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April open NCUA meeting cancelled

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/6/12)--April's open board meeting has been cancelled, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) said on Thursday.

That meeting was scheduled to be held on April 12. The closed board meeting that was scheduled for that date will still be held, the NCUA said, and supervisory matters are on the agenda.

This is the second open board meeting the agency has cancelled this year. The NCUA previously cancelled its Feb. 16 open board meeting, with NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz saying board members concluded there were no essential Board action items to publicly consider at that time.

Matz said the agency is "carefully evaluating which NCUA rules need to be streamlined, eliminated or clarified in 2012," and may cancel additional meetings this year, if needed.

Any additional meeting cancellations will be made the month of the meeting.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said the April cancellation is consistent with Matz's recent statement that the agency plans to slow the pace of new regulations. "Any time a regulator avoids issuing new rules, it is a positive development, and we view the cancellation of the April meeting—the second NCUA board meeting cancelled this year—in that light," Dunn said.

CUs help kick off hospital project for conventions

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (4/6/12)--When the 2012 Democratic National Convention ends, credit unions will leave behind a rejuvenated children's playground on the rooftop of Charlotte, N.C.'s Levine Children's Hospital.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), state credit union leagues, credit unions nationwide and the National Journal are working with the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) to complete the project in time for the September convention.

Click for slide showThere was a significant contingent of Carolina credit union representatives at the kickoff event for the rejuvenation of the rooftop playground at Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte. Shown here from left are: John Radebaugh, president/ CEO of the North Carolina Credit Union League, Raleigh, N.C.; Judy Tharp, president/CEO of Piedmont Advantage CU, Winston-Salem, N.C. ; Maurice Smith, chair, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C.; John Carlson, president/CEO of Sharonview FCU, Fort Mill, S.C.; John Slack, former Carolina Credit Union Foundation (CCUF) CEO; Jennifer Parker, senior vice president, Founders Federal Credit Union, Lancaster, S.C.; Steve Fowler, president/ CEO, South Carolina Credit Union League, Columbia, S.C.; Beverly Gagne, president/CEO, SAFE FCU, Sumter, S.C.; and, John McGrail, CEO, CCUF, Kernersville, N.C. (CUNA Photo)
Credit union volunteers are expected to lend hands-on support to help convert the existing rooftop space on the hospital's 12th floor to a dynamic play area with new features such as a touch-activated light and color "bubble wall," a deck and pavilion, outdoor play equipment and environmental improvements.

The project was launched with a ceremonial "water sprinkling" of freshly planted seeds that will become flowers on the finished playground.

"We're excited to put the credit union philosophy of people helping people into action by helping with this worthy project, and in the process join with the Democratic National Convention to shine a light on the amazing work that Levine Children's does for the communities it serves," John Radebaugh, North Carolina Credit Union League president/CEO, said.

A similar playground renovation project is planned for All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. That project, which will retrofit an existing playground with special play equipment for ill and injured children suffering from a variety of illnesses and accidents, will honor the 2012 Republican National Convention, which will take place in nearby Tampa.

"Credit unions really see this as an opportunity to leave something positive behind that will continue to benefit the Charlotte and Tampa communities long after the balloons have dropped and the convention ended," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said.

Since 2000, credit unions have honored the host cities for each national convention with a "leave behind" project that benefits local communities.

The two projects will cost a combined $600,000, and credit unions nationwide, the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation, the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, CO-OP Financial Services, and CUNA Mutual Group have begun fundraising efforts.

Bankers friends form SuperPAC

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WASHINGTON (4/6/12)--A group of 10 state banking association leaders have joined together to form a new pro-banker SuperPAC, dubbed "Friends of Traditional Banking."

The SuperPAC's mission, as stated on its homepage, friendsoftraditionalbanking.com, is to support members of Congress that support bank interests, and "to replace those members of Congress who do not."

While political action committees are limited in the amount of money they can spend on a given contest, SuperPACs do not have such limitations. They are only prevented from having direct contact with the candidate they are supporting.

The Washington Post reported that the SuperPAC intends to focus on two electoral contests per cycle.

"Congress isn't afraid of bankers… They don't think we'll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception," Oklahoma Bankers Association President/CEO Roger Beverage told American Banker (April 5).

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins said the development of this pro-bank SuperPAC highlights the importance of credit union grassroots advocacy, and political action by CUNA's Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), in this critical election year.

"Many credit union friends in Congress are stepping up on behalf of credit unions in the face of increased banker opposition, and CULAC and credit unions must be there to stand with those who stand with credit unions, especially if our friends are going to find their re-election campaigns targeted by a banker Super PAC," he added.

CULAC has engaged in independent expenditures on behalf of credit union friendly candidates for nearly a decade, and currently collects contributions from more than 29,000 individuals, with the average contributor donating around $65 per calendar year, Hawkins said.

The many, small-dollar individual contributions are indicative of the depth of credit unions' grassroots support, which has always been the movement's greatest political asset, Hawkins added. "We have one great advantage that banks cannot compete with, and that is our 94 million members, 65% of whom say that a candidate's stance on credit union issues matters."

CULAC raised an estimated $1.8 million in funds from credit union supporters in 2011, and those funds were distributed evenly among Republican and Democratic candidates.

CULAC, as of Jan. 1, had nearly $800,000 in funds to spend on 2012 elections.

NCUA names two to new posts

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/6/12)--Ronnie Levine will soon serve as the National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA) chief information officer (CIO), and Tim Segerson will take on the role of deputy director of the NCUA's Office of Examination and Insurance (OEI), the agency announced on Thursday.

Levine most recently served as CIO at the Bureau of Land Management, and has also worked for the Department of Transportation and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She will replace now retired former NCUA CIO Doug Verner on April 23.

Segerson has worked at the NCUA since 1992, when he first joined as an examiner. He has served as a supervisory examiner, director of supervision, problem case officer, and director of risk management during his time with the agency. He will take on the role of former OEI Deputy Director John Kutchey, who was recently promoted to the OEI deputy executive director position.

NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said both Levine and Segerson will play key roles in shaping the agency's future. "Their professional backgrounds, personable management styles, and forward looking perspectives are well suited for NCUA. Ronnie will ensure that NCUA stays at the cutting edge of information technology management providing critical support to our examiners, and Tim will facilitate our ongoing efforts to reach out and better communicate with credit unions," she added.

Inside Washington (04/05/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (4/6/12)--President Barack Obama Wednesday signed into law a bipartisan bill that prevents members of Congress from trading stocks based on nonpublic information they gleaned on Capitol Hill. The STOCK Act amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require a governmentwide shift to electronic reporting and online availability of public financial disclosure information.  The measure requires that members of Congress and government employees report certain investment transactions within 45 days after a trade mandates that the information in public financial disclosure reports be made available on agency websites through searchable, sortable databases. The bill also includes ethics requirements, including pension forfeiture for corrupt members; mortgage disclosure term requirements; bans on special access to initial public offerings; requirements to report on political intelligence in financial markets; job seeking disclosure requirements; and bans on bonuses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives …
  • WASHINGTON (4/6/12)--The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) raised credit standards this month to eliminate borrowers who appear to be at risk of default and those who may be disguising bad debt (American Banker April 5). The FHA, which is experiencing financial difficulties, said the move was necessary to protect itself from default by borrowers who have taken on too much debt. Some lenders have said the new requirements will help stop abuses of disputed credit accounts. Because disputed accounts are not factored into a borrower's credit score, some prospective homebuyers' scores are artificially inflated, allowing them to qualify for mortgages while they have unresolved debts. Others lenders say the new requirements further reduce the availability of potential homebuyers at a time when the market is under pressure to grow …