Mayor goaded into date with governor
The two agree to talk after trading criticism on homelessness
All he had to do was call, and Mayor Mufi Hannemann wound up with a July 10 meeting with the governor about homelessness on the Leeward Coast.
"Hi, this is Mufi. Hi, any chance the governor in?" the mayor said as reporters watched and video cameras rolled during a news conference yesterday.
While on hold waiting to be connected to the governor's secretary, Hannemann crooned snippets of three tunes, including one by the Beatles: "Hello, hello, I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello."
Reporters had peppered the mayor with questions over what was stopping him or Gov. Linda Lingle from picking up the phone -- apparently prompting the call.
Lingle wasn't in, but the mayor left a message with her secretary.
"I'd like to set up a meeting with her. I'd like to talk about Waianae," Hannemann said.
By late afternoon, both the governor's and mayor's offices had confirmed the meeting date.
Lingle and Hannemann have criticized each other over whose responsibility it is to resolve Oahu's homelessness plight, after the city moved the homeless out of Ala Moana Park for a major spring cleanup.
Now it wants to renovate Leeward Coast beach parks, home to hundreds of homeless people.
"I think it's important for political leaders to always be talking, at all levels," Lingle said later.
Hannemann discussed with reporters the city's plans to clean the four beach parks.
This comes after the governor met with residents of the Waianae Coast to get their thoughts on the homelessness problem.
The governor had announced then that the state would open homeless shelters by the end of the year.
Hannemann said the city is still focused first on renovating Waianae District Park in August -- where there are no illegal campers. In September, the city will begin a major cleanup of beach parks in Nanakuli, Keaau and Maili.
"If we don't set deadlines, it'll never get done. I think the community is tired of waiting. They're tired of meetings. They want action," Hannemann said.
He said the park cleanup can't wait until December. If the state emergency shelters aren't ready by the time the city is ready to renovate the beach parks, Hannemann said, he will come up with a plan for the homeless.
"Where the homeless community is, we're going to be very sensitive about that. There's going to be a lot of notification. There's going be both short-term and, I believe, long-term alternatives," Hannemann said.
Hannemann's administration was criticized by homeless advocates for giving only a few days' notice to vacate for the Ala Moana cleanup.
"Well, he didn't wait last time, so that would be their approach," Lingle said. "And if that's their approach, that's what they do.
"What we do is, when people need help, we step in. And last time it was a week. So I joke with my chief of staff, I said, 'Well, it's more than a week.'"
Lingle said her administration continues to inspect different potential sites, and the first shelters to go up will probably be for both emergency and transitional needs.