Present: Andy, Donny, Hannah, Leslie, McAllen, Meghan, Mike, Nolan, Travis, Victor, William
Andy is now an associate.
Victor: Wasn't able to find the right spring for the washing machine. Breed had something I'll try to put on tomorrow. Hope it will work. Want to go to First Source. Want to see if they have kits for changing standing pilots to electronic ignitions. New stoves are $700 a piece. Want to see about converting what we have. Showed Travis and Mike a lot of good plumbing on the toilet tank. If you have to hold your toilet handle up too long, or jiggle it, see Mike or Travis. Can help teach you to put a new flapper on your toilet. If you have a sticky lock, see Travis. He's got some graphite. Put some graphite on the outside of everybody's lock. Gave a bleach and a pump-up sprayer to Greg. Hopefully Greg and Donny will be able to spray the laundry room next week for mold. Going to attack the dust bunnies at peoples' AC's this week. Want William to show Gatlin how to clean that out, then change the filters. Having a meeting Monday at 7:30. Need to get this info to Gatlin.
Mike: concerned about the 206 kitchen being unusable might make it harder to lease the room.
Victor: Talk to me after the meeting.
Hannah: Andy just joined as an associate. Brings us up to 3. Sasona, at the height of its associate membership in the last 2+ years, had at top 3 at any one time. Punting a concern about renewing a tenant's lease to a later agenda item.
Meghan: Anyone cooking on Wednesday? I'll volunteer but need someone to fill in in case I have to work.
Leslie: I can help.
Meghan: Going to put in a suggestion box. We're way under budget. Going to buy some meat at the end of the month. Going to be able to buy some bulk stuff, some cooking stuff. Everything hasn't been up to par, but we've been able to save a lot of money. We'll get more established when Z gets back.
McAllen: Are you familiar with saved plates?
Meghan: Was wondering if people would reserve them, so plates aren't going bad. If you reserve a plate and say if you're a vegetarian or what you'd like.
Leslie: I'll make a thing that people can write on. Don't want it in email at all because I won't see it. You'll write your name on a piece of tape and what your restrictions are, if any.
Meghan: If you reserve a plate, it'll establish how many people we're cooking for.
Leslie: I'll send an email saying what the procedure is. Don't request save plates through technological devices please.
Hannah: I've been really happy with the food program's contribution to my quality of life. We've definitely spent less time and money preparing food.
Nolan: We had a meeting last Thursday. Didn't get as much accomplished as I'd hoped, but we talked about some stuff. We'll get an adapter for the Chrome book so that you can connect to the tv and watch Netflix. We're probably going to switch over to more electronic communication for the tech committee. We'd like to make it so that, if you only want to spend 10 minutes/day, you'll be able to see what's important. Don was working on the cameras but nobody reported back to me. Don't know if he found the password. I want to delegate to someone with working eyeballs. By next week I hope we have the Chrome book hooked up and electronic communication set up for the tech committee.
Hannah: Wiki still has a lot of info missing from the old wiki. I've had prospective members mention it/complain about it. Not just membership stuff. Proposals.
Nolan: I'll work on that this week.
McAllen: I'm not familiar with the new wiki.
Nolan: There were issues with the old wiki. People couldn't create accounts. I couldn't get my password recovered.
Ryan: Collected late rent. Paid some bills. Received some receipts, put them into spreadsheets. Maintenance has been good about getting receipts. Going to need the credit card.
Meghan: Need to shop.
Ryan: Not a big hurry; less essential than buying food for tomorrow. I think we should get a key cutter. Will save us money, save people time.
Hannah: How much under budget are we on minor maintenance?
Ryan: I think we've spent about $3500. I don't really recall. Our budget is $16,000 for minor maintenance. It's good to hear that we're under budget for food. I want to take food expenses from the past that were not budgeted and apply them to the food budget. We had things that we decided we'd figure out later. Probably not much more than $100. We can also do it over a couple of months.
Leslie: What does this mean for proposed meat purchasing power?
Ryan: Might mean wait an extra month.
Meghan: Where did the money come from for the barbecue?
Ryan: Wasn't that much money. I have discressionary ability to spend money. If it's not maintenance, we don't have a budget for it.
Meghan: I thought the potlucks were potlucks.
Ryan: I'm talking about the first party to introduce people, and a couple other small things. There was one where I bought ingredients for a meal and we decided to start a month later.
Meghan: We have people paying now for something that happened when they weren't even involved.
Travis: At the end of the year, we'll have profit/loss. Might as well deal with it now.
Leslie: I feel like it's not that crazy to have meat once a week. We can work on it once Z gets back. I feel like there's a happy medium between what you're saying and what we want to accomplish.
Meghan: I think we should just try to get on schedule and deal with this month and deal with our surplus when the time comes.
Party was a huge success. Lot of people asking about membership, interested in lending help. Thanks to Claude for the music. Checking out possibilities of renting a small pool for a pool party in August. Details next week. Leslie mentioned wanting to do art projects. Will coordinate.
Hannah: Me and Mike spent an afternoon with Cassandra, who has been here a couple times. She is interested in helping to run a children's program on Sundays. Thinking of an August 18 start date.
Got out a schedule early. Not everyone on it. Working out kinks. Need a cook on Wednesday. Going to put up a sheet for no-shows and labor trades. Need to decide how to handle. Open to suggestions. Will try to work out individual solutions until we have a policy.
Hannah: Greg planning to move out come mid August. Would like to join as an associate. Will not be living here. Looked over Sasona/CHEA policies. No organizational-level policy. It's at the house level. I don't anticipate trouble filling the room. Trying to get in touch with Gatlin to see if he is cool with moving up there. Sasona charges people a $100 contract break fee. It's a Sasona-level policy, not CHEA-level. I don't see the advantage in doing that. Seems like profiteering off a member. I would like to release Greg from his contract on the contingency that we fill the room.
Meghan: I think Greg has paid for it with his blood, sweat, and tears. He's put in way over $100 of work.
Travis: I think the fee exists not as a way to profit but as a way to deter people from signing leases and skipping out. I think there's a benefit to the policy. In this case, I have no problem not charging the $100.
Hannah: I agree; there as a deterrent, and it does deter people. In the future I'm willing to consider it. In this case, for somebody who has really busted ass, I don't think any of us want to.
William: Are we setting a precedent?
Hannah: You could argue that, but not really, because we don't have a policy. Until there's a policy, there's sort of a psychological precedent, but doesn't bind us.
Travis: Putting this on my list of things to do, to create a policy.
Hannah: Would like to have policies to set the flow chart of decisions before it's a problem.
McAllen: Unsure why this needs to be our decision. Can you just break his contract?
Hannah: I could. There are very few policies; we can do what we want. However, I would not be comfortable giving Greg the go-ahead to break the contract. I do this job, but not my call.
Proposal passes (1 abstention).
Build larger compost area on property, with or without worms. Friendly amendments possible.
Ryan: Not sure who wrote this, but I'll take it up. I turn it every day. It's not enough to handle the amount of compost the common kitchen produces, not to mention all the individual kitchens. You can get more bins. Can make a 2-by-4 platform and take an old trash bin or blue recycling bin, put an axel through it, and flip it. I like the idea but don't think we have the man hours to put into making composters. Paying for them or spending labor are pretty much the two options. I think that even what we've got already attracts a lot of flies. The amount of flies that congregate on our food when we do outdoor potlucks is absurd.
McAllen: I've done my share of reading up on methods. Used to be pretty knowledgeable. A properly-managed compost pile shouldn't cause any odors or attract flies afaik. Animal pests would be another matter to consider. Maybe build a frame with chicken wire. I'd be willing to look into that and see if it would be feasible.
Hannah: I'd suggest that we table. Doing research is good. Traditional compost certainly can be managed in such a way that it does not attract pests and is not a source of smell. Will a coop-managed compost heap work like that? Generally, the coop-managed compost heaps don't. May normally but might smell bad for a week or two. People might leave a heap of meat on top, and it doesn't work. Might still be a concern to our neighbors. They might be ready to complain when we have that off week.
Leslie: We could discuss locations. There's a lot of weird space that's not used and creepy at night.
??: It's out my window. I don't want to look at the compost.
Travis: It's great discussion for people interested in composting. I think it would be great to create an exploratory subcommittee. Not an efficient use of meeting time.
Travis: Jesse resigned as menu planner. Leslie nominated herself. No one else has responded. Let's have an election.
Donny: It's the labor czar's job to have an election, but we could vote to appoint her temporarily.
Donny motions to appoint Leslie as menu planner.
Did not specify that we will perform background checks. If a situation did arise where we knew that people had violent tendencies, could avoid a stressful meeting where we needed to decide whether or not it would apply. Any member can bring the decision to question at a meeting if desired.
Meghan: Would this be brought up at all, or would the coordinator just decide?
Travis: They would decide, but I would expect them to put it in their officer report.
Meghan: Don't prospective members have to come to meetings, and then they leave, and we ask the question? Wouldn't it come up? Why would it be up to the membership coordinator?
Travis: We tasked the memco with dealing with prospective members. The documented behavior might be noted before they came to a meeting to begin with.
Ryan: I don't see how this is any different from what we have in place, other than that it has potential for abuse. If the memco feels there's anything wrong, they'll make sure to bring it up at a meeting. That way we'll have oversight over how people get denied. We live in a neighborhood where people aren't like us, and there's a history of discrimination. People assume that our policy is discriminatory. I've had this conversation with Brian Donovan. We had a situation where a couple walked on to the property asking for application specifics, prices. We told them about our membership policies. They left cursing and swearing. I think that adding more layers won't make it any better.
Donny: I think I agree with Ryan, and I trust the group's decision-making capability. May be awkward and stressful, but that's part of the decision of whether you want someone to live with you. You have to deal with peoples' past. I trust a group decision over that of a single person.
Hannah: I agree. I also think that there's a little bit of a conversation that this brought on. Travis and I were concerned about me reacting to HACA correspondence. I think it's a concern that still needs to be addressed. HACA works with bizarre timelines and long turn-around timelines. I am weary about a situation like the one we're in where I have concerns about somebody staying on as a member because of very obvious destructive and possibly abusive behavior. I don't want to wait for them to come to two meetings. Might be two weeks before their voucher rolls over. If we do nothing, their voucher rolls over, and their entitled to stay here. After a certain point, HACA assumes that you're re-signing the lease. If this person doesn't come until two weeks before their voucher rolls over, might not be enough time.
Nolan: I'm not sure that this policy does anything. If someone needs a three-month lead time on membership, I feel like it's incumbent to know that and act. I'm not sure we get anything new other than a loss of transparency. I'm kind of against it.
Hannah: I'm not advocating for this policy specifically. What we could continue doing is that, for people on s8 who would like to renew their lease, I could just throw it to the house and say why I want to preemptively deny the person.
Meghan: If it has already become an issue, I don't see why you couldn't bring it up as voting on that this person's lease should not be renewed. If someone has a visitor who is constantly harassing people, we could not allow them on the property. I don't know why they would need to be up for membership in order to have a consensus not to allow their behavior.
Hannah: I don't want to make a unilateral decision. Want us all to be in agreement.
Hannah: I wish HACA had a policy/deadline, but seems to vary from person to person. I want to deal with it as soon as possible.
Hannah: I want to let HACA know what our plan is as soon as possible. There was a situation with a tenant where it became clear that a tenant has smashed giant (2-3 ft) holes in the wall, perhaps as a way to release anger. HACA is aware of it, along with other things they want her to fix before she renews her lease. I would like to give her a two-week-to-one-month window to repair the damage. She has a $150 deposit on the books. Doesn't necessarily cover any damage. If we're going to get the work professionally done, she has well exceeded that already. Even if we do it ourselves, she may have exceeded that. I'm concerned about her potential to do further damage and getting stuck with a bill later on. I'm not sure we can request a further deposit from her until she renews her lease. I'd still like to see the holes fixed in a limited scope of time. If she can't do that, we explain to HACA that she is a financial liability to the property.
Ryan: If we can estimate the amount of damage and bill her, I think that's legitimate. Then it becomes a collections issue. If she has to pay the money and doesn't pay it, then it's an eviction issue. We could tell HACA that we're not going to approve her.
Travis: We're a coop, not in the business of having tenants. We should tell her she needs to fix stuff, but, more importantly, she needs to understand that she needs to be part of this coop. If she's not willing to do that, she's not going to renew it.
Donny: Greg and I tried to get in to scope out the damage, and she wouldn't answer.
Leslie: How did he see it in the first place?
Ryan: The door was open, and the police were here.
Leslie: I feel a little worried that the people that lived here before, because it sucks to move, are people joining for convenience? Are they joining because they see that it's a cooperative benefit? I do not want to live with people who don't understand that this is a lot of work. Why do we even need to consider this person? I don't want to live with someone like that that locks their doors. I know that it's racially and income unfair. I don't know what to do about that. I'm worried that we're tip-toeing around things and being too nice, and we're going to look like fools in the end.
Hannah: I guess I always want to leave room that someone could come to two meetings. The first thing I'll do is talk to her. I want Ryan or someone to come with me. I don't feel safe talking alone. We've had good interactions, but I've seen a 180. I don't know if she plans on renewing. I want to have a contingency plan so I know what I'm saying to her. I would like her to fix the damage within a month. I would like her to pay an additional deposit before that time. I suspect that her boyfriend might be willing to fix the holes. I'll email Daniel and see if we can legally do that.
Travis: Also mention that she will need to do labor.
Donny: Are you going to put those terms up for a motion for the house to vote on?
Hannah: Yes. I'm putting this up off the cuff.
Donny: I agree with those terms. Not unreasonable to ask for the full $800, especially in light of the fact that she has just trashed her unit.
Hannah: I don't know on what timeline I can do that. I'll email Daniel.
Mike: Can evict for not doing labor. Also, we should require sec8 tenants to come to two meetings well before their leases are up.
Meghan: Is she violating conditions of her lease? Isn't that evictable behavior?
Hannah: It could be, but the lease gives a provision for her to fix the damage by the end of her lease term. Lease up at the end of October. She has until the end of her lease to fix and repair any damage. I don't want to evict her partly because I don't see much harm in her finishing her lease term. If we could get what we want without someone losing their voucher, that would be the best outcome.
Ryan: If she did come to a second meeting and someone brought up the damage, she might not be able to sign a lease. What happens if someone brings something up?
Hannah: There's a flow chart. We vote with a 50% super-majority needed. The meeting would decide whether the issue satisfied the criteria of evictable behavior. If more than 50% of the house accepted that as evidence, we would vote on whether to deny them membership.
Ryan: Would you bring this up?
Hannah: Yeah. I'm concerned that this person will do so much damage that they won't be able to pay their deposit.
Leslie: To me, it's more concerning that you don't feel comfortable going into someone's apartment alone. I care more about you feeling unsafe going into someone's apartment.
Hannah: You're right. I think Victor is going to speak to this. I zeroed in on the financial liability because it's more cut and dry.
Victor: If requested, I'll get a professional estimate. I think billing her is a good idea. I'll try to start that tomorrow. Second, I'm going to oppose this person's membership based on the violence. Cynthia is going to bring in other violence she has seen. [The tenant's boyfriend] filled out paperwork to not file charges, but she has assaulted him. Should have been prosecuted. Not the first time from what I have heard from Cynthia.
Hannah: I will talk to her this week. If I don't get to talk to her this week, I'll tell her case worker that we don't plan on renewing her lease. Leaving some wiggle room, but will say to put a hold on the renewal until I tell you otherwise.
Donny: This is sort of like the second meeting discussion. I don't see any problem in doing that if we have to, to discuss a potential member even if they haven't come to another meeting.
Living in new environments always presents us with new challenges, and we have come to a realization that even with a policy of open membership, let’s face it. There are certain times when we may not accept a member into our co-op. I would imagine one of these instances would pretty consistently be when there is documented proof of prior instances of violent or destructive behavior. However, using current the system we have to approve or disapprove new members, encountering a situation such as this could lead to a very uncomfortable meeting atmosphere, stress on the current membership and overall drop in house morale and productivity. I can give you plenty of anecdotal evidence from my own history with Co-ops backing this up.
However, for every rule there is an exception, and so I would be hesitant to create a cut-and-dry rule saying no one with a history of violence can be a member. That would also go against our policy of open membership. So what’s to do? Could we possibly make our meetings faster, happier and more fun by giving a little slack to our officers?
Why don’t we give the power to the membership coordinator? Here’s my proposal.
In cases where a prospective member has a documented history of violent or destructive behavior, the membership coordinator has the power to preemptively deny membership to the prospective member if they feel as though this behavioral history will have an excessively negative impact on the Co-op. Any member may call this decision to question at a meeting if desired.
Submitted by Travis Jones, 6/19/13
Donny: My saga with the gas in my apartment was very exciting. Jess and Beth were able to fix their pilate light also. I visited my parents, and they would like to buy me a new oven because of that. I told them it would have to be a donation to the coop, but I would leave it here if I moved out. Wanted to get a general sense that that would be okay.
McAllen: Found this spinny thing at work. Want to ask people with maintenance knowledge what it is, what we can do with it.
??: It's a lazy Susan.
William: We have one tenant who has house guests who have been here for a long, long time. I know that there are issues with squatter's rights. Also, there's been some major noise coming from that group of people.
Hannah: I can talk to them. It's a lurking issue that I haven't wanted to deal with. If someone is here for 30 days, then they don't have to leave unless we evict them. Evictions are expensive.
Meghan: If they're squatting, how do you have a time table for the beginning?
Hannah: I don't know. Witnesses could feed into that. I don't know, if it came to the police's attention that we wanted them out, how it would be verified or not, but it's kind of a vulnerability. I've been laxed because there's the human dimension of low-income folks, where someone might have lost their place.
Leslie: I know we want to include everyone, but I don't know how we can include the Spanish speakers. They aren't involved in a real way, not involved in the labor system. How can we better deal with that? The email, for lots of reasons, can we revisit the reliance of email between all of us that are in this room? it's just overwhelming. 90% of what we're doing is done on email. That's understandable but not good for including people. I don't know if there's a solution.
Nolan: There are forum software packages that are trying to reinvent the forum and make it more modern/friendly. Was thinking about using that instead. Email and electronic communication is more accessible to me. I lived at Sasona for a year and a half and never read a single agenda item. I don't want to exclude people, but don't want to abandon or downplay electronic communication.
Leslie: I don't want to abandon it. People live here now who don't have it.
Nolan: We talked about fundraising for computers. I have a friend who is trying to do technology education. Trying to teach classes. It's a longer-term plan.
Hannah: If we are under budget for minor maintenance, I'd like to see us get a bulletin board outside 106. People can easily ignore the bulletin board by the window. I'd talked to Jess about this. It's kind of his call. I'd really like to see him doing what he was doing, posting emails on a bulletin board. I think that what would make that usable for people who don't come into 106 unless they have a reason to or won't look at a giant bulletin board, is to headline, have short phrases that capture things. I think it's a great idea to do computer classes and make computers available and fundraise to get people their own, but there are lots of people that, even if you gave them a computer and lessons, still probably aren't going to habitually check their email, and we need to keep that in mind.
Ryan: We've talked about getting wifi. It's going slow. They're a nonprofit with not enough man hours. We live in the internet era. You can't get a job without getting on the internet. For peoples' livelihoods, people need to be educated.
Hannah: Having short and long-term plans working simultaneously is a good idea.
William: Short term, I've let several tenants use my computer, and have no problem doing that, but having a community computer wouldn't be a huge expense.
collective: We have a netbook.
Hannah: When Gatlin is out of that room, we can have a desk. We have computers. We just need space to set them up. The digital divide is huge. It's a big convenience.
Nolan: I want to set up a computer lab in one of these rooms once we get people out of it.
Leslie: Discussing benefits, I just keep seeing situations where I wish there was a catch-all person. Doesn't need to be the head of anything. There's a lot that falls to you. I know that you take a lot of it on because you have that kind of gusto and personality. I think it helps things last. A working committee could discuss having a director or catch-all person here.
Hannah: At one point, we very consciously decided to exclude that. Didn't want to promote a hierarchical arrangement in our coop. On the other hand, might help a lot. I'm probably pragmatic over anything. Looking at the pros and cons, I'd vote for that.