SAN JOSE, Calif.-After months of declining to comment, Technology Credit Union is offering some answers to questions related to its failed attempt to convert to a mutual savings bank charter in September of 2012.

Seventy-percent of voting members cast votes opposing the plan to become a bank, and the credit union has said little in the aftermatch beyond a statement for Chairman Mical Brenzel, who said, "It is the responsibility of the board of directors and management to consider all strategic alternatives that may be in the best interest of Tech CU and our membership as a whole."

In addition to the board, CEO Barbara Kamm became a lightning rod for criticism from the group of members who responded to the proposed charter change by mounting a fierce opposition campaign (see accompanying story). When the results were announced on Sept. 20, 2012, and revealed 77% of those voting opposed the conversion, opposition leader Robert Marinace went so far as to say, "Barbara Kamm said she didn't get her message out about the charter conversion, but she should save herself a lot of anguish by just resigning. The members were the ones who were screwed by all the money that was spent on this. The money has to be restored, and they cannot get away with this."

Asked in September if the members who opposed the charter conversion would seek to oust the directors, Carlos Rodriguez, another leader of the opposition, said they would "love to sit down with" the board.

"Nothing is off the table, but we want to offer them the option to sit down and talk with us first [before any removal is considered]," he said. "We are taking the high road. We want to hear straight from them if they are considering this again. No one wants to spend the type of resources Technology Credit Union did and we as individuals did. There has to be a better way, and it is up to them to prove to us they are willing to listen and adequately represent us."

 

Questions & Answers

Kamm and Tech CU recently broke months of silence by responding in writing to several questions submitted by Credit Union Journal. What follows is a transcript of that exchange.

 

CU Journal: Please discuss what message you believe was not sufficiently explained to the membership as to why converting to a mutual savings bank was the best option for Tech CU.

Kamm: There were many restrictions imposed on us by the NCUA about what we could and could not say during a conversion vote. Those restrictions prevented a full discussion about many issues that we face as a credit union. Our members have spoken, however, and decided to remain a credit union. And that is the direction that we will follow to the best of our abilities. It would not be helpful at this point to relive what happened during the conversion process and vote.

 

CU Journal: What do you plan to do next to heal the wounds caused by the proposed charter change?

Kamm: We recently surveyed our members to ask how they felt about the job Tech CU is doing. Ninety-six percent of them rated our job as Excellent or Good, while just 2% felt we are doing only a fair or poor job, with 2% undecided. We doubt that there is an elected official or other institution with a job rating that high. Our members are very satisfied and very loyal to Tech CU.

 

CU Journal: A lot of vitriol has been directed at you personally; how do you respond?

Kamm: Ninety-six percent of our members are extremely happy with Tech CU. We'll continue to do our best to move that other 4% over to the positive side of the ledger.

 

CU Journal: How much money was spent in total on the charter change?

Kamm: The costs were in line with what we disclosed to our members. (Editor's note: Tech CU has stated it spent approximately $1.5 million on the conversion bid.)

 

CU Journal: Will there be another attempt to convert charters?

Kamm: Our members have voted to remain a credit union, and we'll continue to serve them as such in a safe and sound manner. Credit unions do face a variety of regulatory and legislative issues these days, and we will make every effort to surmount those challenges as a member-run credit union.

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