The Beat

  • How Many People Have Police Killed So Far This Year?

    ·By Chad Blair
    Since the beginning of this year, police in the United States have killed 745 people, says a new report. That means that police are on track to kill around 1,200 people in 2015 “if the slayings continue at the same pace” through the remainder of the year. Some states stand out, says the report, which comes from Mapping Police Violence: In California, police killed over two dozen people in those 40 days. Since mid-July, California’s count has risen at a rate of nearly five killings per week, from 95 to 121. Texas officers killed 17 people over the same time frame, rising from 64 killings to 81. Florida police killed seven, for a total of 50 deaths this year. Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont all continue to have a year free of police killings.   Here’s some more food for thought from this new report: Some states are killing many times more individuals on an absolute basis than entire countries are. In Norway, which has a population of 5.2 million, police have shot dead just two people since 2002, firing their guns just 33 times since then, and not at all in 2007. In Arizona, population 6.7 million, police killed 31 people so far this year alone.
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  • Repeal of Term Limits on Kauai Falls Short

    ·By Chad Blair
    Members of the Kauai County Council will remain restricted to four consecutive two-year terms. A proposal to remove term limits fell short by one vote Wednesday, says The Garden Island. Had the county charter measure passed the council, it would have gone before Kauai voters next year. But its passage seemed in doubt, given that voters there in 2006 passed the term-limit requirement. The Historic County Building on Kauai, where the county council meets. Courtesy of Léo Azambuja Also, the lifting of term limits only applied to the Kauai County Council and not to the county mayor or prosecutor. In Hawaii, offices for all four county mayors and councils are term-limited, as are the offices of governor and lieutenant governor. There are no restrictions, however, on terms for the Hawaii State Legislature or for the U.S. Congress. One good argument for term limits is the desire for new blood and ideas. One good argument against term limits is experience. Discuss.
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  • City Council Overrides Veto on Chinatown Sit-Lie Expansion

    ·By Chad Blair
    Sit-lie bans on Oahu are poised to expand to two Chinatown pedestrian malls in downtown Honolulu.  The City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday to override Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s veto of Bill 44, which extends the sit-lie prohibition to College Walk Mall and Kila Kalikimaka Mall. The bill, sponsored by  Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, also extends the hours of the sit-lie ban at Fort Street Mall and Union Mall. Lawmakers cited public safety and access to businesses in their support of the measure. Without a home in Chinatown. Nick Grube/Honolulu Civil Beat “Sit-lie” refers to sitting or lying on a public mall “or on a tarp, towel, sheet, blanket, sleeping bag, bedding, planter, chair, bench, or any other object or material placed upon a public mall,” according to Bill 44. In his veto message, the mayor said he supports “the intent” of sit-lie bans but that Bill 44 “contains legal deficiencies.” Caldwell said he fears the city may be subjected to “unnecessary legal challenges and to the payment by the City’s taxpayers of costly attorneys’ fees incurred by plaintiffs.” A better alternative, Caldwell says, would be finding, creating and providing affordable housing “so that those less fortunate persons who live on the public rights-of-way have other options than simply moving into different public rights-of-way as more laws are passed.” Council members Brandon Elefante and Kymberly Pine voted against the veto override.
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  • Hawaii DOT Alleges Fraud, Breach of Contract in Lawsuit

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hawaii Department of Transportation filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Ciber Inc., alleging that the consulting firm “defrauded the State and engaged in other misconduct.” The state is seeking tens of millions in damages, including more than $8 million in fees it said it paid to Ciber, according to a press release from the DOT. The lawsuit alleges that Ciber pulled a “bait and switch” by “misrepresenting its capabilities in order to land a contract” to replace DOT’s existing computer system with a new system to run the state’s highway financial management operations. Beretania Street traffic heading west bound near the Punchbowl Street. Cory Lum/Civil Beat UPDATE: In a statement emailed Wednesday to Civil Beat, a spokeswoman for Ciber said the following: The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s lawsuit is frivolous, contains numerous lies and misstatements, and is completely without merit. Since the beginning of our engagement with HIDOT, we have operated in good faith, fulfilling our contractual obligations and providing the agency with quality IT and consulting services. Ciber was proud to help HIDOT implement a system that would benefit the people of Hawaii, but HIDOT apparently had other priorities. After HIDOT inexplicably terminated its agreement with Ciber, we filed a claim seeking payment for work already completed. We are disappointed that HIDOT has refused to honor its contractual obligations with Ciber and has now filed an inflammatory lawsuit as retaliation after we attempted to collect funds properly due to our company.
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  • Maui County Hires Firm to Study Utility Options

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Maui has hired an Oklahoma-based firm to study utility options for the community to give it a better sense of whether the proposed $4.3 billion sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to NextEra Energy is in the county’s best interest. Guernsey, an engineering, architectural and consulting company, was awarded a $70,000 contract to do the study by mid-October. “We have the natural resources to wean ourselves off of oil here in Maui County, but in order to do that we need a utility that will be able to evolve with the changing energy industry,” Mayor Alan Arakawa said in a release Tuesday. A wind farm is seen on a mountain ridge on Maui, which recently hired a firm to study utility options for the community. Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat “Hopefully this study will be able tell us what is the best option for this type of utility evolution,” he said. “This is important information that we can use to decide what’s best for the future of Maui County.” HEI is the parent of Maui Electric Co., which serves Maui, Lanai and Molokai; Hawaiian Electric Co., which powers Oahu; and Hawaiian Electric and Light Co., which serves the Big Island. Arakawa formed a group this summer to look at what it would mean for Maui to break away from HEI, which is something the Big Island is exploring too. Guernsey, which was chosen by the mayor’s Office of Economic Development, is expected to come up with an “options analysis of the alternative forms of ownership and the alternative
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  • Ignacio, Jimena — Kevin? How Storms Are Named in Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    Confused about how names are designated for major storms in Hawaiian waters? It all depends on where, exactly, the storm forms. Hurricane Jimena is the ninth major storm in the region. It follows Guillermo, Hilda and Ignacio. Those names come from the 2015 list of cyclone names formed in the Eastern North Pacific this year, which means storms formed east of 140 degrees longitude. (To provide some bearing, Honolulu is located at 157 degrees longitude.) Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena. NOAA The Eastern North Pacific list this year begins with Andres and ends with Zelda. A current tropical depression named 14-E could become Tropical Storm Kevin or Hurricane Kevin, says the National Weather Service in Honolulu. The lists for Eastern Pacific Names is recycled every six years. Meanwhile, cyclones that are formed west of 140 degrees longitude are given Central North Pacific names. Kilo and Loke have already been named; Malia is next. The Central North Pacific list for 2015 begins with Ana and ends with Walaka — Hawaiian names. There are three other lists for Central North Pacific cyclones; once one list is used up, new names come from the top of the next list. Interestingly, the NWS provides a pronunciation guide for Eastern names (e.g., Guillermo is gee-YER-mo, Ignacio is eeg-NAH-see-oh) but not for Central names. This list of storm names may come in handy, given that hurricane season in Hawaii is only at its halfway point. It runs from June through November.
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  • Honolulu Earns a C Grade for Small Business ‘Friendliness’

    ·By Chad Blair
    Small business owners give Honolulu an average C grade for business friendliness, according to Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. “Honolulu small businesses tell us there is room for improvement in local regulations, but the city does a great job with proactive outreach and support,” Jon Lieber, an economist with Thumbtack, said in a press release. Key findings for Honolulu, which had a D grade in 2013, include: an A- for training and networking programs; a B- for licensing regulations; a D for ease of starting a business; an F for labor regulations; and a B as a place business owners would encourage others to start a new business. Bishop Square in downtown Honolulu. Chad Blair/Civil Beat Nearly 18,000 U.S. small business owners responded to this year’s survey, says Thumbtack, including 37 in Honolulu. The survey may come as a surprise to local business owners who have long complained about how hard it is for small businesses to survive here — something the new survey hints at. “Hawaii is a very difficult state to do business in,” said one property manager in Honolulu who was not identified in the survey. “It takes a long time to process business registrations. There is a service tax that is charged on gross proceeds and does not factor in expenses.” The property manager added, “Also, a full-time employee is anyone working more than 20 hours, and employers are required to pay almost 100% of health insurance costs.” Thumbtack, which bills itself as “a technology-based marketplace,” gave Hawaii an overall grade of
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  • Ignacio Weakens and Moves Farther North of Hawaii

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Chalk Hurricane Ignacio up as the latest storm to loom near Hawaii before veering away. Ignacio had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane and was tracking well north of the islands Monday morning. It was located roughly 460 miles east of Honolulu, the Weather Channel reported. The center of Ignacio will pass north of Hawaii through midweek, with the effects likely limited to high surf on east- and southeast-facing beaches. High surf warnings and advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service. Farther east, it’s still too soon to know if Jimena, a Category 4 hurricane, will eventually threaten Hawaii, the Weather Channel reported. NOAA    
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  • One-Stop Center to Help Micronesians Opens in Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    A “one-stop center” pilot project that aims to help Micronesians in Hawaii was opened in Kalihi Friday. The center wants to serve as a “central hub” linking Micronesian communities, families and individuals with public services and other resources. The Hālau Ola One-Stop Center is located at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church at 720 N. King Street in Honolulu. “In addition, the center will connect the Micronesian community with federal, state and county representatives and agencies to further advocacy and self- empowerment,” according to a press release. An opening ceremony for a new “one-stop center” in Kalihi to help Micronesians in Hawaii. We Are Oceania The one-stop center is run by We Are Oceania (WAO), which advocates for Pacific Islanders from the Micronesia region living and working in Hawaii. The Micronesian population in Hawaii, which hails from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other islands, is estimated to total between 15,000 and 17,000 people. “The Micronesia region faces many challenges such as U.S. militarization and weapons testing, loss of land from rising ocean levels, and lack of a sustainable, local food supply,” said WAO’s program director, Josie Howard. “Limited options force many Micronesians to leave their home in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Many individuals and families legally come to Hawaii to seek proper medical treatment, a better education and other opportunities  that are unavailable in their home community.” The grand opening of the Hālau Ola One-Stop Center drew guest speakers from the
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  • Hurricane Ignacio Slowly Moving Toward Hawaii

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Hurricane Ignacio is continuing to move northwest toward Hawaii, potentially reaching the Big Island on Monday morning and then crossing over the rest of the islands, according to the National Weather Service’s forecast Friday. Maximum sustained winds were near 90 mph and the storm was moving 8 mph. A flash flood watch is in effect for Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai and Niihau. Hurricane Ignacio was tracking toward Hawaii, according to Friday’s forecast. National Weather Service “We understand the public is fatigued from experiencing four major approaching storms so far this season, but we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide,” said Doug Mayne, state administrator of emergency management, in a release Friday. “Severe weather associated with Ignacio is expected, and with Jimena not far behind, we need to ready ourselves and our loved ones as much as possible with the time we have. We will continue to work with our county, state and federal partners and leadership to monitor the storms and provide the public with timely updates as we receive them.” Ignacio may strengthen more through Saturday, according to the forecast. It was a Category 1 hurricane 840 miles east-southeast of Hilo at 8:30 a.m. Friday. East- and southeast-facing shores of Hawaii Island and Maui can expect advisory-level surf Saturday and warning-level increases Sunday through Monday, the release said. Tropical storm force winds could begin to impact Hawaii Island as early as Sunday evening. The public is urged to be cautious and continue
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  • Another Wastewater Spill Closes Windward Beaches, Including Sandy

    ·By Marina Riker
    About 1 million gallons of treated but not yet disinfected wastewater have spilled on the Windward Shore, forcing health officials to close beaches from the Halona Blow Hole to Erma’s Beach on Thursday. Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health, said the wastewater hadn’t yet been disinfected with chlorine at the East Honolulu Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is located across from Sandy Beach. Hawaii American Water, the company that runs the plant, said that the spill happened after an underground electrical cable shorted out because of heavy rains, interrupting the chlorination system, the Associated Press reported. The wastewater flowed from the treatment plant for about five hours. Visitors enjoy the water at Sandy Beach in happier times — a month ago. Cory Lum/Civil Beat On Monday, 393,000 gallons of wastewater spilled out of manholes near Ala Moana Park, with 129,000 gallons entering the ocean. That caused officials to close popular coastal areas from Kuhio Beach to Point Panic. Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park were reopened Wednesday despite brown water conditions still being in effect. Meanwhile, another 24,000 gallons were spilled near Hickam Beach on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Monday. Officials are telling the public to stay out of those waters as well. All of the mishaps have been partially blamed on recent heavy rains.
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  • What Are Hawaii’s Most Popular Baby Names?

    ·By Marina Riker
    “Liam” and “Olivia” were the most popular baby names in Hawaii last year, and a “Game of Thrones” character’s name even made the girls’ top 10 list, according to the recently released Hawaii Data Book. “Aria” tied with “Isabella” for No. 7 on the girls’ list. Maisie Williams plays “Arya Stark” on “Game of Thrones.” Heather Paul/Flickr.com “Arya Stark” is the name of the headstrong, pre-teen daughter of a lord in HBO‘s hit show, based on the George R. R. Martin novels. The name started to grow in popularity following the success of “Game of Thrones,” and eventually became the fastest-growing name for a baby girl in the country. This is the second time “Aria,” which includes other spellings of the name, has made it onto Hawaii’s top 10 list. Last year’s Data Book had the name ranked 10th most popular baby. Source: Hawaii Data Book, 2014 Civil Beat
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  • Air Force to Develop Renewable Fuels Through $20 Million Microgrid Project

    ·By Todd Simmons
    U.S. Air Force researchers will develop a microgrid demonstration project for renewable fuel sources at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam under a new $20 million agreement announced today by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Under the deal, the Air Force Research Lab and the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies will create a “microgrid testbed” for development and testing of alternative fuel sources – a project Schatz said will strengthen energy resilience for the 154th Wing of the Hawaii Air National Guard and possibly have implications far beyond that. Asst. Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine, center, and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, right, tour Pearl Harbor-Hickam facilities that will be part of a microgrid demonstration project focused on development of alternative fuel sources. “Assured access to energy is essential to the Air Force’s mission. Without it, the Air Force could not fly its aircraft or power the flight simulators, alert facilities and other equipment that are critical to sustaining the readiness of our airmen at installations like Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,” said Schatz in a statement released after he and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine toured base facilities that will be included in the work. The microgrid testbed project “will help ensure that the Air National Guard has access to the energy it needs to execute its defense and homeland security missions, while providing a proof of concept that alternative energy and microgrid technologies can support the Air Force’s broader energy security goals,” he said. Initial work will entail development of a
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  • July Broke Hawaii’s All-Time Record for Monthly Tourist Arrivals

    ·By Marina Riker
    Hawaii hosted more visitors in July than ever before, and they spent a record $1.4 billion, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Since January, visitors have spent $9 billion in the Aloha State, a 3.6 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, visitor arrivals have gone up 4.2 percent. Visitors at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Chad Blair/Civil Beat There was an increase in tourists from the mainland and Canada, who also spent more on their vacations. However, there were fewer visitors from Japan, who spent about 10 percent less than they did last year. “The growth we have been experiencing is keeping us on track for another milestone year for Hawaii’s visitor industry,” said George Szigeti, the president of the HTA. “While the growth is not as significant as in previous years, we are still projecting to reach new records in spending and arrivals for 2015.”
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  • Ige’s Team Cuts Kakaako’s Homeless Population by 10 Percent

    ·By Rui Kaneya
    Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that his leadership team worked with a group of service providers to relocate about 10 percent of homeless people who were living at the encampment in Kakaako. The team found spaces for 28 people — five families and six single adults — at Next Step and Institute for Human Services shelters, where a total of 27 people had recently left and moved into either permanent or longer-term transitional housing. According to a survey conducted during the week of Aug. 3, nearly 300 people — including 31 families — were living at the Kakaako encampment. Scott Morishige, who officially began his tenure as the governor’s coordinator on homelessness on Monday, said in a statement: “This movement of individuals and families from the streets into temporary shelters is significant because their lives have been changed for the better and because it demonstrates the positive outcomes we can achieve when the city and the state work together. Delayed enforcement in the area helped service providers move more people into shelters.” The governor’s leadership team found spaces at Next Step (above) and Institute for Human Services shelters for 28 people who were living at Kakaako’s homeless encampment.
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  • Hawaii DLNR Official Has Close Connection to Virginia Shootings

    ·By Richard Wiens
    The top communications official for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources hired and fired the man suspected of fatally shooting two former colleagues, a TV newswoman and a cameraman, in Roanoke, Virginia, on Wednesday morning, Hawaii News Now reported. Dan Dennison, now senior communications director for the DLNR, was the news director of WDBJ in Roanoke from 2011 to 2013. He told HNN that he hired and fired Vester L. Flanagan, the shooting suspect who killed himself hours after the shootings. Dennison said Flanagan, who was hired in 2012, was terminated in 2013, largely for performance issues. “You just never know, when you’re going to work, how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way as we saw in Roanoke this morning,” Dennison told HNN. Dennison added this about Flanagan, who also went by the name of Bryce Williams: “He had a level of a long series of complaints against coworkers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station. That really had nothing to do with his termination, and after a lot of investigation both internally and externally, all of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely under along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.” Dan Dennison recently accompanied DLNR Director Suzanne Case on a visit to the Civil Beat Editorial Board. Cory Lum/Civil Beat  
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  • Getting Tropically Depressed Yet? Ignacio is Next Storm in Line

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Now that Kilo, the sometimes-hurricane, sometimes-tropical storm and sometimes-tropical depression, seems destined to stay off Hawaii’s shores and just cause heavy rain, it’s apparently time for a new character to take the stage in this season’s Central Pacific parade of storms. The Weather Channel reported Tuesday afternoon that Ignacio has developed into a tropical storm with likely hurricane status in its future as it churns in our general direction. According to the report: • Ignacio is located about 1,530 miles east-southeast of Hilo. • The storm is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane later this week as it moves in a west to eventually west-northwest direction. • Ignacio is not a threat to land over the next few days, but if it remains organized, it’ll come close to Hawaii early next week. NOAA/National Weather Service
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  • Catholic Cardinal’s Hawaii Vacation Ends In DUI Arrest

    ·By Chris D'Angelo
    One of the Roman Catholic Church’s most senior clergymen was arrested last week for driving under the influence during a trip to Hawaii. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday that 79-year-old Cardinal William Joseph Levada, of Menlo Park, California, was stopped at about midnight Thursday in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island after a patrol car saw him swerve. Levada, formerly the highest-ranking American official in the Vatican, was charged with driving under the influence and was released from police custody after posting $500 bail. In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post by a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Levada said, “I regret my error in judgment. I intend to continue fully cooperating with the authorities.” Cardinal William Joseph Levada Levada, the former archbishop of Portland and San Francisco, was reportedly vacationing with other priests on the Big Island when the arrest occurred. When asked how the archdiocese handles situations like this, spokesman Michael Brown said that in this specific case, “‘punishment’ is not a factor.” “Speaking generally at all levels of the organization, such things would be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” he wrote in an email to HuffPost. “Where a lapse in judgment occurred, the matter would probably be considered less serious. If the matter seemed to indicate a more serious problem, this would be treated more seriously. This would be true at all employee levels.” Catholic cardinals, traditionally seen as “princes of the church,” are appointed by the pope and are second to him in terms of church hierarchy. Currently, there are 219 cardinals worldwide, including 15
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  • Former Hawaii Gov Linda Lingle Settles Into New Role

    ·By Nick Grube
    Linda Lingle says she’s not giving political advice to her new boss Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, even though he considers her a “superstar.” The former Hawaii governor, who spent eight years at the helm of the Aloha State, is now earning $198,000 as Rauner’s chief operating officer. But in a recent interview she insists she’s only helping with the day-to-day operations of the state. NPR Illinois reporter Amanda Vinicky caught up with Lingle during the Illinois State Fair as part of on ongoing feature that takes a look at political insiders working in the Land of Lincoln. You can check out the piece here. Vinicky talked with Lingle during a parade, and had her interview cut short by Rauner’s handlers after only a few minutes. Much of the focus is on Illinois’ budget challenges. Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is now working in Illinois alongside Gov. Bruce Rauner. Courtesy of the Lingle campaign
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  • Kilo ‘Less of a Threat’ to Hawaii, But Still May Become a Hurricane

    ·By Richard Wiens
    UPDATE: Tropical Depression Kilo is expected to mill around in the waters well west of the islands the next few days, the Weather Underground reported. “Kilo will still likely organize into a hurricane, but the latest forecasts … keep the storm well to the west of Hawaii for at least the next five days,” the website reported Sunday. But always, it seems, there’s another threat brewing. “Hawaii should keep an eye on three tropical disturbances to its east, in the waters of the Eastern Pacific to the southwest of Mexico,” the website reported. The latest satellite image of Kilo courtesy of NOAA. NOAA  
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Fun Fact: Hawaii Tops for Most People Reporting Mixed Race

·By civilbeat

The research gang at the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has released yet another nugget of info about Hawaii.

Turns out that the percentage of our population (23.6 percent) reporting two or more races is much higher than the national average (2.9 percent), ranking us first among the states and the District of Columbia.

DBEDT says it’s trying to gather rankings in one place on subjects “where we can find uniform, verifiable and consistent data” — something, it says, is not as easy as it sounds.

Photo: Graph. (DBEDT)

—Chad Blair

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