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Optiva Smackdown

All it took was a winter of discontent and a petition to call for a new vote on the name of my credit union. (The last vote, held in October, demonstrated that slightly more people have bad taste than don’t.) Today’s Press-Citizen ran a number of editorials and letters applauding the eleventh-hour reballoting, including a bland recap-and-state-the-obvious (“Credit unions are businesses; they take people’s dollars, and they compete in the financial marketplace.”) staff opinion; a statement by the credit union’s board, which has the benefit of being slightly more revealing of the board’s motives than anything offered since October; and several letters, one of which asserts, “‘Optiva’... is slick, paltry, full of marketing smack”—a claim that I am at first agreeable to, but then I shrink from it and want to say to the writer, “You use that word smack, but I do not think it means what you thinks it means.”

There is plenty left of the bombastic in the Press-Citizen (if you really want to try your patience, spend an hour learning to navigate and a few minutes trying to read the paper’s citizen-journalism site) for the eager. Elsewhere the credit union’s staff is stirring the pot. It’s not enough for those clamoring for a new vote to be concerned members; the credit union’s marketing director must attack them as liars for good measure. Whether Kelly’s right that the petitioners lied about the purpose of the petition is at this point immaterial. After all, the petition’s been filed; the meeting’s been called. Kelly’s smear makes both him and the credit union look bad.

But looking bad doesn’t seem to be one of the credit union’s primary worries. Throughout, the union’s board of directors has acted as if it doesn’t care what the membership thinks. The board’s opacity has been nowhere more apparent than in its lack of candor about the reason for the name change. A dozen times at the meeting in October, for example, credit union president Jeff Disterhoft and board president Dean Borg both asserted and denied the university’s role in forcing the name change. Clearly, soft compulsion can make a board of directors say funny things. What it has amounted to is a lot of replacement of what’s necessary with what’s not. For that reason, I agree with Nicholas Johnson about this. Why the credit union’s board approached its membership with a shifty eye and a hand behind its back makes no sense; why it chose the election it chose (unless of course the union’s bylaws call for all membership votes to be done in meetings) likewise makes no sense; finally, why there couldn’t have been a vote for the name change but against Optiva makes no sense. Unfortunately, given the quality of most of the discourse already, I don’t expect there’ll be a lot of sense made between now and next week.



Unrelated, but hella awesome: A letter today, by Ronald W. Kinum referring to a recent election on a 1% sales tax increase:

Of those who did not vote, most are communists. They are self-made victims to forced obedience, because their immature brains in adult bodies did not act to inspire you on your duty to participate in Democracy (spelled respectfully with a capital “D”), which does not exist without the participation of the people in our society to make decisions.

As a member of the Green Party, which is not represented in our state and is the only party in our nation that has Democracy written into its party platform, I trudged three blocks through a snowstorm, from the transit bus stop on Muscatine to the poll nearest me, over un-shoveled sidewalks and through drifts that came up to my knees, and returned after I voted, because I live the credo of my party. And just like accidents, true excuses to not vote are very rare and are made mostly because of people not doing what they are supposed to do — support Democracy.

And unlike me, most people had plowed streets and a car to drive to the polls in.

In the same link, a letter in support of Optiva which claims the CU should adapt or die. What a name change to “Optiva” is an adaptation to, however, escapes me.

i love a good modernize or die… we are traditional and so stagnated argument!

It’s such a handy argument to make. To the one who deploys it a veritable sea of secondary attacks can be made: “I never would have thought you would be against progress!” or “I believe in the future of this organization, and the future is not in clinging to the past!” or “Are you afraid of change?” It’s almost as effective at closing off possibilities as “x emboldens the enemy.”

This morning the Daily Iowan reports that Optiva Mortgage is calling bluff on the name. A company can’t really have squatter’s rights without trademark declaration, can it? Lawyers? (also, commentary from the naming biz)

so, as someone who intended to vote on the sales tax, but forgot (oops), am i a communist or not? i’m not an “excuses” nonvoter. i readily admit that it slipped my mind. and i’m not afraid of snow—hell, no. i’m looking for a derogatory label with which to pummel myself.

and how about you, G? you, who didn’t even consider voting? what do you have to say for yourself, pinko?

Ha! Unlike you, I actually did consider voting, but figured since I was only mildly in favor of the tax and it seemed kinda inevitable it would pass (every other county in the state had the tax already) I decided I didn’t really want to trudge barefoot up the hill to the voting booth. Or for that matter get into the car that I actually own to drive out of my conveniently plowed driveway. Why? Because I am a bad citizen. You gonna rat me out to the Green party, now?

The loss of “activists” who were once interested in stopping the name change to Optiva, on a strictly personal level, is a major concern to me. The people who voted to stop Optiva were never really organized or in touch with each other to start with.

Does anyone think that this issue is over now? I was very offended by Caroline Dieterle’s turncoat reaction in my face, after her ill-fated and perhaps justly-lost election bid to the Board, after the Board chose to “drop” the name-change issue. Caroline was the main hope we advocates of credit union integrity were hoping for, to at least get ONE person on the board we could count on, or so I thought. She has revealed to me, as she left in a huff to depart from the sphere of our UofI Community Credit Union Shareholder Association group list-serve, that she never was in favor of Democracy (spelled respectfully with a capital “D”) in our credit union. She, in fact, made several excuses to me for NOT holding the Board accountable for their conspiracy against shareholders, and even alluded (she never came right out to say what she really thought in her personal e-mails or list-serve postings) that the credit union would suffer if the Board were to be held accountable — again, I have to speculate, as she was not open about anything in UofICCU Shareholder Associaiton.

No, I am sure the Board is “licking their wounds”, probably making other plans to expand UofICCU into a mega, interstate BUSINESS, and I believe that there are other ideas still being bandied about in their typical, proven secrecy. They were caught, and nobody wants to hold them accountable. Except for me. They betrayed us because they truly do not think they serve the general members, they still exploit the fact that 85% of all members can not vote even if they show up at a meeting — and there is no provision to vote by mail because that is prohibited, and they STILL produce expensive propaganda literature to make the appearance that we members are all living in mansions. That annual report was a real slap in the face to anyone who knows how real financial reports and annual reports are produced.

Would holding the Board accountable for their deceptions and conspiracy destroy our credit union? I think that is what Caroline was hinting at, but refused to come right out and say what she is thinking on the aspect of her hostile departure from UofICCUSA. To think she was running for election to the UofICCU Board, and I actually voted for her! I know better now. I also think I know that there is nobody willing to stand up and cause “our” credit union to turn itself around, so that it can truly serve its overall shareholder membership.

Ronald Kinum
a.k.a. Libris Fidelis (writing name)