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October 6, 2013

Present: Beth, Diana, Don, Hannah, Jess, Leslie, Mike, Molly, Nolan, Paul, Ryan, Seneca, Travis, William

Meet and greet

Called Chad by phone. He plans on coming in person for his second meeting later in the month when he is in Austin.

Officer reports


Ryan: Almost finished with bookkeeping for last month. Expect a 2 report next week.


Beth: Thank you everyone for showing up for labor holiday. Some things I wish had gone differently / will do differently next time, but think everyone work hard. Made a sheet for no-shows; need to post somewhere to make it accessible. I've been asked to write labor descriptions, which I'm happy to do, but can't until we decide how many labor hours we'll have. If you have input on the specific boundaries of each labor job, now is a good time. We're still figuring out how much time is covered for each job.

Don: What happened with the power washer?

Hannah: We were told by the administrative office that they had a power washer. Jesse showed up asking for it. Apparently they didn't know that they had one until we asked for it. They were using it because they were all excited that they had it. Don, would you power wash if we could get it?

Don: Can't on Monday or Tuesday. Could do it on Wednesday.


z: I am happy to report we are getting a lot of donations. I still need people willing to help pick up, receive or store food. Specific request: bread run Sat at 10pm.

Also, I am sad to report we will not be getting more free beer from Black Star, as the keg was not returned empty and they can't afford to waste beer. Please keep in mind waste! I still want to send them a bad ass thank you card and need pics from the labor holiday to do it, email me! We will still be able to buy beer at a discounted coop rate.

Will be working on getting food bulk up and running - in the mean time please enjoy and share all the free food. If it's from Keep Austin Fed, it's for everyone!

Leslie: z and I are still working on getting the bulk up and running. If you're still interested in joining the food program, let me know. This week will look the same as last week. Meals might be a little scant. z and I are thinking that we're getting so many donations that we might want to restructure meals even more to allow meals to be free. It'll take another month or so for us to figure out if there's a pattern.


Nolan: Charles was going to help with the wireless on Tuesday, but he got sick. I'll probably ping him tomorrow. I'm in the process of figuring out how to write an app to track food inventory.

Ryan: Did you talk to z about getting access to 206?

Nolan: We talked about it. I got permission to get into her unit.

Paul: Could we move the cable modem down to 106?

Nolan: If Gatlin tells them that he moved.

Travis: The camera output is poor quality.

Leslie: THey don't seem to move. Some of them go out. There are at least three cameras on the dumpster, but I don't think you could ever tell who is doing anything. I'd say the safest place to place your car is the north lot, not the front lot on Gault.


Jess: Mike Jones is in jail and facing hefty time for crimes he committed after he was banned here. I intend to attend when his trial comes around. Won't be for a while. SPoke with J.T. earlier this week. From our conversation, seemed like he has chilled out a bit and doesn't harbor too much ill will towards his neighbors. I heard that a child died across the street earlier today. I think it's a good reminder to keep an eye out for safety for our kids as well as the kids across the street. GOing to be floating around ideas for a Halloween party.

Hannah: One of the kids broke Claude's window today throwing a ball around. I think we need to look at how the kids are acting in the courtyard and set some boundaries. It's getting out of control. Talked to Sheila and Delia(sp?) a little bit.


Hannah: Still working on the eviction. Attended the hearing on THursday. Went well. Have another hearing on Tuesday. Andy moved in. Still talking about what will happen with 207 and people switching rooms at the end of October.

Jess/Travis: How long does she have if we win?

Ryan: I think she has 5-14 days.

Seneca: Assuming best-case scenario, how soon can somebody who is intending to move in have contracts and money for you?

Hannah: Let's talk on Tuesday night.


Victor: Very productive week for maintenance,


1) During the Tuesday night water shut-down, William, Don, and Victor managed to get 2 apartments outfitted with new cut-off valves instead of just one. Practice may not make perfect, but it is improving our speed.

2) We passed the city code inspection on Apt. #207, even though we could not complete all the required work because the tenant will not grant us access. The city inspector, Mr. McBryde, is convinced we did everytyhing possible and closed his investigation with the understanding we will complete the work when the apartment is empty.

3) It looks like we worked out all the details for the eventual signing of Frank’s plumbing contract


We were not able to coordinate times to get the A/C repaired in 105 or the new door installed on 205. More on these jobs next week.

Please Note.

Water shut down on Tuesday Night / Wednesday


Travis: Leslie and I talked to J.T. as well yesterday. We had a nice, long conversation. He apologized without us asking him. Was very transparent about his behavior. Once we got through that part of the discussion, he expressed some interest in the coop itself. We told him some about the way it worked, and he seemed pretty into it. He may come to a meeting. He's a good guy; he just has some anger issues.

Leslie: If you're an officer and feel like guessing as to how many hours you've spent per week, or if there's anything you need help with, there are people in the room right now who don't have email. I'm hearing a lot of people. including myself, feeling very overwhelmed and overloaded by stuff here in addition to real life. If z were here, I'm sure she would say the same.

Travis: Next week we will include that as part of the officer reports for everyone.

Leslie: If you want to give help, we require four hours, but there are a lot of people who do twice that, easily.

(William) Providing information about installing solar window screens

William: I was asked to do some investigations into solar screens. They go over both sides of the window. They block out enough sun and heat that it cuts down on your bills. Some people were given the impression that La Reunion would be paying for screens, and other people were given the impression that you would have to pay for them yourself. The question has been raised about whether the coop could afford to do it. I have not gotten solid numbers yet. If we do the south, the east, and the west windows completely, there's a chance for as much of a 50% rebate from the city after the fact. The house can't afford it, so there was discussion about having a group of us go in and do half the units. Everyone pays out of pocket, but there's no rebate.

Leslie: Whether we have the money or not is the issue to me. I don't see how this isn't LR's expense. Is it not when you get an apartment, there are screens on your window? If we can't afford it, then we have to go with the other option.

??: They would be in place of the bug screens, rather than in addition to them?

Travis: Yes.

Ryan: Maybe deciding whether we want to do this or not will be best left for early spring. That way we'll know whether we can afford them or not, and won't save us money until next summer anyway. I don't think it's worth investigating right now. I would prioritize insulation and sealing up the unit. That would save us more money because we pay for gas and the heating. This would save individuals money. I don't think now is the best time to be discussing it. Right now I would say that, no, we can't afford it because we've already spent 70% of our maintenance budget.

Leslie: I disagree because it's October in Texas. It's not going to get cold for another two months. Are you guys going to have your windows open and have flies? Can anyone who is interested create a pool?

William: We can do kits that are available at Lowe's. Two windows are about $44. That lets you open your windows.

Molly: 70% of budget until December, or April?

Ryan: April.

Seneca: Not dictated soully by the temperature. Also by the budget of the agency giving the rebate. If the rebate changes significantly, then it could change your outlay. Knowing whether that's the case is important.

William: The west wall may not need to be done for the rebate. it's possible that we could throw in cash to get this done.

(Hannah) Elect Potluck Coordinator and Bookkeeper

Leslie: We want to change the name of the potluck coordinator and add an extra hour to it.

Travis: Needs to be on the agenda before the meeting.

Leslie: No one is running against me. Does it really matter?

Travis: Not friendly because all of the officers are at two hours. We'd be doing an injustice to the other officers.

Leslie: It's 1 hour. I want to increase it to 2. The bulk person will need help more than an hour.

Travis: We can do the election today and make a proposal next week to change it.

Hannah: With putting those changes off for a week, are you still willing to run?

Leslie: Yes.

Leslie elected for potluck coordinator, 12-0-2.

Diana accepts nomination as bookkeeper.

Diana elected 13-0-1.

(Hannah) Approve Membership Review policy

Hannah: If someone's behavior is ugly and three people sign their name to review them, then we'll talk about it at a meeting. Can result in an eviction if enough people vote for it. Most coops have something like this. I wrote a behavioral contract into this, as a middle ground / second chance. If people break their behavioral contract and people agree that they've broken it, then they're evicted. Accepting friendly amendment to remove “written”.

Travis: Only takes three people to call a membership review, and only takes a majority to vote to do something, including eviction.

Molly: Is there already a person in place whose job is mediation?

Travis: In the steward's role, it doesn't say that they're the mediator, but they're responsible for seeing that conflict is delt with.

Seneca: The procedural rights of the person being evicted are thin. Should be a formal mediation process or model. Should be able to evaluate how well the mediation was done, whether it was kosher.

Meghan: The eviction can be decided in one meeting by those present? Do we have an appeals process?

Hannah: The CHEA board.

Ryan: Donny attended an appeal last Thursday.

Jess: The CHEA board has the final decision? If the CHEA board decides to overturn, then what happens? They could come to a very different decision, not knowing things that we know.

Hannah: That's happening right now. They've formed a grievance committee. The buck stops with the board.

Andy: Is there a quorum at that meeting?

Travis: No, we haven't decided on an official quorum.

Hannah: Sasona does a 50% majority vote for membership reviews and evictions. I would be open to changing that to 75% here because it's a pretty traumatic thing to kick people out.

A straw poll is taken. Most people are in favor of 75%.

Molly: I think we should have a quorum.

Travis: I agree. You should write a proposal for next week.

Andy: If Molly drafts a proposal for the quorum and everyone agrees to it, would it apply to membership reviews?

Travis: Yes.

Hannah: If somebody's on contract and they've broken it, keeping that vote at 50%.

Passes unanimously.

Member review policy

1. A membership review is a public review at a house meeting of a member's actions or behavior. A membership review can result in a vote to evict a member from the house, can result in the house requesting a behavioral contract of the member, or in no action being taken at all.

2. It is the expectation of the cooperative that members will first address conflict with each other through other courses such as dialogue or conflict mediation.

3. Any three members of the house may call a membership review of any member. A membership review is called by writing it on the meeting agenda and publicly posting the reasons for the review by Friday at noon before the meeting. The Meeting Chair will ensure that the meeting discussion adheres to the publicly posted reasons for the review. The Steward will ensure that house policies regarding eviction meetings are followed if necessary and will inform the membership and the member being reviewed of all relevant policies.

4. The member being reviewed has a right to address fully all of the reasons for the review.

5. After discussing all of the reasons for the review, the Chair will ask the member being reviewed to leave the room while the meeting discusses whether to call for a vote to remove them from the house or ask for a behavioral contract, the nonfulfillment of which will result in removal (see below.) While the member is out of the room, no new issues should be brought up. If any new issues are brought up, then the member will be called back into the room and given the chance to address those issues.

6. The Chair will first ask for a straw poll to determine which option the majority of members are interested in: eviction, behavioral contract, or no action.

7. The action receiving a plurality of votes will be discussed first. A single member may call for a vote to initiate the action. An eviction requires an affirmative vote by 3/4 of the members present, except in the case of a member having broken a behavioral contract, in which case a simple majority is required. Other kinds of actions require a simple majority to pass.

8. In the case of a vote for eviction, the vote will take place while the member is out of the room. The member being reviewed can come back into vote before leaving the room again.

9. The vote will be a secret vote, tallied by the Meeting Chair and the Steward. The vote can be taken on paper ballots, prepared by the Meeting Chair.

10. In the case of a behavioral contract, discussion of the terms can take place with and/ or without the member being reviewed present. A behavioral contract may contain more than one required behavior. Each condition must be voted on separately and must be worded in terms of specific, observable behavior. If the meeting votes to allow the member continued membership under a behavioral contract, the Steward is in charge of drafting such a contract which should be brought for approval to the next house meeting.

11. The member being reviewed does not have to be in attendance at the meeting to be evicted from the house or to have their membership revoked. The member being reviewed may write a response, which will be presented at the meeting, if they are unable/unwilling to attend the meeting.

12. If the meeting votes to remove the member from the house, then the member's membership will be revoked and eviction proceedings will begin.

13. If a member believes that the member under behavioral contract has violated this contract at any point during its duration, they can bring it to a house meeting as such. There is no need to go through the membership review procedure again at this point. The membership will simply discuss and vote on whether the member breached their contract. An affirmative vote of a simple majority will result in eviction.

(Travis) Labor hours discussion in regards to food program

Travis: A couple weeks ago, Leslie and I and some people involved with the food program floated the idea of getting rid of the division of how many hours you're required to do based on participation in the food program. Currently, if you're on the food program, you have to do four hours of labor. If you're not, you have to do two. It is the opinion of myself and others that everyone should be required to do the same amount of labor, regardless of whether you're participating in the food program. It's in our mission statement that we value equality. How can we be equal if we're not doing the same amount of work? Reads email from Donny arguing that we all benefit from people getting together and exchanging ideas. The geography of the place encourages people to stay inside our apartments.

Beth: It seems like, if we all do three hours, then it will equalize, but a very small percentage of people are not doing four hours. If we decided that everybody does three hours, then we'll lose 10-15 hours. The Keep Austin Fed contributions will do a lot to help us save money on food, but there's a lot of labor to make sure that food doesn't go bad, etc. That will not happen if we reduce the amount of labor required. I would love to do less labor, but don't complain at me if you're not happy that not enough is happening around here.

Ryan: I think the rationale we had was that people who sign new leases had to do four hours of labor, just as they had to join the food program. They weren't really attached; they were just all on the same lease.

Hannah: The leases just say that they are getting three meals a week and will do up to six hours of labor. There's not a specific number in there. It's left vague. I think the numbers pushes me against equalizing labor. We need more cohesion and community. We need to bridge the communities that are here. I don't think asking people who have stressed lives with kids is the right way to do that. I think we're at bare bones; don't want to see labor decrease.

Leslie: Reads email from z saying that doubling hours from 2-4 should be harsh. The food program should reduce our need for commons cleans.

Leslie: It's the same people who were on the food program before and nobody new. I don't think that four hours is a lot to ask of people. Are people doing the labor now that they're supposed to be doing? I know that every officer does above and beyond. That's something that needs to be spoken to. We need to figure out a more sustainable labor system that doesn't have such a burn-out.

Jess: People at 21st St. still accomplish four hours of labor. Not every job that is credited for an hour takes an hour. I think there's flexibility to give people who need a more flexible schedules more flexible jobs. The reality is that we're in a building that's falling apart, and we need the work. We're not asking for a lot compared to any other coop in Austin. Part of being part of a coop is that you have responsibilities to your community.

Travis: I feel like this coop is limping along. The few people who are really committed are way over-committed and burning out because there are other people in the community that aren't stepping up. I do not buy arguments that people are too busy to do four hours. If they don't want to, why are they still here?

Mike: On one hand, we have close to an hour of labor per person that's specific to the food program. This doesn't directly benefit people who aren't on the food program, and people who aren't on the food program may also be busy because they have children, so requiring an hour less of labor from them might make sense. But Donny makes a good point as well, and, on the other hand, requiring only three hours of labor from some people might mean that we don't have enough labor, so maybe requiring four hours from everyone makes sense.

Molly: People are scheduled for labor that takes a lot longer, if they do a thorough job, than the amount they're credited. I'd like to see officers write down the amount of labor that they do, to use as a basis. Would help figure out ways to redistribute labor for people doing, say, 10 hours/week.

Beth: If we still do 4 and 2, will be a deficit because people are going off the food program. If we do 4 and 3, will have slightly more. If we do 3 and 3, will have a deficit. More labor hours means more fluid labor. If you have four hours of labor, might mean that two hours are things that you hate doing, one hour is something you love doing. There are lots of suggestions for labor that people have. If we had more labor hours, might be able to divide commons clean into bathroom and kitchen, so that you're not in here for two hours and getting an hour of labor credit. Right now, people are being credited for less time than they spend because they're doing what needs to be done. If we let people do less that aren't in the food program, then they'll continue to do less, and other people will need to do even more to compensate. If we do 4 and 3, the labor we're getting won't be from people who are particularly engaged. The people who we'd lose an hour from are the people who are working really hard. If we did 4 and 3, a lot of people who are going off the food program but taking their labor seriously will only do 3, and a lot of people gaining an hour aren't taking their labor seriously.

Meghan: I don't think 4 hours is a lot to ask. If I'm cooking, I won't put any energy into it because I don't want to cook after work. But I love to garden.

Jess: I've been able to work children who are not even my children into my labor. Rather than looking at it as an imposition, we should look at it as an opportunity to get kids involved in labor with their parents.

Ryan: I think it's a huge mistake to tie labor with the food program. As soon as I'm feeling overwhelmed, I can quit the food program and drop my labor. I think that linking labor to food is dumb because it's what we pay money for. Is the food supposed to be free to everybody?

Leslie: z and I talked about that. Will see how well we can organize Keep Austin Fed in the next month. We need to see if the donations are useful enough and helpful enough and, in the best-case scenario, make meals free for everyone.

Ryan: I think that any proposal that we come up with should be tied to the lease. People who have been doing two hours of labor won't be happy when switched to four hours. I don't think we should be shifting anything right now hours-wise.

Travis: People who elect to change their food program status wouldn't change their hours?

Hannah: We don't have to do anything. Nothing is tied to the contract right now. It has an upward ceiling of six hours. Nobody is contractually tied to one amount or another.

Leslie: I talk to people with kids all the time. It's helpful to engage people as friends. Where are the people with kids? They've been invited.

Don: I wonder if I could get some help Wednesday night with the power-washing.

Hannah: Talk to Victor.

Ryan: Eric and Elaine are supposed to sweep the courtyard on Wednesday.

Beth: Elaine owes 3.5 hours from the labor holiday, and Cynthia owes four.

Hannah: I think that, if we're going to change peoples' labor, we need to make this agenda item more public. We should make sure people knowe that this is on the agenda. I know we're posting on the door, but it's in size 12 font. They're never going to read it. Has an obtuse name; people won't realize that their labor requirement might change. Let's do this again with big words on the door.

Travis: I planned on bringing a proposal next week.

William: Not everybody was here when DOnny got burnt out on maintenance. We're about to burn Victor out. He's going to school, he works full-time, and he's putting in a lot of hours for y'all. We're in danger of losing him. Keep that in mind when you consider what's really important here.

Molly: More labor hours can mean more opportunities for people with kids to help them with what they're already doing. Having the extra two hours can mean that they'll have more free time for themselves.

Ryan: I logged hours for one month. It turned out I averaged 7-8 hours/week and 1-1.5 hours for maintenance. If I didn't have a part-time job, I would be freaking out.

Leslie: Beth, how does this affect you as far as moving forward for this week?

Beth: There's nothing I can do. If we decide through a straw poll, I'll try to come up with a breakdown for next Sunday so you know what you're voting on.

A straw-poll is taking asking whether people want things to stay the same, for everyone to have three hours, or for everyone to have four hours. Most people select for everyone to have four hours.

New business

Leslie: Can you please make sure not to have stuff in the sink if it's yours from earlier in the day, especially on days when there's a meal?

Hannah: I'd like to paint out by the entryway and make a sign.

Molly: Everybody does a hand-print.

Hannah: That's a good idea for future things, like murals. I just want it to say “La Reunion Cooperative.”

Seneca: There are a lot of opportunities for grants that CHEA can qualify for. I had a hard time figuring out who to contact at CHEA. We qualify for the lowest level, which would give us $50,000 for housing improvements. I couldn't figure out who to talk to for information about our total revenue, how many volunteer hours we have.

Hannah: Doesn't have a great answer. Information is de-centralized, so might need to track it down, which makes it hard. Sarah said that she would be willing to do the full application if someone could do the pre-application.

Seneca: The due date was this week or something like that.

Hannah: That's so cool. I think we should do stuff like that more.

Seneca: Especially if the affordable housing bonds pass, that's like $60,000,000.

Travis: On Wednesday, the Austin Cooperative Business Association is having its inaugural dinner/general meeting at Taos. Wednesday at 6:00. If you want to go and carpool, talk to me and/or Leslie.

Ryan: You have to rsvp for dinner.

Leslie: We need to know by tomorrow night if you're interested in going.

Travis: I like the idea of a worker coop handyman group.

Hannah: NASCO Institute coming up the first weekend of November. it's a really fun gathering of coops nation-wide. Y'all get together for a long weekend in Ann Arbor, MI. There is scholarship funding available. You might have to take a bus with a bunch of college kids.

Leslie: If you need tips for getting on the bus, talk to me.

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