Crow Wing Power (MN) member-owners rise-up against undisclosed payments


From the Brainard Dispatch, (h/t to K.T.)

In a heated 82nd annual meeting—temps and tempers alike—the Crow Wing Power membership voted to send the board of directors a message: Fire CEO Bruce Kraemer.

"Where was our approval? When were we ever asked? Never," said Mary Jenkins, a co-op member of Brainerd, to Kraemer with regards to $1.9 million he garnered from the sale of a for-profit subsidiary in 2006. "And the nondisclosure? It ends with the sale. You took the money. You did your secret meetings. And now you're justifying and justifying. It is wrong, wrong, wrong."

The article also reveals that seven of the directors were also paid off for that sale -- $70,000 each.  All of these payments went undisclosed to the member-owners for years.

In addition to the [advisory motion vote to fire CEO Bruce Kraemer], attending members also voted:

• To reverse an amendment that allowed meeting closures at the directive of the board, while allowing members to attend these meetings at will, without applications or pre-determined requirement for admittance and participation.

• For an advisory motion to revert bylaws back to previous statutes that stated only 500 signatures are required to recall a director from their position.

• For a motion that once board meetings are finished, any minutes or notes—excluding trade secrets, sensitive personnel information or sensitive legal content—must be posted on the Crow Wing Power website for ease of information and ease of access to monitor proceedings.

• For an advisory motion to call for a forensic audit of Crow Wing Power and subsidiaries, particularly as it pertains to the sale of Hunt Technologies and mining operations in Emily, from 2000 to the present.

It sounds like the board of directors has well-insulated itself from member-owners with limiting these to "advisory motions."  Recent bylaws updates also attempt to enforce mandatory binding arbitration on any dispute (never a good look for a co-op, in my opinion.)  Good thing that Minnesota statute provides the right to petition for a special member meeting to vote out the board, change the bylaws, and elect a clean new slate of directors with 20% of the membership vote, or about 7,600 signatures in Crow Wing Power's case. 

That is going to take some organizing.

 


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