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Members respond to suspension of conversion election
ODESSA, Texas (2/19/08)--Members of First Basin CU have responded to the credit union’s decision to suspend the Feb. 21 membership vote to convert to a mutual savings bank. The board “cannot simply shut down the election if they aren’t getting the result they want,” wrote First Basin member Armando Rodriguez in a letter to the editor. The board must release the results of the election and information on how much of the credit union’s money has been spent on the proposal, he said. The $113 million-asset First Basin, based in Odessa, Texas, also estimated that it has already spent more than $500,000 on the proposal, Rodriguez added. In another letter to the editor, member Letty Moreno questioned First Basin’s offer to provide members with a cash payout if they agree to the conversion. “If First Basin has enough money to pay members a special dividend, why don’t they do it right now?” Moreno wrote. “After all, the money already belongs to us, the member-owners of the credit union.” First Basin sent a letter to members last week about the suspension, stating that the board is considering two changes to the proposed conversion. First, the board will evaluate whether it could reward members with a cash payment upon conversion. Second, the board will consider whether to retain its one-member, one-vote structure. The conversion would not result in any members losing money or any account closures, said the credit union. It added that “numerous other false statements” are being circulated, such as the credit union offering “worse rates and fees” if the conversion is approved. Members of First Basin who oppose the conversion have formed SAVE First Basin and developed a website containing articles and other information about the conversion. Some members oppose the conversion because they would have worse rates and fees, lose $11 million of member-ownership without fair compensation, and control of the democratically run credit union, according to the website. “The members have already spoken--and we want to keep our credit union,” Moreno wrote. SAVE First Basin was scheduled to hold a rally Saturday to demand that the board release the results of the vote.
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