MacDonald volunteers to take the lead at KEDB

LIHU’E – No nationwide search was conducted to find an interim president and chief executive officer for the Kauai Economic Development Board after its former leader, Gary Baldwin, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dr. Bruce MacDonald, a vice president of Kaua’i-based high-technology telecommunications firm Loea, is volunteering to take over temporarily.

“I believed in what KEDB is trying to do,” the organization’s members helped him personally and professionally when he arrived on the island a few years ago, MacDonald said.

Baldwin remains “a good friend of mine,” and he would hate to see KEDB damaged by the fallout of the Baldwin arrest, said MacDonald of his reasons for volunteering to take over the leadership of KEDB.

Baldwin was KEDB president and CEO at the time of his arrest, and MacDonald is now acting KEDB president and CEO.

After Baldwin’s arrest, on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, KEDB executive board members realized they needed an action plan to continue the organization’s work, either temporarily or permanently, without Baldwin’s presence, said MacDonald.

Moves have been made to keep KEDB moving forward, making sure existing contracts are carried out, and to assure customers and citizens that the work of KEDB will continue uninterrupted, MacDonald said.

Baldwin remains a paid, full-time employee of KEDB, but does not represent KEDB in public, signs no checks, and has no access to financial resources of the nonprofit corporation, MacDonald said.

MacDonald felt it wasn’t fair to render Baldwin jobless in his time of crisis, and keeping him on staff allows KEDB and MacDonald to take advantage of Baldwin’s “enormous corporate memory,” said MacDonald.

“He’s not guilty until he’s found guilty,” he said.

Baldwin is working out of his North Shore home, out on $274,000 bail while awaiting extradition to Arizona to face fraud and theft charges.

MacDonald is listed as KEDB’s 2002 board secretary, secretary of the board’s Executive Committee, chair of the Education Committee, chair of the Compensation Committee, and member of the Property Development & Management Committee.

The KEDB, as a recipient of state and federal funds for various projects and programs, is subject to strict governmental auditing and reporting procedures.

An independent audit was ordered by the board after Baldwin’s arrest, MacDonald said. MacDonald gets monthly KEDB financial statements, and said he is certain there are no problems with KEDB accounting.

“The board has every confidence that there are no irregularities,” he said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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