Court hearing on future of Wailuku Main Street delayed
WAILUKU – A court hearing has been postponed until September on a motion to judicially dissolve the embattled nonprofit Wailuku Main Street Association Inc./Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center.
On Wednesday, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza rescheduled the hearing to Sept. 4. More time was requested by Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones, who was on Oahu and unable to be on Maui for the hearing because Tropical Depression Flossie changed his travel plans.
In addition to dissolving the organization, the state is asking the court to appoint a receiver to marshal and distribute all remaining WMSA assets.
Since 2002, WMSA received more than $2.2 million in Maui County grants. According to court records, the association had less than $13,000 in liquid assets in January.
In June, Jones said in a motion that WMSA had been deemed “insolvent.” By then, all of its directors had resigned. Months earlier, the association shuttered its offices and laid off all of its staff.
In an email statement to The Maui News following Wednesday’s hearing, former WMSA Chairman Thomas Cannon said: “I am disappointed that the brief Flossie weather event was used to delay the WMSA hearing.”
In court, Cannon objected to postponing the hearing, noting that each time he appears at court it takes time away from his work as an architect. He said that if he and others in the courtroom could appear Wednesday then Jones should have been there, too.
Cannon also told Cardoza that he objected to still being named as a “respondent” on court documents even though he has resigned from WMSA.
Nevertheless, Cannon said he appeared in court to correct “false information” from Jones.
For example, Cannon pointed out that Jones had said that Cannon “refused” under oath to say where the assets of WMSA were being held. He said he was acting in concert with the WMSA board, which long before his deposition voted to keep the location of the assets confidential and only known to the executive board for security reasons.
During Cannon’s explanation, Cardoza reminded him that the merits of the motion would be argued at a later date.
The motion to dissolve WMSA is a culmination of a state Department of the Attorney General investigation of WMSA. In a preliminary report released in September, the attorney general said that WMSA may have violated federal tax requirements and that its board failed to follow its bylaws and did not keep close tabs on its longtime executive director, Jocelyn Perreira.
Perreira was laid off with the rest of the staff due to funding issues related to the attorney general’s probe, according to WMSA.
Then on Oct. 26, Maui County notified WMSA that it was terminating the association’s current $243,000 grant, which was the agency’s main source of funding. WMSA has received about $60,000 of that grant.
In December, the association’s former landlord sought legal action over nearly $10,000 in unpaid rent and other fees.
In May, the county filed suit claiming the organization violated its county grant agreement and should return more than $11,000 worth of personal property bought with county funds and any remaining funds obtained under the grant.
Several days after the county’s lawsuit, the attorney general threatened legal action to dissolve the organization if its leaders did not do so voluntarily.
The remaining directors resigned after the attorney general sent the letter to the organization, according to court records.
Throughout the investigation and legal challenges, Cannon has denied any wrongdoing by the association. It was formed to revitalize small towns.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.