Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Only Honolulu taxpayers will be able to stop the expensive raids on the homeless
by Larry Geller
Repeated raids on homeless street encampments in Honolulu have cost taxpayers something in excess of $1 million, a figure arrived at by multiplying the count of known raids by the Mayor’s estimate of $15,000 each (see: Mayor admits huge waste of money in homeless raids, 4/3/2013). A preliminary injunction, expected to be ordered after a hearing this Friday in federal court, is not going to stop the raids.
Only taxpayers, if they are fed up enough, can do it. Both the City Council and the Mayor seem wedded to their concept of confiscation, storage and return of property at public expense. Despite the punishment this inflicts on those forced to live on the sidewalks, the judge is not likely to rule that the City’s ordinances are unconstitutional.
Of course, the growing expenditure does nothing to help people on the streets.
But the cost doesn’t come out of the pockets of City Councilpeople or the Mayor. They take it from our wallets and purses. Or from our kids’ college funds.
At most, the portion of the ordinance requiring that individuals must pay to reclaim their property could be enjoined. Otherwise, it’s all the illegal destruction that the parties have already agreed must stop that will be the meat of the court order.
Following the status conference discussion last Friday, we can also expect that Judge J. Michael Seabright will issue an order on the City’s motion to dismiss. That could be limited to the punitive damages claims and the liability of defendants named in their individual capacities.
Otherwise, the litigation will presumably proceed. Friday’s hearing is but one step on the path to trial.
There could be other grounds for challenging the City’s punitive ordinances, but that would take another action in another courtroom.
I don't think there should be tents on city sidewalks either. Removing the tents hasn't worked, anyway, and those living in the tents I've spoken with don't think they should be made to live on the sidewalks. Why are they there, then? The City has forced them to the sidewalks, at least the ones we are talking about.
And city efforts (and expenditures) to confiscate their last worldly possessions don't change that, they still can't stay in the parks, etc.