POSTED: Saturday, August 08, 2009

Police seeking vehicle driver

Police are looking for the driver of a white vehicle who may have caused a July 30 crash at Ala Moana Center that killed an 83-year-old Honolulu woman.

The woman was identified by the Medical Examiner's Office as Chizuko Uyeno, who died of massive blood loss to the heart due to the car crash.

Police said Uyeno was driving a four-door 1996 Toyota Corolla when she tried to make a U-turn to exit the mall on Kona Street. She hit a concrete pillar on the mall's street level.

Uyeno was taken in critical condition to Straub Hospital, where she later died the same day, police said. A witness told police that a white vehicle, which was also merging into the same area as the Toyota, may have caused the crash.

The driver of the white vehicle left the scene of the accident.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cell phone.

Drivers urged to help ease traffic

Back-to-school traffic will ramp up over the next three weeks as classes begin at several private schools and University of Hawaii campuses, city officials say.

“;Some of the schools have already started, more are still coming and we always see a big crunch when the University of Hawaii goes back to school (on Aug. 24),”; Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday during a news conference.

The mayor and city transportation officials urged drivers to leave earlier or consider taking the bus or carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Commuters can also view traffic conditions on the “;Fast-Check”; traffic camera feature on the state Department of Transportation Web site (http://www.honolulu.gov/cameras/ fastcheck.htm).

Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka said TheBus is offering additional service between Kapolei, Salt Lake and UH campuses on Routes 3 and 93 as classes begin and has added a new Route 94, an express bus between Kapolei and UH-Manoa (www.thebus.org/Route/Routes.asp).

Bus riders can also find out where their bus is at any given time through a new GPS system now available online, so they can plan when to arrive at the bus stop (hea.thebus.org).

State reports $14M tax drop in July

State tax revenues have started the current fiscal year on a down note.

The Department of Taxation reported yesterday that the state took in $352 million in taxes in July. That is a 3.9 percent decline from the $366 million collected in July of last year.

The largest single category of collections—general excise and use taxes—fell 8.6 percent to $200 million. The department says it is an indication of the continuing slowdown in consumer and visitor spending in the islands.

The hotel room, or transient accommodations, tax generated $14 million last month, a 22 percent drop from the $18 million collected in July 2008.

Individual income tax collections declined by 2.7 percent to $118 million, partly because of a larger number of refunds in July.

Maui panel favors ban on shark tours

WAILUKU » A Maui County Council committee voted to recommend passage of a bill to ban shark tour businesses.

Council members say feeding sharks for entertainment is offensive to native Hawaiians, who attach religious significance to the animals. They also say the practice is dangerous to the ecosystem because it could change the natural behavior of sharks.

“;I believe the commercialization of a religious symbol that's so important to the host culture is inappropriate,”; Councilman Mike Molina said after Thursday's 5-0 vote of the Economic Development, Agriculture and Recreation Committee.

There currently are no shark tour businesses in Maui County, but supporters of the ban say now is the time to act.

“;We want to stop it before it occurs,”; said Councilman Wayne Nishiki, who introduced the measure.

The bill is expected to go before the full Council for a first reading Aug. 25.

Hawaii bucked trend of declining U.S. births in 2008

There aren't just fewer jobs in a recession. There are fewer babies, too.

U.S. births fell in 2008, the first full year of the recession, marking the first annual decline in births since the start of the decade and ending an American baby boomlet.

The downturn in the economy best explains the drop in maternity, some experts believe. The Great Depression and subsequent recessions all were accompanied by a decline in births, said Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health and epidemiology.

The nation recorded about 4,247,000 births last year, down about 68,000 from 2007, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Hawaii, bucking the trend, saw a slight increase in births last year, according to the federal report.