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Neighborhood CU partners with Mexican Consulate

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DALLAS (4/13/10)--Neighborhood CU has launched a partnership with the Mexican Consulate in Dallas to serve thousands of Hispanics in North Texas who often lack access to mainstream financial institutions. The $250 million asset, Dallas-based credit union announced on its website that it is the only Dallas credit union partner in the consulate's "Directo a Mexico" program. In the program, the credit union will open savings and checking accounts, and provide secure, affordable wire services to any financial institution in Mexico to North Texans who present either a Mexican passport or Matricular Consular card. Chet Kimmell, president/CEO of Neighborhood CU, pointed out that "longer-term benefits are possible when someone opens a savings and checking account and begins to build a more solid financial foundation for the future."

Texas league announces officers new board members

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GRAPEVINE, Texas (4/13/10)--The Texas Credit Union League has seated two new directors and elected its board officers during its annual meeting Thursday in Grapevine, Texas. New directors serving two-year terms are James Tuggle, president/CEO of Transtar FCU, Houston, and Sonya Jaynes, chief financial officer and strategic planning coordinator for Red River Employees FCU, Texarkana. Board officers elected are:
* Chair, Pamela Stephens, president/CEO of Security One FCU, Arlington; * First Vice Chair, Jim Minge, senior vice president of Randolph-Brooks FCU, Universal City; * Second Vice Chair, Paul Trylko, president/CEO of Amplify FCU, Austin; and * Secretary/treasurer, Robert Peterson, president/CEO of One Source FCU, El Paso.
The four board officers are members of the executive committee. Elected to the three at-large committee positions are:
* Debbie Blackshear, president/CEO of Cy-Fair FCU, Houston; * Suzanne Chism, president/CEO of Texas Health Resources CU, Dallas; * Buddy Schroeder, president/CEO of United Heritage CU, Austin; and * Past chair and ex officio, Ayn Talley, Houston Police FCU.

CUs collaborate to finance medical facility

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YELM, Wash. (4/13/10)--Several credit unions in the Pacific Northwest are collaborating to finance a multi-million dollar medical facility in a Yelm, Wash., a growing community. Financing the project, which broke ground April 3, is Commercial Lending Solutions (CLS), a credit union service organization owned by Chetco FCU, a $375.3 million asset credit union in Harbor, Ore.. The financing package also includes an unusual aspect: the involvement of three credit unions from around the region. "It's all about collaboration," said Jim Falls, president/CEO of CLS. "With good communication and lots of hard work, we were able to put together a loan that most individual credit unions can't, due to [member business lending] cap issues, but together and collectively we could." Three Washington and Oregon regional credit unions, through participations with CLS, are providing the funds for the building. Each conducts its own underwriting and approval process. The credit unions benefit from the yield on their investment and can mitigate their risk by investing only a portion of the entire loan amount. Not all the credit unions want to be named in the project because the project isn't in their area. "Without the efforts of a CUSO partnering several credit unions together, these types of projects used to traditionally go to banks," said Stephen Wymer, business services manager for Northwest Community CU, which is a participant. The $631.3 million asset Northwest Community is based in Eugene, Ore. "Even with all that is happening in our economy, it is still an exciting time to be a part of the credit union movement," said Falls after the ground breaking ceremony. "These types of projects that require more than one credit union to fund make what I do very rewarding." The borrower, Yelm Medical Office Building (YMOB) LLC, plans to relocate its existing family practice of seven doctors to a larger facility to expand the practice and add medical services to the area. Scott Ritter, manager of YMOB said the group "went to many different lending institutions to obtain financing, but in these difficult times the amount of funding we were requesting wasn't available at any one institution or they weren't interested in construction lending." YMOB met with CLS and was intrigued about the concept of bringing money together through several credit unions to fund a project of this size, he said. CLS has been providing commercial lending for more than 26 years and has a current loss ratio of 0.006. It is a full-service MBL CUSO that provides credit unions assistance in loan origination, underwriting, servicing and loan participations.

Judge combines 3 CU National Mortgage fraud cases

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NEWARK, N.J. (4/13/10)--A U.S. District Court in New Jersey has ordered the consolidation of three lawsuits brought by credit unions seeking the return of more than $35 million in mortgages fraudulently sold to Fannie Mae by U.S. Mortgage/Credit Union National Mortgage. Two of the cases were brought against Fannie Mae by Dover, N.J.-based Picatinny FCU, with $273.3 million in assets; and New Hyde Park, N.J.-based Sperry Associates FCU, with assets of $372.4 million. The third involves a civil action filed by Fannie against Nutley, N.J.-based Proponent FCU, with $451 million in assets. Citing "good and sufficient cause" and saying that the consolidation "is in the best interests of the parties," U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown issued the consolidation order March 29 at the request of Fannie Mae. The consolidation is for discovery purposes, the court document said. The Pine Brook, N.J.-based U.S. Mortgage and Credit Union National Mortgage filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2009 in Newark. The companies listed more than $200 million in debts to Fannie Mae and 28 credit unions (News Now March 22). Michael McGrath, president of the former mortgage companies, pleaded guilty last June in the fraud of $139.6 million from the credit unions. His sentencing date has been reset several times and is now scheduled for May 18. At that time U.S. District Judge Katherine S. Hayden will decide whether to accept the recommendation for 12.5 to 20 years in prison as a result of a plea bargain.

Debtors smart expect a lot says bankruptcy expert

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UNION, N.J. (4/13/10)--The biggest challenge for credit unions involved in bankruptcy proceedings is that debtors are smart and they hold credit unions to the same standards as big banks and expect the same results, a bankruptcy expert Wednesday told the Union/Morris Chapter of the New Jersey Credit Union League. Debtors keep current with bankruptcy laws and they bring that knowledge to their case to keep their money, Andrew Altenburg, an attorney specializing in bankruptcy law, credit union representations and commercial litigation, told the chapter (The Weekly Exchange April 5-9). It is paramount for credit unions to protect themselves in these times of economic uncertainty by filing proofs of claim--particularly in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases--Altenburg added. A positive trend in the bankruptcy arena is that debtors are receiving advice to join a credit union in the aftermath of a bankruptcy, Altenburg said. After going through bankruptcy, debtors have discharged their debt, making them a viable prospect for credit unions, which are more willing than big banks to lend to these debtors, Altenburg said.

Committee appointments announced by CUNA

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MADISON, Wis. (4/13/10)--Kris Mecham, chairman of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors, has announced the CUNA committee appointments for 2010. CUNA thanks those individuals who expressed an interest in participating in the committee process. For a complete list of committee chairs and members, use the link.

Special election for Mechams seat on CUNA Board

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MADISON, Wis. (4/13/10)--Kris Mecham has indicated he will resign as chairman of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors, effective June 1. The CUNA Executive Committee recently voted to proceed with a special election to fill the position. The call for nominations was sent to affiliated credit unions in District 5, Class B Friday. Class B credit unions are those with at least 21,000 but not more than 76,999 members. The timeline for the election is:
* May 5--Deadline for nominations to be received; * May 7--Ballots mailed out to credit unions (if there is a contested election); * June 4--Deadline for ballots to be received; and * June 7--Winner announced/individual assumes position on board.
Mecham said he will be performing mission work in Mongolia for his church.

Complaints about banks climb says Better Biz Bureau

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WASHINGTON (4/13/10)--Complaints about banks are on a sharp rise, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and one publication warns that they could lose business to credit unions. Banks rank third in the most recent list of top U.S. consumer complaints, behind cell phone providers and cable TV companies (Yahoo Finance April 1). Banks saw a 43.2% increase in complaints since 2008--up to 29,920 complaints, according to BBB data. “One reason why big banks may have trouble with customer service is that some of them have bitten off more than they can chew,” said the online publication. “With industry takeovers of major lenders like Washington Mutual and Wachovia, banks have more customers and fewer resources to accommodate their needs. “If that’s the case, larger banks better beef up their customer service efforts fast--before customers decide that the credit union down the street will treat them, and their money, with greater care,” the publication concluded. To read the article, use the link.

CU System briefs (04/12/2010)

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* GREENSBORO, N.C. (4/13/10)--North Carolina credit unions seeking to raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap met recently with U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, left, in Greensboro, N.C., to discuss the importance of MBL. Butterfield is a co-sponsor of the business lending bill, H.R. 3380. He heard from Raleigh-based Local Government FCU Vice President of Financial Services Deborah Isenhour (center) and Lemuel Bartlett (right), treasurer of the Belfast Volunteer Fire Department, as well as from North Carolina Community FCU, based in Goldsboro. Both credit unions provide lending to fire and rescue departments. They also expressed concern about investment limits for credit union service organizations. Isenhour said that her credit union's investment dollars will soon be completely loaned out. If the limit were increased to 3% from 1%, the credit union could make an additional $34 million in business loans in the area. (Photo provided by the North Carolina Credit Union League) ... * AUSTIN, Texas (4/13/10)--The Texas Credit Union Department has received applications for two separate mergers. The first was from EECU, Ft. Worth, seeking approval to merge with Ft. Worth Star Telegram Employees FCU. EECU would be the surviving credit union. Also, America's CU, Garland, is seeking approval to merge with CAM FCU, Dallas. America's CU would be the surviving credit union (Credit Union Department Newsletter March 31) ... * PHOENIX (4/13/10)--SunWest FCU, based in Phoenix, was presented with the
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates' sixth annual Indirect Lender of the Year Award for 2009. The award is presented to a participating credit union that shows the greatest progress in the application of its indirect program awarded Indirect Lender award by Arizona league. During 2009, SunWest completed nearly $36.2 million in 1,503 funded loans. From left are SunWest Indirect Lending Staff Dawn Foote, indirect lending manager; Jennifer Gorman, funding specialist; Debbie Lamping, funding specialist; Lindsey Eazor, loan officer; and Art Serabian, loan officer. (Photo provided by SunWest FCU) ... * MEDFORD, Ore. (4/13/10)--Vicki Smith, former chief member relations officer of Medford, Ore.-based Rogue FCU, died March 16 after a brief battle with cancer. She began working at Rogue 30 years ago as branch manager of the Ashland branch. As the credit union grew, she began serving on the senior management team, including as chief operations officer. She finished her career as chief member relations officer, where she was responsible for operations, supervising branch and department managers, and service delivery. She also chaired the Operations Sales and Services Council Executive Committee for the Credit Union National Association and served on the Credit Union Association of Oregon Foundation Scholarship Committee. Smith retired in 2007. She is survived by her husband, two daughters, father, two brothers, and three sisters (Oregon Outlook April) ... * HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/13/10)--Joseph G. Danver, one of the founders and a longtime board member and officer of Wyse FCU, Baden, Pa., died Saturday. He was 90. He was a retired electrician with Wycoff Steel Corp., the original sponsor of the credit union. The credit union's 50th anniversary is this year. Survivors include one son, three daughters, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren (Beaver County Times April 11) ...

Poland loses key CU movement leader in plane crash

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WARSAW and MADISON, Wis. (4/13/10)--The death of Poland President Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash Saturday with 95 others, including political, military and religious leaders, has stilled the voice of a key credit union supporter in that nation.
Poland President Lech Kaczynski, right, posed with Bobby McVeigh, World Council of Credit Unions board member, during a meeting with credit unions in 2003. Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash Saturday. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
"Polish President Lech Kaczynski has been a powerful force in the growth of Poland's democracy," said Pete Crear, president/CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions. "He worked side by side with Solidarity movement leader Lech Walesa and helped his then youthful associate Grzegorz Bierecki, who now sits on the World Council board, determine that credit unions would be the key to Poland's economic future," said Crear. "Since his election, President Kaczynski has been a strong supporter of credit unions in Poland and his tragic death will touch all credit unions everywhere." Bierecki, who is president of the National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), WOCCU's member organization in Poland, and WOCCU's second chair, will miss WOCCU's board meeting later this week in Madison, Wis. In February, Kaczynski had named Bierecki to Poland's National Development Council, a nonpartisan advisory body that offers input on social and economic issues to Kaczynski (News Now Feb. 23). Kaczynski was elected president on Oct. 23, 2005, with almost 55% of the vote. Since the rebirth of the Polish movement in the early 1990s, he has been actively involved in the development and strengthening of the country's credit union system, with the goal of building a financial network that would provide Polish citizens with access to affordable, high quality financial services. He charged Bierecki to find U.S. banks that would open in Poland. Banks were not interested, but suggested Bierecki meet with credit unions. WOCCU conducted credit union development programs in Poland from 1992 to 1999, which played a large role in forming today's credit union system, one of the fastest growing movements in the world. In 1990-1991, Kaczynski was the first president of the Supervisory Board of the Foundation for Polish Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions, created by WOCCU upon request from Solidarity--a fact he mentioned during a visit at the Polish & Slavic FCU, Brooklyn, N.Y., in September when he was in New York for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. There he shared stories of his credit union roots and the role U.S. credit unions played in Poland's march toward democracy 20 years ago (News Now Oct. 9). He has participated in many national conferences organized by the Polish cooperative savings and credit unions. In 1995, he received the Feniks Award, the most prestigious award of the Polish credit union movement. Also killed in the crash were Kaczynski's wife, Maria, and Poland's army chief of staff, the navy chief commander, the heads of the air and land forces, the national bank president, the deputy foreign minister, the head of the National Security Office and the deputy parliament speaker.