Tuesday, 05 October 2010 01:21
Council Addresses Governance; Discusses Use of New Property
By 12th Moon,
At our regular monthly meeting on September 14, Council, after working through our agenda and hearing from a special guest, adjourned ten minutes early. Really, that’s big news.
The Interim General Manager’s (IGM) monthly report was our first item on the agenda. We heard from IGM Brandon Kane about plans to make improvements at both stores, clean up the property we now own at 700 West Buffalo Street, initiate improvements to our recycling and composting, as well as supporting a local television show entitled “Get Foodie” that will air on PEGASYS local access and online. Look for a link on this GreenStar web site. We also learned that GreenStar welcomed 230 new members last month. Hello, welcome, and we hope to see you all at our Fall Membership Meeting to be held at the Women’s Community Building on West Seneca Street, from 6 to 8:30 pm on Oct. 21 (see the agenda below).
Next, our Finance Committee reported back to Council regarding the IGM’s 2nd Quarter 2010 Financial Report. The fluctuating economy and associated changes in people’s food purchasing choices during the last year have presented some challenges to staff as they prepare our 2011 budget and look for more ways to bring great deals to our customers. We are glad to see how well the stores have been doing, especially Oasis, and wish to recognize staff for all the dedication and work that it takes to keep GreenStar vibrant and healthy.
Continuing to look toward next year, we discussed our projected needs and known expenditures to date as we started the process of compiling our Council 2011 Budget. We will be reviewing our 2010 Budget against our actual expenditures over the following two months as we also look at additional trainings that we may wish to participate in during the next year.
A major endeavor of Council’s has been the investigation of improvements we could make to our governance system or the adoption of a totally different model of governance. We have identified some issues with our current system and are planning a special Council meeting to conduct some practice exercises using the Policy Governance model of policy writing in order to be more informed prior to making any decision to instigate changes. (For more information regarding this topic, please see the September issue of GreenLeaf and the two governance articles on the front page of this issue.)
We next discussed an issue that has been problematic for us over the last few years: the producing of our meeting minutes in a timely fashion. It has been the norm that our minutes are quite lengthy, with most of our individual comments and questions represented along with the exact wording of the presentation or proposal that we are discussing. The amount of time and paper this process has taken as well as the attention to detail, and subsequent clarification necessitated has resulted in our lack of approved minutes for the last few months. As we look to clear up our backlog of as yet unapproved minutes we will also be testing out whether we can focus more on the actual proposals, amendments and voting records than on the individual air time of those present.
After our mid-meeting break, we met and talked with Debbie Suassuna of Cooperative Development Services (CDS) who was in town conducting part of the research work we had contracted to have done regarding possible uses of our new property across Buffalo Street. Many interesting ideas, possible scenarios, concerns and questions were voiced as Debbie explained the processes used to compile research data that will be compared with known data from as many as 100 other co-ops. It’s very exciting to imagine all of the diverse ways our new property could be utilized, and with the information we will receive in the research report we expect to work with staff to focus on the most reasonable direction to work toward. The research work results should be available for our Expansion Committee to review at its October meeting and may be a topic on our October Council agenda.
Six Councilmembers volunteered to serve as the official tellers during the October bylaws changes voting period, to oversee the voting areas and ballot boxes at both stores and to conduct the counting of all ballots. Voting takes place from October 1 through October 30. Please contribute to the Co-op and express your opinions by reading the explanations and specific changes recommended, and then by voting at either store, at the Fall Membership Meeting on October 21 or by mailing in the ballot provided in the Fall Member Mailing.
Council also amended and then authorized a Findings Report to members regarding Council’s 2010 Self-Evaluation. The evaluation tool used was an extensive online survey that covers most aspects of Council’s work. As a result, the raw data alone can be difficult to interpret directly. We have retained Kirby Edmonds to draw out trends (both from the questionnaire and over the last three years), which you will see reported on in a future issue of GreenLeaf.
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
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...