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CUNA leagues busy with RNC schedule

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TAMPA, Fla. (8/29/12)--Official Republican National Convention (RNC) events started at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and state league staff spread out to represent credit unions at events beginning early morning.

Click for slide showCUNA Executive Vice President John Magill (left) attends an RNC event to honor Junior Achievement's long service to promoting youth financial literacy, an issue near and dear to the hearts of credit unions across the nation and to CUNA and the state credit union leagues, as well. Sponsored by the Financial Services Roundtable, whose Scott Talbot is shown with Magill, the event drew many, including two members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. (CUNA Photo)
For instance, in nearby St. Petersburg at an event sponsored by the Financial Services Roundtable to honor Junior Achievement (JA), CUNA Executive Vice President John Magill, League of Southeastern Credit Unions League Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jared Ross, and the league's director of governmental affairs, Jason Cochran, represented credit unions at the session to highlight JA's work to promote financial literacy among the nation's youth.  Financial literacy is a top priority issue for the nation's credit unions.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), a long-time supporter of credit union issues and a sponsor of legislation to increase the credit union business lending cap, attended and addressed the event. Royce, a high-ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, was joined at the Roundtable event by fellow committee member, Rep. Bill Huizenga, a freshman congressman from Michigan.

Also, CUNA was prominent at the National Journal Group's Tuesday briefing program, entitled, "The Election in Numbers: A conversation with Leading Pollsters." CUNA is a sponsor of the daily briefings and the CUNA logo is featured each day, with other sponsors', behind the speakers and before the TV cameras.

Tuesday's National Journal Group session featured Ron Kaufman, senior adviser of the Romney Campaign, who was interviewed by Ron Fournier of National Journal and John Dickerson of CBS.

That interview was followed by a panel scheduled to include:
  • Kellyanne Conway, founder and president, the polling company inc./WomenTrend;
  • Whit Ayres, North Star Opinion Research; and.
  • Ed Goeas, The Tarrance Group.
CUNA and the leagues also had coveted passes for the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the RNC venue, to be in attendance for the day's activities. While the convention opened Monday, the real action moved to Tuesday when at 2 p.m. there were opening procedural steps, appointment of convention committees, and remarks by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

The day's speakers list was extensive, combining the names of those postponed--when Monday's activities were abbreviated to a simple calling to order and adjournment because of storm Isaac concerns at the time--with those already scheduled for this day.

Also on Tuesday there was a roll call to nominate the party's candidate for president of the United States and for his vice presidential running mate. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as expected, secured the nominations.  They are expected to accept today.

Also, Tuesday's speaker lineup included:

  •  House Speaker John Boehner;
  • Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum;
  • U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire;
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich;
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin;
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker;
  • Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval;
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; and,
  • First lady of Puerto Rico Lucé Vela Gutierrez.
And in the prime time, 10 p.m., hour were:

• Ann Romney; and,

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

CUNARNC playground project launches today

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TAMPA, Fla. (8/29/12)--At 10 a.m. (ET) today, Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is scheduled to join the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and National Journal Group at the official opening of a charitable "leave behind" project in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

Click for slide showThis spring, credit union representatives broke ground on a renovation project to benefit All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Shown above: (L to R): Brendan Garrison; Beth Reinhard of National Journal; Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions; Cynthia Scott-Butler; Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.); Riley Christian; Mike Mercer, CUNA chair and president /CEO, Georgia Credit Union League & Affiliates; Dr. Jonathan Ellen, Interim president/CEO of All Children's; St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster; and Caden Riley. (CUNA Photo)
With partners such as CUNA Mutual Group and CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA and the leagues and credit union volunteers broke ground on the project earlier this year, and have worked for months to complete a therapeutic playground.

The playground, which will serve All Children's Hospital and young patients in the area, contains special play equipment and was designed and built to enhance the rehabilitation process.

On Monday, Ann Romney announced that she would attend the ribbon cutting ceremony in St. Petersburg.

A similar project to build a rooftop playground is also underway at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. The Charlotte renovation project will honor the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which kicks off next week.

CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney has observed, "Credit unions see both projects 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 conventions ended." (See related News Now story: "CUs do conventions with a 'difference,' says.)

CUs politics front and center for alt. RNC delegate

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TAMPA, Fla. (8/29/12)--With 50,000 to 100,000 predicted to attend events here this week--and with 2,286 of them convention delegates and an equal number of alternates--credit unions are working a very crowded scene to see, be seen and be heard at events organized by and for the Republican National Convention (RNC).

Click to view larger image Arthur Wood and Mary Wood (left) pose with Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Cindy Ross. (CUNA Photo)
Among them are Arthur Wood and Mary Wood, a husband-wife team very engaged in the credit union movement and in the political scene. For the Woods, that means the Republican political scene. In fact, Art Wood, along with being president/CEO of Railroad & Industrial FCU here, is also chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee.

Mary, in addition to being involved along with Art in political campaigning--including fundraising--is president/CEO of Florida West Coast CU, as well as a member of the board of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions. She also serves on a number of credit union committees, such as the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA's) Government Affairs Committee.

Art this week is an alternate delegate for his congressional district. He and Mary, shortly in advance of this week's activities, talked to CUNA's News Now about their strong belief in political activism and how their two worlds--Republican politics and the credit union movement--do and do not intersect.

For the Woods, politics is personal: They back candidates they regard as principled conservatives. The Woods said they decided to get involved when they were dismayed with the direction of the Clinton administration. "That was our 'off-the-couch' moment," remembers Art, "We decided we could no longer sit on the sidelines."

The Woods said that as they became more and more politically involved, they realized that what they do in their business lives--running credit unions--mirrors the skills needed to run a campaign.

They started out slowly and just kept building their involvement, eventually even to include fundraising--a job they say few want to take on. Mary is even volunteer treasurer to some campaigns.

By rolling up their sleeves, the Woods say, they build important relationships and they build credibility and trust.

"Being politically engaged gives you a chance to be involved with high-level people that we might not be able to meet with if we were 'just' credit union people.

"Our political involvement is huge for access on credit unions' issues--on both federal and state levels. It gets me on the list to meet with the lawmaker," Art says.

Mary concurs. "Unless you have worked hard for the candidate, it can be hard to get your foot in the door."

Further, she says, "Art and I, on a personal level, feel connected to these candidates. And we feel fortunate to be connected to credit unions. Our involvements help both sides of the equation."

When appropriate, the Woods talk to the people they meet, including candidates, about credit union membership. "And it is important to us that a candidate be well-educated about credit unions. We help with that," Mary says with a smile in her voice.

The Woods also emphasize that as they work on a campaign, they are working alongside people with hopes for jobs with the candidates. With the candidate's success comes relationships with high-level staff members.

But there can be conflicts, too. On both sides of the equation, there can be times that the "other life" has to stay in the background.

Now about being an alternate delegate at this year's RNC? Art said he just wanted to do that for the experience.

"Despite our political involvement, I'm not normally a political animal," Art says. "But this was in our backyard. It was a one-time opportunity."

CUs do conventions with a difference says Dorety

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TAMPA, Fla. (8/29/12)--Tom Dorety, president/CEO of Florida's largest credit union and a former chairman of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the Filene Research Institute, and National CEO Roundtable--among other notable positions--and a 2012 winner of a Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement, believes in the benefit of credit union involvement in national political conventions, particularly through leave-behind projects that benefit the community.

CUNA, the state credit union leagues, credit unions and the National Journal Group teamed up this year to honor the Republican and Democratic National Conventions by restoring, refreshing and revitalizing therapeutic playgrounds at All Children's Hospital, in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C.

Dorety, as leader of $5 billion-asset Suncoast Schools FCU, has a long-term relationship with All Children's, having had a role in credit union projects that raised millions for the hospital.

For instance, Suncoast was one of 14 local credit unions to pledge a $1.5-million gift in 2011 that will help All Children's to establish a comprehensive center for children with autism and related disorders.

Says Dorety of credit union involvement in the conventions and the leave-behind project: "I am very pleased that the credit union community is participating in this leave-behind project in a bipartisan fashion.

"Most importantly, the playground project helps make life better for some children who deserve some fun and diversion during a difficult time in their lives.

"The project has the added benefit of showcasing our commitment to improving our communities on a national stage. It enhances our image of doing the right thing for the right reasons.

"Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, we can all be proud of what we're doing for the kids at All Children's' Hospital," Dorety says.

CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose agrees. "The leave-behind events are perfect for credit unions because they serve the community and credit union members every day. The projects give credit unions and their staffs a chance to interact with elected and political officials for months leading up to the actual ribbon cutting. It's an educational experience for both sides."

Use the resource link to read more about credit unions and the All Children's autism center.

Inside Washington (08/28/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (8/29/12)--The Federal Trade Commission this week announced it will extend until Sept. 24 the deadline for commenting on additional proposed modifications to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. That rule gives parents control over what information websites and online services may collect from children under 13. The original deadline was Sept. 10 ...
  • WASHINGTON (8/29/12)--The national average contract mortgage rate in July was 3.66%, a 0.01% decrease from the previous month's total, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported. The agency also reported an average interest rate of 3.84% for conventional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and a 3.65% composite fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgage average for July. July's effective interest rate, which includes the amortization of initial fees and charges, was 3.78%, the FHFA added …

NCUAs OSCUI advises CUs on grant applications

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/29/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) received a record 331 Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) grant requests this year, and the agency's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives (OSCUI) has advised credit unions on how they can better tailor their grant requests to help their chances of receiving funds in the future.

While the 311 applicants requested more than $5 million, combined, in funds, the agency was able to award only $1.4 million in technical assistance grants to just over 100 small credit unions.

This year's CDRLF grant disbursements will be used by credit unions to improve their service, train their staff, expand their community outreach efforts, provide ATMs in underserved areas, increase some marketing efforts at in-school branches and increase awareness of the payday loan alternatives offered at their credit union. Financial literacy and education at in-school credit union branches, and internships and staff training efforts, also will be funded by the grant money.

The NCUA's OSCUI in the August edition of its FOCUS e-newsletter said that "preparing a grant application is similar to preparing a job application." It noted that approaching a grant application in a similar manner "will increase a credit union's chances of receiving funding."

Credit unions, the agency said, should try to demonstrate why they are ideal grant recipients. They can do so by showing how their grant request and qualifications align with the requirements in the guidelines of the grant initiative, the NCUA recommended.

As an example, the NCUA said an application for a new product/service development initiative grant should include:

  • A clear project description outlining the new product or service the credit union will offer; and
  • A statement of impact explaining how the product or service will enable the credit union to better serve the community.
OSCUI also warned that a credit union's grant request could be harmed by:
  • Omission of any required documentation listed in the funding guidelines, including bids, quotes, partner letters, and other supporting documents;
  • Incomplete details about the project/proposed use of grant funds;
  • A use that is expected to have minimal impact on the credit union's existing members, potential members, or community;
  • A request that does not show progression from a similar award funded previously;
  • Bids or quotes that are inconsistent with the project description;
  • Funding requests for prohibited expenses such as staff salaries and travel;
  • Funding requests solely for general-use computer hardware and equipment upgrades; and
  • Applying for funding for an item or service that has already been purchased or contracted.
For this month's OSCUI FOCUS e-newsletter, use the resource link.

CUNA seeks costs burdens caused by CFPB mortgage changes

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WASHINGTON (8/29/12)--Details on any additional costs, compliance issues and operational changes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) planned mortgage disclosure changes would create for credit unions can be provided in a new Credit Union National Association (CUNA) comment call.

The comment call is the second released by CUNA on the CFPB's recently proposed simplified mortgage disclosure form and rules that implement the mortgage form changes. The proposed rules amend Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and Regulation X, which implements the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The regulations back up the changes made to the TILA and RESPA forms that homebuyers are given when they apply for and close a mortgage.

The proposed rule would require a new loan estimate form to replace current good faith estimate forms. The loan estimate form would need to be delivered within three business days after the consumer applies for a mortgage loan. The CFPB proposal would also require new closing disclosure forms to replace the existing HUD-1 Settlement Statement and the final Truth in Lending Disclosure. This form would need to be delivered no later than three business days before the consumer closes on the mortgage loan.

The mortgage form and proposed rules are scheduled to be finalized in January. Credit unions can address how much time they would need to comply with the pending regulatory changes and incorporate the new combined mortgage forms into their business practices.

CUNA is also seeking credit union comment on the CFPB's proposed changes to the definitions of "application" for purposes of delivering the loan estimate, and also to the term "business day." The "business day" redefinition has caused confusion in credit unions the past several years as Regulation Z has been amended multiple times, CUNA noted.

The proposed rule requires creditors to disclose whether a given loan is meant to fund a purchase, refinance, construction or home equity loan. Credit unions can suggest other loan  purposes that could be added to this list. Credit unions can also state whether they believe minimum finance charges should be included as examples of prepayment penalties, and whether loan guarantee fees should be excluded from the prepayment penalty definition.

Potential changes to the proposal's definition of balloon payment can also be addressed in the comment call response.

CUNA has also asked for general comments on any advantages and disadvantages that may be created by requiring a standard form for the closing disclosure for federally related mortgage loans and model forms for other credit transactions. It also asked more technical questions regarding the CFPB's planned changes to loan calculation disclosures.

CUNA will accept comment until Oct. 12. The CFPB's comment deadline is Nov. 6.

For the full CUNA comment call, use the resource link.

CFPB announces staff changes

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WASHINGTON (8/29/12)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has moved Kelly Thompson Cochran into the position of acting assistant director for regulations after the recent departure of Leonard Chanin, who has returned to the private sector.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a release thanked Chanin for his guidance in building the CFPB and for furthering the agency's mission to make markets work for consumers.

Cochran as acting director will oversee the agency's Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act rulewriting. She previously served as CFPB deputy assistant director for regulations. In that position, she worked on many Dodd-Frank Act priorities, including mortgage servicing, disclosures, and remittances.

The CFPB also hired Chris Lipsett to serve as senior counsel to Cordray and promoted Stephen Van Meter to the position of deputy general counsel.

Delicia Reynolds Hand has been hired to oversee the CFPB's Consumer Advisory Board, Community Bank Advisory Board and Credit Union Advisory Board. She also will work with senior advisory board staff to set priorities, objectives and policies for the board.

Cordray said he looked forward to welcoming the new agency additions as the CFPB continues its work on behalf of the American consumer.

For the CFPB release, use the resource link.