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REFORMER RUNS FOR CO-OPPORTUNITY BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ISSUES AFFECTING FOOD CO-OPS, THEIR RELEVANCY TODAY, COMPETITION WITH NATURAL FOODS CHAIN STORES WILD OATS, WHOLE FOODS, NATURAL, ORGANIC FOOD SECURITY, FARMER'S MARKETS, MEMBERS THROUGHOUT WESTSIDE, INCLD WELL-KNOWN PROGRESSIVES FROM TOM HAYDEN TO JULIE NEWMAR...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [GOOD THROUGH FIRST HALF OF SEPTEMBER 2006]
SOURCE: Kelly Jon Landis [Community Activist, Co-Opportunity Board Candidate] kjlandis@alumni. usc.edu 310-663-3895
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION FROM CO-OPPORTUNITY STAFF/BOARD:
Angelique Dolan, Marketing Director angelique@coopportu nity.com 310-451-1025
Emil Kalil, Co-Opportunity Board Member, Chair, Nominating Cmte 310-454-7659/ 2294
The food cooperative known throughout the Westside as "Co-Opportunity" [1525 Broadway(at Colorado), Santa Monica] begun in the 30s and transformed into a natural, organic food cooperative during the 70s is holding it's annual elections for board of directors during the entire month of September. Although, this time the election is contested. As a 10,000 plus member-owned cooperative, excluding many non-members who shop there, it's members include a who's who of progressives from Tom Hayden to Julie Newmar, is ostensibly managed by it's member-owners, though it no longer requires or even requests 'sweat equity' as it were-- volunteering a few hours a week or month-- and instead employs a professional staff.
This is good and bad some say. In one respect, it is thought to provide greater stability to manage operations, although some of the staff, especially those who work the registers or bag groceries and stock the shelves, may not share the natural living cooperative health-style, replacing a more corporate feel while losing the 'feeling of [Co-Op] family.' However, in recent years, some have been disheartened by the loss of member benefits and discounts which were reduced to cover employee health benefits and to cover worker's compensation costs. It is said no one wants to volunteer anymore in the affluent Westside of Los Angeles and yet seniors, students, low-income persons have expressed interest, it said liability issues make this difficult.
Although a forerunner of chains like Whole Foods and Wild Oats, increasingly the Cooperative [including Co-Opportunity] movement has found itself in competiton with these corporate chains from an unfair advantage due to their collective buying power. This is one of the reasons given for some of the higher prices at the Coop. Even while Co-Opportunity and other coops around the country purchase from some of the same wholesalers, some say it is that the corporate mindset-- fiscal bottom-line and giving over more management control to an even larger staff than is required at the other natural foods chain stores per capita-- has corrupted to some extent current Co-Op Board policies. And while Co-Opportunity and the coop movement do give back an unknown percentage of proceeds to the community in the way of grants, Wild Oats, for one recently announced their 100 stores donated $2,000,000 to the community last year.�
In the midst of this implacable situation a young man, Kelly Jon Landis, decided to try to change all that and run for the Co-Opportunity Board of Directors himself, becoming the first Board candidate who was not nominated by the current Board, by collecting signatures in July. Now, he's officially on the ballot, along with five other candidates nominated by the current Board vying for the three positions open.
As well, Landis platform on his smartly green and blue printed flyers, advocates for greater Board accountability and member-owner input in negotiating vendor relationships with more locally grown produce and reviewing big corporate and foreign 'organic' standards.
The Co-Opportunity mailed paper ballots [sent through regular mail] and the September newsletter, also listing the candidates, their pictures and 250 word bios, will be sent out in the next week via bulk mail. Many members have requested to be sent a ballot via e-mail and return their ballot in the same manner which are then counted electronically by an outside firm. Several thousand of the approximately 10,000 members generally vote in Board elections which occur all through the month of September.