Pig In A Poke


How James Kloor Passed the Sniff Test

Its always a pleasant surprise to find that a person, who has let himself/herself get caught in someone else’s mess, is still able to act with aplomb and professionalism.

I was recently studying the Coop News printed and issued exactly one year ago. In it, the smiling faces of new board directors beamed out the happiness of successful election accomplishment. The older board directors, caught up in the resonance of that moment, were also beaming broadly. This printed issue had the typical shiny comments in bubbles and well tweaked pictures. The upstairs guys work a long time on these magazines.

Reading this historical copy, the most striking aspect for me was that the articles authored by Melanie Bettenhausen contained the “exact” same fluffy phrases aimed at deflection of attention and assuaging concerns of owner/members. She has been using the same lame reasons for the continuing failure, while never explaining how bad the failure really was – for over two years. At a certain point, everyone, even the people who really like her, understood that it was all bologna, and would continue to be bologna – due to the fact that NOBODY knew what was going on. This became crystal clear to all the employees when she could not produce the Financial Statements necessary, by contract covenants, to negotiate with the Grocery Union workers at the Coop. Melanie hid out in the Tin Pin Building,while claiming in the publication how much she “missed chatting with the workers”. The reality is closer to the historical fact that she sat over there “managing” a self-produced delusion for an expansion project that never received construction permits. The Coop used the Ten Pin Building as a warehouse filled with bulk merchandise which, we now know, was merchandise never checked against any bill of lading and never integrated into any inventory tracking system. We know this, finally, because it was a formal recommendation for two years in a row by the Auditor of how to stop fraud and slippage. Two years ago. Ignoring this formal recommendation – in writing by the Auditor – constitutes gross negligence in corporate law.

In this old Coop News issue were warm words about the new Treasurer, James Kloor. He was smiling his bespeckled broad boyish grin, delighted at displaying the new feather in his cap. Looking at this picture it can only be a certainty that he had no idea of the pool of offal he was stepping into. The very fact that Bettenhausen had not been able to produce a financial statement for two years, at the time he joined this circus (as a volunteer), should have been an alarm klaxon blaring, but he’s a young dude with aspirations.

Looking over the official audit material now available to members, it is clear that James Kloor must be exonerated of guilt in the disaster which snapped closed on his ankle like a bear trap. In subsequent months he was lulled, somewhat, by a personal relationship built up with Bettenhausen during the election cycle – while he and Fiske worked at Melanie’s house on a comrade’s campaign for County Supervisor. This violates the State regulations of Directors’ Conduct, but what the hell, this is Humboldt County, and who is watching or even cares?

Close analysis of the new, accurate historical data – produced by this Audit -, at this point leads to the only conclusion: James Kloor was handed a pig in a poke. This was similar in nature to when George (The Dumb One) Bush handed Obama the keys to the White House – as well as the biggest fundamental crash of financial instruments since 1929.

In the case of the NorthCoast Coop, – with the same inexperienced pilot on the wheel – , the writing was on the wall for a colossal demise to come. Since no one over there had a clue, nor the testicular fortitude, of how to steer it off the rocks, (except for Vince Blanford – who had grown up in a multi-generational family of retailers and has this stuff in his DNA- ), the fate of this wonderful old vessel became sealed more tightly as month after month after month of losses ticked by. The problems only accelerated when Bettenhausen unilaterally fired Vince.

Investigating the behavior of James Kloor, it is clear that in the sessions he has attended the contributions he has brought up have been well thought out and pointed. As an unpaid volunteer, it was a side perk to be able to hob nob with political powerhouses like “Mr. Everywhere” Colin Fiske, Stephen Madrone, and the other progressive politicos of this neck of the woods…It’s all understandable now. Kloor is not to blame.


The bummer in his sitch, natch, is that, for those individuals who agree to step into a Corporate Directorship, particularly that of “Treasurer”, the law clearly reads: IMPLEMENTATION, AND MAINTENANCE OF INTERNAL CONTROL RELEVANT TO THE PREPARATION AND FAIR PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL STATEMENTS THAT ARE FREE FROM MATERIAL MISSTATEMENT, WHETHER DUE TO FRAUD OR ERROR.

If the “Treasurer” can’t do this, what is he supposed to be doing ?

Kloor, himself, as a person, is not to blame. He actually shows more true natural leadership traits than does Fiske or Bettenhausen. Fiske usually becomes morose, petulant, stubborn – and shows up late when confronted with difficulty. Bettenhausen just cooks up another whopper and trims it with her marketing skills, hoping for another six months of $500 dollar days.

Kloor, believe it or not, actually rises like man, admits mistakes and very cooly takes forward steps and talks to the problem. Perhaps he will be appointed to the bank receivership committee. Based on his history, it would be a good choice, unless the shareholders tack his feet to the floor and skewer him first in court.

Poor James ! The “Pig In A Poke” defense won’t work in this case. He got offered the bag and took it. What youngster wouldn’t ? In the end, unfortunately for him, a corporate business Judge won’t care. If this vessel goes down, he will be telling his story to Sponge Bob and some other deep-sixed Fiske.

4 thoughts on “Pig In A Poke

  1. Awww. Be nice please. These are not bad, nor dumb people. It just came about, and, like Murphy’s Law stipulates, what can go wrong will go wrong. What we see is the perfect storm of portfolio building by young inexperienced people who thought it was going to be like driving the kiddee kar


  2. Mary Ella Anderson April 19, 2019 — 10:20 pm

    Yay! I’m able to post again. Kloor was recruited by Leah and Colin, the same way i was. Only James is not a rebel but a go along to get along guy. Now they’ve recruited a nice young lady who they expect will be what I wasn’t, meaning subservient and obedient to all commands from dear leader Fiske. Just think – this stuff is going on all over the world with dear leaders being elected (think about North Korea, think about the U.S,) and people docilely following them to hell. On one hand, the younger generation, the current high school and college age people, are strong and willing to resist because they see their future at stake. And there are a few old hippies like myself who see resistance a the best option.

    I have lived in Humboldt County since 1970 and in that time I have a steady stream of con artists like Fiske come through and dazzle the locals into doing stupid things. What is it about Humboldt County that makes it so susceptible to grifters?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary Ella Anderson. Your efforts serving on the Board of Directors of the NorthCoast Coop has allowed you a birdseye view of the shenanigans Colin Fiske has pulled and James Kloor have allowed. This veritable old Coop has suffered tremendously from their inept decisions. Only ONCE, in the November board meeting did Colin Fiske utter, with difficulty, the word “mistake”. That was before he got rid of the microphone and stopped recording the meetings.


  3. Mary Ella Anderson April 21, 2019 — 10:33 pm

    Getting back to young Lord James, he and Colin and Leah form a tight little trio on the co=op board of directors. They talked mainly to each other except to acknowledge the adoration of certain staff members who understand where their bread is buttered, while casting sneers in my and other less worshipful directions. One evening while waiting for things to get going, James and Leah burst into song. The song they chose was “76 Trombones” from The Music Man. You may have seen it. It was one of the best musicals produced during the era of musicals, a story about a grifter, a con artist who traveled around the Midwest peddling band instruments and uniforms. He didn’t jump off roofs of any buildings, but he knew his patter and he painted it so lovely that everyone could just see the beauty of their kids in fancy uniforms, led by a prancing band master, and parading through the town. Don’t you think it’s interesting that, of all the many musicals made during that era, Leah and James picked The Music Man? Although, when you consider that their plan for saving the co-op from receivership involved old people giving them money, The Producers (Mel Brooks) might have done as well. I’m thinking “Springtime for Hitler,” but maybe they forgot the words.

    But as I say, grifters are all too common for Humboldt County and Colin Fiske isn’t the first to come on the scene peddling a brighter tomorrow. Mostly recently, the county was swept up in a “land rights” debacle led by the nationally based and real estate funded Coalition for Property Rights, demanding an end to restrictions on building in flood zones and the urban-forest interface. Remember that one? That group conned a lot of money out of the pot industry and put Estelle Fennell on the Board of Supervisors.

    A seat on the Board of Supervisors may be Colin’s goal as well. He does seem to have a goal and a road map to reach his goal. He got good points for helping pass Prop P, the anti-GMO initiative and that led to his election to the North Coast Co-op Board of Directors. In spite of the fact that he has led the board and the co-op to bring of bankruptcy, he is attempting to parlay that feat into a complete restructuring of the venerable Arcata Farmers Market. The market is a big success and very popular. But that’s just not good enough for Colin, Leah and James. They are pushing a ban of all cars from the four streets that surround the plaza. Only pedestrians and bicyclists will be allowed access to the market. Too bad for you if you drive a car or take the bus. Too bad for you if you came for a lug of peaches or anything heavy. In spite of what you hear, not all merchants on the Plaza are in favor, There are some objectors to this plan, which will heavily impact older shoppers and the disabled, but, as at the co-op, these voices are not being heard.

    Democracy is at risk all over the world these days and that’s certainly true in Arcata.

    In The Music Man, the audience came to have a lot of sympathy for the grifter. It’s hard not to love a marching band of local kids. And the guy meant well. Will everyone fall in love with Colin Fiske even though he’s destroying the co-op and possibly the Farmers Market? Only time will tell.

    One thing to keep in mind, Leah, James and Colin are of a different generation than the kids who organized the marches for the environment and gun safety. They are where my hope lies.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close