BY SAM SLOM – Happy New Year of the Dragon. From all of us at SBH and the SBH Foundation, our sincere wishes for a Happy New Year. We hope 2012 will be far better than 2011 that, for many of us, was the worst year in decades. But, as small business entrepreneurs, we are an optimistic bunch. Mahalo for reading our weekly news and keep those PR releases and business news stories coming ( SBH@lava.net).
Mall Jam. Monday after Christmas, now the 3rd busiest shopping day, saw O’ahu malls busy and Ala Moana near gridlock. Will help make up for business lost during APEC in November but not enough to jump start our ailing economy.
SBH Conference in 2 Weeks! The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund (he was just on FOX News yesterday) keynotes the annual SBH business conference, the first major economic conference of the New Year.
Fund will be joined Wednesday, January 11 (Ala Moana Hotel, 8 am – 2 pm) by Supreme Court CJ Mark Recktenwald, Hawaiian Airlines CEOMark Dunkerley, demographics expert Wendell Cox, ALEC’s Jonathan Williams, computer guru Peter Kay and leading Hawaii business owners:Matt Longfellow, Valpak of Hawaii; Marissa Capelouto, Oahu Express andTyler Roukema of Outback Steak House (Hawaii Kai). Call Darlyn (808-396-1724) for information and reservations.
You’re In the Navy Now. Looks like the U.S. Navy will purchase Hawaii’s two former Superferry vessels. The price is a bargain $35 million. Don’t look for any new private Inter Island ferry system here. Not going to happen.
Realty Roundabout. The well publicized story of a Hawaii Kai vacation rental owner who declined to rent to a lesbian couple resulted in a civil rights lawsuit. What wasn’t publicized was that the owner was a successful local Realtor®. Her ownership of the rental is disallowed and was apparently not known by the firm she worked for. When they found out, she was let go. A follow up survey found six more of the firm’s associates also had personal vacation rentals and they too have been dispatched as of the end of this week.
Room Rates. Hawaii’s hotel industry, the major economic lone shining star in Hawaii during 2011, will post impressive revenue records for the year but will still fall below 2007 totals.
Budget Hearings. The State Senate Ways & Means Committee has announced a draft schedule of departmental budget hearings beginning daily next Wednesday, January 4. As previously announced, the 2012 Legislature will have a soft opening followed by hearings on Wednesday, January 18.
Bag ‘Em. With the addition of Hawaii County last week, all Neighbor Island counties now have a total ban on the distribution of plastic bags. Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin announced he will push for a similar ban in Honolulu in 2012. SBH continues to oppose such a ban because of lack of choice and health hazards associated with reusable bags for Hawaii consumers.
Wine Recall. California’s Solar City delivered two bottles of wine to each of Hawaii House and Senate lawmakers (76) a few weeks ago. After a state Ethics Commission ruling, the firm came and took back all of the wine. Former Honolulu Councilman, Jon Yoshimura, is lobbyist for the firm.
Race to the Bottom. Hawaii bragged about winning $76 million from the Federal Government as one of 11 “Race to the Top” states. Now, the Feds warn that because of no progress on the grant during the past year, Hawaii may lose all the funds. The DOE blames the HSTA union but as usual, money alone does not solve our dysfunctional public education problems here.
Chow Fee. Chow Fever has hit the University of Hawaii and so optimistic about new Coach Norm Chow and the 2012 football team are they that they announced a $50 non-refundable season ticket reservation fee. Last year UH sold less than 25,000 of the 50,000 seats in advance.
Reality Show Reality. Guest host Mark Belling on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show December 27, made an interesting analogy about the kinds of tv reality shows and the politics of the time. He noted during Reagan when the shows first started, “Lives of the Rich and Famous” was most popular during times of prosperity. During Clinton it was all about celebrity. Bush featured risk-taking programs and top competition (“American Idol”) but now with Obama, the most popular reality shows include “Pawnbrokers”, “Pickers” and “Extreme Couponing.” Think about it.
Sears Sales. Sears has announced that up to 1,20l of its Sears retail stores nationwide will close during 2012. It was not certain whether any Hawaii outlets, there are 19, will be affected.
Neither Rain Nor Snow…The USPS wants to auction off many of its post office facilities by May 2012, but the Congress may step in to delay the sales. Meanwhile, postage goes up again in a few weeks.
Laid Off. Hawaii Medical Center – East and West hospitals – announced 200 lay offs of its 1,000 employees two days before Christmas. Many more probably coming soon. Very sad. Hawaii’s unemployment claims will rise in January. Hopefully, many of the other employees will find work in the local health care industry although there have been a substantial number of imported workers to fill gaps in past years.
Electric Chair. Oahu HECO electric users hit another record high for their electric bill during December; $219.03 for only 600 kilowatt hours. But wait… wait till you see upcoming rate approvals during the first of next year. HECO is already launching new tv commercials to get you used to the back breaking increases coming. And don’t try to save by using less; you’ll still pay more. It’s all part of the plan to turn you green while denying American energy sources. Zap!
Blonde Uprising. You may have seen Malia Zimmerman on FOX-TV (Neil Cavuto) yesterday; she owns and edits the award winning Hawaii Reporter.com, Hawaii’s first electronic daily newspaper. Begun almost 10 years ago, Hawaii Reporter still is free to all readers. Hawaii Reporter’s Malia Zimmerman reports daily (M-F) on the Rick Hamada Show, KHVH radio on 830 AM at, 7:40 am. Malia will report the news behind the news for you.