REPORT: Native Hawaiian-Owned Firms in Hawaii’s Tourism Sector

The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) has released the report “Native Hawaiian-Owned Firms in Hawaii’s Tourism Sector”. To obtain the report, click here.

The executive summary begins with “According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, Native Hawaiians owned a total of 13,147 firms in Hawaii in 2012. 3,972 or 30.2 percent of these firms were in the tourism sector and accounted for 10.1 percent of the total tourism sector firms in the state.”

Click to read report

An updated DBEDT ACS interactive map is also now available. It may be found on the Office of Planning’s State GIS Program’s website here.

This map product is a joint project between our Research and Economic Analysis Division and the Hawaii Statewide GIS Program. In this map, area profiles for all Hawaii census tracts, State Senate Districts and State House Districts were updated with the latest 2011-2015 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data . State of Hawaii as well as county figures are also provided. For downloadable files containing this profile data, click here.

Update on Today’s Fatality in Keaau

A man died following a one-vehicle crash this morning (May 22) in Keaʻau.

His name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of his family.

Responding to an 8:06 a.m. call, police determined that a 1998 Toyota truck was traveling Hilo bound, merging from the Keaʻau bypass (Highway 130) onto Highway 11 when the driver lost control, ran up an embankment and overturned.

The man died on the scene and was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 11:02 a.m.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Keith Nacis at 961-8119. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 16th traffic fatality this year compared with 10 at this time last year.

Hawaii Department of Health Confirms Four Additional Mumps Cases on Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed four (4) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 51. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. Two of the cases are linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the cases required hospitalization.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu.

The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. The disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease can also be spread by sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

An Analysis of Consumer Debt: How Does Hawaii Compare with the Nation?

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today, “An Analysis of Consumer Debt: How does Hawaii Compare with the Nation?” The report examined various consumer debt categories.

The report highlights why our per capita debt is high, which is due to high housing prices in Hawaii, with 77 percent of our debt from mortgage debt.

Hawaii’s home ownership increased 10 percentage points from 46.9 percent in 1970 to 56.9 percent in 2015 while the U.S. home ownership increased less than one percentage point from 62.9 percent to 63.8 percent during the same time period.

Chief State Economist Dr. Eugene Tian noted that the high mortgage debt may also have negative impacts, including less consumers spending on other goods and services by home owners, increasing rental payment for renters, and the leakage of mortgage payment to out-of-state financial institutions.

Following are some of the highlights of the report:

  • Hawaii’s total consumer debt per capita increased from $51,810 in 2005 to $67,010 in 2015, ranking it second highest in the nation.
  • For mortgage debt per capita, Hawaii has been steadily increasing in the state rankings, from the sixth highest state in 2005 to the highest state in 2015.
  • Hawaii ranks low among states for auto loans per capita, while defaults for those with auto loans are close to U.S. average.
  • Hawaii residents have relatively high credit card debt. Hawaii ranked fourth in the nation in 2010 and 2015 for credit card debt per capita.
  • Hawaii ranks the lowest in the nation for per capita student debt.
  • For the other debt category (home equity lines of credit, consumer cards, and consumer-financed debt), Hawaii leads the nation for the average amount per capita at $5,300. This partially reflects Hawaii’s high residential real estate values and the home equity loan balances supported by these high values.

The report is available at: http://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/consumer_debt_final.pdf

Puna Community Meeting on Transportation Options

The public is invited to learn about new rideshare technologies using a smartphone that can provide Puna with much needed jobs and rides. Council member Jen Ruggles will be hosting a community meeting on new transportation opportunities this Thursday, May 25th at 6pm at the Keaau Community Center.

“Dependable, safe, and convenient transportation is a critical need in our district,” said Ms. Ruggles, “there is a public transportation planning process currently underway. In order for Puna’s complex needs to be met we need to improve our bus system and welcome alternative transportation methods.”

Hawaii County’s new director of Mass Transit, Curtis Sharp, will also be there to give an update on the status of the bus system, the new master plan, and to answer questions. Representatives from transportation network companies Uber and Lyft, who have already started recruiting drivers on the Big Island, will give a short presentation and answer questions.

“Considering half our bus fleet is out of service, we have an exciting new opportunity with Uber and Lyft just coming to the Big Island. I want to make sure the community has a chance to take full advantage of it.”

Snacks and refreshments will be provided. For more information contact the office of Jen Ruggles at 808-961-8263.

Reps. Gabbard, Perry Introduce Bill to Permanently End Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Emails

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Scott Perry (R-PA), both founding members of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, introduced legislation today to permanently codify protections on Americans’ privacy.

Last month, the NSA announced it is ending its collection of Americans’ Internet communications that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance. The legislation introduced today would permanently codify this policy change into law. Gabbard and Perry, both veterans of the Iraq War, also co-chair the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “For years, the NSA has been collecting phone and online communications from everyday Americans across the country, defying the rights and liberties granted to us under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The 2008 FISA Amendments, specifically Section 702, has led to massive government-led exploitation of personal privacy through the collection of American citizens’ emails. We need serious reforms that balance the protection of our civil liberties and rights through our constitution, and also keep the American people safe. The NSA recently announced that they would stop collecting our emails and electronic communications under Section 702, but what is to say that it won’t start up again? Our legislation will keep our country from backtracking on this progress by permanently codifying this policy change and banning this privacy-invading collection from taking place again.”

Rep. Scott Perry said, “The NSA recently changed policy to prohibit the collection of electronic communications sent or received by American citizens that merely mention a foreign target of surveillance. This practice has long been used as an end-around the Fourth Amendment, and we commend the NSA for aligning their collection efforts with the Constitution. The legislation ensures that this important win for the American people cannot be reversed under future administrations. I thank Congresswoman Gabbard for her continued efforts on this issue and look forward to seeing this bill move quickly.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital age.

“Obon in the Gardens” at Lili`uokalani Gardens

Keith Haugen will speak on the background and history of obon traditions during Sunday’s 5/28 “Obon in the Gardens.” The event is sponsored by Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens from 1 to 4 p.m. in the small parking lot near Shoroan, the Urasenke tea house in Lili`uokalani Gardens.

Haugen was a teenage soldier stationed in Japan in the 1950s. He recalls “donning a yukata, tying a tenugui around my head, and learning to dance the Tanko Bushi. Nobody seemed to mind that I was a foreigner or that my ancestral home was in Norway.

“Thousands of miles away, on the island of Maui, my future wife was learning the same song in the multi-cultural community where she was born and raised. Residents of Hawaii, just like the residents of Japan, take the summer obon dances for granted. But where did they originate, and why? What are all those folk songs used year after year?”

Keith wrote and produced an obon special for Hawaii Public Radio more than10 years ago dealing with the background, meaning, and history of obon dances. His continuing presentations state-wide are in demand.

“Obon began as a Buddhist tradition and evolved into a cultural and community event now held annually all over Japan, in Hawai`i, California, Canada, South America, and other places Japanese settled.

“There are perhaps more than a thousand of these traditional Japanese folk songs, called minyo. About 100 of them are extremely popular and have been since the 1800s,” Haugen explained. “There are songs about fishing and seagulls; pretty girls and flowers; even pride in great liquor stores. Some tell of rice and herbs, the moon and winds, and of men riding logs down the river. Others tell of drinking sake, and of courtship.”

Born in Minnesota and resident in Hawaii since 1968, Keith recently taught Hawaiian language and music at Star of the Sea School in Honolulu.

“My earlier education was in journalism and I worked for many years as a writer/reporter, editor, columnist, photographer, bureau chief at several daily newspapers including the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (1968-77), where I was State Editor when I was appointed by Gov. George Ariyoshi to be State Director of Information. For more than 10 years, I doubled as a lecturer and instructor, teaching Hawaiian music and language night classes at the UH College of Continuing Education, now called UH Outreach College.

“For most of my adult life, I maintained a second career as an entertainer, songwriter, recording artist, and record producer, radio producer and host. My wife Carmen and I performed together in Waikiki and all over the world for nearly 40 years.”

Keith and Carmen are familiar to HPR listeners as the hosts of Music of Hawai`i. Keith was the creator of Ke Aolama, the first Hawaiian language newscast on radio, and the Hawaiian Word of the Day.

For further information on Obon in the Gardens and other centennial events, please refer to the Friends of Lili`uokalani Gardens page on Facebook.

Hawaii Department of Education Launches Final Phase of Student Transportation Reforms

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) has successfully reached the final phase of its Get on Board initiative with the awarding of new contracts on Maui and Kauai for school year (SY) 2017-18.

On Maui, Robert’s Hawaii School Bus will service the Kekaulike Complex and Ground Transport Inc. will provide transportation for the Baldwin, Maui and Lahainaluna complexes. On the Garden Isle Akita Enterprises will service the Kapaa and Kauai complexes, while Yamaguchi Bus Service will serve the Waimea Complex.

This culminates the last of three stages of HIDOE’s reform efforts that began in 2013 as a pilot project in Central Oahu. The Get on Board initiative has improved service by streamlining processes and upgrading technology while reducing overall transportation costs by more than $13 million annually.

“The success of our Get on Board efforts can be attributed to the improved partnerships we developed with our vendors, and their willingness to work with us as we look for ways to make our student transportation services more efficient,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The Department is also taking advantage of advances in technology to improve accountability and promote transparency.”

In June 2012, HIDOE eliminated 100 bus routes due to rising costs and a loss of funding. Get on Board was launched to address these issues. The pilot portion immediately restored service to around 350 students at the beginning of SY 2013-14.

As part of the initiative, legislation was passed that gave the Department more flexibility in how bus contracts are awarded.

The most visible component of Get On Board is the implementation of never-before-used technology that enhances and protects student health and safety. The technology platform now includes computerized routing software, automated route and stop assignments, GPS mapping and tracking, video cameras on all school buses, and online information portals.

“Our Department transports more than 40,000 students per day statewide, and the safety of our passengers is a top priority. The upgraded technology is just another tool we can use to create a secure environment on our buses,” added Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson.

Parents can sign up for transportation by obtaining a 2017-2018 School Bus Handbook from their child’s school or online. The handbook contains important information about school bus ridership, and the back cover of the handbook is the 2017-2018 application. Completed applications should be returned to the school office prior to the first day of school. Parents may call the school office or the district transportation office for more information.

For more information about HIDOE’s transportation services and to download the application and handbook, click here.

Man Dies in Keaau Accident

I just drove by the following scene and this is the Hawaii Fire Department press release on what happened.

Situation Found at Scene:

Found 1 male unresponsive with weak pulse and not breathing, with massive head injury. Vehicle flipped on the drivers side, with driver partially pinned in vehicle.

Photo by Craig Watanabe

Cause:
Motor Vehicle Accident

Remarks:
Upon arrival found 1 male driver unresponsive with weak pulse and massive head injury, utilized extrication and stabilization tools to safely extricate patient.  After extrication, patient examined with no signs of life, base station MD notified. Patient left on scene in HPD custody who will await body removal.

HPD and Hwy. Division on scene for clean up and traffic control.