Hawaii lawmaker sidelines sledgehammer

Hawaii lawmaker sidelines sledgehammer
Published: Nov. 19, 2013 at 6:44 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2013 at 11:49 PM HST
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Tom Brower
Tom Brower

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The telephone in state Rep. Tom Brower's office kept ringing and voicemails kept coming.

"What if I smash his car up with a sledgehammer cause I don't like what I see?" one caller said.

Brower's use of a sledgehammer to disable stolen and abandoned shopping carts to clean up his district struck a nerve and triggered reaction.

"Who do you think you are to go around using a sledgehammer on anything because you think somebody doesn't deserve it?" another caller said.

Brower listened to the messages and then said he would lower the boom.

"I guess I shouldn't use the sledgehammer because it's a really loaded image," he said.

On the street, reaction was more moderate and mixed.

"There's too many carts everywhere. He's taking some action," Genna Nicholson said.

"Doesn't matter either way. He's still destroying someone's property," David Nakatani said.

Even those who don't know who Tom Brower is or what he stands for voiced an opinion.

"Seems like he hates homeless people," Chadwin Mandac said.

Brower said that view of him can't be further from the truth. Going after abandoned shopping carts with a sledgehammer wasn't a commentary on how he views homeless.

"We have perhaps an economic disaster," he said. "Now we need to provide lodging for those people who don't have a place to stay."

Retail Merchants of Hawaii wouldn't comment on Brower's actions, but did say shopping cart retrievals statewide average about 100 a month. Every missing cart costs a merchant money.

"A shopping cart without the security stopper is $100 apiece, and one with a stopper is $300. It's a significant cost for our retailers," Sheri Sakamoto said.

Brower plans to personally answer constructive criticisms. He expected backlash and said the statement he wanted to make has been made.

"I think a lot of positive dialogue is going to come out because I don't know how you ignore this issue anymore," he said.

Brower believes he didn't destroy private property because the carts he disabled were damaged and unusable.  He returned to stores the carts he found that were still in good shape.

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