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Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011

City plan to take people’s belongings in public -Bill 54

By Dave Moskowitz and Michael Daly

Councilmember Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu, homeless nation
"Kobocha" Ann Kobayashi and co.


HONOLULU - Since the vigilant (De)Occupy Honolulu action group has formed in Thomas Square this month the city council is facing a new and energetic civil action force at downtown Honolulu Hale. Business as usual is at risk.

The group supports the Occupy Wall Street movement in correcting the encroachment of corporate interest on the public domain, characterized thin the broad scoop as the 1% vs. 99% class action. (De)Occupy now has a focused interest in the current city plan introduced by Mayor Peter Carlisle that would enable officials to confiscate their belongings at the encampment at Thomas Square.

Its Bill 54. A proposal that otherwise would be making its passage from the Mayor’s desk and through council with just the usual objections from a few honest citizens, ACLU and the Save Waikiki Sidewalk group raising the same tired-old concerns about discrimination of Oahu’s homeless people, free speech protection and the outright physical holdings of our public sidewalks.

The bill was introduced before the local and worldwide Occupy campaign was on anyone’s radar. 

Bill 54 was simply introduced to take the belongings of “unsightly” homeless people stranded on the city sidewalks and to further dislocate the homeless in a series of city attacks over the past two years. However, the bill is now has more teeth than the city could have ever hoped for or imagined in shutting down decent by activists and protesters, many of whom have formed solidarity in résistance through occupations and encampments in public places.

Besides having a risk of losing property related to their political and social expressive actions the (De)Occupy Honolulu group has a fundamental affinity with homelessness, ignorance and alienation. This is true of the 99% who are generally still living with a notion of democratic control and fair opportunity despite record home foreclosures, massive joblessness, high taxes, serious broken campaign promises and a break down of social and infrastructure services. In this way we are all homeless nations but the mindset of the people reflects the spoon feed narrative of the media and educational system, not reality.

The (De)Occupy supporters are more independent, rich in knowledge and have an outlook beyond going from one daily news hour to the next. They do not ignore or condemn homeless people. They support policies for the rights of homeless people in the way one would naturally want to stop prejudice and a horrible holocaust-type sufferance that is witnessed but then again suppressed by a physiological voice that desires to pass on pain to the very least instead of clearly identifying and facing today’s plutocratic corporate enemies ahead of them.

 

Bill 39 – Pedestrian Use Zone

 

It appears that Bill 54 is not founded in a reality where the implementation of it is at all viable. However, it serves a few associates of the Mayor and some city councilmembers; the ones who will vote to pass this into law on December 7, 2011.

In a series of attacks on homeless, free speech and the poor, Bill 54 represents the last straw of indignation. In the past two years the city has sepeartely passed laws that have banned use of the city parks after 10pm till 5 am, banned tents and shopping carts in parks, banned obstruction of a Pedestrian Use Zone. It is difficult to see how regular councilmembers can be so callous with every step unless you have a glimpse of the trickle down law-making process that sadly has nothing to do with democracy but everthing to do with corporate bulling and control.

This is reflected in the reality of the illegal occupation of Hawai`i by the USA and which was given birth on January 17, 1893 by a small coupe of small-minded males, violent businessmen and plantation owners, who forced Queen Liliʻuokalani and her public from their rightful home and national belonging ~ essentially making a homeless nation.

The Councilmembers with adamant support of Bill 54 are:

Tulasi Gabbard
Stanley Chang
Ann Kobayashi
Tom Berg
Breene Harimoto

Nestor Garcia
has been a strong critic and has consistently voted against Bill 54.

Those voting for Bill 54"with reservations" are:

Breene Harimoto
Romy Cachola
Ikaika Anderson

The bill when passed will be used to deny people of their most basic needs associated with belonging and belongings. The real attempt here is a zero tolerance policy toward the homeless. When individuals and groups here are selectively targeted in having their things taken it dislocates their survival continuance and forces people to leave Oahu.

This then highlights Bill 39 as a parallel. It's a similar bill passed as Ordinance 10-26 and one which has been an embarrassing failure for the Mufi Hannemann/Peter Carlisle Administrations and Councilmember Ann Kobayashi who introduced it in August last year. In this case the intent was to clear sidewalks in three Honolulu districts of obstructions, such as homeless people’s tents and belongings in a 6 to 8 foot corridor called a “Pedestrian Use Zone” in such a way that foot and mobile (wheelchair) traffic could have reasonable through-access, especially in tight sidewalks areas that are even less than 6 feet wide.

The Pedestrian Use Zone needed to be surveyed by the city to ensure enforcement. Yet city surveys have not been done.

The amount to enforce this bill would be around $500,000 - $600,000 according to the Mayor’s Office. Their has to be marked lines, plaques and signs installed to delineate Pedestrian Use Zone so that the public, police and courts can understand and interpret the law.

 

Expressive Rights/Free Speech/Public Forum

 

The very entity that is specifically immersed in the need for free speech and a free press is to date silent. Here the media is made up of hundreds of reporters, journalists and editors, yet to date the sidewalk stories are few and far between and the basic words "Public Forum" are never used. Generally media workers hold there jobs as tools of propaganda and think absolutely nothing of it.

Also, law and administrative workers show contempt for their occupation. While these people have professional qualifications, insider knowledge and paid jobs, they are truely vindictive to their family members, neighbours, society and environment.

The city Administration (front person, Lori Nishimura) and city Corporate Council (Deputy Corporate Council Dawn Spurlin) largely propagate and reinforce a simplistic perception that the footpath is for pedestrian traffic getting from point A to point B. 

The infantile understanding of the public aspects of our sidewalks can be measured best by Rick Eggedʻ's statement. Egged holds the job of Director and Spokesperson for the Waikiki Improvement Association:

"We are strongly in support of this bill. We believe this will be very helpful in terms of maintaining access to all the different locations in Waikiki. Sidewalks are for pedestrian use and are for pedestrian access to different locations in the city and therefore, they need to be maintained as such."

At the committee meeting on September 17, 2011 Spurlin went so far as to announce that Bill 54 did not violate the U.S. Constitution because the First Amendment only gives rights to “speech” (inferring one's voice as she attempted to confuse the issue) and went on to say that did not include other things such as having property or belongings.

It is unimaginable that a law professional with such a high salary in these times of high joblessness and homelessness would tout such lies as if she was addressing a body of elementary students.

This infantile projection - deliberate and devious propaganda - of what the sidewalk property means is shameful. The public property is most valuable in its intellectual and networking aspects.

Don’t blame the messengers, but clearly, the public has been maneuvered into being a resource fodder of mass thoughtlessness for the express desire of self-made global corporateers who have no aspirations for economies of sustainability and nonviolence, no public allegiances and no need of true justice.

And so, the sidewalk is emblematic of the encroachment of private capitalism on the public domain in general.

It’s a sad day when we have to be reminded that the public is the sole owner of the public property. Yet it is most evident in the way Bill 54 is crafted that the public is being eliminated. It appears senior legal council to the city, like Professor Jon Van Dyke, has been circumvented by lesser, prejudicial workers within the corporate/city envoy.

They are frustrated that Ordinance 10-26 (Bill 39) is unenforceable and are now pushing forward their own language in Bill 54, furthering their small-minded desires for their small-minded constituents and shareholders.

What’s missing in all the small talk is the acknowledgement of the principal proprietary and complete value of ownership that is imbued in the history and law of our public sidewalks, our public parks and public spaces. This includes Kānāwai Māmalahoe, the Hawaiian Law of the Splintered Paddle.

The childish chatter in the halls of Honolulu Hale is coming from bitter ol' mar puritans and insatiable plutocratic (government by the wealthy) corporate aids which defiles the intelligence of ordinary people in 2011. This is done in the same way as they manufacture gullible audiences for mass advertising, mass propaganda campaigns and mass servitude.

But the time has come. People will not be foreclosed on and lead as daily slaves without dignity and potential. The public will find their independence in understanding that the pain and injustice felt by the jobless and homeless on the cold concrete sidewalk is their own oppression too, and a wretched omen for their children.

We are well developed and hungry for our full measure of respect and the opportunity of full and best community participation that democracy affords ~ and that the will of corporate profit robs.

The sidewalk, parks and our village squares will be taken back. They are the Public Forum. That is, a free interchange and place of communications in all its aspects of free exchange between people. Public space in general is a place of meeting, conversation, exchange, free speech and expression. It belongs to the people. The people will determine it's aspects, not corporations nor their unscrupulous represenatives who dare to defile their public position at the Mayor's Office and Council Chamber.

The sidewalk is not simply some new notion of a conduit of mall consumerism, getting shoppers from one merchant credit-card machine to another. People must not let a young generation of people loose sight that the public property is grounded in rights of free speech.

As narrow as it is, at least Jon Van Dyke acknowledged this when Bill 39 was sent back for re-wording. He specifically insured the protection of free speech and had inserted Section 29-4.

This is somewhat in keeping with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Sec. 29-_.4 Exceptions.
(i) Who are engaged in expressive activities or who are using tables or other portable outdoor furniture or items for the purpose of displaying literature or other expressive material or otherwise directly facilitating expressive activities; provided that the tables, furniture, or items do not obstruct the free movement of pedestrians through the Pedestrian Use Zone, do not interfere with other lawful activities taking place on the sidewalk and comply with other provisions of this chapter; and provided further that no table, item of furniture, or other item shall be larger than five feet by two feet or 10 square feet for each person engaging in the expressive activity.

But now in the case of Bill 54, the authors have ignored free speech mandates.

The PUZ does not apply to all of the city district but only three key areas in Honolulu where homeless sleepers are seen as a problem. The city has purchased 250 plaques for PUZ yet has not installed a single plaque.

Lori Nishimura amongst others has referred to this at neighborhoods board meetings for the record. Major McEntire (former chief of Waikiki Police District) in his Truthful Presentation to Council on September 22, 2011 said his department cannot enforce any citation on the sidewalk unless it is clearly known where the PUZ boundaries are and that the public also has fair warning such as signs.

The PUZ is plagued with problems since, according to Lori Nishimura their is no survey done on key sidewalks of the private property. For example, the city has admitted that it relies on corporate developers on Waikiki’s main sidewalks, Kalakaua Avenue, to "tell them where the property line is."

This particularly causes angst, and nevertheless, repeated arrests of street artists who find themselves at issue with a physical "brass line" embedded into the pavement as some form of corporate stronghold.

Some have it that a property owner has to be at the scene in person to make a "complaint" to HPD in order to remove someone from their property.

Apart from the lack of survey, their are three other alarming problems:

1) By other city standards it is very unusual for a sidewalk in a commercial zone to be wholly or partly "owned" by an adjoining business. Such "easements" ususally do not exist and the question of public ownership is not in doubt or any confussion. The public sidewalk is governened by the people for the people from the curb gutter to the business building line such as a shop window or entrance.

2) According to Hernando Tan President of Local 5 Union regardless of seperate ownership, if public and commercial entities use the sidewalk it cannot be a place of any discrimination whereby the business fronting the sidewalk can block the area or trespass any individual or group for any reason pertaining to free speech protected by the Public Forum.

3) In the case of many sidewalks in Waikiki re-construction of the sidewalks have been done for the benefit of corporate interest whereby the public sidewalk has been diminished in terms of physical space and/or Public Forum (free speech domain) because of landscaping, truncations and planter boxes. The purpose has been to gradually cut-off free speech use and funel sidewalk traffic into shops and hotels.

Such projects include the recent $26 million joint City/WIA (Waikiki Improvement Association) "Streetscape Project" on Kalakaua Avenue made ready for APEC summit. In a flagrant misuse of city funds, where Housing and humane shelter should be a priority, the regional managers of our pockets of money (public council and private corporate) devised a project that places flower boxes where artists and preformers gather nitely. Despite warnings related to the Venetian Casino Resort case replacement of the Public Forum on the Kalakaua Avenue sidewalk was ignored.

So, even if the brass line had any merit of meet and bounds prior to the Kalakaua Avenue sidewalk renovation it has no bearing now. Also, the fact that the city is now obliged to allocate an 8 foot wide PUZ strip in compliance with American Disabilities Act (ADA) then city surveys are essential. Condemnation of property or some other plan is inevitable to provide the courts, enforcement and the public with order rather than the constant coconut rules most often used to alienate the vulnerable.

Except in so far as harassing local street artists in Waikiki apparently, if what Major McEntire says is true, a police officer who is not clear as to whether a person is on private or public property a PUZ criminal offence cannot be determined.

 


 

Police Question Enforceability of Sidewalk Plan
By Robert Brown on Nov 24, 2011
Honolulu Civil Beat

While John McEntire told the Committee on Public Infrastructure that the police department supports the intent of Bill 39, which would keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians, it is concerned about whether it will be able to enforce the proposed law. http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2010/10/05/5297-police-question-enforceability-of-sidewalk-plan/


 

Freezing Free Speech: Winter Tents Are ‘Contraband’ For Occupy Boston
By Brad Johnson on Nov 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm

…Despite the temporary restraining order that finds that the Occupy Boston plaintiffs “have clearly met their burden of establishing that abridgment of their First Amendment rights would constitute irreparable harm,” the Boston Police Department is preventing the occupiers from winterizing their encampment…
http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/20/372807/freezing-free-speech-winter-tents-are-contraband-for-occupy-boston/


 

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