Coronavirus Pandemic Takes Toll On Newspaper Industry

P.S. Since this post appeared at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, the Star-Advertiser’s publisher has publicly acknowledged the revenue loss ($3.4 million), and furloughs and reduced hours among the paper’s 78 journalists. Nothing yet about MidWeek’s suspension of all its paid columnists. 

Something I found very odd today: did you, too?

The Star-Advertiser ran a half-page AP story about newspapers either folding or cutting staff due to limited advertising during the Covid-19 shut-downs. Lots of specific papers on the mainland mentioned.

But not a word about here! MidWeek suspended all its paid columnists/contributors. According to Honolulu Civil Beat, the Star-Advertiser has furloughed/cut workdays of staff.

Why would you run a story about newspaper predicaments elsewhere without mentioning your own?

An odd practice of journalism, don’t you think?

The Navy Has Self-Inflicted Troubles

The Navy didn’t want to stop bombing Kahoolawe.

The Navy had that Tailhook Scandal in which officers were alleged to have sexually assaulted 83 women and seven men, or otherwise engaged in “improper and indecent” conduct at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It was a Navy captain running administrative operations in Saigon during the Vietnam War who was convicted of stealing goods and money under his command.

It was a Navy SEAL who was accused of serious war crimes in the Middle East but was allowed to retire with his benefits and his dolphin pin intact.

The Navy has let the Pearl Harbor Shipyard get so swamped by work that ships’ crews often are landlocked for a full year until repairs can be made and their ships returned to sea duty.

The Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly looked stupid saying the aircraft carrier skipper who warned of rising virus infection on the ship could have “caused our adversaries to take advantage.” What? Iran is going to attack our fleet because one carrier is temporarily down for crew change?

And now the Navy is saying it still plans to hold RimPac at Pearl Harbor and at sea off Hawaii. Will it keep all crews confined to ships? We sure don’t want a few thousand sailors walking around town!  I’m hearing about maybe a one-day exercise and then head to sea or homeports. What good is that? Waste of money and wear-and-tear on ships.

And some very respected experts are questioning the Navy’s whole ability to adequately defend us in the event of war with Russia or China.

In an interview with the political affairs publication The National Interest, Milan Vego, Professor of Operations at the U.S. Naval War College, said “lack of understanding of naval theory” makes it difficult for the Navy to develop “sound doctrine”, and as a result, to determine force requirements.

 For example, Vego notes that the Navy has an ingrained offensive mindset, which contributes to neglect of the defensive elements of naval combat such as mine warfare and protecting maritime trade. At the strategic level, this conditions a preoccupation with sea control (offensive), as opposed to sea denial (defensive). However, Vego said, it is not inconceivable, especially as capable competitors emerge, that the U.S. Navy might be put on the defensive and forced to shift its focus from sea control to sea denial.

The United States Navy plans to rapidly expand its fleet of ships, as part of the Trump era military buildup, but finding enough sailors to keep them operational could pose a serious challenge, according to analysts.

The Navy plans to reach 326 active ships by 2023 from its current 283, according to its long-range construction plan. That net increase of 43 ships could require approximately 35,000 more sailors than the roughly 328,000 active duty sailors now serving.

We have a relatively new Navy Secretary appointed by President Trump, but his time to make changes might be limited. He’ll likely be gone if Trump loses the 2020 election.

Up Next:

Hot Money Management News!

This  in from Fidelity Investments :

Are you over 72 years of age? You may waive your 2020 required minimum distribution (RMD) from a retirement account this year due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020. To stop your automatic withdrawal for 2020,  just go to your IRA or 401 (k) account and change your status from “active” to “inactive.”

If you have already taken all or part of your 2020 RMD, you should talk with your tax advisor to see whether you’re eligible and may have the option to return the funds to your retirement account through a 60-day rollover contribution.

If you don’t need that money this year, this is a great way to avoid a whole helluva lot of income tax due the feds and state of Hawaii.

The Odds Are Stacked Against Caldwell

There is an obvious reason why no mayor of Honolulu ever becomes governor of Hawaii.

Every voter on Oahu (where the most votes are) remembers if the mayor did not fix the big pothole on his or her street, even after several calls to City Hall.

Every Oahu voter remembers if the grass and the restrooms in his or her neighborhood park went into decline.

And then there is familiarity. The mayor deals with Neighborhood Boards and tries to tamp down neighborhood squabbles over beach access, unleashed dogs and district homelessness. City voters say “no way I gonna vote for for him [her]. He [she] is pilau.”

The late Frank Fasi kept a grip on the mayor’s office but was rejected for governor. He gave us great bus service but voters suspected he had taken Kukui Plaza kickbacks and was saved from prison only because developer Hal Hansen took an oath of silence and went to prison without saying to whom he gave the kickback money.

Linda Lingle was elected governor but she was Maui County’s mayor. We on Oahu knew little about what she’d done or not done. Besides, former Gov. John Waihee, a Democrat, had earlier been booed at the Waikiki Shell for blowing our rainy day fund and we had another Democrat governor, Ben Cayetano.  Lingle was a Republican. Voters were ready for a change.

      

Mayor Mufi Hannemann went for governor in 2010 but lost to Neil Abercrombie in the primary.  Was smashed by Tulsi Gabbard in his second go (after also  losing to Abercrombie) for Congress. People had started souring on the train project, Chinatown homeless, and some even said he was too tall!

I mention all this because I’m curious why Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu’s mayor and  announced governor candidate for 2022, would try to break the curse.

It’s not as if he’s wildly popular. He had to be community-wide-challenged before he’d go back on his Ala Moana Park playground project, his Waimanalo Park (Sherwood Forest) ballfields and parking lot project went south after image-damaging protests, and he remains haunted by the train costs and damage to merchants along Dillingham Boulevard. Now the virus damage to local business and our financial situation.

He would have to overcome the head-start of Lt. Gov. Josh Green in a race that sometimes sometimes has given our lieutenant governors  a leg up in  elections. But to for everyone. Those who did not rise to #1 are Jimmy Kealoha, Tom Gill, William Richardson, Nelson Doi, Jean King, Duke Aiona and Mazie Hirono.

In a reverse scenario of the usual movement, former Gov. Ben Cayetano ran for Honolulu mayor in 2012 after he was termed out of the State Capitol. He lost big time.

If there was ever a mayor who might have been a popularly-elected governor it was Neal Blaisdell, a Republican who played footsie with Hawaii’s rising Democratic leadership after statehood.

“Rusty” Blaisdell was extraordinarily popular from the start to his finish in politics in 1969. He beat out Frank Fasi in 1955. He built the Wilson Tunnel and the International Center at Ward and Kapiolani which now bears his name — Fasi promoted that name change.

But he died in 1975 without even thinking about running for governor. He’d had health problems for much of his late life, including pneumonia which sidelined him early in his political aspirations.

There’s a reasonable chance that Colleen Hanabusa could win this years mayor’s race. She has a history here as State Senate president and congresswoman.  If she were to win, would she dump out two years into City Hall to run for governor? That wouldn’t sit well with most voters. But …

“No,” she told me. “This [the mayor job] would be it for me.”

I should have replied: “Historically, a very wise decision.”

 

        

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