BY SAM SLOMThe horrific tragedy of the 9.0 earth quake and tsunami in Japan last Friday, March 11, with thousands of deaths, has impacts all around the world. Again, Hawaii dodged a major bullet.

Lives were spared here though many businesses and residents did suffer damages which will climb into the millions of dollars. The generosity and compassion of Hawaii residents is also again being demonstrated. Donations to the Japanese Red Cross are being accepted at First Hawaiian Bank branches.

The Department of the Attorney General administers and enforces Hawaii’s charitable solicitation and charitable registration requirements and provides oversight of Hawaii’s public charities, charitable trusts, and private foundations.  The AG urged consumers to consider the following tips before donating to a charity:

*Don’t contribute cash. Make a check or money order payable to the charitable organization, not an individual.

*Consider giving to organizations that have a strong history in providing disaster relief, and ask about what percentage of the donation will benefit the relief effort.

*Don’t fall for high-pressure tactics. Ask questions, and give only when comfortable that the donation will be applied to help the cause. Remember that legitimate charities won’t pressure consumers to donate and will provide as much information as a consumer seeks.

*To avoid sham solicitations, contact the charity directly before giving a donation by e-mail or to a door-to-door solicitor.

*Be wary of names that sound similar to reputable organizations. Scam artists may sometimes use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate charities.

Finally, AG Louie encouraged consumers to review the Attorney General’s database of registered charitable organizations at the Attorney General’s Office website, www.ag.ehawaii.gov/charity.

Last Thursday, March 10, the State Council on Revenues held its quarterly meeting. The Legislature, by law, must follow economic estimates of the Council. Last week, the Council lowered its previous estimates for economic recovery, thus increasing the state’s operating deficit estimate to over a billion dollars. Now, with the Japanese disaster, Hawaii’s one true economic star, the visitor industry, is bracing for a major setback as Japanese visitors—who represent 25% of our total—have begun cancelling trips here. We know from past disasters (9/11, SARS) it takes about 3-6 months for the Japanese to start travelling again. Governor Abercrombie has wisely asked for the Counil to meet again and to factor in what this latest emergency will do to our proposed budget deliberations.

According to last week’s Rasmussen Reports poll, Consumer and Investor Confidence Falls to New 2011 Lows with 8% rating the national economy  good/excellent, 60% say poor.

The Legislature, which now has completed 30 days of the 60-day session, is still trying to raise your taxes and take your pension.

No matter what the economic news, nor how bad, the Democrat legislative majority always has a single answer: raise taxes even more on hapless residents and small business. There still are no calls for cutbacks in the size and expansion of local government.

Big turnout at a hearing to ban foie gras (goose liver) in the Senate yesterday. Redux of 2010. Hawaii restaurant leaders opposed the resolution.

Last Friday, the IBEW union ratified its new contract with electic utility monopoly, HECO. The union, which struck during an electrical outage affecting 8,000 homes and businesses, will be rewarded with even more money. Rate payers will take it in the shorts as usual.

Former Kauai State Representative Hermina Morita was confirmed as new Public Utilities Chair by the Senate on Monday, 24-1. Morita, admittedly anti-free market, anti competition, has close friends among the regulated monopoly utilities. Morita is also best known for her advocacy of bans on fossil fuel, new mandates for energy alternatives and higher taxes and fees. She was a driving force behind the detrimental barrel tax, beverage tax, and other costs to residents. Morita also helped keep the Super Ferry out of her native Kauai and eventually out of Hawaii.

Former Kauai State Senator Gary Hooser, who lost a bid for Democrat Lt. Governor last year, finally was given a job: Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) in the Department of Health. Hooser was confirmed Monday. Nearly all Democrat lawmakers land a job in government (or one is created for them); former Republican lawmakers go to the private sector.

The hotel workers union, UNITE 5, settled with the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel last Friday and also with Starwood (Sheraton) Kyo-ya Hotels Monday.

Good news: Foodland in Koko Marina, reported previously as contemplating leaving the area, will remain in Hawaii Kai.

Aloha to Jamie Story who has led the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii as its president for the past three years. A farewell party was held last night at the Waikiki Yacht Club. Story leaves at the end of the month to return to her native Texas.

Larry Arn, president of Hillsdale College in Michigan, and members of the college’s leadership team, are visiting Hawaii. They have an invitation only event tomorrow night and Arn will speak at the Pacfic Club on Friday, 7:30 am. Hillsdale is the champion of free enterprise higher education colleges in the U.S. and houses the library collection of famed Austrian free market economist, Ludwig von Mises.

“Education Week” continues at the Legislature through Friday. There are several floor demonstrations honoring outstanding Hawaii public school, teachers and administrators.

In a science and technology version of March Madness, two Hawai’i high school robotics teams have secured spots in the 2011 FIRST Robotics Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, April 27-30 after turning out impressive performances at regional competitions on the mainland this weekend leading up to the Hawai’i Regional beginning on March 24 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

More than 100 Hawai’i students from five island high schools demonstrated their exceptional knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at FIRST Robotics regional competitions, where they went head-to-head with peers from mainland and international schools.

At the New York City Regional, students from Waialua High School earned the competition’s top honors by being named the Chairman’s Award winner in addition to winning the field competition, beating out an impressive field of 65 competitors. As the Regional Champions and Chairman’s Award winners, Waialua has earned a position at the World Championships in St. Louis.

Sacred Hearts Academy earned the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Worcester Polytechnic Insititute (WPI) Regional Competition in Massachusetts, earning a position at the Championships this April. Sacred Hearts also took home the Industrial Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories.

Anticipation builds statewide for the 2011 FIRST in Hawai’i Regional Robotics Competition, March 24-26 at the Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa campus.  More than 1,000 students on 32 teams representing high schools from across the state have been gearing up for the competition since early January by working with adult mentors to research and construct robots. This year’s event will also feature robotics team from Louisiana and Australia.  The 34 team event is free and open to the public.  A schedule of the 2011 FIRST in Hawaii Regional Competition, list of participating teams, challenge overview and volunteer information are available at www.hawaiiiroc.org.

What’s that noise coming down the track? Is it Mayor Carlisle’s $8 billion rail (“train to nowhere”)? No, it’s a broad-based, non-partisan lawsuit to stop the rail, coming soon. The Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation will be involved. Want to contribute? Call 808-396-1724.

This weekend is the annual First Hawaiian International Auto Show at the Convention Center. Some exciting cars expected. Admission is $7 but discounts are available.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day— a day when all of us become Irish. Pubs will do a record business.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu (BBBSH) announced that ProService Hawaii will be the $25,000 presenting sponsor of the BBBSH Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser, August 6th and 7th at Aiea Bowl. The 2011 event is the 25th annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake, and aims to raise a record $400,000 for the organization’s youth mentoring programs on Oahu. Last year, the Honolulu Bowl for Kids’ Sake event was BBBS America’s top fundraiser nationwide, raising more money per capita than any other BBBS agency in the country.

Dustin Sellers, president of marketing & business development at ProService, is chairman of the board of BBBSH and served as Bowl for Kids’ Sake committee co-chair last year. Noting that everyone from CEO’s to front-line employees, Bigs (volunteer mentors) and Littles (mentees) can all be seen bowling next side by side for the cause, he said,  “BFKS is an interactive, fun and participatory fundraiser that’s more closely modeled after the kinds of  activities Bigs and Littles get to do together on a regular basis. It also offers an unprecedented opportunity for employers to build company morale while helping the kids in our community. In a year where funding from state and federal subsidies has been cut in half, we feel great knowing we are helping to keep a worthy program going in its moment of need.” He added that ProService intends to field at least 10 separate teams this year. Other companies on board to support this year’s event are: Pacific Office Properties ($25,000), American Savings Bank ($15,000), HONBLUE ($10,000+), Aubrey Hawk Public Relations ($5,000+) and Prudential Locations ($5,000+).

Did you leave your heart (or spleen) in San Francisco?

For a limited time, Hawaiian Air is offering special fares from here
to San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento, starting at $378 round trip.

Current special fares must be booked by March 24:
Honolulu – San Francisco from $378* RT
Honolulu – Oakland from $428* RT
Honolulu – San Jose from $378* RT
Honolulu – Sacramento from $428* RT

The University of Hawaii announced a new High Tech Academic-Industry Alliance. Over the past 10 years, UH has led the transformation of the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) to become a major national DoD Supercomputing Resource Center (DSRC).  The new alliance will support the long-term sustainability and success of the MHPCC DSRC as a vital national asset and cornerstone of the high technology community on Maui and in Hawaiʻi.

First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. (FICOH) is introducing a new way for Hawaii drivers to purchase their auto insurance, as well as new, lower rates that can save customers up to hundreds of dollars. Now, customers can get a free quote and purchase their auto insurance policies using a self-service online portal at www.ficoh.com, or by calling FICOH at (808) 527-7722 (or neighbor islands 1-800-272-520) to speak to a sales advisor. Customers can also get a quote and purchase a First Insurance auto policy through their local independent insurance agent. First Insurance is launching its new auto insurance rates and sales and service platform as the company celebrates 100 years of insuring Hawaii’s people and businesses. First Insurance was also recently voted Hawaii’s “Best Insurance Company” in the March 2011 issue of Honolulu Magazine.

Coming Thursday, March 31, Smart Business Hawaii’s next  monthly Sunrise Networking Breakfast in the Pineapple Room at Macy’s, Ala Moana from 7 to 8:30 am. Sunrise is held the last Thursday, monthly, through November. This month’s speaker is “Surfer Joe” Joe Teipel. Joe is a well known sports commentator and a business auctioneer. He’ll discuss the growing trend in business auctions as a means of selling commercial property in Hawaii. Members at SBH Sunrise enjoy a complete buffet breakfast, free exhibit area, networking, and business introductions to boost their business. The public is welcome and parking is free at Ala Moana Center. Call Darlyn at 396-1724 for reservations.

Celebrating a major business anniversary?  New location or product? Your business press releases are welcome in the weekly SBH News & Views E-News which reaches more than 8,000 business owners and government leaders in Hawaii.

What? Not receiving your copy? Send PR, additional requests and email address to SBH@lava.net or call Darlyn at 396-1724.

Let SBH help you with YOUR business. Just starting a business?   Call me personally for help at 396-1724 or email: SBH@lava.net. Smart Business Hawaii Means Business and we’re here to help you.

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