POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 22, 2010
Question: It's been more than three months since we bought our new refrigerator and were promised a $250 rebate. When will we be getting it? "Kokua Line" said it would take at least 12 weeks to process the rebates ("Kokua Line," Aug. 6). It's past 12 weeks.
Answer: Everyone due a rebate is assured they will get one -- eventually.
"This is all taxpayer money, so the process of verification is taking longer," said Derrick Sonoda, director of operations for Hawaii Energy (also known as Science Applications International Corp.).
Hawaii Energy managed the federally funded rebate program on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.
A "little under" 8,000 rebate applications were received by Hawaii Energy; as of last week it had processed more than 4,000.
"Checks are flowing," Sonoda said. But it is not simply Hawaii Energy handling the rebates, he said.
"The money is not just sitting in Hawaii in a bank account" ready to be disbursed, Sonoda explained. The process also involves state and federal oversight.
"We do appreciate everybody's patience on this," Sonoda said. In the end, "everybody will get paid."
For more information, call 537-5577.
Regarding a "Kokua Line" question about whether a police officer can demand to see someone's ID without any apparent reason ("Kokua Line," Sept. 10), the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has "police contact cards" available, explaining what to do when stopped by police.
One card is for adults and the other for youths up to age 18. They are available online at www.acluhawaii.org.
For more information, you can contact the ACLU of Hawaii at P.O. Box 3410, Honolulu, HI 96801; or at email@example.com.
The "Kokua Line" question dealt with an officer confronting a Chinatown vendor; the Honolulu Police Department said the officer may have been trying to issue a citation.
As a general rule, police officers in Hawaii cannot walk up and start questioning you for no reason, nor can they ask for your name or ID for no reason, said Daniel Gluck, senior staff attorney with ACLU.
This practice, known as "walk and talk," is unconstitutional, he said.
An officer can stop and question you if there is "reasonable suspicion" to believe that you have been involved in or have information about a crime, but you can always refuse to answer questions until you have a chance to speak with a lawyer, Gluck said.
If you are stopped while driving a car, you must show a license, registration and insurance upon request, he said. But if you are a passenger, the rules are the same as if you're out on the street. Police cannot question you or ask for your ID without a reason, Gluck said.
If you feel that an officer has acted improperly, you are advised to talk to a lawyer. Or, file a complaint with the police department. In Honolulu, contact the Honolulu Police Commission (723-7580) and HPD's Internal Affairs Division (529-3286). See www.honolulupd.org/main/complaint.htm for more information.
To our angel Kalea, who stopped to help us on Saturday when our car overheated on Mokapu/Saddle Road. She went to her home and brought back water for our car and stayed with us until we were good to go. Mahalo for your true aloha spirit. -- Mary and Michael