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Picatinny sues Fannie Mae wants mortgages back

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MORRISTOWN, N.J. (3/11/09)--Picatinny FCU has sued mortgage giant Fannie Mae, seeking the return of more than $14 million in mortgages that the credit union says were sold without authorization by its former mortgage loan servicer to Fannie. The lawsuit was filed Monday in a state court in Morristown, N.J. , by the Dover, N.J.-based credit union (DailyRecord.com March 10). The action was just a week and a half after Picatinny filed a response to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed by its former mortgage loan servicer, U.S. Mortgage Corp., doing business as CU National Mortgage. The bankruptcy was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark, N.J. (News Now March 2). Picatinny's lawsuit said U.S. Mortgage Corp., based in Pine Brook, N.J., sold 58 mortgages without the credit union's consent to Fannie. On Feb. 24, the credit union asked Fannie Mae to return the mortgages, but the government-run agency declined, its attorney told the Record. The lawsuit states that Michael J. McGrath, president/CEO of U.S. Mortgage, pretended to be the credit union's assistant vice president when he brokered the sales to Fannie Mae. The suit said McGrath was not an assistant vice president and was not authorized to perform such transactions on behalf of the credit union. According to lawyers in the case, the credit union is negotiating with U.S. Mortgage in bankruptcy court and reached an agreement Monday that bars the company from having control over any of the credit union's mortgages. The agreement, however, must be approved by a judge, said the article.

Michigan CU Card delinquencies lower than normal

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ISHPEMING, Mich. (3/11/09)--Ishpeming Community FCU says that its members are hunkering down to pay bills and manage debt, which is consistent with what a consumer tracking agency that monitors debt found. TransUnion, which tracks consumer debt, found that the number of people who are three months behind on their bank card payments dropped 11% during fourth quarter 2008, from the year before. Consumers also restrained their spending during the holidays, adding less than 2% to their balances, the bureau found. Ishpeming Community FCU, based in Ishpeming, Mich., told Upper Michigan's Source.com that its delinquency is "quite low." It averages about seven credit card delinquencies a year but currently it has four credit card delinquencies. Toni Lawson, consumer loan manager at the $93.4 million asset credit union, told the publication that people are being more conservative and watching their spending because they're nervous about the economy. Nevada led the nation with the highest incidence of delinquency, with bankcard borrowers 90 days or more delinquent on one of their cards, at 2.04%. Florida ranked 1.71% and Arizona ranked 1.54% (Jacksonville Business Journal March 10). The highest state average of debt on a bankcard was $7,466, in Alaska, followed by Nevada at $6,638 and Tennessee at $6,560. The lowest average bankcard debt was in Iowa, with $4,267, followed by North Dakota with $4,414, and West Virginia with $4,555.

Another Muslim woman protests head scarf policy

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WASHINGTON (3/11/09)--A Muslim woman was asked Saturday to leave the line at a credit union in Southern Maryland and conduct her financial business in a backroom because the Islamic scarf she wore violated the branch's new "no hats, no hoods, no sunglasses" policy. Kenza Shelley, 54, said the request is the second time within a month she had been asked to leave the line at the credit union, a branch of Vienna, Va.-based Navy FCU. The first time she complied but asked if she would have to go through the same process every time she made a transaction (The Washington Post March 10). On Saturday, she refused, saying she wanted to be served like everyone else, according to the article. She then left the credit union and called the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, which maintains the policy is unconstitutional. The Maryland incident is the second incident within a month involving a woman wearing an Islamic scarf for religious reasons at a branch of the credit union. In February, a similar incident at a Mission, Calif.-based branch of the same credit union occurred, with another woman, Amal Hersi, complaining she felt singled out. The credit union investigated and issued an apology. The no-hats policy is increasingly popular among credit unions and other financial institutions. It also has been encouraged by law enforcement authorities in several states as a measure to thwart robberies and identity theft. Often robbers wear hats, hoods and sunglasses to disguise themselves. Making them remove the articles before they enter for business would act as a deterrent because they could be identified.

National Bank of Poland president praises PSFCU

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (3/11/09)--The president of the National Bank of Poland praised the Polish & Slavic FCU (PSFCU) for its investment strategies, programs and commitment to Poland and Polish-Americans. Bank President Slawomir Skrzypek was briefed on the history and achievements of the largest ethnic credit union in the country at a meeting at the PSFCU headquarters in Brooklyn last week. In turn, he spoke with the PSFCU's board of directors about the state of the Polish economy (PR Newswire March 9). “You can all be proud of your credit union,” said Skrzypek. “It is no secret that PSFCU has become a symbol of [Poland’s] financial strength. So quite naturally, planning my trip to the U.S., I made a point to find out first-hand what stands behind your success. You are doing a fantastic job.” “It was a true honor to have such a distinguished official spend time getting to know us, our members and how we do business,” said Bogdan Chmielewski, PSFCU's CEO. “This is a sign of how financial leaders--here and in Poland--are increasingly recognizing the strides and successes we've made in our credit union and acknowledging the positive impact of the credit union movement as a whole. “A few months ago, we met here with representatives of Polish credit unions--the SKOKs--and they also reported that their good financial standing translated into strengthening their overall position in Poland,” he added. The fact that PSFCU has awarded more than $1.8 million in scholarships to students was of particular interest to Skrzypek. “I think President Skrzypek felt that this community program captured the true essence of a local ethnic credit union: one that placed such a great emphasis on the future of its community and on the betterment of its members and their families,” said Krzysztof Matyszczyk, PSFCU's board chairman.

Scholarships available for DE Training

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DELAVAN, Wis. (3/11/09)--Scholarships are available for the first of two Credit Union Development Education (DE) training classes in 2009. The first class will take place May 13-19 at a new location: Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan, Wis. The $1,750 registration fee includes a room for six nights, meals, and educational materials. Scholarships are available through the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) DE Fund, several state credit union foundations and leagues. Credit union advocates interested in a scholarship can contact their state foundation or league, or contact DE Training Facilitator Tom Decker at tdecker@ncuf.coop or 800-356-9655, ext. 4374. A running list of states confirming DE scholarships is posted on the NCUF website. “We realize the economy is tough, so we will do everything we can to help credit unions achieve a ‘triple bottom line,’” explained Decker, NCUF director of social impact management. “A triple bottom line will benefit credit unions’ business, membership and community.” This year’s DE training will incorporate emerging bottom-line discussions while providing traditional lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy. “We plan to show how the member-centric business model will enable credit unions to weather the economic storm better than most for-profit institutions,” Decker said. “All financial institutions offer a commodity,” pointed out 2008 DE graduate Lily Newfarmer, president/CEO of Tarrant County CU, Fort Worth, Texas. “We are all trying to get the same loans, checking accounts and so forth. What sets credit unions apart from our fierce competition are our cooperative principles and credit union philosophy. If we don’t embrace these differences and show our members that we’re better because we’re unique, our very existence is in jeopardy.” The second DE training class will take place August 12-18 at IslandWood, an environmental learning center on Bainbridge Island, Wash. NCUF is the DE program’s primary sponsor. Support is provided by CUNA Mutual Group, Credit Union National Association, World Council of Credit Unions, state foundations and leagues.

Robbery suspect dies in getaway crash

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HARVARD, Ill. (3/11/09)--A man who allegedly robbed the Harvard Community CU died Monday in a single-vehicle crash while fleeing police officers. Robert Menk of Brookfield, Wis., entered the $9.3 million asset, Harvard,, Ill.-based credit union at about 9 a.m. and demanded money, according to Harvard Police Chief Dan Kazy-Garey. No one was injured. At the credit union, police would not say whether Menk was armed (Northwest Herald March 9). Menk left with the money on foot, but dye packs hidden with the cash activated outside the credit union, and the money was recovered, police said. When Harvard police officers arrived on the scene, they spotted a man, who was leaving a business establishment that was closed at the time, driving a Toyota Prius. When police tried to stop the vehicle, the driver fled. The vehicle then crashed into a tree, killing Menk.

National Maxwell Herring award winners honored

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WASHINGTON (3/11/09)--Recipients of the National 2008 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Awards were honored during the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Government Affairs Conference Feb. 25. They were chosen from the state-winning entries by CUNA’s national awards committee. The 2008 Dora Maxwell Award winners include:
* Great Horizons FCU, Hammond, Ind., in less-than-$5-million assets category; * Kekaha FCU, Kekaha, Hawaii, $5 million to $20 million; * Evansville FCU, Evansville, Ind., $20 million to $50 million; * Education First CU, Southgate, Mich., $50 million to $100 million; * Class Act FCU, Louisville, Ky., $100 million to $200 million; * Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore., $200 million to $500 million; * Chartway FCU, Virginia Beach, Va., $500-plus million; and * Flatirons Chapter of Colorado, Credit Union Chapters category.
Winners of this year’s Louise Herring Award are:
* Affinity First FCU, Minot, N.D., less than $50 million; * Jersey Shore FCU, Northfield, N.J., $50 million to $250 million; and * Credit Union 1, Anchorage, Alaska, more than $250 million.

MCUL regulator meet on stabilization plan

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LANSING, Mich. (3/11/09)--The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) and the state's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) addressed the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) Corporate Stabilization Program at their spring meeting March 3.
Among those participating in a meeting with the Michigan Credit Union League are, from left: Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) Assistant Director John Kolhoff; OFIR Deputy Commissioner Roger Little; league Helpline Consultant Jody Dabrowski; and league representative Darl McLean. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League)
The meeting with OFIR Deputy Commissioner Roger Little and OFIR Assistant Director John Kolhoff was conducted at the league's new Lansing headquarters (Michigan Monitor March 10). League staff requested official guidance regarding the stabilization program and its effect on state-chartered credit unions. OFIR said it will keep MCUL advised and information will be communicated with credit unions promptly as it becomes available. Other topics were addressed to ensure league resources are used in the best way to train, consult and otherwise meet compliance needs of the credit unions, the league said. MCUL is planning a similar meeting with NCUA supervisory examiners in mid-April.

CU System briefs (03/10/2009)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/11/09)--PaCUSC, Pennsylvania's shared branching credit union service organization, announced the results of its board election. Nominees for each open seat were the only nominees presented. That means PaCUSC Chair Ralph Canterbury has declared the nominees elected to the board. They are incumbent Brian Hahn of American Heritage FCU, Philadelphia, and new board member Tom Smith of Choice One Community FCU, Wilkes-Barre. Each will serve a four-year term that begins in May (Life is a Highway March 10) … * RALEIGH, N.C. (3/11/09)--State Employees' CU (SECU) has added a new feature to its secure online Member Access. The feature, called Activity Today, identifies transactions that have been authorized by the accountholder but not fully posted yet to the account. In the past, members could see a field for Activity Today, plus a cumulative amount, but the amount did not indicate individual transaction details. The new feature allows the member to see the individual transaction amounts and a description of where the charge or credit originated. SECU has 660,000 members using its Member Access service … * GREEN BAY, Wis. (3/11/09)--The Brown County (Wis.) Chapter of
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Credit Unions, Corporate Central Credit Union of Wisconsin, and Schenk Business Solutions helped raise nearly $42,300 through supporting the 16th Annual Green Bay Reception for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. More than 160 people attended. The funds raised will help advance efforts at the hospital's Milwaukee-based Herma Heart Center for pediatric cardiac patients. Austin DeGroot, a 13-year-old cancer patient, sang at the reception. From left are: Denise Hajos of the hospital; Cathy Becks, PCM Employees CU; Pat Josephson, Horizon Community CU; and Cari Josephson, Horizon Community CU. (Photo provided by PCM Employees CU) … * WASHINGTON (3/11/09)--Cory Johnston, chief investment officer of Duluth, Ga.-based Georgia Central CU, has joined the Credit Union Economics Group (CUEG), a working group of credit union officials dedicated to the financial well-being of the credit union movement. Johnston joined the corporate in 2002 and became senior vice president in 2007. He is the architect of Georgia Central's investment portfolio structure and its investment offerings for member credit unions. Before joining Georgia Central, Johnston worked for U.S. Central CU as a director/portfolio strategist. CUEG provides consensus macroeconomic forecasts and industry trend analyses related to the economy … * LANSING, Mich. (3/11/09)--Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, and Genisys CU, Troy, hosted newly elected U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-9) last month for a meet and greet with members at Credit Union ONE's Berkeley branch and Genisys' Waterford branch (Michigan Monitor March 10). "Congressman Peters has been a longtime support of credit unions, going back to his service as a state senator," said Credit Union ONE President/CEO Gary Moody. "A member of Congress should do more listening than talking," Peters said, adding, "I appreciate these credit unions providing me with a forum to meet local residents." From left are Moody, Peters, and Lon Bone, Genisys CU vice president of public relations and community involvement. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) … * ALBANY, N.Y. (3/11/09)--The Credit Union Association of New York has launched its new website. For Credit Union Association of New York, use the link. The site, which has a new look, includes more information about serving New York credit unions, the association said. The navigation menu has been re-organized to reflect the association’s four core focuses: governmental affairs, member services, outreach and regulatory compliance ... * PLYMOUTH, Mich. (3/11/09)--Robert D. Vreeland, who served in different positions with Telephone Employees (now Telcom CU) for 59 years and helped create Service Center Corporation, died March 3 at the age of 88. Vreeland began his credit union career in 1950 as a teller for Telephone Employees CU. Later, he served as general manager until his retirement in 1981. He joined Telcom’s board of directors in 1984 as treasurer, and retired from the board in 1997 as a lifetime honorary director. He was a director and treasurer for the Michigan Credit Union League and received the league's Distinguished Service Award in 1982 (Michigan Monitor March 10) …