More bad news for commuters, and no points for guessing it’s related to fuel costs: The formerly state-subsidized ferry that shuttles non-aquatic life forms between Molokai and Maui is hiking ticket prices by a hefty $26. The “fuel surcharge” brings the cost of a one-way inter-island trip to $68.40 for adults and $47.20 for kids 12 and under. In addition to riders, the rate increase will affect the many businesses on Maui that buy tickets for their Molokai employees. It’s up to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to decide whether Sea Link of Hawaii, which operates the ferry, can make the surcharge permanent. A series of public hearings on the matter are scheduled for the end of August (for more info visit puc.hawaii.gov).
Folks on Molokai won’t just be paying more for ferry service; they’ll have to shell out extra cash for water, too. The PUC approved a temporary rate increase for both Molokai Public Utilities Inc. (from $3.18 to $6.04 per 1,000 gallons) and Waiola o Molokai Inc. (from $1.85 to $5.15 per 1,000 gallons). The PUC said the move was made to save both utilities from insolvency. Quoted in PBN, PUC Chairman Carlito Caliboso framed the decision as a take-this-medicine-even-if-it-tastes-bad kind of deal. “We need to do what we can to require the utilities to keep operating, at least temporarily, for the sake of the health and welfare of the people of West Molokai,” he said.
Hawaii Business magazine just put out its annual “Top 250” list, chronicling the most powerful players in the state. The rankings are based mostly on gross sales, with number of employees used as a tiebreaker. Mirroring 2007, BancWest Corp. nabbed the top spot followed by Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., Hawaii Medical Service Association and Alexander & Baldwin. The only change in the top five was Kamehameha Schools, which moved up a notch from ‘07. But enough about the top dogs; with lists like these we’re always more interested in who barely made the cut. So congrats to 3M Hawaii, lucky number 250.
If misery truly does love company—and we’ve honestly never been too sure about that aphorism; sometimes when you’re miserable it’s best to be alone—there’s some “good” news for the 274 people who were recently pink-slipped by Maui Land & Pineapple: they’re not alone. According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor and reported in Pacific Business News, there were nine “mass layoffs” in Hawaii in the second quarter of 2008, landing just under 2,500 workers in the unemployment line. Nationwide, there were over 1,500 mass layoffs—defined as 50 or more people getting axed—leading to the termination of almost 300,000 workers. That’s roughly the equivalent of the entire adult population of Honolulu. Losing their jobs. In three months.
In beer news (I just like saying that): While many red-blooded, ale-swilling Americans from Maui to Missouri no doubt cringed at the announcement that St. Louis-based brewer Anheuser “This Bud’s For You” Busch had been sold to a Belgian company, there’s at least one person who’s not spilling any tears over the deal: CEO August Busch IV. Busch IV (why is it always guys with Roman numerals after their names who make out like bandits in big corporate mergers?) will get a $10.4 million bonus and a yearly “consulting” stipend of $120K through 2013 after the $52 billion deal is officially consummated, according to CNNMoney.com. But forget already insanely rich men getting even wealthier, let’s address the question that’s really on everyone’s mind: Will those annoying Budweiser frogs make a Flemish-speaking comeback? MTW