drastically change the relationship between credit unions and their largest association will move forward without its instigator, trade group president Ralph Swoboda, say those involved in the process. The Renewal Project's steering committee met for the third time on Nov. 13 in Chicago, its first gathering since Mr. Swoboda was fired from the Madison, Wis., trade group last month. Some industry sources have charged that Mr. Swoboda was deposed by influential state league officials who saw the study as a threat to their power and wanted to weaken it. Mr. Swoboda plans to leave his post at the end of the year. But credit union officials on the committee said support for the study is too widespread for any special interest to water down or quash. "I'm pretty confident that something will come of it, because if it doesn't, they'll be in trouble," said Tom Hughes, president and chief executive of Navy Federal Credit Union, Merrifield, Va. Referring to the dismissal of Mr. Swoboda and other top officials, he said, "The actions that happened recently underline that something has to be done." Mr. Hughes pulled the country's largest credit union out of the trade group earlier this year in the wake of a lawsuit the association filed against the federal government. CUNA chairman Peter DiSylvester attended the committee meeting, in Mr. Swoboda's stead, as a sign of the board's support for the project, Mr. Hughes said. The three-month-old Renewal Project is an industrywide review of the trade group and is directed by a 22-member steering committee. The panel has solicited comments from credit unions, and last week planned to hold focus groups in December with institutions across the country. Spinning off some of CUNA's business functions, such as a credit card subsidiary, from the trade group is one suggestion. Proponents argue that, by streamlining, CUNA could concentrate on its primary role of representing the industry to the public and the government. Defenders of the status quo argue that the close relationship helps make more services available to all credit unions. So far, perhaps the most controversial suggestion is that credit unions be allowed to join CUNA. Currently credit unions belong to state leagues, not to CUNA directly. Proponents of direct membership argue that it will give larger credit unions, which represent most of the industry's assets and members, a greater say in setting the trade group's policy. But some fear that smaller institutions could get lost in the shuffle.
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