Response Letter to Walter Ritte, Hui Ho`opakele Aina

Dear Editor,

This is in response to the letter of  December 21, 2006 you published from Walter Ritte which contained erroneous personal attacks on me as a KAL (The Molokai EC) Board member.  To Walter I say that I normally would respect one’s opinions on the issues at hand, but when you chose to make untrue personal attacks, your integrity becomes questionable.


The headline to your letter was “USDA asked to investigate Ke Aupuni Lokahi.”  I encourage and welcome any type of investigation that involves government funds.  Molokai is the recipient of millions of dollars of government monies. As president of KAL, I am confident that we have been diligent in our efforts to disburse the funds our EC has received for worthy projects.  As a board, we also consider the efforts of projects to sustain themselves after receiving grant monies.  Molokai’s EC designation also provides opportunities for projects to leverage federal monies that would not be otherwise  available for projects/programs.


Walter Ritte, please note that since the EC’s inception, you served as a KAL Board member for seven years until your recent severance this past fall.  Since 1999, your Fishpond Project received $137,000.00 of EC funds.  In addition to these funds, your projects received over $1,861,252.00 of federal, state and private funds that I am aware of and undoubtedly much more over the years.  Do the math – almost two million dollars!  Is this questionable?  Has the investment of taxpayers’ monies created and sustained employment or any productive sustainable use of our island’s fishponds? 


Walter, in your letter you mention questionable actions taken by me as KAL board chairperson.  I can in good conscience say, my actions in no way have been compensated by my personal gain. You need to be reminded that not all people who involve themselves in community efforts have personal agendas.


I put this question to you.  Over the years, from your personal involvements, what agreements or potential agreements have you made, including with private developers, cruise ship corporations, and public and private funds, to financially benefit yourself, close family members and organizations you head?

The KAL board is made up of responsible community volunteers and your insults of individuals and our efforts are not accurate or appreciated.  Allow me to set the record straight on my role as an EC/KAL board member:

  • July 2002:  The non profit contracted to administer the EC had conflicts with the board and chose to no longer staff KAL in violation of its contract.  KAL started the process to terminate our contract with that entity.  Although we had no paid staff, KAL fulfilled its obligations to manage the EC and to meet USDA requirements.  This was accomplished solely by volunteers, including myself.
  • June 2003:  KAL received IRS designation as a 501©3 non profit corporation.  We were unable to obtain financial and other important records from the previously contracted non-profit and were forced to move forward without these documents from the prior years as an EC.
  • January 2003 to August 2004:  KAL operated on volunteer basis with myself as volunteer chairperson (elected by the KAL board) and volunteer Executive Director.  Loke Gandeza served as a temporary office clerk.
  • August 2003:  The search for an Executive Director for KAL was publicized and conducted through the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, which the KAL board had selected to handle employment and human resource matters.
  • January 2004:  KAL hired an Executive Director.
  • February 2004:  KAL hired an Administrative Assistant.
  • March 2004:  The Executive Director left the employ of KAL.
  • March 2004 to August 2004:  While serving as board chair, I served as an unpaid interim Executive Director to assist staff in the day-to-day operations of the office.
  • August 2004:  KAL interviewed for the Executive Director’s position (Walter, you were part of the interview panel).  No candidates were able to meet KAL’s requirements.  I continued as unpaid interim Executive Director.
  • November 2004:  As an unpaid interim Executive Director, I requested a financial and management audit of the EC by a reputable CPA firm.  One of the audit recommendations was to hire a paid Executive Director.  The KAL board requested that I apply for the position.  This meant that I would need to step down as a board member.  I agreed to a paid temporary position on the basis that I would retain my role as a KAL board member once a permanent Executive Director was hired.  As you are well aware, the board supported these terms.
  • March 2005 to August 2005:  I served five months as a paid temporary Executive Director and my pay was the lowest compensation of any of KAL’s paid staff.  The normal recruitment salary ranged from $45,000 to $60,000 per year and I received less than twenty per cent of that amount.
  • August 2005:  The EC staff continued to operate with a Project Administrator, Project Coordinator and an Administrative Assistant.
  • September 2005:  I return as agreed to my role as a KAL board member and reelected to board chairperson.  I continued to serve as unpaid interim Executive Director.
  • April 2006:  KAL hired a permanent Executive Director.

KAL continues to support our EC projects with the annual USDA funds of approximately $169,000.00.  As an EC Board member, you were informed that the original level of funds was reduced by previous Congressional approvals.


We may not agree on the issues, but you can surely agree that the process KAL facilitated included an enormous effort to reach out to all segments of the community. The Community-Based Land Use Plan that KAL concluded to support, institutes a plan developed by Molokai’s people. The EC facilitated the planning process; the EC has no power to implement the plan; the government regulators have that power.


Stacy Helm Crivello

Molokai EC/KAL Board President


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