Some Random Thoughts That The Wind Just Blew In

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Some random thoughts I had while hunkered down between the now weekly hurricanes-and at the end, a compilation of the priceless advice gleaned from talk-radio callers as disasters struck.

* First, a big THANK YOU to all the readers of The Credit Union Journal for rating The Journal as "most valuable" among publications serving the credit union community.

As was reported Aug. 30 (or as we in Florida who have begun renaming periods of time like to call it, Charley), the independent research firm Readex found The Credit Union Journal surpassed its nearest competitor in readership by almost 30% for the second consecutive year.

The 2004 Readex Reader Profile was based on a survey of 800 credit union professionals. Frankly, while the findings are reassuring, they are also not completely surprising. Unlike some publications that violate the first rule of journalism and make themselves part of the story and only pause from that to blow their own horns, The Credit Union Journal was founded with a mission of taking a backseat to the needs of readers. We have regularly surveyed credit union CEOs and senior management for what they want, and then strived to deliver it. And that remains our core.

For that reason we reiterate our open invitation to all readers to provide us with their thoughts on what they would like to read more of and know more about. What issues are in front of your credit union to which you are seeking answers? Tell us how we can help you to help your members. Just use the e-mail address that's at the end of this column.

For the record, we would send personal thank you's to all but they've gotten soggy lately.

* A couple of things hurricanes make clear. First, the modern, computer-based office is a model of efficiency, allowing fewer workers to get more work done than at any point in history. That is until the power goes out. There are few less-productive places to be than an office without electricity. It's basically people standing around amidst expensive but utterly useless furniture. But it does make a for a great opportunity to dust. The second thing hurricanes make clear is that few things change so dramatically in form and function when moving from vertical to horizontal than trees.

* As is reported on page 1 of this issue, the World Council of Credit Unions' CEO Arthur Arnold has decided to step down at year end. Over the past five years Arnold has done a global-sized job of raising the profile and function of an organization that had been content to quietly plod along and be best known for the attractiveness of its meeting locations. But he also had a good sense of humor.

When five years ago I first interviewed Arnold it was just after he had been named to the position. CUNA was conducting its annual Governmental Affairs Conference, and we were sitting in the always-crowded lobby bar at the Washington Hilton. I had read through his impressive resume and its long list of postings from around the world, especially Europe. So I asked him at the end of the interview whether he had been made aware during the interview process that the World Council of Credit Unions CEO position is actually based in Madison, Wis. "This," he joked in his Dutch accent, "they did not tell me."

* Speaking of Europe, Roland "Arty" Arteaga, president of the Defense Credit Union Council, said credit unions serving the military are already preparing for potential base closures and manpower shifts on the continent. The Bush Administration has floated plans for bringing home many of the soldiers stationed overseas, where credit unions have branches operating. But he noted many of those in the military who get orders to transfer may not return to the U.S. and instead may be redeployed in the Pacific. Credit unions, he noted, are prepared to follow.

* A tip of Ed Filene's cap is in order for the members of Columbia Credit Union in Vancouver, Wash. CCU, as you may recall, attempted to convert to a bank before a small but determined group of members who realized insiders at CCU were attempting to cash-in fought and finally thwarted the conversion. Now four of the board members have been voted out, replaced by members of that same group of so-called "dissidents." "The members have spoken," said one of those elected to the board, its former CEO, Steve Straub. Too bad they haven't spoken more often.

Finally, as a service to our readers, make sure you write down these valuable lessons from talk radio callers: The gas-powered generator should go outside the house. If you were cooking when the power went out, it's not smart to set newspapers and magazines on the stove, as the power will come back on. Just because the traffic signal is flashing red in one direction doesn't mean it is in the other. Plywood is not to go inside the windows. You can't call for renter's insurance on the day the storm is to arrive. Oliver Stone will never be short for an audience, as the power company is not making extra money by keeping the power off.

Frank J. Diekmann is editor of The Credit Union Journal. He can be reached at fdiekmann

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