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Friday Forum: The Real Issue at the Co-op; the Divine Rights of Corporations

Goodbye to All That

To the Editor:

Goodbye, Dan? Goodbye, John?

Goodbye, Co-op.

Nancy C. Russell


Prepare to Hand Out Halos

To the Editor:

Now that the five conservative members of the Supreme Court have conferred personhood on corporations — and in the event some citizens were still in doubt, the justices have attributed such warm, creaturely qualities on our corporate brethren all over again with the Hobby Lobby decision — we await breathlessly the next step: proclaiming their sainthood.

“Saint General Electric” may take getting used to, but give us time, give us time.

Tom Brody


At Issue for Co-op Members

To the Editor:

Jim Kenyon’s recent column about firings at the Co-op, while correctly raising a red flag for members, missed the big picture entirely (“Wine and Cheese Firing Party” June 29). The issue for members to debate is not unionization or free speech. Rather, it is, “When is it time for turn-around management to depart?”

Turn-around managers bring excellent qualities to sleepy businesses and drive them forward in ways that old-line management cannot. The Co-op, to its credit, made the difficult decision to bring in new blood a few years ago. And the move has paid off handsomely. The organization has been modernized, the finances sharpened, and inventory control and marketing completely revamped.

These are all areas that have proven management playbooks and lend themselves to black-and-white analysis and action. Turn-around managers can quickly make huge improvements in these areas, making themselves look infallible in the process.

But there are reasons why turn-around managers usually leave after the phase involving what amounts to gathering low-hanging fruit.

There is no playbook for successful employee relations: Managing people is more an art than a science. That is a problem for turn-around managers, who thrive in the black-white areas. The subtleties of interpersonal relationships are usually lost on them, or intentionally ignored in pursuit of higher goals.

There are also no playbooks for “cooperatives,” which were never conceived to be top-down or management-employee enterprises. The management style needed to successfully run a horizontal organization is completely different from what’s needed for a turn-around. Which brings us to the present.

The two gentlemen who conducted the firings have essentially asked, “What’s next?”, while indicating their preference. We should actually thank them for raising the question in neon lights for all of us to see so clearly.

The Co-op needs to debate this question quickly and thoughtfully before people turn this into a messy lose-lose situation.

Fred Williamson


Hobby Lobby Was About Abortion

To the Editor:

The op-ed piece in Wednesday’s Valley News regarding the Hobby Lobby decision written by Sandra Fluke was most unfair, inaccurate, and dishonest (“Hobby Lobby Case Is an Attack on Women”). Hobby Lobby was willing to offer its employees 16 different types of contraception. This was not a decision about birth control, but about abortion on demand, and the author knows it. Shame on her for her dishonesty and on you for printing this lie.

Jim Newcomb

North Haverhill