It saddened me to read the Wailuku Main Street Association chairman's attempt to besmirch my good name and reputation in his slanderous May 5 Viewpoint.
The Viewpoint writer wrongly alleges that I was dismissed from the WMSA board 13 years ago by the board chairperson because I was running for County Council at the time, and that I requested a list of WMSA block captains to use for my campaign.
I did briefly serve on the board of WMSA during the fall and winter of 1999-2000, at the request of a friend, then-board Chairwoman Velma Santos. My due diligence search for information as a board member, which I do in every organization I join, consisted of attempting to understand the function, income and expenses of the organization and led, in this case, to a search for evidence of useful program or function that was being served by the organization, beyond providing employment to staff, other overhead and no-bid contracts for board member consultants. It did not appear to me that the organization was serving much purpose beneficial to the community, beyond holding one annual luncheon meeting where various members of the community and elected officials are honored, along with various political forums for favored candidates every election season and the constant provision of testimony at county meetings which solely expressed the importance of WMSA.
My attempt in early December 2000, at the behest of the mayor, to induce the organization to manage a Christmas event and the occasional street festivals which were the precursors to Wailuku First Friday, toward which the county was willing to fund basic expenses but not large additional overhead, was rejected by the executive director without allowing discussion by the board. The executive director demanded that WMSA be paid a bonus of $30,000 per event, in addition to the actual expenses.
This attitude fortunately led to the re-emergence of the Wailuku Community Association, which truly does have a long history of hard volunteer work benefitting the town.
At a WMSA board meeting early in 2000 where the WMSA budget and grant request to Maui County was being discussed, I made a motion to reduce the amount of funding being requested. The entire budget was to be provided by county tax dollars.
The executive director became enraged and started screaming at me about how she and her assistant (a relative) deserved every penny of their salaries, and one board member asked me to "step outside and settle it like men." The next day I received a letter from the executive director stating that my participation was no longer required. I was happy to part ways with this unusual organization.
I did run once for County Council, but that was in 1998 - more than a year before I joined the WMSA board. I am not aware that the organization did or has ever had block captains, and I am curious what they would do if indeed they ever existed.
* Jonathan Starr is a former Wailuku Main Street Association board member. He lives in Kaupo.