To nobody’s particular surprise, the State of Hawaii is talking about finally moving squatters out of the huge illegal encampment beside the Waianae Boat Harbor.
This comes in an election year, and after a recent rash of media accounts.
But is the state really planning a “sweep?”
There’s no real generally accepted definition of the term, but it seems to me that Civil Beat uses it rather loosely and impulsively to inflame tensions and create drama.
They should stop.
A fair definition of “sweep” might fit a situation in which police and demolition crews arrive at dawn and bust down a homeless encampment with little or no advance notice, abruptly “sweeping” the campers out.
That’s not what’s happening at the boat harbor.
No, after foolishly looking the other way for more than a decade while the camp grew larger and more entrenched, the state is now working with the squatters to transition them to alternative accommodations in a peaceful and orderly manner.
Whether the state can accomplish that task with competence remains to be seen. In the meantime, there’s no need to incite more drama.
But that’s just what will happen, of course.
Already, some self-appointed saviors and busybodies are making noises about staging a big standoff and show of defiance. And why not? They don’t have to actually take any personal responsibility for the mess.
And it is a mess. Let’s be clear about that, despite the tendency of some to pander and romanticize. The situation there is deplorable. Yes, there are plenty of good people there — along with some real losers — and they deserve better than this. We all deserve better than a dusty clump of squalid hovels with no running water or sanitation cluttering lands held in trust for the public.
Right now, this is Governor David Ige’s mess, which he’s done nothing about since inheriting it from ousted former Governor Neil Abercrombie nearly four years ago.
Ige is obviously trying to get the mess cleaned up before the August 11 Democratic primary election, which will effectively decide who our next governor will be since the Republicans don’t stand a chance. And he probably also wants to get it cleaned up before an anticipated CNN program airs nationwide sometime soon and exposes some of Hawaii’s dirty secrets, and perhaps inflames tensions.
The real question now is how long it will take the other candidates for governor to jump in and blatantly exploit this situation for their own political gain.
Colleen Hanabusa is originally from Waianae, although she’s been ensconced for years in a ritzy gated community of elites situated far down the coast. She’s made noises about supporting state-sanctioned “safe zones” for homeless people to camp, which seems to be dog-whistling support to make the boat harbor encampment semi-permanent–or at least avoid the unpleasantness of actually dealing with it– though nobody seems to have taken the obvious next step and asked her to clarify that particular point.
And Clayton Hee is part Hawaiian, as are the majority of the Waianae squatters. He’s also been rather charitably characterized as a “disruptor,” which is a nice way of saying he likes to stir things up to draw attention to himself, perhaps to distract while quietly pursuing other agendas.
Some others seem to have attached themselves to the situation in Waianae for their own reasons. And some media folks, politicians, and drama-lovers obviously seem bent on indulging their own uncontrollable paternalistic and posturing impulses.
So trying to move the squatters, including dozens of vulnerable children, into more suitable housing could prove to be quite an ordeal.
Especially when so many people are mostly concerned with their own selfish agendas.
That’s why I really believe squatter boss Twinkle Borge should run for governor too. At least then she could really speak for herself and the people who seem to have entrusted her.