State briefs for March 23

Details to be worked out for who pays for ex-chief’s lawyer

HONOLULU — Retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha says he wants to stick with the federal taxpayer-funded lawyer who’s been representing him on corruption-related charges.

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Kealoha swore in court Friday he’s satisfied with his attorney, Rustam Barbee. Kealoha and his wife, former prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, received taxpayer-funded attorneys when they said they couldn’t afford to hire lawyers.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright called for the hearing after learning the Honolulu Police Commission approved a request for a city-funded attorney to represent the ex-chief in a case focusing on allegations the Kealohas used police resources to frame a relative.

It’s unclear whether the commission’s decision allows the city to reimburse the federal government for Barbee’s work. Seabright says he won’t allow the city to decide who represents Kealoha.

Hawaii ukulele makers celebrate Portuguese roots

HONOLULU — The owners of a family ukulele business in Hawaii will celebrate their deep musical roots during a cultural festival in Portugal.

Joe Souza and his wife, Kristen, were invited by the Portuguese government to perform during the island of Madeira’s ukulele festival next month.

The owners of Kanilea Ukulele in Honolulu said they also will take part in a weeklong celebration recognizing Portugal’s ties to Hawaii.

Joe Souza said he has been designing and building ukulele for 21 years using the techniques of his ancestors who first came to Hawaii from Portugal 140 years ago.

The Souzas said that while preparing for the trip, they learned about their family tree and how their relatives made the journey to Hawaii.

After Portugal, the couple is scheduled to perform at ukulele festivals in Brussels, Berlin and London.

Report: Hawaii leads the nation in union membership

HONOLULU — Hawaii leads the nation in union membership, according to a federal labor report.

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued Wednesday named Hawaii as the state with the highest national union membership in 2018 with 139,000 workers.

The report said 23.1 percent of wage and salary workers throughout the islands are union members and that the state’s union representation increased from 21.3 percent in 2017.

During the same period, the remainder of the country saw 10.5 percent of wage and salary workers represented by unions, down 0.2 percent from 2017, according to the report.

Neal Milner, a retired political science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said private and public unions represent employees from blue-collar workers to white-collar government employees and can still impact island politics.

Sailor who died at Pearl Harbor accounted for

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A sailor from Massachusetts, who died when the Japanese sank the USS Oklahoma during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, was identified, military officials announced Friday.

Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Roman W. Sadlowski, 21, of Pittsfield, was accounted for in December following a lengthy process that included advanced DNA and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a statement.

The battleship USS Oklahoma was struck by multiple torpedoes during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack and quickly capsized. A total of 429 crewmen on the battleship were killed.

The remains of the crewmen were recovered during the next few years and buried at two cemeteries in Hawaii.

After World War II, efforts were made to identify the remains, but scientists were only able to confirm the identities of 35.

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The rest were buried at the Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Those remains were exhumed in 2015 for additional analysis using modern scientific techniques.

To date, 203 of those sets of remains from the USS Oklahoma have been identified, according to Chuck Prichard, a spokesman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

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