ONTARIO, Calif. – Marking a new phase in building grassroots support for its anti-bank advocacy campaign, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues wound up a series of month long rallies here with new calls for credit union managers, employees, volunteers and members to “get more involved in the ground war.” “We’re encouraged by the large turnout, but especially pleased by the high percentage of new faces among participants,” said Bob Arnould, the League’s vice president of state government affairs. “We’ve extended our reach beyond senior credit union staff, and now see involvement by many more branch managers and other employees and members in advocacy activities.” More than 1,000 – double what was anticipated – turned out for the series of 11 “Rallies for Credit Unions” held during November from Sacramento to Reno. The largest rally was held in Ontario on Nov. 29 at a Doubletree Inn. The rallies represent the latest phase in the California/Nevada Leagues Public Advocacy campaign involving radio ads and other promotions which was formally launched in January 2005 to fight banker attacks. “We’re very pleased with the results of the program to date, but it’s now time to build on this initial success by launching the grassroots component,” said Henry Kertman, League director of public relations. “Targeted grassroots activities have been designed to complement program messages and build increased political involvement at the local level, thus integrating the `ground war’ with the `air war’.” As part of its high-powered advocacy campaign, supported once again by members of the two leagues at its annual October conference in Anaheim, the trade groups have hired three consulting firms, two in Los Angeles and one in Las Vegas, to assist in the grassroots campaign as well as reach out to community leaders across the two states with a positive CU message. Hal Dash, president of Cerrell Associates, one of the hired Los Angeles firms, urged attendees at the Ontario gathering “to form relationships with your local elected officials” noting that legislation has changed and so have term limits. “You contribute to society,” said Dash. “You have a right to be at the table.” Also hired as a consultant is the Dolphin Group, of Los Angeles and Randy Robinson, the Las Vegas consultant. Arnould said the Dolphin Group is oriented to Republicans while Cerrell has a Democratic following. At each of the rallies attendees were asked to recruit five additional advocates and also to start joining community groups, hosting open houses and finding network opportunities with business, civic and political leaders. In addition, attendees were asked to sign up for “Connect for the Cause” a new online program that enables members to contact their legislators, congressmen and senators via-e-mail. The Web site also provides regular updates on CU issues. Arnould said also the leagues will be pushing now for voluntary payroll deductions from middle managers and lower level employees for political action committees. Up to now it has been CEOs and senior managers buttonholed for those deductions. Though the banker attacks have lately been prominent in Washington, California bankers are gearing up for a new assault on CUs, warned Arnould in emphasizing the urgency of the grassroots effort. “The bankers have had a field day with us and we are sick and tired of these attacks,” said Arnould. “We have 8.5 million credit union members that must get organized and communicate our message.” Arnould said there are no plans to hold more rallies since these were designed as “kick-off sessons.” The rallies were held this month in Fresno, Hawthorne, Las Vegas, Oakland, Ontario, Reno, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Van Nuys, and Tustin. -

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