TALES FROM THE COOP

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It's a cool summer night. Lovers would spoon in the park if they wouldn't get knifed. Cable sucks. What's to watch? Coop Soup!

CRUELTY-FREE MEETING? NOT HERE!

But there was lots of cruelty to go around tonight, maybe because there weren't any controversial items and folks were bored. Here are the good parts! Guaranteed 30% accurate!

The monthly financial report was given but it's none of your business. Besides, I was late and missed it.

A Disciplinary Committee member said that a pissed-off member who had threatened to return to the coop with a gun had resigned, despite being reinstated after his disciplinary hearing. The DC had voted to readmit the man after he claimed (though a proxy: he wouldn't come to his own hearing!) that he'd had a bad day. Many coop members are reaming the DC for this Chamberlainian idiocy, especially after a DC jury member was quoted saying that a witness's reaction to the threat of gunfire was the witness's "peculiar sensitivity, a prejudice similar to a prejudice against Jews or blacks, and that she [the jury member] did not feel that the man should be penalized because of the witness's sensitivity." The DC hopes to do better in the future.

The first agenda item: elect a new pension-plan trustee. The resigning trustee said she was leaving to make room for someone better schooled in finance. The coordinators offered an eloquent and witty candidate with 15 years experience and he was elected unanimously -- after debating the difficulty of "socially responsible" investing. The resigning trustee had said it was almost impossible to avoid investing in something evil. Some attendees slammed that, citing their pet goody-two-shoes funds, or criticizing the coop pension fund for subsidizing the Man by holding oppressive Treasury bills.

I learned for the first time that this fund was a neato, novel kind of pension plan that was guaranteed a rate of return out of the coop's cash flow if the investment sucked. The pension plan in general has been attacked from the start by the coop's direct-democracy rebels. Soon the'll probably rant about a bloodsucking coordinator conspiracy cushioning its own pension plan too well and too evasively.

The second item proposed a senior-citizen discount at item cost without markup. A warm and fuzzy idea but hard to administer, doesn't include starving babies with AIDS or other worthies, and would really mean below cost since the coop isn't chartered to make a profit to begin with. It was voted down 2-30 with 8 abstentions, kind of humiliating to the proposer even though he got lots of compliments for being a good Boy Scout.

A co-chair gasped at the embarrassing vote, which wasn't very supportive of her. In fact, that co-chair gasped at a lot of things, and mumbled out loud, which did not earn her much respect when she kept wringing her hands and stuttering about how people must speak only in turn and quickly, quickly, quickly since we were late, even when a coordinator said that we were not at all late. She earned loud snorts from regular attendee Dame Yadda Yadda Yadda, who is a star of undisciplined babbling and if listens must do so without benefit of eardrums.

The third item, offered by populist-in-chief Stewart Martin, proposed forcing the general meeting to widely publicize any non-emergency motion that would spend $10,000 or more. But it was late and Stewart didn't want to risk limiting discussion of his item to 15 minutes, so he proposed tabling it till the next meeting. Can't do that: it could only be re-proposed to the agenda committee for the next meeting, if the agenda committee deemed to put it there. He seemed to settle for that. The chairs closed the discussion and then announced the start of criticism/self-criticism -- only to have Stewart blurt a motion to extend the meeting for half an hour. Too late, discussion was already history. Was that coordinator-conspiracy-influenced chairs silencing Stewart? Co-chair bungling of rules of order? A Stewart ploy to claim martyred censorship? Pick one, I dunno.

The criticism/self-criticism period was begun by the very tense departing trustee, who said she felt she had been judged personally tonight for stating the difficulty of socially responsible investing. Dame Yadda Yadda Yadda then apologized to the departing trustee if she had said anything to upset the trustee; that had not been her intention, she said, and that she had been more disturbed by the trustee's saying she was quitting because the financial details had been over her head.

But that's not what the trustee had said. And though she said so now, the room was quiet, for Dame Yadda had cluelessly succeeded in grinding the ex-trustee's character even more into the pesticide-free earth in the presence of forty of their peers.

And the ex-trustee sat like a stone for the rest of the wrap-up.

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jkarpf@echonyc.com