Petitioners Race To Halt Plan To Convert To Mutual

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Dissident members of Columbia Credit Union said last week they have collected more than enough member signatures on a petition seeking to reverse the November vote to convert the $600-million credit union to a mutual savings bank.

"We have well over 2,000 names," said Lloyd Marbet, a long-time liberal activist who has organized the group, called Save Columbia CU.

The group plans to present the petitions to the credit union this week in hopes of forcing a special membership meeting where they would reverse the conversion bid and oust the board of directors. But the group is also racing against CCU's efforts to get the contested vote certified by NCUA and the Washington Department of Financial Institutions, which has been reviewing the November ballot over the past month. Marbet said they fear if the vote is certified before their petition drive, it might void the drive, as members would have different rights under a mutual bank charter.

NCUA, which has the ultimate authority over the vote certification because of the state charter's invocation of the state's federal parity (wildcard) provision, said last week it is continuing its review. Marbet said his group is contemplating legal option if they lose the race.

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