Council - Council News
Sunday, 02 November 2014 02:22
By 12th Moon,
On Tuesday, Oct. 14, Council met for our regular monthly meeting at the Classrooms @ GreenStar with ten of twelve Council Members, five staff members, and two member-owners present.
After introductions, we added an item to our agenda for the night, a letter of agreement with the Cooperative Fund of New England to enter into a loan agreement with them next year to launch the Collegetown location. We then heard announcements and, as there were no member comments, moved on to the monthly General Manager's (GM) report.
GM Brandon Kane reported that he and the Co-op's management team have been compiling the 2015 budget, including a ten-year projected plan. The plans have been reviewed by lending institutions and representatives of the risk management team at the National Cooperative Grocers association (NCG), with all finding the plan to be acceptable to exceptional. A key component of the business plan in 2015 is the transition to a Member Deals program from the current U-Pick 10% Off program. (You can read more about the change on p. 1.)
Because of the recent bankruptcy of an eastern corridor co-op, the NCG is tightening its monitoring of the health of member co-ops. Lack of communication between NCG and the board and management of this co-op was a contributing factor to its failure. The NCG has historically communicated only with co-op management when expressing concern regarding the health of a member cooperative. In the future, the Board President of a cooperative will also be directly informed of any concerns of the NCG. This significantly lowers the potential liability of each member cooperative in the event of the financial failure of an individual cooperative.
Council - Announcements
Friday, 17 October 2014 00:00
Thanks for your interest in serving on GreenStar's Council (board of directors). We look forward to hearing your voice, benefiting from your ideas, and working with you to make the Co-op an even better place.
Annual Elections (in April); Appointments to Fill Vacancies Between Elections
In the annual Council election, conducted throughout April, at least five of the seats on Council are filled (for 3-year terms). If vacancies have occurred since the previous election, those may be filled for the balance of those terms (e.g., for 1 or 2 years). To be elected, a candidate must receive at least 50 valid votes, and at least 200 members must participate in the voting). Vacancies that occur during the year are filled by Council appointment, until the next election.
To be a qualified candidate in the election, or for appointment, you must be a GreenStar member-owner in good standing (e.g., membership fees are paid up to date). To appear on the ballot, you must submit a Declaration of Candidacy form by March 1st; you could still run as a write-in candidate if you submit the form by March 31st. To be considered for appointment to a vacant seat, between elections, you need to submit an Application specifically for that, AND attend at least one Council meeting beforehand. Both forms are also available at the Front Desk at the West End store.
Should You Seek a Seat on Council? Some Considerations
Serving on the Council can be rewarding, but it is also a serious commitment.
As a Council member, you are required to abide by the legal, ethical, and practical responsibilities of being on a board of directors. This means that you stay informed and make reasonable judgments based on this information; that you attend meetings regularly; that you are responsive to other member-owners who want to share their opinions or ask questions; that you don't use information obtained by being on the board to the detriment of the organization; that you disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest; and, in your capacity as a Council member, that you put the good of the Co-op first, and abide by the Code of Conduct for Council members. There's a fair amount of fine print, so, if you have any questions, feel free to contact the Governance Committee.
Before the election (or applying for appointment), we encourage you to attend at least one Council meeting and check us out. (All Council meetings are open to all member-owners, except for certain executive session matters.) Our meetings are typically on the second Tuesday of the month, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, in GreenStar's Classroom Space (formerly the Enterprise Car rental building), across Buffalo Street from the West End store). Agendas are posted in both stores and on the GreenStar website. If you become a candidate, also plan to attend the annual Member meeting in April to introduce yourself – there will be a "meet the candidates" item on the agenda.
We're always looking for skilled, caring people who will add their voice and ideas to the governance of the Co-op, and help represent our diverse Membership. Please read these materials, and, if you think you have the time, energy, inclination and passion to make GreenStar even better, fill out the Declaration of Candidacy form (in January or February) and run for Council! Or, if there is a vacancy, submit the Application for Appointment.
Typically, in January or February, there are one or more brief informational sessions – with current Council members - for people who want more information about running for or being on Council. Watch for notices in the stores, in GreenLeaf or on the website.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Council actually do? State law requires GreenStar, as a cooperative corporation, to have a board of directors (which we call our Council) that is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the Co-op and to the member-owners. In practice, Council makes the "big-picture" policy decisions, approves the annual budget, and provides oversight of the Co-op's finances and store operations. Day-to-day management of the stores and their operations is delegated to a professional General Manager (GM) chosen and regularly evaluated by Council; the GM then selects and supervises the rest of the staff. During the past year, we've focused a lot on our own governance and our policies, on evaluating our GM (Brandon Kane), on planning for expansion (including the renovation of the warehouse, and possibly opening a new satellite store in Collegetown, and/or elsewhere), and on invigorated member-owner involvement. Most of these issues will continue to get attention through 2014, and, of course, there will be new ones.
What's all this about "engagement" with member-owners? One of Council's primary roles is listening to member-owners and trying to represent their interests. This can happen formally or informally, at Spring and Fall Membership meetings, special "town hall" sessions and focus groups, and through tabling at the stores by Council members and member-owner surveys. Our Membership Committee has been working hard to reinvigorate these traditional forms of outreach, as well as come up with new ones. Maybe you have ideas about this and could help us to build a more engaged Membership.
OK, but what would I actually do, day-to-day or month-to-month? You would be expected to come, prepared, to Council meetings (normally, once a month; special meetings are called if necessary) and to serve on at least one committee (again, normally with monthly meetings). When all the prep and meeting time is added up, it's at least 10-12 hours a month. Most people do more than this, especially if they serve as an officer, chair a committee or lead a project. Many people do outside research or attend conferences and report back to Council.
What's a meeting like? The Council meeting is our main forum for doing business. There we hear reports from and ask questions of management staff, discuss and amend proposals for action, and vote on new policies. This can involve quite a bit of discussion and debate (and usually goes on for about 3 hours), but, when everyone comes prepared, can be quite effective. We use a version of Robert's rules – parliamentary procedure – to run the meetings. It might sound formal at first, but is designed to provide everyone a fair hearing. The best way to learn what a meeting is like is to attend one – they are on the second Tuesday of each month, starting at 6:30 pm, usually in GreenStar's new Classroom Space (formerly the Enterprise Car Rental building, across Buffalo Street from the West End store). Council meetings are open to all member-owners. Hope to see you there!
What's this I've heard about a new governance system? At the end of 2010, Council voted to change its governance approach, by using the Policy Governance model "in a form chosen by Council." Policy Governance is a style that is popular in the co-op world. It's designed to help keep the board focused on the job of high-level planning and goal setting and to give the staff more leeway in running the stores and in implementing Co-op policy, with accountability to be ensured through extensive General Manager reporting. Since making this decision, Council has spent much time in developing new policies in the Policy Governance style, which are gradually replacing many of our older policies. At the end of 2013, Council adopted 7 broad "ends statements" (or goals) for the Co-op. In 2014, the GM will begin submitting formal reports for Council's review, detailing how these ends are being reflected in store operations, and how the "limitations" Council has established on GM actions are being respected.
And what do I get? You get to meet lots of interesting people, have a chance to go to trainings and conferences in exotic locals like Texas and Wisconsin, and become more involved in your Co-op than you thought possible. Also, you get a superworker discount at the register – that's 17.5% off almost everything you buy. In 2011, the Membership authorized Council to provide its members with modest, monetary "stipends," and Council decided to implement such a system starting in 2012. "Regular" Council members receive $600/year, committee chairs $900/year, and the President (chosen annually by Council, and who has many additional responsibilities) $1800/year. Childcare is now available at Council meetings, for Council members' children (at no cost).
Sounds good so far. How do I run (or apply)? Fill out the Declaration of Candidacy form (to run in the election) or Application for Appointment (between elections, when there's a vacancy), both of which are available at the front desk or on the website. If you want to run in the election, don't wait until the last moment (there are essay questions!). Then start educating yourself...and launch your campaign.
Educating myself? Campaign? Yes! Educate yourself by coming to some meetings, attending one of our informational sessions for prospective candidates (dates & times at the bottom of reverse side), or calling/emailing a Council member (such as the Chair of our Governance Committee – Dan Hoffman; contact info for all Council members is in the GreenLeaf newsletter). There's a lot of useful information in the "Council" or "Board of Directors" section of the GreenStar website (www.greenstar.coop) - click on "Council Documents" to find all Co-op policies. (These are also assembled in the Policy Book, a hard copy of which is available for viewing at either store.) Campaigning has traditionally been pretty low key at GreenStar – feel free to table and tell your friends – the more people who care, get involved, and vote, the healthier our Co-op will be! Tabling can be arranged with staff at the Front Desk. If you do table in the store, we ask that you be respectful of others and not interrupt the normal functioning of the store.
Again, thanks for your interest. We can't wait to meet you and work with you. And, good luck!
Council - Council News
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 13:23
By 12th Moon,
Tuesday, Sept. 9, Council met in the Classrooms @ GreenStar for our regular monthly meeting with six of twelve Council Members, six staff, and three member-owners in attendance. We did not have enough Council Members present to reach quorum, which requires that a majority of those seated on Council be present. Hoping that one of those absent was just running late, as we knew that five people were out of town or had family matters to attend to, we proceeded with the meeting knowing that no formal decisions could be made without quorum.
After introductions and announcements, we received Brandon Kane's General Manager (GM) Monthly Report. Brandon told us that plans are in progress to add another express register to the West-End store and to make some changes to the DeWitt store's product selections and placement. As the Co-op's 2015 budget is being drafted, Brandon said that projections for next year's budget are being compiled with an eye on the progress of the proposed Collegetown Crossings development where a third GreenStar store may be located. If all goes well, we would be expecting to move into the store on College Avenue in July 2016.
Brandon further reported that it was recently discovered that a former GreenStar employee was responsible for theft estimated to be above $1,000. Staff was not able to accurately estimate the total loss at meeting time but it will be reported to Council when determined. Also, the Area Supervisors are considering partnering with the Rosie app to open an online store and delivery service of GreenStar products. Staff is currently evaluating the service. If it's endorsed by staff, it will be presented to Council for approval.
Council - Special News
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 11:24
All GreenStar members are encouraged to learn more about the current referendum by reading the “pro” and “con” statements below and/or by attending the informational forum on October 2. Members can exercise their right to vote and to determine Co-op policy anytime during October at either store, at the Fall Member Meeting on October 17, or by sending in the ballot that appears on page 6 of the Fall Member Mailing.
Council - Announcements
Friday, 26 September 2014 10:54
By Dan Hoffman,
For the first two decades of its existence, the Co-op did not sell meat of any kind. Then, in 1992, member referendums approved the sale of certain types of fish and poultry. The following year, a different referendum allowed the sale of pet food containing meat. A decade later, in 2003, members faced another pair of binding referendums. The first asked whether the Co-op should be permitted to sell meat other than fish or poultry (sometimes referred to as "red meat"). The second asked whether, if "Meat Referendum #1" passed, certain conditions should be imposed on the meat that could be sold – including the location of suppliers ("within 40 miles of Ithaca") and a requirement that such farms be visited twice a year by a team of GreenStar volunteers who would verify the fair treatment of the animals. Both referendums were approved, so current Co-op policy allows the sale of red meat, but only if it meets those certain conditions. (Last year, a referendum proposal to repeal the 2003 conditions, in their entirety, was rejected by the membership in 2013. Likewise, an earlier referendum, in 1998, that sought to ban the sale of any meat, was defeated.)
Decisions made by member referendum can only be changed by another membership vote. Earlier this year, a referendum petition seeking to modify (rather than repeal) the conditions on the sale of red meat set by the 2003 "Meat Referendum #2" was initiated by Colin Meeks, and was signed by more than the required 100 GreenStar members in good standing. As a result, the binding referendum to be conducted in October poses three separate Yes or No questions:
Here is the language of each referendum question:
Should "Meat Referendum #2 [approved in April 2003] Additional Conditions on the Sale of Meat," which now reads as follows:
[CURRENT POLICY (part):] All farmsteads selling the newly permitted meat(s) to GreenStar [as allowed by Meat Referendum #1, also approved in April 2003] shall sign an agreement to be visited unannounced twice yearly by GreenStar member volunteers, so that living conditions of the animals, their water sources and methods of slaughter may be monitored, as allowed by relevant federal, state and local law. Reports shall be published in GreenLeaf.
...be changed to read as follows?
[PROPOSED POLICY:] All farmsteads selling the newly permitted meat(s) to GreenStar [as allowed by Meat Referendum #1, also approved in April 2003] shall acquire and maintain a qualified third-party certification to verify their humane treatment of animals. The results of the certification for each farmstead shall be published in GreenLeaf.
If Question #1 receives a majority of "yes" votes, should current suppliers of said meat(s) to GreenStar be given a one-year grace period to acquire a qualified third-party certification for their humane treatment of animals ￼
Should the current mileage requirement of Meat Referendum #2, which now reads as follows:
[CURRENT POLICY (part):] newly permitted meat(s) only from animals raised on family-owned farmsteads within forty (40) miles of the City of Ithaca, New York.
... be changed to read as follows?
[PROPOSED POLICY:] GreenStar shall sell the newly permitted meat(s) only from animals raised on family- owned farmsteads that are located within the GreenStar definition of "local" [currently set by Council as within 100 miles of Ithaca].
#1: Should the current requirement – that farms supplying such meat agree to be visited "unannounced" and "twice annually" by "GreenStar member volunteers, so that living conditions of the animals, their water sources and methods of slaughter may be monitored" – be changed, to require instead "third-party certification (of the farms) to verify their humane treatment of animals"?
#2: If Question #1 receives a majority of Yes votes, should current suppliers of such meat to GreenStar be given a 1-year grace period to secure "qualified" third-party certification of their humane treatment of animals?
#3: Current policy (as a result of the 2003 Meat Referendum #2) requires that any meat allowed by the 2003 Meat Referendum #1 must be from suppliers (farms) located within 40 miles of Ithaca. Question #3 in the 2014 referendum asks whether this distance requirement should be changed to "the GreenStar definition of 'local.' " That definition, determined by Council is currently "within 100 miles of Ithaca."
All GreenStar members are encouraged to learn more about the current referendum by reading the "pro" and "con" statements in this mailing and/or by attending the informational forum on October 2. Members can exercise their right to vote and to determine Co-op policy anytime during October at either store, at the Fall Member Meeting on October 17, or by sending in the ballot that appears on page 6 of this mailing.
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