KIFB demands retraction, apology

LIHU‘E — A legal representative of Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank is demanding a retraction and apology for a columnist’s statements published in MidWeek, a Star-Advertiser weekly publication.

A letter to MidWeek’s publisher prepared by attorney David Proudfoot on behalf of KIFB itemizes a list of “untrue and defamatory statements and their innuendos” made in “four offending articles” written by columnist Bob Jones and published in four separate editions of MidWeek between Aug. 10 and 25, including two editions on Kaua‘i and two on O‘ahu.

“These articles, published as a weekly column by Mr. Jones titled ‘Just Thoughts’ … promoted by (Dick) Grimm with the tacit or expressed permission of Hawai‘i Food Bank, Inc. and published by MidWeek have done immense damage to the reputation and business of my client and its hardworking employees and volunteers,” Proudfoot states in the letter.

Proudfoot demands a retraction, a public apology, removal of the articles from MidWeek’s website and that KIFB be given equal space in MidWeek to respond. Failure to comply, writes Proudfoot, means his client will “feel free to take any all appropriate legal remedies available to it.”

The Garden Island was unable to reach MidWeek’s editor-in-chief before press time.

“Some of the untrue and defamatory statements and their innuendos,” Proudfoot wrote, are as follows:

1. “When KFB (aka KIFB) no longer met Hawai‘i Food Bank affiliation rules, HFB paid off all of its debts,” Jones wrote.

Proudfoot’s response: “When HFB abandoned Kaua‘i in 1994, there was no KIFB. Before HFB left Kaua‘i, the operating entity was Hawai‘i Food Bank – Kaua‘i Branch. It was solely owned and solely administered by HFB … All debts existing when HFB left Kaua‘i were HFB’s own, not KIFB’s.”

2. “HFB made every effort to salvage KFB, even though it had an annualized cash shortfall of $90,664,” Jones wrote.

Proudfoot’s response: “When HFB abandoned Kaua‘i in 1994, there was no KIFB … All debts existing when HFB left Kaua‘i were HFB’s own, not KIFB’s.”

3. “The books show KIFB was charging agencies to which it distributed food $1.68 per pound,” Jones wrote. “The money for that food came from local donors, such as the G.N. Wilcox Foundation.”

Proudfoot’s response: “KIFB charges between 14 cents and 18 cents per pound for shared maintenance fees … The G.N. Wilcox Grant Annual Report for these funds shows that the average service fee per pound for food was 15 cents per pound.”

4. “Some food banks in America charge up to 18 cents per pound as a service fee,” Jones wrote. “Hawai‘i Food Bank does not charge anything.”

Proudfoot’s response: “The Hawai‘i Food Bank IRS 990 form for the period ending June 30, 2009, indicates that (it) charged a total of $650,852 in service fees to its agencies.”

5. “KIFB has been paying its executive director $84,000 a year, despite the red ink problems,” Jones wrote.

Proudfoot’s response: “It is true that KIFB’s Executive Director currently earns approximately $84,000 per year … The addition of the words ‘despite the red ink problems,’ which do not exist, makes this statement defamatory.”

6. “… Kaua‘i Fresh, a food business owned and operated by members of the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank,” Jones wrote.

Proudfoot’s response: “Kaua‘i Fresh is a registered trade name of KIFB.”

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