Monday | December 11, 2017
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State briefs for November 11

Panel recommends putting sprinklers in 150 buildings

HONOLULU (AP) — An advisory committee formed in response to the deadly fire at the Marco Polo apartment building recommended to the Honolulu City Council that 150 older buildings be retrofitted with automatic sprinkler systems.

An original list identified 360 buildings that could use sprinkler systems, but the Residential Fire Safety Advisory Committee narrowed it down.

It is older buildings where residents walk out of their apartment and into an enclosed hallway that need the sprinklers, said assistant Fire Chief Socrates Bratakos.

The committee’s recommendations are just guidelines and require approval from the mayor and City Council.

The Honolulu Fire Department is also backing a bill to amend fire code. If that’s approved, buildings 20 stories or higher would need sprinklers installed in common areas within eight years and buildings 10-19 stories within 10 years.

The bill will be considered Tuesday during the meeting of the City Council’s Committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs. Officials are expected to discuss the committee’s recommendations at that time.

Taxpayers to fund defense for ex-chief, wife

HONOLULU (AP) — Taxpayers will fund attorneys to defend ex-Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, in a corruption case, a judge ruled Thursday.

The Kealohas, accused of framing a relative, are eligible to receive court-appointed counsel at no cost, said U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright.

The Kealohas were arrested last month and released on bond after pleading not guilty.

Earlier this week, their current attorneys filed a motion saying they wanted to withdraw from the case and that the Kealohas no longer could afford to pay them.

Seabright asked the couple to fill out financial affidavits and he questioned them behind closed doors about information they provided.

Seabright said it would be unfair to air their financial details in public.

Seabright said he will contact attorneys on a list for indigent clients in federal court. Those lawyers agree to accept fees from the government that are less than what they could charge.

The Honolulu Federal Defender’s Office can’t represent the couple because it provided counsel for the man the Kealohas are accused of framing.

Man in ocean rowboat rescued

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday rescued a Chinese man who was voyaging from California to Asia in an ocean rowboat.

The Coast Guard identified him as Ruihan Yu, a Chinese national who was rescued about 35 miles northeast of Maui.

A Coast Guard news release said the 32-year-old Yu left California on June 9 and was headed for China and Taiwan when his 18-foot vessel developed communication failures and a damaged rudder.

Yu’s friend notified the Coast Guard that Yu was in possible distress after receiving a text message from him on a two-way satellite communication device.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Tara Molle says Yu planned to continue to his final destination of Australia.

Governor names preferred location for new Oahu jail

HONOLULU (AP) — Gov. David Ige announced the preferred location for Oahu’s new jail is a site in Halawa Valley, where the state Department of Agriculture’s Animal Quarantine Facility is located.

Ige said the site was selected in part because it is close to the existing Halawa Correctional Facility.

The location would make it easier for the existing lockup and the proposed new jail to share some services. The site also is convenient for moving inmates to downtown Honolulu courthouses.

The property has a buildable land area of about 25 acres and is already owned by the state. The size of the property would allow for a more efficient and less expensive low-rise design for the new jail.


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