smashing shopping carts and hugging corgis: just another day in states in contact with the Pacific Ocean

every so often, i like to return from my week-or-so hiatus to randomly comment on some things, and it’s PROBABLY time that we did another one of those “find some outrageous things in the news and get all worked up about them, or, okay, maybe just make some jokes about them, because that is the kind of thing i enjoy doing from time to time. so, alright, here we go:

Hawaii state lawmaker Tom Brower
i’m going to be honest: i think the REAL motivation between this man’s bizarre question to destroy homeless people’s shopping carts is to be seen posing with the sledgehammer

lawmaker takes sledgehammer to Hawaii homeless’ carts

going to be honest here: when i heard about this, i presumed it was some really weird PR-stunt where a lawmaker helped get a bunch of homeless people housed and then dramatically smashed their carts because “they wouldn’t need them anymore” or something like that. you know, a weird maneuver that celebrates something of fleeting value but shows how people Did Something. but then again, apparently Hawaii is fucking crazy. note: i have never lived in Hawaii.

“Hawaii state lawmaker Tom Brower was fed up with the state’s homeless problem. His solution, however, left him branded a vigilante. Brower took a sledgehammer to abandoned shopping carts. “I get a lot of complaints about stolen and abandoned shopping carts in Waikiki, and I was thinking as a public servant, ‘What can I do that would be practical and I can literally do overnight,'” Brower told CNN affiliate KITV.”

okay, let me go ahead and start a list for Brower:

01. work to house these homeless people
02. prosecute them for stealing the shopping carts
03. literally anything aside from smashing the goddamn carts with a hammer

there, that was easy!

“”I’m not doing anything different than doing a community cleanup, or what the city’s administration has tried to do with the issue of people illegally camping on the streets,” he insisted. “I’m just doing it quicker.” He began in late October and estimated that he destroyed about 30 of the carts, which are often used by homeless people.”

please, god, let him have smashed some carts that were totally NOT being used by homeless people. also, i am pretty sure that neither “community cleanup” or whatever the hell the city’s been trying to do with homeless people involve smashing homeless people’s carts. actually, let’s go further: i have NEVER heard of anything addressing the homeless that involves smashing their carts. even in situations where people could not give a fuck less about the actual homeless themselves!

“It’s not advisable (and) not smart,” the state’s homeless coordinator Colin Kippen told KITV. “It’s mean-spirited and is vigilante justice.” Callers to Brower’s office slammed the lawmaker. “What if I smash his car up with a sledgehammer ’cause I don’t like what I see,” one caller said, according to CNN affiliate KGMB. Brower decided to stop. “I guess I shouldn’t use the sledgehammer because it’s a really loaded image,” he told KGMB.”

again, i submit that he just wanted to be seen posing with the sledgehammer. but yes, it’s absolutely mean-spiriting, Brower, AKA GUY WHO RUNS FOR PUBLIC OFFICE AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, I MEAN, I DON’T LIVE IN HAWAII SO MAYBE THERE’S A NUANCE I AM MISSING. also, i don’t want to encourage anyone to smash up Brower’s car, because all that would happen is someone with something to lose would actually get prosecuted while Brower got to preen victoriously on television, but it would be seriously hilarious.

“The controversy marks the latest chapter in Hawaii’s struggle with homelessness. Hawaii has the highest rate of homeless per capita of any state — about 45 people out of every 10,000, according to the Homelessness Research Institute. The only area with a higher rate is Washington, D.C., at about 113 per 10,000. Beautiful weather and generous public assistance programs have helped attract people to Hawaii; very high housing costs have added to the homelessness levels.”

wait, the top two for homeless are beautiful Hawaii and shitty DC? that’s kind of weird. not sure it has anything to do with a flaming need to smash their carts with hammers, but it’s still weird.

“In August, the state legislature approved a pilot program to offer plane tickets off the islands for some homeless people. “We’re going to send them back to their family, a strong support network system where they can get back on their feet,” Rep. John Mizuno said at the time, adding that the plan would “save our taxpayers a substantial amount of money. New York and San Francisco have paid to relocate thousands of homeless people in recent years.”

well, i guess the hammer thing is only marginally more fucked up than “just fly ’em somewhere else.” but honestly, here’s the weird part for me: Hawaii, New York, San Francisco… aren’t these liberal bastions that should be promoting a safety net for their disadvantaged citizens? don’t get me wrong, i understand you don’t want to be taken advantage of, but really? plus, Tom Brower is a Democratic House member of the Hawaii State Capitol? you know… for some reason that wasn’t mentioned in the article, which left me with the impression he was some kind of default “fuck the homeless” Republican.

NOT SAYING THERE’S A REASON FOR THAT OR ANYTHING

(also, there apparently ARE Republicans in Hawaii’s state legislature. i checked.)

“Brower wants to see Hawaii take other steps, as well. “I believe we should have some type of homeless campground because a lot of people on the streets, either they don’t have the discipline to go to the shelter, or they don’t want to,” he told KITV.”

well, he and i agree on one thing: we hope Hawaii takes steps to address the homeless BEYOND “letting some kind of crazy person smash up all their carts FUCK YEAH!” because i just don’t see that being the BEST solution, you know?

alright, let’s get a little saltier…

Jennifer Fearing & Sutter Brown
not going to lie: i would totally hug Jerry Brown’s awesome-looking corgi

critics howl over lobbyist walking governor’s dog

so i had to search up a variant piece because i didn’t want to cite an NRA-ILA article (not because i think there’s anything wrong with it, but honestly, i know people see them as too biased to report fairly), so this might be missing some of the outrage:

“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s “first dog,” cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown? That’s the question being raised about Jennifer Fearing, the senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, who critics suggest has turned her role as regular walker of the governor’s dog into a cannily effective way to lobby the state’s chief executive on animal rights issues. Fearing scored a perfect 6-for-6 record this legislative season in getting bills signed by Brown, placing her in the ranks of Sacramento’s most effective lobbyists.

Among the coups for the Humane Society was legislation banning lead ammunition that Fearing said endangered as many as 130 species in California. It was one of 11 bills signed by Brown out of the 18 that the Legislature passed to restrict guns or ammunition. “The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor” – and his popular pet?”

okay, let’s get this right out in the open: if the situation was reversed, liberals would be screaming for blood over this. SCREAMING. because even if everything is totally on the level, this looks dirty as hell. is Fearing a registered lobbyist? apparently she is. is she arguing for legislation? yup. that should be enough right there for anyone unbiased to say “it looks like there’s a little bit of a problem”: it’s not really about what the legislation is for, other than the fact that those against it will call her out and those in favor will see no problem here. it’s about how this shit LOOKS.

“The Humane Society director, who has strolled the Capitol grounds with Sutter since Brown took office in 2011, said that notion is ridiculous. “If people think I am resting on the furry laurels of Sutter Brown,” she said, they should know that “I work awfully hard to pass these bills, for someone who’s just a dog walker.
“I genuinely like that dog,” Fearing said. “I really enjoy the relationship I have with him” and with his owners, the governor and his wife, Anne Gust Brown. “It’s not contrived or political,” she said. “They let me share him with others … and it’s created a whole aura in the Capitol.””

oh, i don’t doubt she likes the dog and/or that Brown has no issue with letting friends walk him. but that’s not the question, and one should note she basically dodges it with the “i work awfully hard to pass these bills” thing: the contention is not that she does not “work hard,” the contention is that her dog-walking is a conflict of interest (and something she should be reporting). but i will give the SF Gate credit for citing some theoretically unbiased third parties:

“Ethics experts suggest that although the Humane Society head may be a dedicated animal lover, her closeness to the key canine merits a closer look. Fearing is “a powerful person who wants something from the government,” said Jessica Levinson, an expert on law and governance issues and associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. With her role in the dog’s life, “she has access to Gov. Brown,” Levinson said. “There are a variety of ways to exercise influence.” California taxpayers, for instance, would have a right to know if “Brown had a kid, and his tutor was head of the California Teachers Association,” Levinson said.”

exactly; it’s about the influence, not about the fact that she likes his dog. i’m sure his dog is awesome! corgis are awesome! i would hang out with famous and/or important peoples’ corgis all day if i could. but i’m also not the head of an organization lobbying for legislation. and if i WAS, i wouldn’t be flip and dismissive if someone questioned my activities. well, okay, i probably WOULD be flip and dismissive because i am kind of an asshole and all that, but i wouldn’t claim there was no issue with a straight face.

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One Response to smashing shopping carts and hugging corgis: just another day in states in contact with the Pacific Ocean

  1. Todd Wylie says:

    thisBITES! wants to know where Janklow and the gang are these days…

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