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Food co-op controversy on hold

Board election comes in April
Shoppers browse the deli earlier this year at Durango Natural Foods.

The effort by a group of Durango Natural Foods members to replace the cooperative’s board of directors apparently will be resolved at the annual general meeting and election in April.

The opponents were unhappy that DNF board members were exploring a merger with La Montanita – a large natural-foods cooperative in Albuquerque – without informing the general membership.

They gathered signatures on two petitions: one to reject the merger, the other to remove the seven DNF board members.

A series of emails provided to The Durango Herald indicates the following:

A membership meeting scheduled Dec. 3 to vote on the petitions was canceled by the board, which, citing legal counsel, said the procedure violated several sections of DNF bylaws. The bylaws require mediation of disputes, the board said.

Now, opponents hope at the April general assembly and election to oust three board members whose terms expire – chairman Geoff Wolf, attorney Paul Kosnik and treasurer Robert Fitts – and fill the seats of members Colleen Carver and Deborah Powell, who have resigned.

The terms of secretary Victoria Robinson and Jim Forleo will expire in April 2016.

The release of a statement about a letter of intent to merge that appeared in the Herald in August was premature, the DNF board said. The letter was nonbinding, and a final document would have been presented to the general membership for ratification, the board said.

Opponents of the move said it appeared to be a takeover by La Montanita that would reduce DNF to a northern outpost of the much larger Albuquerque cooperative.

DNF employees would lose job seniority and security, and owners of DNF would lose all voice in decisions, opponents said.

Proponents of the merger cited the increased purchasing power, job security and solid financial footing.

La Montanita Co-op operates six stores in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Gallup and a regional food distribution center. It has 17,000 members.

DNF, which is 40 years old, has a single store and fewer than one-tenth the members of La Montanita.


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