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O.K. you had to see the commercial to get it but, Jason Dias’s piece “Like it or Not, the Conversion Issue is a Political Issue” (CU Times, Dec. 14 2005) is so replete with errors of fact, logic and central premise that you have to applaud Credit Union Times’ willingness to be so inclusive that they allow half of a page to be devoted to half-baked ideas. Mr. Dias titles himself Trainer, Historian and Consultant. I’m happy geographer was not on the list. Because NCUA is not located in Washington, D.C. It’s in Alexandria, Virginia (which makes a difference to his premise). Most casual observers know that “credit union” has nothing to do with unions and would have difficulty denying that there’s a credit union movement when 87 million people in the U.S alone are members. Having traveled to Suriname this year to assist credit unions and currently receiving greetings from credit union friends from Mexico to Bolivia to Ecuador, I, for one, am certain the credit union movement is alive and well. As a political scientist (degree from UCLA and a reluctant practitioner for the past 11 years), I can safely say his definition of and application of political science is also woefully inadequate. Jason’s shorter piece earlier this year in Credit Union Times surmised that if you didn’t see the benefit of converting to a stock-owned bank at the expense of your members’ ownership rights you were somehow not progressive. His line of thinking would rule little things like democracy out of fashion. I was disappointed that the World Council of Credit Unions hadn’t done its homework before inviting him to its confab this summer. I would note that the former Community Credit Union, the subject of Mr. Dias’s earlier comments, now claims to be a “new breed” combination of a credit union and a mutual bank. Apparently, just being a mutual bank isn’t enough. They claim to still have the heart of a credit union. As our head of marketing commented, they still seem to be missing some anatomy. You can’t have it both ways; structure will determine purpose. The central premise of his recent letter is that the reason credit unions in Texas are able to consummate conversion to stock banks and those in Washington State are not is the political environment. Texas is a red state and Washington State is blue. The supposedly blue-biased NCUA policy makers according to Mr. Dias’s world map are located in Washington, D.C. which is blue. But, even following his twisted logic (which I don’t), NCUA is in Virginia which is red and went 54% Bush; 46% Kerry in the last presidential election. (Admittedly, Alexandria proper did vote 67% to 32% in favor of Kerry, but I’m sticking to the same twisted logic he used.) In fact, with a Republican administration in the White House, the Chairman of the NCUA and one of the other two members of the NCUA Board are Republican by definition, appointed by the (red) White House. The NCUA chairman during this period is Republican, as was her predecessor. But the premise itself is flawed in that the foundation for credit unions is apolitical. When people form together to boot strap themselves into financial self-sufficiency without government assistance, Republicans applaud. When those same membership organizations reach out and help those less fortunate among them have access to affordable financial services, Democrats take notice. There is an ebb and flow to politics but no major legislation (e.g. H.R. 1151) passes without bi-partisan support. There are some things that all people of goodwill can agree to and credit unions are one of them. We don’t need “consultants” like Mr. Dias to needlessly tear that asunder by creating a false sense of divisiveness. I don’t have the time or space to “educate” Mr. Dias or the other folks that dominate the pro-conversion to bank space that the Credit Union Times enables. Nor do these folks want to be; they have a different agenda. All I can say is if the article he authored represents what passes for knowledge among that group; we have very little with which to be concerned. Marc Schaefer President and CEO Truliant Federal Credit Union Winston-Salem, N.C.

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