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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.-Urging its members to take a proactive stance against banker attacks and to be diligent in efforts to promote the credit union difference, the New York State Credit Union League (NYSCUL) laid the foundation at its 84th Annual Meeting & Convention for what promises to be an exciting and active year moving forward. “It’s an important year for the CU movement,” said William J. Mellin, president and CEO of the League. “We have the opportunity to become a more powerful social and economic force. . We must and will continue our unified voice. And, we must and will ensure that legislators know what we do-make this state and this country a better place to live and work.” Breaking away from tradition by combining its legislative conference with the annual meeting, the League kicked off its four-day gathering with an “Advocacy Day.” More than 200 credit union members and representatives traveled to Albany for a credit union rally and “Hike the Hill” sessions with legislators, discussing pending legislation such as a state credit union parity bill and inclusion of credit unions in New York’s Excelsior Linked Deposit Program, which allows state funds to be used for lower than market rate small-business loans. The parity bill passed both the New York Assembly and Senate before the session ended June 22, 2004, and will come before Gov. George Pataki over the summer. In guest appearances during the convention’s general sessions, credit unions received the praise of New York’s Lt. Gov. Mary O. Donohue for efforts to promote financial literacy particularly among youth and from Assemblyman and credit union member James Tedisco for increasing access to financial services, particularly among low-income individuals. CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica provided a legislative update from Washington, D.C., including the announcement of 55 sponsors who have endorsed the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA). While Mica ultimately is hopeful for the passage of CURIA, he warned credit unions against losing their focus and urged them to continue their support efforts. “The reality is, you don’t just run up there and get a bill passed,” Mica said. ” CURIA could take some time.” Mica also stressed the importance of maintaining vigilance against banker attacks. “ I hope there’s no one left in this room who doesn’t understand that this is serious,” Mica said. “It’s absolutely real, and they’re well organized. “We can’t let [our legislators] leave Congress this year and enter into an election with the last thing they heard from bankers being that CUs should be taxed. Do everything you can to participate between now and the election. Start calling, writing, faxing, e-mailing. “We need to do a good job and prove that we’re serving the underserved. There are 293 million Americans depending on us, for you are the only thing left standing in the way of banks having a monopoly on financial choice.” In his keynote address, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura discussed the importance of grassroots politics, highlighting his personal experience running and winning elections for mayor and then governor. Ventura also likened credit unions to a third party in politics and banker attacks to efforts by Democrats and Republicans to keep a third party out of the election process. “Banks want to destroy you because they want to eliminate the choice,” Ventura said. “It’s the same thing with politics.” The NYSCUL annual meeting wasn’t all work. Nebraska Sen. David M. Landis received a standing ovation from attendees for his portrayal of Sen. George Norris, an original signer of the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act. CUNA Mutual sponsored an evening cruise around the islands of scenic Lake George, with music by the Flying Mueller Brothers that kept the dance floor packed. The convention ended with a silent auction to support CUPAC and a dinner gala. During the course of the convention, the League also honored numerous members for their efforts in various areas, including political outreach, social responsibility and education. New this year, the League introduced the Ralph W. Hillman Marketing Award in honor of the late CEO of Nassau County FCU, who passed away May 19, 2003. Among the big winners was the Rochester District, which earned awards for District President, District of the Year and District Council of the Year. “It’s been a great year for us,” said Ann Hynes, Rochester District president and manager of St. Pius X Church FCU. “We have a wonderful council and committee members that really make things happen. We also have great support between our large and small credit unions. There hasn’t been a time when I asked one of our bigger credit unions to help out and they didn’t come through. That’s a big deal when you have a small budget and you’re trying to get a lot done.” The 85th Annual Meeting & Convention for the NYSCUL will take place in New York City. -

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