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Beehive members mull complaint with NCUA over vote

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SALT LAKE CITY (2/25/08)--Members of Utah-based Beehive CU say they may file a complaint with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) over the membership vote to convert the credit union to a mutual savings bank. In a press release Friday, members said they may file a complaint to NCUA, which must certify the election within 30 days. "Our basic concern," said long-time member Teri Dial, "is that the history of credit union-to-bank conversions is a history of insider enrichment at the members' expense. Beehive has stated there are no current plans to sell stock, but members cannot be confident that this will not be the end result." Beehive announced the vote results Thursday. In the vote, 36% of members voted, with 53% voting for the conversion and 47% against. "According to our credit union, about 82% of the members are either opposed or did not vote," said Dial. "There is no mandate for the board's radical change." Beehive did not release an actual ballot count, but the figures supplied indicate that if less than 250 votes had switched, a majority of voting members would have voted down the proposal. At the same time, at least 395 members who were no longer members of the credit union may have received ballots and voted in the election, said Dial. "It is unclear how the 14th largest credit union in Utah feels it can serve its members' matters as one of the smallest banks," she added.

National savings week has begun

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WASHINGTON (2/25/08)--America Saves Week kicked off Sunday, with organizations--including the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions--encouraging people across the nation to save and build wealth, not debt. This year's focus is encouraging people to save through automatic transfers into a savings account. Many states have issued comparable savings week proclamations. Just two examples: Washington has declared Washington Saves Week, while Florida has its Florida Saves Week. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire urged organizations to educate residents about the importance of saving money. The state credit union regulator, the Department of Financial Institutions, is among the organizations offering free financial literacy training to high school teachers in the state. Cities have followed suit. Philadelphia Saves is sponsored by the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Delaware Valley. Partnering with Philadelphia Saves is American Heritage FCU, Franklin Mint FCU, and Mainline Health Employees FCU, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway< Feb. 11). The week is also designated MilitarySaves Week. Many installation credit unions and banks will offer reduced minimum deposits for savings accounts and have special offers to help service members make short- and long-range savings plans, according to the Department of Defense (US Fed News Feb. 20). A recent survey by Thrift Savings Plan found that of nearly 20,000 uniformed and civilian federal employees, less than 21% of active duty service members are saving for retirement. They cited lack of funds as the key reason for not contributing to a savings or retirement account. Of course, credit unions aren't tied to promoting savings just one week a year. Next week, March 3-7 is National Consumer Protection Week, according to the National Credit Union Administration, and some credit unions will urge savings at that week's events. The Ohio Credit Union League is partnering with the state and other organizations to host financial education events throughout the state (eLumination Newsletter Feb. 13). But this week might be a good time for credit unions to start preparing for the National Youth Saving Challenge, when credit unions encourage youth to make deposits at their credit union. The challenge, sponsored by CUNA, occurs during National Credit Union Youth Week, April 20-26. It's a free program that helps credit unions build strong relationships with youth and their families. Use the links for more details.

CUs on the Tube The CU Difference part deux

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MADISON, Wis. (2/25/08)--The 19-year-old spokesman for Young and Free at Commonwealth CU in Alberta, Canada, has created the second part of a video touting the difference between banks and credit unions. Larissa Walkiw, Young and Free’s spokesman, shows some key differences between the two--such as location, ease of receiving services and ATM access.

Pa. Supreme Court to hear FOM case arguments April 16

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/25/08)--The Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments in an appeal involving the community charter of Belco Community CU on April 16 in Philadelphia, says the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. The court had set the date to hear briefs and arguments, which focus on whether the Pennsylvania Department of Banking employed appropriate administrative procedures when it reviewed Belco's notice to operate as a community credit union (Life is a Highway Feb. 22). The appeal relates to a Nov. 13, 2006, decision by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court that the department did not follow procedural due process requirements when it did not conduct hearings or make records available to banking interest groups. "We look forward to the opportunity to persuade the Supreme Court that the Department of Banking handled the Belco matter in a manner consistent with the Credit Union Code and Pennsylvania's Administrative Agency Law," said Rick Wargo, PCUA executive vice president and general counsel. Belco Community CU is a $278 million asset credit union based in Harrisburg. The Department of Banking granted it a community charter to serve seven counties in central Pennsylvania. During the course of the appeal, it can operate under its community charter (News Now May 4, 2007).

9-year-olds CU-related math project a winner

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (2/25/08)--An elementary school math project based on branch traffic patterns at Carolina Mountains CU, Penrose, N.C., has earned first- and second-place awards for nine-year-old Ansley Harron.
Ansley Harron, the daughter of Brian Harron, chief financial officer at Carolina Mountains CU, Penrose, N.C. won first- and second-place awards for her math project analyzing branch traffic at the credit union. (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League)
Ansley, the daughter of Brian Harron, chief financial officer at the credit union, won first place in her school and second place in a county math competition, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update Feb. 22). Ansley will compete next at the Western North Carolina Regional Math Fair at Appalachian State University in April. She also will present her findings to the credit union board in spring. Brian and Ansley pulled the teller reports for November and December 2007, and examined which days were busiest at the credit union. Ansley used Excel spreadsheets to analyze the information, taking holiday closings into account. She also interviewed CEO Diane Rogers, her father said. The credit union has never done an analysis on traffic patterns before, but Ansley’s research indicated that Carolina Mountains had made the right decision to provide extra staff on Mondays and Fridays--the busiest days. Her project indicated that many members used the drive-up on Saturday mornings, validating the credit union’s decision to open on the weekends. Ansley’s project taught her a lot about credit unions. She read about how they offer better rates and lower fees, and it “gave her a chance to learn a little more about what her dad does for a living,” Brian said.

Iowa state leaders support CUs Little Guy

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Iowa Gov. Chet Culver kicks off the Annual Iowa Credit Union League Legislative Issues Conference Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa.
DES MOINES, Iowa (2/25/08)--Iowa state legislative leaders voiced their support for credit unions and “The Little Guy” at the annual Iowa Credit Union league Legislative Issues Conference Tuesday. More than 100 Iowa credit union representatives convened to learn more about the legislative issues affecting the credit union industry and how to engage their legislators. Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and National Credit Union Administration Chairman JoAnn Johnson were featured speakers at the conference. Culver focused on the need for financial literacy in Iowa and acknowledged that Iowa credit unions have been actively involved with financial education for their members. He invited the Iowa league to join the Governor’s Financial Education working group. “It’s important that we teach our children and young adults the importance of managing money at a young age,” Culver said.
Iowa State Senate President John P. “Jack” Kibbie meets “The Little Guy” at the Annual Iowa Credit Union League Legislative Issues Conference. (Photos provided by the Iowa Credit Union League)
Johnson thanked Iowa credit unions for their support and cooperation over the years. She also addressed some of the issues NCUA is working on, including improving member business lending regulations, and proposing rules concerning mergers and acquisitions. Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald encouraged Iowa credit unions to take part in the Linked Investments for Tomorrow (LIFT) Program. Two credit unions already participate in the program, which works to invest capital into small businesses owned and operated by Iowa residents. Conference participants and state legislators also were introduced to “The Little Guy,” who represents hard-working men and women that credit unions serve. “The Little Guy” is a national awareness campaign spearheaded by the Credit Union National Association.

Minnesota grassroots principles take root at state Capitol

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/25/08)--Minnesota credit union professionals and volunteers converged on St. Paul Wednesday to meet with legislators as part of Minnesota’s annual Credit Union Day at the Capitol.
At Minnesota’s Annual Credit Union Day at the Capitol in St. Paul Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader David Senjem commended credit unions for the work they do. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
Nearly 200 credit union advocates statewide attended. The day was part of Minnesota’s initiative to strengthen it grassroots influence by building and cultivating positive relationships with legislators. Attendees heard from legislators and met with their elected officials to discuss credit union issues and values. Guest speakers included the Senate Minority Leader, the House Majority Leader, the chief House author of Minnesota’s Plastic Card Security Act, and the chair of the Senate Taxes Committee. State Rep. Jim Davie (DFL-Minneapolis), the chief author of Minnesota’s Plastic Card Security Act, reminded credit unions to build relationships with legislators and to keep in contact with their elected officials. House Majority Leader Toney Sertich (DFL-Chisholm) commended credit unions for their unique advertising methods, including billboards in St. Paul that he sees every day on his way to the Capitol. The billboards highlight the grassroots strength of the 1.5 million Minnesota credit union members, he said. “This year’s Credit Union Day at the Capitol focused on building and continually developing relationships with legislators,” said Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network president/CEO. “The level of credit union support shown by our speakers, all of whom are in prominent positions at the Capitol, illustrates the benefit of having positive relationships with legislators. We are appreciative of all our supporters in the House and Senate.”

Sarbanes to keynote World CU conference

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MADISON, Wis. (2/25/08)--Paul Sarbanes, a former Democratic senator from Maryland and the co-author of The Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act, known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, will keynote the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) 2008 World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong July 13-16. Sarbanes, a long-time credit union supporter, plans to review circumstances that led to the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley and its implications for businesses. “The bottom-line message is that everyone should be interested in honesty and accountability, not only consumers, but businesses as well,” he said. “The small percentage of business people who operate dishonestly can have a profound impact. They tarnish everyone, and their actions can have widespread economic consequences.” Sarbanes-Oxley, which was created to hold companies liable for unethical actions, has been credited for transforming the business world and restoring confidence in Wall Street. The legislation applies to credit unions with regard to transparency of financial records, Sarbanes noted. “There has been increasing demand for greater transparency since passage of the legislation, and credit unions have been very high up when it comes to financial accountability.” Credit unions remain very important players in the financial services field. “I like the fact that they are member-owned and member-focused,” Sarbanes told WOCCU. “You’ve also promoted financial literacy, which puts you squarely on the side of your members’ best interests. “Credit unions must remain faithful to their mission and stay close to their members,” he added. “Those are the same concepts WOCCU strongly supports with its development efforts in other countries.”

Maine leagues data breach bill passes committee

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AUGUSTA, Maine (2/25/08)--The Maine Legislature's Insurance and Financial Services Committee voted 12-0 in favor of a Maine Credit Union League-initiated amendment calling for a study of the impact of data breaches on the state’s credit unions and banks. The amendment directs the Bureau of Financial Institutions to study the effect of data security breaches on Maine banks and credit unions in 2007, including their response and the actual costs and expenses incurred as a result of the breach. Before a committee work session, the league met with several legislators that wanted the measure to include the Attorney General's Office and the Office of Consumer Credit Protection. That would have added a fiscal note to the legislation and would likely have killed it, the league said. "We had an opportunity to personally meet with a legislator who was considering submitting an amendment to the resolve that, although well-intentioned, would have made it difficult if not impossible to pass,” explained League President John Murphy. “The ability to effectively state our case, and the positive relationships and reputation of Maine's credit unions with our legislators resulted in a positive meeting with the legislator who, ultimately, withdrew his amendment,” Murphy said. The committee decided to leave the amendment in its original form, with a few changes that would not alter the scope of the study. The committee unanimously recommended passage of the legislation when it is considered by the House and Senate. The amendment requires the Bureau of Financial Institutions to submit its findings to the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services by Dec. 1.

Missouri CUs talk good works at State Capitol

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (2/25/08)--Twenty-five employees from 13 Missouri credit unions shared the credit union difference during a visit with state lawmakers Wednesday. Along with legislator-office visits, five tables in the state Capitol rotunda featured “Credit Unions in the Community” activities and outreach efforts, said the Missouri Credit Union Association (Legislative Updates Feb. 22). Displays included information about credit unions’ work with specific financial education, consumer advocacy and charitable programs, including:
* Foreclosure alternatives; * Identity theft prevention; * REAL Solutions and payday lending alternatives; * Youth financial education and savings programs for children; * How to get the best deal on a car loan; and * Improving credit scores.
“It was really valuable to show our legislators the many ways that credit unions help members with their financial concerns while actively participating in the community,” said Debra Echele, Chesterfield, Mo.-based First Community CU marketing representative. “The most important part is just being visible to lawmakers,” said Mickey Fuller, America CU president. “Credit unions need to continue to make our presence known and keep our issues in front of them.”
From left: Missouri State Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-18) meets with Betty Clark and Donna Evans from United CU, Mexico, Mo., at a “Credit Unions in the Community” event Wednesday at the Missouri State Capitol.
Credit unions staffers share information with (right) Missouri State Sen. Kevin Engler (R-3) Wednesday at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. (Photos provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)

CU System briefs (02/22/2008)

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* MONTPELIER, Vt. (2/25/08)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) set up a display promoting the state's credit unions and introducing the Credit Union National Association's "Little Guy" to lawmakers in the visible Statehouse Card Room (Newslines Express Feb. 22). Throughout the day dozens of state senators and representatives stopped by to chat with AVCU President Joe Bergeron, Vice President Bryan Kent, legal counsel/lobbyist Richard Brock, and lobbyist Adam Necrason. This is the fourth year AVCU has set up such a display (Photo provided by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions) … * SUITLAND, Md. (2/25/08)--Jose Ruberte, head teller at Andrews FCU's Wiesbaden, Germany, branch, puts the finishing touches on an "Extreme Home Makeover" style renovation the credit union sponsored for a room housing soldiers recovering in Wiesbaden's Warrior Transition Unit (WTU). The $810 million asset credit union's employees spent a day renovating and used $1,700 to buy bedding, picture frames, toiletries, rugs, desk supplies and snacks among other things for the room, which will serve injured soldiers needing at least six months' care. WTUs were launched after Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., became the focus of complaints about treatment of soldiers. (Photo provided by Andrews FCU) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (2/25/08)--George Lundy, former board chairman of Greater Pittsburgh Police FCU, died Feb. 16 after a short illness, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Feb. 22). Lundy, 75, was chairman for 20 years and served as a credit union volunteer for 31 years. He is responsible for helping the credit union become a full-service operation. A retired police officer, Lundy also was the brother of Sally Palombaro, board chair of City Co FCU in Pittsburgh. Funeral services were held Thursday …