The Beat

  • Homeland Security Action Should Ease Japan-Kona Flights

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Hawaii’s tourism industry is expected to benefit from a Friday announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that it will expand air preclearance operations to Narita, Japan, and nine new foreign airports. The preclearance program stations U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in foreign airports, clearing travelers at their point of origin to avoid lengthy processing at busy American airports. This would also allow airports without customs officers, including Kona Airport, to begin accepting international flights. There are currently 15 preclearance locations in six foreign countries. Last year, Japanese tourists made up 18 percent of Hawaii’s visitors and brought more than $2.5 billion into the state’s economy. Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, co-chair of the Senate Tourism Caucus, issued a statement saying he held hearings on the state of the tourism and travel industry last year and worked with the Department of State to make it easier for low-risk international travelers to visit the U.S. “We’ve been pushing for preclearance for two years, and it has gone from pie in the sky to reality,” Schatz said in the statement.  “This is the first step towards making it a lot easier for Japanese visitors to come to Hawaii.  Although work remains to be done, this also has enormous implications in terms of our efforts in establishing direct flights from Japan to Kona.” Christopher Ebdon/Flickr.com    
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  • Hawaii County Prosecutor to Dismiss Charges Against Some TMT Protestors

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    A Big Island prosecutor plans to dismiss charges against several protestors who were arrested blocking construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. The Associated Press reported Friday that Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said he plans to drop the charges against about 10 people who had been charged with trespassing. The rest of the 31 protestors arrested had been charged with obstruction of government operations. Roth told the AP that the trespassing cases need further investigation and that he could re-file the cases later. Click here to read Civil Beat’s coverage of the Mauna Kea controversy.
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  • Tourism Authority: Hawaii Hosting More Visitors So Far in 2015

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Hawaii hosted more visitors last month than in April 2014, and they spent more, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For the year, visitors are up but their spending is about the same as last year. Total visitor arrivals to the islands last month (677,754) represented a 2.3 percent increase over the same period a year ago, according to the authority’s preliminary statistics. And their average daily spending was up 3.2 percent to $196 per person. Here are some other tidbits gleaned from the authority’s statistics: • Arrivals by air grew 4.1 percent to 665,393 visitors, offsetting a 46.6 percent decline in arrivals by cruise ships. • Visitors arriving by air from the Western United States increased 7.7 percent to 295,683 visitors, while those arriving from the U.S. East increased 3.6 percent to 133,509. • After four previous months of declines, Japanese arrivals rose 1.9 percent year over year to 98,240 visitors in April. • Canadian arrivals declined 8.3 percent to 45,422 visitors. • Arrivals from all other markets rose 2.9 percent to 92,538 visitors. • Overall visitor days increased on Oahu (up 4.8 percent), Maui (2.5 percent) and Hawaii Island (4.3 percent) and were relatively unchanged for Kauai. • For the first four months of 2015, total arrivals (by air and by cruise ships) increased 2.9 percent over the same months last year to 2,798,427 visitors. Total visitor expenditures of $5 billion were similar to 2014. Flickr.com
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  • HCDA Rejects Howard Hughes Plan to Build Rental Housing

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    The Hawaii Community Development Authority’s Kakaako board rejected a proposal from Howard Hughes Corp. to build rental housing at 988 Halekauwila. HCDA spokeswoman Lindsey Doi said that the board voted 9-0 against the motion. Howard Hughes already has permission to build for-sale housing at the site through a 2013 permit, but was seeking instead to build 375 rental units that would be at below-market rates for 15 years. Nauru tower, left, and other developments and condominiums in Kakaako. Cory Lum/Civil Beat That’s more affordable units than Howard Hughes is required to provide under HCDA’s reserved housing rules. But Doi said some HCDA board members wanted to require the units to be affordable for 30 years, a proposal that Howard Hughes resisted. Doi said the developer is allowed to return to the board in June to appeal the decision. Honolulu has a shortage of affordable housing, and state studies have emphasized the need for thousands of new rental units to meet demand over the next five years. While Kakaako has been experiencing a construction boom, relatively little has been built for low-income residents.
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  • Supreme Court Dismisses McDermott, Upholds Marriage Law

    ·By Todd Simmons
    Chalk up another loss for state Rep. Bob McDermott in the marriage wars. The Ewa Beach Republican was summarily brushed aside Wednesday by the state Supreme Court, which dismissed his challenge to Hawaii’s Marriage Equality Act for lack of standing. While the dismissal might sound technical, the opinion’s language was significant, said state Attorney General Doug Chin in a statement. “The most important part of the Supreme Court’s ruling was its conclusion that the ‘Legislature’s decision to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples did not, in any way, diminish the right to marry’ for the plaintiffs or anyone else,” said Chin, quoting from the opinion. McDermott has been battling marriage equality at the Legislature and in the court system for two years now. While the law was still being debated as a bill in 2013, he unsuccessfully sought an injunction to prevent it from being implemented later. His multiple lawsuits and court actions since then and work in consecutive legislative sessions to undercut the law or put it before voters via a referendum repeal effort have all failed. He was joined in the latest unsuccessful challenge by Garret Hashimoto of the Hawaii Christian Coalition, anti-gay activist /Ohio lawyer David Langdon and William E.K. Kumia. Following Wednesday’s decision, McDermott reportedly called the Supreme Court’s decision “cowardly.”
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  • Ex-City Councilman Nestor Garcia Agrees to Pay Another City Fine

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Former City Councilman Nestor Garcia — now a reporter for KHON2 News — has agreed to pay an $8,100 civil fine in connection with accusations that he accepted accepted prohibited gifts from lobbyists and failed to disclose conflicts of interest when he voted on legislation that affected those lobbyists, the City and County of Honolulu Ethics Commission announced Wednesday. The commission said in a statement that it had not concluded that the charges were valid, but the fine was agreed to between the parties to resolve the charges without further proceedings. On Jan. 21, the Ethics Commission found probable cause that Garcia had violated city laws regarding the acceptance of prohibited gifts and the failure to disclose conflicts of interest. Nestor Garcia at a 2011 press conference. Michael Levine/Civil Beat Garcia accepted $1,764 worth of gifts such as free meals and golf to discuss matters with two lobbyists regarding rail transit, transit-oriented development, Kapolei growth and pending issues before the City Council, the commission said in its advisory opinion. The commission subpoenaed business expense reports of the two lobbyists, whom it declined to identify because doing so might “cause a chilling effect on witness cooperation for future cases,” the opinion stated Garcia failed to disclose conflicts of interest in 72 bills and resolutions that affected the two lobbyists’ interests, the commission stated, including rail transit and and Kapolei. This won’t be the first time Garcia has paid a fine to the city at the behest of the Ethics Commission. “One of the most
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  • Honolulu Prosecutor Drops Sex Assault Charges for Massage Parlor Workers

    ·By Nick Grube
    UPDATED 5:47 p.m. 5/27/15 Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro dismissed sexual assault charges Wednesday against 16 massage parlor employees who were arrested as part of a city police sting earlier this month. Kaneshiro said in a press release that there was insufficient evidence to take the case to trial, although he believed the Honolulu Police Department did have probable cause to make the arrests. Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro won’t charge 16 massage parlor workers with sexual assault after they were arrested as part of an HPD prostitution sting. Cory Lum/Civil Beat According to news reports, the employees worked at massage parlors around Ala Moana that were purported to be involved in prostitution. The Honolulu Police Department sting was in response to complaints from neighbors about the alleged illegal activity. But HPD’s tactics have come under fire, especially since the fourth degree sex assault charges carry a harsher penalty than prostitution. Myles Briener is an attorney representing some of the women. He told the Associated Press that HPD was “experimenting with the limits of the constitution.” Breiner said that in at least one case an HPD officer took off his clothes and placed a worker’s hands on his genitals. “Sex assault in the fourth degree is a nonconsensual touching of a sexual nature,” he told the AP. “How can you say it’s not consensual when the officers are going into these establishments intending to be touched?” UPDATE HPD Spokeswoman Michelle Yu issued a response to Kaneshiro’s dismissal of the charges Wednesday afternoon, saying in a written statement that the department will not
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  • Hawaii: The Least-Fattest State in the Nation

    ·By Chad Blair
    Our traffic sucks and it costs too much to live here, but here’s a little news to cheer you up: Hawaii had the lowest obesity rate in the country in 2014, with Colorado not far behind. Bringing up the rear, so to speak, are Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, the states where obesity is the highest. Screen shot. “These data, collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, are based on respondents’ self-reported height and weight, which are used to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) scores,” according to the report. “Americans who have a body mass index of 30 or higher are classified as obese.” Hawaii’s obesity index is 19, for example, while Mississippi’s is 35.2. More helpful info: “Gallup and Healthways have found a consistent and strong link between obesity and Americans’ overall well-being. Therefore, many of the states with the lowest obesity rates are also among those with the highest overall Well-Being Index scores.” So, put down that malasada and Coke and have guava juice and some kale.
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  • Big Storms on Hawaii’s Horizon? That’s the Forecast

    ·By Chad Blair
    Got bottled water? Batteries and flashlights? Canned goods and toilet paper? It’s probably a pretty good idea to stock up on supplies, if forecasters from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center are correct. Thanks to El Niño conditions — warmer ocean waters that can make for stronger storm conditions — they foresee between 5-to-8 storms in the Central Pacific, up from 4-to-7 last year. Iselle and Julio heading toward Hawaii in 2014. National Weather Service “The outlook calls for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 5 percent chance of a below-normal season,” says KITV. Last August, you’ll recall, Hawaii was hit by Tropical Storm Iselle, which caused big damage in the Puna area of the Big Island. Hurricane Season in Hawaii officially begins June 1 and runs through November. Time to visit Costco and Longs, no? Tamura’s too.
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  • Hirono Joins McCain on Junket to Singapore

    ·By Chad Blair
    Sen. Mazie Hirono, the Democrat of Hawaii, will join a congressional delegation to Singapore this week led by Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain’s delegation will also visit Vietnam “at a critical time for U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region,” according to McCain’s office. The delegation will mark the 20th anniversary of the normalization of relations with the United States. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) are part of the trip. Singapore. Flickr: Kah-Wai Lin In Singapore, the delegation will be joined by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). Hirono, a member of Armed Services, is not going on the Vietnam leg. In Singapore, senators will participate in The Shangri-La Dialogue, billed as “an annual conclave of Asia-Pacific defense ministers and policy makers, including U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.” This year’s summit is expected “to focus on China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea.” Last week, McCain, Sullivan and Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii’s other Democrat in the chamber, introduced a resolution condemning China’s construction of artificial land formations on the Spratly Islands and called for “a peaceful and multilateral resolution to the South China Sea territorial dispute.” Schatz is a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
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  • No Aloha for Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ Movie?

    ·By Chad Blair
    It doesn’t open until Friday, but the new movie “Aloha” is already garnering some negative reviews. Some Native Hawaiians say the very title of the Cameron Crowe film, which is set in Hawaii, is “a disrespectful misappropriation of culture and simplifies a word that’s rich with meaning.” Meanwhile, some Asian-Americans say the flick “whitewashes” Hawaii because it has “an all white leading cast and uses Asian actors mostly in non-speaking roles.” “Aloha” stars Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone, with other roles filled by Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray. It’s pointed out that “Aloha” joins a long line of films — e.g., “The Descendants,” “50 First Dates,” “Blue Crush,” “Pearl Harbor” — that fall short in accurately reflecting Hawaii’s demographics. Hawaii’s white population is about 25-30 percent white. Here’s the trailer for “Aloha.” Judge for yourself:
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  • Gabbard: ‘Clearly ISIS Has Gained Momentum’

    ·By Chad Blair
    Tulsi Gabbard is once again making headlines for disagreeing with fellow Democrat Barack Obama. On CNN’s “State of the Nation” Sunday, the Hawaii U.S. representative and military veteran countered the president’s assessment that the United States-led coalition is not losing to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “Clearly ISIS has gained momentum, in particular over the last week, as we’ve seen the ground that they gained both in Iraq and Syria,” said Gabbard. Palmyra, Syria. Flick: Varun Shiv Kapur ISIS recently captured the city of Ramadi in Iraq and the city of Palmyra in Syria. Asked about Ramadi, Obama told The Atlantic last week, “No, I don’t think we’re losing. … There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback.” Gabbard also said that the U.S. should arm the Kurds in the fight against ISIS.  
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  • NSA Reform, Patriot Act Extension Bills Stall in Senate

    ·By Chad Blair
    In a dramatic vote held after midnight Friday in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate voted 57-42 to block legislation called the USA Freedom Act to reform the National Security Agency. Then came a 45-54 vote to kill a planned two-month extension of the current law — the Patriot Act. Sixty votes were needed to win on the procedural motions and proceed to voting on the bills. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, the Democrats from Hawaii, voted “yea” on the USA Freedom Act and voted “nay” on the Patriot Act extension. The U.S. Capitol. Cory Lum/Civil Beat Here’s what happened next, according to The Hill: Then, in a dramatic turn on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) repeatedly tried — and was repeatedly blocked — to extend the June 1 deadline of the Patriot Act provisions to June 8, then June 5, followed by June 3 and finally June 2. All were blocked. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — fresh off his 10.5-hour floor speech opposing the Patriot Act — led the charge against McConnell’s effort, and was joined by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).  The Patriot Act expires June 1, and it contains the provisions authorizing the NSA surveillance programs. McConnell ordered senators to return to D.C. May 31 from the long Memorial Day break to vote one more time on the matter in a rare Sunday session, but it seems a long shot. In the meantime, the Obama administration said after the Saturday votes it would move to end
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  • Obama Gets Senate Win on Trade Deal

    ·By Chad Blair
    Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, the Democrats of Hawaii, were among the 37 U.S. senators voting late Friday against legislation giving President Obama fast-track negotiating authority in trade. But Republicans, with the help of some Democrats, managed to get the more than 60 votes to prevent any filibuster and pass the bill. The move is “a major second-term legislative victory” for the president, says The Hill, but also “a big win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who said last month that passing trade legislation would likely be the biggest accomplishment of the 114th Congress.” The White House, from the south side. Cory Lum/Civil Beat The move is also a big disappointment to Hirono, who released a lengthy statement after the vote. It said in part: “Congress certainly shouldn’t be putting trade agreements that fail on fundamental protections on a ‘fast track’ to passage, which is why I’ve consistently opposed free trade agreements that were negotiated under fast track authority in the past. Instead, Congress should fast track legislation that will help working families like raising the minimum wage, funding job creating transportation and infrastructure projects, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness by passing comprehensive immigration reform and making college more affordable.” Earlier this week, Schatz spoke on the Senate floor to oppose fast-track authority, saying in part, “I am seriously concerned about using fast-track to pass trade agreements that do not reflect the best interests of the American people and undermine the prerogatives of the Congress. Corporate interests should not be the driving force
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  • Takai Joins a Push to Support New Mothers at Airports

    ·By Rui Kaneya
    U.S. Rep. Mark Takai is cosponsoring a bill that makes airports more accommodating for breastfeeding mothers. The Hawaii Democrat and 11 others are backing U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, who introduced legislation that would require airports to provide private rooms where new mothers can breastfeed or pump breast milk. The Friendly Airports for Mothers Act will “provide accessible, safe, clean and convenient lactation rooms for travelers,” Duckworth wrote in a statement released Monday. Under the bill, large and medium-size airports would be required to set up a lockable room in each terminal that’s equipped with a table, chair and electrical outlet within the next two years. “For too long we have failed to prioritize the needs of our mothers,” Takai said in a statement. “Women need to have a space that is convenient, safe, and secure so that they are able to address their needs. It is crucial that we begin to provide support for mothers across the nation.” Travelers navigate signs in the Honolulu International Airport. Cory Lum/Civil Beat
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  • Oahu Neighborhood Board Election Results Announced

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Unofficial results have been announced in the Oahu Neighborhood Board elections. This year, 598 candidates were vying for 437 seats in the biennial, all-online election, which received an innovation award from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government for cutting costs by switching to a digital format. Oahu’s Neighborhood Boards serve as advisory councils that help decide what happens in their community in terms of development, business and neighborhood laws at all levels of government. The Neighborhood Commission is scheduled to certify the results at its Tuesday meeting. City and County of Honolulu    
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  • Hawaii Has Suffered Highest Per Capita Losses in Recent Military Conflicts

    ·By Richard Wiens
    When it comes to the ultimate American military sacrifice that is the reason for the Memorial Day holiday, Hawaii stands tall, according to the Washington Post. In the four major military conflicts since World War II, the Aloha State has suffered the highest per capita death toll, the article states. As a share of its population, Hawaii suffered more casualties in the Korean War than any other state, according to the newspaper’s analysis. Flickr.com/Sheree Zielke Nevada saw the most residents die per capita during the Vietnam War, while New Hampshire had the largest percentage of deaths per capita in the Persian Gulf War. Wyoming has suffered the most casualties per capita in the war on terrorism. In terms of total deaths in the four conflicts, California has lost more residents than any other state, as of last December 2014, according to Defense Department data reported by the Post. Hawaii’s toll from those four conflicts is just over 700. The Post article states: “The Aloha State has also played a strategic role in the nation’s various entanglements, most prominently during World War II, but also as a key staging area during the Korean and Vietnam wars. “It may have joined the union nine decades after the first Memorial Day observances, but Hawaii has, in its short time as a state, more than earned its right to share in the day’s remembrances.
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  • Auditor: School Bus Issues Still Need Work

    ·By Patti Epler
    The State Auditor has released a follow-up to its 2012 report on the state Department of Education’s transportation woes. That audit slammed the DOE for numerous problems related to how it managed its school bus services and made 20 recommendations for improvement. The follow-up, released Thursday, noted that eight of the recommendations have been satisfied but the rest are still in progress in some fashion. The 2012 audit followed Civil beat’s investigative series on skyrocketing school bus costs and mismanagement. “Taken for a Ride” reported extensively on the department’s transportation budget, which climbed from $25 million a year to more than $72 million a year in just six years. One significant finding: school bus companies abruptly stopped bidding against each other and the DOE began accepting the bids without question. As the Auditor found, school officials acknowledged the rising costs could have been the result of collusion. The Auditor documented lax procurement policies as contributing to the costs but found numerous other problems as well, including no real good way to track routes and how buses were being utilized. Staff overseeing the bus companies were not qualified, the auditor found. The follow-up audit reports that the DOE has developed standard operating procedures and is in the process of implementing a computerized route-planning system. Improved procurement practices are in place although the auditor noted the agency still has not created policies to deal with suspected anticompetitive practices. School buses operated by Roberts Hawaii Flickr.com
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  • UH Tuition Hike Is Less Than Expected

    ·By Jessica Terrell
    University of Hawaii students will see a smaller increase in their tuition bills for the 2015-16 school year than previously anticipated. The UH Board of Regents voted Thursday to reduce planned tuition increases by 2 percent to 3 percent at each campus. The board approved a five-year tuition plan in 2011 that called for 7 percent increases in 2015-16 and 2016-17. For students at UH Manoa and most students at the state’s seven community colleges, the rate increase will be 5 percent instead of 7 percent. UH Hilo and West Oahu will raise tuition by 4 percent instead of 7 percent. “The UH administration is very focused on cost containment and improved efficiencies,” UH President David Lassner said in a press release. “I thank the legislature and our campuses for working extremely hard to ensure that high-quality public higher education in Hawaiʻi remains available and affordable for all.” Undergraduate tuition at UH Manoa for Hawaii residents was $1,752 a semester in 2005. This spring, it was $4920. University of Hawaii students sit during undergraduate degree ceremony held at Stan Sheriff Center. 16 may 2015. photograph by Cory Lum/Civil Beat Cory Lum/Civil Beat
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  • UH Regents Vote to Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels

    ·By Jessica Terrell
    The University of Hawaii became the latest university to take a stand against investing in fossil fuels like coal and gas, after a unanimous vote on Thursday by the Board of Regents. It will take another three years for the university to fully divest its $66 million endowment, but the effort will start immediately, according to a press release issued by the university. Currently 5 percent to 7 percent of UH’s endowment portfolio is invested in energy companies. Michelle Tigchelaar, a graduate student at UH, launched the movement to get the university to divest from fossil fuels in 2013. Others quickly joined suit, with local activists creating a website and collecting more than 1,350 signatures on a petition asking the university to take action on the matter. “This was the perfect model of climate activism,” marine biologist and faculty task force member Joe Mobley said in a press release Thursday.”Regents, faculty and students alike came together, shared their concerns over the scope and speed of climate change, particularly as it affects the Hawaiian Islands, then did something about it.” Members of the UH Board of Regents and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Task Group on Thursday after the vote to divest. Courtesy of UH
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Hawaii Economy Slows as Tourism Stalls, Construction Jobs Decline

·By Anita Hofschneider

A new report by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization has grim news for Hawaii’s economy: construction hasn’t picked up as much as economists predicted, and a stalled tourism industry is slowing the state’s economic growth.

The annual economic forecast found that tourism in Hawaii was “essentially flat” in the first half of this year. A report by the Hawaii Tourism Authority issued earlier this week found that total visitor spending grew by 2.5 percent in the first half of 2014 to $7.4 billion, but that there are still fewer tourists coming from the mainland and that overall arrivals have slightly declined.

On top of that, the construction industry hasn’t grown as quickly as economists anticipated. In fact, the number of construction jobs has actually declined slightly this year.

Building crane on new construction in Kakaako on July 21, 2014

Building crane on new construction in Kakaako on July 21, 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

But the UHERO report predicted that the situation will improve, estimating construction jobs will grow by as much as 8 percent in 2015-2016 and will peak in 2018.

More good news: Payroll jobs are supposed to return to pre-recession levels later this year.

Still, economists say Hawaii is vulnerable to swings in the global economy.

The report’s conclusion wasn’t optimistic:

“Tourism can no longer be a growth engine in Hawaii, government dollars will be constrained, and construction can only do so much,” it said. “This is the reality we face for at least the next half-decade. If we are lucky on the national and international front and maintain supportive local policies, relatively healthy conditions should prevail in Hawaii. If not, well….”

State economist Eugene Tian said the UHERO analysis wasn’t surprising. He guessed that the construction industry will improve later this year but said delays in permitting have stymied job projections.

While the number of construction permits issued has increased, he said most of those are for additions and renovations and there’s been a decrease in residential and commercial permits issued.

As for tourism, a declining inventory of hotel rooms and higher prices for rooms is limiting the industry’s growth, he said.

Tian expects that tourism will pick up later this year, although it still won’t be the state’s economic driver.

Two impending hurricanes expected to hit this weekend may also be adding salt to the wound.

By Thursday evening, many retailers including major shopping malls Ala Moana Center, Pearlridge and Kahala Mall, announced plans to close Friday.

Several airlines also canceled flights in response to the hurricanes, including Hawaiian Airlines, Air China, United Airlines and U.S. Airways.

While the state doesn’t yet know what the economic impact of the storms will be, Tian said that they could hurt the visitors industry if tourists are prevented from coming to Hawaii.

“If they are not coming, we will lose visitors’ spending and that can be translated into a decrease in the GET and other taxes like the hotel room tax,” he said.

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