A man died on Monday night after being tased, pepper sprayed and restrained by Honolulu police officers, according to a Honolulu Police Department press release.
The man, whose name was not released, was wearing dark-colored clothing, running in the middle of the roadway and acting erratically in an area of King Street fronting Iolani Palace, according to police.
“The male refused to leave the roadway, continuously running away and evading the officers as they approached him. OC pepper spray was used but was ineffective as the male continued to remain on the roadway,” according to the release. “An electric gun was deployed twice but was also ineffective. The male tripped and fell while trying to run away, at which time officers were able to gain control of the combative male and placed him under arrest. The male was escorted to the sidewalk when he suddenly became unresponsive.”
The man was later taken to Queens Medical Center in an ambulance where police say he died.
It’s not clear what caused the man’s death. Rade Vanic, a captain with the Honolulu Police Department, said no further details about the circumstances surrounding the death are being released at this time.
Since 1994, Hawaii police have killed at least 36 people and sent thousands more to local emergency rooms with various injuries, according to past Civil Beat reporting.
Civil Beat was eager Friday morning to report what Gov. David Ige and newly appointed Cabinet members had to say about the direction of Hawaii’s energy policy.
Women in Renewable Energy, a local nonprofit, was hosting a forum at The Plaza Club with Ige, Luis Salaveria, the new director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and Ford Fuchigami, the new director of the Department of Transportation.
Officials were there to “share their plans for Hawaii’s clean energy future.” Moderating the event was Asia Yeary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
It’s a particularly interesting time for the state with the pending sale of Hawaiian Electric Co. to Florida-based NextEra Energy, squabbles over the future of rooftop solar and a slew of utility-scale renewable energy projects poised to dot the Oahu landscape. And the forum seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about the views of some of our top government officials.
However, it was not to be. Yvette Maskrey, a WiRE board member and president of Honeywell International, was in the midst of announcing Ige to a room of attendees feasting on breakfast, when she apparently spotted a Civil Beat reporter in the doorway and decided to take the time to review the forum’s press policy, or no press policy, rather.
In the interest of cultivating an “open” discussion, she said press are banned from events hosted by Women in
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Hawaii Electric Light Co. has selected Ormat Technologies to provide an additional 25-megawatts of geothermal energy to the Big Island.
The company, with headquarters in Reno, Nevada, already operates the state’s sole geothermal plant, Puna Geothermal Venture.
The selection closes a drawn-out competitive bidding process that the electric utility initiated in November 2012. Companies were asked to resubmit bids after the utility said the proposals came in too high.
“Ormat was selected based on numerous criteria, including attractive pricing, technical design and capability, financial soundness, as well as commitment to resolving all environmental issues and to working with our Hawai‘i Island communities,” Jay Ignacio, HELCO’s president, said in a press release.
A formal contract for the energy still needs to be negotiated and submitted to the Public Utilities Commission for review, according to a HELCO spokeswoman.
More than 47 percent of the Big Island’s electricity is currently generated from renewable resources, including wind, hydro, rooftop solar and geothermal, according to HELCO.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell will deliver his third annual State of the City address on Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Foster Botanical Garden.
It’s an invitation-only event, as was the mayor’s first address in 2013.
The address will be lived streamed on StarAdvertiser.com, KITV.com and KITV Mobile, HawaiiNewsNow.com and the Hawaii News Now mobile app, and at olelo.org/olelo53, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
Last year, the mayor’s speech emphasized his focus on alleviating homelessness, meeting his island-wide road repaving goals and his efforts to create a more bike-friendly city.
The mayor also touted the city’s legal triumphs over rail opponents, allowing the project to move forward.
However, this year Caldwell is facing a political hot potato with the rail project as costs have soared, contributing to a $900 million budget shortfall. The mayor has been lobbying state officials to extend the General Excise Tax to pay for the project. Rail officials have warned that the project could run out of cash by this summer.
Hawaii’s solar industry has lost 400 jobs since 2013 and currently employs 2,200 people, according to a new report released by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar research organization.
The 15 percent decline was quickly panned by the local solar industry, which blames Hawaiian Electric Co. for the job losses.
For economic and technological reasons, HECO has slowed the amount of rooftop solar it’s allowed on its electric grids.
“It’s outrageous that Hawaii — with all of its abundant sunshine — is losing the economic and environmental benefits of a vibrant solar industry. The blame for this loss rests on Hawaiian Electric.” Robert Harris, a spokesman for the Alliance for Solar Choice, said in a Thursday press release. “For almost two years now, Hawaiian Electric held up the solar industry on a false premise. The solar industry consistently maintained, and now Hawaiian Electric finally admits, that vastly higher amounts of rooftop solar can be installed on the grid.”
HECO still leads the nation, however, in the percentage of customers who have installed rooftop solar on their homes — about 12 percent — and the utility has recently loosened restrictions on solar installations on Oahu.
Hawaii’s solar market has been particularly robust because of the state’s high electricity rates, which are the most expensive in the country and in recent years have averaged three times the national average.
More data from the report:
Councilman Ron Menor introduced a resolution on Thursday that would establish a city housing office in charge of affordable housing and housing for the homeless.
The Department of Housing would have cabinet-level status, ensuring that affordable housing issues receive high priority, Menor said in a press release.
Resolution 15-43 directs the City Charter Commission to review the proposal and approve a charter amendment that would be placed on the ballot during the 2016 election.
“We have a housing and homelessness crisis and the city needs to be bold and proactive,” Menor said in a statement to the media. “In this regard, I think the timing is right for a serious discussion to occur about whether a housing department is needed on the city level.”
This fiscal year the city appropriated $42 million to help house the homeless, as part of its Housing First initiative.
Menor noted that the other counties have such offices. Honolulu’s was eliminated in 1998.
The new department would take over the duties of the current Department of Community Services as it relates to affordable housing by July 1, 2017. It would also absorb a new housing office that Mayor Kirk Caldwell created this year for the same purpose, called the Strategic Development Office. That office is administratively attached to the community services department.
“Right now, the administration of the city’s housing programs appears to be somewhat fragmented and lines of accountability blurred, and so it sometimes is tough to figure out who’s
Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council have placed a major emphasis on a so-called Housing First strategy that places the most chronically homeless individuals and families into long-term housing. It’s a trend that has been gaining momentum on the mainland in recent years.
In Room for Debate, the New York Times dissects some of the arguments for and against the policy. An excerpt:
More cities have adopted a homeless policy which might seem like common sense — give homeless people housing. Proponents say it saves money over time and is more humane.Opponents call it a naive approach to a complicated problem, which also costs too much.
Read the discussion here.