Civil Beat’s article by Marsha Rose Joyner about the hard-fought values of the Democratic Party included the above photo with Kirk Caldwell taking center stage at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Party Convention.
I’m sorry to say but Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s governance style at City Hall is an affront to basic democratic values. The Democratic Party prides itself in being a voice for the unprivileged and underserved. Caldwell is doing the opposite.
Here are a few of my reasons:
While the Mayor talks a lot about homelessness and wants to spend millions of dollars addressing it, he does not talk about aggravating homelessness in Kahuku, Ko’olauloa.
It makes no sense to spend millions of dollars to create new housing programs for homelessness in one area and turn around to create more homelessness in another.
About 31 Kahuku Plantation Camp families are being evicted because Caldwell refuses to collaborate with the Honolulu City Council. Generally, landlord-tenant issues are private but there are long-standing obligations and promises made to these plantation workers. Caldwell’s cope-out excuse was that the land owner Continental Pacific LLC ( CP) was a ‘private owner’.
It’s important to note that the decision to fund monies to create a solution for the Kahuku Plantation Camp controversy was approved, by an unanimous City Council vote. Mayor Caldwell dismissed the Council’s efforts. Residents continue to be of the mind that the Mayor refused to help because the attorney, Lex Smith, representing CP was his former campaign chair. The Mayor denied any undue influence or conflict of interests.
The evicted Salanoa family dwelling above has been promptly sold to a new cash buyer. It has since been stripped to bare bones and will be renovated. The Kahuku plantation families are scrambling. Their families and friends are bending backwards to provide temporary shelter. Gentrification – where the more affluent is pushing out the less affluent – is happening quickly at the Kahuku Plantation Camp.
The Mayor is also known for his relentless raiding of homeless tents in Honolulu. The photo above shows a Honolulu homeless woman who had to travel all the way to the Halawa Maintenance Yard to collect her seized items with a borrowed truck. It cost her $200 to reclaim her items. Homeless citizens have been methodically chased from the beaches, parks and pushed onto sidewalks and highway ducts. Some homeless people have taken to the forests and less open places.
The Mayor’s incessant raids on the homeless included odd hours like 3 o’clock in the morning. A Mayor’s representative once explained his compassion by saying that they usually raided tents late at night. I suppose that 3:00 am is not late at night! It’s simply during the time period where most people enjoy the deepest sleep.
It’s been estimated that about $1M has been expended to play cat-and-mouse raiding on the tents around Thomas Square with the De-Occupy group. This group’s goal was to focus attention on homelessness solutions. Ironically, the Mayor’s solution to the sidewalk blockage by those tents was to install planter boxes that also blocked the same sidewalk. A willingness to sit at the conversation table with the De-Occupy group would probably have saved the city significant amount of expenses.
Persecuting the homeless and raiding of tents is not a long-term approach. It’s time to give up status quo approaches by collaborating with independent voices to help work out solutions rather than relentlessly persecuting the most vulnerable in society with no viable solution in hand.
Adding to his disjointed policies, the Mayor also dispatched the Halawa Maintenance crew of about a dozen city workers, six policemen, a front-end loader and a commercial dump truck to our property in Hauula in May and October of 2013.
The Mission – to raid our free speech signs and installed the above posting to shut down our private business with Reynolds Recycling in October 2014. It was a retaliatory show of force and intimidation in our ongoing eminent domain case on this parcel, of which we’re still the fee owners.
Consequently, the Reynolds Recycling in Hauula on our Lot was shut down because of the retaliatory posted sign at 54-282 Kamehameha Highway, Hauula, 96717 . The photo above showed a Hauula homeless man walking his recyclables to the next nearest Kahuku recycling site (about a six-mile distance) on the day the recycling center was shut down by Caldwell.
Many called Caldwell’s office to protest. He quickly requested the Reynolds Recycling to return but this time on the city-owned Lot next door.
However, the Mayor did not disclose that his was a temporary measure. Should the Mayor be allowed to build his Neiman Marcus Fire Station replacement in rural Hauula, the last two commercial-zoned lots with recycling and other small business opportunities will be gone forever!
Many homeless people in Hauula collect recycle items daily to afford a daily hot meal at the grocery stores. Others are also hoping for inexpensive commercial-zoned spots for country stores and entrepreneurial ideas. Yet, the Mayor refuses to explore other alternative sites for the firehouse relocation when the past Mayor Peter Carlisle was willing to do.
Affected Residents were denied due process. Residents complained that if they were in Kahala, they would not receive this shoddy treatment. They were never informed and consulted up to today about the controversial Hauula Fire Station relocation proposal. They continued to be ignored despite over 1,200 signatures opposing the process. The Mayor’s spokesman continued to disperse disinformation about the owners being uncooperative. The truth is even if the owners DONATED the land to the city, due process to the affected residents still had to be provided.
Despite vigorous protests against the project, Caldwell has hired an experienced litigator to vigorously pursue the eminent domain case in court. The obligatory costs to the city to the defendants are presently at least 700% more than was represented to the City Council by Land Chief Thomas Miyata.
The Mayor has also included two extra city litigators to his free speech violations court case.
The above are a few selected reasons why I believe Mayor Kirk Caldwell is an affront to basic values of the Democratic Party. It’s unsettling to see Caldwell in the center stage of Hawaii Democratic Party whose touted pride includes being a champion of the little people.
The Mayor’s behavior at City Hall engenders injustice that none of us can be proud of. His behavior cannot be ignored, for if we’re neutral in situations of injustice, we become the enablers.