State briefs for March 14

Hanabusa calls for missile alert transparency

HONOLULU — U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, who is leaving her seat in Congress to challenge Gov. David Ige in the state’s gubernatorial race, says she is troubled by her opponent’s lack of transparency surrounding January’s false missile alert.

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Ige’s office has denied Associated Press requests to release phone logs, text messages and instant messages related to the missile alert.

Hanabusa calls the denial “disturbing,” and says it’s “the latest in a troubling series of events that undermines public confidence” in the state’s government.

On Monday, the governor’s spokeswoman, Cindy McMillian, responded to a request for an AP interview with Ige, saying Ige has “spoken about this incident many times and has nothing further to add.”

McMillian says there is “no legal requirement” for the governor’s office to keep such records.

Hanabusa is calling for a “transparent accounting of the facts.”

At least 6 reports of kid-on-kid sex assault on bases

HONOLULU — A decade after the Pentagon began confronting rape in the ranks, the U.S. military frequently fails to provide justice to the children of service members when they are sexually assaulted by other kids on base.

An Associated Press investigation found sex assault cases occurring where military kids live and learn often die on the desks of prosecutors. Criminal investigators shelved an unknown number of reports.

Instead of punishment or rehabilitation, young offenders might be shuffled into the civilian world.

In Hawaii, AP documented at least six cases on Marine or Navy bases since 2007. The Army disclosed no reports at Schofield Barracks, Oahu’s most populous base. The Pentagon doesn’t know the extent of the problem, and the Army acknowledged records it provided are incomplete.

Pentagon officials promised “appropriate actions.”

Social media posts prompt uptick in unlawful hikes

HONOLULU — Social media posts have increased traffic on unsanctioned hiking paths throughout the state, according to a Hawaii trail specialist.

Aaron Lowe, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ trails and access specialist, said there has been a dramatic increase in the use of state trails, as well as people going to places that are obviously dangerous.

“Anyone’s basically able to post any type of information about a trail that they hiked on regardless of jurisdiction trespass, hazard or maintenance,” Lowe said. “Other people have access to that information and see it’s a beautiful place, are intrigued and want to go regardless of whether it could have a risk and be extremely dangerous.”

On Instagram, a search for #haikustairs yields more than 34,000 posts, with new ones as recent as March 5. The shuttered staircase that scales high up the Koolau Mountains on Oahu — requiring trespassing — has become one of the popular unsanctioned hikes. Another spot is Makapuu Tom Tom on Oahu, a popular spot to take selfies.

A typical example occurred Sunday, when Honolulu Fire Department rescue crews extracted two hikers, a male and a female, who were stuck in a steep clearing left of the Haiku Stairs trail.

The department is also responding to an uptick in calls for help from injured and wayward hikers compared with 15 years ago, said veteran rescue Capt. Peter Akiona. During 2017, the department responded to 367 hike-related calls.

Honolulu begins replacing street lamp bulbs

HONOLULU — The City and County of Honolulu on Monday began replacing tens of thousands of street lamp light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights.

The city estimates it will use 60 percent less energy to light the streets by December 2019 after all 53,500 bulbs are replaced.

Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chairman Robert Finley said he hopes the change brings a reduction in crime.

The swap will save taxpayers about $5 million a year. The Greater Waikiki branch of The Outdoor Circle supports the cost-cutting measure, but it has concerns — mainly that the lights could bring light pollution to Oahu.

The organization also is concerned with the lights’ effect on plants and marine life.

The city said the LED lights will use a warmer color recommended by the American Medical Association.

Red Hill analysis concerns regulators

HONOLULU — A Navy analysis might underestimate the contamination potential of leaks from 20 giant underground fuel tanks at Red Hill near Pearl Harbor, environmental regulators said.

More than 27,000 gallons leaked from one of the tanks in 2014.

The EPA and the state Department of Health sent a letter to the Navy last month outlining their concerns about the Navy’s work.

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The Navy and regulatory agencies are working on a 20-year-plan to reduce the risk of leaks and fuel contamination from the tanks.

The letter, on the EPA’s website, says the Navy and its consultants appear to be prematurely drawing conclusions about a model predicting groundwater flow and the movement of contaminants. It said the Navy’s approach might not lead to a “conservative evaluation.”