A & B AND MATSON GO TO SPLITSVILLE
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the news around the state is all buzzing with the same big story: Alexander & Baldwin’s announcement on Dec. 1 to split into two publicly traded corporations–A & B, Inc., which will handle real estate, commercial development and sugar production, and Matson Navigation, which will deal with ocean shipping.
Considering that Hawaii isn’t exactly known for big business news, the attention is understandable. There was a front page story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, a big piece in the Maui News and another meaty story in the Pacific Business News.
The stories all say much the same thing and include the same long-winded quotes from A&B Chairman Walter Dods and A&B CEO Stanley M. Kuriyama (which all came from the seven-page A&B press release sent out yesterday to the island’s media). They are also all detailed on the specifics of how the split will affect shareholders–extremely positively–and all somewhat vague on how this will affect the company’s employees (“no net job loss,” according to Kuriyama).
Basically, the upshot of all this is that Matson, which had been an independent shipping company until 1969, is going to be independent again. Oh, and don’t worry: A & B’s growing and burning of 37,000 acres of sugar (through its wholly-owned subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar) will still go on without interruption.
Because even without Matson, A & B is still probably the most powerful commercial force in the state of Hawaii. This has been true for more than a century. According to Mowee by Curtis E. Speakman and Jill Engledow, the missionaries had special influence over A & B, even back in the early 20th century it was the most powerful of the so-called Big Five corporations that ruled Hawaii.
“Every one of the Big Five had at least one direct descendant of a missionary on its board, and Alexander & Baldwin had six–William Alexander, Harry A. Baldwin, F. F. Baldwin, William O. Smith, A. C. Alexander, A. C. Castle and J. P. Cooke.”
The proposed split-up of A & B won’t actually take place until the latter half of 2012, so expect plenty more coverage over the next year.
FREE HOT WHEELS CARS!
So did everyone go score your free Hot Wheels car on Saturday, Dec. 3? It was really easy–all you had to do was demonstrate to county officials that you understood “proper roundabout use.”
Okay, maybe that’s not so easy. But people better get on the roundabout bandwagon fast, because come February one will open at the intersection of Piikea Avenue and Liloa Drive in Kihei, over by the Piilani Village Shopping Center.
Unknown on Maui, roundabouts (sometimes called “traffic circles” or, more accurately, “whirlpools of cataclysm”) are kind of a big deal in the transportation world. Rather than come to a four-stop intersection, drivers instead drive around in a circle until they come to the street they want.
When drivers enter the roundabout with knowledge and confidence (especially the latter), the intersection becomes smoother and safer because it forces drivers to slow waaaay down. But when drivers are ignorant and hesitant, the can become trapped in the roundabout for all eternity.
No, seriously. That happened to this guy I know. He just drove around and around for, like, days. For the first few hours, it was cool–he was calling his friends, saying things like, “Hey, guess where I am?” and “You know how I’m always saying I’m just going around in circles?” But that got old after a while, he started to think that the pedestrians he saw walking on the outside of the roundabout were all laughing at him. Anyway, eventually he got tired–and his right arm got a bit numb–and he ended up driving into the middle of the roundabout and crashing into one of those Civil War-vintage cannons that modestly sized cities in Middle America like to keep near their town halls and, um, roundabouts.
Anyway, to make sure that never happens in Kihei, county officials are doing two things. First, they declared all future county roundabouts to be “Civil War-Vintage Cannon-Free Zones,” which prohibits such cannons from coming within 1,000 feet of a roundabout. Secondly (and, arguably, more importantly), they held a kind of get-acquainted session with roundabout protocols and rules in Kihei. As an incentive for people to learn the dos and don’ts of roundabout driving, county officials gave a complementary Hot Wheels car to the first 300 residents (okay, kids) who actually paid attention to what officials were saying.
Because if there’s anything our wise forefathers have taught us, it’s that we listen to people who are offering free stuff, even if we don’t actually need the free stuff in the first place.
HISTORY CHANNEL DISCOVERS LOCAL PHYSICIST
By the way, you guys all remember Garrett Lisi, right? He’s the genius physicist, surfer and Kula resident Mauitime profiled earlier this year (“Physicist Garrett Lisi and His Theory of Everything” by Jacob Shafer, Feb. 17, 2011). Anyway, he and his scientist/inventor buddy Reichart Von WolfSheild have gone and got their own television program. Called Invention USA, it’s, well, I’ll just let the program’s website explain it:
“Invention USA follows Reichart Von Wolfsheild and Garrett Lisi, both innovators and scientists with ties to investors, as they go in search of the next breakthrough invention,” states the show’s website. “Whether they’re traveling the country to visit garage innovators at home or meeting with inventors at their Los Angeles testing lab, Reichart and Garrett will put prototypes to the test and give a tough, no-nonsense evaluation of each invention’s potential. If they like what they see, they’ll invest to help bring the product to market. The stakes are high and dreams are on the line: Every idea has the potential to change someone’s life… or even the world.”
We’ll see very soon if the show is as cool as it sounds–it debuts Friday night (Dec. 9) at 8pm Hawaii time on the History Channel.