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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. – The California Credit Union League said last week 30 of its 417 credit union members have now resigned from the League opting out of mandatory participation in its $6 million advocacy campaign. “Well, I’d say it’s disconcerting to have even one resignation but given where we are, the results we’re getting so far from the ads have been extremely positive,” declared Richard Ghysels, chairman of the League’s Ad Hoc Public Advocacy Committee, which has been shepherding the high profile radio/print campaign launched Jan. 17. Ghysels, who also is president/CEO of First Financial CU in West Covina, said initial research shows “the needle moving” every time the 60-second spots are aired with a current cycle of ads running from April through June. The ads produced by Foote Cone & Belding, a New York agency with Los Angeles operations, have been appearing in 28 markets in California and Nevada and will continue through 2005 on an every other week basis. The image ads stress differences between CUs and banks and are targeted at opinion leaders as part of a long-running campaign to thwart bank attacks. “I think it was about time the League did something in this area and I’m pleased with the feedback I’m getting locally-people saying `I’m hearing a lot about credit unions lately’” declared Brett Martinez, president/CEO of the $1 billion Redwood CU in Santa Rosa. Martinez said “it is only unfortunate we have to be in this defensive mode,” adding the League program is “the right thing to do.” “I can just hope the bankers would give up now, but that is wishful thinking,” said Martinez. The League said the resignations will have little impact on the overall association budget considering “we have collected 95%” of normal dues income. The separate assessment for the advocacy campaign has already surpassed $6 million with contributions from affiliates, associate members and suppliers. League officials have declined to give a size or geographic breakdown of the 30 resignations but said most are in the small to medium range-below $150 million in assets. The League was particularly pleased, however, that all of its members in Nevada re-upped. Ghysels said members of the League leadership have been making calls to departing CUs trying to get them to return. Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, former co-chairman of the Leagues’ Public Advocacy Task Force, which originally crafted the ad campaign in 2004, said small CUs resigning from the League may have done so possibly “for income reasons.” Van Ouwerkerk is also president of Travis CU in Vacaville. Confirming her view was the chairman of the League, Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of San Francisco Fire CU, who said CUs she has talked to claim “it is a matter of pure mathematics.” Many in the $50-$150 million range “operating now in a rising rate environment find themselves financially strapped” and decided to forgo the extra expense for dues even though they support the League philosophy. There was one isolated case, she said, of a board urging non-payment “since they were about to merge.” One CEO of a $60 million CU told Credit Union Times he was disaffiliating because he could not afford another expense since his CU was just coming out of a turnaround position. “The assessment just took us over the top,” he said adding he might rejoin next year when conditions improved. Dykstra said the League Board does look at waiving dues payments or offering assistance to struggling CUs “on a case by case basis.” “We try to be understanding,” she concluded. [email protected]

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