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I appreciated Mike Welch’s January 21 column “Well-Intended CU Board Actions Can Backfire” in which he discussed efforts by the board of Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) to make a possible bank conversion more difficult. The decision to amend our bylaws and strengthen the voting requirement for membership to approve a conversion was not one made lightly. The board of directors discussed it at length over several months and deliberated over the very questions Welch raised such as: what precedent would this set? How might we be tying the hands of a future board? Might there be a situation where a charter conversion was in the best interest of our membership? We are pleased with our final product. It’s one that affirms our commitment to the cooperative philosophy that is the very foundation of a credit union. That philosophical statement, along with requiring disclosure to members about who might stand to gain under a conversion, sends a loud message that we hope our current structure stands. But we did not make the changes watertight because we felt that a future board of directors needed to have flexibility to make decisions based on conditions we might not even be able to imagine right now. Perhaps what’s most important is the conversation the industry is now engaging in. Protecting our members’ best interests is obviously a priority, but so is promoting the value of credit unions on a broader scale. If our bylaw changes have contributed to that national discussion, then I think WSECU has been successful on both fronts. Tim Kerr Chairman Washington State Employees CU Olympia, Wash.

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