NEWS

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December 6, 2007

Good co-op, bad co-op

With the Maroon on hiatus until January, my source for neighborhood news now comes from the Hyde Park Herald, which is fine, I guess, if you can get past the giant banner of Barack Obama at the top of the front page, and the fact that each article is practically its own editorial.The Herald is now reporting that the mysterious loan that was briefly mentioned on the co-op website is, in fact, real, and is good for $2.5 million. This is heartening news not because I'm a fan of the co-op, but because after reading the latest Evergreen and hearing about the pledge drive, I was concerned for their mental health. According to the Herald, this $2.5 million commercial loan is surefire solution if just two things happen:1.) Certified Grocers agrees to a $1 million buyout. Board president James Poueymirou acknowledged that this isn't likely, since Certified hates the co-op at this point and has no wish to continue providing free food.2.) The University softens its stance on the $1.2 million it is owed in rent. This is sorta, kinda, maybe, entirely impossible. In recent meetings with the Maroon, President Zimmer has repeatedly made it quite clear that the University has no interest in keeping the co-op afloat and that anything short of a new grocer will be unacceptable. (For more on this, read Justin' post on the Maroon News Blog).So in summation, step one is highly unlikely and step two is impossible. This is, of course, not clear in the Herald article, which makes a concerted effort to implicate the University as the chief villain in this whole mess. After failing to get a comment from anyone connected to the University, they front this quote from co-op general manager Bruce Brandfon about the University's campaign to force out the supermarket:

"So much for all their 'we care about the community' garbage"
That was in response to the report that "tensions" had been "ratcheted up" because of an "aggressive and coordinated effort to convince Hyde Parkers to...shut the co-op down." I can understand if people are tense when shopping at the co-op's scurvy-inducing produce section, but...really? Is handing out pamphlets to shoppers any worse than, say, printing a special edition of a newspaper with only one article, to try to convince voters to "Save the co-op"? They seem like the same thing, actually, except the pamphlets were probably copy-edited.Lastly, this report also raises the important question of who the heck would loan anything to the co-op!!?!?!?!11 I don't want to speculate, but this has the Russian mafia's fingerprints all over it. The co-op is the perfect cover for illegal activties--no one would ever suspect the humble, not-for-profit community organization that organizes book fairs. And of course, the Russian mafia wouldn't have to worry about collecting back-rent. That's what baseball bats are for.UPDATE: According to the Herald's official editorial, the loan is coming from "National Cooperative Bank." My Russian is a little rusty, but it sounds like some kind of bank. And no, I have no idea why that somewhat important fact wasn't in the actual news article.