SAN ANTONIO -- The Texas Credit Union League's advocacy push to court the media and spread the word about the CU role in grappling with the mortgage and credit crises paid off with one positive dividend last week: a tongue-in-cheek critique of the bankers' stance on the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 1537) and opposition to CU business lending appeared in a column of the San Antonio Express News.
In a lead article published Feb. 27 and hitting on subprime troubles, business columnist David Hendricks scolded banks as greedy and hypocritical for opposing CU efforts to help small business owners get loans from CUs.
"Shame" on credit unions, Hendricks wrote in mocking criticism for daring "to try to lure business away from banks." Those "darn credit unions have simply done it again" by wanting to lend money to distressed small business, said Hendricks in the article entitled, "Man, credit unions have really got their nerve."
Banks are now "crying big tears after being wounded" by all the securities they thought were safe and "were tainted with subprime mortgages," wrote Hendricks. Citing CURIA though not by name, he said banks are now mustering their powerful lobbying clout to block CU entry into an area the banks ignore.
Still, he said banks "know what to do" to quash those "uppity credit unions. Put their lobbyists back on the job to keep the world safe from credit unions."
Officials of the Texas Credit Union League acknowledged the pro-CU column is the work of a new "true success story" campaign and media tour formally launched in January by the league's advocacy team to "really tell, the media and the public" what CUs do to help out subprime victims and distressed homeowners.
A spokeswoman for the Texas Bankers Association said Hendricks is well known for favoring CUs.
She added that San Antonio is a "credit union town" considering its large number of military bases with CU branches.
Since publication of his column, Hendricks told Credit Union Times most of the response has been positive. "Three e-mails were not, and one was from someone who has worked both for a bank and a credit union," he said. "All of the negative e-mails criticized the differences in taxation and their point-- an ancient one -- was that CUs had an advantage. I found that amusing because that wasn't the point of my column."
The point, he said, was "access to capital and the people criticizing my column didn't challenge my portrayal of banks not lending to small businesses."