Sometimes it seems like one of the most popular pastimes incredit union land is to engage in endless speculation, especiallywhen it comes to high profile credit union people. “I heard (fillin the blank) was in big trouble with his board and will be let goat their next meeting.” “The word is out that (fill in the blank)didn't really resign as announced, but was fired for (fill in theblank).” “Everyone knows (fill in the blank) took early retirementat 56 because (fill in the blank).” Sound familiar? This too? “Ihave it on good authority that (fill in lots of blanks here) isgoing to be nominated to the NCUA Board by (fill in day, month,year, or holiday recess period).” In this example, speculationover. But besides being nominated to be the newest member of theNCUA Board, who is Rodney E. Hood anyways? Had any of thespeculators ever heard of him? Nope. When it comes to speculationabout departing credit union CEOs, league presidents, and vendorexecutives, the speculators usually have a pretty good track recordfor being right on the money. But when it involves Presidentialappointments to the three-person NCUA Board, they (included hereare the CU trade groups) don't even come close. Ever since formerNCUA Board Chairman Dennis Dollar voluntary left his lame duckposition, I think almost everyone involved with credit unions,except me, has been rumored to be his replacement. Most of thosenames, at least the ones with any degree of credibility, appearedin the pages of Credit Union Times as they surfaced. Obviously theHood announcement proved that every single bit of speculationregarding who would fill Dollar's slot was dead wrong. I am notaware of a single credit union person who had speculated thatRodney E. Hood would be the nominee? He came out of nowhere. Aslong time observers of the NCUA Board know, that's just the waypolitics work and NCUA Board nominations and appointments arepolitics 101. What isn't open to any speculation is the fact thatas with most previous board nominations, Hood will need to engagein a crash course, not only on the workings of NCUA and his newagency responsibilities, but on credit unions in general. Like themajority of previous nominees, Hood was not selected for hisknowledge and dedication to credit unions. I'm not even sure he isor ever has been a CU member. No, Hood is strictly a politicalnomination. I'm reminded of a previous board nominee some yearsback. In an introductory phone conversation between that person andme, they made this comment: “Mike, I have to admit I don't know athing about credit unions.” To which I replied, “Don't ever saythat again; credit unions will find out for themselves soonenough.” And they did of course. None of this is meant to takeanything away from Hood. On paper he looks very good when it comesto education, diversity of experience (including banking related),his current government position, and an enviable variety of outsideinterests (opera buff and fly fisherman). But when it comes totransferring all of this into a plus for CUs, only time will tell.Some more speculation: Between now and Matz's departure, at leastsome of the current and frustrating board meeting agenda deadlocksbetween Johnson and Matz should disappear when NCUA is at last backup to full strength after the anticipated Hood appointment takesplace. However, the speculation will continue. The term of currentboard member Debbie Matz will expire on August 2nd. A number ofnames of Democrats actively interested in that spot on the boardhave already surfaced. Count on that number increasing between nowand Matz's D-Day. But who will get her slot is only part of thespeculation. How about this scenario? President Bush nominates aDemocrat to replace Matz as soon as her term is up in August. Bythen Hood should be seated by virtue of either a recess appointmentover Memorial Day or through the regular Senate confirmationprocess. Either way, he and current chairman JoAnn Johnson willoccupy the allotted Republican seats. As soon as the Democratreceives a nomination and eventually an appointment, he or she willbe moved over to the once Dollar, now Hood, position. That term hasonly four years remaining in it. A Republican President is notlikely to give a full six-year term to a Democrat and anabbreviated one to a Republican. Hood would be moved to the newlyavailable full term as soon as Matz departs. Even if he is on theboard via the recess appointment route since that appointmentwouldn't expire until Congress adjourns at the end of the nextyear, namely 2006. The new Democrat member of the board would thenbe moved into the four-year term Hood position. Talk about musicalchairs. Anyway, this is how the speculators see it. Wherespeculation will once again fail is guessing who that Democrat willbe. Several good possible candidates, a couple well known in CUcircles, are eminently qualified for the job. Of course that meanslittle. But the speculation is that the requirement of at least oneboard member having credit union experience will reduce the list ofwannabes considerably. An interesting sidelight: many speculatorsused to go with the flow and figure that the person who is endorsedand openly and actively supported by one or both of the nationalcredit union associations might even be considered a shoo in. Whathas actually happened over the years is such endorsements haveproven to be the kiss of death for the potential nominee. CUNA andNAFCU now save all their predictable laudatory comments until thecandidate is firmly ensconced on the board, no matter who it is.That is also pure politics. Comments? Call 1-800-345-9936, Ext. 15,or Fax 561-683-8514, or E-mail [email protected].

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