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Dear Russell: I was flattered to be specifically identified in your June 1 op/ed piece as having spurred you to speak out about credit union to mutual savings bank conversions. I support open discussion and even appreciated having the opportunity to review your surprisingly extreme perspective. In that same spirit, it’s my sincerest hope to re-educate you concerning the issue. Perhaps, you will see the light and even become a member of the Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options. I don’t doubt your passion or your zeal, but I am troubled by your use of name-calling and careless language to describe credit union leaders who believe in exercising strategic choices. Hopefully, you are not among those who rely upon emotional appeals to the “movement” without concurrently respecting the important decisions made by these dedicated volunteer board members and staff. Without them, there would be no credit unions and no “movement.” I am a firm believer in local control, independent institutional choice, and self-determination, even if some in the credit union industry consider it to be politically incorrect when it comes to conversions. In my view, it all boils down to who is better positioned to represent these specific converting credit unions? The members, the NCUA, league presidents, pundits and outside agitators or each credit union’s local board members and management? During your next credit union conference, look at the credit union leaders seated on your left and on your right, in front of you and behind you. These are the people that you liken to insiders, wheeler-dealers, characters, con artists, liars and co-conspirators. They deserve better. Where’s your trust and faith in others? In your op/ed, you call for even more complex, expensive and ultimately member-confusing steps that a credit union should take before it can convert. Are a credit union’s members really better served by these extreme measures? Would you apply these same rigors to other important decisions like board of director elections, federal to state credit union charter conversions, adding new SEGs, building a new branch office, or approving a new member? Where does it end? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Be careful what you ask for. I haven’t seen the new Star Wars film yet so I don’t know how Anakin Skywalker transforms to Darth Vader and embraces the Dark Side, but I am sure that it makes a compelling story. Even though you refer to me as among those who want “to take their credit unions to the other side,” I don’t see a Darth Vader parallel to my work with the Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options. Although there are Coalition members who believe that every credit union is crazy not to convert in order to access and leverage new capital, I merely believe that all of a credit union’s strategic choices should be vigilantly preserved. As long as they have the right to choose, if no credit unions choose to convert I will be just as happy. To me, I am the good guy and the philosophy police are the Evil Empire. The philosophy police are those credit union industry individuals who are enamored with their own opinion and who seek to impose it upon all others. I certainly don’t believe that he who talks loudest or uses the most colorful rhetoric is always right. We can both agree that retaining a viable credit union charter is a very valuable choice. However, in my 30 years working with credit union leaders I’ve learned how fiercely independent they can be. Not only do I respect their individual business decisions and strategic choices like converting, I am willing to defend their right to choose. That’s why I joined the Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options. Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree on this one. Marvin C. Umholtz, President/CEO Umholtz Strategic Planning & Consulting Services And Membership Director, Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options Castle Rock, Colo.

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