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State briefs for May 16

17 people arrested during sweeps at wilderness park

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — State law enforcement officers arrested 17 people during a pair of sweeps on Kauai’s west coast.

The people were arrested last week from Napali Coast State Wilderness Park for being in a closed area without a valid permit.

Officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources made the arrests acting on potential illegal activity going on in Kalalau, Chief Robert Farrell said.

Officials heard about the illegal activity at Kalalau through social media, Farrell said.

“Some of the behavior depicted on blogs and websites is brazen, clearly illegal, disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture, damaging to natural resources and completely devoid of any appreciation for the wilderness character of the Napali Coast,” Farrell said.

What was posted on social media caused significant public outrage, state Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said.

Three of the 17 people arrested are accused of illegally residing in Kalalau Valley for a long period of time.

Napali is Hawaii’s largest and most remote state park, so it never had funding for full-time coastal staff, Cottrell said.

“Our hope is to get new positions and funding authorized specifically dedicated to the Napali Coast to tackle this ongoing issue,” Cottrell said.

Justices reject challenge to open primaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court turned away challenges to open primaries in Hawaii and Montana that allow voters to take part in party primary elections regardless of their political affiliations.

The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place rulings by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the states’ open primaries.

Democrats in Hawaii and Republicans in Montana challenged the open primaries as a violation of the parties’ constitutional right to freedom of association.

Voters do not have to be affiliated with a political party to cast ballots in primary elections.

Number of homeless vets increases on Oahu

OAHU (AP) — New data shows the number of homeless people and homeless veterans on Oahu increased.

Data released last week shows Oahu’s homeless population increased by 0.4 percent, bringing the new total to 4,940 people. The homeless veteran population grew by 9 percent for a new total of 449.

Other Hawaii islands and communities saw a simultaneous decrease in homeless veterans, some by as much as 35 percent.

Oahu officials scheduled a two-day training event in June for social services outreach workers that will focus on lowering homeless veteran numbers.

 

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