Colette Machado, enough is enough

Colette Machado is known for being a bulldog when it comes to fighting for Hawaiian rights. Whether it is alongside activists halting cruise ships from visiting Molokai, or tenaciously acquiring grants and other resources for the community, Colette Machado has proven herself an effective leader.

Her seats, as trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), President of the newly formed Molokai Land Trust, and board member on the Molokai Enterprise Community (EC) demonstrate her determined spirit and commitment to leadership.

But anyone who has fought alongside, or, heaven forbid, fought against Colette Machado, knows that her style of communication can sometimes be characterized as loud, outspoken and, in many cases, rude. Colette Machado’s blunt nature, though sometimes effective in argumentative situations, can be one of her greatest weaknesses, especially when her position requires her to represent the wishes of others.

At a recent Molokai Enterprise Community (EC) meeting, she proclaimed that she “would never” change her mind about her support of the La`au Point development, and that it didn’t matter what other people said or wanted.

In that single moment, Colette Machado went from being less of a community leader to more of a tyrannical ruler.

Of the community members at the meeting, some were noticeably angered by the statement, while many others remained indignantly silent, swearing to one day get even.

That day came on January 31 when almost 1,300 Molokai citizens came out to vote at the EC election. Machado suffered a severe loss, garnering just 29% of the overall vote – that’s 10% lower than President Bush’s approval rating.

It’s notable that the EC election attracted more voters than all Molokai precincts combined on general election day in 2006.

But the story doesn’t end here. EC board member, Zhantel Dudoit resigned on the same day of the EC election; while former EC board member, Walter Ritte, had been removed from the board months earlier for non-participation. Their absences left two additional open seats on the EC board.

Like trump cards, EC administrators purposely withheld these two seats from the election process citing timing as well as the organization’s right to appoint 45% of its board members.

At last Thursday’s highly controversial EC board meeting, pro-development board members made their move. In a 5-4 vote Colette Machado was reappointed. She’s baa-ack!

While EC Executive Director Abbey Mayer can argue “continuity” for bringing Machado back, her very presence at EC board meetings incites frustration and discontent amongst the same public which voted her out.

Colette Machado should be praised for her impressive track record of empowering Molokai people, and she should continue to do so through the Molokai Land Trust and as OHA trustee. But when it comes to representing the people of Molokai through the EC, Machado should concede to EC election results and either support the community’s non-development standpoint, or graciously decline her seat on the EC board. The people have spoken – enough is enough.


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