Credit unions have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgivingholiday. I'd like to point out just a few "thankful" things thattop my list, while also giving some "turkey" awards to those whojust don't get it. Credit unions should be thankful the industryhas such a strong lobbying presence, both on the federal and statelevels, to combat the ever intensifying banker attacks. Lobbyingstock isn't built up over night, it takes years, and the industryhas put in its time. So as you carved your turkey with a naggingfeeling that bankers are closing the gap, maybe they are, but theyhave a long way to go. My first turkey award goes to America'sCommunity Bankers. The ACB has submitted proposed legislation thatwould not tax credit unions if the following two criteria are met:(i) the credit union has assets with a value of $25 million orless; or (ii) 75% or more of the income of the credit unionconsists of income earned from providing loans and deposit servicesto members of modest means. Twenty-five million? Are they kidding?They could have made a more respectable argument with Congress bysetting a much higher asset threshold. Credit union employees andmembers should be thankful that credit unions rarely layoffemployees. It's a testament to how well-run most credit unions areand how much they value their human resources. Contrast that to thevendor side where unfortunately layoffs are part of doing business.CUNA Mutual is already 400 layoffs in this fall (though it'sadamant it will strengthen the firm) and Centrix Financial slicedits payroll by 100 last week. It could be worse, just look at FordMotor Company. The next turkey award goes to Marv Umholtz. (I know,too easy.) But this is not what you think. I don't give Umholtz theturkey award for being a change coat and joining the Coalition forCredit Union Charter Options, I give it to him for staunchlyclaiming he is advocating charter choice, and not coming clean thathe is in favor of bank conversion. Come on Marv, you'd love to seea new credit union convert every day! Credit unions should bethankful for the corporate credit union network. If you haven'tlooked at corporates lately, you'll find they are sophisticated,efficient institutions that are continually innovating to servetheir member credit unions. They have the economies of scale andcapital to bring new products to the table. This will be a giftthat keeps on giving. A turkey award to all those credit unionleagues who've yet been able to get any of their members ofCongress to sign on to the Credit Union Regulatory ImprovementsAct. Support for this bill has never been more important as a showof force for the credit union lobby. I'm confident this willchange. Be thankful the NCUA Board is returning to full strength.Gigi Hyland and Rodney Hood appear to be great selections. This isimportant for the industry's image. A one-member board just doesn'thave the legitimacy of the full-complement. If it goes too longwith one member, it makes you question NCUA's worth in thegovernment landscape. A juicy turkey award to conference circuitspeakers who urge credit union leaders to do this and that tobetter their credit unions, yet if you look at their own creditunions, the numbers are less than impressive. Maybe more timeminding the store and improving their credit unions would givetheir speeches more merit. Everyone should be thankful for how theindustry has come together in the wake of this year's devastatinghurricanes. Stories of individual and institutional heroics abound.The credit union industry is still showing why it is different thanbanks - it will do whatever it takes to help members, without thefear of shareholder reaction. A turkey award to all those creditunions that will dole out enormous member dividends at year-end.There's nothing wrong with giving back, but if the dividends aretoo large it's indicative of the credit union holding back and notpaying members the best rates throughout the year. Members needyour best all year long, not in a lump sum gift. Credit unionsshould be thankful for their vendor options. This is not a kiss-upto vendors, it's a recognition that more and more have woken up tothe expanding credit union industry and are courting credit unions.This gives credit unions more opportunities to find technologyproducts, investment offerings, and other wares to better servetheir members. The heated competition among vendors ensures creditunions are getting the best deal. A turkey award for the formerCommunity Credit Union's official metamorphosis to a bank and theunveiling of its new name, ViewPoint Bank. Speaking of bankers,another turkey to them for crying foul about credit unionexpansion, yet FDIC's just-released third quarter stats show bankearnings at record levels. Third quarter net income of $34.6billion is $492 million more than the previous record set in thefirst quarter 2005. No one begrudges their success, but don't tryto pad profits more by beating up credit unions. Finally, I endwith a mixture of "thankful" and "turkey" all in one. Texas creditunions should be thankful that their esteemed league leader DickEnsweiler is committed enough to jump out of a plane solo for thefirst time in his life to raise money for the league's politicalaction committee (See page 6.). On the other hand, Ensweiler gets aturkey award for opting to do this feat alone, and not on the backof an instructor. I don't think Texas CUs want to see Ensweilerrisk life and limb at a time when his leadership is so important.We're all rooting for you Dick. -Comments? [email protected]

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