Exclusive Interview with Boise Co-op Board Chair

by

"It was unanimous," said Pat Haas, acting board chair of Boise Co-op.

In an exclusive interview with BW, Haas spoke of the board's decision to oust co-op manager Ken Kavanagh, the future of the Boise landmark and a much-anticipated meeting with members, slated for Monday, Jan. 24.

"I'd be surprised if Ken wasn't at the meeting," said Haas.

Kavanagh was the one who initially called for the meeting, but Haas said a technicality will change the format.

"Our bylaws state that the meeting must be published in a newspaper, which it was," said Haas. "But it also says that you must post the announcement in a prominent place at the registered office (Boise Co-op), which it wasn't. But we on the board asked each other, 'What should we do?' It's not a real meeting but we still want to communicate with the members. We decided to go ahead and meet at the same time and place, and then open things up to questions so we can tell the members what we're doing."

The meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Boise's St. John's Parish, comes in the wake of Kavanagh's firing on Jan. 13.

The following day, in an exclusive interview with BW, Kavanagh said, "I haven't done anything wrong to deserve this and now, of course, the store is in an uproar."

Haas would dispute that.

"I can tell you that we've gotten very positive feedback on the change," said Haas. "The people at the store are very enthused."

Gary Lyons is their new boss. He's stepped down as board chair to take over as interim store manager.

"Interim. That's the only way to describe it," said Haas. "He has no desire to be a permanent manager. People should also know that Gary made it very clear that he wanted no compensation. We're not paying him, even though we should be."

BW asked Haas repeatedly for the reason or reasons for Kavanagh's departure.

"We're just not going to talk publicly about personnel matters," said Haas. "We did what we needed to do. I'm not sure if there's an ideal way to terminate any employee."

Haas confirmed that the board recently hired Gallatin Public Affairs, in addition to the co-op's legal team, to help manage the controversy.

"We simply don't want to say things that are illegal or inappropriate," said Haas.

Haas said members should notice a tangible difference in the wake of the management shake-up.

"I really think customers will detect a more positive feel, more enthusiasm and a greater level of customer service," said Haas.

As for the immediate future, Haas acknowledged that Monday's meeting could go well into the night.

"I'm prepared for a long meeting," said Haas. "But for those confused or upset, I'd say come to the meeting and we'll talk about it."

[UPDATE: This article has been amended to correct a name misspelling.]