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Johnson To Vice Chair

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-The NCUA board has voted unanimously to name JoAnn Johnson as the vice chair of the board. "I have long felt that the board should have a vice chair to make it clear beyond question who would chair a meeting or sign documents on behalf of the agency in the absence of the chairman," said Chairman Dennis Dollar.

Separately, Dollar will host an Open Forum in Birmingham, Ala. on Jan. 30 for credit union volunteers, executives and staff in the state. It will be the 13th in an ongoing series of open forums held by the chairman.

MC Notes Fee Change

PURCHASE, N.Y-MasterCard International said last week it will raise the interchange fees that card issuers may charge merchants on some of its programs. The increase, to go into effect April 4, will be on MasterCard's consumer standard, Merit III and supermarket programs and will apply to the standard and debit cards, gold charge and debit cards, platinum cards, and World MasterCard.

Statewide Dress Code Discussed

ST. LOUIS -The Missouri CU Association, the Missouri Bankers Association and the FBI are jointly exploring taking statewide a dress code for all financial institutions to help prevent robberies. Such a policy is already in place at some credit unions in Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City, and bans hats, hoods and sunglasses in branches. Information meeting regarding the policy will be held in six Missouri cities.

Vega Fired By New Governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.-A demotion from the job as director of the division of financial services back to head of the credit union division didn't protect long-time state credit union regulator Sarah Vega, who was fired last week along with 34 other political appointees by incoming Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich used his first full day as governor to terminate loyalists to outgoing Republican Gov. George Ryan and also issued an order to freeze state hires, in the face of an estimated $5-billion state budget deficit. Vega, whose job as director of financial services was subject to political appointments, accepted the demotion back to her old job in the closing days of the Ryan administration as a means to protect position.

Blagojevich said the firings are only the beginning of a purge of Ryan cronies who were stashed in state jobs or appointed to high-paying positions on state boards and commissions.

"The Ryan aministration ended their days in office by using the power at their discretion to put friends and associates in high-paying jobs. I intend to use every power I have and my discretion as governor to eliminate unqualified, unnecessary and over-paid individuals wherever I find them in state government," said Blagojevich.

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