CNN Chief Political Correspondent Keynotes Western Legislative Conference
CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley spoke to legislators from 13 Western states who gathered in Waikiki on Monday, August 1, for the Council of State Governments (CSG) – West division meeting.
Speaking to lawmakers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, Crowley addressed the recent deficit talks in Washington D.C..
“At Washington [D.C], the parts…are greater than the whole,” she said, evoking laughter and nodding heads through the crowd. “You know what? [Legislators] try hard. But somehow, when everyone joins together to meet as Congress, it all breaks down.”
She criticized the “anonymity of the Internet today” as well as the speed of the media and communication as contributing to “a lack of civil discourse” on “all levels” and reflected on various politicians’ inability to compromise.
“People self-segregate, even today – where we live, what clubs we join, and the like – and that mentality leads to things like [gerrymandering]. So you end up with like-minded voters only sending like-minded politicians who only know their own side to the capitol, and I think that leads to the inability of many politicians to walk in each others’ shoes,” Crowley said.
“A good thing is that in D.C. today, everyone is unhappy…which means there’s been some compromise,” she added with a smile, arousing more chuckles from the audience.
City’s Fire and Emergency Services Divisions May Merge
The City & County of Honolulu released a study today from Emergency Services Consulting International that suggests that the Honolulu Fire and Emergency Services departments should merge to improve public safety and government efficiency.”
A city spokesperson said: “The City is carefully evaluating the report and may accept, reject or modify its recommendations and consider additional information.
There is no time frame for making a decision on a potential merger. Public safety and emergency medical care will remain the City’s top priorities during this process.”
U.S. District Judge Releases Global Horizons CEO from Local Custody
Mordechai Orian, head of Global Horizons Manpower Company, is accused of heading up what the FBI has called the “largest human trafficking case in U.S. history.” He and 7 others are charged with trafficking Thai workers to America, including the state of Hawaii. After being indicted on January 14, 2011, three of those indicted have already plead guilty to lesser charges.
Despite pleas to multiple U.S. District judges based here, Orian has been forced to stay in Hawaii with an electronic bracelet monitoring his every move. Prosecutors have successfully argued that Orian, an Israeli national with international ties, is a flight risk. Orian said that was a ridiculous accusation and that he only wanted to go home to California to his wife and three kids and manage his businesses.
Today, Orian, who has his family visiting in Hawaii this week, finally got his way on Tuesday in court. The judge will allow him to go home to California but he still must wear the electronic ankle bracelet.
Orian will have to return at some point to face allegations that he and other defendants promised hundreds of Thai workers high-paying jobs in the United States with some paying fees as high as $21,000, putting up family farms in Thailand as collateral; and once they arrived in the U.S., the workers’ passports were confiscated and they were threatened by handlers. The case goes to trial in February 2012.
Orian is surprisingly outspoken about the accusations against him, sitting down with Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman to discuss the case and dispute the charges against him. See the 1 hour exclusive video interview here. Orian said his criminal defense lawyer gave him the go-ahead to do the interview because he is not guilty.
Orian also discussed a separate civil case filed April 20, 2011 against Global Horizons and 6 Hawaii farms and two mainland farms by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged labor abuses involving 200 Thai workers.
The commission wants back pay as much as $300,000 in damages for each worker who they said had their rights violated when they had their passports confiscated and were threatened with deportation and violence if they complained about poor housing and working conditions.