KAHULUI – Early this morning Ocean Safety officials located a decomposing 10 foot-long baby whale carcass, about 100 yards offshore of Ka’a point, also known as “Kite Beach”, near Kahului airport in Kanaha. A 10 foot-long tiger shark was seen feeding on the carcass.
At about 5:40 pm Monday, a fire department Hazmat team was called to investigate a possible oil slick outside of Kahului Harbor. They could see an object and what appeared to be an oil sheen trailing from it about 400 yards outside of the east breakwater of the harbor, but couldn’t determine what it was. About that time, the Pride of America cruise ship was making its way out of Kahului Harbor, so State Harbor’s officials contacted the cruise ship’s bridge to see if they could identify the object and source of the slick. The ship’s captain relayed that it was a dead whale and sharks were feeding on it.
Ocean Safety officials have been conducting patrols by watercraft this morning and warning beachgoers of the higher shark presence in the area between the Hale Nanea clubhouse on Amala Pl. and the eastern most part of Kanaha Beach Park.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Ocean Care Division is arranging for the removal of the decomposing carcass.
Kahului murder suspect Keoni Vinuya Tomas was officially charged today with Murder in the Second Degree in the January death of Gail Otsuka.
Tomas was arrested at 11:15 a.m. today while serving on a no-bail bench warrant issued by the Honorable Judge Rhonda I. L. Loo.
The suspect was transferred from Maui Community Correctional Center to the Wailuku Police State for processing. He was booked and returned to MCCC without incident.
Tomas is also being held on $1,000,000 bail for his suspected involvement in the death of his mother, Kimberly Vinuya who was beaten and stabbed to death March 10 at the home they shared in Kahului.
Earlier today, a portion of Keopuolani Park in Kahului was closed after ground crews discovered what they believed to be an unexploded hand grenade. That original discovery created a safety perimeter around the lower playground. That was shortly before 11 a.m.
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal from the Honolulu-based U.S. Army detachment was notified and has been dispatched. As of 1 p.m. today, no specific time for the team’s arrival has been set. The park – near the expanded multi-sensory awareness playground – remains closed.
Hawaiian Immersion Students that get dropped off at Keopuolani Park are being redirected to the War Memorial Stadium. This includes the Immersion students from King Kekaulike, Kalama and Paia.
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-recently asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Dear Mr. Mayor:
Q: I heard there was a headline in the Maui News that said no more short-term [vacation rental home] licenses are being given for homes on Maui. Is this true? If so when did it become law?
A: No, that is not true, although it might be in the future if the County Council follows the Maui Planning Commission’s recommendation to call for a moratorium on all new short-term vacation rental permits. There is currently a shortage of affordable rental homes for residents, which is why the panel wants to hold off on more short-term accommodations for visitors.
Dear Mayor Arakawa:
Q: It has come to my attention that along Front Street, there are no public recycling receptacles of any kind to deposit recyclable materials in. I realize that money (or lack thereof) is the purported reason for the receptacles not being in place. Is this still the obstacle? If so, we must work around this issue. As the person stated in an “Ask the Mayor” column published early last year, I am willing to purchase receptacles and also participate in the emptying of them. I’m sure many others in the Lahaina community are willing to do so as well. Please let me know if there is any plan to put recycling receptacles on Front Street. If not, we, the community members, will have to do it ourselves. Thank you for your time.
A: Actually, there is recycling taking place along Front Street that has proven to be effective at diverting approximately 95 percent of the HI-5 recyclables by utilizing the existing trash barrels. What you may not be aware of is that each of the 35 historically appropriate wooden oak barrel trash receptacles along Front Street have signs stating “Cans Bottles OK” and the international recycling logo. These barrels are part of an effective beautification program funded by a County Parks grant and run by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF). The receptacles are “mined” daily by LRF staff and every few hours or so by individuals collecting HI-5 recyclables. Front Street sidewalks are narrow and very crowded with several sets of bike racks and hundreds if not thousands of pedestrians daily; these and other reasons would make it less than ideal to install separate recycling bins. The LRF says the current system has worked remarkably well for numerous years, maintains the visual look of the Historic Districts and requires no additional staff, transportation, funds, equipment or supplies. Once a year, as a service project, volunteers from the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise brush an oil-based finish on the oak barrel trash cans, which has significantly prolonged their life. The LRF also encourages business to “adopt a barrel” and maintain it on a regular basis.
Aloha Mayor Arakawa,
Q: The County conducted a traffic flow study on Mission Street in Wailuku a few years back and it showed an unusually high volume of vehicular traffic. There are ineffective speed bumps allowing traffic to move at a high rate of speed over this two-block stretch of road. There is a two-way stop on Vineyard where the two roads intersect. For the safety of the residents, would it be possible to make this intersection a four-way stop? This could effectively slow traffic and make this area safer for all the old folks and school children who use this street as pedestrians.
A: Based on the traffic flow study you referred to, the speed humps on Mission Street seem to be doing their job of slowing traffic. Engineering staff from the Dept. of Public Works (DPW) have noted that stop signs are not recommended as a means of speed control; they are primarily utilized because of a limited sight distance, or are used to control traffic based on traffic volumes. An unwarranted stop sign, such as in this case, typically results in non-compliance even by otherwise responsible drivers. However, DPW can check the height of the speed humps to make sure they are still within standard height, and monitor the on-street parking of vehicles that can cause unsafe situations for pedestrians when they are forced to walk in the street.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email:AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.
Smile! You may be on MPD Bodycam!
The Plans, Training, Research and Development Section of the Maui Police Department has scheduled a one month feasibility study on the use of body-worn cameras by officers in the field.
The study is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 6. The results of the study will assist the Maui Police Department in making informed decisions about the implementation of this technology in the future.
The study follows a well-publicized string of officer-suspect interactions across the nation where allegations of excessive use of force by officers have led to injury or death. Cases in Ferguson, MO, New York and California have rocketed to national attention as clashes between primarily white officers and suspects of color have ended badly – for both sides.
It has been three weeks since the news that current and former members insured by Hawai’i Medical Services Association (HMSA) may have become victims of a cyber attack on a mainland health care provider, Anthem. In a letter emailed today from HMSA CEO Michael Gold, more information has been revealed as have suggested tips to protect whatever personal information may have been at risk.
In today’s emailed update, Gold has added new details that may mean even more HMSA clients may be at risk after another cyber attack on a Washington State business, Premera. Here is Mr. Gold’s Letter:
Dear HMSA member,
We’ve learned from Premera Blue Cross in Washington state that some current and former HMSA members have been affected by the recent cyber attack on Premera’s database. No information was stolen from HMSA and our systems weren’t involved.
These are members living in Hawaii and other places who received medical or hospital services in Washington state or Alaska anytime since 2002. Or a member’s doctor ordered labs or medical equipment on their behalf from the Mainland since 2002.
I’m very concerned about this situation and have told our team to work carefully but quickly to validate the number of affected current and former HMSA members and determine their names and what personal information was accessed. We’ll mail affected members a notification letter as soon as our information is validated. Premera will send its own notification letter after ours.
Premera has said hackers may have accessed personal information such as member names, dates of birth, email and mailing addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, bank account information, and claims information, including clinical information in Premera’s systems from up to 11 million individuals, providers, and businesses going back to 2002.
I’d like you to know that as a practice, we don’t share our members’ Social Security numbers, email or street addresses, telephone numbers, medical or financial information, or other personal information.
Protecting your information is a top priority and we’re doing everything we can to stay ahead of threats to member privacy:
Free identity protection and credit monitoring
Premera is offering two years of free identity protection and credit monitoring services to anyone who’s concerned they could be affected. You can sign up today at premeraupdate.com. You don’t have to wait for our notification letter or Premera’s. If you think you could be affected, I encourage you to enroll in these services for peace of mind. In addition, Premera has a hotline with more resources: 1 (800) 768-5817 toll-free. It’s open Monday to Friday, 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hawaii time. Premera won’t email you or make unsolicited phone calls to you regarding this incident. Please be on the alert if you are contacted and asked to provide personal information by anyone saying they’re from Premera.
HMSA phone line
I know this can be a frustrating situation. To best serve you and answer your questions, we’ve set up a dedicated Premera phone line: (808) 948-6406 on Oahu or 1 (800) 459-3963 toll-free on the Neighbor Islands or the Mainland. The phone line is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hawaii time and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., also Hawaii time.
This is a quickly changing situation and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as we receive new information.
Michael A. Gold
President and Chief Executive Officer
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