POSTED: Thursday, April 22, 2010
This story has been corrected. See below.



Committee OKs fireworks limits

Large illegal fireworks displays have grown so prevalent in Hawaii that state lawmakers are moving toward allowing counties to ban them altogether.

County governments would have the power to restrict fireworks under a measure that passed a conference committee 8-3 yesterday. Senate Bill 1059 now advances to final votes in the House and Senate.

Residents complained to lawmakers that illegal aerial fireworks are too dangerous, smoky and loud.

“;It's gotten out of hand. Many of our constituents have expressed alarm and concern,”; said Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa-Ewa Beach-Lower Waipahu).

State law allows consumer fireworks on New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year's Day and July 4. Aerials and other dangerous explosives are illegal except in permitted professional displays.



Obama nominates Hawaii judge

President Barack Obama has nominated federal Magistrate Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi to serve as a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii, in his first judicial appointment in the state.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kobayashi, 52, will fill the vacancy created when Chief District Judge Helen Gillmor moved to senior status last year.

“;Magistrate Judge Kobayashi is an outstanding and well-respected jurist known for her fairness and timely rulings,”; Sen. Daniel Akaka said yesterday when the nomination was announced by the White House.

Sen. Daniel Inouye also welcomed Kobayashi's appointment, calling her “;an individual of unquestioned character. ... I am confident in her ability to preside over the court with fairness and compassion,”; he said.

Kobayashi has served as a magistrate judge in Hawaii since 1999, handling misdemeanor criminal cases and helping district judges with pretrial matters.

Before becoming a judge, Kobayashi was a partner with Fujiyama Duffy & Fujiyama, the Honolulu law firm she joined in 1984. She has also taught at the University of Hawaii's Richardson School of Law and worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney.


Vote results to be announced May 22

State election officials plan to release the results of the special congressional election to replace former Rep. Neil Abercrombie shortly after 6 p.m. May 22.

Scott Nago, chief elections officer, briefed the state Elections Commission yesterday on plans for Hawaii's first all mail-in congressional election.

Nago said there has been no change in voter registration. A total of 316,000 voters are registered. Today is the last day to register for the special election. Nago said ballots to all registered voters will be mailed on April 30 and should start arriving the next day. Voters will have until May 22 to turn in their ballots, which can either be mailed back or dropped off on election day at either the Beretania Street driveway fronting the state Capitol or at the elections office at 802 Lehua Ave., Pearl City.

Nago told commissioners yesterday that election officials will start scanning the ballots on May 19 but will not count them until the election closes at 6 p.m on May 22.


Convicted priest named in lawsuit

A Catholic priest convicted in 2000 of sexual assault against a Honolulu boy has been named in a Denver lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a Denver youth in 1976.

R. Mark Matson, a former chaplain at Tripler Army Medical Center, is in Halawa Correctional Facility serving a 20-year sentence.

A Circuit Court jury convicted Matson of third-degree sexual assault and attempted first-degree sexual assault against a 13-year-old boy. The boy said Matson fondled him while showing him magic tricks in an August 1998 encounter at Maunalua Bay Park.

Matson was named in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Denver district court by a Miami law firm that specializes in child sex assault suits. Mermelstein & Horowitz represents a Denver man, identified as “;John Doe,”; who claims the priest repeatedly molested him in 1976 when he was a seminarian and Matson was the rector of St. Andrew's Seminary in Denver.



Measure bans smoking with minors in car

HILO » The Hawaii County Council has approved a bill making it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone younger than 18 years old.

Mayor Billy Kenoi said he would be glad to sign the bill if he determines it is enforceable and has no vague or objectionable language.

The ban would take effect 90 days after the bill becomes law.

The measure, approved on a 5-3 vote Tuesday, was authored by Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason. She has often credited her children with helping her to quit smoking.

Councilman Dennis Onishi voted against the bill, saying it would make government too controlling.

Supporters included the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii and the Boys & Girls Club of Hilo.







        » An earlier version of this story misidentified the prison that R. Mark Matson is in.