Thursday, August 28, 2014

My testimony before the zoning committee of the Honolulu City Council

I stand in opposition to Bills 42, 43, 45, 46 & 48 [those that would criminalize homelessness]

On Oahu, you have the right to be rude to the homeless (we saw that in action at the Civil Beat forum), but you will not have the right to refuse shelter from the persons being rude to you.

On Oahu—as elsewhere—you have the right to be rude (it's called free speech), but if you're homeless, you do not have the right to “bad behavior.” As the head of IHS, Connie Mitchell, said to the Star-Advertiser: “We just think that supporting the bill sets the standard for public behavior. It isn't laws that criminalize people, it's people's behavior that criminalizes them.” As a friend of mine says: “It's not guns that kill people, it's the organ damage and blood loss from gunshot wounds that kill people. If we just outlaw those, we'll be fine.”

On Oahu, you do have the right to sit on the sidewalk in line to buy concert tickets, new iPhones, million dollar condos, or other luxuries, but not if you have nowhere to go after.

On Oahu, you have the right to shit, but only in a toilet; given the lack of public facilities, you pretty much need an apartment or a house.

On Oahu, you have the right to get on a wait list for housing, but not to wait in a place where you won't be “swept away” by the police.

On Oahu, you have the right to buy a gun from a large, exquisite display at Sports Authority, but you will not have the right, under redrafted Bill 45 to a full night's sleep. Instead, you get 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.: free from the sit/lie ban, or just 7 hours.

On Oahu, the Waikiki tourist board has the right to strong-arm IHS and the City Council into passing these bills before giving $500K to help the homeless; apparently, no one has the right to strong arm them by refusing their blackmail and demanding such help without the strings.

On Oahu, you have the right to say you're a progressive politician when you run for lower or higher office, but seemingly you do not have the chutzpah to actually be one when it comes to homelessness.

If you don't have a street address or a valid id, you can't vote, so no need help. Someone counting the votes? The campaign contributions?

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