Friday, February 2, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 2, 2001

Fingerprints draw a blank for Kailua business owner

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

If Martha Harding weren’t a successful business owner, she could consider a career in crime.

Harding, it seems, has no fingerprints. She has all of her digits, but none of them registers on the ink pad.

The vice president of Cisco’s Cantina in Kailua said she didn’t know that her fingers had no distinguishing characteristics until she was asked to be fingerprinted by the Honolulu Liquor Commission. Harding’s company was selling its Mililani Cisco’s Cantina and retaining the Kailua establishment and the commission’s rules require license holders to be printed.

The prints are sent to the state attorney general’s office and the FBI for a criminal history check. Liquor laws prohibit a convicted felon from holding a license.

Harding has held a liquor license for 20 years, but only since 1999 has the commission required the fingerprint check.

She was printed twice by the Liquor Commission’s staff, but each time the prints were unreadable.

"I have no idea if I’ve never had or if this is something (that happened) over time. But they’re nonreadable. Every finger. I just think I’ve worked my fingers to the bone," Harding said.

Harding yesterday was granted a pardon from the fingerprint process. At the hearing, commission chairman John Spierling called her the "ideal thief."

"I have a whole new career coming up," Harding said. "What’s really ironic is on the Mainland I used to be a deputy sheriff in a little county in Idaho and I used to do fingerprints."

But don’t look for Harding to start holding up banks. She is happy as a business owner and recently was named Small Business Person of the Year by Small Business Hawaii.

"It’s my honest face that’s gotten me through," she said with a laugh.

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