A Turbulent Year for EC
Molokai Enterprise Community Year in Review
By Jennifer Smith
With unprecedented voter turnout, heated public meetings, and an internal review by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2007 marked a year of controversy for the Molokai Enterprise Community’s (EC). The organization, which was meant to stimulate Molokai’s economy, won approximately $10 million in federal funding when it was created in 1998.
The following is a review of some of the highlights from the EC in 2007.
2007 EC in Review
January 31 saw the largest voter turnout in Molokai EC history. With 1,284 official votes, more people turned out to vote in person than did for general elections in 2006. The vote ended in challengers Bridget Ann Mowat and Leila Stone, known anti-development candidates, trouncing opposition by a wide margin.
The February 15 EC board meeting was cancelled when five Ke Aupuni Lokahi (KAL) board members had planned not to attend. It would have been the first assembly to include newly elected board members Mowat and Stone. The five absentees- John Pele, Rikki Cooke, Shannon Crivello, Treasurer Russell Kallstrom, and President Stacy Crivello – are all proponents of Molokai Properties Limited proposed development at La`au Point. The four members who did show for the meeting were anti-development proponents. Official EC board meetings need just five attendees to commence.
The five missing board members showed for the following March 15 meeting voting 5-4 to reappoint two former EC members, Colette Machado and Cheryl Corbiell. The pro-development board members cited “past practices” of replacing vacated seats with people who were runner-ups in recent elections. The meeting also included a heated discussion of the re-opening of project #7, a water moratorium on large scale development. A vote to reopen the project was put off.
The scheduled April 19 EC meeting proved a climactic response to the heated discussions of the previous March 15 meeting. Before the meeting began board president Crivello, announced that the meeting would not proceed as planned. Reading a letter from the project’s federal grantor, the USDA, Crivello revealed that the EC board had been asked to suspend public meetings until the EC actions could be reviewed.
The inquiry was triggered by a community generated petition of 606 signatures, citing misconduct within the EC. It was submitted on April 17.
After six months, the USDA finds that Molokai EC board members had not broken rules. An ethics and conduct workshop is held where pro-development and anti-development board members are critical of each other. A December meeting is planned with a 2008 EC election on the agenda. The stage is set for what is shaping up to be another interesting year for the EC and Molokai community.