BUSTED – Deano down the draino?

September 10th, 2005

There goes the neighborhood. Dean Zimmerman (Zimmerperson), my neighbor in Prestigious East Phillips for decades, had the FBI do his housecleaning, and as Doug Grow says, “Nonetheless, the bottom line is this: If this stuff is true, it’s dead-on, off-to-prison-you-go corruption.”

from www.cpinternet.com/~mbayly/icons

Doug Grow: Did Green Dean take the long green?

Council member took bribes, affidavit alleges

Supporters: Accusations don’t fit

Headlines like “Supporters: Accusations don’t fit” are disturbing, because friends would be the last to know — it’s not exactly something you’d advertise! And people in this spot are usually too wrapped up in themselves in “it’s all about ME land” to see the ripple/tsunami effect this has on others around them, their supporters to people dependent and connected to them in one way or another.

What I remember most, aside from the routinely excruciatingly long DFL caucus at Holy Rosary, was his role in the C.O. and “Co-op Wars,” when People’s Warehouse was forcibly taken over. At the time, I was volunteering at Mill City now and then and later worked at Seward Cafe and for D.A.N.C.e Warehouse (which side are you on, girl? no question here), and the “Co-op Wars” remained an abcessing wound for at least a decade…

And in digging around for an article a while back about this, I find that North Country has its records at the Historical Society! Here’s the take from their summary:

1975-1976 brought the turmoil of the the “co-op wars” to North Country Co-op. The Co-op Organization (CO), a radical political group begun by individuals within the co-op movement, began pushing a pro-communist, pro-revolutionary agenda. The CO touted that “middle class hippies” were not able to understand or address the “working class plight” and that co-op organizers were “social elitists.” The CO felt that the co-op community must turn toward a sustained anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist struggle led by the working class, not by the hippy counter-culture. They also claimed that the co-op community was too disorganized to be effective in pursing this social-political struggle. The CO’s membership was strongest at the Beanery Co-op (Minneapolis) and People’s Warehouse (Minneapolis) but it had members in many co-ops around the metropolitan area and through these members tried to push their political agenda on the management of the co-ops. The CO not only tried to undermine the food policies of the co-ops, but the cooperative element as well, since they felt the members should not have to volunteer at the storefront. Moreover, the CO wanted co-ops to discard their cooperative, democratic management systems and replace them with Democratic Centralism under the CO’s direction. By 1975 the CO had seen moderate success in increasing its following, but was hungry for control. The CO physically took over the People’s Warehouse and tried to occupy several storefronts. At North Country Co-op, six out of nine members of the leadership collective were part of the CO. These six railroaded a vote to lift the boycott of People’s Warehouse. Their vote was overruled by a crowd of angry community residents and co-op members who stormed the store, installed a new cash register, and demanded that CO members leave the store.

The “co-op wars” had a shattering effect on many co-ops, including North Country Co-op. The violence, controversy, and intensity of the political rhetoric scared away casual shoppers and divided the co-op movement between those who felt that a co-op’s purpose was to provide wholesome, natural food and those who felt that co-ops should provide products that appeal to the “working class” at prices cheaper than conventional supermarkets and at the same time deliver a message of revolution. People who stayed within the movement became suspicious of radical politics, preferring to keep the focus on food. At the same time, others had been forced to reexamine what they were trying to do with the co-op, how the co-op was organized, and who they wanted the co-op to serve. As North Country Co-op pulled itself together after 1976 it reorganized its bookkeeping practices and revised its food policy to include canned goods, white bread, and for a short time, refined white sugar. The co-op maintained its collective management practices; decisions were still to be made by consensus of store coordinators, volunteers, and involved community members.

Ahh… I digress… must be the grey hair syndrome again…

So we’ll see what happens in the Dean Zimmerperson saga.

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