Co-op Board and Kavanagh Cool Conflict


A sizable crowd lingered outside St. John’s Parish Hall last night, anxiously awaiting the start of a Boise Co-op meeting called by fired manager Ken Kavanagh. Words like “rumors,” “answers” and “innuendo” hung thick in the evening air. But once the crowd pushed through the church’s double doors and settled into the basement’s limited chairs, co-op board member David Eberle made something very clear: “This is a board meeting not a member meeting.”


Though Kavanagh originally hoped for a member vote to reverse the board’s contentious decision to fire him, the board insisted that the meeting conflicted with co-op bylaws and, therefore, no vote would be allowed. The objective of the meeting, Eberle noted, was to update members on the current state of the co-op and allow them to voice concerns about the grocery store’s future without Kavanagh.

Kavanagh, who was in a conference with lawyers and two of the six co-op board members during the first part of the meeting, entered the room to issue a statement.

“We came to a monetary agreement,” said Kavanagh. “I don’t necessarily understand the ‘new direction’ of the co-op. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the old direction. I want to thank everyone who has supported me. Somebody compared it to being at your own funeral.”

Pat Haas, acting chair of the co-op board, also gave a statement:

“We and Ken have entered into an agreement that basically settles our differences and legal disputes and the details of that agreement are, of course, confidential … We can say that there will be a change of leadership going forward and that Ken has agreed not to contest that decision … the recent decisions about the change of leadership … had absolutely nothing to do with Ken’s DUI in 2009 or the recent probation violations.”

But lurking under the surface of all the talk about Kavanagh's termination was the elephant in the room: Whole Foods. Once the floor opened to members, most voiced concerns that the natural foods chain will threaten the co-op when it opens a Boise location if changes aren’t made quickly.

“I considered Ken a friend," said Christine King, a co-op member for 20 years. "But when I knew Whole Foods was coming, I knew things were going to change … If we want the co-op to be the co-op, we’ve got to change with it."

For more in-depth coverage of Monday night's meeting, check out tomorrow's print story in the Boise Weekly.