by Andrew Walden
For years, the online Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, eCrim, has opened a window to the criminal records of Hawaii legislators, political candidates, noisy activists, and crony capitalists. Inquisitive citizens—and reporters--could log on at no charge—and look up criminal records at will. They would be charged $13 only if they wanted to print out a full criminal record for their investigation subject.
But, thanks to changes in the eCrim system, its going to be a lot harder—and more expensive--to check up on the pulsating scrum of low-lifes seeking to game the system in Hawaii. ECrim is dropping the print-out fee to $10, but now charges $5 just to run each search—regardless of whether any results are found.
Under the new fee structure, to check up on all 76 legislators, four mayors, Governor, Lt Governor, and 34 county council members statewide would cost $580—plus an additional $10 to print out the record of the convicted criminals discovered. If each officeholder draws a single opponent, the searches will run $1160—plus printouts. If the average race draws and incumbent and two opponents, a proper election screen will cost $1740—for a service which used to be free of charge. But eCrim does have a special deal for full-time investigators—a $1000 monthly subscription fee—$12,000 per year--for unlimited access to a service which was free-plus-$13 just last month.
The problem stems from the fact that there are some politicians who have no convictions and no record. Without the guarantee of a hit, investigators are required to pay $5 for searches which bring up nothing. The odds will dissuade reporters from running a quick criminal record search on their interview subjects. It will dissuade citizens from checking up on the crony capitalist seeking state approval for a development scheme in their community.
Meanwhile—purely in the interest of saving time and money for fellow investigators--this writer will be obligated to search through the files and make a complete list of the criminal records of all Hawaii’s elected officials and post it online. By doing so, Hawai’i Free Press can help lower the high cost of living by offering citizens a money and time-saving alternative to eCrim. If enough people look at the files, it could materially reduce the inflation rate. It certainly will be a fascinating read—and eye-opening: for instance, do you know which Senator’s street name is “Buzzy G”? Do you know which Senator and which Mayor are convicted cocaine dealers? Which Council Chair’s campaign treasurer was busted as part of a one-metric ton cocaine importation ring?
To see how this plays out in the real world, lets take a look at some lesser targets in two hot current stories: Kauai’s anti-GMO protests and Puna’s pro-and-anti Geothermal activities.
Kauai anti-GMO activist Dustin Barca, a MMA fighter, was quoted September 24, 2013 threatening to “grab” Kauai seed farmers because “these guys are committing murder on our natural resources.” How seriously should farmers take this threat? Barca’s criminal record cost this reporter $5—and about 15 minutes of fumbling with credit card numbers--to search. It appears that Barca has never been convicted of anything under Hawaii state law.
What about pro and anti-Geothermal forces?
Roberta Cabral, founder of geothermal developer “Innovations Development Group”, is well-known for her federal felony fraud convictions stemming from Unity House scams, but what about her state criminal record? $5 later, it turns out she doesn’t have one.
On the anti-geothermal side, Ralph Palikapu Dedman has four convictions—two drug-dealing-related felonies and two petty theft misdemeanors. Under the old system, this cost nothing to check and $13 to print out. Under the new system it costs $5 just to check and another $10 to print out. Here is a pdf of Dedman’s criminal record from 2007. This writer wasted $5 to make sure that Dedman hasn’t been convicted of anything since his 2004 petty theft conviction. Is Dedman worth $5? Lesser investigators might decide he isn’t—and that’s the problem. Another anti-Geothermal leader, Bob Petricci, is also a convicted drug dealer. Petricci’s street name is “BOLO” and he has a criminal record stretching back to 1974 which readers may view HERE.
That’s just two news stories--GMOs and Geothermal. Of the four subjects, three were known criminals, but in spite of this, only one search—Petricci’s--produced useful new information. Under the old system, this exercise would have cost $13, money well spent for a known result. The tally from searching in this target-rich environment: $30—$15 of which produced nothing--and about 1 hour spent typing credit card numbers over and over again. In an environment with fewer known criminals, the wasted cost would be much higher.