BY SAM SLOM – Happy New Year, yes it is 2014! (Time flies- this morning’s newsletter did say 2013)…   From all of us at Smart Business Hawaii, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Thank you to all of you who support SBH, Hawaii’s most effective, independent, business advocacy organization. SBH will continue to battle for a better Hawaii business climate and more economic opportunities for Hawaii residents during 2014.

Lowell Kalapa, People’s Watchog. The untimely death of Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, over the past weekend is a blow to taxpayers and the public alike. Lowell, 64, was Hawaii’s long-time, unmatched, public finance watchdog. Lowell educated thousands of local residents on the importance of fiscal transparency in his countless radio and television appearances, weekly columns and his famous “Arnie Aloha Family” tax booklets. He was a no-nonsense professional with integrity. His non-combative style and factual testimony at the Capitol or City Hall was always valuable. He was active in several community organizations and projects, including a passion for affordable housing.

I have had the privilege of knowing and learning from Lowell since he succeeded me at the Tax Foundation many decades ago. He never compromised with the fiscal realities or backed down from any politician. Lowell will be missed.

Unlucky 2013. Good riddance 2013! It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (mostly worst). 2013 was a tough year for most of us- there were a few exceptions, and if you were one of them, good for you. Hawaii’s economy did not get better during the year, no matter what the ruling local politicians assure you, and more people are struggling. The visitor industry, which has single handedly supported Hawaii for two years, had, at the end of the year, three successive months of arrival and expenditure decline. HART continues to waste millions on the failed O’ahu rail project. The Hawaii Health Connector, the local Obamacare exchange, has had a negative impact on Hawaii.

We are spending $204 million to set up the Obamacare exchange for 2,300 individuals and 220 businesses who have signed up so far. Hawaii’s public education has become Pubic (?) Sex Education. That’s not a typo if you heard about the controversial Pono Choices sex education program for our 11, 12 and 13 year olds. Politicians continue to dream of more tax and fee hikes and more government spending. Things don’t seem to change in Hawaii-for the better. And the Legislature goes into session on January 15 while the 2014 election campaigns are well under way. Nevertheless, business owners are eternally optimistic, so with a New Year, comes new opportunities. Seize them and don’t let the economy-or politicians-define you.

Stamp Tax. In honor of the New Year, increasing deficits and more social media usage, the moribund US Postal Service does what it does best: raise postage rates. Starting January 26, the price of a First Class stamp increases 3¢ to 49¢ despite curtailed service. But wait, it’s only a “temporary” 2 year hike. You betcha.

Manner Murdered. The 62-year-old homeless man beaten to death by 3 to 4 young thugs last week was Paul Manner, aka Anthony Montero. I knew Paul, a strange, mysterious and silent individual, who prowled the committee hearing rooms at the State Capitol for years, tape recorder in hand, as an “independent reporter.” Manner also ran for several political offices, including U.S. Senate, governor and Honolulu mayor.

He was not much of a conversationalist. I didn’t know he became homeless. Apparently Manner had a prior misdemeanor arrest record. Nevertheless, he didn’t deserve to be murdered- the second beating death of a homeless person in a few weeks. Government has failed to address the growing homeless problem in Hawaii and private agencies are overwhelmed. We need to find a viable solution because this problem is not going away.

Drone On, Hawaii. Despite all the local hoopla about Hawaii being ideal for FAA drone testing, the federal government announced Monday the six states that will get federal funding for drone research. Hawaii wasn’t one of them.  Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and New York got the nod. However, Hawaii and Oregon have a partnership with the University of Alaska so Hawaii will be part of some of the research. “Diversity” of geography and climate was a reported consideration. Hey, I thought Hawaii was the King (Queen?) of diversity. Had U.S. Senator Dan Inouye been alive, Hawaii would have surely been among the six. Drones serve many positive functions and are growing in use and sophistication. I remain concerned, however, that unknown military and law enforcement use of this new technology-especially in light of the NSA spying revelations- may pose a threat to our 4th Amendment Constitutional rights. I’m neither an alarmist nor paranoid, but believe the people should always be aware of what their government is doing.

Ice “Global Warming” too? The leader of the research ship, and the left wing globals aboard, who are stuck in 15-foot thick ice, continue to maintain, “global warming” or “climate change” is the reason the ice is thicker and more widespread in Antarctica where they have been stuck for a week. It is summer there. Sorry, I thought the ice was melting and disappearing because of “warming.” They seem to be trying to make the facts fit the circumstances.

Obama Shuts Down Biz. The First Family continues their 6th annual winter tour in Kailua and every time they move with their heavy contingent of protectors, people are inconvenienced and Hawaii taxpayers are billed. Saturday, in a visit to long time friend Bobby Titcomb, who was convicted two years ago in Hawaii on solicitation of prostitution, aviation businesses at Dillingham Air Field on the North Shore were shut down. The owner of the sky dive and glider business estimated he lost $25,000 that day. However, upscale restaurants Obama is visiting during his trip seems to be doing well.

No Obama Library Here. Prediction for 2014: The planned Obama Library will not be in Hawaii but in Chicago.

Macy Bed. What better way to start a new year then with a new bed? Macys.com has some good year-end mattress sales. Unfortunately, the fine print said the familiar: “Not available for shipping to Alaska or Hawaii.” Red Lobster continues to advertise, as do other companies, “Prices higher in Times Square and Hawaii.” Bed and lobster both more expensive?

Gill, Interim Health Director. Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Gary Gill, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Health under the late Loretta Fuddy, as interim director. Fuddy died in December while waiting to be rescued after her plane crashed off of Molokai.
 
Fresh Café to Downtown. When the iconic Indigo Restaurant closed several months ago in Downtown Honolulu, P.F. Changs was named as the replacement, however the plan was not met by great enthusiasm from area patrons. Now, Fresh Café will take the spot. The owners are working with the previous chef and want to keep the look and feel of Indigo.

Keep Smokin’ Manoa. The University of Hawaii at Manoa made an announcement banning all cigarette smoking, even electronic cigarette smoking, on campus a month ago, effective with the New Year. Last week, UH put that plan on hold after receiving a great deal of complaints from students and faculty.

Diamond Head. According to Michelle Matson, The “Diamond Head Scenic Byway – the Lei Around Le’ahi,” has been officially designated as a State Scenic Byway.

Roughrider Symphony Honor. A pair of violinists with the Roosevelt High Roughrider Symphony Orchestra will represent the 50th State in early February at Carnegie Hall’s prestigious Honors Performance Series. Seniors Jamie Labrador and Sarah Wilson were the only two students from Hawaii chosen, along with more than 500 high school students across the country.  The prestigious program offers elite musicians the opportunity to rehearse under master conductors and perform before an invited audience of representatives from collegiate and professional music programs. The 2014 program being held February 5-10 in New York City will feature the likes of renowned conductors Dr. Eph Ehly, Jeffrey Grogan and Sharon Lavery.

January 30 SUNRISE Features Medved. SBH SUNRISE returns Thursday, January 30, 2014 in the Ala Moana Macy’s Pineapple Room with national Salem radio talk show host and author Michael Medved. Reserve your seat by calling Susan at 396-1724.

There is such a thing as a free lunch. SBH member Talent HR Solutions would like to serve you lunch at Dave & Busters in Honolulu, Tuesday, January 14, at 11:30 a.m. Talent HR Solutions will give a presentation on the many advantages of utilizing a Human Resource Administration firm and will have a health care specialist give a short presentation on the Affordable Care Act and how it impacts your business. Bring business cards and brochures because they’ll have a separate section for you to promote your business.There’s no charge. More info at 489-0036 or  talenthrsolutions.com

Author Patrick Snow to Keynote 38th Annual SBH Business Conference. Best-selling author and motivational business success speaker, Patrick Snow, will be the SBH’s Keynote Luncheon Speaker, Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 8 am – 2 pm, for the 38th Annual SBH Business & Investment Conference at the Ala Moana Hotel. A great line up of exciting and informative speakers and issue topics, networking, business exhibits and more. Sponsorship and booth exhibit opportunities still available. Contact Malia (306-3161) or Susan (396-1724) for details.

Reagan Dinner, February 6. The Hawaii Republican Assembly will hold the first Ronald Reagan Freedom & Liberty Dinner on February 6, 2014. The special guest speaker will be heavyweight American Conservative Union chairman, Alberto Cardenas, who headlines the annual CPAC in Washington, D.C. Tickets $75. Contact  HawaiiRepublicanAssembly.com

Want More Business? JOIN SBH! Is YOUR business a member of SBH?  No? Lots of benefits. Strong networking organization. Call 396-1724 or go online to  smartbusinesshawaii.com.

Hawaii Reporter.com, Hawaii’s first electronic daily newspaper launched in 2002, has all the breaking news and unlike other publications in town, is still free. Award winning Hawaii Reporter and Malia Zimmerman report daily (M-F) on the Rick Hamada Show heard on KHVH radio on 830 AM at 7:05 am. Malia will share the news behind the news.

Tune in to Panos Prevedouros. SBH Director and UH Engineering Professor Dr. Panos Prevedouros is a weekly guest on Rick Hamada’s morning radio show every Tuesday from 7:05 a.m. to 8 am. Tune in!

Read SB NEWS. Don’t forget to read your current (November) monthly SB NEWS by PDF attachment or link. More expanded news and views for the Hawaii business community. A limited number of printed copies are available for mailing if you call SBH (396-1724).

Advertise Here. Some readers have inquired about placing an ad on the right margin of these weekly blasts, which reach more than 15,000 people. Interested? If you want your business ad posted, the cost is $50 for one placement or $150 per month (4-5 placements). Contact 396-1724.

Want more local business information? Please visit the several SBH websites at www.smartbusinesshawaii.com, www.educate808.com and www.sbhfoundation.org

Celebrating a business milestone? Your business press releases are welcome in the weekly SBH News & Views e-News, which reaches more than 15,000 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 396-1724.

As always, SBH appreciates your support, so please consider joining or sending a donation to help SBH continue to assist the private, independent businesses in our community.

Mahalo!

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