What Members Of Columbia Had To Say About Their Credit Union

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Outside of the unprecedented outpouring of support by employees of Columbia Credit Union for its board, the vast majority of rank-and-file members attending the special meeting were clearly in favor of ousting the board.

Most were angered by the board's failed attempt to convert the credit union to a mutual savings bank, and possibly to sell the bank to the public in an initial public stock offering.

"I think it was something that was tried to put over on the members," said Jeanette White, of Vancouver, a 40-year member of the credit union. "I think it's (the recall) a little overblown. But the idea is right, to keep it a credit union."

"I just feel that they aren't credible," said Gerry Ambrose of Vancouver, a member for 20 years. "They might say that they hadn't eyed turning it into a stock company, but they probably had."

"It's funny to see these people wearing these, 'Friends of Columbia Credit Union' buttons," continued Ambrose, who said he has more than $400,000 on deposit with Columbia CU. "We're as good as friends as they've got. We want to save it."

"I joined a credit union. I have over $100,000 in it. And I want it to stay a credit union," said Barry Bell, of Vancouver. "All (Columbia CEO David ) Doss wants to do is get his hands into the cookie jar, turn it into a bank, and two years down the road sell to Wells Fargo or whoever else comes along." Bell said he tried several times to talk to directors to get their side of the story, but could not get through to any of them. "None of the board members will talk," he said.

"I was never quite clear how it was supposed to be better for me to have a mutual savings bank than a credit union," said Bob Lafayette, of Vancouver, a 30-year member. "I can't see any advantages in it for me."

"I guess I'm a little disgruntled. I don't want it to be a bank. I guess they say they've tabled the idea. But that doesn't mean the end of it," said Neal Chambers, a 24-year member from Vancouver. "I've been a member for a long time and I've been really happy with the credit union. I don't want it to be a bank."

After last week's meeting dozens of disappointed members filed out into the parking lot. "I think they call it a 'Pyhric victory,' " said Robert Mealy, of Vancouver. "It was so close, it was hardly a vote of confidence by the members."

"If this board continues to run the credit union, I'll be moving my savings elsewhere," said Carole Alexander.

"I hope they (the board) learn a lesson from all this. I don't know if they will or the won't," said Nathan Robertson, who voted for the recall to send the board a message.

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