H. Doug Matsuoka's notes in the margin of the Big Everything.

11.24.2013

Wrap up: Bill 59 criminalizing homelessness, down for the count or just back to corners?

Bill 59 deferred:

Bill 59 would have made it illegal to lie down on the sidewalk. Introducer Councilmember Stanley Chang insisted it did not target the homeless. Councilmember Breene Harimoto asked who else lies down on the sidewalk?

After I made repeated loud and smug predictions that in spite of all morality and good sense the Honolulu City Council would pass Bill 59, the Council deferred the measure. It might come back, but probably not soon.

A lot of people of all stripes came out to oppose the measure. Here's a 5 minute wrap up of the testimony including an edit of Councilmember Breene Harimoto's very much appreciated statement about the bill. It's the very first time I've heard a councilmember oppose a bill on the grounds of morality.

Did the public outcry and testimony do the trick? Is this people power? Three committee councilmembers couldn't support the bill, but only one, Breene Harimoto, was actually opposed to the measure. Kymberly Pine's objection was based on the fact that the Bill used the term "lying down on the sidewalk," which directly violated Kamehameha's Law of the Splintered Paddle, and the Kanaka Maoli in her district take the law seriously. If the bill's wording were changed, she would be okay with it.

Ikaika Anderson couldn't support the bill because he thought it might be vulnerable to law suits. Like Pine he didn't have a big problem with its intent to criminalize the homeless.

I am amazed and surprised at the diversity of people who opposed Bill 59, so I am willing to call its defeat a victory for the people:



I also cut highlight testimony into individual chunks and put each hearing day's into separate YouTube playlists:

Bill 59 hearing of 10/29/13 playlist

Bill 59 hearing of  11/19/13 playlist

If you have to watch just one video, watch Councilmember Breene Harimoto's here.

For some background, here's a link to my original description and testimony against Bill 59.


Help keep the lights on at Hawaii Guerrilla Video:

The "guerrilla" video group I'm in with Laulani Teale and Kamuela Vance had some funding 18 months ago, but it's pretty much out of money at the moment. We have a small kine fund raiser at Indiegogo going for stuff like bandwidth (for mobile streaming), parking for hearings and stuff like that. Our labor is always free. Just a few more days to go...

Learn more about Hawaii Guerrilla Video and how to help here.

When Indian journalist P. Sainath came to Hawaii, I livestreamed his presentation. There's about a one minute section that's practically an advertisement for an alternative media fundraiser:



H. Doug Matsuoka
(@hdoug on Twitter)
24 November 2013
Makiki, Honolulu



11.17.2013

New draft of Bill 59 criminalizing homeless worse than before, sure to pass on 11/19/13

Stanley Chang's wildly unconstitutional and ill-advised Bill 59 (making it illegal to lie down on a sidewalk) was redrafted and heard on October 29, 2013, before Honolulu City Council's Committee on Public Safety and Economic Development (PSED). Actually there was another draft with the same number by Councilmember Carol Fukunaga.

Testimony was heard (including my own) but the bill was deferred for a "harmonized" redraft incorporating the "best" of both current drafts. I've already stated my vehement opposition to this bill which directly challenges King Kamehameha's Law of the Splintered Paddle. That law is incorporated into the Hawaii State Constitution as "a unique and living symbol of the State's concern for public safety."

I had some hopes when it was deferred that the Council would save itself from embarrassment and litigation costs for the city by just forgetting about it and letting it die. That's what deferral often means and that's what Bill 59 deserves.

Instead, it was made worse and will be heard on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, at Honolulu Hale.

When the Council holds hearings, we citizens hope our appearance and testimony mean something. I know, I'm dreaming. Hearings are more and more for show and to comply with law. There is nothing compelling politicians to do anything other than make some time available for testimony.

But since the Council went through the trouble of redrafting Bill 59, one would think they might take into consideration some of what testifiers said. Here are videos of some testimony, and the result it had. I follow each video with a written cheat sheet so you don't have to actually watch the video if you don't want to.

My testimony:

Oppose Bill 59 in all forms. There are some things that I know, that you (the Council) knows but the public may not know: 
1. The State Attorney General's office has informed the Council that some say the bill directly violates Article IX, Section 10 of the State Constitution.
2. HPD has submitted testimony that the bill, "may lead people to conclude that the City is focusing on the homeless," and if that's the case, "the City will have to deal with many suits alleging constitutionality claims…"
3. The public thinks that the Department of Facility Maintenance is supposed to fix potholes, pave roads, and fix sidewalks, but the Council okays budgetary allocations to DFM knowing that they lead the midnight raids on the homeless. 
4. Bill 59 will likely be mired in legal challenges to its constitutionality as are its predecessors, Bill 54 (ordinance 11-029) and Bill 7 (ordinance 13-8).
But in spite of that, I predicted that the Bill would pass without a problem because the Council, based on its history, is more concerned with the profits of its corporate sponsors than the poor and homeless
The current draft keeps the offending language even though Councilmember Pine conceded we had a point:

Councilmember Kymberly Pine: