BY SEN. SAM SLOMElephant Walk. For the first time in many peoples’ memory, Hawaii Republicans were front and center during the past week up until last night’s first ever GOP Hawaii Presidential Caucus. Headlines in the media, coverage by national press and daily discussions- even among Democrats- about the 4 GOP candidates. Children of Rick Santorum (Elizabeth), Mitt Romney (Matt) and Ron Paul (Ronnie) all came to Hawaii to campaign. In contrast, the Democrat Caucus, featured only President Obama, and a shortened version of the 2008 hysteria over our “local boy.” No long lines, no extensive coverage. Let the contest and debates begin for real.

Wanna Run? If you want to run for federal, state or county office in Hawaii you can finally pick up your nomination papers from Pearl City. Fed office candidates already did so but state candidates were barred until this week because of the Reapportionment snafu, court challenge and redrawn maps. Law suits are still possible but you can get your papers until June 5, 4:30 pm.

Over Paid State Employees. The Senate Special Accounting Investigating Committee, headed by Donna Kim, is investigating various State Departments and DAGS for overpayment to state employees and lack of reimbursement. The story was first broken by Hawaii News Now’s Keoki Kerr last month. DAGS said, it was “only” 0.05% of the state’s $3 billion annual payroll. The shocking practices have gone on for decades and more than $2 million has been lost recently. Hey, it’s not their money (its yours).

Unemployment Rate. Hawaii’s unemployment rate improved in January from 6.6% to 6.5%. But many people still looking for a job or full time work.

Unemployment Relief. The Legislature did do something right; they sent a bill to the Governor to stave off another tremendous increase in unemployment compensation taxes due March 1, for one year.

Niu Valley Middle vs. The World. The Niu Valley Middle School Percussion Ensemble will be competing at the 2012 Winter Guard International Percussion World Championships in Dayton, Ohio from April 19-20, 2012. The ensemble is the first and only middle school group from Hawaii to compete at this contest. They will also be the only middle school group competing in their division; all the other ensembles in this division are high school groups. There are ten 7th and 8th graders from Niu Valley going on this trip and they have been rehearsing for many hours outside of their regular band classes for the last several months. WGI Sport of the Arts is the world’s premier organization producing indoor color guard and percussion ensemble competitions.

As a non-profit youth organization, WGI serves as the leading governing body of the winter guard and indoor percussion activities. It is called the Sport of the Arts because it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format. Now entering its 35th year, the sport continues to evolve and grow. There were more than 36,000 participants at the regional level, and more than 11,000 participants at the Sport of the Arts World Championships this past April. Hooray for Niu Valley! (You could help them financially by sending a donation to NVMS).

Ben on Rail. Honolulu Mayoral candidate and staunch rail opponent, Ben Cayetano, held a press conference yesterday and unpeeled the onion of City outright lies and cover ups of the true costs of the rail project. Better reserve now to hear Ben at the next SBH Sunrise Networking Breakfast, Thursday, March 29, 7-8:30 am in the Pineapple Room, Macy’s Ala Moana Center. Call Darlyn (396-1724) to reserve.

$100,000 Too Much. The news that professional agitator, anti-God zealot and Honolulu’s number one self-promoting atheist, Mitch Kahle, was awarded $100,000 of taxpayer money for an incident in the State Senate gallery two years ago is hard to stomach. An out of court settlement gave Kahle the money alleging “excessive force” in his removal from the Senate during one of his anti-prayer outbursts in 2010. He conveniently had a pal video tape his forcible removal-as part of Senate rules for disruptive conduct (not free speech)-in a carefully orchestrated event. The State is a convenient deep pocket and the state attorneys choose to settle rather than fight.

Easter Eggs Alert. The Department of Parks and Recreation and the Koko Head Complex is sponsoring Easter Eggstravaganza, an Easter egg hunt and games event, at the Koko Head District Park, on Saturday, March 31, 2012.  The park is located at 423 Kaumakani Street in Hawaii Kai.

The free event will feature an egg hunt for ages 12 and under, and a variety of games administered by community groups.  Registration for the egg hunt, games, and activities begins at 9 a.m., followed by the egg hunt at 10 a.m.   All participants receive goody bags.

Easter Eggstravaganza is sponsored by the Koko Head Complex, comprised of Aina Haina Community Park, Kamilo Iki Community Park, and Koko Head District Park.  For more information, contact Arlene Ling, Park Director at Kamilo Iki Community Park at 395-5314 or Donna White, Koko Head Complex supervisor at 395-3407.

TSA Abuses. My resolution, “The Freedom to Travel USA” (SCR 15), submitted to curb numerous and recurring TSA abuses of airline passengers in Hawaii, will get a Senate transportation hearing (Sen. Kalani English) next week.

Chow Time. The Legislature recognized and honored new UH head football coach Norm Chow yesterday.

State Bank? Three lame House bills, that would advance a State Government owned and operated bank in Hawaii, are moving through the Senate. HB 1033, HB 2103 and HB 1840 are all in Committees. Can you think of a dumber idea? The state that can’t fix potholes, educate our keiki, improve the business climate or control its own spending would operate a bank with taxpayer funds run by politicians. And you think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are corrupt.

Join Us! Is YOUR business a member of SBH? No? What? Call Darlyn today (808-396-1724) or go online to www.smartbusinesshawaii.com.

Point-Counterpoint on KHVH. Tune in Tuesdays 7-8 am to the Rick Hamada show on KHVH radio (830 am) to hear Senate Democrat Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria and me tackle the legislative issues at the State Capitol. Call in at 521-8383.

Real News. Go to www.HawaiiReporter.com, for the real news. HR, founded by Malia Zimmerman, 10 years ago continues to break major investigative stories. Tune in to KHVH every week day at 7:40 am to hear Malia’s report.

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

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

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