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  • Writer's pictureD. Maurice Kreis

"The ethical values of honesty [and] openness . . . ."

The Board of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society has noticed yet another special meeting, to be conducted via zoom on Thursday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. Presumably this meeting will be for the purpose of moving the ball forward in connection with the Board's ongoing effort to retain the services, on a permanent basis, of acting General Manager Paul Guidone.

I remain convinced it is imperative that the Board come to terms with Paul. I'm optimistic, although I don't think this week's meeting will shed much light. Although I am always into erring on the side of transparency, I can't really quibble with the Board's apparent decision to discuss this particular subject behind closed doors. It's not so much a matter of HR confidentiality as it is the impracticality of negotiating about anything with anyone in public. It is enough, in my opinion, that the bylaws of the Co-op preclude the Board from making any actual decisions in executive session.

One tangential matter: As reflected in a previous blog post, I recently received a message from one "Arnold Milstein, Concerned Citizen" pointing out an error I had made (a mistake I subsequently corrected) in my account of last week's Board meeting. I had drawn the wrong inference from Paul Guidone's demand that the Board give him a Board president with whom he could work. (I thought he was implicitly rebuking the recently-resigned Board president but, in fact, he was, if anything, doing the opposite.)

Although I was grateful that "Arnold Milstein, Concerned Citizen" brought that error to my attention, it turns out that Arnold Milstein was a pseudonym. I confess that such a possibility had simply not occurred to me -- but, I am credibly advised, there are only two Arnold Milsteins in the entire USA and neither lives or works anywhere near the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society. (One of the two is actually a prominent member of the medical faculty at Stanford University in California.)

Whoever "Arnold Milstein" really is, that person sure had a bunch of insider knowledge about the affairs of the Co-op's Board of Directors. And "Arnold Milstein" wrote to me at an e-mail address that, although not public, is the one I used for Co-op business during my Board service. It's a different address from the one that appears on my personal web site that is the home of the blog you are reading right now.

What a discouraging revelation. It's discouraging because to my eyes it is yet more evidence of the toxic culture that continues to afflict this Board. Check out the "Statement on the Cooperative Identity," available on the web site of the International Cooperative Alliance. Among the sentiments enshrined there (just before the famous and frequently invoked seven Cooperative Principles) is this one: "In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others."

How about a bit of that honesty and openness, Mr. "Milstein?"

P.S. Just so you know, I think I have a pretty good idea of who you are.

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