Hawaii Briefs: Show Debut Disappointing, Newt in Hawaii, More Taxes

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“Off the Map” Premiere Not Off the Chart

“Off the Map,” the newest network television series to be filmed in Hawaii, had a mildly disappointing debut on Wednesday night, capturing second place in its time slot.

But industry reports noted the ratings may have been skewed by President Obama’s Tucson memorial speech, which affected lead-in scheduling. Off the Map was seen in 7.5 million households but came in second to “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” during its primetime slot.

Preliminary ratings for the adults 18-49 demographic were 2.2 for Off the Map and 2.5 (8.4 million households) for Law & Order.

Reviews have been mixed for the new medical drama from Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” The one-hour show is being shot on Oahu and features a group of doctors working in an unnamed South America country.

Newt Gingrich to Speak at GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

Former U.S. House Speaker and “Contract with America” architect Newt Gingrich will be the headliner at the Hawaii Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner and fundraiser this year.

Gingrich will give the keynote talk at the dinner scheduled for Feb. 18 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Coral Ballroom. Gingrich since that time has become a prominent political commentator and from time to time is mentioned as a potential candidate for president.

He also is an author of 22 books, including the historical fiction novel “Pearl Harbor.” Karl Rove, a former advisor to Pres. George W. Bush was a speaker at the GOP’s annual dinner last year.

Individual tickets are $150 per person. VIP admission, which includes VIP access and a photo opportunity, is $500.

Hawaii Lights up Cigarette Taxes

Hawaii was the only state in the nation to raise cigarette taxes in both 2009 and 2010, according to a tally of new levies imposed by states last year.

The report by the national Tax Foundation said Hawaii was among seven states raising cigarette taxes in 2010 and that it will increase the rate to $3.20 a pack this year from the current $3.

The report also noted the state is no longer alone in sporting the highest individual income tax rate nation after Oregon voters approved an 11 percent bracket last year. But it noted the Oregon rate will be eliminated at the end of 2011.

Other Hawaii tax law changes that occurred last year and noted by the Tax Foundation include the state’s $1 per barrel tax on petroleum products and the re-enactment of an estate tax on residents’ estates worth more than $3.5 million.

Pacific Office Properties Shares Surge as IPO Cancelled

Shares of Pacific Office Properties Trust, Inc., the California-based REIT with significant Hawaii office building and retail real estate holdings, jumped by as much as 90 percent after it announced the cancellation of an IPO that was planned as part of a move to the New York Stock Exchange.

The company’s shares closed at $3.50 on the American Exchange, up about 71 percent from the previous day.

Earlier this month Pacific Office had announced a plan to trade on the NYSE that included a sale of shares and a reverse-stock split for its current shares. The company said it would not go ahead with the IPO because of adverse market conditions.

Makiki Residents Invited to Learn about Neighborhood Watch

The Honolulu Police Department and Makiki legislators will hold a meeting on the Neighborhood Security Watch program, including how community members can start their own program.

Four HPD officers along with state and city elected officials will be on hand for the Jan. 24 meeting at the Christ United Methodist Church on Keeaumoku Street. The event is scheduled between 6 and 7:30 p.m.