BY SAM SLOM – Flyin’ Hawaiian. Hawaiian Airlines is certainly doing its part to help end unemployment by creating more jobs here. As previously reported, HAL is expanding its Asian and East Coast (NYC) routes next year. Monday, HAL held job interviews for 275 new flight attendant positions; more than 2,000 pre-screened applicants attended. HAL currently employs 4,200 persons. Reminder that HAL CEO/President Mark Dunkerleywill be leadoff speaker at the 36th annual SBH business conference, Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at the Ala Moana Hotel.
Never Forget. Today is the 70th anniversary of “The Day That Will Live In Infamy,” December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Let us never forget and continue to honor those men and women in uniform.
Bonded Bliss. After last week’s record breaking $1.3 BILLION Hawaii General Obligation Bond sale announcement and press conference at the Chamber of Commerce by the Governor, I was asked for comments. Unlike the Chamber which gushed at the news, “Thank you Governor for this gift to business,” Smart Business Hawaii recognizes the GO sale for what it is: more debt, more government spending and a greater burden for small business and Hawaii’s taxpayers. Sure, the state got a good interest rate and saved some money on refinancing (remember how Linda Linglewas criticized for that?) but it is DEBT, not greater economic vitality, or an improved business climate. And, this Administration will propose new taxes and spending come January and the new Legislative Session. Besides, some of the borrowed money will be used to pay back the raids on the Hurricane Fund and Rainy Day Fund; not prudent fiscal policy. This was not a joyous event to cheer.
A&B Split. One of Hawaii’s largest business firms, Alexander & Baldwin, announced it will divide the company into two publicly traded companies, A&B, a Hawaii-based land company and Matson, a market-leading ocean transportation company. The separation is planned or the second half of 2012.
Hale Ka Lae Financial Woes. The new luxury Hawaii Kai condo project, Hale Ka Lae, announced Monday the project will be temporarily suspended. The release came from COO Mike Grecco. An elaborate ground breaking ceremony was held just a month ago. The project backer, Hanwha E&C of Korea, said the suspension is a result of the global economic and financial turmoil.
Bye Bye Coach Mack. With tears in his yes, UH football coachGreg McMackin announced his “retirement” Monday after 4 years as head coach. A disappointing losing (6-7) 2011 season, no bowl bid, falling attendance and lack of confidence led to the “retirement” (nee, firing). Mack, who succeded June Jones, had one year left on his 5 year, $1.1 million annual deal. He will “only” take $600,000 as his settlement. Associate Coach Rich Miano is interim coach. UH has left the WAC and enters the Mountain West Conference in 2012.
Wanna Bet? Gambling is in the air. Everywhere here. Gambling will be the prime topic at the 2012 legislature as the state still searches for new money to fuel its excessive spending programs.
Honolulu Choo-Choo. Last nite, Councilmember Tom Berg presented an open debate on the $6 billion Honolulu elevated, steel-on-steel heavy rail. Problem is, it wasn’t a debate because rail proponents refused to participate. Again. Meanwhile, the Mayor now says he will consider reducing the number of cars (from 4 to 3) in the rail train and the size of the monstrosity rail stations (to “only” 180 feet) in order to save money. Carlisle also wants to rush ahead even without actual fed monetary support. Won’t work. The ill-fated project that will bankrupt us all must be stopped.
Wanna Be A Water Commissioner? The State Commission on Water Resource Management is seeking nominations for two positions on the Commission. A Nominating Committee will screen the applicants and send the names of at least three individuals for each open position to the Governor. The positions include one current vacancy, to be filled immediately, and a July 1, 2012 vacancy for a position with experience in Hawaiian water rights. The Water Commission is composed of seven members that have jurisdiction and final authority on matters relating to implementation and administration of the State Water Code.
Five members are appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the State Senate. The Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, who serves as Chairperson of the Water Commission, and the Director of the Department of Health serve ex-officio by virtue of their office. Nominations along with resumes and applications should be sent to the Nominating Committee, Commission on Water Resource Management, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 227, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 and postmarked no later than December 16, 2011. For more information, see the Commission’s website and download the application form click here>. Application forms may be obtained at the Commission’s office at the above address.
Hawaii “F” Again. According to a new report, released by advocacy group Shared Hope International, Hawaii scores a lowly F in combating a growing nationwide problem – sex trafficking of children. Each state was graded on whether it has laws to protect children caught in the sex trade, and penalties to punish traffickers and adults seeking their services. hawaiifreepress.com reports that not one state out of 50 earned an A, with 25 states sporting F grades.
Safe Toys. While parents are out shopping for toys for their little ones, there are a number of toy safety measures to consider. During the holidays, emergency rooms see an increase in eye related injuries caused by toys. December has been designatedSafe Toys Awareness Month by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Safety is important; follow these steps when considering toys for a child. Inspect the toy before and after it is bought. It is very important to regularly examine toys as wear and tear can make them less safe. Safe toys are age and developmentally appropriate. The recommended ages for a toy should be checked and respected. Even when toys are labeled for children age 3 and up, there may still be smaller pieces, which might not be appropriate for a child age 4 who still puts things in their mouth. Stuffed, plush toys should be machine washable, and made without tiny pieces that can be pulled off, such as buttons and ribbons. A very popular toy for any age is building blocks, however, make sure the corners and edges are rounded to reduce the risk of eye injury. Double check that the toys do not have any paint or finish that could be toxic or that are peeling or flaking off.
Griffin Honored. Tom Griffin, President of Honolulu Ford has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious TIME Quality Dealer of the Year Award. Griffin is one of only 50 finalists nominated from among the 17,000 automobile dealers across the nation. Selected on the basis of their successful dealerships, dedication to community service and other accomplishments, Griffin will be honored at the upcoming National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention in Las Vegas. The TIME Quality Dealer of the Year Award is sponsored by TIME Magazine partnership with Ally Financial and the NADA.
Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, Griffin arrived in Hawaii in the early eighties, and was a business partner at Windward Honda, and later joined Tony Matsumitsu at The Tony Corporation as Director of Operations before becoming President of Honolulu Ford. Hawaii’s original Ford dealership, founded in 1954, Honolulu Ford is the city’s largest most modern Ford sales, parts and service facility. UnderTom Griffin’s direction, Honolulu Ford has always been deeply committed to giving back to the community. With a focus on charities and programs serving Hawaii’s youth, Griffin has provided consistent support for the Palama Settlement, YMCA and the Special Olympics.
Tax Foundation, Inc. Award. The Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. turned 74 years old and the respected trade journal State Tax Notes, named the Tax Foundation as the 2011 Organization of the Year on Monday.
Emerging Leaders, Today. Today, December 7, Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a Hawaii Emerging Leaders Program (HELP) luncheon that will feature Resident Kelly Fellow Sungmin Cho as he examines the status and future outlook of the China-Korean peninsula relationship. All undergraduate students and young professionals interested in this foreign policy development are invited. There will be opportunity for pictures throughout the luncheon from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the East West Center in room #4005.
First Insurance Acquisition. First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. (FICOH) announced the closing of its acquisition by Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc. FICOH, the oldest and largest property and casualty carrier domiciled in Hawaii, is now a member of the Tokio Marine Group. One of the world’s largest and most prominent insurance companies, Tokio Marine has been a major owner of First Insurance dating back to 1989 and became a 50 percent owner in 1999. In August of this year, it announced it had reached an agreement to acquire the remaining 50 percent from the Continental Insurance Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of CNA. The transaction subsequently received regulatory approvals from the Hawaii Insurance Commissioner and Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA).
Founded on August 11, 1911, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. is the oldest and largest property and casualty insurer domiciled in Hawaii, with assets of $610.6 million, liabilities of $381.6 million and policyholders’ surplus of $229 million at September 30, 2011.
Tech Conference Tomorrow. High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) is hosting the 12th Biennial Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Conference on December 7th and 8th 2011 at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. The conference will focus on “Federal Funding Opportunities for Innovations Leading to Commercialization with the Department of Defense”. The conference aims to inform Hawaii’s small business community on how to apply for and win SBIR grant awards from the Federal Department of Defense, whose allocation for the award totals approximately $1.2 billion annually.
The Federal SBIR program consists of eleven Federal agencies for a combined annual budget of $2.2 billion. The Department of Defense’s budget is approximately 54% of the entire Federal SBIR program budget. SBIR funding allows high-risk technologies to get initial funding and progress towards commercialization. Oceanit, a technology and engineering business leader in Hawaii, is a multiple SBIR award recipient. Dr. Ken Cheung, Science and Technology Manager at Oceanit, acknowledges its benefit: “The SBIR program is a great way to get higher risk technologies off the ground while limiting the competition to the small business community.” Yuka Nagashima, the Executive Director of HTDC, added, “SBIR awards bridge the gap at the startup research and development phase when angel investors and venture capitalists are not willing to invest in unproven technologies. With limited funding sources due to the economy and the moratorium on earmarks, the Federal SBIR program is relevant now more than ever for our innovation community.” The State of Hawaii has set aside additional funding that can be awarded to SBIR Phase I award recipients to assist them in winning larger awards from the feds that create jobs.
Dream Car Art Contest. Hawaii student artists ages 15 years and under are encouraged to compete in TOYOTA’s 6th Annual Dream Car Art Contest by submitting hand-drawn entries based on the theme “Your Dream Car” by January 31, 2012. Entry forms can be found in the CARS section of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on December 9, as well as at a Toyota Hawaii Dealer starting tomorrow. Entries can be dropped off at any Toyota dealer in the state or mailed to P.O. Box 2788, Honolulu, Hawaii 96803-2788. The judging panel includes Department of Education Art in Public Places Artist in Residence Resource Teacher Evan Tottori, Honolulu Academy of Arts Academy Art Center at Linekona Director Vince Hazen, TV Personality KHON2’s Olena Heu and Toyota Hawaii’sGlenn Inouye.
Blonde Uprising. Award winning Hawaii Reporter.com, Hawaii’s first electronic daily newspaper begun 9 years ago, still is free. Hawaii Reporter’s Malia Zimmerman reports daily (M-F) on the Rick Hamada Show, KHVH radio on 830 AM at, 7:40 am. Malia also reports on Kauai’s KKCR with Sandy Brodie on Tuesday mornings, on the station’s “Morning Paper.” She will report the news behind the news for you.