Sunday, June 07, 2015


David Shapiro calls the Honolulu City Council on their lack of humanity

What is the Council's plan as it rolls sit-lie prohibitions through the nine Council districts — to push the homeless into the sea?

Oahu homelessness has become a humanitarian tragedy that is destroying Hawaii's reputation as a humane place and our brand as a quality tourism destination.—
David Shapiro, Volcanic Ash, 6/7/2015

by Larry Geller

I thanked David Shapiro for his ever-insightful columns last week when I ran into him in Kailua. I still think it’s a great disservice that his words are kept from potential readers by the newspaper’s firewall.

David is kind of like our own Jon Stewart—he can be funny, but his real business is very serious. Today he called it like it is as he chastised Honolulu’s errant City Council for playing politics instead of looking out for the well-being of its constituents.

David used words like “reckless.” “irresponsible,” and “morally reprehensible” to describe the City Council’s actions on homelessness issues. He accused them of “usurping executive authority” and described their decision-making as “driven by petty political competition.”

David is a long-time political reporter and a former managing editor of the Star-Bulletin. It takes a lot to motivate an experienced newsman to use superlatives, and in this one column, David has fired one after another from his quiver. 

Each of his arrows hit an identified target: Council voting to expand sit-lie laws while denying the Mayor positions he requested to increase low-income housing availability, or the risk that taxpayers will end up funding expensive lawsuits since the Council disregarded good legal advice in overriding the Mayor’s veto of their overbroad prohibitions.

The original sit-lie law proposed by Caldwell was limited to Waikiki and narrowly written to address situations in which access to businesses was hindered by people sitting or lying on sidewalks — a measured approach that has survived lawsuits in other cities.

The law came with a promise that the city would move quickly on its Housing First program so homeless displaced from the sidewalks would have somewhere to go.

Instead, transitional housing has languished while the Council has gone on a binge of expanding sit-lie prohibitions in ways that are morally reprehensible and possibly unconstitutional

[Star-Advertiser p. A2, Volcanic Ash: Council plays politics rather than trying to aid homeless, 6/7/2015]

What is it that the City Council doesn’t understand about un-con-sti-tu-tion-al? They seem oblivious as well to the ever-growing crisis of poverty and homelessness that they have allowed to fester on their watch.

Thank you, David, for again putting in plain but strong words what is really going on in this town.

Now, it’s up to the rest of us to find a way to change it.


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