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CU convention efforts recognized on C-SPAN

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MINNEAPOLIS (9/4/08)--Credit unions’ Homes for Our Troops project was praised on live television yesterday during yesterday’s National Journal Daily Briefing broadcast live on C-SPAN from the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.
Click for slide show Sgt. Marcus Kuboy (right) acknowledges applause during yesterday’s National Journal Daily Briefing, broadcast live on C-SPAN from the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. CLICK FOR MORE SCENES FROM THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION (Photo provided by CUNA)
Yesterday’s briefing featuring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and CNN’s Charlie Cook. Iraq war veteran Sgt. Marcus Kuboy--the recipient of the custom home built by credit unions--and CUNA’s Political Affairs Senior Vice President Richard Gose also were singled out for recognition by Charlie Cook. CUNA, the Minnesota Credit Union Network, the Credit Union Association of Colorado, Co-op Financial Services and the Corporate Network also were noted.

CU political junkie reports live from the RNC

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MINNEAPOLIS (9/4/08)--As Credit Union National Association (CUNA), league and credit union representatives cement relationships with lawmakers and politicos during this week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in the Twin Cities, one Wisconsin credit union staffer is providing his hometown with an up-close view of the event.
Click for slide show Heartland CU Marketing and Business Development Vice President Robin Marohn yesterday in St. Paul, Minn. Heartland CU is located in Madison, Wis. CLICK FOR MORE SCENES FROM THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION (Photo provided by CUNA)
Robin Marohn is vice president of marketing and business development for Heartland CU in Madison, Wis. The self described political junkie provides daily phone interviews with Madison radio stations WTDY-AM and WMMM-FM, posts frequent blog updates and uses Twitter. “I’ve never been to a national party convention, so I am burning a few vacation days and bunking in Minneapolis with an old college roommate,” said Marohn. Marohn, however, is more than a political junkie. He was chairman of the Wisconsin Credit Union League Government Affairs Committee (GAC) from 2005-2007 and served on the league’s board of directors for nine years. “The Wisconsin league and CUNA really deserve kudos for strengthening Wisconsin credit unions’ political action effort,” he said. “During my four years as GAC chairman, we grew the program from a handful of political activists to more than 400.” Before driving to the Twin Cities on Monday, Marohn said he cleared his freelance RNC reporting duties with his employer and the league. The daily radio interviews--conducted via cell phone--were a result of contacts he made during a previous career as a deejay. Marohn was once known on the Madison airwaves as “Robin Bannks.” “That’s ‘Bannks’ with two Ns,” he says. “Who would’ve thought with an air name like that I’d eventually work for credit unions.” At the RNC this week, Marohn has followed closely the Wisconsin Republican delegation during meetings with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Bush advisor Karl Rove, and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R). “Credit unions worked very closely with Gov. Thompson--he actually recognized me during the meeting yesterday,” said Marohn. “This is the best three-day vacation I’ve had in years,” he said. “There’s no better place to be if you’re a political junkie--I just wish I would have gone to Denver for the Democratic convention.”

Inside Washington (09/03/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (9/4/08)--The Federal Housing Authority has published notice in the Federal Register that it will impose a one-year moratorium as of Oct. 1 on risk-based premium pricing structure it was poised to set for most Title II single-family mortgage loans. The implementation delay is because of a provision in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, signed into law on July 30, which the FHA said places the one-year moratorium on FHA's implementation and carrying out of its risk-based premium structure ... * WASHINGTON (9/4/08)--The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a 90-day foreclosure moratorium in 34 parishes throughout Southern and Central Louisiana to help homeowners and other low-income renters affected by Hurricane Gustav. HUD recommends that loan servicers take action such as special forbearance, loan modification, refinancing and a late charges waiver. HUD also is offering its National Housing Locator System, which combines vacant sales and rental housing data from federal housing resources and three commercial apartment locations ... * WASHINGTON (9/4/08)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) also announced guidance to help financial institutions and to facilitate recovery in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas after Hurricane Gustav .... * WASHINGTON (9/4/08)--The Internal Revenue Service is providing tax relief to victims of Hurricane Gustav in affected areas of Louisiana by postponing deadlines for taxpayers until Jan. 5, 2009. The postponement applies to return filing, tax payment and other time-sensitive acts due between Sept. 1 and Jan. 5, 2009. This includes individual estimated tax payments due Sept. 15, corporate extended 1120 tax returns due Sept. 15 and individual extended 1040 tax returns due Oct. 15 ...

Minn. Colo.Wyo leagues host event to thank RNC delegates

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/4/08)—To recognize and thank Republican National Convention
Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester) speaks with Minnesota Credit Union Network Board Chair Harry Carter (right) of TopLine FCU at the Summer Soiree in St. Paul Tuesday (Photo provided by Minnesota Credit Union Network)
delegates, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) and Credit Union Association of Colorado & Wyoming co-hosted a Summer Soiree in St. Paul on Sept. 2, along with the Credit Union National Association and other credit union sponsors. More than 200 delegates from Minnesota, Colorado, and Wyoming attended the gathering. CUNA Mutual Group and the Corporate Credit Union Network were also sponsors of the event. Also in attendance at the reception were Minnesota State Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem (R-Rochester), a long-time supporter of credit unions, and the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, Ron Carey. “The Minnesota Credit Union Network was honored to thank the convention delegates in this small way. We are grateful for the time they donate to the political process as they represent and speak on behalf of their communities,” said President/CEO, Mark Cummins of the MnCUN.

NCUA opinion on suspension of services

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WASHINGTON (9/4/08)—The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has no prohibition against a federal credit union applying the same “suspension of services” policy to a member who presents a risk of potential loss to the credit union as it does to an abusive member. However, the agency warns that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) may have an impact on a proposed policy. In its legal opinion letter 08-0431, the agency noted that, generally, a federal credit union may suspend services to a member if it complies with the Federal Credit Union Act (FCU Act). The act grants all members two basic rights: the right to maintain a share account and the right to vote at annual meetings. “However, nothing in the FCU Act or (NCUA) rules and regulations precludes an FCU from restricting the availability of certain services, provided there is a rational basis. A rational basis exists when there is a relationship between the risk to a credit union and the restriction of services,” wrote Associate General Counsel Sheila Albin in the letter. She added, “We caution, however, that any suspension of services policy should be in writing and an FCU should make its membership aware of the policy before it is enforced against any individual.” The NCUA letter also pointed out that contract provisions and federal and state laws may limit a federal credit union’s ability to deny certain services to members; specifically that ECOA may have an impact on a proposed policy. That law is intended to promote the availability of credit to all creditworthy applicants, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or age. “(P)olicies that are facially neutral may be prohibited under the ‘effects test.’ Under the ‘effects test,’ a policy is discriminatory if it has a negative impact on a protected class of persons, even if there is no intent to discriminate,” the NCUA letter said, and suggested a credit union consult counsel to determine the applicability of ECOA and whether a policy would have a discriminatory effect if implemented.

Large California CU placed in conservatorship

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/4/08)—The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has been named conservator of state-chartered Valley CU, San Jose, Calif., to ensure safe and sound credit union operations and continuing service to members. The California Division of Financial Institutions appointed NCUA as conservator because of the declining financial condition of the $257 million-asset credit union, according to an NCUA release. The credit union has almost 27,000 members, three branch offices, and was originally chartered in 1953 to serve telephone company employees. In announcing it accepted the role of conservator, the NCUA noted that member accounts are insured to at least $100,000 while IRA and KEOGH retirement accounts are insured up to $250,000 under coverage provided by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). The NCUSIF, the agency reminded, is backed by the full faith and credit of the Unite States government. The NCUA added that excess insurance protection is currently provided by private insurer American Share Insurance of Dublin, Ohio. Members with questions about their insurance coverage can contact NCUA’s Region V Division of Insurance at 602-302-6000 Monday through Friday during business hours. Use the resource link below to access the NCUA website.

Fryzel picks his chief of staff

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/4/08)—Sarah Vega, a former director of the Illinois Department of Financial Institutions, has been named as chief of staff and senior policy advisor by National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Michael Fryzel. The appointment is effective Sept. 10. Vega will advise the new NCUA chairman on the full range of issues before the NCUA and oversee the day-to-day management of his office. “Sarah Vega will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. I am very pleased that she has chosen to continue her public service in this capacity, and I am confident that she will be a tremendous asset to me and my efforts as NCUA Chairman,” noted Fryzel in his announcement. Vega served four years as director of her state’s Department of Financial Institutions, the regulatory agency responsible for licensing and examination of all state-chartered credit unions, currency exchanges, consumer-installment lenders, sales finance companies, title insurance companies, money transmitters, foreign exchange offices, and debt management firms in Illinois. The new NCUA chief of staff also was administrator of the department’s Credit Union Division for 10 years. The division regulates Illinois state-chartered credit unions. Additionally, Vega served as chairman of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, is a former member of the board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, and is a member of the Illinois Bar. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn welcomed the announcement saying CUNA has enjoyed working with Vega as an Illinois regulator and looks forward to working with her at the NCUA. "There are many issues that are pending at NCUA and Sarah's background and experience will be very useful for the agency," Dunn added. Vega fills the position vacated recently by Peter Barrett, who was former Chairman JoAnn Johnson’s senior policy advisor.

CUNA microblogging on RNC events

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WASHINGTON (9/4/08)—Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Editorial Communication Vice President David Klavitter posts comments and observations almost minute by minute at the Republican National Convention (RNC), which started Monday, ends Thursday, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. Credit unions are encouraged to check in on Twitter, a microblogging service, to get the latest credit union take on happenings at the RNC this week, as they did last week at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Twitter allows instant, extremely short online postings--limited to no more than 140 characters each. CUNA staff and volunteers, state leagues and corporates, attending both national conventions, aim to raise the profile of credit unions during the high-profile political events. Use the resource link below to stay up-to-date.

GOP reps tour low-income CU facility during RNC

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/3/08)--Two members of Congress took time out of their busy schedules Tuesday during the Republican National Convention to visit a credit union branch located in a low-income area of St. Paul, Minn.
Click for slide showUS Federal CU President/CEO Bill Raker (from left), U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) and Minnesota Credit Union Network President/CEO Mark Cummins discuss Eastside Financial Center services yesterday during a ceremony at the facility. “We need more of these in other neighborhoods,” said Ramstad. CLICK TO VIEW MORE SCENES FROM CUs AT YESTERDAY’S RNC (Photo provided by CUNA)
U.S. Reps. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) and Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) toured and heard stories from those whose lives were improved by the Eastside Financial Center--an alliance between U.S. Federal CU of Burnsville, Minn., Thrivent Financial, and Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. The center opened in January and is a not-for-profit alternative to check cashers and payday lenders who frequently charge predatory rates and do little to promote savings, money management and financial independence. According to U.S. Federal CU President/CEO Bill Raker, the credit union operates a branch within the center, offering a “full menu of products complemented by specific services designed to meet the needs of the local neighborhood.” Those services include check cashing, bill payment, remittance services, and access to affordable, short-term emergency loans. During the center’s first six months of operation:
* 282 new members have joined U.S. Federal CU and opened savings accounts at the Eastside Financial Center branch; * 57 people have received bundled services in financial counseling, employment coaching and public benefits access and are working toward financial stability; * 32 families have opened individual development accounts, which offers a three to one matched savings account for the purchase of a first-time home, starting a small business or higher education; and * 222 people have received financial counseling related to budgeting, credit and debt management.
In his remarks, Ramstad praised the facility’s work calling it “important.” “We should replicate this in other neighborhoods,” Ramstad told Raker and Minnesota Credit Union Network President/CEO Mark Cummins. He said this work is not a “hand out, but rather a hand up.” Rep. Bachmann said the center’s mission is the focus of her interests in Congress--a reason she fought to earn a slot on the House Financial Services Committee. Attendees of yesterday’s ceremony also heard testimonials from two individuals whose financial lives were improved through participation in the Eastside Financial Center’s products, services and training.