My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Puna’

News from Hawaii: Census taker absolved of trespassing charge

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The Star Advertiser reports the following:

The Hawaii County prosecutor’s office agreed yesterday to dismiss a trespassing charge against a census worker who had been arrested after a Puna resident refused to participate in the survey.

The county also said it will cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau to prevent similar situations in the future.

“We came to the conclusion that this was the better way to resolve this,” said Kevin Hashizaki, deputy county prosecutor.

Big Island police arrested census taker Russell J. Haas, 57, on March 10 at a home in Puna after the resident, an off-duty police officer, declined to answer questions and asked him to leave the property.

The resident called police, who arrested him for trespassing. “I tried to explain it to them. They didn’t want to hear it. They told me to get the hell out of there,” Haas said yesterday.

Haas had been charged with second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $1,000 fine.

“I hope this never happens to any other census worker, any place, any time,” Haas said.

A federal judge in Honolulu dismissed the case, which had been transferred from state court, yesterday.

Hashizaki said continuing to prosecute the case would have required bringing four to five witnesses to Oahu yesterday for a hearing to oppose dismissal of the charge. And if the county was successful, those witnesses would be brought back to Oahu for trial.

“We’re very happy that this was resolved the way it was,” said Jamey Christy, Los Angeles regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We learned a lot.” Christy said he believes local authorities also learned a lot.

Christy said guidance and procedures for census workers are scripted and that they are the same for census workers across the country. He said there might be room for adjustment for each location.

He also said a way to prevent such incidents is for census officials to have discussions with local officials in advance.

That would include meetings with county police chiefs, said Larry L. Butrick, assistant U.S. attorney.

Haas said he had been working the Puna area for at least a month when police arrested him. He continued collecting census data after his arrest.

Note: Haas continued collecting census data after his arrest. Isn’t this a violation of the Bureau’s own policies?



Strange incident of the day #1: Census worker bullied in Hawaii; Feds step in on side of worker

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

From Hawaii (full story HERE):

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

A federal census worker on the Big Island was arrested for trespassing after he unsuccessfully tried to get a Puna resident to accept census forms in March.

Now the federal government has filed court papers to take the case out of the hands of Hawai’i County authorities, saying the census worker was performing his federal duties and is immune from state prosecution.

According to documents filed in federal court yesterday, the incident took place March 10 after census worker Russell J. Haas arrived at a fenced residential lot in an unspecified Puna subdivision.

Haas said in a written report that the area is “inhabited by diverse variety of people, most (of whom) live there because of the privacy allowed by the jungle environment and crummy roads.”

Haas said there were no signs on the fence, so he rolled open the driveway gate and entered the property. He said he closed the gate behind him to keep “loose but not threatening dogs inside the fence.”

Haas said he walked about 10 to 15 feet onto the lot when a man came out of the garage and said, “Please leave the property.”

Haas said he identified himself and was wearing his identity badge around his neck, and told the man he wanted to give him his census questionnaire.

When the man again asked Haas to leave, Haas asked him to come to the gate and accept the paperwork, saying he would leave the material on the gate.

The resident said, “I’ll call the cops,” and Haas said, “Fine, I’ll wait by the gate,” Haas wrote in a report on the incident.

While Haas was outside the gate and speaking to the man about the importance and value of completing the census forms, the man reached into his pants pocket and a badge fell out “onto the driveway,” Haas wrote.