Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Civil Beat—super headline, important scolding, and of course, now my rant

The city ordinances on sidewalk nuisances and stored property and the ways they’ve been enforced are beneath the level of decency we should expect from our public institutions in dealing with some of our most vulnerable, troubled residents.—Civil Beat editorial, 12/8/2015

by Larry Geller

20151208 CB EditorialCivil Beat has published a blockbuster editorial with a killer headline.

Before they served up the meat of their argument, they set the table by blasting the City’s inhumane (my word) treatment of its own citizens. A snip:

As we’ve pointed out before, enforcing those ordinances and the city’s controversial sit-lie bans without adequate shelter to house the homeless individuals affected is both counter-productive and morally bankrupt. They’ve had the collective effect of simply pushing homeless people into new neighborhoods, often while depriving them of some of their few belongings, critical identification cards and important papers in the process.

[Civil Beat, Governor’s Half-Ask Budget Won’t Move The Needle On Hawaii Public Housing, 12/8/2015]

Readers of this blog and other on-line websites knew that the City was cruelly and illegally confiscating and destroying personal property of homeless people (including ID, medicines, money) in innumerable day and night raids. Mayor Caldwell, the City Council, and those directly responsible for conducting the raids knew it also. The City Council accepted false assurances that the sweeps did not destroy IDs etc. that amount to complicity in the lies.

It took a civil rights lawsuit to stop them. But nighttime sweeps continue, even if they are “kinder and gentler.” 

Get ready to make your air quotes for any discussion of the City and State policy on ending homelessness. You can make them when a politician defends the City’s “compassionate” disruption, but also when you hear a statement or read an article that describes a City or State “effort” to create new “affordable housing” to alleviate the real crisis that has been neglected for more than a decade.

Back to Civil Beat (you should really click over to their website to read the entire editorial):

But even as we offer lukewarm praise for grudging change at the city level, we’re alarmed by the numbers Anita Hofschneider reported Tuesday from Gov. David Ige’s budget proposal-in-progress. The draft funding requests from his Department of Budget and Finance would do little to address shortages in affordable housing and available public housing units. Lack of such housing is among the most significant drivers of homelessness in Hawaii.

What is “half asked” about this is plain: the Gov’s request to repair public housing is $31 million, which CB points out is $120 million short of what is needed. The editorial also criticizes the proposed increment for the Rental Housing Trust Fund as inadequate.

Am I being too hard on the Governor? No. He and I are both engineers. I would never propose making or constructing something with too few parts.

As long as you’re looking at a computer screen, just think if it would work at all if it didn’t have all its transistors.

Can you build a house with too few bricks?

Will the trains run in Honolulu if they are short a wheel or two?

If a person is drowning 20 feet from shore, what good does it do to throw out a rope only 15 feet long?


So we are not going to get those tens of thousands of new housing units (the number varies in different articles but isn’t less than 20,000 over five or ten years). Pity, of course, that we have no firm numbers either on what is needed or what will be provided. And even without good numbers, we are going to shortchange our guesses so nothing will work.

As a citizen, I know that all these people were put there to solve problems such as a critical housing shortage, and they are not doing it.

The CB editors generously offer that the budget is still under development. Here at Disappeared News headquarters, I suggest not holding our breaths. There are sufficient examples of insufficient money being expended to make repairs, to educate our children, or to put Native Hawaiians on the homesteads they are guaranteed… gosh, underfunding is SOP for our government here, why would they change now?

In truth, I can’t be hard enough on the Governor, or the Mayor, etc.


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