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I enjoyed Mr. Umholtz’s righteous indignation (his letter in the Aug. 31 issue) to my questioning his awareness of and commitment to credit union values in his response to my letter in the Aug. 10 issue. It’s a tough sell to contend that you uphold the primary value of credit union culture, member ownership of their institution, while at the same time advocating that those ownership interests be turned over to others. You see, once you decide that member ownership can be abridged and those interests transferred to a for-profit, stock institution, you lose your credibility as a credit union advocate. Not my rules; that’s logic and public convention. I would note that Mr. Umholtz serves as membership director for the group that is targeting credit unions for conversion. His recruitment efforts with Truliant suggest a contribution of $25,000 to support these activities which we can proffer with the membership form and, if we choose, check the box “I wish to remain anonymous.” As I indicated before, “don’t confuse these folks with friends.” Even this response to his letter provides his group with a forum in the credit union space that, in my humble opinion, they don’t deserve. I also recently received a letter from the President and CEO of America’s Community Bankers (ACB), Diane Casey-Landry, indicating that they were distressed about “the misinformation being spread about mutual institutions”. She writes, “Mutual institutions do not have shareholders nor are they publicly traded.” Who are they kidding? While we can, to a degree, admire those few that have remained mutually owned, 16 of the 22 credit unions that have converted to mutuals since 1998, are stock owned. Three of the remaining six just converted to mutual banks in 2004 and are in the waiting period before they may convert to stock. Ninety-five percent of the assets of mutual banks are in stock-owned institutions. Draw your own conclusions and make your own judgments about “misinformation”. I’m willing to bet Ms. Casey-Landry three tins of Winston-Salem’s delicious Moravian cookies that Community Bank (formerly Credit Union) of Plano, Texas is stock-owned well before the end of the decade. The ACB and the North Carolina Bankers Association have both offered to “help” our credit union become a bank. Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with banks, bankers, banking or stock ownership. My father worked for Continental Bank in Chicago. I graduated with a Masters from Thunderbird, an international graduate school that trains future bankers. I served as President/CEO of the FDIC’s credit union for nine years. But this matter comes down to a palatable lack of respect for the member ownership of credit unions. The banking industry requires a majority of all the of the ownership shares to agree to convert their institutions from a savings and loan to a national bank for example. And yet we’re allowing a tiny minority, some with vested personal financial interests, to control the future for all of the member owners. Is there a sleeping giant of 88 million credit union members about to be awakened? Marcus B. Schaefer President/CEO Truliant Federal Credit Union Winston-Salem, N.C.

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