BY SAM SLOM

SBH MEMBERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The Red Cross in Hawaii reports that the Japan earthquake and tsunami set off a terrible chain of events damaging buildings, causing fires and leaving an estimated 5 million households without electricity and 1 million without water. The agency reports that 2,500 houses collapsed, with 2,500 more damaged by the quake.

Several Smart Business Hawaii members have come together to raise money for the Japan relief effort.

First Hawaiian Bank raised $600,000 locally through its “Japan-Hawaii Relief Fund” established March 11 and First Hawaiian’s parent company, BNPP, donated $1.2 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Make a donation up until March 31, 2011 at any First Hawaiian branch in Hawaii, Guam and CNMI to the Japan America Society of Hawaii for the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Aloha Petroleum, Ltd. is collecting cash donations at its Aloha Island Mart convenience stores and some Shell locations. A complete list of Aloha Island Mart and participating Shell locations can be found at www.AlohaGas.com.

The Safeway Foundation launched a statewide fundraising effort and is accepting cash, credit card or check donations at all check out stands. The Safeway Foundation is contributing $100,000 and is encouraging employee donations with a 1-1 match offer.

To donate to the Red Cross directly, send contributions to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Hawaii State Chapter at 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816 or make a donation online at www.redcross.org.

CONCERT WILL UNITE ENTERTAINERS, MEDIA IN RELIEF EFFORT: Another SBH member, CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO is coordinating an April 10th fund raising event called “Kokua For Japan” from noon to 5 p.m. at the Great Lawn at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa.

Entertainers so far include:

  • Henry Kapono with special guests Michael McDonald and Mick Fleetwood
  • The Brothers Cazimero
  • Cecilio & Kapono
  • Kalapana
  • Cecilio & Kompany
  • Amy Hanaialii
  • Na Leo
  • John Cruz
  • Natural Vibrations
  • ManoaDNA
  • Robi Kahakalau
  • Mailani
  • Taimane
  • Go Jimmy Go
  • Jerry Santos
  • Gregg Hammer Band
  • Loretta Ables Sayre
  • Kenny Endo Taiko

The $15 tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 23 at 11 a.m. via Honolulu Box Office. Visit HonoluluBoxOffice.com or call 808-550-8457 for charge-by-phone.

Television stations will air the event including KFVE, KGMB, KHNL, KHON, KITV 4, CW and OC 16.  Clear Channel Radio Hawaii, OC 16 and KITV 4 will stream the event live on the web. In addition, radio stations KSSK 92.3 FM, KSSK AM 590, Island 985 and KHVH AM will broadcast the event. For information, visit www.kokuaforjapan.com or Clear Channel Hawaii radio stations: KSSK FM at 296-9292; KSSK AM at 296-5959; KHVH 830 AM at 521-8383; or Island 985 FM at 296-9850.

BIG ISLAND OPEN FOR BUSINESS, TOURISM BUREAU SAYS

Hawai’i Island sustained some damage from the tsunami, but tourism officials issued a press release saying the impact on visitors is minimal. “It’s business as almost-usual,” said George Applegate, Executive Director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “We had plenty of advance warning from our government agencies, and we were able to coordinate and prepare for the worst. What can be damaging for visitors is bad information,” he said. He says King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel on Ali’i Drive in Kailua Village is open and sustained no damage to guest rooms.

Kailua Pier was not “condemned,” by the U.S. Coast Guar and some boat charters are operating including Body Glove cruises.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park and the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai will remain closed until further notice.

TAX TSUNAMI

Tax Tsunami
Hawaii tax tsunami, the unnatural disaster

Hawaii Cartoonist John Pritchett took some heat for his “Tax Tsunami” cartoon published in Hawaii Reporter last week, but the fact is he created the cartoon the day before the tsunami hit Japan and Hawaii.

His cartoon is accurate. Lawmakers in the Senate and House are pushing through a number of tax hikes including a 50 percent liquor tax hike and a 10-cents per bottle and can tax hike.

Gov. Abercrombie and several Democratic lawmakers are lobbying for a new tax on pensions. Currently pensions are not taxed in Hawaii. Republicans are opposed to the measure, and are taking their report on the road to explain to retirees how bad this new tax will be.

See my full report on the status of the budget and tax hikes pending from yesterday >at this link

You also can check the latest updates on both Senate and House bills as well as their various draft versions plus testimony and committee reports at the State Legislature website: http://capitol.hawaii.gov. Go to “Bill Status & Documents”. Updates also appear on our Senate Minority websites at senateminority.wordpress.com and hawaiisenatewatchdog.org.

And no matter what you hear, the proposal to increase Hawaii’s General Excise Tax is not dead. The House is opposed and the Senate is in favor. The GET impacts all transactions of goods and services in Hawaii and it is the most regressive tax. Hawaii already has one of the overall highest tax burdens in the nation and any hikes to this tax will further worsen the business climate and impact our economic recovery.

With all these tax hikes and mandates on business and retirees pending, Hilo residents apparently have one solution to console themselves. Greg Wiles writes in Hawaii Reporter about “Hilo being tabbed as the drunkest city.”

“Like Kapaa, Hilo may not be a household name in the Mainland U.S., but the residents in these two cities may be able to drink the rest of the country under the table, for better or worse,” says the website, MainStreet.com. Wiles notes that “heavy drinkers were 9 percent of Hilo’s population, while binge drinkers represented 21.7 percent.”

ABERCROMBIE APPOINTEES CONFIRMED INCLUDING ONE WHO IS EXTREMELY ANTI BUSINESS
Three more of Governor Abercrombie’s appointees were approved by a vote in the State Senate on Monday, March 14. Patricia McManaman was appointed as Director of the State Dept. of Human Services. Former State Senator Gary Hooser was appointed as Director for the Office of Environmental Quality Control. State Representative Hermina Morita was confirmed as Commissioner to the State Public Utilities Commission. I voted in favor of McManaman and Hooser, but opposed Morita’s appointment based on her lack of qualifications and past tax and mandate agenda for the position.

MORE BAD LEGISLATION PENDING
HB 845 is a new bad bill that attempts to force small landowners to sell their fee simple interest to leaseholders of the same land. The bill will also mandate that landowners extend their lease to the lessor within the final 10 years of the lease. This is a bad bill that echos similar legislation of more than 10 years ago. The bill was heard March 17 in the Senate Consumer Protection committee. I vote to support private property rights.

COSTS ON THE RISE
Expect to pay more for city services this coming fiscal year. Mayor Peter Carlisle unveiled his nearly $2 billion city budget for next year. Property taxes and user fees are expected to increase while the $7 billion train is still on the books as a huge looming expense.

Rate payers will see their electric bills climb as HECO moves to a new tiered billing system that ties users to the times and amount of electricity used by customers.

SOME GOOD NEWS FOR A HAWAII STAR

Hooray for another local star. Sen. Fred Hemmings’ daughter, Kaui Hart Hemmings, who wrote a novel titled ‘The Descendants’, will see her work come to life on the big screen on December 16, Wiles also reports in his column. The movie is set in Hawaii and features George Clooney.

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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