Letter to the editor: Co-op bylaws clearly state Dakin and Brady are no eligible to run this year

In which Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op General Manager Lori Rosenberg responds to columnist Ben Wolff's op-ed from last week.

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Editors note: We encourage people to submit letters to the editor on subjects current and specific to Mendocino County. Please write to us at [email protected]

February 20, 2017
Dear Editor,

I would like to provide some clarity about Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op’s bylaws and the reason that Julia Dakin and Halle Brady are not eligible to run for the Board of Directors in 2017.  

The Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op logo

The Co-op is governed by a set of bylaws. The Co-op’s bylaws specify eligibility requirements for Members wishing to serve as Directors on the Board. The bylaws are voted on by the members of the Cooperative.

In 2011, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op members voted to align the Co-op’s memberships with the requirements of California Cooperative Law, or CCL.  CCL specifies that no member may have more than one vote. We made that change to accommodate members’ life events, such as divorces or deaths.   The way we (Co-op staff) comply with that is to issue single memberships in the name of one (primary) voting member. The primary voting member can add other household members to their accounts as “cardholders.”  Cardholders receive some of the benefits of the primary member, but not the right to vote in Co-op affairs or make changes to the membership account. Bylaws can be changed by a vote of the membership, as long as the change complies with California Cooperative Law.  Each Director on the Board has a legal responsibility to comply with the bylaws of the Cooperative.

Halle Brady and Julia Dakin are eligible to run for the Board of Directors in 2018 because they recently joined the Co-op as individual members.  It is not possible for the Co-op Board of Directors to make any changes to the bylaws for elections taking place in 2017.

It is unfortunate that this technicality has been misconstrued by some to mean that the Co-op does not support farmers or the local food system or that the Co-op is discriminating based on gender.  In fact, the Co-op currently carries 410 brands from local vendors, comprising 3,497 products.  Right now!   In 2016 our Produce department purchased products from 23 local farms.  Check our website for further information regarding our requirements for becoming a vendor with us.

Currently, one board member is a local farmer, and the board president, general manager, and 5 of 9 department managers are women.

Our board president, treasurer and I had a very productive meeting with Julia and Halle in the spirit of communicating and working out differences face to face.  We hope that the community can support us and remember that we are all working toward the same goal – creating a community in which everyone has access to healthy food via a thriving local food system.  Let’s work together to make it happen!

In co-operation,
Lori Rosenberg
Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op
General Manager

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