By October 24, 1988, the game was playing us. On page 3, the Mountain Ear published this letter to the editor:
We want the members of Lincoln Electric Cooperative, Inc. to know that the information they received from the cooperative was not unanimously approved by the trustees. On Wednesday evening, Oct. 19, 1988, the board met, was handed this information by the manager, and reviewed it. No vote was taken on mailing this out.
Trustee E. Duke Baney
Trustee Billie Gossett
On page 4, under the headline “REA Packs House” the report ran”
“The Lincoln Electric meeting room held 135 people last Monday evening as Manager Monk Miller tried to wriggle off the hook of the 100 G’s retirement/consultant deal he’d pushed through the board.
It wasn’t to be. Monk started off smearing at the Mountain Ear’s inaccuracies, explaining that he’d never meant to retire, but when Gib Burk read the minutes, the phrase “Early retirement” was heard by all attending. Burk interrupted his reading to comment that he hadn’t seen this before, then he recognized his own signature on the document he was reading. According to our sources, the same deal was made for the Flathead Co-op’s recently retired manager.
Here’s the proposal Monk gave to the board 10-14-88:
Trustees: The following is a proposal . . . . concerning my continued employment as manager of Lincoln Electric and InterBel Telephone Cooperatives. Due to the very obvious takeover attempt by a group of very uninformed people under the guidance of a few self-interest people, I’m proposing the agreement presently in force be canceled, providing a contract for my continued service as manager for the two cooperatives until July 1, 1991 . . .
The summary is simple: if the trustees will guarantee Monk’s wages ‘ti; July of 91, he’ll cancel the sweetheart deal that guarantees full wages ‘til July of 91 and early retirement.
Duke Baney’s speech killed the motion to guarantee Monk employment until June of 91. Baney went on to move that the board conduct all business by Roberts Rules, and adopt the state’s open meeting code. In a room full of LEC members the motion passed.
Lindsey reported on the pole relocation job near Dickey Lake caused by the planned highway work on 93. He stated that the job isn’t large enough to make soliciting bids worthwhile. Harp was contacted and will do the job for slightly over $11,000. Additional study on this by the Mountain Ear gave us the information that Mr. Harp is a Montana State Senator, and has chaired the Highway Committee. Costs of this job will be totally reimbursed to the Co-op by the state. Please note that the Mountain Ear does not imply that this hiring was unethical. We wish to show that the method of awarding this bid allows questions to be raised that wouldn’t have to be had been bid announcements mailed out.
Most of the attendees left before McCurry’s request, on behalf of CREAM, for a list of LEC members and mailing addresses was denied by the board of trustees. After the denial, trustee Dale Hudson informed Mike that he doesn’t represent the people who are trying to get rid of him.
On October 24, Hitting the High Points:
“You’ll have a hard time believing this one. Just two days after passing a motion to conduct business openly, the trustees of Lincoln Electric Co-op held a secret, illegal meeting.
Incredible as this seems, trustees were notified of the pending meeting Wednesday morning, and the meeting was held Wednesday night. Less than half a day’s notice was given, nd, incredibly enough, the public wasn’t present.
The meeting was totally in violation of the Co-op’s bylaws – Article V, section 3, states “Written notice of the time, place, and purpose of any special meeting of the board of trustees shall be delivered not less than five days previous theretofore . . .” It’s all on page 26 of the phone book.
The business was simple: Manager Monk Miller wanted the board to rubber stamp 6 pages of Miller’s responses to CREAM. According to my information, 7 trustees rubber stamped his 6 page semi-factual soporific. It was mailed to all members. Please note that the Mountain Ear at no time requested a list of members – Monk’s statement is in error and none of his rubber stamps corrected the lie.
The board has gone beyond the Pale. By conducting business in violation of the bylaws, the trustees can no longer claim to be acting legitimately. They have graduated to outlaw boar status.
Last Monday, trustee Dale Hudson told me that he didn’t represent me. That was no great surprise. Wednesday, Monk and his rubber stamp collection threw the bylaws to the wind. Now the Lincoln Electric trustees have only 8 constituents – 7 guilty trustees and Monk. Sorry guys, but this time you should pay for mailing Monk’s propaganda out of your own pockets, not the cooperative’s. Isn’t it safe and secure following Monk?”
At this point, the conflict had less than 50 days to continue.