E.E. "Buck" Levins correctly predicted a heavyweight would rush to the aid of credit union members. He just guessed the wrong one.
Mr. Levins promised fellow delegates to the Credit Union National Association's government affairs conference last week that God would part the clouds and provide sunshine for their Feb. 24 Capitol Hill rally.
Instead, wind and rain spoiled the afternoon rally, tearing down CUNA banners and ruffling onlookers. Mr. Levins, CUNA chairman and president of Robins Federal Credit Union in Warner Robins, Ga., was unfazed.
"I guess when God found out we had Newt Gingrich on our side, he decided we had enough support," he said, referring to the House speaker's promise to co-sponsor pro-credit union legislation in Congress.
Mr. Levins' prayers went unanswered the next day, too, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the banks in their lawsuit against the credit unions.
The CUNA conference provided rivals a stage for public jabs.
Rep. David E. Bonior, the House minority whip and the Democratic Party's designated anti-Gingrich attack dog, noted that a bill to expand credit union membership had created strange bedfellows.
"Anytime you can get Speaker Gingrich and David Bonior together on anything, you have come a long, long way," he said.
Meanwhile, Yolanda T. Wheat, a board member of the National Credit Union Administration, took the opportunity to pick yet another fight with agency Chairman Norman E. D'Amours.
Mr. D'Amours' speech criticized credit unions for straying from their social mission and their directors, or "volunteers," for ceding too much control to profit-minded managers, but Ms. Wheat disagreed.
"Volunteerism is alive and well," she said. "It remains the backbone of the credit union movement .... Clearly, volunteers are in control of this movement, as they always have been."
While senators fawned over his management of the U.S. economy, Alan Greenspan made a mea culpa last week: He's to blame for the looming year- 2000 computer debacle.
"I am one of the culprits who created this problem," the Federal Reserve Board chairman confessed to the Senate Banking Committee.
In the irrational exuberance of his younger days in the 1960s and '70s as a New York economic consultant, Mr. Greenspan wrote software programs using only the last two digits of years in dates to conserve then-scarce computer memory.
"It never entered our minds that those programs would have lasted more than two years," he said.