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WASHINGTON. – The wave of postcards designed to get people talking about the issue of credit unions converting to mutual banks continued to flow from Washington, D.C. this week. Jim Blaine, CEO of the $13 billion State Employees’ Credit Union, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has claimed responsibility for the cards that all bear appeals for help from the Coalition for Member Trust, the group of members of the $1.4 billion Community Credit Union which opposes the credit unions’ proposed charter change to a mutual bank. The postcards that were mailed from the Longworth House Officer Building in Washington, D.C and came with scenes of Washington, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Titanic sinking, a cow and a charter fishing boat. Each carried an anti-charter conversion message tied to its particular image. Blaine has said that he mailed the postcards at his own expense and that he did so because “this needs to be a national issue” and the subject of a nationwide, rather than state by state discussion. The postcards are meant to spark a “consciousness raising” effort on the issue. “Yes, what is happening in Texas is important as a Texas issue but frankly the issue is bigger that just what happens with these two credit unions,” Blaine has said, referring to the $1.4 billion Community Credit Union and $1.2 billion OmniAmerican Credit Union. Both Dallas area based credit unions have filed applications to change their charters to those of mutual banks. The postcards are aimed across the country at executives of larger credit unions, credit union league leaders and other trend-setters in the industry, Blaine has said. But as the cards have gone out, it has been difficult to measure their impact. Mark Arnold, spokesman for the Coalition for Member Trust, said that he believed that much of the $6,000 the group has received has come from the postcards, but he really couldn’t prove it. The $6,000 has come in from all over the country and has included money in small amounts to large amounts. All the money has gone to legal expenses so far, Arnold said, since that is the sort of battle the Community fight has become. “Frankly we expected more of a media and awareness campaign but that is not the way this one has gone,” Arnold said. For his part Blaine said that the cards have begun to have an impact, sparking a conversation which he believes the industry needs to be having in order to get to the root of the charter conversion effort. So far, no one has contacted him about the cards, whether in favor of them or opposed. “Somebody is not telling the truth,” Blaine said, “I’m not sure how it makes sense for the members to convert a billion dollar credit union to a bank that will face CRA, taxation, public reporting [if it issues stock] and all the rest.” As of press time, six postcards have gone out, but Blaine says more will continue to flow until about 20 are delivered. The coming images will include monkeys, sheep, a guillotine and other images which, Blaine said, “may merely confirm some people’s idea that I belong in an insane asylum” but which he hopes will serve to get people talking. “This is so much bigger than just Texas,” Blaine said. “This goes to the very root of what it means to have chosen to be a credit union rather than a bank, what it means to seek to serve members rather than merely to make profit,” he said. [email protected]

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