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Newswatch

Friday, April 22, 2011

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:



Godbey is named city’s top attorney

Robert Godbey, who headed the state’s investigation into the fatal 2006 Ka Loko Dam breach, has been appointed the top attorney for the city.

Mayor Peter Carlisle announced his nomination of Godbey as corporation counsel yesterday at a news conference in his office.

Godbey succeeds Carrie Ann Okinaga, who was appointed by Carlisle’s predecessor but agreed to stay on with the new administration until June 30. She has been appointed by Carlisle to serve on the semiautonomous Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit.

Godbey is a partner in the firm of Godbey Griffiths and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and later in Hawaii. His nomination is subject to confirmation by the City Council.

Godbey was chosen by then-Attorney General Mark Bennett to lead the investigation into the March 14, 2006, dam tragedy on Kauai that killed seven people when torrents of water swept them and two houses into the ocean. Godbey’s January 2007 report spread possible blame among the dam’s owner, the state, the county and Kilauea Irrigation Co., which failed to maintain the dam.

Tax revenue down, state reports

State tax collections are down by 5.5 percent through the first nine months of the fiscal year, the state Department of Taxation reported Wednesday.

Revenue would have increased 0.3 percent if not for the impact of former Gov. Linda Lingle's decision to delay income tax refunds last year.

Still, collections appear to be falling short of the latest projection by the state Council on Revenues. The council has predicted that revenue will decline 1.6 percent for the fiscal year that ends in June.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state lawmakers are closely following the monthly revenue figures as they try to close a projected two-year budget deficit of $1.3 billion.

Through March, general excise and use taxes — the largest source of state revenue — have increased by 5.7 percent over last fiscal year. Hotel room taxes are up 24 percent over last year. But individual income tax collections are down 25.9 percent, most due to the delay in refunds. Corporate taxes are off by 151.8 percent.

NEIGHBOR ISLANDS

Park to turn into pasture

A crew of inmates is building fences and gates for the Kapulena Agricultural Park in Hamakua to be used as pasture land.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported yesterday the Hawaii Community Correctional Center inmates are taken to the parcel daily to work.

Once work is complete, 50 to 80 head of cattle will graze on the land for six months to a year.

About 90 percent of the former sugar cane land is overgrown with Guinea grass and ironwood trees, which need to be removed.

After the land has had time to recover from grazing, it will be offered to farmers.

Sex offender gets 25 years

A man convicted of sexually assaulting women during Maui burglaries has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The Maui News reported yesterday 33-year-old Solomone Mahe was ordered to serve at least six years and eight months before being eligible for parole.

Judge Rhonda Loo said the crimes left women feeling unsafe in their homes and that the victims probably suffered psychological damage.

Mahe was convicted of sexually assaulting women during burglaries of five Kahului residences in 2008 and 2009. He apologized in court Wednesday, saying his parents told him to stop drinking.

National Parks week

Admission to Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks is free through Sunday as part of National Parks Week. Other national park sites in Hawaii, including the USS Arizona Memorial, do not charge an entry fee. Future “fee-free” days at national parks are June 21, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11-13. Go to www.nps.gov.






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