Hawaii’s strong tourism recovery this year puts us squarely in the top 10 across all the major economic indicators (occupancy, revenue, rates) for sunny destinations.

Pacific Business News has this report: 

Oahu hotels had the highest occupancy during the first nine months of the year among other island and sun destinations around the world, while Hawaii’s three other major islands — Maui, Kauai and the Big Island — each placed in the top 10, according to a report released Tuesday by Hospitality Advisors LLC and Smith Travel Research.

Oahu had an occupancy rate of 85.6 percent for the January-September period, which was 4.7 percentage points higher than a year ago, and more than 1 percentage point higher than the No. 2 destination, Puerto Rico, whose occupancy rate was 74.5 percent.

All four islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island) were also in the top 10 for average daily room rates and revenue per available room, or RevPAR, during the first nine months of the year, according to the report.

Read the full story.

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Sen. Daniel Inouye is in the middle of a tiff between the family of the late President Dwight Eisenhower and the famed architect tasked with building his memorial.

From the Associated Press:

Plans to build a national memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower will be delayed into next year as the World War II general’s family continues to object to a design by architect Frank Gehry.

“Taxpayers and donors alike will be better served with an Eisenhower Square that is a green open space with a simple statue in the middle, and quotations from his most important sayings,” (Eisenhower’s son, John S.D. Eisenhower) wrote to Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who is vice chairman of the federal Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

Read the full article at the Washington Post‘s website.

(Photo from Eisenhower Memorial Commission gallery)

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The day after President Obama‘s historic visit to Myanmar, Hawaii Pacific University announced its participation in the Institute of International Education’s new initiative to help rebuild higher education capacity in the country.

Nine U.S. colleges will be part of the strategic planning process. HPU President Geoffrey Bannister had this to say in a statement Tuesday:

“HPU is pleased to be invited by IIE to join this select group of U.S. higher education institutions. Countries in transition, such as Myanmar, represent a global challenge for democracy, and universities play a critical role in providing the infrastructure for citizenship development to supports the democratic process. At this early stage of re-establishing working relationships, HPU is dedicated to its continuing global mission to bring democracy and the spirit of aloha to the world.”

Learn more by reading the news from HPU here.

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Water repair crews are trying to fix a break in a 16-inch water main along Farrington Highway that’s left the satellite city hall there without water. City officials are asking people to go to the facility at Kapolei, 1000 Uluohia St., until the Waianae office reopens.

Water line breaks are a huge problem on Oahu, with a major break happening on average of once a day. Water bills are rising as the Board of Water Supply struggles to deal with the problem.

We took a deeper look at the issue a few months ago. You can read that report here.

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From The Garden Island:

If Congress does not reach a compromise in the next six weeks, the Budget Control Act of 2011 will go into effect when the clock turns to midnight on Dec. 31, setting up a chain reaction which will likely leave many government programs short-funded. That would include the National Wildlife Refuge System, the world’s largest system of lands and waters protected for wildlife.

“The fiscal cliff that we are all facing right now is most likely going to have a devastating effect on America’s wildlife refuges, and that includes some that are basically in your back yard,” said Jerilyn Schweitzer, a public relations volunteer at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Marine Conservation Institute. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument would be among the places affected, she said.

Funding cuts to the nation’s wildlife refuges, already operating on a “shoestring budget,” according to Schweitzer, would represent an additional 10 percent reduction to NWRS and would affect more than protected wildlife — it would also have a ripple effect on local economies. Read the full story.

And here’s the latest in other neighbor isle gov’t and politics:

Ethics board dismisses complaint against Hawaii County workers

Attorneys for Rapozo, Carvalho say gas-theft charges are baseless

Yagong seeks cultural commission

Union contracts trump Hawaii County ethics code

Kauai CC opens new kitchen learning center

Sunday sewage spill contained in Eleele

Report: Lack of time to restart chopper engine in East Maui crash

Hawaii County

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It hasn’t even been two full years since Hawaii passed civil unions into law, but equality advocates think the islands are ripe for full gay marriage rights before too long.

Politico reports today that advocates hope to capitalize on the momentum of Democratic victories during the 2012 election to move the ball forward. The U.S. Supreme Court may or may not weigh in on the issue soon. On the state level, Hawaii has been identified as fertile ground for a change.

From the article:

Meanwhile, advocates are looking at putting a gay marriage referendum on the ballot in Oregon in 2014. But given the cost involved in any referendum effort, they’d prefer to go either the route of state-level court decisions in Rhode Island, Illinois, Delaware and Hawaii, where they’re optimistic about judicial opinions. Some have their eyes on Nevada as well.

Read the full piece: Gay marriage takes next steps

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Here’s an amusing story of a joke gone wrong. 

DC808 reports:

A Montana newspaper copy editor changed an Associated Press story about President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia to say he was “allegedly” born in Hawaii.

Here’s how the story should have looked, per the version on Hawaii News Now’s website:

The Asia trip underscores Obama’s efforts to establish the United States as an Asia-Pacific power, a worldview defined by 21st century geopolitics but also by Obama’s personal identity as America’s first Pacific president. Obama was born in Hawaii.

According to Jim Romenesko, a journalism industry blogger, the newspaper ran an editor’s note explaining the change:

Our copy desk made an error in judgment in editing the Sunday 2A Associated Press story about President Obama’s trip to Asia and his place of birth. One of the copy editors inserted the term “allegedly” born in Hawaii in the story thinking the other copy editor would catch it, he didn’t. It was a poor attempt at humor and a poor decision, but was not intended to be printed in the paper. Those responsible have been disciplined.

The Helena Independent Record is owned by Lee Enterprises, which also owns The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai.

— Michael Levine

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A Montana newspaper copy editor changed an Associated Press story about President Barack Obama‘s trip to Asia to say he was “allegedly” born in Hawaii.

Here’s how the story should have looked, per the version on Hawaii News Now‘s website:

The Asia trip underscores Obama’s efforts to establish the United States as an Asia-Pacific power, a worldview defined by 21st century geopolitics but also by Obama’s personal identity as America’s first Pacific president. Obama was born in Hawaii.

According to Jim Romenesko, a journalism industry blogger, the newspaper ran an editor’s note explaining the change:

Our copy desk made an error in judgment in editing the Sunday 2A Associated Press story about President Obama’s trip to Asia and his place of birth. One of the copy editors inserted the term “allegedly” born in Hawaii in the story thinking the other copy editor would catch it, he didn’t. It was a poor attempt at humor and a poor decision, but was not intended to be printed in the paper. Those responsible have been disciplined.

The Helena Independent Record is owned by Lee Enterprises, which also owns The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai.

— Michael Levine

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DC808 trailblazer Adrienne LaFrance spotted Mazie Hirono on an Amtrak train from Washington D.C. to New York this morning.

With Congress out of action for the rest of this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, Hirono was traveling with her husband.

“This is the first break I’ve had in 18 months,” she said. In addition to serving in the House, Hirono has been running for the U.S. Senate. The work paid off with a 25-point win over Linda Lingle earlier this month. Hirono’s set to be sworn in to the Senate in early January.

— Michael Levine

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People cannot take continuously rising electricity rates. The Consumer Advocate should be on our side.

Oahu rate payers will pay for the bulk of the rate subsidy. The purchase price of the biofuel will be close to $200 per barrel and the contract will last for 20 years.

We are opposed to the Aina Koa Pono biofuel purchase proposal, it will raise electricity rates. We want lower rates.

Now we need to concentrate on writing letters to the Public Utilities Commission explaining how our families, our businesses, and our communities which are hurt by rising electricity prices.

The PUC will make the final decision. We have until Nov. 30 to submit letters to the PUC. You are the most effective person to tell your story.

You can email testimony to: hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov PUC Docket #2012-0185 Application for approval of biofuel supply contract with Aina Koa Pono – Ka’u LLC

Electricity costs are to most of us like taxes. One of the primary pillars of our way of life, electricity provides basics from food storage to preparation, from entertainment to health, from bathing to keeping our clothing clean and durable. We have built our lives

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Update from the legislative hearing on UH and the Stevie Wonder concert debacle. Capitol Watch reports:

That’s just one of 18 recommendations that have been identified by state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim’s special committee investigating the University of Hawaii and its athletics department.

Kim wants a fiscal and management audit of the UH conducted by the state auditor. Her committee also wants the UH Board of Regents to get training on the Sunshine Law and open records law,and to learn to follow its own rules.

The Senate Committee on Accountability is holding a briefing at the Capitol on its findings. Civil Beat will have a full report later Monday (Nov. 19). 

The committee’s findings come not long after the Regents reached agreement with UH President M.R.C. Greenwood to continue in her job, the release of a fact-finder’s report commissioned by the Regents and the arrest of two men implicated in the bungled Stevie Wonder concert that launched the Senate’s investigation.

“Ultimately, your Committee finds that those persons in the highest authority over their respective portions of the university failed to perform their oversight duties,” the report states.

The Regents also “failed to provide sufficient oversight and governance control over the University System.”

Read the Senate committee’s 32-page report here.

Photo of Stevie Wonder courtesy Alan Light.

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