he Greater Independent Association of National Travel Services has been in this newspaper's headlines for three decades, but never like this.

The indefatigable Sue Shapiro, Giants' former president, became a fixture in the industry as the organization's chief recruiter, chief negotiator, chief emissary. She became so visible that everybody knew Sue, even if they didn't.

But the members didn't seem to know that the relationship between Shapiro and the Giants board had deteriorated to the point of being dysfunctional.

You might say it's something of a tribute to Giants that nobody knew. On the other hand, it hardly reflects well on the organization that this matter simmered for so long, exploded so awkwardly and took so many members by surprise.

Nobody doubts that the Giants board, any board, has to be able to make its decisions without answering to the membership on every detail.

But it seems to us that in a member-owned cooperative, where the collective gains are distributed as profit-sharing to the member-owners, the dialogue between the members and the governing board has to be effective and continuous. At some point in Giants' recent history, that must have stopped happening.

Now some members say it's time to explore ways to reform the way the group is governed. Giants should embrace that opportunity. We note that Shapiro's dismissal coincided with this nation's observation of a holiday declaring that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. We would venture to say it must be true for co-ops, too.

We will miss seeing Sue Shapiro in her familiar role in the industry, though we suspect her talents will be making news in these pages again soon.

And we hope that the board and members of this fine organization find a way to renew their commitment to everything the word cooperative stands for.

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