Once again, the Wailuku Main Street Association/Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center (WMSA) must correct biased opinions printed in The Maui News (April 19).
After quoting my testimony about two disgruntled former board members, The Maui News sought out three other former board members to make statements about the volunteer board.
In the article, former WMSA Treasurer Carl Griffith alleged he was denied access to financial data, which simply is not true. Our treasurer has access to all financial information and is regularly briefed by our accountant. He was a signer on our bank accounts. Any financial information given to the county was signed off by him and he personally opened all bank statements. The article neglected to mention testimony from our present treasurer, Amy Hanlon, assuring the council that our finances are sound, available to any board member and had received commendation from the independent auditor for being orderly and in full compliance with our county contract.
In the article, Jonathan Starr said that when he was on the board 13 years ago he couldn't gain access to information either. Starr was on the board then a mere five months before announcing his candidacy for County Council. The information he requested and was denied (by then WMSA chairwoman and former Council Member Velma Santos) was a list of our block captains to use for his campaign. Santos wrote Starr noting his absence from meetings and his intention to seek office and releasing him from the board immediately to pursue his political endeavor. Starr did not resign from our board but was dismissed.
While the article gives the hearsay nontestimony of three people who did not attend the council meeting being reported on, The Maui News failed to mention testimony in strong support of WMSA by Don Hibbard, the former head of the State Historic Preservation Office, three Native Hawaiians (two who serve on our board), Judge Artemio Baxa and others and written testimony in support including one letter signed by 28 prominent residents and business people. It seems that if someone may have made some obscure statement against WMSA in the past sometime, they don't even need to testify, as The Maui News will provide their testimony for them.
Previously, The Maui News sensationalized a dispute between National Main Street and WMSA regarding use of the term "Main Street" in our name, insinuating we may not have the right to use the name. Now that we have settled with national and issued a press release noting that settlement, The Maui News even spun that notification (April 20) to detract from this achievement.
WMSA/Tri-Isle has a license to use the name, is a graduate Main Street organization and is the exclusive licensee of the Main Street mark in the entire state of Hawaii for the next 20 years. In relaying this announcement, The Maui News added that we are being investigated by the attorney general's office but failed to note the investigation is not based on probable cause, but rather on the complaint of a disgruntled former board member. Every nonprofit should be concerned that this could happen to them, in spite of clean audits.
This clearly is a coordinated effort by our detractors to harm our 26-year nonprofit in the eyes of the council and to silence a proved voice for common folk and Maui County residents.
The Maui News is acting as the publicist for our opposition instead being a source of truth. The facts are that WMSA has a sound record of achievements as noted in numerous County Council resolutions. We ask the council to please review the facts at www.mauitowns.org, ignore the false innuendo and continue to fund our award-winning nonprofit to achieve further economic revitalization of our small towns and the county in general, within the context of cultural and historic preservation and enhancement.
* Tom Cannon is the chairman of the Wailuku Main Street Association/Tri-Isle Main Street Resource Center.