CUNA Mutual Preparedness Reflected In Wildfire Response

MADISON, Wis. — As wildfires ravaged Southern California, CUNA Mutual Group had a team of claims representatives ready to be sent onsite once affected locations were determined.

CUNA Mutual has encouraged insured credit unions and members incurring losses due to the California wildfires to contact the company as soon as possible with claims information. In the meantime, CUNA Mutual staffers continue to contact many of the credit unions in the affected areas via phone, fax and e-mail.

Credit unions with property and casualty claims can contact the Credit Union Protection Response Center at (800) 637-2676. According to Property/Casualty Claims Manager Kim Miller, the line is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Insight Financial Donates $1 Million to Seminole Community College

ORLANDO, Fla. — Insight Financial recently announced that it made a $1 million donation to Seminole Community College. The contribution marks the first $1 million corporate donation to the SCC Foundation.

“The contributions made by Seminole Community College to the community are incredible,” said Lynn W. Owen III, president/CEO of Insight Financial. “We are proud to stand as a partner with Dr. McGee, the faculty and staff, and the students at SCC.”

The credit union said it considers the donation an investment in the future of its community.

“Insight Financial is one of those companies that is always willing to participate and contribute to life at SCC,” said Matthew Hodge, executive director with the SCC Foundation.

Insight Financial has long been an active supporter of SCC by offering the benefit of credit union membership to faculty, employees, and students during Club Rush on SCC’s campuses. Additionally, Insight Financial is a proud sponsor of SCC’s Dream Auction and Dream Cup Golf Tournament.

In June, Insight Financial was the first company to receive the Corporate Champion Award from SCC. This award was presented to Lynn W. Owen III during the Seminole Community College Foundation’s Presidents’ Club Breakfast.

Insight Financial is based in Orlando and has 10 Central Florida locations. The credit union has been in business for over 65 years and currently serves over 55,000 members.

Oklahoma Bankers Warn Of CURIA Misstep

OKLAHOMA CITY — Even though CURIA may not move in Congress this year, Oklahoma bankers are still a bit concerned about all those co-sponsors if history is any judge, the head of the Oklahoma Bankers Association warned

last week.

Writing in a weekly online column, Don Abernathy Jr., the OBA head and CEO of the Bankers Bank of Oklahoma City, noted that another banking competitor, the realtors, “added a gazillion co-sponsors” to a bill harmful to banks that now looks to pass in 2007.

Mocking CU strategy, Abernathy, acknowledged that CURIA has been gaining co-sponsors just so lawmakers can “strut their stuff for their credit union constituents.”

Still, Abernathy urged bankers to be on guard against the bandwagon effect since the realtors’ bill “will keep national banks out of the real estate business for ever.”

Bankers, he concluded, need to work on Oklahoma Congressmen and so far “no member of the Oklahoma delegation has signed on to the credit union bill” adding a “yet.”

Desert Schools Hits Record $282,000 On United Way Giving

PHOENIX — Donating to local charities has become a key part of the culture at Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, which this year is breaking its own record in gift giving to United Way with a whopping $282,182. That

number tops last year’s committed donations by more than 11% or $28,000.

“With the many new branches we’ve opened including those at Wal-Mart Stores, we do have more employees than a year ago but we’ve also had high job satisfaction scores in light of that ‘best place to work’ honor we received,” explained Jason Meyers, public relations manager at the $3 billion CU.

The CU also credited work done by its United Way Committee in “communicating the mission and benefits of giving to United Way,” said Carlos Pacheco, committee chairman and vice president of branch operations.

Desert Schools with 1,300 employees was recognized earlier this year by Children’s Miracle Network as the top 2006 CU money raiser at $250,000 and expects to top $350,000 in 2007.

Regarding the United Way contribution, Meyers said the CU’s positive work culture is a factor in employees willingness to donate to charities. Desert Schools was recognized earlier this year by Arizona Business Journal as one of the “Best Workplaces” in its size category with the publication citing the CU’s “values and camaraderie” among employees.

Credit Union Times, Reporter Avoid Deposition With Lafayette

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Judge Terence McGann, the Montgomery Circuit Court Judge overseeing the ongoing legal fight between Lafayette Federal Credit Union and its former CEO, has blocked an attempt from the CU to depose Credit Union Times and its reporter David Morrison.

Lafayette filed suit against the former CEO, William Brooks, and his son, William Brooks Jr., in the wake of the credit union’s failed attempt to convert to a mutual bank charter, alleging breach of contract among other complaints. The credit union attempted to subpoena Morrison and the Times in attempt to build its case.

Attorneys for the credit union who attended the hearing reported that the judge agreed with the Times that both the publication and its reporter were covered by a state of Maryland law meant to protect reporters from being drawn into legal battles because of their news reporting.

The credit union had sought to argue that because Morrison is based in Virginia, Virginia’s weaker law protecting reporters from being drawn into legal battles should apply, but McGann rejected that argument and found instead that Maryland law applies.

BofA to Lay Off 3,000

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America said that it plans to lay off 3,000 employees in a move to improve its struggling global corporate and investment banking unit.

The layoffs will affect less than 2% of the company’s staff with the majority of the GCIB-cuts spread through business lending, Treasury services and capital markets and advisory services as well as supporting infrastructure, according to an Oct. 24 statement on BofA’s Web site.

News of the layoffs came a week after the bank reported a 93% drop in profits in the third quarter. The company also said that in the wake of disappointing third quarter results in its capital markets businesses, it has launched a strategic review of GCIB to determine how it can operate more effectively while continuing to meet client financial needs.

Replacing GCIB President Eugene Taylor, who will retire this year after 38 years of service, is Brian Moynihan, the bank’s former head of global wealth and investment management. Keith Banks, president of Columbia Management, BofA’s asset management organization, will succeed Moynihan.

“While some of these changes are a direct result of our underperformance, others have been contemplated for a number of months as we looked at how we could operate more effectively,” said Kenneth D. Lewis, chairman and CEO of BofA.

Lewis said GCIB’s repositioning aims to “improve performance going forward while remaining committed to providing our commercial, corporate and institutional clients with the financial products and services they need to run their organizations effectively.”

“We must have a platform that operates profitably for both our company and our client,” Lewis said.

CURIA Supporters Reach 137

WASHINGTON — The Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 1537) is now up to 136 co-sponsors, plus primary sponsor Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.).

Seven-term Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) has signed on as a co-sponsor for the first time. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Credit union lobbyists are still hopeful for a hearing on CURIA over the next couple of months. CURIA would establish a risk-based capital framework, expanded business lending opportunities, and allow all federal credit unions to adopt underserved areas.

CUNA Adds Seasoned Lobbyist to Arsenal

WASHINGTON — CUNA announced last week that Michele Johnson has joined its staff as director of federal legislative affairs.

She began her duties Oct. 29 based out of CUNA’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.

Johnson possesses a deep understanding of the financial services industry and the U.S. Senate. Prior to CUNA, she served was vice president of state and local government affairs for Countrywide Financial. She previously was vice president for government relations

at U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis, Minn.

Before entering the private sector, Johnson served as a legislative assistant to Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) from 1994-1997. She was a North Dakota assistant attorney general from 1992-1994.

“Michele brings a wealth of lobbying and hill experience to our team,” CUNA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs John Magill said. “She is well versed in a number of financial services issues and her experience working in the United States Senate will be helpful to credit unions.”

A North Dakota native, Johnson earned her bachelors and law degrees from the University of North Dakota.