Idol Worshippers, Taxis And Taxes

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - February 22, 2006

There is no stopping the television juggernaut American Idol. The ratings don’t lie. AI destroyed the music industry’s premier party, the Grammys, outpacing the awards show by a huge margin. Ironically, an AI alumna, Kelly Clarkson, walked away with not one, but two statuettes. Clarkson, for those of you living under the Burmeister Overpass, was declared America’s first idol a few years back.

Now, the numbers are in, and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino are losing badly to singers who sing badly. In a recent head-to-head competition, AI took the gold with about 11 million more viewers than the games. Pretty good drubbing.

Why? AI has the winning formula for today’s television viewer. Combine pure mindless escapism with a chance to see people crash and burn while getting a glimpse of real talent and - voila! - you get a show that generates a gazillion viewers and even more dollars. I would dare say if there was live coverage of UFOs landing on the White House lawn, more people would watch American Idol.

Now, if only the aliens could sing ...

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It’s about time the bright light of exposure shone upon the taxi situation at the Honolulu International Airport. Whether it was Sida or the open system we have today, the method to the transportation madness at the airport has been an embarrassment for years.

This is not an indictment on the drivers, who are doing their best to make a living, but it is a reflection of the inadequacy of management to provide a system which is consistent and professional. How many of you have a story about friends, family, business associates or yourself dealing with delays and frustrating conversations with surly dispatchers?

According to recent reports, I guess if you approach a dispatcher with a $20 bill pasted to your forehead, you’ll get a ride a heck of a lot quicker. These are not the nonsensical ravings of a disgruntled (former) passenger, but a poor transportation experience at the airport affects us all. Aside from baggage claim, the first impression visitors have is how they get from their long flight to their hotel room. Waiting, waiting and more waiting for a cab leaves a sour taste in the mouths of these folks, which will be shared by countless others.

The reality is this does not have to happen. The state Department of Transportation has the authority over contractors charged with delivering quality service. If they fail, the state must remove the failing contractor and put another in its place. It sure would be a shame to see the millions of dollars we invest to market Hawaii negated by poor performance.


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Did you catch the latest money grab by the state?

Democrat state Rep. Jerry Chang has finally put the objective of the majority party’s raison d’etre in TheBigSquareBuilding. Extreme fighting is the target of HB3223, which amounts to nothing more than a shakedown of a legal business. Mixed martial arts, or combat fighting, has become a very popular form of entertainment. This is not lost on Rep. Chang or other Democrat members of the House.

The bill authorizes the state to force fight promoters to pay the state 3 percent of the first $50,000 in ticket sales and an additional 5 percent for sales over $50,000. This is on top of the 4 percent general excise tax.

But wait, there’s more. The law would also require promoters to pay the state 5 percent of all TV/Internet revenues and 5 percent of all pay per view and DVD sales.

Holy smokes! This reminds me of gangster movies where the bosses would tell a businessman if he didn’t want anything to happen to his store, he needed to pay “protection.” Is this a reach? Check out what Rep. Jerry Chang had to say: “When you look at an event like this, there are millions of dollars being made and the state needs to capitalize on that.”

I don’t have to say a word about how predatory this is. Chang said it all. This bill needs to be stopped. Of course, it could be interesting if Chang and the fight promoter squared off in the ring and settled it on PPV.

Think of how much the state would make.

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