BY SAM SLOM – Sears Closure. The closing of the Sears store at Ala Moana Center on June 2 is a big loss here. Sears, which opened as an original anchor tenant at Ala Moana in 1959, was many things to many people, including the small businesses who sub-leased space at very favorable rates from the retail giant. I worked at Sears during my University of Hawaii days. Bloomingdale’s and other new outlets will take the space now. Sears continues at Pearlridge Mall and Windward Mall and on the Neighbor Islands.
Abolish the IRS? The IRS is in Congressional hot water and some of it involves the Honolulu and Maui Tea Parties. But there’s more. Many anti-big government individuals and businesses have also seen the wrath of the IRS here in Hawaii. Now we learn the IRS really knows how to party and spend our money on their meetings and first class travel. The IRS is now set to take away your rights as enforcers of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. It’s way past due to abolish the IRS and adopt a Flat Tax or Fair Tax alternative. What do you think?
Honolulu 9th Most Romantic City. According to MissTravel.com, Honolulu ranks in the Top 20 as the 9th “Most Romantic City … in North America.” Huh? North America? Did we move? Is Global Warming and moving real after all? And why are we only #9? San Francisco leads the list with NYC and Miami, 2 and 3. Salt Lake City is number 20.
Godzilla to Film Here. Warner Brothers will begin filming the newest version of the classic “Godzilla” movie in Hawaii starting next month. The movie is set to open in a year. Locations are still being scouted, but the State Capitol could be promising. GZ could rise from the moat surrounding the Big Square Building. Scary! Local wannabes went to a casting call over the weekend. I hope this GZ doesn’t destroy the Honolulu rusted pile of steel rail before we spend billions of dollars more on it.
Tesoro Layoffs. The potential closure of the Tesoro Refinery has been in the news for months, and has received attention from the governor and legislature, but that didn’t stop several employees who received pink slips on Monday from saying they were “blind sided” by the company. There have been rumors for weeks that a secret buyer was found but no negotiations have been successful so far.
HECO Gets More $$… and a Scolding. Yet again, our monopoly HECO electric bill increased last week, and as usual, it is not tied to electric usage. There is another surcharge increase for all subscribers to help subsidize PV and other solar customers and HECO’s large wind studies. You pay for it all and the executives’ record high salaries, including President and Chief Executive Officer Constance Lau’s $5 million plus annual salary. The Public Utilities Commission, in granting these HECO increases, chided the power giant for high rates and poor service. But the PUC, which is supposed to protect consumers, continues to enable HECO to squeeze more from ratepayers.
Monopoly Star Advertiser Hikes Price 34%. Hawaii’s favorite monopoly newspaper, the Star-Advertiser, quietly raised its prices June 1, to $1 daily (from 75¢) – a 34% increase. The paper also increased to $2.25 on Sunday (from $2). That’s more money for fewer pages and less news – a winning business formula.
Victims of Deceptive Foreclosures Get Cash. According to Hawaii’s Attorney General, more than 1,400 Hawaii borrowers who submitted a valid foreclosure payment claim through the National Mortgage Settlement will receive a check this month for approximately $1,480.
Eligible borrowers had their mortgage serviced by one of the settlement’s five participating mortgage servicers, lost their home to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, and submitted a valid claim form. The participating servicers include Ally (formerly GMAC), Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo. Nationally, the settlement administrator, Rust Consulting, will mail 962,278 valid claim payments from June 10 through June 17. Borrowers with questions about their National Mortgage Settlement payment should call settlement administrator Rust Consulting at 1-866-430-8358.
Alaska Airlines Taps Kaiser Student. On Monday, Alaska Airlines introduced its Student-Designed ‘Spirit of the Islands’ Aircraft, which celebrates the Aloha State. Alaska Airlines unveiled its specially painted Boeing 737-800 livery, designed by 17-year old Kaiser High School student Aaron Nee. The aircraft displays a voyaging canoe depicting how Polynesians first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, a bright yellow hibiscus, the Hawaiian Island chain and the phrase “Spirit of the Islands” and other iconic symbols of the state. Nee’s design was chosen from among 2,700 entries in a “Paint-the-Plane” contest sponsored by the airline, the Hawaii State Department of Education and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. As the grand-prize winner, Nee will also receive a trip for four to any of the carrier’s destinations and a $5,000 scholarship.
Punahou Student Wins 2nd in C-SPAN StudentCam Competition. Oceanic Time Warner Cable announced that for a second consecutive year, a Hawaii student has earned national recognition for his documentary video submission to C-SPAN’s National 2013 StudentCam Competition. Sponsored by Time Warner Cable and C-SPAN, the national competition challenged middle and high school students to produce five- to eight-minute video documentaries around the theme “What’s the most important issue the president should consider in 2013?” A total of 3,753 students representing 44 states, as well as Washington DC and Taiwan, took part in the competition, with 1,893 total videos submitted.
Of the 75 student finalists who won prizes, Matthew Shimura, a tenth grader from Punahou High School won the Second Place Prize with his documentary video entry titled “Tides of Tomorrow.” Through his examination of the threats posed by climate change and global warming, Shimura’s documentary asks President Barack Obama to address these issues. In 2012, Shimura was the National Grand Prize winner. In this year’s competition, he receive $1,500. Oceanic extends a big congratulations to Matthew Shimura for a second year in a row and mahalo for bringing national recognition to Hawai’i!
Kaiser Permanente Lauds Latare. Kaiser Permanente Hawaii announced last week that Peggy Latare, MD, has received her Achievement of Diplomate from the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM), becoming the first physician in Hawaii, and among the first in the nation, to become certified in treating people for obesity. Dr. Latare specializes in family medicine and has been with Kaiser Permanente since 1989.
Blue Man Group Coming!
www.ticketmaster.com, at all Ticketmaster outlets, including Walmart Stores and by calling (800) 745-3000. Blue Man Group is presented in Honolulu by Broadway In Hawaii. The theatrical tour features brand new content highlighted by classic Blue Man favorites.
The new sound, set, and video design centering around a proscenium-sized LED curtain and high-resolution screen create an entirely new, high-impact visual experience for Broadway houses across the nation. The critically acclaimed Blue Man Group creates experiences that defy categorization. Blue Man Group is best known for multi-media performances that feature three bald and blue characters who take the audience on a journey that is funny, intelligent and visually stunning. A live band, whose haunting tribal rhythms help drive the show to its climax accompanies the Blue Men.
Panda Fined by EEOC. Chinese quick service restaurant giant Panda Express will pay $150,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit on behalf of at least three female teenagers who were allegedly sexually harassed between 2007 and 2009 while working in a restaurant in Kauai, Hawaii, the federal agency announced.
According to the EEOC, one male kitchen supervisor at the Panda Express in Kapa`a, Kauai, sexually harassed some females on staff over four years ago. The supervisor subjected the workers, some of whom were between the ages of 17 and 19, to sexual comments, language and advances, the EEOC said. Upon reporting the harassment to the general manager, the EEOC said, Panda Express management failed to take enough action to stop or correct the situation.
Fireworks in Hawaii Kai. Like Kailua last week, after being pronounced “dead” for this July 4, late news is that private donations will allow fireworks to be a go for the Independence Day at Mauanalua Bay, Hawaii Kai.
SBH Welcomes Young Professionals. Smart Business Hawaii (SBH) reaches out to Young Entrepreneurs with a special place within SBH for younger business owners. The SBH YOUNG PROFESSIONALS is now up and running. Annual dues only $75 if you are under 30. Contact me directly (SBH@lava.net), go online (www.smartbusinesshawaii.com) or call Darlyn at 396-1724 for details. Welcome aboard!
Vicky Cayetano to Speak June 27. Vicky Cayetano, former Hawaii First Lady and President/CEO of the highly successful United Laundry Services, Inc. and Managing Director of United Laundry Kona, LCC, will address SBH members and their guests on “Having a Successful Business in Hawaii.” Ms. Cayetano is also involved in cultural preservation, promoting better health care and the Honolulu Symphony. Advance reservations available through SBH. Call Darlyn at 396-1724 or go online.
Dr. Panos Prevedouros, is a weekly guest on Rick Hamada’s Tuesday morning radio show every Tuesday, 7:05 – 8 am. Tune in!
Read SB NEWS. Don’t forget to read your current monthly SB NEWS by PDF attachment or link. More expanded news and views for the Hawaii business community.
7:05 am on KHVH. Get the REAL news with Malia!
SBH can 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.
Hawaii Reporter On The Air. Go to www.HawaiiReporter.comfor the real investigative news. HR, founded by Malia Zimmerman, continues to break major investigative stories that most of the media won’t touch. Tune in to KHVH (830 am) every week day now at 7:05 am to hear Malia’s report.