Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Carlton Middleton, Democratic candidate for state senator for District 12. Other candidates are Democrat Brickwood Galuteria and Republican Chris Letham.
District 12 includes Kakaako, Ala Moana, Waikiki, McCully, Moiliili.
Name: Carlton N. Middleton
Office: State Senate District 12
Profession: Resident manager and small business owner.
Education: Kapiolani Community College
Community organizations: Was a volunteer at Institute for Human Services (IHS) (1981), River of Live Mission (ROLM) (1998) and Kau-Kau Wagon (2001); attended and participated with the Chinatown/Downtown Neighborhood Board Thirteen since February 1990; was elected to the Chinatown/Downtown Neighborhood board and served from March 2005 to March 2010; In 2008 was elected secretary of the Chinatown/Downtown Neighborhood Board.
1. Why are you running for the Hawaii Legislature?
The incumbent senator for this district has missed more than 37 votes. He is not doing his job. That is unacceptable. I can and I will do better and here is how: By getting up out of bed and showing up for work and voting like the voters expect me to. Just like I took an oath of office to do. To represent and vote for the voters in their place because that is what I agreed to do.
I have reached a point of my life when I wish to give back to this community that has given me so much. I want to help my constituents get things done. The cost of living is too high! The high cost of simple living needs to come down for the middle class. Where the simple cost of groceries does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Where the cost of the basics, like rice, bread, butter, eggs, spam, milk, sugar, cereal and coffee is lower. Where there will be no general excise tax on groceries, medicines, vitamins, and health supplements. Any medicines prescribed by a physician should have no tax. No tax! None! The middle class needs a rebate on their taxes. Remember when the state of Hawaii would give each taxpayer a rebate of several hundred dollars? We need to make that several thousands. I will fight for a taxpayers’ rebate of several thousands of dollars.
2. Are you satisfied with the current plans to pay for the state’s unfunded liabilities? If not, how would you propose to meet pension and health obligations for public workers?
Yes, I am.
3. Local officials and advocates have worked to address homelessness for years, yet the crisis is growing. What proposals do you have for this complicated issue?
The senator from Waikiki is the only elected official to blame for the homeless in Waikiki! There are currently 14,000 homeless people in Hawaii. With 4,000 adults and 10,000 of them being children! With our task force I will end homelessness in Waikiki and later the rest of the 12th Senatorial District. The current senator from Waikiki can not and will not; I can and I will end homelessness in Waikiki. Consider it (getting the homeless off the streets in Waikiki and into permanent housing) an investment that, in the long run, can save the taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars, with the “sweeps” costing $5 million a year. How many homeless people can you house for $5 million? Many. We can not afford to lose the money that Waikiki provides. Up to $5 billion dollars a year in sales. Not one red cent of the $5 million money spent on the “sweeps” is helping house the homeless!
What is a “sweep” and why does it cost so much? The city does the “sweeps” as in a broom sweeping dirt off the sidewalk. They cost so much because the workers are the main cost. First, payroll, of at least 100 workers, at thousands and thousands of dollars, which includes police officers, sheriff deputies, social workers, homeless shelter workers, etc. Second, you have to get at least three or four bulldozers that rent for thousands upon thousands of dollars per hour. One to two dozen dump trucks to load up to 20 city blocks of tents, and lastly about 12 hours of the day. If some of the homeless go to jail, add on a cell made for two inmates with at least six people in an already over-crowded jail population, at $500 per person, per day! The “crime”: sleeping on the public sidewalk. What about the murders, rapists, and robbers? Huh? Where do you put them? On the streets where they too get re-arrested for, you guessed it: sleeping on the public sidewalk. And the cycle goes on and on and on.
In the 1980s the homeless were called the “street people”. They numbered less than a hundred. Now in 2014, they are called “the homeless.” And there are 14,000 of them. They slept at IHS, in the 1980s, where I later volunteered. Now homeless sleep on the streets again, because there is not enough room in the shelters. The women’s shelter at IHS, at one time, would let homeless women with children, sleep in IHS garage. IHS has now stopped that practice. Now these women, with children, sleep on the streets.
In the 1980’s there were less than 100 homeless children, and were called “street kids”; now there are called “homeless kids.”
Being a “homeless kid” is very embarrassing. The reason some of the “homeless kids” skip school is because they have no place to invite their classmates to play except the “public park.” And because they wear dirty clothes. Soon, the “homeless kids” get found out as being homeless and get teased for being “homeless” by their classmates in school. For these reason the “homeless kids” stop going to school!
This incumbent, this current state senator, in the 12th District, gets a grade of an “F”! Based on his refusal to do what his constituents want. They wanted the homeless, especially in Waikiki, out of Waikiki. For six years he has failed to get the homeless out of Waikiki. And give the people what they want. What they asked him for. They begged him, for years, to get the homeless out of Waikiki. Six years ago his constituents repeatedly begged him to get the homeless out of Waikiki. Six years later the homeless are still in Waikiki. Tell this incumbent, enough is enough, time has run out and we will vote for “Middleton.” Thank You. Six years ago an election was held and the people in this twelfth (12th) District voted for the incumbent. With plenty of time this incumbent has “failed” to solve homelessness problem in Waikiki. There should be no more chances. I believe even with more chances and more years, Waikiki will get worse! Unless you select new leadership. We have had bankruptcies since 2008 and more are on the way in 2014 and beyond. Unless a change is made. Meanwhile, this state senator has spent his time doing other things: Introducing the Gay Marriage Bill and calling for a special session. Many, many people called his office, sent faxes, wrote him, sent emails, and visited his office in person and asked for that measure to be put on the ballot as a question. They said, “Let the people decide”. Hundreds and hundreds stood on the streets and demonstrated. He shut the voters down! We need to shut him down! Kick him out of office! He did what he wanted to do. He refused to get the most important bill, in Hawaii, and in the 21st century, on the ballot. Even many gays wanted it placed on the ballot so they could say, if it passed, that this is what the people wanted. “It was placed on the ballot and no question, this what the people wanted”, they would say. This state senator knew, if placed on the ballot, it would not pass. He decide his vote should replace you and for over 1 million residents! Think of me when you go to vote. Think of how mad you were when this lawmaker took your vote for gay marriage and made it what they wanted it to be. I know I will be thinking of you when I vote for me. I only ask for the same, you to vote for me. On the gay marriage bill, I voted “No”! That is what this campaign is all about. You think of me on voting day; and I will think of you. You vote for me and I will vote for me, too.
I have been working on homelessness since arriving on these islands in 1981. Our task force will end homelessness, in Waikiki. Done. As soon as I get elected, I end homeless, first in Waikiki! On Olelo, in 2008, I warned about the homeless and that if the tourists did not have a good experience that they would not come back and many, many, many of people have not returned because they did not have a good experience. Just like I said. I was right in 2008. And I am right six (6) years later, now in 2014. Here are those two videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYZb0UEDdxo and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES9Bzd-08wY. That doesn’t include the thousands of people, who have written to the editor, in the newspaper; in the last six years, The Honolulu Advertiser; The Honolulu Star Bulletin; and The Honolulu Star Advertiser, negative articles to the editor. They swore that they would never come back. Guess what. We gambled, we lost, they won! They meant it and we are seeing it in loses. Looks like I was right all along. I should get elected!
Up front I will say, when I get elected, our task force will get the homeless out of Waikiki, and put them in housing. If this does not happen quickly, parts of Waikiki will go bankrupt! Don’t tell me it can’t happen because it has already happened with Detroit, Michigan! Those Waikiki hotels need to make millions a day just to break even. It is a known fact that the hotels are having problems getting investors to lend them money using their property as collateral. If you know someone with a small business in Waikiki tell them to shut it down and move it out of Waikiki because Waikiki is losing money! And more loses are on the way!
Many, many, businesses in Waikiki are losing their shirts in business. These businesses have done nothing wrong. Only the strong will survive. And the weak go out of business. Most are having a hard time paying their rent and making payroll, and paying for their inventory. Some are overextended and are posting millions and millions in loses and on the verge of shutting down. Again, these businesses are having losses of thousands and thousands or millions and millions of dollars in loses. This is, or course depending on how much their overhead is.
Early in the mornings 2 a.m.-6 a.m., every morning, the cleaning crews for these businesses go to work with a bucket of soap and water, to clean the front of their stores, cleaning up urination and defecation, cigarettes butts, uneaten food, undrunk soda in soda cans, empty soda cans, empty canned goods cans, litter, from the night before. All night this attracts roaches, ants, flies, rats, mice! They also need to “power-wash” because of the homeless. When I get elected I will fight for Waikiki to have its own urination and defecation bill. Just like I did for Chinatown/Downtown.
This incumbent senator, for 12th senatorial district, which includes Waikiki, has not been doing his job correctly and should be fired! He should not be re-elected! Incumbents get re-elected because they do an outstanding job. This incumbent has not! This 12th District, starting with Waikiki, is a mess! The homeless people have taken over Waikiki! The crown gem of the Pacific, with its multi-million-dollar hotels, has been reduced to abandoned buildings which have attracted homeless people, sleeping in boarded-up buildings and on the sidewalks. Lets not forget there are people with hotel reservations for a hotel room, which costs hundreds of dollars a night, that have to step over the homeless people to get to their hotel rooms. Again, Waikiki is a mess!
Remember, these same hotels, are the same people that are having a hard time getting investors to lend them money using their hotels as collateral. I would not lend them a dime because if they can not fill up their hotel rooms how are they going to pay me back the money that I lend them? The dividend to pay these stockholders and stakeholders, for many, many, many months, is down because occupancy of the hotel rooms have been down.
Working with a small task force group we have finally solved the problem of homelessness. Shortly after my getting elected our task force shall begin to put into practice a way to rid Waikiki of the homeless once and for all. After solving homelessness in my district, I will move on to the next problem that is already waiting. I am not a one-issue candidate. I can do multiple things at once.
4. Where do you stand on labeling genetically engineered food and pesticide regulation? Are these public safety issues, or are the dangers exaggerated?
These are not public safety issues unless you want to include higher prices as safety issues. The danger(s) is/are exaggerated. Here is the choice: With food prepared with GMO the price of groceries will drop, quickly. Without GMO the cost of food will skyrocket. How much are people willing to pay for their food? I will say not a lot.
5. Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest in the country by many indicators. What can really be done to make things like housing, food and transportation less expensive?
I have a plan for them already. The state and/or the city needs to build or buy more affordable housing. And tax money needs to go directly into affordable housing, not the state general fund. The taxes need to come down for developers and builders to build more affordable housing. There is virtually no profit in affordable housing. That tax savings for developers should go immediately into affordable housing, not the general fund. Or if the taxes remain the same than all that tax money collected, without exceptions, should go into more affordable housing. Again, without any diversion. Food can cost less if you stop taxing groceries. Transportation will cost less, without the high taxes, city and state taxes, for gas and diesel fuel. The high taxes on gas and diesel fuel is a crying shame. That is why the cost of food is so too high.
6. Would you support using liquefied natural gas as part of the state’s energy sources? And how can we improve the electrical distribution system so more renewable energy can be utilized to bring costs down?
Yes. The city and or the state are going to have to encourage more electric vehicles. Or, put in another way, the city and/or state needs to push the sale of electric vehicles. And again, solar panels. To the point where orders run high as solar panels did. That is one idea that just took off, because the government gave the manufacturers and taxpayers great discounts.
7. Hawaii’s public records law mandates that public records be made available whenever possible. Yet many citizens are unable to afford the costs that state and local government agencies impose. Would you support eliminating search and redaction charges and making records free to the public except for basic copying costs?
Yes. If the government has files and records on a citizen that citizen should be able to have a copy of it. We want to encourage that. One reason is, what if the records are wrong? That citizen should know and have a hard copy of the file. And especially if the person has a criminal record. What if he or she was acquitted. We want to be sure that record is correct. Or in the case of identity theft. The citizen must have access to the records, at a free cost so that they can repair the damage to their credit report.
8. Are you satisfied with the way Hawaii’s public school system is run? How can it be run better?
Smaller class size, no more than 18 or 19, and the school day needs to end one hour later than now. Also each student should have access to a computer at school.
9. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests?
Cut the taxes. The government needs to start giving rebates.