Tuesday, 01 July 2014 18:45
By 12th Moon,
Council met on Tuesday, June 10 in The Classrooms @ GreenStar for our regular monthly meeting with nine of twelve Council members, four staff, two Council-elect, and one member-owner present. During our announcement period we heard that our affiliate GreenStar Community Projects (GSCP) would host another community networking event in The Space @ GreenStar on Thursday, June 19. We also learned that Britton Dougherty resigned because of her busy schedule working on an organic farm in Interlaken. We will miss her bright and enthusiastic contributions and thank her for her service.
During our member comment time, we heard a request for signage in the stores asking shoppers to curb their cell phone use at the registers and in the dining areas. We also heard complaints regarding the brewing of coffee in our stores and the condition of the coffee grinding area in the Bulk section at our West-End store after customer use.
As is normal, our first item of business, the General Manager's (GM) monthly report came next. Our GM, Brandon Kane, reported that staff are already getting many requests for use of the renovated Space @ GreenStar and that a recent GSCP fundraising event was a big success and a good test of our ability to cater a large group at our facility. Brandon said that liquor license renewals were approved for both stores and that the application for a liquor license for The Space was almost complete, and he hopes for it to be approved by the end of July. He reported that staff will be improving the signage on and painting the façade of The Space, as well as making improvements to the parking lot.
Brandon further reported that renovations will be taking place at both stores. The Dewitt location will be renovating the area that previously housed the bakery into offices and back-stock storage. The West-End store will be receiving a second customer restroom, which will necessitate the temporary closing of the one we currently use. During construction there will be two portable toilets in the parking lot for customer use. After the new restroom is up and operational, repaving of the parking lot will be next (in stages, so as to be less disruptive). Brandon also reported that sales have risen from a low in the first quarter of this year and that staff participation in our Open Book Management (OBM) program has helped to cut some expenses and bring our gross income back up to budgeted predictions. This growth will be very important this year as we also got hit with an estimated $100,000 bill for uncollected past sales tax. During a sales tax audit it was found that when we transitioned to a new computer system back in 2008, some deli and grab-and-go items were not listed as taxable, as they should have been. This tax bill will be offset, we hope, by the continued successes of staff and the OBM program to identify areas for savings and improvements. On a happier note, we learned that total memberships are for the first time ever above 10,000.
Next, I reported back to Council regarding an Immediacies Committee meeting held in conjunction with our regular Executive Planning Committee meeting on May 27. The original agenda item was to discuss real estate negotiations but that item was not ready yet. Instead we received and approved a proposed reallocation of $17,000 to complete the additional restroom project for the West-End store.
We then received the GM's 1st Quarter Financial Monitoring report, which we found to be complete, submitted on time, and in compliance with policy. We received and approved a proposal to amend the 2014 budget to include capital expenditures that were budgeted for the 2013 renovations to The Space and for the central kitchen, but were not invoiced until the beginning of this year.
A proposal to change the name of our Oasis store to GreenStar at Dewitt Mall came next. It's felt that the Oasis name does not identify the store as part of the Co-op, and, with our West-End store and proposed Collegetown stores being identified by location, a name change would both create consistency and help identify the store as a co-op. This discussion was tabled until our August meeting to give us time to receive member-owner feedback. (For more information see Joe Romano's article on page 2 of this issue.) A new lease agreement for the proposed Collegetown Crossings development came next. After the city made some zoning changes to the area, the developers had to redesign the structure, as they lost 15 feet off the back of their planned building. The lease was approved and should be signed by the time you read this, with plans for us to be moved into our new store by July 2016.
After our mid-meeting break, we approved the minutes of our May meeting (with some amendments) and moved on to thank and send well wishes to our two retiring Council Members, Melissa Blake and Scott Morris. We also welcomed our two newest Council Members, Ellen Brown and Sam Frederick. With the seating of new Council Members and the beginning of our Council calendar year, we held our annual disclosure of conflicts of interest, signing statements relevant to that. These will be available on the Council Documents section of the website and will be entered into the Policy Books at both stores.
Officer elections had been postponed until July at our May meeting to give us more time to inform newly elected members of the duties and expectations of officers, and to give additional time for candidates to submit any information they may wish prior to the voting next month.
Lastly, we reviewed our policy C.6 "Officers" and found ourselves in compliance with our policy. We did note that the description of the Secretary's job may need amending, as our Board Administrator, rather than the Secretary, prepares the minutes of our meetings as noted in the description.
By Dan Hoffman,
12th Moon, Kristen Kaplan, Eric Banford, Susan Beckley, Jessica Rossi and Mark Darling finished the counting in just under four hours.
412 Total valid envelopes
21 total invalid = 19- no ID, 1- first of two ballots, 1- no ballot in envelope
Also = 1- name tag, 5- 2 cent slips, 1- Member Labor Request and two wooden nickles.
Two thirds vote required to pass.
Q#1 = PASS
Q#2 = FAIL
Q#3 = PASS
Q#4 = PASS
Q#5 = PASS
Q#6 = PASS
GreenStar member-owners are the only ones who have the power to change the Co-op's bylaws, the organization's most basic and important document. There is an opportunity to do so (or not) during this month — at the Fall Member Meeting, at the stores, or by mail.
GreenStar's Council has established an ad hoc Bylaws Review Committee, which started meeting again earlier this year, after being inactive for at least two years. Council had referred a couple of issues to the committee, which identified several more on its own. In August, Council voted (unanimously, except in the case of #2, below) to send the committee's six recommended bylaws amendments to the membership for a YES or NO vote on each of the following questions:
1. Should the Co-op be allowed to use a withdrawing member's refundable equity contribution [which could be up to $90] to pay off any outstanding debt the member has to the Co-op (such as for bad checks)?
2. Should all Council candidates and members be required to satisfy any requirements associated with operational licenses maintained or sought by the Co-op (such as to sell or serve alcohol)?
3. Should Council be allowed to conduct closed executive sessions for two additional topics — possible litigation or contract negotiations?
4. Should the composition of Council's Immediacies Committee be changed to match that described in Council policy, and that of the Executive Planning Committee?
5. Should the use of gender-specific pronouns (such as "he" or "she") be eliminated in the bylaws?
6. Should three "clerical errors" made when the bylaws were amended in 2010 be officially corrected?
Much more information on the proposed amendments, including detailed explanations, pro and con statements and voting instructions, are available in the Fall Member Mailing, which all current members should receive in the mail by October 6. Members can vote up until close of business on Oct. 31 at either store, by mailing in the ballot from the Mailing, or in person at the Fall Member Meeting, on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Space.
By Alexis Alexander,
I have woken to a new day, a day when GreenStar's annual Member Meetings and pancakes are defined as pure elegance and inspiration. Surprised?
The morning after our Fall Member Meeting, I'm entranced by the experience of last night. I realize how far GreenStar has come over the years, and how integral and essential a partner we are in the wider regional food movement before us. Our roots as a buying club and grain store have matured into a multimillion-dollar community-based cooperative that affords us the ability, and the responsibility, to bring "real food," as Marketing Manager Joe Romano would say, back to a broader spectrum of our local and regional community. Read more...