It is time to fess up on how my January 3, 2001 predictions for the then-new year panned out. Looking back over the past 12 months, here’s how I did: I predicted that Board Member Yolanda Wheat would be named NCUA Chairman by President Clinton in the waning days of his administration. She was. I further predicted that her time as chairman would be brief. It was. She barely had time to print new stationary, business cards, and name placards, and to hire a number of displaced Clinton appointees on their way to the unemployment line to fill, at least in several cases, newly created NCUA positions. Although I correctly predicted that the Bush Administration would be quick to name Dennis Dollar NCUA Chairman to replace Wheat, I didn’t expect him to make a forced pit stop as “acting” chairman on the way to the chairman’s corner office. With Democrat Wheat’s term up in August, I predicted that she would leave immediately and that the Bush Administration would move quickly to appoint a Republican to a six-year term. Didn’t happen, although Wheat’s replacement has been nominated by the President and is in the wings waiting for the overworked FBI to conduct the usual background check before the anticipated Senate confirmation. But Wheat did leave, at least sort of. She moved back to Missouri where she still retains her board position and is still on the payroll until her departure becomes official. I also had something to say about the third NCUA Board Member, Democrat Goeff Bacino, who became a board member via the Clinton recess appointment route. I said that he would not get the required Senate confirmation and would thus need to depart when Congress officially adjourns sometime in the Fall of 2001. Bacino is still in position but I was still right. As part of the September 11th fallout, Congress has yet to adjourn. Until it does, Bacino has a job. Further supporting my prediction that his time on the NCUA Board would be limited is the fact that a Democrat replacement has already been recommended by the Democratic Senate leadership. When Congress finally does close out the current session, Bacino will be out, but his replacement is facing the same FBI backlog before confirmation hearings can be scheduled. Prediction side note: Don’t necessarily count Bacino out entirely. Although it would be unprecedented, because of all the unusual circumstances, Bacino might just find a way to get a second recess appointment to an otherwise short-handed NCUA Board. If anyone can pull it off, Bacino can! I also predicted that with Dollar in the driver’s seat NCUA would make lots of headlines, mostly positive, during the year. They did. For example, RegFlex, and incidental powers passed. Staff changes were made, most notably appointing career employee Len Skiles to the highly visible executive director position. Also, the OTR was lowered and the independent study was put on the fast track, both as predicted. And the approval process was streamlined and Dollar was flooded with speaking invitations, also predicted. Although it was right down to the wire, the controversial Community Action Plan (CAP), a Wheat and D’Amours brainchild, also became history in 2001, as predicted. It appears I struck out when predicting that there would be growing support for separating NCUA and NCUSIF. Based on several strong letters to the editor of this publication, as just one measuring stick, I seem to be pretty much all alone on this one. Those who have jumped on my bandwagon in private are apparently reluctant to come forward in writing. Looking back at some other successful predictions: I hit the nail on the head regarding the slowdown in the disappearance of dot-com companies. (Or is it just that there were so few left to disappear?) The liquidity crunch softened.and how! Mortgages grabbed an ever larger portion of CU lending portfolios. Technology choices available to credit unions grew like topsy as did the in-house vendor offerings although not without controversy. Assets and membership totals grew substantially. There were many more mergers and the partners did get larger. As also predicted, there were a substantial number of charter switches with federal to state charters leading the pack. Bank charter switches did inch up slowly and the size of those credit unions taking the plunge did move upward. The banking industry didn’t pay quite as much attention to credit unions and lost a major court battle. The credit union trade groups became stronger and more influential especially with regulators. Also, as predicted, the CUNA coordinating committee was not to be heard from. More high-profile CU CEOs were fired. More former banker CEOs were hired. The Credit Union House in D.C. was up and running in record time and got off to a great start. All of this was predicted. I also predicted great success for CUNA’s Renaissance Commission. I said: “The Renaissance Commission will come into its own as credit union faithful begin to understand what its true mission is and began to embrace it.” The credit union faithful did in fact begin to understand its true mission, as did I, and watched in horror as it over reacted to a storm of controversy revolving around preliminary recommendations. Very quickly it became a watered down effort in futility. One of the many disappointments was the handling of the final vote to accept what was left by phone, and making only a single, non-significant, change, one that to most observers was obviously made to placate league politicians. I regret I missed the mark on something that had at one time such great potential to lead credit unions forward. Expect the word “renaissance” to gradually fade away. Next week with refurbished crystal ball in hand, and my neck fully extended, I will put forth my fearless predictions for 2002. Comments? Call 1-800-345-9936, Ext. 15, or Fax 561-683-8514, or E-mail [email protected].

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Peter Westerman


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