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?
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.
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.