Group Fighting Conversion Delivers Petitions to CU's Board

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Dissident members of Columbia Credit Union marched to credit union headquarters last week to present almost 3,600 petition signatures from members seeking a special meeting to halt the controversial conversion to mutual savings bank.

The number of signatures collected is well over the 2,000 needed to force a special members' meeting, where the dissidents hope to oust the nine-member board that approved the conversion, and hold a second ballot aimed at stopping the charter switch.

Attorneys for the $600-million credit union said they will submit the petitions to the credit union's independent auditors for certification before moving forward on the request for a special meeting.

A controversial November vote by the members to convert charters is still being reviewed by NCUA and the state's Department of Financial Institutions, because of several complaints received by members about possible irregularities in the narrow vote, which passed by just 52% of voting members.

Under the credit union's bylaws, a special meeting must be held between 20 and 30 days after certification of the petition signatures. Cathryn Chudy, one of the leaders of the dissidents who are calling themselves Save Columbia CU, said they hope to have the special meeting at a convenient location and time to attract the greatest possible participation among members.

Only 16% of the credit union's 60,000 eligible members participated in the contested November ballot.

Chudy said the group is seeking candidates to serve on the board if the group is successful in recalling the current board members.

The dissidents have been joined in the effort to retain Columbia's status as a credit union by several original members of the 52-year-old credit union, as well as its former president and CEO, Steven Straub, who headed the credit union from 1988 to 1992.

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