Skip to main content

Public opposition to Mayor Caldwell's criminalization of the homeless (Bills 42, 43, and their variants)

I've been opposing the endless stream of bills emanating from the Mayor and Honolulu City Council criminalizing homelessness for what seems like years. On reflection, it actually has been years. Introduced in 2011, Bill 54 met vigorous public opposition. But of course, it passed and became Revised Ordinance of Honolulu (ROH) 11-029. Although the Council claimed it was not targeting the homeless, that it was to keep people from storing property on sidewalks, its almost exclusive targets were the homeless. Them and Choon James who had signs critical of the Mayor and City on her property.

[November 17, 2011 hearing on Bill 54 at Honolulu Hale. Laulani Teale is holding a splintered paddle]
The implementation of Bill 54 was thwarted when people learned to comply with the ordinance without leaving the sidewalk. deOccupy Honolulu used color coded tents to openly show compliance with the law. Many homeless learned how to show compliance with the law in the same way. Of course, Council went back to the drawing board and came back with Bill 7, which allowed no-knock midnight raids to seize property from those living in public. Also widely protested, Bill 7 became ROH 13-8. Implementation began in July of 2013 with paired raids on the homeless at 2am and again at 4am to make sure people who had set up after the 2am raiders left would be sure to be left with nothing — no tent, no bedding, no clothes, no food, no ID, no medication.

Without looking it up, I get a little confused about several other bills introduced at around the same time as Bill 7. But I do remember Bill 59, which was introduced at the end of 2013. This bill so directly violated the Kanawai Mamalahoe (the Law of the Splintered Paddle) that the bill was ultimately indefinitely deferred in committee.

But there is a truckload of new bills that are even more extreme now headed toward their third and final full Council meeting this Wednesday, 9/10/2014. Bill 42 one ups Bill 59 in its violation of King Kamehameha's very firmly worded law (enshrined in the State Constitution) by not only criminalizing lying on the sidewalk, but sitting down on it as well. These bills were drafted by Mayor Caldwell and transmitted to the Council where they have been heard twice in committee and twice by the full Council and will be heard for the final time this Wednesday, September 10, on the morning (9am) agenda.

Here's a link to the Council's Agenda. There are links to the texts of Bills 42 and 43, and their variants, Bills 45 and 46.

Opposition during the previous hearings has come from the public at large; from civil rights and Kanaka Maoli activists, attorneys, professors, the clergy, and from the homeless and formerly homeless themselves. Here's a playlist of 25 (most short) testimonies from 27 people. These people are speaking from what they know, not from distributed talking points. This is the voice of the people on the issue:


You can add your voice against these bills. You can register to testify or submit written testimony at this link: http://www.honolulu.gov/ccl-testimony-form.html

Finally, I wondered why the public outcry against these bills never seemed to matter. The last committee hearing on these bills required five hours of public testimony. Well, I found out why. But that's another story. Stay tuned...

7 September 2014
H. Doug Matsuoka
Makiki, Honolulu

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

HCDA creates their own anti-homeless police at HAR hearing

While no one was watching, the HCDA (Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority) held  a Hawaii Administrative Rules hearing that creates their own anti-homeless police force, and (incidentally) raises park fees by up to 500%. The affected parks are at the intersection of Honolulu Council Districts 4, 5, and 6, (Trevor Ozawa, Ann Kobayashi, and Carol Fukunaga respectively) but none (or their staff) were present today. These laws were made without any oversight from the public or their elected representatives.

Who knew that such sweeping changes could be made without the oversight of any elected officials? And after one decision making hearing that is accountable to no one? If the Honolulu City Council had to rule on such changes, it would require three full council hearings, and opportunities for public participation at each.

My own interest in attending the hearing was to get some kind of hint as to the mechanism the City would use to curtail First Amendment rights in Thomas Square afte…

Eric Seitz: Pro bono is a crock

At yesterday's "Justice in Jeopardy, Expanding Access to Justice in Challenging Economic Times" at the UH Richardson Law School, Dean of Harvard Law School Martha L. Minow pointed out that one in five Americans now qualify for civil legal assistance because they are within 125% of the Poverty Level -- a record high in the history in the county. As the demand for legal services grows, the available resources continue to diminish, leaving most without the "equal protection" of the law.

I checked out the breakout session on pro bono because I used to work for Hawaii's pro bono referral service, Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH).

These days, most pro bono services are not attorneys representing clients, but short informational sessions at legal clinics. Moderator Robert LeClair asked attorney Eric Seitz what he thought of this turn in pro bono services.  This is what Eric said:

"Well, let me start out by saying that I've always thought pro bono w…

What The City Doesn’t Want You To Know About Thomas Square

[This article was originally published by CivilBeat on July 21, 2016. I'm reprinting it with video clips. Doug]

The City of Honolulu plans to close Thomas Square on Aug. 15 for six months and re-open it in February 2017 as something completely different, according to its master plan. Although city officials have unveiled grandiose plans concerning a drastic makeover, there are a number of troubling things they are trying to keep under cover:

1. It will no longer be a public park. The master plan calls for Thomas Square to be transferred from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, where it is a public park, to its Department of Enterprise Services. What is it? The department runs the Blaisdell Center, the Waikiki Shell, the zoo and the public golf courses. By way of a memo dated April 28 from the city’s enterprise chief Guy Kaulukukui to the state’s head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the city asked the state to make changes to allow a change of purpose for…