps to ensure public health and safety.

Atta said his agency will also look into Pine’s complaints that industrial work is being done on land zoned for agricultural use.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,

Kauai Marathon disqualifies prominent runner

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LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — A prominent marathon racer has been disqualified from the Kauai Marathon because his starting time was not electronically recorded.

The Garden Island ( reports Dean Karnazes was late to the starting line for the Sept. 1 marathon. An electronic mat that records times through a chip carried by runners had been removed when he began to run.

Karnazes was a host of the marathon. He’s known for his running exploit of 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days and he has written three books on running.

He completed the Kauai Marathon in 3 hours, 30 minutes, and won his age group.

He says he’s OK with being disqualified.

He says a road closure kept him from starting on time but that it’s his own fault.


Information from: The Garden Island,