Homeless issue nets governor and mayor
Gov. Linda Lingle and Mayor Mufi Hannemann stood together yesterday pledging cooperation after meeting to discuss homelessness along Leeward Oahu beach parks.
"It was a good meeting," Lingle said. "I appreciate the mayor being here and talking about something we both want to achieve, which is return the beach to the community and help those people who are living on the beach currently."
The mayor, who kissed the governor at the end of a question-and-answer session with reporters, described the discussion as "fruitful."
"This is going to be a good beginning for what we're going to see out in Waianae, a much more focused approach and attention to the issues that they have," said Hannemann, who earlier had walked up to the governor's office door singing the opening line of the song "Knock Three Times."
During a news conference last month, Hannemann also sang while waiting on the phone to speak to Lingle. The call was made to set up yesterday's meeting.
When asked if their meeting helped to achieve the coordination they agreed upon, Lingle responded, "I really thought you were going to ask me the question, Do I think the media deserves credit for goading us both into this?"
It is the first meeting that the mayor and governor have had over the homeless problem -- and it lacked the back-and-forth criticism launched by both in recent months over who is responsible for addressing the homeless problem on Oahu.
Lingle had criticized the Hannemann administration's handling of the closure and cleanup of Ala Moana Beach Park in the spring, which displaced about 200 homeless people. At the time, Lingle said the city administration showed "no compassion whatsoever."
Hannemann had said that the state should be taking the lead to resolve homelessness statewide. If the city had not moved forward to clean up Ala Moana Beach Park, the state would not have stepped up to set up an emergency homeless shelter in Kakaako, he said.
Now, the city wants to clean up city beach parks along the Waianae Coast, where hundreds of homeless people are camped. Hannemann announced the cleanup of parks between Nanakuli and Makaha at about the same time Lingle announced a plan to address homelessness in the area.
Hannemann initially was concerned that homeless shelters being planned by the state would not be ready by the time the city planned to clean up the parks beginning in September.
But those concerns appeared assuaged yesterday.
"I think what we agreed is that there would be one schedule, and it would be coordinated so that when the mayor is ready to go in and clean up a particular park, it would be coordinated with us, having an alternative for the people living there," Lingle said.
Lingle has named Kaulana Park, executive assistant to Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Micah Kane, to oversee the state's activities to address the homeless issue.