Public Invited to Community Town Hall Meeting With Sen. Russell Ruderman

The public is invited to join Senator Russell Ruderman as he hosts a Community Talk Story Session in Kea‘au to discuss state legislation, community priorities, and how the public can participate in the legislative process with a look towards the upcoming 2014 Legislative Session.

Ruderman Town Hall Meeting

The talk story will be held at the Kea‘au Community Center on Thursday, December 12th at 6pm.  Please join your senator for a lively session to provide your feedback in this democratic process.

For more information, please call Senator Ruderman’s office in Honolulu at (808) 586-6890 or toll free at 974-4000 (then enter 66890) or by email: senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov.

This event is open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

Canadian Armed Forces Participating In Joint Exercise Off Coast of Hawaii

A Task Group Exercise will take place from February 11 to 21 off the coast of Hawaii with personnel from Canada and the United States participating in joint operations designed to build and strengthen interoperability and effectiveness between Canada’s three military services and our Allies. The exercise will also support the United States Navy Submarine Command Course, a training course for naval officers preparing to take command of a submarine.

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarine

“One of Canada’s responsibilities as a maritime nation is to ensure that we are interoperable with our maritime partners, including the United States,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “The Task Group Exercise ensures that the Royal Canadian Navy remains an effective allied maritime force.”

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Ottawa and Algonquin will meet at sea with United States Ships Chafee and Port Royal, and United States Naval Ship Guadalupe, along with three Los Angeles Class Nuclear Submarines. The ships will be joined by a Canadian CP-140 Aurora Aircraft from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron, and by CH-124 Sea King helicopters from 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron. Commodore Scott Bishop, Commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific, will have a key leadership position during this Task Group Exercise as the Commander of anti-submarine warfare.

Aloha Ottawa, (Photo from US Pacific Fleet Facebook Site)

Aloha Ottawa, (Photo from US Pacific Fleet Facebook Site)

“The Royal Canadian Navy has a significant part to play in fostering cooperation and understanding at sea, especially with our neighbours to the south,” said Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific. “Exercises such as the Task Group Exercise help improve naval interoperability, while also ensuring readiness if called upon.”

“I am honoured to have been asked to participate as the anti-submarine warfare commander,” said Commodore Bishop. “Combining work-up training, multi-ship exercises, and anti-submarine warfare scenarios provide a great opportunity for sailors and officers, new and seasoned, to develop and improve warfare skills.”

Mock scenarios are staged to make training more realistic. Exercises during the Task Group Exercise will also focus on force generation, surveillance, reconnaissance, and seamanship.

The Task Group Exercise serves to strengthen the skills of our sailors, soldiers, and airmen and women by preparing them to react to potentially dangerous situations. Its purpose is to hone each unit’s operational skills, enhancing Canada’s maritime contribution to global security.

Jesse Sapolu Left His Heart in San Francisco – Comes to the Big Island for a Book Signing

Last week on Tuesday, December 4th, former San Francisco 49er’s star Jesse Sapolu spent the day on the Big Island and ended the evening with a public book signing and auction to benefit the Hawaii Island United Way at Cronies Bar & Grill in downtown Hilo, Hawaii.

Jesse Sapolu signs a book for me!

Jesse Sapolu signs a book for me!

More then 100 folks turned out for the event and it was a huge success.

Jesse spent more then 2 hours signing books for fans.

Jesse spent more then 2 hours signing books for fans.

His book is entitled “I Gave My Heart to San Francisco” and in the book he talks about growing up in Hawaii amongst other things.  Check out this video created by Camille Keawekane-Stafford:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/WsU_IujhXDw]

You can just see how happy fans were to meet the future Hall of Famer as the guy is the only player from Hawaii to have FOUR Superbowl rings!

Fans are stoked to meet the four time super bowl champion!

Fans are stoked to meet the four time super bowl champion!

I asked Jesse if he could answer a few questions and answers I had for him and this is what he told me:

Q: What was your favorite NFL team growing up?

A: Los Angeles Rams

Q: What inspired you to write a book?

A: My son Roman had a teammate die last year just playing recreational basketball at Oregon St, they found out he had an enlarged heart. I’ve been asked for a while to share my story but sitting there at my friend Jr Seau’s funeral made me realize how very fragile and short life is and if my story can save a life of a kid with an enlarged heart by getting early treatment then I owe it to them to share it.

Q: What are your favorite food(s)?

A: All Polynesian foods especially poke and bbq turkey tails (lol)

Q: Why did you choose the number 61?

A: It was available and it was my birth year.

Q: Who do you think will win the Superbowl this year?

A: 49ers versus Texans, Niners win it all

Q:  What would you like to say to kids here on the Big Island in General?

A: Believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to dream then work on a plan to accomplish it.

I felt very honored and humbled to meet the legend himself as well as his lovely wife Lisa that he met on a flight when she was working.  They are currently doing more book signings to benefit the United Way and you can see the schedule of his tour on his website.

Jesse and wife

You can check out Jesse’s website if you weren’t able to make the book signing if you are interested in purchasing a book: http://www.jessesapolu.com

Volcano Man Convicted of Attempting to Defraud the United States, Commit Wire Fraud & Blackmail, Plus Witness Tampering

A federal jury in San Jose on Tuesday convicted a Hawaiian businessman of fraud in a tax return scam that involved a South Bay office, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Eric Aaron Lighter, 61, was found guilty of 17 total counts, including conspiracies to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud and blackmail, plus witness tampering.

Lighter’s National Trust Services in Volcano, Hawaii, marketed and sold “abusive trust packages” and understated his clients’ federal income tax liabilities starting in the 1990s before he was indicted in March 2009, federal prosecutors said.

His co-conspirator, Samuel Fung, was a return preparer who maintained an office in San Jose and referred clients, including some in the Bay Area, to Lighter…

More Here: South Bay Jury Convicts Hawaiian in Tax Scam

Census Bureau Releases 2009 American Community Survey Data

Media Release:

The U.S. Census Bureau today released the results of the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS), one of a series of data products the Census Bureau is releasing in the coming months that provides information on the nation’s population. Today’s release is based on survey responses collected over the course of the 2009 calendar year and provides data about the nation’s socioeconomic, housing and demographic characteristics. The first set of 2010 Census data, including the nation’s population and congressional apportionment figures for the states, will be released by the end of 2010, as required by law.

“Collectively, ACS and census data are critical components of the nation’s information infrastructure, providing data essential to our economy and our communities,” Census Bureau director Robert Groves said. “ACS data are required by numerous federal programs and for planning and decision making at the state and federal level. ACS data help communities and businesses create jobs, plan for the future, establish new businesses and improve our economy.”

Focusing on the population’s characteristics, the ACS complements, but is different from, the 2010 Census population data. As a complete count of the population, the 2010 Census data are critical for people who need to know how many people live in the United States and where they live. The ACS data, on the other hand, are based on a sample survey of the nation and describe how we live by providing estimates of key social, economic and housing characteristics.

Today’s release covers more than 40 topics, such as income, educational attainment, housing and family structure for all geographies with populations of 65,000 or more.

In December, the Census Bureau will release the first set of ACS statistics for all geographic areas, regardless of size, using data collected between 2005 and 2009. A third set of 2009 statistics covering all areas with populations of 20,000 or more will be released in January 11, 2011, based on data collected between 2007 and 2009.

In addition to the ACS data released today on the Census Bureau website, the Census Bureau is releasing a set of briefs on seven topics: poverty, median household income by state, men’s and women’s earnings by state, food stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receipt

by state, health insurance coverage among children, disability among the working age population and usual hours worked (see: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2009_release/). Thirteen additional briefs based on today’s data will be released on this website on October 12.

2009 ACS Highlights

Median Household Income

  • Real median household income in the United States fell between 2008 and 2009 — decreasing by 2.9 percent from $51,726 to $50,221.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, real median household income decreased in 34 states and increased in one: North Dakota.

Poverty

  • Thirty-one states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2008 and 2009.
  • No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate.

Health Insurance

  • Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of insured children in the United States increased from 90.3 percent to 91.0 percent, with 1.1 million more insured children in 2009.
  • In 2009, the uninsured rate for children under 19 in the United States was 9.0 percent, and the uninsured rate in the states ranged from 18.4 percent in Nevada to 1.5 percent in Massachusetts.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the uninsured rate for children decreased in the United States as well as in 17 states.  The uninsured rate increased in two states (Alaska and Minnesota) and was not statistically different in 32 states and Puerto Rico.
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of uninsured increased from 14.6 percent to 15.1 percent, with 2.2 million more uninsured in 2009. The percentage of uninsured increased in 26 states, decreased in three states (Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico) and did not change significantly in 22 states.

Industry and Occupation

  • Work hours in the United States fell by about 36 minutes per week from 39.0 hours in 2008 to 38.4 hours in 2009.
  • Work hours fell in 46 of the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas between 2008 and 2009.
  • Workers in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations worked about 63 minutes less per week in 2009 than in 2008.
  • Self-employed workers experienced a greater reduction in work hours between 2008 and 2009 than workers in other types of employment. Workers who were self-employed in their own unincorporated businesses worked 66 minutes less per week in 2009, while those self-employed in their own incorporated businesses worked 49 minutes less in 2009.

Journey to Work

  • In 2009, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area had the highest percentage of workers who commuted by public transportation at 30.5 percent, followed by the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area, where 14.6 percent of workers commuted by public transportation.

Home Values

  • In 2009, the median property value for owner-occupied homes in the United States was $185,200.
  • After adjusting for inflation, the median property value decreased in the United States by 5.8 percent between 2008 and 2009.
  • Five of the 10 highest median property values among the 50 most populous metro areas were in California: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($638,300), San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont ($591,600), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana ($463,600), San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ($417,700) and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville ($298,000).
  • Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage change in home values in the 366 metro areas ranged from a decline of 34.0 percent in Merced, Calif., to an increase of 19.7 percent in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Rental Housing Costs

  • Nationwide, nearly two in five renter households (42.5 percent) experienced housing costs that consumed 35 percent or more of their incomes.
  • Housing cost burdens ranged from a low of 23.2 percent of renting households in the Casper, Wyo., metro area to a high of 62.8 percent of renting households in the College Station-Bryan, Texas, metro area.
  • Double digit rental vacancy rates characterized the following 12 of the 50 most populous metro areas:  Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.; Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.; Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, Texas; Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.; and Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.
  • Among the 50 most populous metro areas, the Pittsburgh, Pa., metro area had the lowest median gross rent ($643).  Pittsburgh was followed by Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.; Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio, where rents were between $652 and $706.  The St. Louis, Mo.-Ill., metro area rounded out the most affordable markets with a median gross rent of $732.
  • The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area, with a gross rent of $1,414, was the most expensive rental market among the 50 most populous metro areas. Following San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, was the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., metro area and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., metro area, both with median gross rent of $1,303.  The fourth highest median gross rent was in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif., metro area ($1,224); the fifth highest median gross rent was in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., metro area ($1,197).  Rounding out the top seven most expensive metro areas were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. ($1,125) and Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H. ($1,123), which were not significantly different from each other.

Labor Force Participation

  • The labor force participation rate for men 16 to 24 decreased nationally from 61.5 percent in 2008 to 59.2 percent in 2009, while for women this age the rate decreased from 60.4 percent to 58.7 percent.
  • For men 25 to 54, the national labor force participation rate decreased from 88.5 percent in 2008 to 87.9 percent in 2009, while women in this group experienced an increase from 77.0 percent to 77.1 percent.
  • For men 55 and older, the national labor force participation rate remained unchanged (at 45.2 percent) from 2008 to 2009, while the rate for women increased from 32.8 percent to 33.2 percent.

Disability

  • In 2009, 19.5 million people, or 9.9 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population age 16 to 64, had a disability. Between 2008 and 2009, both the number and percent of people with disabilities did not change.
  • In 2009, West Virginia had the highest disability prevalence rate for people age 16 to 64 at 16.8 percent. Hawaii has the lowest prevalence rate, not different from California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Utah.
  • About 34.7 percent of people with disabilities were employed compared with 71.9 percent of people without a disability. North Dakota had the highest employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities, not different from Wyoming.
  • The District of  Columbia had the lowest employment-to-population ratio for people with disabilities, not different from Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Education — Science and Technology

  • A new question in the 2009 American Community Survey asked respondents with bachelor’s degrees about their undergraduate major:
  • The estimated number of people in the United States 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 56.3 million. Of this group, 20.5 million, or 36.4 percent, held at least one science and engineering degree.
  • The percentages of all bachelor’s degrees in the science and engineering fields were 28 percent or less in Mississippi, North Dakota and Puerto Rico, and as high as 51 percent in the District of Columbia.

Foreign-Born

  • According to the 2009 ACS, 38.5 million of the 307 million residents in the United States were foreign-born, representing 12.5 percent of the total population. In 2008, there were 38 million foreign-born in the United States, also making up 12.5 percent of the total population. The number of foreign-born in the United States increased between 2008 and 2009, in contrast to 2007-2008, when the number of foreign-born did not change significantly.

Language by Hispanic Origin and Race

  • Overall, among the major race groups and Hispanic origin, non-Hispanic whites had the lowest proportion (6 percent) of people who spoke a language other than English at home, and Asians alone and Hispanics had the highest proportion (77 percent and 76 percent, respectively).
  • Hispanics were much more likely to speak a language other than English at home (76 percent) compared with non-Hispanics (10 percent). Among the selected Hispanic detailed groups, Dominicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, each around 92 percent, were among the top three groups with the highest percent who spoke a language other than English at home. This was followed by Colombians (87 percent), Cubans (82 percent), Mexicans (76 percent) and Puerto Ricans (66 percent).

The Older Population

  • People 60 and over were more likely than the total population to have a disability. In 2009, 32.4 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population 60 and over reported having a disability compared with 12.0 percent of the total civilian noninstitutionalized population.
  • Approximately one quarter (27.1 percent) of the population 60 and over reported being in the labor force, an increase from 26.7 percent in 2008.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY

The American Community Survey is the successor to the former census “long form” that historically produced demographic, housing and socioeconomic data for the nation as part of the once-a-decade census. The decennial census program, which includes the ACS and the 2010 Census, serves as the basis for the allocation of more than $400 billion in federal funds to state, local and tribal governments every year.  These vital data also guide planning in the private sector as well as the work done by policymakers at all levels of government and in communities of all sizes. All survey responses are strictly confidential and protected by law.

As is the case with all surveys, statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. All comparisons made in the reports have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted. Please consult the data tables for specific margins of error. For more information, go to http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/documentation_main/.

Changes in survey design from year to year can affect results. See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2009_release/ for more information on changes affecting the 2009 data. See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/guidance_for_data_users/comparing_2009/ for guidance on comparing 2009 ACS data with data from previous years and the 2000 Census.

Visit “American FactFinder,” the Census Bureau’s online data tool, to obtain ACS 2009 data for the nation, all states and the District of Columbia, all congressional districts, approximately

800 counties, and 500 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, among others.

Native Hawaiians Have Higher Risks of Death than White Americans

Media Release:

Throughout their lives, Native Hawaiians have higher risks of death than white Americans, according to a University of Michigan study.

The research is the first known study to assess mortality patterns among Native Hawaiians at the national level, including those living outside the state of Hawaii.

The study is published in the November 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, online Sept. 16. It was funded by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health.

“Native Hawaiians are far more likely than whites to suffer early death,” said demographer Sela Panapasa, an assistant research scientist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and lead author of the article. “Like Black Americans, they are also much more likely than whites to die in mid- and later-life.”

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, the study shows that Native Hawaiian infants less than one year old and young people between the ages of 15 and 34 are particularly vulnerable to early death compared with corresponding age groups of white Americans.

“We also found that older Native Hawaiians have higher expected death rates than either Blacks or whites age 65 and over, suggesting that relatively fewer of this group have benefited from the increased longevity enjoyed by the rest of the nation,” said Panapasa, who is a Pacific Islander of Polynesian heritage.

“These results support the idea that renewed efforts are needed to better understand the specific causes and risk factors of increased mortality among Native Hawaiians and other high risk minority populations, including Pacific Islanders, Southeast Asians, Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives,” Panapasa said. “They should also prompt further investigation into the precursors of premature mortality among Native Hawaiians, including access to health care and prenatal care, socioeconomic status, and the impact of colonization, oppression and other social determinants on health outcomes.”

Panapasa’s co-authors are Marjorie Mau of the University of Hawaii, David Williams of Harvard University, and James McNally of U-M’s ISR.

Pacific Islanders in the United States are a distinct and rapidly growing population, Panapasa noted. Based on the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 874,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Native Hawaiians represent the largest sector (46 percent) of this population.

Until 1996, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders were aggregated with the larger U.S. Asian population. “Because of their relatively small numbers, their social, economic, and health status has been chronically under-represented in national surveys and distinctive patterns have been missed,” Panapasa said.

“As the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse both racially and ethnically, this type of analysis allows for new insights into the underpinnings of differences in morbidity and mortality,” Panapasa said. “It offers an opportunity to identify how best to reduce health concerns and disparities in racially diverse populations.”

Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune Sign Contract After Nearly Six Years of Negotiation

Media Release:

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald have signed a contract after nearly six years of negotiations.

The two-year agreement covers all employees at the Hilo newspaper except pressmen, who are covered by a separate contract, and managers. The pressmen’s negotiations lasted as long as the Guild’s. The contracts are similar.

Both unions have bargained with the newspaper jointly for years, but the negotiations were prolonged this time partly because the company refused joint negotiations.

The contract provides the first wage increases for employees at the newspaper since Jan. 1, 2002.

During the negotiations, the Tribune-Herald was found guilty of 12 unfair labor practice charges by an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board. The charges included the illegal firing of veteran reporters Hunter Bishop and Dave Smith, both of whom were union leaders.

The judge found that the company fired the union leaders because they were engaged in legally protected union activity, not because of any job-related violations. He ordered both Bishop and Smith reinstated to their jobs with full back pay and benefits. The judge also found the company guilty of illegally disciplining employees for participation in union activities and several other violations of employee rights.

Rather than implementing the judge’s order, the company has appealed to the NLRB in Washington, D.C. The appeal is pending.

Guild spokesperson for the talks and former Hawaii Newspaper Guild administrative officer Wayne Cahill said it was his belief the company had no intention of ever reaching an agreement, but that it had second thoughts because of the strong will of the employees, who were planning an island-wide consumer boycott against the newspaper if agreement could not be achieved.

Cahill said, “The employees and the full Big Island Labor Alliance made a strong statement at a rally in front of the newspaper on March 17. It had to be apparent to the company that it would have a hard time doing business in Hilo unless it treated its employees fairly.”

Cahill took over the talks in September 2009 after Guild sector representative Mike Burrell retired. Burrell had led the talks for the Guild for the first five years of bargaining. Cahill retired at the conclusion of the talks.

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild is a local of The Newspaper Guild, a sector of the Communication Workers of America. The Hawaii local also represents employees at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Maui News and the Maui Bulletin.