Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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Kokua Line

Lack of staff leaves U.S. flag flying at night

Question: I was driving home from dinner on June 18, and I noticed someone raising the U.S. and state flags in front of the state Capitol. Since when are those flags raised at 11 p.m.? I am from a military family and found this to be quite disturbing. Who is responsible for raising the state Capitol flags?

Answer: A staff shortage is the reason given for the flags being raised — then lowered — so late that day.

Flags at the state Capitol were flown at half-staff on June 18 in honor of former Hawaii County Mayor Stephen Yamashiro, who died on May 24.

“When flown at half-staff, it is customary to raise the flag to full staff before lowering,” explained Donalyn Dela Cruz, press secretary for Gov. Neil Abercrombie. This is what you may have observed at that late hour, “prior to it being lowered for the evening,” she said.

The Department of Public Safety’s Sheriffs Division is responsible for the usual raising of flags at sunrise and lowering at sunset at the Capitol.

“That Saturday evening, the sheriffs were short-staffed and were unable to lower the flags at the customary time,” Dela Cruz said.

Title 36, Chapter 10, of the U.S. Code lays out the rules for handling, flying and storing the American flag. However, the rules are meant to be guidelines in showing respect to the flag, and the code does not set forth penalties for straying from the guide.

Regarding flying at night, the U.S. Code says, “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

 Q: I am curious as to why the Fourth of July fireworks were not over Flat Island in Kailua this year. Usually they are shot from a barge near Flat Island, but they appeared to be deployed from the ocean closer to Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Will this new setup continue next year?

A: The barge carrying the fireworks usually is located near Popoia Island (aka Flat Island), unless the water is rough or there is some other reason, said Brook Gramann of the Kailua Fireworks Committee.

That is not expected to change.

Fourth of July fireworks in Kailua, a tradition that began in 1948, initially used Flat Island as the launch site. But concerns were raised about it being a bird sanctuary, forcing organizers to use a barge as the launching pad.

Crimes Against Senior Citizens

In Thursday’s “Kokua Line” about whether a charge of assaulting a senior citizen is different from “plain assault,” we said the “enhancement for a crime against a senior citizen is not in the charges, but in the sentencing.”

Stephen H. Levinson, retired associate justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, says that is incorrect.

Citing State v. Jess, which he wrote in 2008, Levinson said the state Supreme Court held that “a charging instrument,” whether an indictment, complaint or information, “must include all ‘allegations, which if proved, would result in the application of a statute enhancing the penalty of the crime committed.’”

Therefore, he said, “the enhancing fact that an assault has been committed against a senior citizen must be contained in the original charge.”


Mahalo and aloha to Virginia, owner of The Cottage, and Aleka, a server at Cinnamon’s Restaurant in Kailua. My friend from Oregon came here to scatter her young daughter’s ashes in the ocean. I wanted her to experience guava pancakes — the best — at Cinnamon’s. While waiting for a seat, we went into The Cottage to look around. When asked why she was visiting, my friend began crying. The compassion that followed was incredible to witness. My friend left Hawaii experiencing the true meaning of “aloha.” — Anne Battles


Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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