It’s hard to convey exactly how dire it is over at the Wailuku Main Street Association (WMSA). Let’s start with the fact that the County of Maui is holding their most recent $243,000 grant hostage. That means the WMSA has no money coming in, which would doom any nonprofit out there. But when you add the fact that the state Attorney General’s office is investigating the WMSA for all manner of bad behavior (including mismanagement of their taxpayer-funded grants, violations of numerous bylaws and alleged political activity that could ultimately doom their tax status), things being to look absolutely apocalyptic.
But don’t feel bad for WMSA board chairman Tom Cannon. The guy is a rock. You’ve all seen Monty Python And The Holy Grail, right? Well, Cannon is the unflappable Black Knight. Even if you chop off his arms, he just counters with, “It’s just a flesh wound!”
Anyway, with all that money not coming into WMSA, Cannon (who says he had to lay off longtime executive director Jocelyn Perriera), has had to make some cuts. Apparently, that includes lease payments on their old Wailuku office, which surprised Jonathan Starr, the former WMSA board member who owns the building the organization was leasing.
“They have a lease that runs for a while, until next January,” Starr said. “They said they can unilaterally cancel a lease. It’s unusual–I’ve never had a tenant say that they can cancel a lease without permission from the landlord.”
Starr said their reason for doing so was simple: Because Starr and his wife Helen Nielsen “outwardly and publicly demonized” and “publicly defamed the honorable reputation” of the WMSA in both Maui County Council hearings and in a letter to The Maui News, they–and not the WMSA itself–negated the terms of the lease.
“It’s kinda peculiar,” Starr said. Cannon did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Photo of Black Knight’s helmet: Wikimedia Commons