The head of a Grand Rapids, Mich. CUSO leading a petition drive sharply critical of NCUA policies and hoping to marshal industry action to bring about major changes, acknowledged Wednesday his campaign may be stalling.
Expressing disappointment at the large number of anonymous signers to his so-called "no confidence" document, Randy Karnes, president/CEO of CU*Answers, vowed to continue soliciting support for his vocal online drive aimed at "standing up to the NCUA" to halt what he called injurious practices on examination and assessments that threaten industry survival.
"I originally thought I might have stopped the petition signing Feb. 1 but now I think we'll go through the GAC but it's very disheartening to hear from so many credit union CEOs fearful of retribution by signing the document," Karnes said, adding that his original hope was to get 300 signers.
The petition seeking what he calls "honest and forthright industry dialogue to bring about transparency" currently has some 106 signers, with more than 40 anonymous entries. The document includes a laundry list of what he said are needed structural fixes ranging from separation of compliance and insurance to giving CUs a greater voice in picking board members.
The petition drive, begun in December, has drawn a rebuke from some CUNA and league leaders who contend that the document, while well meaning, divides the industry. The CUNA group has also contended the petition sends a wrong message to Congress and the public about CU positions during a difficult period.
Karnes said he is planning magazine ads covering his views to be circulated during CUNA's GAC conference in Washington at the end of the month "but after that the petition drive may be halted."
He said, however, he hopes the online discussion can continue "since I and others believe it is so very important."
"I would hope we can find a way that opens a dialogue between the governing and the governed and ensures that the governed believe that they are part of the debate," Karnes said. "That's a big challenge, because apathy, fear, and a lack of hope that anything will ever change at the NCUA rule the day in our industry right now."