Council News October, 2010

Council Addresses Governance; Discusses Use of New Property

By 12th Moon, 

Council President

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.



Next Council Meeting

Tuesday, August 11,
6:30 - 9:30 pm

The Classrooms @ GreenStar
(Former Enterprise Building)
702 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca

Members always welcome!

Possible Agenda Items:


  • Proposed Interpretations of Oct. 2014 Meat Referendum
  • Select Tellers for Oct. Bylaws Amendment Vote
  • Council Monitoring of Policy C.7, "Council Committees"
  • GM's B.14, "Legal Matters and Contracts" Monitoring Report
  • GM's B.9, "GM Succession" Monitoring Report

NOTE: Agenda is tentative and subject to change. To confirm items, see actual agenda posted here and at the stores six days before the meeting.

  • By Alexis Alexander,
Membership Manager

    ballot-boxIn October, member-owners have the opportunity to vote on six bylaws changes being proposed by Council. GreenStar's bylaws, the rules that govern the internal management of the Co-op, were originally established when GreenStar was incorporated. According to our bylaws, one of the essential rights of member-owners is the ability to vote on the creation and changes to the bylaws and mission statement.

    Unfortunately, GreenStar, like many co-ops, suffers from very poor voter turnout relative to the number of member-owners. For instance, only 5 percent of member-owners voted in th...