My wonderful food coop is a nightmare of pesky rules. You can't shop without going through Soviet-grocery-style checkpoints: membership check at entry, tallying your food at one counter, paying for it at another, and finally proving at the exit that your tally matches your receipt matches your bags. Members' guests' addresses are recorded, yet they can't shop. Buying lots of something requires advance special ordering. Every adult in even a loose, housemate-style household must also be a member; and if one person is suspended for missing work, the whole household's suspended. Five thousand people put up with this bureaucracy for great food at low prices, a sense of community with other weirdos, and the behind-the-scenes squabbles portrayed in these very pages.

So it was little surprise that a member -- ironically, a major coop-democracy activist -- tonight proposed more rules, to wit: people who park illegally before the coop are to be punished with work at the cheese counter. That's not true. I'm exaggerating. And working at the cheese counter is very tasty. But her proposal included forcing all coop members to file their license-plate numbers, and creating monitors who'd clock how long cars are parked. More than ten minutes' parking would mean chastising the car owner (if its plates were on the members' list). More rules! Mean ones!

Illegal and sloppy parking is a big problem. It slows deliveries, pedestrians, and other cars. It's bad for the coop's neighbors and even worse for the firehouse next door. But these tactics were too much for this General Meeting. Many members suggested moderating the proposal. There was no vote since it was up only for discussion, not a motion. It would come up for a vote later. Look out for brownshirts, eating brown food.

Little other substantive business. The Governance Referendum Committee to Unite the Masses to Decapitate the Coordinators was re-proposed but its proposer forgot to show, and the few opposition members present were too embarrassed to stump for it. After lame discussion the resolution was dismissed. A Marketing Committee to promote the coop announced its existence, but it got caught between a quick coordinator and opposition spat over whether it had the right to exist without a special resolution, or a right to say anything about the coop without a catechistic mission statement.

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