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Wednesday, March 11, 2009
March 11, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:32 AM :: 15899 Views

Crossover: GE, oil, hotel tax increases to save rail, two medical reform bills pass

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, recommended that the bill (to raid the rail fund) be sent back to committee. Kim told her colleagues that she did not want to do anything to jeopardize the city's rail project. She cited a letter of concern about the bill from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii.

The House, meanwhile, passed a bill that could lead to further caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors in five specialties. A task force would recommend the caps.

The Senate moved out a bill that would restructure the state's ailing public hospital system. The bill would allow hospitals within the system to convert to nonprofit or private companies to become more financially competitive.

Also passing: oil tax/ethanol tradeoff, room tax increase, and GE tax increases, $115M school repair bond (Sen. Sakamoto's brother is happy), ACT 215/221 limited to $50M a year, GE Taro Ban.... (more HERE) and Karen's Law (more HERE)

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Advertiser: Malu Motta says he's entrepreneur, not mobster (Kenoi finally gets a mention)

(The trial of Ethan 'Malu' Motta) is the first major organized crime case prosecuted by federal authorities here in nearly two decades and the trial provided a window into the secret world of underground gambling casinos here as well as testimony that hinted at, but never proved, official improprieties and political influence....The case even featured an appearance by prominent New York defense attorney Charles Carnesi, who took time out from representing reputed Mafia family scion John Gotti Jr. to represent Ethan Motta.

Stevens died in federal prison in 1999 while serving a 20-year racketeering sentence. Stevens was notorious for admitting that he bribed state Circuit Judge Harold Shintaku in 1981 to set aside Stevens' conviction for an underworld double homicide. The admission came three years after Shintaku committed suicide in Las Vegas by jumping out of a hotel window after slashing his wrists.

Stevens' obituary listed Rodney Joseph as his nephew and Motta as his "hanai" son.

He worked as a behavioral therapist at The Institute for Family Enrichment on the Big Island and, in mid-2003, was trying to find "seed money" to develop a product he had invented called Baby Cry No More, Motta testified. The device "simulated a mother's heartbeat" to calm the sleep of restive infants, Motta said.

In the summer of 2003, Motta testified, a close friend and fellow inventor, Raymond Gomes Jr., called him asking for help.

Gomes had a product called Shark Buster that he wanted to develop, but he also had a job working security on one of the "crews" protecting illegal gaming casinos in Honolulu, according to court testimony.  (Fascinating, from "mothers heartbeat" to "security crews" in two sentences.)

Motta acknowledged telling Monalim that he had a friend who might one day become governor of Hawai'i and grant him a pardon if Motta was convicted in the state case.

But Motta said that was "upsmanship" after Monalim indicated that he had gained an early parole from prison in 2000 for an assault conviction.

Motta's statement was an apparent reference to William "Billy" Kenoi, a friend from college, who was elected Big Island mayor last year and who spoke briefly at a legal fundraiser for Motta on the Big Island in late 2004.

The recorded conversation between Monalim and Motta was made after the fundraiser. Motta referred to the prospective governor as his "best friend" who was "on the mic(rophone)" at the fundraiser. Motta described the individual as a part-Hawaiian man who was being "groomed" to eventually run for governor.

Through a spokesman, Kenoi would not comment on the contents of the tape.

(Nothing on this trial in any other newspaper.) 

If you want more than two lines at the end of an article: Malu Motta: “I need one governor so he can pardon me.” , Kenoi Fundraiser payout? Gotti lawyer on Pali murder case , Billy Kenoi Helped Pali Shooter , Billy Kenoi at Shooters—and the Pali shooter—the connections 

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Porkfest: U.S. Senate passes spending bill with $372 million for Hawaii projects

Some of the top items for Hawaii in the spending bill include:

— $60 million for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Regional Facility.

— $33 million for Native Hawaiian education.

— $21 million for the East-West Center.

— $20 million for the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project.

— $14 million for Native Hawaiian healthcare.

RELATED: Why Hawaii needs $2 million “for the promotion of astronomy”

Earmark Watch: Focus on Hawaii U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye

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Abercrombie campaigns on Big Island

Hilo: "Are you saying that if HB 444 (regarding civil unions) came to your desk as governor, you would sign it?" one man asked. "Sure. Sure. Of course I would."

Kona: He defended Hawaii's public education system, particularly the University of Hawaii. Rankings that put the public schools at the bottom of the country don't accurately reflect his experiences as a university student and as an educator, he said.  "You can lie with statistics and most people do," he said.

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Tavares: No layoffs for county employees

WAILUKU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares said Tuesday that county employees are not facing layoffs or cutbacks as her administration puts the finishing touches on its budget proposal for fiscal 2010.

"I just want to make it very, very clear that my budget has no layoffs, no furloughs and no position cuts. There are zero. None," she said.

Her comments came in reaction to police Chief Tom Phillips' concern that budget restrictions would leave the Maui Police Department without dozens of positions and lead to a reduction in public safety services.

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Maui: "Reinstated" sovereignty activists finally get tickets after months of illegal camping

Neither a demonstration nor a confrontation, the laid-back scene depicted sovereignty, Waihee Beach Park style. The event also may have been an advance skirmish leading up to what Armitage said is the April 3 trial of Reinstated Prime Minister Henry Noa on charges of trespassing on Kahoolawe.

"We talked to Henry Noa," Armitage recounted. "He said, 'We need this'" standoff.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares said the activists had camped for several months at Waihee, although camping is not allowed at the park.

"We're taking this to the world courts," Armitage said.  (Sovereignty activists once tried to take a Hilo traffic ticket to the Hague, so this is not exactly an original plan....)

RELATED: Akaka Bill Reading List 

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House voting on dogfight bill

Dogfighting, brought to prominence by the operation run by former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, is a Class "C" felony in Hawai'i, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Under the proposal, written by state Rep. John Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter), paying to attend a dogfight and betting on the outcome would both be misdemeanor offenses.

Mizuno's bill and its companion proposal in the Senate, introduced by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-13th (Kalihi, Nu'uanu), would expand the current state statute to make it a Class "C" felony for anyone coordinating a dogfight, including those who breed, sell and transport fighting animals.

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