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LAS VEGAS – CEOs of Nevada credit unions will finally get what one calls “equal time” next month when they meet for breakfast with journalists from the Nevada Business Journal for a “Credit Union Roundtable.” This is the same paper CU leaders once criticized for what they claimed was a bank-leaning editorial slant. Invitations to all 29 Nevada CUs were mailed Feb. 3 by Kathleen Foley, the editor of the state’s leading business publication, to discuss “issues vital to the future of credit unions in Nevada” in a free-wheeling but recorded hour-and-half session to be held at a restaurant in the Mandalay Bay Resort Casino. The final product of the CU Roundtable will appear in the May issue of the magazine which a year ago was harshly criticized by the Nevada Credit Union League for numerous CU bashing articles – the obvious handiwork of the Nevada Bankers Association led by William Martin, chairman of Nevada State Bank, the state’s fourth largest and an affiliate of Zions Bancorp of Salt Lake City. The chairman/CEO of Zions is Harris Simmons, a CU antagonist and chairman-elect of the American Bankers Association. Nevada CUs complained to Foley last summer that the publication was ignoring CUs’ view and printing only the banker position attacking “mega credit unions” and calling for elimination of the tax exemption. Quotes of Martin and others appeared in a “Banker Roundtable” issue in July and the Nevada Business Journal suggested that a bank/CU debate be held in August with the CU side getting wide coverage in a fall edition. The session was to be held on publication premises but Martin of Nevada State and who was to be a participant, asked to postpone the session citing medical appointments. Foley, who denied she was ever biased to banks but was willing to print the CU position “verbatim” in a future issue, proposed separate Roundtable issues for CUs and banks in 2005 and both trade groups agreed to the idea. “We got hammered pretty good in some of those articles and we are glad to get equal time,” declared Bruce Rodela, president of Washoe CU, Reno, and chairman of the Nevada League. Rodela said he was uncertain yet “what the questions might be or a list of topics” but the CEO team would be well prepared to discuss the banker line on the tax exemption and CU expansion. Also likely to be discussed is a 2003 law assessing banks a 2% payroll tax and a $7,000 per branch fee to help close a state budget gap. Credit unions, as non-profits, were exempt from the taxes and this year the NBA is expected to ask the legislature to repeal those taxes since the state has been enjoying a budget surplus. Another issue likely to be brought up is the prospect of tough payday lending bills supported by Carol Tidd, the state’s commissioner of financial institutions, to be introduced this session. Foley said she has received RSVPs from four Nevada CEOs to attend the March 15 breakfast with more expected to sign up before a March 4 confirmation deadline. The editor said the participating CEOs could bring up whatever issues were pertinent to the industry. “They can discuss what ever they see as common challenges, the competition or a legislative agenda,” said Foley suggesting they may find “staffing challenges” to be of concern. “We’ll let them decide,” she said. The issue would run about 4,000 words or four pages in the publication and would be followed in July by the “Banker Roundtable” with invitations to be sent out shortly for that. In both roundtables, a court reporter has been hired to taken down notes. Rodela said the Nevada CU team would be taking “a high road” in the discussion but would be negating false banker claims. In articles appearing a year ago, bankers argued that CUs offering business loans was a dangerous practice and threatened CU “solvency.” Moreover, revenue was being lost to the state as banks were moving operations out of state because of CU growth. In her Feb. 3 letter, Foley laid out a strict set of rules demanding that only CEOs “or persons of equivalent stature” can participate and that the invitation “is not transferable.” “If you are unable to attend for any reason, you may not send someone else in your place,” she wrote noting the session will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 9 a.m., and that a group photo would be taken and published in the May issue. [email protected]

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