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Mayor Tavares And Molokai Council Member Mateo Respond To Ranch Closure

Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Molokai Council Member Danny A. Mateo comments on today’s announcement by Molokai Properties that the company will be shutting down a majority of its operations effective April 5, 2008.

Mayor Tavares:

“The impact on the community will be quite serious. I’m concerned for the employees and families that are affected. This is devastating news and they will be the ones who will feel it the most.

While I have great faith in the tenacity and resiliency of the people of Molokai, I am concerned about their economic future.

For an island that has the state’s highest unemployment rate, this adds to an already stressful employment situation. We’ll be looking for ways that the county, state and non-profit community can provide support to the workers and their families. My staff has been informed that the state’s Workforce Development Division and the state Unemployment Insurance Office are expected to send a rapid response team to Molokai in the next few days to meet with the affected employees.

We’ll also be examining closely existing agreements that the county has in place with the company to ensure that responsibilities are met.

Economically, this will be a difficult time for Molokai. Although the company’s decision is very disheartening, this is also an opportunity where the Molokai community can look at options for sustainability that the majority of the people would wholeheartedly support."

Council Member Danny A. Mateo (Molokai Seat):

“Finding work on-island for the many people who will lose their jobs is next to impossible. I’m concerned about potential foreclosures of homes and other immediate impacts to those affected. I see this as really impacting not just the company’s employees that are directly affected, but being detrimental to the visitor industry on Molokai and the cottage industries that are tied to it. There’s the rodeo arena, theater, gas station, and grocery store – all operated by Molokai Ranch.

This is so unfortunate and disappointing. With it being final, it seems to be a mean-spirited conclusion to punish a community that isn’t ready to deal with the type of project the company wanted. A project that didn’t fit. To subject the community to increased economic hardship is unfortunate. Bringing about economic woe to a community that already has next to zero employment opportunities is terrible.

I am concerned about the company’s existing obligation to provide affordable housing. As a land owner, they also need to tell us what the status will be with existing leases the County has with different parks. Such as Kaunakakai Ball Park, Papohaku Beach Park, the community center, and others.


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