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Sunday, April 30, 2023
April 30, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:36 PM :: 2388 Views

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Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted April 29, 2023

Meth Map: Hawaii’s Cockfight Economy Is Worth Millions Of Dollars A Year

CB: … Cockfighting in Hawaii is a big business.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars flow through weekend-long cockfight tournaments, which offer six-figure prizes to winners and fight promoters. That’s on top of people legally breeding fighting roosters, which supporters say pumps millions of dollars into the state’s economy each year.

According to a recent study, Hawaii is one of the nation’s leading exporters of fighting roosters. This can mean big bucks for people in the cockfighting ecosystem….

Earl Koanui, a retired Honolulu Police Department detective, spent three years posing as a corrupt cop to infiltrate cockfights and gambling rooms. During that time, he raked in $330,000 in bribes — much of it from cockfight promoters paying him to tip them off if other police officers were planning a raid, he said.

“One Waianae promoter paid $5,000 for one day in 1998,” Koanui recalled….

. As Koanui describes it, cockfights fall into two categories: smaller events called hack fights and big tournaments called derbies. On Oahu, there might be a few hack fights per week and a few derbies a month.

At hack fights people generally show up with a bird or two and find someone willing to fight for a wager of, say $1,000, Koanui said.

The money bet is called a table. The winner of that fight would get $1,900 while the promoter would keep $100, Koanui said. There can be dozens of fights per hack event, he said.

Spectators place bets with each other or with a bookmaker not affiliated with the promoter. Promoters can make extra money by charging for amenities like parking and spectator seating, he said.

Derbies are bigger, involving perhaps 100 five-bird teams. When he was working, the entrance fee for a five-bird derby was $2,400, Koanui said. Now it’s about $3,700, he said.

Accordingly, entrance fees can generate $370,000 in revenue to be split between the promoter and the winning team. Generally, the overall winning five-bird team takes 60% to 70%, Koanui said, while the promoter takes the rest, although there are consolation prizes for teams that win any three fights in a row.

Promoters also rent space for vendors and food trucks, which create a carnival atmosphere for between 300 and 800 spectators, ranging in age from babies to grandparents. Asked why there isn’t more violent crime at the events, given the crowds, cash and lack of police, Koanui said security is often provided by organized crime gangs — another expense for promoters — who people don’t challenge. If someone gets out of line, he said, “You’re going to be crab food.”…

Besides the illegal fights, there’s a legal aspect of the business: breeding fighting roosters, which a 2010 Hawaii House resolution said is a boon for Hawaii.

“Hawaii game fowl breeders legally pump an estimated $9,000,000 into the local economy each year, which is subject to general excise taxes,” the resolution said, citing a game fowl industry spokesman. That would be worth just under $12.5 million in 2023 dollars….

The resolution’s sponsor, former Hawaii Rep. Joey Manahan, said he didn’t remember the measure. “To be honest with you, I never authored a resolution on this subject,” he said at first, then added: “I did author it, but it was years ago.”

Now a spokesman for the Honolulu rail project, Manahan stressed he’s “very much against” cockfighting….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

the study found Guam imported nearly 9,000 roosters over three years.

“Hawaii cockfighters accounted for the largest number of total shippers, even as a small number of exporters from Oklahoma and California sent more birds,” the report said. …

read … Hawaii’s Cockfight Economy Is Worth Millions Of Dollars A Year

Two cases of legal fraud linked to prominent firm

ILind: … a precedent-setting decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court in a case involving foreclosure of a Big Island home due to a dispute over a $500 repair (“How A Reverse Mortgage Lender Took A Hawaii Man’s Home Over A $500 Repair“).

The high court found the lender, James B. Nutter & Co., and its attorney had “committed fraud against the court, assuring a judge that all the proper steps had been taken for a foreclosure when they hadn’t,” Hill reported. “Not only that, the Supreme Court said in its decision last week – basic fairness should have prevented a person being ejected from his home over a $500 repair anyway.”  Civil Beat mistakenly identified the lender as “Joseph B. Nutter & Co.”

The case underscores both the dangers of fine print used by unscrupulous lenders, but also the issue of fraudulent practices by attorneys and law firms representing lenders.

Hill identified the attorney who had represented Nutter in the foreclosure action where the fraud occurred as Robert Ehrhorn who, Hill notes, “has since voluntarily made his law license inactive, meaning he is no longer eligible to practice.”

Although not reported in Hill’s story, Ehrhorn was an associate in the law firm known at the time as Clay Chapman Iwamura Pulice & Nervell, which recently changed the firm’s name to Clay Iwamura Pulice & Nervell, dropping named partner Robert Chapman.

The Supreme Court’s allegation of fraud in this mortgage foreclosure case is not the only recent fraud allegation against attorney’s with Ehrhorn’s former law firm.

The firm’s name change followed the resignation of Robert Chapman, a named partner, who “voluntarily” surrendered his law license in lieu of discipline after being accused of fraud by the state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

An ODC investigation had found Chapman committed numerous “egregious violations” of the court’s Rules of Professional Conduct over a five year period by fraudulently pursuing collection $2 million in “unclaimed property” belonging to a former client without their knowledge or consent by creating and using “fraudulent Power of Attorney documents.”…

And, as a footnote, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Nutter Home Loans, formerly known as J.B. Nutter & Co., in September 2020 for “forging certifications and using unqualified underwriters to approve Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM).”

Late last year, in the wake of the DOJ lawsuit, the company closed its doors and went out of business….

RELATED: Bishop Street Lawyer tries to Steal $2M--Loses Law License

read … Two cases of legal fraud linked to prominent firm

Circus acts, family spats stoke more Capitol drama

Shapiro: …  Las Vegas fixture Cirque du Soleil announced agreement for a new Hawaii-themed show in Waikiki. It’ll be a high-flying production telling the hair- raising story of how Gov. Josh Green and the Legislature ran through a $2 billion surplus.

Green pushed back the projected opening of a new Aloha Stadium another year to 2028, and said the cost could go up to $399.5 million and the capacity down to 25,000. It’s Hawaii’s patented public works formula: Wait long­er, pay more, get less….

read … Circus acts, family spats stoke more Capitol drama

Star-Adv: Legislature shows Council How to Screw taxpayers our of Tax Cuts

SA: … now it’s the Honolulu City Council’s turn to figure out how much of its current windfall to spend on key services, and how much to give back to taxpayers whose property values have ballooned, fattening up their property tax bills….

Borreca: Lawmakers must be steady, not heady, on budget

SA: Council chair Tommy Waters offers budget insights

read … Budget for more city efficiencies

How Dela Cruz killed ‘Publicly Funded Elections’ Bill after Voting for it

CB: …  it was business as usual when the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee slowly tortured to death perhaps the most important good-government bill of the session, a proposal to greatly expand public financing of elections and give challengers a fighting chance against entrenched incumbents financially fortified by special interests.

(YES: This is all ‘business as usual’ -- don’t be fooled next session)

And Dela Cruz did it behind closed doors, leaving the author of the legislation — Senate Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads — the task of informing the public that Senate Bill 1543 was going (Wednesday), going (Thursday), gone (Friday).

First Rhoads was forced to announce that his $30 million plan would receive only $7.5 million with its implementation postponed from 2026 to 2028. Then he revealed that total had been reduced to a $700,000 down payment — considerably less than the $945,719 that Dela Cruz had in just his own campaign fund as of Dec. 31.

And finally, there was no bill at all….

Heck, Dela Cruz himself voted for SB 1543 when his Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed the measure Feb. 22. He waited to pull out his hatchet until the end-of-session conference committee period — when money chairs reign supreme to decide the fate of proposed legislation with no public input….

(IQ Test: Surprised?)

Shapiro: And the quote of the month … from Sen. Karl Rhoads on why lawmakers gutted a bill to increase political competition via publicly funded elections: “It’s kind of hard to explain. That seems to be what members can tolerate, is the way to put it.” More simply, lawmakers can’t tolerate competition for their jobs.

read … You Should Be Outraged Over What Happened To The Plan To Publicly Finance Campaigns

Hawai‘i Tourism Authority responds to slashed funding

HTH: … HTA President and CEO John DeFries released a statement on the lack of funding late Friday night, just hours after the committee’s decision.

“With the omission of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority from the state budget bill and today’s deferral of HB1375, our work in holistic, integrated destination management, visitor education, and brand marketing is in jeopardy,” he said in the statement….

“We appreciate the Legislature’s appropriation to repair the Hawaiʻi Convention Center roof, and with adjustments to current contracts, we will have funds to keep the lights on and retain our staff of 22,” he said in a statement.

DeFries added that his team and board would need to make “tough decisions in the coming days,” which could include canceling active procurements, contracts, and community work.

“We look forward to working with the Legislature to earn their confidence in our work ahead of next year’s session,” he said to conclude his statement….

Big Q: What do you think about the Hawaii Tourism Authority today?

read … Hawai‘i Tourism Authority responds to slashed funding

Was playground for disabled children ever built?

SA: … Question: Was the inclusive playground described at paanikakou.org/ Opens in a new tab ever built next to the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako Waterfront Park? If yes, when was it completed? If no, do you know whether/when it will be built?

Answer: “The planned inclusive playground has not been built yet. Fundraising and planning efforts were paused with the onset of COVID-19 and there is no definitive project schedule at this time, however we would start with engagement with HCDA, community stakeholders and the public well ahead of any consideration to restart the project,” said Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, principal officer of Pa‘ani Kakou, the nonprofit group that organized the effort. The group had originally wanted to build the disability-friendly playground at Ala Moana Regional Park in a public- private partnership with the city, but that effort was scrapped in 2019 amid public outcry….

read … Was playground for disabled children ever built?

Koko Head Shooting complex now open on weekends

KITV: … There have been some changes to the range due to staffing shortages and existing conditions at the complex.

One of the changes will be that the pistol and rifle ranges will operate as one firing line.

This is because the wall that separates the two is damaged. For now, the range will only be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 4pm.

You must make a reservation online before coming to the range.

you can sign up for a 1 hour and 20 minute shooting slot at the Department of Parks and Recreation website.

Reservations open 5 days in advance at 8AM. There are five different time slots you can choose from.

For those who were unable to secure a reservation there will be three rifle and two pistol lanes available for walk-ins….

read … Koko Head Shooting complex now open on weekends

Document outlines solutions for Puna’s wastewater

HTH: … In a draft environmental impact statement published last week, the county Department of Environmental Management explains that there are no wastewater collection or treatment facilities in the district, and there were an estimated 16,000 cesspools in the region discharging more than 8.5 million gallons of sewage daily in 2010.

After the state Legislature passed a law in 2017 requiring that all cesspools in the state be converted to more environmentally friendly systems — such as a sewer system or a septic treatment unit — DEM began developing a plan to construct a districtwide waste treatment system.

According to the EIS, the county is considering several options for Puna, each involving a different combination of onsite, centralized and decentralized wastewater systems….

With a 45-day public comment period ongoing until June 7, Mansour said he hopes Puna community members will review the EIS and express a preference for an option that the county can pursue. Until a preferred alternative is selected, he said that details such as the estimated project cost or time frame can’t be determined.

A final EIS is expected to be published in September, Mansour said.

The draft EIS and more information about the proposal, including a video presentation, can be found at tinyurl.com/4feth3rt.

Comments can be submitted through a link at that website, or via email to Kelly.Hartman@hawaiicounty.gov.

read … Document outlines solutions for Puna’s wastewater

Legislative Agenda:

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