WASHINGTON — It was less of a lobbying session and more like old home week when Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union President/CEO Bohdan Watral and Board Chairman Michel R. Kos visited Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) at his office while they were in town for NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus. Both Watral and Kos had attended Davis’ campaign events and discussed issues with him many times, and Davis has long been a supporter of credit unions and was once a volunteer at a credit union. Davis, who came to the meeting after speaking on the House floor in favor of a measure to extend unemployment benefits, had only positive things to say. “It’s amazing what credit unions have done in terms of allowing people to own a piece of the rock and control their economic destiny. It helps to spread resources around because the biggest problem is that too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, and it stagnates the economy,” he said. Davis sat on the couch munching pretzels, which he shared with his two guests, in his memento-filled office. Watral urged Davis to work to reduce the regulatory burden on smaller credit unions, such as his, because compliance costs are “such a burden for us that it threatens our ability to survive and compete and helps the big financial institutions who can absorb the regulation costs better.” Watral and Kos got into a more detailed discussion of the issues before their meeting with Davis when they spent about 20 minutes with Davis’ legislative assistant. During that session, they explained how credit unions would be affected by a bill to amend bankruptcy laws to allow judges to rewrite the terms of mortgages. Caleb Gilchrist, the assistant, wondered what judges would use as a basis for determining the value of the home. “That’s the problem. Someone will represent the debtor, and his estimate of the comparables will be lower while the person representing the financial institution will place it at a higher value, and the judge isn’t always in a great position to determine what the right value is,” he said. “Also, the cost of foreclosures to financial institutions is horrendous, and we don’t want to do it. It takes a long time, and by the end, the property is often in terrible condition.” Gilchrist praised the credit unions’ work and noted that the economy had hurt many people and institutions that behaved responsibly. Kos said even with the credit unions’ conservative approach to lending, they had an increase in delinquencies. “No matter how good your heart is, if you don’t have a job you can’t pay,” he said. –[email protected]

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Peter Westerman


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