HAWAII LAWMAKERS WANT TO REWARD LOSERS

Hawaii Senators passed a bill today that will financially reward businesses that bid – but don’t win – state government contracts. The premise is that businesses invest time and money into preparing the bids and should be compensated for participating.

Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Sam Slom both opposed the HB 985, HD2, SD2, saying businesses know what they are getting into when they bid and should not be compensated for losing. Several senators expressed reservations, but in the end, 22 senators supported the bill and just two opposed it.

Hawaii politicians and government officials have a precedent of rewarding businesses that support them politically.  Critics say this measure potentially takes that political payback ability to a new level, not only rewarding one company, but multiple companies.

In addition, it will increase the cost of all government contracts funded by taxpayers.

GLOBAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING DEFENDANT SEEKS TRAVEL PRIVILEGES FROM US DISTRICT COURT

Mordechai “Motty” Orian, head of Global Horizons, was in U.S. District Court on Monday, asking U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway to allow him to travel at will to see legal council in the West Coast.

Orian, who was indicted September 1, 2010, on human trafficking charges, alleging that he is responsible for the largest human trafficking ring in recent history, now lives at the Ala Moana Hotel where he has been under government curfew and monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi deemed him a flight risk after Assistant US Attorney Susan Cushman filed documents claiming Orian had used 26 different aliases and four different Social Security numbers and could flee.

In a multi-count indictment, Orian and others are charged with a “scheme” to import 600 Thai workers to America from 2001 to 2007. The charges include forced labor conspiracy, a document servitude conspiracy and threatening “serious harm” to workers. Additional charges related to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering are expected, his lawyer disclosed in court last week.

On January 14, a 10-count superseding indictment charged two other people in Los Angeles, Joseph Knoller and Bruce Schwartz, as co-conspirators.

Orian has denied all charges. He maintained that he is innocent of all charges and alleged a handful of high-ranking government officials have conspired on several occasions to ruin his business, his finances, his life and take his freedom. He gave an exclusive interview to Hawaii Reporter about his case.

Mollway made it clear that she was not giving him blanket permission to travel anywhere he wanted to meet with counsel, saying it is inconvenient for Hawaii’s court system and other court systems to get up to speed on his case. But after a lengthy lecture, she granted him permission to leave the state if he cleared his travel with pretrial services beforehand.

His trial, which is being covered in worldwide media reports, is set for February 7, 2012.

HAWAII REPORTER ON HAWAII NEWS NOW THIS THURSDAY

Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman will be on the Hawaii News Now Sunrise Morning Show on Thursday morning to promote Hawaii Reporter’s new television series, Hawaii Investigates.

The 30-minute investigative news program, focusing on Hawaii’s Youth Prisons, will air on Thursday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. on KGMB 9 (CBS) and Friday, April 15, at 6:30 p.m. on KHNL 8 (NBC).

Former KGMB News Reporter Matt Levi is the host and reporter for the program. Scott Culbertson, a well-known local producer and writer, and Mike Yasutake, talented videographer, worked with Levi to put the show together. Zimmerman served as the executive producer.

Should the local business community support the production, Hawaii Reporter will continue the series, and examine many other important issues in the community. The question is whether or not Hawaii really wants investigative reporting …

Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho to perform at UH Mānoa

This just in from UH: Grammy Award winning artists Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho will present a performance and participate in a discussion immediately following on “Debating Culture” on Thursday, April 21, from 6-8:30 p.m. at UH Mānoa’s Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies located at 2645 Dole Street.

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards. Hawaii Reporter has a weekly television news show, News Behind the News, which airs on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.