Molokai Humane Society Meeting Contentious

As the Molokai Humane Society (MoHS) has experienced rapid growth in recent months, including earning thousands of dollars in donations and hiring a new full-time veterinarian, a group of MoHS members last week expressed their frustration with leadership within the organization.

About 20 people, including 10 MoHS members, attended last week’s board meeting. The majority demanded a new election of board members. The demands followed “months of unrest” within the organization, said Teri Waros, a lifetime MoHS member.

When it comes to the MoHS board, member Julie Lopez said many community members “feel it was appointed, appointed, appointed.”

“The bottom line is we want an election,” she said. “We want the choice to choose.”

However, current board President Matthew Goodrich maintained that the chance for an election passed during MoHS’s annual meeting, held June 20 at Paddlers Inn. Because nobody was on the ballot, he said, board members voted to reappoint the existing board in order to maintain quorum.

The June 20 meeting minutes do not indicate a traditional election was held, nor that it was forgone due to lack of candidates. Goodrich said that was a mistake caused by inexperienced minute-keeping.

However, many community members said that before the June 20 meeting, they were unaware that the annual election would be held.

Other frustrations stemmed from personnel changes that have taken place since June – when MoHS returned from the brink of financial crisis and received thousands of dollars in grants and donations from private donors and Maui County. Some accused the board of acting secretively in dealing with the personnel issues, and expressed concerns about how the money is being spent.

Members also expressed concerns about tracking membership, affordability of care and creating an operations procedure manual.

Goodrich said the board acts as transparently as possible; however, he said they are legally prohibited to address many of the members’ questions because of employee privacy laws. Money given to MoHS must be spent according to the donor’s requests; for example, Debbie Shields, of the Shields Foundation, required $40,000 be spent to create an executive director position. Per her requirements, that money could not be spent otherwise.

Board members, Goodrich said at the start of the meeting, are not paid and are doing “the best that they can.”

“We [MoHS board members and the Molokai community] are on the same side,” which is to serve the animals of Molokai, he said.

Goodrich said he thought it would be difficult to hold the special election sought by some community members. If the entire board stepped down at once, he said, MoHS could not achieve quorum and therefore could not operate, forcing the organization to shut down and start anew.

He said he would discuss the prospect with board members in the coming weeks.

Goodrich said there are currently two open seats on the board. All community members may apply, he said.


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