ODESSA , Texas — In response to the First Basin Credit Union annual meeting at which three incumbent directors’ were re-elected, a First Basin member filed a letter of complaint with Texas Credit Union Department Commissioner Harold Feeney calling for investigation into the meeting and the credit unions attempt to convert to a mutual savings bank.
A request to the Texas Credit Union Department made by the bank conversion opposition group, SaveFirstBasin, calling for a state examiner to attend the meeting was denied as the department stated in its response that it did not feel it would be appropriate to insert itself into the credit union’s election process.
In her five-page letter, First Basin member Karen J. Howard-Winters listed several complaints against First Basin CEO Shem Culpepper and the First Basin Board members that included withholding election information on the meeting notice postcard; not allowing conversion opponents to distribute documents at the meeting outlining their concerns; and not allowing the opponents to speak during the meeting.
Howard-Winters also addressed the way in which members were allowed to vote in her letter. She stated that when members turned in their ballots they also had to turn in a red wrist band they were given at the start of the meeting, which had their account number written on the inside. Voters also had to write their names and account numbers on the ballot. In her letter, Howard-Winters stated, “Robert’s Rules of Order calls for a secret ballot where no one is identified by name or any other means.”
As part of her complaint, Howard-Winters also listed actions and corrective measures she sees necessary for First Basin to take in order to address her concerns. She called for Culpepper and the entire board to step down or be removed involuntarily; the election results that came at the meeting be declared invalid due to violations and a re-vote should be held with mail ballots to be counted by a firm with no ties to First Basin. She also called for an investigation by the department to determine how many new accounts were opened between Jan. 2, 2008 and April 15, 2008 by friends or family members of First Basin employees.
In the event any Texas law has been broken by Culpepper and the board members, Howard-Winters said that they are held legally responsible, be prosecuted and that no monies from First Basin are at their disposal for legal counsel.
Texas Credit Union Department Assistant Commissioner/General Counsel Betsy Loar said that the overall process deadline for a letter of compliant filed with the department is 30 days.
“We first send a letter of acknowledgement to the sender and then forward the complaint to the credit union,” Loar said. “The credit union then has 15 days to respond.”
Once the credit union responds the department then looks to see if the complaint is within their jurisdiction and then they formulate a response to the person who filed the complaint and the credit union. Loar said that the department’s response is usually completed within five days of receiving the credit union response.
A call to First Basin was not returned by press time.