Force 11 Storm- Small Houses and Sheds Removed

The November 14 issue of the Mountain Ear headlined “Eaton gives Burk the Petitions”:

“Lincoln Electric’s Board of trustees met Monday night, November 7, to accept the petitions that the concerned REA members (CREAM) had circulated calling for the ouster of the trustees.  The trustees, their attorney, some Co-op employees, and approximately 50 LEC members attended the brief meeting.

CREAM chairman Craig Eaton presented the 35 petitions to Board secretary Gib Burk who quipped “Ever hear of the paperwork reduction act?”

The signatures were to be reviewed the following day, and, according to our information, both sides agreed that there are sufficient valid signatures to call for the special meeting.

The meeting date will be scheduled at the next regular board meeting, on November 21.  Craig has explained since that, tentatively, CREAM is anticipating the meeting will be scheduled for December 10, due to time restraints and availability of the LCHS gym.

As the meeting wound down, Duke Baney mentioned that he’d heard rumors that “(Lincoln Electric) management has threatened employees and members, and if that be the case, it should be stopped.”  Co-op manager Monk Miller rose to deny that rumor, stating, among other things, “We deal with employees like we always have.”  Apparently satisfied, Duke agreed, commenting, “That’s probably true.”

An advertisement from CREAM, on page 2, “Did you know that”:

“At the start of 1988, six out of ten trustees for the Lincoln Electric Cooperative had been trustees when the previous manager left in 1978?  It’s not hard to see why we support an 8 year maximum term, is it.


 From “Hitting the High Points”:

“I’ve been asked, “Why have you tackled the Lincoln Electric Co-op’s management and board of trustees?”

For 25 years, off and on, I’ve watched a Lincoln Electric that was totally and irrefutably ran by the manager.  The management controlled votes at the annual meeting amount to less than 10% of the membership.  But that small minority shows up for every annual meeting, votes as a block, and controls the co-op.

Each annual meeting ends  with the manager’s rubber stamp collection intact.  Every attempt to tackle this system over the last 25 years has failed – because the manager has his own solid voting block.  Most of those votes have been bought with co-op funds, one way or another.

Now, we have a chance to have the members take back our cooperative.  In the past, with a large Co-op advertising budget and excruciatingly boring meetings, the LEC kept the press from reporting what they’d done.  No longer is the press on the sidelines.  For the first time in years, the members have two board members who know they’ve been lied to, and are angry about it.  No longer do the Lincoln Electric employees stand 100% behind the manager – his capricious policies have forced the linemen to unionize for protection and even his other subordinates aren’t too solid.

The mathematics of the special meeting are simple.  If less than 300 members show up, management wins.  If 700 or more members show up, the members win.”

The math that I worked out was closer than that – my calculations were that, with a turnout below 300, management would win, and that if the turnout was over 400, CREAM won.  Still, the calculations were based on assumptions and theory – and there is something to be said for safe predictions.

A CREAM ad pointed out the problem, with the headline “The hard part is just beginning . . . “

“Last Monday evening, the petitions calling for a special members meeting for Lincoln Electric were turned over to the trustees.

Next week, the time and place will be set for that special meeting.  That meeting is just the starting place for restoring the word ‘cooperative’ in Lincoln Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Membership control means attending more annual meetings.  It means being willing to serve as a trustee when your friends and neighbors ask you to help.  Our proposed bylaw changes, to permit trustees to serve for 8 years will eliminate the position of ‘trustee for life’, but will require more participation from each member.  We think it’s worth it.



The November 21 Mountain Ear had another CREAM ad – taken from the February 15 board minutes, showing that the trustees had spent $777,747.56 of the cooperative’s funds on a project which, had it been successful, would have essentially eliminated Kootenai Falls:

“From: Lincoln Electric Minutes, February 15, 1968

Mr. Miller and Mr. Hanson then discussed a proposal for the allocation of the recovery of costs incurred on the Kootenai project.  Mr. Hanson has prepared a proposal for prorating those costs over several years and the proposal has been accepted by REA.

BE IT Resolved  By the Board of Trustees of Lincoln Electric . . .

THAT WHEREAS, Lincoln Electric Cooperative, Inc. was jointly involved in a feasibility study and application for a Hydro-Electric Project at Kootenai Falls, on the Kootenai River in North Western Montana, and incurred costs amounting to $777,747.56, and . . .

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Trustees doe hereby allocate $.00335 per kilowatt hour of the present rate to be set aside to amortize the costs of the Kootenai Falls Project, beginning with the year ending December 31, 1987 and continuing until such costs are fully recovered.

At CREAM, we don’t consider ¾ of a million ‘nitpicking’.  It comes to $370 per member, or

8 ⅜% of of our basic rate.”

This information – that management and trustees were attempting to use coop funds to destroy Kootenai Falls – came to light after CREAM had quit collecting signatures calling for the special meeting.  Today, it is even more shocking than it was 44 years ago to realize that the LEC board and management was willing to spend so much to eliminate such a resource.  I’ve looked at the submerged stretch of the Missouri River that named Great Falls, and wondered what my grandfather saw there – and am pleased that we can still see Kootenai Falls.

Next Issue: Force 12: Hurricane – Only strongest structures can withstand  The members meeting, and the 2:1 vote.

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