Hawaii bid aloha to one wildly popular television show in 2010 and saw the rebirth of an old island classic.
It saw the likely end of one longtime political career, the merger of its major newspapers and the rebound of the lifeblood of the islands, tourism.
There were mandatory furloughs of state employees that resulted in the fewest instructional school days in the nation, which brought scorn from the secretary of education to the birthplace of America’s president.
A bill legalizing civil unions all but died in the Legislature — then revived, only to be vetoed. Honolulu elected a new mayor and Hawaii got a new governor.
The football season ended for powerhouse Kahuku High School over the eligibility of a little-used player.
And while the University of Hawaii celebrated victories in several sports, the football team looked ahead to a new era in the Mountain West Conference.
These are Hawaii’s Top 10 stories for 2010:
1) Elections: Neil Abercrombie, a fiery liberal, was elected the state’s seventh governor in surprisingly easy victories over former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the Democratic primary in September and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican, in the November general election.
The 72-year-old Buffalo, N.Y.-born Abercrombie made the transition to chief executive after four decades as a legislator in the state House and Senate, the Honolulu City Council and Congress.
Former Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle won the special election to replace Hannemann.
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa beat U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, to reclaim the 1st Congressional District for Democrats after Djou won a special election in May to serve out the remainder of Abercrombie’s term in Congress. – Derrick DePledge
2) UH sports/Mountain West: A collective sigh of relief could be heard from Manoa to the mainland after the Mountain West and Big West conferences offered the University of Hawaii a home for its teams.
In 2012 the football team will be a part of the MWC in football with most of the other sports joining the Big West. It won’t be cheap. Travel subsidies paid by UH could top $1 million per year, but it sure beats the alternative of remaining in the crumbling Western Athletic Conference.
Give UH officials plenty of kudos for being proactive in seeking out alternatives. Had Hawaii remained in the WAC, it is possible that being a Division I athletic program would have been history by the end of the decade. – Paul Arnett
ISLE STAGES WERE BLAZING
3) The Honolulu Star-Advertiser: The consolidation of Honolulu’s two largest daily newspapers this year catapulted the combined product, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, into the nation’s No. 2 spot for market penetration. By that industry measure the Star-Advertiser is second only to the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The newspaper, the largest daily in the state with an average daily circulation of 128,000 (135,000 on Sunday), published its first issue June 7. The consolidation came as a result of Gannett Co.’s decision to end nearly four decades of newspaper ownership in Hawaii and sell The Honolulu Advertiser to Canadian-based Black Press, owner of longtime rival the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The two papers had competed for more than a century; however, the last decade had been especially contentious as they, like newspapers around the country, lost advertising share.
Some 453 jobs were lost in the consolidation. – Allison Schaefers
4) Tourism: Hawaii’s visitor industry began turning around in late 2009, but performance took off in mid-2010 and is expected to continue rising. Travelers responded as airlines added flights to Hawaii and hotels continued their deep discounting. For the first 11 months of 2010, arrivals rose 8.6 percent to 6.45 million visitors, and visitor spending rose 16 percent to $10.3 billion. Visitor spending rose by double digits each month after May.
Hawaii tourism is expected to finish the year with just over 7 million visitors and expenditures of $11 billion. While those results are good, there is room for growth in 2011 given that arrivals are still 8 percent from their 2006 peak and spending is off by 14 percent from 2007’s peak. – Allison Schaefers
5) "Hawaii Five-0": Few shows on television have arrived with as much marketing buzz and fan anticipation than this fall’s CBS reboot of the classic crime drama "Hawaii Five-0."
A glossy tropical postcard shot in HD, "Five-0" reinvented its core characters, gave them high-tech equipment and armed them with comedy to win the ratings war. By midseason "Five-0" was the No. 1 new show of the season. – Mike Gordon
A LOOK AHEAD AT 2011
The Sunday Star-Advertiser predicts which issues will make headlines in the new year
6) State employee furloughs: Teacher furloughs on classroom instruction days, which became a national embarrassment, ended this school year after state lawmakers and Gov. Linda Lingle agreed to tap the state’s hurricane relief fund and local bankers put up a line of credit if necessary.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, on his first day in office, chose to release all of the hurricane relief money set aside by lawmakers, not just the portion Lingle wanted, so the line of credit from bankers was never used.
Teachers and many other state workers will continue to take furloughs through June to help with the state’s budget deficit, just not on classroom instruction days.
Furlough Fridays have become the most visible symbol of the state’s response to the recession. – Derrick DePledge
7) Civil Unions: Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a bill in July that would have allowed same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights as married couples under state law.
The Republican governor called the bill "marriage by another name." She suggested that state lawmakers put a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot to let voters decide the issue.
The veto came after an emotional debate over civil rights that spread over two sessions of the state Legislature. The state Senate had passed the civil-unions bill with a veto-proof majority, but the state House did not, so no override session was called.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, has promised to sign a civil-unions bill into law if passed again by the Legislature. – Derrick DePledge
8) "Lost": For six years Hawaii was the backdrop of one of the most mysterious settings in television history: the island in ABC TV’s mega-hit "Lost."
The show had won legions of fans ever since the pilot aired in 2004 when an ill-fated flight from Sydney to Los Angeles crashed onto an island with menacing smoke monsters, evil residents and more convoluted plot turns than a maze.
When ABC screened the first episode of the final season at Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki in January, more than 12,000 fans attended. – Mike Gordon
9) Kahuku football: Saint Louis might be the state champions in prep football this year, but there are many who believe the real No. 1 team resides in the North Shore community of Kahuku. Acting on an anonymous tip, Kahuku’s administrators discovered a little-used player was ineligible academically, resulting in the Red Raiders forfeiting their season.
Kahuku defeated Saint Louis earlier in the year, with both teams anticipating a possible rematch in the state championship. The courts ultimately decided that Kahuku had to abide by Oahu Interscholastic Association bylaws that led to Kahuku forfeiting all its games.
But the real loser was the entire state, deprived of another epic showdown between Saint Louis and Kahuku at Aloha Stadium. – Paul Arnett
10) Rod Tam: The longtime politician might have seen the end of his political career in 2010. After a distant fourth-place finish in his run for mayor, he pleaded guilty to 26 misdemeanor counts stemming from his use of city money for "hundreds" of meals unrelated to his work as a councilman. The same Ethics Commission inquiry that led to those charges also prompted an investigation by the Campaign Spending Commission that was forwarded to the city prosecutor. Tam begins 2011 with sentencing on the misdemeanor charges that could bring jail time. – B.J. Reyes