Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How the City Council Talks about Homelessness

The Honolulu City Council will take up Bills 42, 43, 45, 46, and 48 again on August 28 at 9 a.m. in Honolulu Hale. So I'm going to do some basic research on the public face of the Honolulu City Council's members on the issue(s) of homelessness. Interspersed with my research are statements and examples by H. Doug Matsuoka, who's been at this much longer than I have. [HDM] As he writes to me: "I've been trying to combat these bills since 2011's Bill 54 (which became 11-29 Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, I think). That was Tulsi Gabbard's bill and it seems some council members think if they replicate that kind of bill they will replicate that kind of success."
Many on the council are quite ambitious politicians, so they have websites that are easy to access. For example, Ikaika Anderson, Joey Manahan and Stanley Chang ran for Congress (they lost, but). But their websites are, for the most part, notably clean of any mention of this issue. As Colin Kippen would say, "there's a hole in his lauhala mat that covers the abyss."

Ikaika Anderson does not include homelessness among the issue on the website set up for his congressional campaign, though he seems to be one of the prime movers and shakers behind this move to criminalize.


[HDM]:  "Ikaika Anderson has been a big supporter of criminalization and "sidewalk" bills. He introduced 2013's Bill 6 that would have outlawed putting "any structure capable of providing human shelter" on the sidewalk. It was too idiotic even for the Council so they did not pass it. In fact, I believe Ikaika retracted it. http://www.dougnote.com/2014/01/testimony-in-strong-opposition-to-bill-6.html"

Ernie Martin's website includes a plea for better housing for the homeless. But he voted to pass on the legislation that criminalizes the homeless! When I talked to him while on a bike ride, he said, "something needs to be done," though he expressed concern for homeless children.


But HDM adds context: "But right after that [Anderson's bad bill] Ernie Martin introduced Bill 7 which did indeed pass and became ordinance 13-8, the notorious no-knock midnight raid law used in current raids."

Stanley Chang also ran for Congress as a liberal politician. He was endorsed by the Progressive Caucus in the US Congress. Where on his website is mention of homelessness? Nowhere that I see (at least on his "agenda for change" page). He also voted to pass Bills 42, 43, 45, 46, and 48 along.


On another website, he talks about how the practice of pu`uhonua inspires him, but the writing is too vague to understand what specifically he means:


More background from Doug:  "I met Kathryn Xian when she offered to help defeat Stanley Chang's Bill 59 (2013): http://www.dougnote.com/2013/09/no-on-city-council-bill-59.html I caught (here in the beginning of this clip) calling the homeless, "an epidemic of people obstructing the sidewalk.
Carol Fukunaga does not refer to homelessness on her City Council website, but has proposed adding public toilets downtown. Her facebook page informs us that she sponsored Bill 44, the sit-lie down bill that extends the reach of Bill 42 into her area:

"6/25: On Friday, Councilwoman Carol Fuku­naga unveiled Bill 44, which imposes the "sit-lie"ban in an area from River Street to Ward Avenue, makai of the H-1 freeway. Fuku­naga said the homelessness issue is just as acute in that area as it is in Wai­kiki. The Downtown-Chinatown region already has a state-imposed restriction on urination and defecation. -- Team #Carol2014"


More background from Doug:  "Oh, Fukunaga has always been a proponent of the criminalization bills. Here's a clip answering the homeless question posed during a candidates forum": http://youtu.be/W3E8PqFvDgs

Joey Manahan ran for Congress. His statement on homelessness exists, but is plenty vague:


Ron Menor's site is covered with platitudes; there's no specific mention of homelessness, though there's a photograph of Menor at a food bank.


Kymberley Marcos Pine's on-line presence is not very specific, though you can see here that she (and Breene Harimoto) have voted against Bills 42 and 45.


Doug:  "Kymberly Pine opposed Bill 59 which so literally and directly violates the Kanawai Mamalahoe that she is afraid that the Hawaiians in her district would get upset. I've got a clip of her saying that if you want me to find it." When I (Susan) spoke to her after one Council meeting, she seemed genuine and concerned, and mentioned that she was an English major--

Breene Harimoto did not post this video; H. Doug Matsuoka did. But it speaks volumes. He's opposed to criminalizing homelessness, and he speaks with moral authority.


As Doug points out to me--it comes through in this video--Harimoto believes he's following his Christian faith in supporting the homeless. How one wishes other Christians were as, well, Christian on this issue.

So, bear in mind that these politicians, no matter how liberal the politics they show on their websites might be, have made the decision to run under the radar on this important issue. Or to go for the cliches. Cliches, like the intricate Homeric similes spun by Mr. Kippen (Abercrombie's homeless "czar"), avoid the point by painting beautiful fuzzy and unrelated pictures. Thank goodness Doug takes and archives video of these council meetings and campaign events.

Note: If you like Doug's digital work, you might also be interested to hear that he loves fountain pens and medievalism. Go figure.

1 comment:

Will Caron said...

This is great, Susan!