Hey, I would to if she spent the last year kicking my non-profit association’s ass all over the island with a series of stories detailing the County of Maui’s increasingly pointed and critical attempts to find out what, exactly, the 25-year-old Wailuku Main Street Association (WMSA) does with the grant monies it gets (which provide 100 percent of its funding).
Anyway, Chairman Tom Cannon (who wouldn’t even talk to me years ago after I wrote a story critical of the WMSA that quoted Jocelyn Perreira, the organization’s executive director) is an architect and chairman of WMSA. I can’t fault the guy for being a bit miffed when The Maui News keeps writing hard-hitting stories about public criticism against WMSA, a pending lawsuit, county officials asking for financial specifics or, today, about how the state Attorney General’s office has decided to start a formal investigation into allegations that the WMSA has violated the state law governing non-profits.
WMSA officials like Cannon have repeatedly denied any and all wrongdoing. Still, I wasn’t too surprised to read in Loomis’ Feb. 23 story that “Cannon said he would only respond to questions if The Maui News assigned ‘a fair journalist’ to the story” and that “He maintained that past coverage has been biased and untrue.”
Bashing the reporter’s credibility is an old and tired tactic. But what did surprise me was my own independent discovery that Cannon made fun of Loomis’ NAME in a letter he wrote to County Planning Director Will Spence back on Jan. 30.
Brief back story: the county has lately begun asking WMSA officials for specifics on how they’re spending the county’s grant money. WMSA (usually in letters signed by Cannon) has responded that this constitutes “micro-managing” and divulging such information would “betray” the trust given to WMSA, which claims to assist individuals who wish to remain anonymous with assistance in getting their development projects through the county planning department.
To illustrate their reasoning, Cannon outlined the following detailed hypothetical situation to Spence in his Jan. 30 letter:
“For example, to illustrate, suppose an individual (Ramod Watt) came to the County with a request that changes to a streetscape be made so that he would be able to visit stores that were inaccessible due [to] various obstructions in the public way, and your department agreed and paid for plans to be created to address Mr. Watt’s concern. Then, prior to implementation of the plans, a merchant who would be personally affected by the plans (say a Mr. Star Hu) comes to you saying that he doesn’t want to have the change made, and you agree to delay or cancel implementation. Then, a Maui News reporter (Ilama Doe Gno) writes an article in support of Mr. Hu’s position that includes [a] statement from you or your staff. Would you inform your funding source (the Council) specifically about your meetings with Watt, Whu, and I. Doe Gno? We think not. And, if you would not be willing to disclose the details of your conversations, as a public official, why do you think it appropriate for us to disclose our private consultations, when we are not a public agency?
Let’s leave aside the logical discontinuities and contempt for the democratic process inherent in Cannon’s hypothetical illustration. But “Ilama Doe Gno” (Or more accurately, “I. Doe Gno”)?
Get it? The reporter’s name is I. Doe Gno!
I Don’t Know!
Is that just precious?
Seriously, Cannon, you must have real problems if you’re reduced to ridiculing a reporter’s name in official correspondence with the County of Maui.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons