GOVERNOR CREATES STATE INTERAGENCY COUNCIL ON HOMELESSNESS Honolulu – Governor Neil Abercrombie last week signed an executive order that establishes the Hawai’i Interagency Council on Homelessness (HICH). The 24-member council—composed of state department directors, federal agency representatives, and community leaders—will develop a unified plan on addressing homelessness.
The creation of the Council was first announced in May by the Governor and Marc Alexander, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness, as an important part of the state’s 90-Day Plan on Homelessness. The first meeting of the Council is tentatively scheduled for early August.
“The Hawai’i Interagency Council on Homelessness will be action oriented, results based, and maintain a relentless focus on bringing about results,” said Governor Abercrombie. “We are continuing to bring people together, taking responsibility and building partnerships in our united efforts to end homelessness in Hawai’i.”
The Council will meet quarterly and report annually to the Governor, the Legislature and county mayors, including policy recommendations supporting the statewide plan.
“Bringing cabinet-level leadership together with federal agencies and the private sector will force everyone to elevate their focus on this issue,” said Alexander. “Many people have been working diligently to address homelessness, but the establishment of this council will increase coordination and help take these efforts to the next level.”
The Council will align its efforts with the US Interagency Council on Homeless (USICH), established by President Obama in 2009. Key mandates for the Council include:
• Increasing transitional and permanent housing options
• Acquiring increased federal funding to support homeless efforts
• Replicating successful initiatives implemented in other states
• Increasing the integration of social, health, training, and housing services to reduce duplication among homeless assistance programs “The 90-Day Plan is a single step in a longer journey for our ultimate goal of ending homelessness,” said Sophina Placencia, Executive Director of Wai’anae Community Outreach, a community provider who helped formulate the state’s 90-Day Plan on Homelessness. “Though we’ve accomplished much in a short period, the interagency council will begin to shift focus to the long term.” The members of the council include:
• Governor Abercrombie, who will serve as Chair
• Marc Alexander, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homeless, who will serve as Vice Chair
• Patricia McManaman, Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS)
• Loretta Fuddy, Director of the Department of Health (DOH)
• Dwight Takamine, Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR)
• Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, Director of the Department of Public Safety (PSD)
• Richard Lim, Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT)
• Major General Darryll Wong, Adjutant General of the Department of Defense (DOD)
• David Louie, Attorney General, Department of the Attorney General
• Kathryn Matayoshi, Superintendent of the Department of Education (DOE)
• Mayor Peter Carlisle, City & County of Honolulu
• Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Kaua’i County
• Mayor William Kenoi, Hawai’i County
• Mayor Alan Arakawa, Maui County
• Darryl Vincent, Chair of Partners in Care (City & County of Honolulu)
The Council will also include representatives of the following:
• State House of Representatives
• State Senate
• U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
• Bridging the Gap, a neighbor island Continuum of Care, a comprehensive system of services
• Faith community representative
• Business community
HONOLULU – Total expenditures by visitors who came to Hawai‘i in the first half of 2011 rose 18.4 percent, compared to the same period last year, to $6 billion. Total visitor days for all visitors increased 6.8 percent, and total arrivals grew 4.7 percent to 3,565,963 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.
Total expenditures by U.S. West (+11.8%), U.S. East (+16.1%) and Canadian (+31.2%) visitors continued to increase by double-digits in the first half of 2011, boosted by higher average daily spending and growth in arrivals. Japanese arrivals for the first half of 2011 fell 9.2 percent, but total Japanese visitor spending continued to increase (+5.6%).
For the month of June 2011, total visitor expenditures rose 13.1 percent ($120.2 million) from June 2010 to $1 billion. Contributing to the increase was higher daily spending by all visitors ($177 per person, up from $156 per person in June 2010) and a longer average length of stay (9.65 days, up from 9.38 days in June 2010), despite a decline in total arrivals (-3.6%) to 607,264 visitors.
Arrivals by air only in June 2011 fell 3 percent compared to last June at 607,064 visitors. Arrivals from Canada rose 19 percent from the previous June. Arrivals from U.S. West declined 3.4 percent after 15 months of consecutive increases. U.S. East arrivals fell 6.9 percent, the largest drop since February 2010 (-8.1%). The effects of the earthquake and tsunami still lingered as Japanese arrivals decreased 16.1 percent from June 2010.
A total of 200 visitors arrived by cruise ship in June 2011, an off season for Hawai‘i’s cruise industry. No visitors came by cruise ship last June.
Read the entire report, including Maui County highlights: June 2011 Visitor Stats News Release
MANILA, Philippines >> A slow-moving storm unleashed massive floods and landslides Tuesday in the northeastern Philippines, killing at least 10 people with 10 missing and several towns isolated.
Gov. Joey Salceda said three children died in a landslide in a mountainside village in his Albay province’s Polangui town, while two men were pinned to death by a fallen coconut tree. Two other people died in storm-related accidents in the hard-hit province.
Fourteen fishermen who were reported missing at sea after strong wind and waves destroyed their motor boat off Balesin Island in Quezon province survived the ordeal by swimming to shore and were helped to safety by villagers, said Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.
“Many of our towns seemed like islands. They were isolated from each other,” Salceda told The Associated Press by telephone from the Albay provincial capital of Legazpi, where he was overseeing rescue efforts for stranded villagers.
Other fatalities included a man electrocuted by a cable from a toppled power post while another drowned in eastern Catanduanes province. A villager suffered a heart attack at the height of the storm in Camarines Sur Province.
Waist-deep floodwaters swamped the houses of about half a million people, or nearly half of Albay’s population, after Tropical Storm Nock-ten set off pounding rains overnight and forced many to flee to safer areas, including churches and village halls, Salceda said.
He said that four men were reported missing after the storm flooded and isolated many of Albay’s 15 farming towns and three cities.
Six other people were missing in the stormy weather in nearby provinces, officials said.
Salceda said the storm caused power outages and suspended classes. Authorities canceled several domestic flights and ferry operations, stranding passengers.
Forecasters said Nock-ten was packing sustained winds of 47 miles (75 kilometers) per hour and gusts of 56 mph (90 kph) off eastern Camarines Norte province. It dumped heavy rains as it moved slowly toward Luzon’s eastern coast.
The storm, which has a 310-mile (500-km) -wide cloud band, was expected to blow into eastern Quezon province early Wednesday then barrel through the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga just north of the Philippine capital, where grade and high school classes were canceled, said Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the government weather agency.
Regional disaster-response official Raffy Alejandro said the storm inundated seven towns of Camarines Sur in the province’s worst flooding in five years.
Army troops and coast guard personnel planned to bring seven rubber boats to rescue some villagers trapped on roofs but a key highway was blocked by floodwaters and mudflows from Albay’s Mayon volcano, Alejandro said.
Alejandro said his typhoon-prone region did not have even one helicopter for rescue operations. The air force pulled out their aircraft from the area for unspecified reasons a few months ago despite his appeal for at least two standby choppers during the typhoon season that started in June, Alejandro said.
Nock-ten, a Laotian word for bird, is the 10th of about 21 typhoons and storms expected to lash the Philippines this year.
A magnitude 6 earthquake struck 60 miles east of La Paz, Baja California Sur, in Mexico, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. There is no tsunami warning, watch or advisory in effect, according to the center’s website.
Two beaches along the Big Island’s west coast should reopen at noon today after tiger shark sightings closed Waialea Bay and Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area Sunday. The Department of Land and Natural resources said a Monday morning flyover spotted three tiger sharks that were between 12 feet and 14 feet in length. The sharks were seen between 20 yards and 50 yards from the shore. DLNR Chairman William Aila says it was necessary to close the two areas as a precaution to ensure public safety. The beaches were first closed Sunday.
Two beaches along the Big Island’s west coast should reopen at noon today after tiger shark sightings closed Waialea Bay and Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area Sunday.
The Department of Land and Natural resources said a Monday morning flyover spotted three tiger sharks that were between 12 feet and 14 feet in length.
The sharks were seen between 20 yards and 50 yards from the shore.
DLNR Chairman William Aila says it was necessary to close the two areas as a precaution to ensure public safety.
The beaches were first closed Sunday.
Four Hawaii post offices are on a list for possible closure.
The offices are; Uptown Honolulu Post Office at 1170 Nuuanu Ave.; the Hanamaulu Post Office at 3-4251 Kuhio Highway in Lihue; the Kalaupapa Post Office on Molokai; and the Kapolei Station at 1001 Kamokila Boulevard.
The Hawaii post offices are among 3,653 local offices, branches and stations being reviewed for possible closing, the Postal Service announced today.
Coming under review doesn’t necessarily mean an office will close. The post office announced in January it was reviewing 1,400 offices for closing. So far 280 have been closed and 200 have finished the review process and will remain open.
Many of the post offices on the list may be replaced by Village Post Offices in which postal services are offered in local stores, libraries or government offices.
“It’s no secret that the Postal Service is looking to change the way we do a lot of things,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a briefing. “We do feel that we are still relevant to the American public and the economy, but we have to make some tough choices.”
Currently the post office operates 31,871 retail outlets across the country, down from 38,000 a decade ago, but in recent years business has declined sharply as first-class mail moved to the Internet. In addition, the recession resulted in a decline in advertising mail, and the agency lost $8 billion last year.
Once an office is selected for a review, people served by that office will have 60 days to file their comments. If an office is to be closed, they will be able to appeal to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.
“This is bitter medicine, but changed times call for a changed Postal Service. With mail volumes declining at a dizzying rate, we need a Postal Service that is leaner, more efficient and less expensive,” said Art Sackler, chairman of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a mailing industry group. “The closure of a post office can be difficult, but these avenues must be explored to ensure that the Postal Service and the 8 million private sector jobs that rely on it are able to survive, and that the economy as a whole doesn’t take yet another disruptive blow.”
Most of the sales in post offices are stamp purchases, officials said, and that can easily be handled at the new Village Post Offices. In addition, those offices would accept flat-rate packages and some could provide post office box service. For passports or other more complex services customers would have to go to a remaining regular post office.
Already some 70,000 locations such as supermarkets and department stores sell stamps.
Over the last four years the Postal Service, which does not receive tax funds for its operations, has cut its staff by about 130,000 and reduced costs by $12 billion in an effort to cope with the loss of first class mail to the Internet and the decline in advertising mail caused by the recession. For example, about half of all bill payments are made by Internet now, up from 5 percent a decade ago.
Postal officials have also sought permission from Congress to reduce mail delivery to five-days-a-week and to ease the requirement that they pay $5.5 billion annually into a fund to pre-pay future retiree medical benefits.
Without the $5.5 billion annual pre-payment — which is not required of any other government agency — the post office would have made a profit over the past four years. However, because of the complex way federal finances are structured, the payment is counted as income to the government and eliminating it would make the federal deficit appear to be $5.5 billion larger.
The agency has also suspended payments into its pension fund and eliminated bonuses and performance awards for managers and executives.
Of the 1,400 offices announced for review in January, 620 are still in the review process and 300 will move to the new review list.
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