Smart Business Hawaii News and Views – September 15, 2010

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BY SEN. SAM SLOM –  I’m writing this column from Cleveland, Ohio, site of the 18th annual State Policy Network (SPN) convention.This is the “Holy Grail” of free market think tanks and policy makers. There are more than 600 attendees from all over the country, including four of us from Hawaii representing the Grassroot Institute, Hawaii Reporter and the Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation.

The theme is how to Take Back America and rescue business and the free market system from the continual onslaught of the Federal Government and the new federalism that is trampling state and individual rights. Speakers have included Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz (a recent Hawaii speaker) and many others. High on the agenda are new market education reforms, alternatives to current corrections policy, and the states battling back in the courts against new Obama mandatory and costly health provisos. All have a direct impact on business and business owners. More about this later.


Our Saturday, September 18, our primary election is last in the nation. Make sure you vote – and vote informed – if you haven’t already done so by absentee ballot. It is estimated that 40% of the votes cast will be by absentee.

This election has really turned nasty — especially the Democrat race for Governor—with personal attacks rampant. Hawaii’s voters do not condone negative politicking, but it is becoming more widespread.

Bill Spencer’s venerable and respected Hawaii Venture Capital Association endorsed Neil Abercrombie for Governor on July 29. Ten days later, a rogue group, “The Venture Capital Association of Hawaii,” was created and endorsed Mufi Hannemann. The two groups have nothing in common and only the first is a bona fide venture capital group. The full story is in Hawaii Reporter. Spencer says in a September 9 press release that “The group wrongfully used our name to mislead and confuse the public about the HVCA board’s unanimous vote to endorse Neil Abercrombie for governor on July 29. Our investigation shows the group was registered ten days later, and its website used the address of a company affiliated with Stanford Carr for its “Hiring Director. Stanford Carr is a principal member of Hannemann’s campaign committee and a close political advisor.”

Want to see where your candidate—or opponent—stands on a variety of issues important to local business?  Go to Hawaii’s Election Guide and see all the online surveys completed by the candidates.

Councilmember Ann Kobayashi last week introduced a scathing study showing how rail vendors are profiting from the City’s rail contracts. According to Kobayashi, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann received $241,000 in political contributions from companies awarded $20.5 million in rail contracts.

The Council of Revenues met last week and reported an improving economy in Hawaii. Small business still struggles. And a new round of tax and fee increases are on the way. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that among the five economists it surveyed, the outlook is grim and they continue to cut back their forecasts.

Current General Excise Tax revenues continue to decline in Hawaii.

Women, women, everywhere! Last weekend was the 8th annual Hawaii Woman Expo at the Blaisdell. It included Hawaii’s Most Beautiful Man Contest, Mother/Daughter Look A Like Contest, Celebrity and their Pets Fashion Show and much more. Then coming up is The Hawaii Women’s International Leadership Conference, Tuesday, September 21 at the Sheraton Waikiki.

The Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai’i reminds readers the dates for the 2010 Hawai’i Agriculture Conference are September 23, 24 & 25, 2010. This two-day event and post conference farm tour will occur at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko’Olina on O’ahu. These sessions have been developed to serve the diverse needs of the audience – agriculture producers and business and government and nonprofit support entities form across the state. The Foundation will highlight Follow the Water: Hawaii’s Drought Dilemma. For up to date information about the speakers, concurrent sessions, equipment and tradeshow, special luncheons and receptions please visit the conference website:

Reminder that The Hawaii Tax Institute Foundation, Chaminade University Educational Foundation and the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association present the 7th annual one-day seminar on “Nonprofit Organizations,” Friday, September 24 at the Pagoda Hotel. One of the speakers is Hugh Jones, Supervising Deputy Attorney General. For information and reservations phone 946-2966 (X130) or FAX 943-3140

A national study disclosed we are happy when we make more money-up to $75,000. After that we have too many things and aren’t happy. What?  Too many things?  You mean like mortgages, utilities, food, gas, medical in Hawaii?  I don’t know about you, but I would be perfectly happy to have more (enough) money to cover my ever increasing Hawaii costs and taxes.   I promise, I will be happier.

Congratulations to Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurant who was named one of 11 new directors to the Corporation for Travel Promotion by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. The new non-profit promotes travel to the United States.

The State Department of Transportation announced the opening of four new restaurants in the food court of Honolulu International Airport yesterday.

A new Tax Foundation study reports that business will shoulder more than one-third of pending tax increases on top wage earners.

Governor Linda Lingle last week appointed Laura Figueira to fill the vacant O’ahu North Shore Senate seat and Ronald Kouchi to fill the vacant Kaua’i Senate seat.  They will serve on a temporary basis until new Senators are elected in the upcoming General Election. The two vacancies were created by the resignation of Democrats Robert Bunda and Gary Hooser in July – both are running for lieutenant governor in the primary election this Saturday.

Figueira, who will represent Senate District 22 (Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Hale’iwa, Mokule¯’ia, North Shore), worked for former Senator Bunda for 14 years, including six years as chief of staff while Bunda was Senate President.  She continued to serve as community liaison during Bunda’s tenure as Senate President Emeritus.  In addition to overseeing the administrative and legislative affairs of the office, she represented the former Senator at neighborhood board and community association meetings, as well as served as his delegate on various ad hoc committees.  Although Bunda resigned on July 16, Figueira has remained on staff while the office has continued to serve the district.

Kouchi, who will represent District 7 (Kaua’i and Ni’ihau), served for 22 years (11 terms) as a Kaua’i County Councilman, including 12 years as Council Chair.  Currently, he is a registered representative of LPL Insurance Brokerage Company and is also the director of community relations for Showe Land and Marine LLC.

Next Monday, September 20, the State Senate’s newest investigating committee meets and it will investigate the traditional use of an opening prayer at each session. The Legislature is under attack from the ACLU and atheist Mitch Kahle to end prayers—particularly Christian prayers—or face lawsuits.  Wonder if the Committee will seek God’s blessings?

Honolulu City Council Chair Todd Apo is bailing to work for Disney. Isn’t our City Council Mickey Mouse enough for Apo?

To learn more about where your tax dollars go for public education visit our new transparency website shining the light on Hawaii’s education issues –

Paychecks Hawaii, the private, independent, Smart Business Hawaii political action affiliate, announced its picks for the September 18 Primary Election. Only contested races were selected; further endorsements will be made later.

U.S. Senate: Cam Cavasso
Governor:  John Carroll
Lt. Governor: Adrienne King
Mayor – Honolulu: Panos Prevedouros
Senate (25th): Joe “Builder” Pandolfe

Governor Linda Lingle will address us at our next monthly SBH SUNRISE Networking Breakfast,  Thursday, September 30, 7-8:30 am at the Pineapple Room, Macy’s Ala Moana. LIMITED seating; first come first served. Call Darlyn for reservations: 396-1724.

Sam Slom is the  President of Smart Business Hawaii and SBH Entrepreneurial Education Foundation





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