Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2002
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Contact:  2002 West Hawaii Today
Author: Tiffany Edwards
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: For more on ice eradication in Hawaii go to


HILO - Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong tried in more ways than one to get
the Police Department money for more officers to combat ice. 

Yagong earlier this month introduced a resolution calling for the $217,781
in the council's contingency account to pay for four police officers who
would comprise a crystal methamphetamine task force. 

However, that resolution came after a couple of other departments requested
the money. Parks and Recreation Director Pat Englehard asked for $132,249 to
go toward change orders to complete Keaukaha Kawananakoa Hall. County Clerk
Al Konishi asked for $11,050 from the account for costs associated with the
lease of a copy machine, which he miscalculated in the budget he submitted
earlier this year. 

Englehard and Konishi's requests came up Wednesday at the County Council
meeting, which then led to councilmembers' discussion of Yagong's proposal. 

It would cost a reported $375,838 to create positions for two detectives and
two officers, who would form a unit - one detective and one officer - on
each side of island. That includes $19,467 in fringe benefits and $5,000 in
training costs per detective and officer. 

Also estimated is $20,449 annually in overtime costs for each detective, and
$10,622 annually in overtime for each officer. 

Yagong said Wednesday his resolution was "a moot point," after receiving a
letter Monday from Mayor Harry Kim saying the top priority of the Police
Department is to get the 14 officers currently manning the island's
cellblocks out patrolling. 

That would entail privatizing the security at the cellblocks, reportedly at
$748,800 annually, according to Yagong, reading from a letter Kim wrote to
Acting Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna.

In the letter, Kim states that State of Hawaii Organization of Police
Officers, Corporation Counsel, and the county Civil Service Department are
working "to get this done as soon as possible." He noted the county has to
come up with the money for the privatization to occur. 

"This is not to say that the four vice positions for an ice task force are
not a priority. This is simply following up with our continuing goal to get
as many officers out in to the community as fast as possible. If we are
successful, we will need resources for funding this for the remainder of the
fiscal year," Kim wrote. 

He asked Mahuna propose an crystal methamphetamine task force in the Police
Department's budget next fiscal year if it is a priority. 

Councilmembers ultimately opted for $143,299 to go to Department of Parks
and Recreation, and the County Clerk. Before approving the requests, though,
most of them offered they had attended the Tuesday's meeting in Waikoloa and
reasoned by putting money toward recreation they may help prevent ice use. 

In any event, Yagong on Wednesday did not give up in his efforts to get a
crystal methamphetamine task force funded. 

When the council took up the final reading of a bill to raise the minimum
tax to $100, Yagong suggested the increased revenues from the tax hike,
estimated at $213,000 for the 2003 - 04 fiscal year, fund the task force. 

His colleagues were hesitant to approve Yagong's amendment, mostly because
the money given to the task force would be "a one - shot deal," as South
Kona Council - woman Nancy Pisicchio put it.

After the first year of the minimum tax hike, the increased revenues would
be difficult to track, according to the discussion.

Pisicchio said she was supportive of "the concept," but unsure about making
an amendment to the tax code for a "one - shot deal," and she would like the
opportunity to put conditions on money that the council would be approving
for such a task force. 

"I don't want to throw money at them at all without getting conditions
attached to it," she said. 

In other action Wednesday, the council approved on first reading a bill that
would allow for the expansion of the existing 130 - acre Kaloko Industrial
Park by 102 acres. 

This was after a couple of Kaloko - Honokohau National Historic Park
representatives voiced reservations on the proposed methods to dispose of
wastewater in the industrial park.

While the existing Kaloko Industrial Park uses cesspools for sewage
disposal, the developer TSA Corporation's plans call for sewage to be
discharged into septic tanks, aerobic units or individual wastewater

Rain runoff would be directed into filtered dry wells, and park officials
are concerned the wastewater could filter into the groundwater and
contaminate Aimakapa Pond, a wetland area in the national park that support
the endangered Hawaiian coot, stilt and the threatened green sea turtle. 

The bill before the County Council allows for the district classification of
the acreage that would comprised the expanded industrial park to be changed
from open to industrial - commercial mixed. 

Before the bill is taken up on second reading, it was agreed Wednesday
representatives from the national park, the county and TSA Corporation would
meet, in efforts to mitigate the park's concerns.
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