NEWS + VIEWS: Race to the Top, Opala Update, Economy Slightly Up, Native Burial Rights, Judge Selections, Small Biz Contest and Mayoral Forum

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By Sam Slom
President, Smart Business Hawaii and SBH Entrepreneurial Education Foundation

Hooray for Hawaii? Hawaii was one of the 10 finalists in the “Race to the Top” public education competition announced and will get about $75 million in federal funds. But will it make for better education and results in Hawaii? When are we going to understand that money per se does not ensure quality? We have some systemic changes that must be made and more federal funds (i.e. our own money from another pocket) takes our eye off the prize. Visit our new transparency website shining the light on Hawaii’s education issues –


Garbage in, garbage out. The City struck a new deal with Hawaiian Waste Systems and the garbage which has been bagged and piling up for months since last year, like the City’s $6 billion-plus elevated heavy rail, is going nowhere. It was supposed to be shipped to Washington state, but delays, permits and protests from Indian tribes derailed the scheme. Now the opala will wind up here, burning in HPOWER. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Hotel occupancy throughout Hawaii continues to increase-but not rebound-pushed up by reduced and discounted room rates.

The State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, did release a more positive economic outlook at the end of last week. The report cited gains in the visitor industry, new and expanded retail outlet plans and Hawaii’s GSP is anticipated to increase 1.2 percent this year, up from a previous estimate of 1.1 per cent. A caution is the total number of jobs in Hawaii which is still anticipated to decline this year but at a slower rate than previously thought. Not everyone in the small business community shares this optimism.

By a 5-0 decision, Hawaii’s State Supreme Court last week affirmed that Native Hawaiian organizations can legally challenge development and construction plans that impact ancient burial sites. The specific case involved General Growth Properties and their Ka’kaako Ward Villages Shops.

Well-known Hawaiian developer, Don Graham, Jr., 96, died last week. He is best known as, “the father of Ala Moana Center.”

The Honolulu City Council gave the green light for construction of a $700 million hotel/condo rennovation project in Waikiki. The project, owned by Kyo Ya, will add a 33-story new tower and rennovations at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel site and a new 26-story tower at the Moana Surfrider. The project had been protested by UNITE HERE Local 5 but apparently the union won enough concessions about jobs to drop its lawsuit.

Majorities of likely voters do not believe that either British Petroleum (BP) or the federal government have been truthful with the public about the Gulf oil spill. At the same time favorable opinions about the response of the federal government and BP to the gulf spill have declined since shortly after the spill became public, while agreement that safety and reliability of offshore drilling has remained the same (at better than 50%). Opinion about the impact of the spill has not changed between this most recent survey and late May. These results come from a Zogby Interactive survey of 2,471 U.S. adults conducted from August 8-11, 2010.

Yes, another Special Legislative Senate Session September 1 and 2, preceded by a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on two judicial nominees, including Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee, Associate Justice Mark Recktenwald, today.

A few months ago, OHA, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs-a state government agency-filed a lawsuit against each and every state legislator seeking money for ceded lands. Attorney General Mark Bennett represented the lawmakers. The court threw out OHA’s case.

Christine Hirasa will no longer be serving as DCCA’s Public Information Officer. She moved over to the University of Hawaii – West Oahu yesterday to serve as the Executive Assistant to the Chancellor.

Hawaii Business Magazine is currently accepting nominations for their annual SmallBiz Success Awards. This year, they have six categories:

– Community Service
– Family Business
– Most Innovative
– New Business (less than 5 years)
– Lifetime Achievement
– Nonprofit

You can nominate a company or a company can self-nominate. A company can enter in multiple categories but must file a separate nomination form for each category. Please follow the link below to download nomination forms and to see our previous award winners.

If you have any questions, please contact Managing Editor Jason Ubay. Phone: (808) 534-7529 / FAX: (808) 537-6455
Twitter: @hawaiibusiness

Still time to join us with our next monthly SBH SUNRISE, and our special guest speaker, Congressman Charles Djou, tomorrow, August 26, 7-8:30 am at the Pineapple Room, Macy’s Ala Moana. Call Darlyn for reservations: 396-1724.

And reserve now for the Grassroot Institute / HPU / SBH Foundation Education Forum, “Is Hawaii Broken?” Wednesday, September 1, 11:30 am Pacific Club Speakers: Former Governor Ben Cayetano, Randy Roth (“Broken Trust”) and Cliff Slater (Honolulu


The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board is holding a Mayoral and City Council District 4 Candidates Forum during its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 31, at Hahaione Elementary School, 595 Pepeekeo Street.

The mayoral forum will run from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by the City Council candidates from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Candidates and the public are invited to arrive at 6:30 p.m. and stay until 10:00 p.m. to meet and talk before and after the meeting. The Board has invited the eight candidates running in the Honolulu Mayor special election and the seven candidates running in the Honolulu City Council District 4 primary election.

Both elections will be on September 18. Beth-Ann Kozlovich, host and producer of Hawaii Public Radio’s “Town Square,” will serve as moderator.

The Board is asking the public to submit questions for the candidates in advance. Questions may be sent to by August 27.


Peter, tell us it isn’t so!

(Peter Carlisle quoted at the Kapolei Mayoral Forum.) Cartoon courtesy John Pritchett, the Honolulu Weekly.