<p>I am a long-time reader of Credit Union Times, and I look forward to each weekly edition. I particularly enjoy reading Mike Welch’s column and appreciate his insights and observations about critical issues confronting our industry. However, having just read Welch’s April 10th column, “Threats, bad words, names, expansions and more,” I felt compelled to bring to your attention a couple of areas where I disagree with his observations. Welch commented on his disappointment in the recent debate between CUNA’s Bill Hampel and Keith Leggett of the ABA at the California Credit Union League’s Big Valley Conference. Since Welch acknowledged that he did not attend the event, let me share with him another perspective from someone who did. I found the debate to be one of the highlights of that conference, and I felt that the format of the debate was, in fact, conducive to a spirited and lively exchange. Contrary to Welch’s assertion, I don’t believe that the politeness exhibited by the debate organizers (the California Credit Union League) or the audience was unearned. In fact, I was very pleased with the professionalism and decorum displayed by everyone involved. It made me recall an incident that occurred several years ago at a CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference when a member of Congress addressing the assembly displayed a lack of poise which was, unfortunately, reciprocated by the audience of credit union professionals and volunteers. It was not one of our finer moments. During the recent California debate, I found myself hoping that we would not have a similar incident. I feared that some well-meaning credit union supporter would stand up and blurt out an inappropriate remark in response to any of Mr. Leggett’s inaccurate, self-serving and tired rhetoric. (Perhaps it was good that Welch wasn’t there.) On another point, Welch commented about how ludicrous he believes it is for a small credit union to attempt to serve a large community field of membership. This sounds like the very type of charge one would expect to hear from the banking industry. I doubt that the $8 million dollar credit union in question seriously believes that they will be serving all the individuals in the community they are seeking in their new charter. In fact, it sounds like this credit union is attempting to do the very thing credit unions are being accused of not doing enough of – bringing credit union services to more and more consumers in our communities. I recently visited with the president of a new bank that was chartered in one of our local communities. Although the bank has assets of only $6 million, I don’t see anyone questioning their right to attempt to bring services to a community of over 2 million people. I also wanted to address Welch’s comment about the large credit union which introduced a tagline that included the word “banking”. Last year Wescom Credit Union introduced our marketing tagline – “Better Banking for Southern California”. We view the term “banking” to be descriptive of the services our members are looking for. Mike, have you ever used the term home banking? By the way, we offer checking accounts not share draft accounts at Wescom. Does that make us less credit union-like? Finally, if Welch finds bankers and the term banking so offensive, how does he explain the advertisements which appear on pages 28-29 and 31 of the April 10th edition of Credit Union Times? Darren Williams President/CEO Wescom CU Pasadena, Calif.</p>

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