CUNA has again sounded out NCUA Board Chairman Norman D'Amours over the board's (with NCUA Board member Dennis Dollar dissenting) harsh recommended punishments of six top officials implicated by the Office of Special Counsel in the agency's 1996-1997 hiring scandal.
In February CUNA President Dan Mica wrote D'Amours asking for a more detailed explanation of the board's reasoning in the matter and on March 9 CUNA Examination and Supervision Subcommittee Chairman Gary Wolter followed up with his own query.
"Credit unions are increasingly concerned," Wolter wrote, "that under your leadership, the agency has not provided an explanation of any kind to credit unions as to why it was necessary to render much harsher sanctions against a number of senior agency personnel than apparently the Office of Special Counsel recommended."
Denying any interest in "privileged information," Wolter again asked for the sought-after explanation and warned D'Amours that the agency's "personnel fiasco" could lower morale and tarnish NCUA's image both "within and outside the credit union system."
D'Amours has not yet answered either letter.
Media Outreach Manager Meg Schryver, who was CUNA's "go-to" person here when the media had to be contacted, left the trade association March 16 for a position at U.S. Newswire. Schryver will work in the for-profit company's marketing department.
Intent on getting hard data on the purported sluggishness and inconsistency of NCUA regional handling of FOM expansion applications, NAFCU considered filing a Freedom of Information Act request with NCUA headquarters. When the trade was told, however, that their request could be seriously delayed during routing through these same regional offices, it decided to survey its own membership on the matter via e-mail.
"The e-mail we sent out asks the multiple common bond credit union members to provide information regarding their experiences in the SEG application process," said NAFCU President Fred Becker, Jr., "and to respond by going to our Web page and filling in the data."
Becker added that his 600-FCU overture would also identify members that were having application difficulties and serve as a platform for rendering assistance.
So far, a statistically irrelevant 31 responses have been received, but Becker said that these could be viewed on NAFCU's Web site.
The reportedly slow FOM expansion application process has become a major concern of both NAFCU and CUNA.
Showcased around Washington a week after the close of CUNA's governmental affairs conference was Members Resources.com's free Internet portal that has the CU-sensitive feature of tagging only the contracting CU's logo to wherever the member surfs within the extravagantly furnished Web site.
Billed as a "credit union-friendly" Web site because of this self-referential marketing characteristic, the e-product features separate advice sections-including chat rooms and exclusive columns on legal matters, movie reviews, nutrition and health, financial advice, senior's issues, and handyman matters-and an on-going, copyrighted soap opera for the CU member's enjoyment.
"It knows that that person clicked over (to the site) as a member of (a particular) credit union," said Members Resources.com President Mark Sessel, "and they can link right back (to that credit union), rather than going an taking their lending business to some non-credit union-oriented financial lending institution. So that's a key premise."
The Milford, Connecticut-based company spent several million dollars in start-up capital and were able to launch their product within months of concept development. -