Hawaii Politics, Automart at Comp USA, OSHA Standards, UH Warriors and More Smart Business News

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BY SAM SLOM – The election showed us once again that the Democrat/union machine is alive and well in Hawaii, and President Obama has clout here despite the tsunami that swamped the U.S. House, numerous state houses, and state legislatures on the Mainland. There were more local Republican challengers than in a decade, and they were well informed, well qualified and had charisma, yet one by one they went down in the traditional local way.

Neil Abercrombie easily (too easily) trounced Duke Aiona for Governor. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa whipped 6-month incumbent Congressman Charles Djou by 10,000 votes, with a whopping 13,000 blank ballots in that premiere race. In the State House, Republicans did increase a net 2, to 8 out of 51, but in the Senate, there is only one (yours truly) Republican from 2, out of 25. Local Democrats explain it this way: WE are smarter and more diversified than those hicks on the Mainland who didn’t stay in lock step with the tax and spending crowd. Maybe Hawaii hasn’t suffered enough economically to finally get residents mad at the majority regime.

Hawaii, which always talks about our beloved keiki, also noted that the keiki Kid’s Vote, supported Aiona and Djou overwhemingly. Maybe there is hope in the future but for the present, it will be a rougher ride for local small businesses. Expect more spending, more debt and even higher taxes when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

An appointed school board constitutional amendment passed yesterday and now it is up to the Legislature to pass the rules on the transition from an elected board.

Kiss your tax refund goodbye: Hawaii voters approved another Con Con amendment to end any tax rebates to taxpayers. The spendthrift legislature will keep the money and decide how to spend it for you.

All six County Charter amendments passed, including a new transit authority which will further mask actual rail costs and keep the taxpayers from direct changes, and a new City housing department.

The good news is that this election is finally over and your mailbox will not be as full with non-recyclable printed mailing pieces. Your TV will not have constant, never-ending hit piece political commercials. The bad news is that the 2012 political campaign just began today.

AutoMart USA, which is a popular pre-owned car firm on the Mainland, will open its first Hawaii franchise at the former Comp USA site on Ala Moana Blvd. shortly. Local Acura of Honolulu dealer, Dan Keppel, will own and operate AutoMart with a 33-month lease from Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate. Many local residents have purchased vehichles from AutoMart on the Mainland.

Aloha Petroleum is preparing to purchase the remaining Shell gasoline stations on O’ahu after gaining federal approval.

The Federal Reserve announced today it will “purchase” $600 billion in long-term government bonds by mid-2011 to further reduce rates on mortgages and other debt. What really happens is that the Fed prints, not buys, the treasury debt. Until we end the national 10% unemployment and other negative economic business factors, the housing market will still remain below par.

The death of world surfing champion Andy Irons from Kauai yesterday was a real shock. Irons and his brother always brought positive vibes to Hawaii and aided the economy at major surf meets. The 32-year old champion leaves behind a wife who is expecting in a few months. When you consider the consequences of this then political campaigns seem even less important.

Japan Airlines, once a major world aviation power, now in bankruptcy, ends its decade long direct flights to Kona.

As part of the annual Site-Specific Targeting program, OSHA is going to shift the enforcement focus on high hazard work sites where the relatively high rates of injuries and illnesses occur.  The targeting program does NOT include construction worksites.  Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) is going to implement a similar program very soon.  If your work site experiences a higher than average occupational injuries and illnesses rate, your work site is more likely to be inspected by one of the HIOSH compliance officers soon.    Before a compliance officer shows up in your work site, please check your work site for any hazardous conditions (e.g. damaged electrical cords),  review/update your safety programs, and necessary safety training.  Some safety programs such as Lockout/Tagout program requires annual review.  Respiratory protection training needs to be performed at least yearly.

OSHA has recently released the 10 most cited standards for fiscal 2010.    It is time for employers to look around their work sites, and fix hazards before an OSHA  or HIOSH inspector shows up.

1. 1926.451 – Scaffolding .e.g. inadequate guardrails.
2. 1926.501 – Fall Protection e.g. the lack of body harness.
3. 1910.1200 -Hazard Communication e.g. missing material safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals on site.
4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection e.g. missing annual fit testing.
5. 1926.1053 – Ladders e.g. broken ladders.
6. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout e.g. no written program.
7. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods e.g. use of an extension cord as a permanent wire.
8. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks e.g. drivers were not authorized.
9. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements e.g use of a metal junction box as a power stripe.
10. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding e.g exposed moving parts.

Freeman Guards, which suddenly shut down last week and closed its family-run business creating unemployment for hundreds, had tried to be saved by another security suitor until the potential buyer looked closer at the red-stained books.

Hawaiian Airlines again cited nationally as the best on time airline in the nation. The carrier is also displayed prominently in CBS tv’s hit new series, “Hawaii Five-0.”

Automobile sales improved during October. Ford posting near-record gains.

Consolidated Amusement employees report local movie attendance down with some employees sent home early because of lack of crowds. With admission and popcorn costs up and the number of good movies down, only teens seem to be fueling the movie market.

It’s early November and turkeys are competing with Christmas trees and decorations.

Daylight Savings Time ends this Sunday on the Mainland (except Arizona). Don’t touch your clock here!

Layla Dedrick successful owner of Bella Pietra, will discuss “Successful Women in Small Business in Hawaii,” at the monthly SBH Sunrise Networking Breakfast, Thursday, November 18, 7 – 8:30 am, Pineapple Room, Macy’s Ala Moana. Call Darlyn for reservations, 396-1724.

Big UH Warriors football game against powerhouse Boise State this Saturday (9;30 HST) in Boise on the smurf turf. UH, now 7-2 and Aloha Bowl bound on Christmas Eve, has been improving each week and COULD be the first WAC team that beats Boise on their home field. The game is live locally on ESPN U. Go ‘Bows!

Need help with YOUR business?  Just starting a business?  Call me personally for help at 808-396-1724 or email:SBH@lava.net . Smart Business Hawaii Means Business and we’re here to help you.

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