Friday, January 14, 2011

Fired Boise Co-op Founder/Manager Talks to BW

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Ken Kavanagh didn't go to work Friday at Boise Co-op. For the first time since the doors opened in 1973, the ex-president and general manager of the Boise landmark is out of a job. Kavanagh said two Co-op board members approached him the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 13, handed him a piece of paper indicating they would give him a severance and told him to turn over his keys.

"They said 'We're going to escort you off the premises,'" Kavanagh told Citydesk. "I said, 'No you're not. This is not how you treat people. I haven't done anything wrong to deserve this.' And now, of course, the store is in an uproar."

Kavanagh said he knew something was up when he was asked to hire a new grocery manager, who he thought would someday replace him.

"The inescapable conclusion is that I was lied to the entire time," said Kavanagh. "It turned out that they were seeking my replacement. And let me tell you, if the guys they brought in for interviews are any indication of the direction they're going in, the Co-op will be a different place. It will have a very corporate feel."

Kavanagh said he was approached by Co-op board members Gary Lyons and Pat Haas. Since then, Lyons has resigned as chairman of the board and has taken over as acting general manager. Haas has now assumed position as board chairman.

"I'm not the most perfect person in the world," said Kavanagh. "I've made some mistakes. I've done some things I'm not proud of. But you would have thought that I was guilty of criminal activity or engaged in depravity to be treated this way. I wouldn't treat a dog the way I've been treated."

Before being let go, Kavanagh called for a general meeting of all members of the Co-op to be held Monday, Jan. 24. He said he expects that meeting still to take place.

"You know in the movie It's a Wonderful Life where George Bailey is shown what would happen if he wasn't there?" asked Kavanagh. "Do you remember? His town turned into Potterville. Last night I dreamed that the Co-op could turn into Potterville."

Citydesk has made multiple attempts to contact Gary Lyons and current management at the Co-op but no calls have been returned.

[UPDATE: This article has been amended to correct a name misspelling.]

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