Tuesday, September 13, 2016
No consequences for Honolulu city employee’s “blatantly inaccurate” statements that will cost taxpayers $1 million
I think it's set forth in Mr. Sasamura's and Mr. Shimizu's declaration which was submitted to the Court, that the City does not destroy personal property under the SNO [sidewalk nuisance ordinance]. … And we're not interested in dismantling homeless individuals' personal property [or] removing their social security cards or trashing their personal identification and financial information. None of that is being destroyed by the City.—Ernest H. Nomura, Esq., Department of the Corporation Counsel, from transcript of 9/22/2015 federal court hearing
by Larry Geller
Civil Beat reports that we taxpayers could be on the hook for $1 million to pay the costs of defending the City’s unconstitutional and routine seizure and destruction of the personal property of street dwellers.
That expense could easily have been avoided—had the City read and followed the US Constitution in the first place. But more to the point, the legal arguments would have been cut short quickly had the City not denied, through testimony of its employees and statements of its attorneys, that it did indeed engage in the destruction of personal property including ID, money, kid’s school books, usable tents and so forth.
Because the City denied its actions, which were abundantly documented via videos, social media and the very occasional news story, the court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction and the case moved forward. Collecting the evidence to confound the City’s denial then ran up legal expenses.
The City continued to deny the truth of what they were doing…
… But, after weeks of an expensive discovery process, attorneys for the homeless people were able to demonstrate to the court that the city’s testimony was “blatantly inaccurate.”
[Civil Beat, Lawsuit Against Homeless Sweeps Could Cost Taxpayers $1M, 9/13/2016]
So you and I taxpayers will be on the hook for $1 M because of those “blatently inaccurate” statements.
Perhaps Mayor Caldwell might dub this “compassionate taxation.”
Mr. Garo was homeless and living in Kakaako during the November 13, 2014 sweep. He was prohibited from taking any papers from inside his tent by a policeman. He had a clean tent taken from him, various forms of identification, and cash. After the City took his identification, Mr. Garo was unable to travel to the Big Island in time to see his ailing father, who died within a week of the sweep.—from ACLU/AHFI motion to federal court re Honolulu sweeps of homeless encampments
I can't believe what inept politicians and cops we have in Hawaii who think solving the homeless problem means taking their stuff. Try having all your worldly possessions taken by guys with guns at 3AM... guys who tell you their job is to protect and serve. See how long it takes you to recover mentally from that and stop being homeless when all you can think about is how much you need to poop and drink water and eat and sleep and wash/dry your clothes and get out of the rain and heal your wounds but you can't because the cops took your clothes and soap and bike and tent and bed and food and meds and trash you were gonna recycle for cash.—Anonymous comment
From a UH study conducted in early 2015:
The amount of personal property lost during the sweeps can only be described as shocking. Over 50% of those surveyed had lost identification during sweeps. Only 16% of those who had lost identification were able to retrieve it. Nearly half reported that their identifications were thrown away. The individuals surveyed lost other critical items as well: 43% lost clothing during sweeps, and 40% lost tents.
Despite what should have been obvious, in the face of the City’s denial the court was forced to move on to collect the evidence. Here’s a snip from comments by U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor after each attorney presented their position on September 22, 2015, from the transcript:
Here, we don't have a meeting of the minds of the parties. The plaintiffs' claims are that personal property is being destroyed immediately by the City, and the City's position is, no, personal property is not being immediately destroyed; it is being stored and tagged and notice is given. That's a factual dispute.
This statement explains, in a few words, why the bill the taxpayers will have to foot could be $1 million.
There are synonyms for the act of saying something that is “blatently inaccurate,” but I won’t suggest any, because I might then be hauled into court myself.
Shouldn’t employees responsible for those “blatently inaccurate” statements be held accountable? I think so. Otherwise, the City will just rely on its ability to pick our pockets for the money next time as well.
It’s an election season, and it’s fair to ask why Mayor Caldwell allowed the unconstitional sweeps to occur and then allowed his employees to deny before a judge what they were pretty obviously doing, as the plaintiffs were able to prove.
Related: ACLU files new motion to stop Honolulu’s illegal destruction of property during sweeps of homeless camps (11/4/2-15) (contains snip from deposition you’ve just gotta read)
Yes,you did. Your videos amply documented what the City was doing.
And yet no one has been fired so far, as far as I know. And no one has been held in contempt of court, either.