Council - Special News
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 16:39
By Dan Hoffman,
Governance Committee Chair
How often do you have the chance to serve on the board of directors for a $20 million-a-year business, and to be a representative of over 10,000 member-owners of the enterprise?
That's the opportunity coming up soon for GreenStar members, as the Co-op prepares for its 34th annual Council election, in April. To appear on the ballot, a candidate must submit a written Declaration of Candidacy by March 1st. Now is the time to start thinking about whether running for and serving on the Council would be the right thing for you (or someone you know) to do.
There are 15 seats on Council, and the staggered terms of elected directors are normally 3 three years, so at least 5 five seats are open each year (for incumbents or newcomers to vie for). Due to an unusually high number of resignations (5five) from Council Members since the 2014 election, a whopping 9 (nine (!) seats will be filled in this year's election. The only time since the Council was created that there were more seats to be filled was in 2010, when 10 slots were available. This year, the top 5 five vote-getters will win 3-year terms, while the next 4 four will earn one1-year terms.
You may ask: What are the benefits of being serving on the Council? There are quite a few.
You will receive a super worker discount: 17.5% percent off most items you buy at GreenStar, for you and your partner (or, another single-adult household you designate).
You will receive a modest monetary stipend (between $600 and $1,800/year, depending on whether or not you're a committee chair or the President.), assuming your attendance is regular.
You will learn more than you can imagine about governing the Co-op, business finances, running effective meetings, cooperatives in general, etc. As a result of the experience, you' will be better equipped to serve in other leadership positions. One former Council member Member became Mayor of Ithaca; another went on to work for the White House.
You will get to meet, know, and work with many other involved, dedicated GreenStar leaders, staff, and members. You will make new friends.
You will be helping to maintain and improve an important, democratic, community-controlled institution that has survived, grown, and evolved for more than 4 four decades.
Serving on the Council is also a serious responsibility. You are expected to attend Council meetings (at least one three-hour-long meeting perce a month, for approximately 3 hours); serve on at least one committee (most Council Mmembers are on more than one; most committees meet at least once a month); attend Membership meetings and forums, and other Co-op events; take part in orientation sessions and other training opportunities; prepare for meetings and decisions, by checking email regularly and reviewing reports and agenda materials; become familiar with the Co-op's bylaws, policies, and decision-making procedures; maintain strict confidentiality when necessary; and treat your colleagues respectfully.
In 2014, as GreenStar applied for a license to serve alcohol at The Space, and to renew its liquor license for the West- End store. T, the Co-op was subjected to stricter scrutiny than in the past, and became aware of criteria all Council members Members must meet, in order for the Co-op to maintain these and other operational licenses (such as for food processing). As a result, Council has decided to ask all candidates for election or appointment to Council to indicate in writing whether they will be able to satisfy all these requirements, which include the following:
- not engaged in any other alcohol-related business;
- no convictions for felonies or alcohol or prostitution-related offenses (unless expunged);
- US citizenship or permanent resident alien status;
- over 21 years of age (by the time one is seated on Council);
- not a police officer; and
- no revocation of previously-held liquor license or violation of NYS liquor law (in past 2 two years).
The 2015 Declaration of Candidacy forms (which include several other questions candidates are requested to answer) will also be available by Jan. 7 at the stores. Prospective candidates are encouraged to attend a Council meeting, to see what they would be getting themselves into prior to the elections. Council meets on the second Tuesday of each month (e.g., January 13th and February 10th), at 6:30 pm, in GreenStar's Classroomthe Classrooms @ GreenStar building (across Buffalo Street from the West End store).
Another In addition to attending a meeting or two, another good idea way to get a sense for what Council service entails is to speak directly to a current Council memberMember. In January and February, look for Council members Members tabling at the stores, at various times, with an "Ask Me About about Running for Council" banner. They will be prepared to discuss what being on Council is like, and to answer your questions. You can also submit your queries to GreenStar's Council.
Is this the time for you to serve your Co-op in this rewarding but challenging way? Please give it some thought - — before March 1st.
Council - Council News
Sunday, 01 February 2015 20:47
By 12th Moon,
Council held the first meeting of the new year on Jan. 13 in the Classrooms @ GreenStar with eleven of twelve Council Members, four staff members, and four member-owners in attendance. During announcements it was reported that Council Member Keith Babuszczak had resigned since our last meeting as he has moved from the area, and a Member-at-Large on our Personnel Committee resigned because of family and work responsibilities. Appreciations to you both for your input and service to our Co-op — we wish you the best.
Our first agenda item came from our General Manager (GM), Brandon Kane, presenting the monthly GM Report. In the report, Brandon gave an overview of the ups and downs experienced during 2014 and then an outline of plans for the year ahead. With all of the construction projects of last year behind us — creating our central kitchen, catering department, and a large gathering space, repaving the parking lots, and adding a second restroom to the West-End store — the focus this coming year will be on planning and preparations for a Collegetown store.
The second item on the agenda — proposed amendments to our Collegetown location lease — was first moved toward the end of the meeting and then referred to an Immediacies Committee meeting called to coincide with the Executive Planning Committee's regular monthly meeting on Jan. 27. The amendments were necessitated by changes in the building design and an unresolved location for refrigeration compressors. Once the compressors have a home, we should be able to move forward.
Council - Announcements
Thursday, 15 January 2015 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./p>
Annual Elections (in April); Appointments to Fill Vacancies Between Elections
In the annual Council election, conducted throughout April, at least 5 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 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 and fun (more on that part, shortly), but it is also a serious commitment.
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. (Council may not consider making appointments as the election draws near, to avoid giving someone who will have served only a short time the "advantage of incumbency."
Typically, in January or February, there are opportunities to speak with current Council members, to get some first-hand information and impressions about what's involved running for and being on Council. This could be in the form of scheduled informational sessions or tabling in the stores by Council members. Watch for notices about this 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. What Council focuses on includes evaluating our GM (Brandon Kane), our style of governance and the regular updating of our policies, on co-op expansion (now including planning for the opening of a new satellite store in Collegetown), and on invigorated member-owner involvement.
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. The Council now receives frequent, 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 or Wisconsin or Idaho, 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 currently 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 an informational session for prospective candidates (or watch for Council members tabling in the stores), or calling/emailing a Council member (such as the Chair of our Governance Committee – currently Dan Hoffman; contact info for all Council members is in the GreenLeaf newsletter and on the website). 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
Thursday, 01 January 2015 16:34
By 12th Moon,
Council held its last meeting of the year on Tuesday, Dec. 9 in the Classrooms @ GreenStar with nine of our twelve Council Members, four staff, and three member-owners in attendance. Also present, and taking minutes, were our new and our outgoing Board Administrators (BAs).
After introductions, including statements of preparedness by Council Members, and announcements, we received the monthly General Manager's (GM) report. Brandon Kane, our GM, first shared appreciations for the work staff has been doing in the stores and behind the scenes, noting that the Space rental and catering menu information was now available on our website (www.greenstar.coop/catering-menu) and that very attractive flyers conveying the same information had been printed and made available. Brandon also mentioned that many people will have the opportunity to see the Space on Saturdays during the first three months of 2015, as the Winter Farmers Market will again be held there.
Brandon reported that new architectural drawings of the redesigned proposed Collegetown building are expected soon and that three different store-layout and equipment-design firms will be asked for quotes. Staff has drafted a preliminary store layout plan in preparation. The DeWitt store is currently making changes to utilize the area where the office used to be, and they plan to have a register by the rear door in 2015. Staff is also looking into the feasibility of covering over the stairway in the middle of the store. Lastly, Brandon reminded us that the U-Pick 10% program would end on Dec. 31, 2014 and that the new Member Deals sales would start on Friday, Jan. 2 (the store is closed Thursday, Jan. 1).
Council - Council News
Monday, 01 December 2014 01:47
By 12th Moon,
Council held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 11 in the Classrooms @ GreenStar with ten of our twelve Council Members, four staff members, two GreenStar member-owners, our newly hired Board Administrator (BA), Kara Cusolito, and our outgoing BA, Alexis Self, who has taken a position in the Marketing Department. Welcome, Kara, and thank you for joining us, and thank you, Alexis, for the great job you've done.
We added an item to our agenda in place of a Policy Book update, which was not done in order to allow our new BA to be trained in the process.
The General Manager's (GM) monthly report came next. Our GM, Brandon Kane, said that he is now certain that October was our busiest event month, with our Fall Membership Meeting, two Member Forums, two All-Staff meetings, and an Open House at the Space @ GreenStar, which showcased our public space and catering menu. October also saw the completion of the 2015 Budget, start of the annual Staff Survey, and design of the Collegetown store, as well as preparation for introducing the new Member Deals program in Jan. 2015 (see p. 1 for more details). Brandon also reported that we have a five-year contract as the sole sponsor of the scoreboard at the Cass Park rink, which now clearly displays the GreenStar logo.
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