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Published Sep. 15, 2009

Who is behind the "Ask Gary" ads I see all the time on television?

"Ask Gary" is a medical and lawyer referral service that runs ads throughout the state. "Gary" is actually Gary Kompothecras, 49, a millionaire Sarasota chiropractor whose company, Physicians Group, runs more than 40 accident treatment offices in the state.

Kompothecras is friends with Gov. Charlie Crist and is a big campaign contributor to Republicans statewide. He donated more than $40,000 during the 2008 election cycle, and put in about $110,000 in support of Crist's property tax-cut plan, Amendment 1. In an interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Kompothecras once called himself "the rainmaker."

Kompothecras also has been lobbying heavily for legislation that would change childhood vaccination requirements in Florida. He has two autistic children, and thinks thimerosal, which is used as a preservative in some vaccines, is the ingredient that makes initially healthy children become autistic.

SB 242, a bill in the Florida Senate that would have put restrictions on childhood vaccines, died in committee in April.

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Overthrow of Hawaii monarchy

A recent article about Hawaii's 50th anniversary as a state said the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of white businessmen. What kind of business were these men in?

The overthrow was organized by a group called the Committee of Safety, whose 13 members were businessmen seeking annexation of Hawaii by the United States. The members included sugar planters, Pacific shippers, a newspaper editor, lumber salesmen and a grocer.

The businessmen wanted Hawaii to become a U.S. territory so they could make more money selling their goods, mainly sugar, to the United States. An 1890 law called the McKinley Act had imposed steep tariffs on imports to the United States to protect American manufacturers. If Hawaii became a U.S. territory, businesses there could regain some of the profits they had previously enjoyed under an 1875 treaty allowing goods such as sugar and rice to be imported into the United States tax-free.

Some of those businesses evolved into the "Big Five," a group of former sugar corporations that gained political power and profits after annexation. The Big Five were Castle & Cooke, Alexander & Baldwin, C. Brewer & Co., Amfac and Theo H. Davies & Co.

Castle & Cooke is now a Hawaii landowner and developer. Alexander & Baldwin is also a landowner and is the parent company of Matson Navigation Co. C. Brewer & Co. was liquidated in recent years. Amfac became Kaanapali Land LLC, which owns land in West Maui. Theo H. Davies later owned Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar franchises in the islands.