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GRAPEVINE, Texas – The lions’ share of the Texas Credit Union League’s Annual Membership Meeting April 8 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center was devoted to discussion of TCUL’s 2004 legislative and advocacy activities. Voting business occupied an insignificant portion of the overall agenda. Two items – a league dues structure and formula for 2006 and a league bylaw amendment that clarifies the procedure by which a league director resigns from the board – were both approved without discussion. Gary Davis, TCUL Chairman and CEO of Chocolate Bayou Community FCU, said working together through the League is credit unions’ key defense mechanism on the legislative front. “The league has had a good year, but with the bank attacks, with a number of mergers taking place and a couple of large credit unions wanting to convert to banks, there are signs that the road ahead may not be as smooth.” “We, as credit union leaders, must continue to support our League and keep it strong,” Davis told the audience. “The primary focus of your League is to protect your interests. We will not duck and cover in the face of legislative threats.” Mentioning a Texas banking association campaign that is attempting to alter the tax status of credit unions, Davis said, “We all know that credit unions are barely a blip on the radar screen of the mammoth banking industry when you look at actual dollars and cents. But of course, by focusing on us, the community bankers perhaps will ignore the fact that their big behemoth brethren are really the ones taking away their market share.” Davis said the League has been actively defending credit unions in the state capital and in Washington, D.C., but that credit unions must do their part. “Each of you must be an advocate for your League and encourage your colleagues to be involved,” he said. Davis challenged attendees to identify five credit union leaders with whom they work with on a regular basis and find out if they are involved in the League. For example, do they contribute to TCUL PAC and the FORCE Fund? Do they attend the Texas Governmental Affairs Conference or take advantage of other League educational opportunities? Are they active with their local credit union chapter? “Though we want to run our credit unions, focus on our mission and just serve our members, we cannot ignore the fact that there are outside forces looking to change the way we do business,” Davis says. “Thinking we can shield ourselves just by closing our eyes provides a false sense of security. We must face the problem head on and take action.” Later, TCUL CEO Dick Ensweiler challenged credit union leaders to take the word “bank” out of their vocabulary. “How can we convince our lawmakers that we are different, if we are using the word bank in our slogans?” he asked the audience. “Bank is not a generic word. It means for-profit and that is not us. We are about rates, about service.” Ensweiler said it’s up to credit unions to defend themselves, to communicate their uniqueness. “We have to be the protectors of our destiny.” -

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