Homeless, Then Zero?
Make no mistake: Gov. Abercrombie doesn’t think he can end homelessness in 90 days. But he did unveil a 90-day homeless-eradication plan this week along with cabinet member Marc Alexander—formerly of the Honolulu Roman Catholic Diocese—who was tapped specifically to tackle the issue.
At a news conference, Alexander called the plan—which outlines a series of goals but allocates no additional funds—“another step” in a “long, long journey.” The timing, however, suggests the motive might be more short term: in November, world leaders will converge on Oahu for the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. An effort is already underway to plant palm trees and bury power lines along Nimitz Highway between the airport and Waikiki, and sweeping the homeless off the streets and into shelters might be another phase of the beautification process. Last month, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz all but admitted the endeavor is motivated by APEC, saying Hawaii has a “moral obligation to solve this problem” but adding the meeting offers “a handy deadline.”
To be fair, Abercrombie has tooted the homeless horn since before taking office. And whatever the motive, the goal is admirable—in Honolulu and statewide. But, as the Star-Advertiser noted, Abercrombie’s plan doesn’t address long-range objectives like affordable housing or job training, bolstering the perception that it’s less a bold initiative and more a quick-fix prescription.
Giving preference on cultural or racial grounds—for anything—will always be controversial. Whether it’s legal is another question. That question wasn’t answered this week when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal brought by four students challenging Kamehameha Schools’ admissions policy, but it was at least temporarily put to rest.
The four students asked to remain anonymous, arguing that disclosing their identities could subject them to threats, harassment or worse. Judges in Hawaii and later the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the request, and the Supreme Court’s decision ended the debate. In a statement, the students’ lawyers said without the option of anonymity, the suit will die.
It isn’t the first time Kamehameha Schools has had to defend its policy—which heavily favors students of Native Hawaiian ancestry—and it almost certainly won’t be the last. Court rulings may be binding, but they don’t end controversy.
A couple of national items to stir the anti-corporate-media pot: First, TIME reported this week that Disney has moved to trademark the term “SEAL Team Six.” That would be the name of the military unit responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. So what does Disney want with them? Film and merchandising rights, presumably—and it looks like the Defense Department won’t fight it, since that would require publicly acknowledging a group of super-secret assassins.
Meanwhile, in a story curiously ignored by the mainstream but widely reported elsewhere, former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker left her government post to become a lobbyist for recently merged NBC-Comcast shortly after approving a merger between…NBC and Comcast. The revolving door, I-scratch-your-corrupt-back-you-scratch-mine phenomenon has become so commonplace in Washington (and locally, for that matter) that it’s easy to read those words, sigh and go about your business. Which is part of the problem.