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VANCOUVER, Washington – It appears that the final shoes have dropped in the failed charter conversion attempt at the $682 million Columbia Community Credit Union, a political, legal and regulatory drama that preoccupied much of the credit union industry from the end of 2003 well into 2004. The credit union membership appeared to vote in favor of the proposed conversion of the largest credit union in Clark County in the late fall of 2003, but the state regulator and NCUA began investigations of the vote after some members raised objections to the credit union’s disclosures and the way the balloting had been conducted. In the end, the NCUA issued a blistering seven-page letter detailing what it had found in its investigation and refused to certify the voting. The credit union’s dissident members, organized into a group called Save Columbia Credit Union, then attempted to unseat the board of directors that had voted in favor of the conversion in a special election but the members, very narrowly and after a very expensive campaign mounted by the credit union and board supporters, managed to retain their seats during the special election. But the money and effort to retain the seats was ultimately for naught since four members of Save CCU managed to unseat board members in the regular, 2004 board elections and another three were elected in 2005′s voting. The three new candidates from Save CCU elected were Cathryn Chudy, the group’s current chair, Kathryn Edgecomb, and John Cheek. Emmy Winterburn, also from the group, was re-elected to a three-year term after finishing out a previous term into which she had been elected. The voting leaves only two members of the original board which voted for the conversion, Robert Byrd and Mark Ail, holding onto their seats. Since the failed conversion attempt and controversial special election, then Columbia CEO David Doss has moved on to become the CEO of the $960 million Arizona State Savings & Credit Union, headquartered in Phoenix. In May, Columbia hired Parker Cann as its new CEO. Cann had headed the Washington state Division of Credit Unions. The whole Columbia fight has had ripples in a variety of directions. According to a report in the Columbian, a local paper, Steve Straub, the former CEO of Columbia and now board member, has disassociated himself from Save CCU after the group’s legal wrangling with the credit union persisted past the 2004 board elections. Marvin Showalter, another former CEO of the credit union, also ran for the board in the latest round of elections and lost and, according to the Columbian, two original organizers of the Save CCU group, Chudy and Lloyd Marbet, are engaged to be married. What About The Money? Another Columbia shoe dropped at the 2005 annual meeting when the credit union revealed, finally, how much money it had paid for the charter conversion attempt and then to help the sitting board members to retain their seats. Slides presented to members at the June 29 annual meeting broke up the overall $1,264,206 that the credit union spent on the whole thing into three broad categories of $395,794 or 31% on pre-conversion procedures and compliance, $412,549 or 33% on the special meeting and $455,863 or 36% on regulatory and member disputes attached to the conversion attempt. [email protected]

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