Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wealthy recovering first, mixed economic signs, rail underway, health ranking drops and other news

The Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki Beach Walk, the first new Waikiki luxury property to open in more than 20 years, welcomed its first guests Monday.

Sales are up -- way up -- at Hualalai Resort.

The current downturn in the visitor industry will end and 2010 will be a stabilizing year, members of the Maui Chamber of Commerce were told Monday morning. Speakers predicted a full-scale recovery should be in progress by 2011.

Yet another forecast predicts Hawai'i won't come roaring back from a stubborn economic downturn, projecting only lackluster gains next year followed by modest growth in 2011.

Hawaii's economy, which has endured rising unemployment, soaring foreclosures, mass layoffs and business shutdowns over the last 18 months, is expected to worsen before it begins turning the corner.

Hawai'i has lost its distinction as the healthiest state in the nation, according to a new report by America's Health Rankings.

A deal signed yesterday to get Honolulu's $5.3 billion rail project rolling means that the general excise tax money raised for the project is off-limits to state legislators trying to plug Hawaii's $1 billion budget gap, according to Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

A Saturday meeting with state Sen. Brian Taniguchi helped persuade Gov. Linda Lingle to push a compromise offer to solve the Furlough Friday dilemma.

Just days before the Hawaii County Council is set to decide if one chunk of Hamakua land should be sold to balance the budget, Mayor Billy Kenoi has announced a new community farming plan for another chunk.

The Kaua‘i Police Department has confirmed a link between a man found murdered this month and an organized crime family from the East Coast, but would not elaborate at this time.