<p>By SARAH SNELL COOKE CU Times Washington Reporter ALEXANDRIA, Va.- President George W. Bush has sent a letter to NCUA Board Member Yolanda Wheat informing her that her seat on the board will be terminated as of December 21. Wheat’s term officially expired in August, but she has been serving as a holdover until her replacement was named. Clay Johnson, assistant to the president for presidential personnel and deputy to the chief of staff, signed the December 20 letter, which also extended “best wishes” for Wheat’s future. Additionally, the Senate adjourned December 20 for the session, which effectively ends recess appointee NCUA Board Member Geoff Bacino’s term as well. The House also adjourned on the 20th. Wheat’s removal and Congress’ adjournment would make way for a recess appointment for Bush NCUA board nominee Iowa State Senator JoAnn Johnson. If Johnson is not quickly given an appointment, NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar is the sole member of the NCUA Board. NCUA Director of Public and Congressional Affairs Cliff Northup said that according to General Counsel Bob Fenner, proceeding with only one board member temporarily should not present a problem. “We’re not anticipating doing anything for some time that would require more than one board member, so we’ll just remain the status quo until the White House decides how they’re going to proceed,” Northup said. Dollar’s Assistant for Public Affairs Nick Owens emphasized that the NCUA Board will be up and running for the agency’s January 17 board meeting. Also, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s recommendation of former USDA official Deborah Matz could see some time on the board, though the administration has not spoken on her appointment. In January of 2001 Wheat was named chairwoman of the NCUA by outgoing President Bill Clinton. She was the first African-American and first female to chair the board. Her time in that position, however, was short-lived when President Bush named Dollar, a fellow Republican, chairman February 8, only three weeks after coming into office. Her term on the board has been marked by strong opinions for what she believes in, particularly credit unions’ mission to serve the underserved. Most recently, she and former NCUA Chairman Norm D’Amours (also terminated via letter, following a congressional recess) passed the Community Action Plan, which Wheat authored, requiring community chartered credit unions to document exactly how they intend to serve their entire communities. The regulation, however, was repealed during the most recent board meeting. “My focus has been on providing financial underserved households more access to credit union services because credit unions have traditionally viewed lower income communities as pools of potential, not pockets of poverty,” she said in a statement regarding the end of her term. She added that her efforts in expanding the use of community charters were aimed at serving the most consumers possible. She also worked with NASCUS, as the former liaison for state chartered credit union issues under D’Amours, to develop a resolution, which the board passed, condemning predatory lending. Updating the regulation governing credit union service organizations was another goal that Wheat has seen through during her tenure on the board. Additionally, she said that she was “particularly proud of the NCUA’s Small Credit Union Program, which dedicates significant resources to support the efforts of small credit unions in economically disadvantaged communities. By serving the underserved, I believe the credit union movement grows stronger and healthier on a daily basis.” Wheat was originally nominated to the NCUA Board by President Clinton November 9, 1995 and received a recess appointment to the board April 12, 1996. She was finally confirmed by the Senate and given a permanent position on the board October 9, 1997, at the same time as Dollar. Prior to her appointment to the NCUA Board, Wheat spent nearly 10 years specializing in banking and corporate law. She worked in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., law offices of Morrison and Foerster from 1986 to 1992 and spent nearly two years with the Kansas City, Missouri, law firm of Smith, Gill, Fisher & Butts. Her term expired August 2, 2001. Wheat is a native of San Bernardino, California. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and graduated with distinction from Stanford University with an A.B. in International Relations. She is a member of the bar in California, Maryland, and Missouri. Wheat and her husband, former Missouri Congressman Alan Wheat, have two boys and reside in Kansas City, Mo. “I certainly wish Yolanda the very best in her future endeavors as she leaves the NCUA Board. She has been a passionate defender of the positions she advocates and the issues she cares about. I am confident that she will have a bright future in whatever direction she chooses. I wish her well,” Dollar said of his colleague. CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica commented, “We commend Mrs. Wheat for her service to NCUA and to credit unions; she always brought to bear on issues before her considerable intelligence and determination. We wish her well in her future endeavors.” NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker explained that on most issues the trade association agreed with her, with the exception of the Community Action Plan he pointed out. “She is a real advocate for fiscal restraint,” he noted. At the same time, he added that NAFCU looks forward to working with the next board member. “Without speculating, I don’t know why the president would clear the set without putting somebody into it,” he observed. While Wheat is the only permanent board member leaving, Bacino’s term also expired with the adjournment of Congress. As a recess appointee, he cannot serve as a holdover as Wheat did. “It has been a pleasure to serve with Geoff on the NCUA Board. I appreciate his many contributions to the agency and America’s credit unions. He has been a regulator who has studied the issues which has resulted in sound policy decisions. I wish him well as he pursues his future plans,” Dollar said. “We’ll miss him a lot. I think he has done a lot and, again, we appreciate his leadership on CAP to do the right thing at the right time,” Becker commented. He added that he would like to see Bacino continue to work within the credit union community. “He can add value to the credit union world.” Mica pointed out that Bacino knew his time with NCUA could be fleeting, but worked hard as a regulator regardless. “Geoff Bacino joined the NCUA Board in a daunting position, knowing that his tenure could be brief. In his nearly one year on the board, however, he proved to be open-minded, dedicated and concerned about preserving the safety of credit unions for consumers, and ensuring that credit unions would continue to effectively serve their members in the future. Our thanks to him for his service to credit unions and our best wishes to him as he pursues his career,” Mica said. President Clinton appointed Bacino to the NCUA Board December 29, 2000. Bacino has a long history of service to the credit union community, including running his own lobbying and public relations firm, Bacino and Associates. He also previously served as a CUNA lobbyist, co-founded the National Association of State-Chartered Credit Unions, and was the executive director of the National Association of Share Insurance Corporations. A native of Rockford, Ill., born in 1962, Bacino is the son of former NCUA executive Ted Bacino. He is a graduate of Indiana University and holds a B.A. in political science. Bacino lives in Virginia with his wife and three daughters. [email protected]</p>

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