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Burden on businesses

William M. Kaneko’s support for the continuation of Hawaii’s Prepaid Healthcare Act (“Spin Zone,” February 2009) rightfully touts Hawaii’s very low rate of medically uninsured citizens. But neither he nor his opponent in the discussion, Richard C. Botti, make the unchallengeable point that the Hawaii government has saddled business with the financial burden of a social policy directive.

If Hawaii’s citizenry believes that medical insurance is a necessity for the populace, then it should provide that insurance and fund it through its power of taxation.

To place the burden on Hawaii businesses is to constrain their productivity, diminish their ability to compete with others outside Hawaii, discourage potential new businesses from establishing operations in Hawaii, and just make it more difficult to hire. And with the economy sagging, Hawaii is going to need all the jobs it can muster.

Bob Maynard, Kailua

Old ways won’t work for Maui tourism

Like any other troubled marriage, Hawaii’s marriage with Mainland visitors needs remaking. And pronto because even the current trial separation by vacationing Mainlanders is getting uglier.

Applying bandages to Hawaii’s expensive vacation industry does not work as recovery won’t occur anytime soon. In the meantime, the Maui lodging, restaurant, activities and convention premium pricing that worked during the boom is now making 2009 significantly worse. President Obama’s big fix, state legislation or our mayor will not cure the Mainlander’s rocky affair with Maui’s continuing premium pricing during the recession.

Maui’s vacation businesses and industry associations must figure out how to pull Maui out of the immediate economic crisis. Returning to business as it was during the boom and 2008 is not an option. Maui’s business leaders and associations will create Maui’s economic future by identifying and executing on answers to the question, “Where will new real sources of growth come from without the benefits of premium pricing and a Mainland recovery?”

Milan Moravec, Maui/Walnut Creek, Calif.  

Great place to find a sitter

 

I am a member of keikisitters.com (“Finding Baby Sitters Online,” March 2009) and this service is great! I recommend all parents and sitters to use this site for their next babysitter search or job!

We needed a sitter quick. We gave keikisitters.com a call and actually got to speak with Kathy herself. She is such a friendly and caring person. The customer service they provide is just outstanding.

Posted online by sassr21

Inspiring vision

Big Island Mana! Right on! We met Andrea Dean (“Girl Power,” February 2009) while attending a webinar and learned all about triple-bottom line approaches to green business. Andrea, I hope you see this and know just how inspiring and pervasive your passion is for green business — keep it up! Great article!

Posted online by Brett

Another side of Shindo

To the casual observer, the news in the press and Hoku Scientific’s public releases give the impression that the high tech company is doing well. The reality is different, though, as the company loses millions year after year, sells off assets for operating cash and has taken out a short-term multimillion dollar loan to pay bills.

Led by Dustin Shindo (“Success Secrets of Nine Top Leaders,” December 2008), Hoku has lost more than $6 million over the past eight quarters and has had only one profitable year over the past five. FY 2009, ending March 31, appears likely to be in the red as well. In the past year, Hoku has sold real estate to generate more than $6 million of working capital and, on Oct. 1, it took out a short-term loan for $5 million from First Hawaiian Bank to meet expenses. While these losses were serious, the questionable viability of Hoku’s principal focus, the construction of a polysilicon manufacturing plant in Pocatello, Idaho, makes the above negative numbers seem trivial by comparison. With construction behind schedule and needing hundreds of millions more to complete the plant, Hoku appears to have difficulties lining up capital since previous investors like Merrill Lynch backed out. Add to that the cancellation and renegotiation of preproduction contracts by solar module manufacturers while market prices for polysilicon have fallen worldwide.

For years, Shindo has been praised by the Hawaii business media as an exemplary mover and shaker and is photographed in Hawaii Business basking in the sun next to a solar electric system. The reality is Shindo et al lose millions, pay themselves salaries in the hundreds of thousands, scramble for cash and publicly downplay the true financial state of Hoku while seeking new and unsuspecting customers.

Keola Kapono, via e-mail

Correction

The Maluaka project on Maui is attached to Makena Resort. In March’s issue, a story titled “Arrested Development” incorrectly said the project was part of the Kapalua Resort.

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