Annual Events On the Line

Community Contributed

The 2011 Christmas “Happy Holidays Molokai Style” events are in jeopardy or may be canceled. The Molokai Chamber Foundation (MCF) may be forced to suspend the events due to the pending untimely legal petition, filed by the Molokai Chamber of Commerce (COC) against MCF. Our programs are designed to positively touch the lives of our community from keiki to kupuna.
Rob Stephenson, president of COC, came to see me twice with a request for MCF to change its name. COC’s board had concerns about liability issues because of the similarity in the two organization’s names; however, I advised Rob that the MCF board has board liability insurance.
After Rob’s visits, Ray Foster, chair of the COC board, came to my office on May 10 to inform me that a petition was filed with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), to take legal action against MCF for infringement of its name.
Prior to this legal action, COC did not ask for both boards to meet to see if a resolution can be reached, nor did COC advise MCF that if we did not agree to a name change, then COC would take legal action.
We were blindsided by COC’s petition. It now places the county’s Office of Economic Development grant to fund the Christmas parade, hoolaulea and senior gala in jeopardy. It also affects our ability to apply for other grants that supported past events.
A name change at this time consists of submitting an application to the DCCA to form a new nonprofit organization. Once the DCCA approves this application, a letter to the IRS is generated requesting a name change. The timeline for both actions is uncertain.

If the IRS does not accept a name change but instead request we submit an application applying for a new 501(c)3 status, then it’s a whole new ball game. The December events will definitely be canceled, since the grant’s required attachment is a letter from the IRS with the nonprofit determination, in this case the 501(c)3. Currently, we are unable to secure any entertainment and activities for the December events because of unsure grant funding.

This is not pono, not Molokai way of doing business. Pono would be the two boards meet, discuss the issue and seek resolution, not file legal papers without first warning the other side of its intent if a resolution is not met.

Barbara Haliniak, president; Judy Egusa, vice president; Renee Montizor, secretary/treasurer; Connie Sakata, director.


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