Tuesday, February 27, 2007

UI Held Hostage Day 402 - Feb. 27 -- Optiva

Feb. 27, 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m.
REVISED AND EXPANDED Feb. 28, 12:25 p.m., 9:25 p.m.

(with more letters to the editor, others' blogs, The Gazette's Feb. 28 article, and the Optiva promoters expensive video)


It's all over for Optiva!!

Members out vote board members, CEO, administrators and employees by 806 to 631!!!

(More to come.)

The Feb. 28 UICCU/"Optiva" Credit Union Meeting

For another couple days this blog's focus is the University of Iowa Community Credit Union (UICCU), the management's proposed name change to "Optiva," and the membership meeting to consider the proposal tomorrow evening.

If you are a member I urge you to attend the meeting (for reasons spelled out below) regardless of how you feel about the name change. The meeting is Wednesday evening, February 28, starting at 6:00 p.m., at the Quality Inn & Suites Highlander Conference Center, 2525 N. Dodge St., Iowa City.

An "Executive Summary" of sorts of the analysis in the Feb. 23 blog entry/essay, "What the Credit Union Feb. 28 Meeting is Really About," in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 398 - Feb. 23," February 23, 2007, repeated below, is contained in a Letter to the Editor of mine, published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen this morning, Feb. 27. Here it is:

Process matters most in election
Nicholas Johnson

Like "Six Blind Men and an Elephant," we perceive Optiva differently. Some see "a dorky name" and "abandonment of the UICCU's [University of Iowa Community Credit Union's] heritage." Others see "progressive change." Some see legal violations. Others say "get over it." Both sides seem angry.

I'm "none of the above." I've found UICCU employees friendly and competent, and the financial policies rewarding.

My concerns involve governance. Over the banking industry's strong opposition, an Act of Congress provides, "Credit unions . . . are exempt from Federal and most State taxes because credit unions are member-owned, democratically operated . . . organizations." (emphasis supplied)

That's why for UICCU administrators to make genuine efforts to seek out members' opinions before making decisions is like fastening their seat belts: "It's not just a good idea, it's the law."

My perception is that -- like the Iowa state Board of Regents -- their approach to the Optiva change, from start to finish, has looked more like a private bank than a "democratically operated organization."

Rather than a unilateral decision followed by a campaign to force it past the legal minimums, with lawyers, full-page ads, and overtime for voting employees, why not first poll the membership -- by mail, scientific sampling or even online?

Let's vote to retain "UICCU" temporarily, poll the members who can't attend meetings, and then consider their proposed name changes -- including "Optiva."

Process isn't trivial. It's the heart and soul of credit unions, without which we're just "bank customers" risking loss of the legal benefits, along with the responsibilities, of membership.

Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City

Here are some Optiva updates since Feb. 23, followed by a repeat of the Feb. 23 essay/blog entry on what the meeting "is really about."

The basic problem here is "process."

Of course the board and CEO of a "democratically operated" membership organization need to exert some leadership; but what they should exert leadership about is effectuating what they have discovered to be the will of the membershiip. Once that process is reversed, once the board and CEO first take all policy decisions unto themselves, decisions to which they are emotionally attached, and only subsequently undertake the task of trying to persuade the membership of their wisdom, the system goes awry in all directions. They become at best dismissive of the members, and at worst antagonistic towards them. They launch into political campaign mode in a contest of their own creation that they believe they simply must "win" over the objections of those within the membership perceived as their "opponents."

They hire lawyers to make sure they meet the legal minimums and stay out of jail, while beating back any members' efforts to get more participation than those minimums. They pressure employees to write letters to the editor, campaign with customers, and pay them overtime to attend and vote to support management at "membership" meetings. They take out full-page ads. They put up posters in the branches. They endeavor to make the board a self-perpetuating group, rather than opening board elections to rotating membership. And they then increasingly operate in secret, not revealing board members' contact information, board meeting minutes, or studies ordered and paid for that influence board decisions.

It's unseemly, yes. But it's also to be expected, once you have a board and CEO unwilling to grasp, and live by, the law and spirit of a "democratically organized" institution.

Letters; There Are Lots and Lots of Letters

David Burgess has an interesting suggestion in a letter to the editor of the Daily Iowan of Feb. 26, linked below: a contest among the members, and others at the UI, for the best new name and logo, with a $5,000 prize. It's an idea that is consistent with two themes in the letters: the need in a membership organization for genuine membership involvement, and the notion that surely better names than "Optiva" are available.

Meanwhile, in this morning's (Feb. 28) Press-Citizen Joseph Momberg writes on a theme in my letter yesterday, "It seems that administrators all have very high opinions of their own ideas and very little respect for opinions of the masses."

Weldon E. Heitman picks up on the steamroller, pull-out-all-stops effort of UICCU administration to force through their unilateral judgment: "It seems somewhat strange to me that so many employees of the University of Iowa Community Credit Union have written letters advocating for the name change to Optiva. It makes one wonder how much encouragement these writers have had from the UICCU board and leadership to write these letters" and then concludes, "We as members also should evaluate the performance of UICCU officers and board members and make a judgment made as to their competence to continue in their positions."

Sue Travis makes a similar point: "The October vote was marred by multiple voting violations. Since that time, UICCU's paid employees have been wearing buttons urging members to vote for Optiva, and they tell each 'customer' (member) to vote for Optiva. One has to wonder what is behind all this. The letters that support the Optiva name are mostly coming from credit union employees and their families. When I circulated a petition at work calling for a re-vote, every single member that I talked to -- about 20 of them -- thought the name change was dumb or suspicious. How can the credit union be so out of touch with the members? What aren't they telling us? It feels like we are being hoodwinked."

(The full text of all letters mentioned here, and more, a linked below.)

My suspicion that there is a category of UICCU members who don't object to changing UICCU to something else, but are really opposed to "Optiva," is born out in a Feb. 24 letter to the editor in the Press-Citizen from a Bill Moorhead who thinks "the name 'Optiva Credit Union' is seriously dorky" and that "a better name surely can be found."

To the extent "the major reason behind the name change" is that the board and CEO "may want to move into markets in Illinois," Dan Lechay writes in the same day's paper that this should "be explored at the coming meeting. Do members share our leaders' ambitious vision of growth?"

There have been a number of letters from UICCU employees that praise their bosses and support the name change to Optiva. Some of the authors of these letters candidly admit in the letter to being employees. Others who have written similar thoughts in a similar tone one suspects of being employees even though they do not express similar candor.

Has management made an effort to intimidate employees, and encourage their support of Optiva? I have only limited, if any, first hand knowledge. However, one would think that out of the substantial number of UICCU employees -- "150 or so" according to UICCU Marketing Director Jim Kelly's Feb. 19 comment -- there would be at least one who would share some of the concerns expressed in the letters from non-employee members. And yet I am unaware of a single employee who has spoken out against the name change.

Of those voting tomorrow evening we really should be told -- if not a break out of how the employee-members' votes split (totals; of course, the confidentiality of an individual's vote should be preserved) -- at least how many of those voting are employees. In terms of the (a) advisory nature of the vote, in letting the board members and administration know how those non-employee-members who are able to attend the meeting split on the issue, (b) a report back to the full membership on the meeting, and (c) the media's coverage and report to the community, it's not very informative to co-mingle the votes of employees and non-employee members and not even reveal how many of those in attendance were employees.

If the board members and administration refuse to do this it will end up being yet one more illustration of their desire to "win" at all costs; their willingness to ignore, manipulate and avoid genuine membership preference and participation; to insist that so long as they are just getting their way while avoiding prison sentences and heavy fines, so long as they are "legal," they are behaving as responsibile representatives for this "membership organization."

One is always reassured by finding that others have independently come to the same opinions. This comment was entered by a "Laura" to the blog entry "UICCU and Optiva" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 392 - Feb. 17," February 17, 2007.

"Laura said...

"And then there are the members (like me) who now live elsewhere and can't really feasibly pop back over to Iowa for a meeting. I actually went in to see if I could close my UICCU account the last time I was in town, in protest, but I still have a loan out from them and thus can't.

"It's interesting to see how much conversation is happening on the web about the renaming decision--conversation that has been happening after the decision has been made (or made once). Wouldn't it have been nice if instead of sending us all a letter saying, "We're going to be changing our name and we're going to pay some people a lot of money to help us out," they had sent out a letter (or perhaps even put up a website where one could comment) saying, "We're thinking of changing our name for the following reasons. Do you have any suggestions?"
"2/23/2007 09:26:00 PM"

Amen, Laura. My point exactly -- but much more succinctly(!).

Linda Fisher picks up a similar theme in her Letter to the Editor of the Press-Citizen today, along with observations about the lack of originality in "Optiva." "Optiva is not a unique name. Multiple firms or products have that or something similar. They don't want us using their name, and some may sue if we take it. Plus, there's a moral dimension: We'd be stealing just as if we found and kept a purse with a bundle of money and identification in it. . . . Many of pro-Optiva votes in October were from University of Iowa Community Credit Union employees. Why not try to achieve greater consensus from the rest of the 45,000 member-owners -- especially considering that most of them are not able to get to a meeting?"

An A.E. Betenbender wrote the Press-Citizen a balanced, one-sentence Letter on Feb. 19, as follows: "Although I may not understand the need to hire a consultant and pay an exuberant amount of money for a name change that some may think is not needed or appropriate, I do want to commend the University of Iowa Community Credit Union for many years of superb service."

There were a number of Letters to the Editor in the Press-Citizen today besides mine. Jim Doorley writes, in part, "Credit unions initially were formed to provide an alternative to the abuses and exploitation of the banking system. With a credit union, one is part of a 'financial family,' usually with better rates of return. With a credit union, one is a member; with a bank, one is a customer. The banks look out for their shareholders, not the customers. One doesn't expect a bank to be 'fair' but members expect their credit union to play 'fair and honest.' What caused this anger and frustration? The method of voting on the name change: This is Iowa City, not Chicago." Commenting on the $250,000 to Pilcher and company, Doorley adds that he would have been willing to come up with a name for only $50,000.

[Note: Tate Linden, of Stokefire Consulting Group, as further evidence of his fairness on behalf of competitor Pilcher ( if I have it right), comments on this blog entry that the $250,000 sounds high. It may well be. I have no independent, reliable source -- only what I've picked up from the papers. Two additional responses from me: (a) Of course the total costs of the name change -- payment to Pilcher, advertising and marketing, the two membership meetings, renaming buildings and signs, and all paper used in the credit union -- will be far greater than what they gave Pilcher. And that total is, I believe, a reasonable number to consider and use when measuring the pros and cons of this name change. (b) One of the problems when writing about institutions that are supposed to operate in the open but nonetheless insist on secrecy -- such as the Board of Regents, or the UICCU -- is that it makes it difficult for those who are writing to confirm facts. That makes me somewhat less anxious about the possibility of errors: the UICCU administration is in no position to criticize those who use false information while simultaneously refusing to make public the facts that would make corrections possible. That's an "assumption of risk" for those who insist on secrecy.]

Dale Phillips writes, "When I first saw the name, Optiva, I thought . . . it's a joke, right?"

And Linda Fisher's letter is quoted above. (All are available in full from the link, below.)

Other Blogs' Discussions -- By Professionals

This is not the only blog discussing the "Optiva" issue. It's attracted the attention of credit union officials and the companies that advise them on name changes all across the country. Suffice it to say, there is considerable debate within "the industry" on the wisdom of this move to "Optiva."

Tate Linden identifies himself as the "principal consultant" to the Stokefire Consulting Group, which maintains its own blog. See, for example, Tate Linden, "Optiva -- Turning the House to Screw in the Bulb?" in Thingnamer.com, February 19, 2007 (Linden reports, "Even our little corner of the world racked up dozens of comments about it") and "What's the Deal With Optiva Credit Union?" in Thingnamer.com, November 9, 2006.

Another branding firm is "Cintara," which operates a blog it calls "POPwink." It had a flattering entry about my essay/blog entry on Optiva Feb. 23. Sample: "Oh man, I ran across this amazingly detailed and thought out dissertation on the whole Optiva Name Change (and more) from Nicholas Johnson, Esq. Mr. Johnson is a law professor and former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and if his blog is any indication, a very very smart man."

It wasn't up for more than two hours when someone named Jeffrey Pilcher put in a comment by way of response that was little more than a mean spirited, ad hominum unrelated to the subject of my blog entry. Sample: "He just rambles and prattles. . . . [W]ho wants to sit through a class with such a pedantic pedagogue? He spends a lot of time bitching about 'democracy.'"

Who, you ask, is Jeffrey Pilcher? A disaffected former student of mine, perhaps? You'd never find out from this blog entry, because Pilcher nowhere identifies himself. But Jeffrey Pilcher, it turns out, was the clever fellow who -- in exchange for what's been reported to be $250,000 of our credit union members' money -- came up with the name "Optiva." He's become a little testy recently in his defensiveness regarding this one-word verbal child of his as his colleagues in the industry seem to be suggesting that this may have been at least one example of an instance in which abortion would have been a better choice. (He's also the proud author of the "Red Canoe Credit Union" branding.)

Pilcher works for the Weber Marketing Group. The firm's Web site describes itself as "a team of heavy hitters with the strategic knowledge and creative muscle you won’t find at other agencies. . . . [W]e have a proven, proprietary process that’s guaranteed to transform your marketing goals into good old-fashioned, bottom-line results. Our clients turn to us for powerful, robust integrated brands that build loyalty and make jaws drop. Discover what they already know. Make us your secret weapon in the battle for marketshare before your competition does."

Who can argue with that? They sure were able to "make jaws drop" around here with that "Optiva" idea. Nor was that their first. The Web site brags of "three new credit union names" -- apparently a specialty of theirs. The names? Iowa's own Veridian, plus Taleris and Plus4. (It doesn't mention the "Red Canoe" credit union.)

Now, here is a reproduction of the Feb. 23 blog entry that produced Mr. Pilcher's outburst. (As you'll see it contains little, if any, comment about, let alone criticism of, either Mr. Pilcher or his proud choice of "Optiva.")

Feb. 23, 11:15 a.m.

What the Credit Union Feb. 28 Meeting is Really About
"Credit unions . . . are exempt from Federal and most State taxes because credit unions are member-owned, democratically operated . . . organizations . . .." (emphasis supplied)
That's a quote from the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998, Sec. 2(4).

[The meeting, for UICCU members, will be held at Quality Inn & Suites Highlander Conference Center, 2525 N. Dodge St., Iowa City, starting at 6:00 p.m., on Wednesday evening, February 28, 2007. It may be necessary to arrive a little before 6:00 p.m. in order to be checked in -- but I don't know that for sure.]

In short, for a credit union's board members and CEO to accord dignity, openness and cooperative friendliness to members, to genuinely seek their opinions (and be governed by them), to encourage membership participation and democratic operation of a credit union -- is, well, kind of like fastening your seat belt: "It's not just a good idea, it's the law." It's the very foundation of credit unions; it's the justification for the legal and tax benefits given a credit union -- that become the financial benefits it can pass on to its members (or, better said, the members can pass on to themselves).

Reshaping the Definition of "Democracy"

"Democracy" began small in this country, and then grew. Initially, it only had to do with "government," with the state. And at that, the only ones who could vote were (a) white, (b) males, (c) who owned land, and (d) were over 21. (And when it came to electing U.S. Senators, even these elite electors were limited to voting for the state legislators who were given the constitutional power to vote for the state's senators. U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 3. We are still liimited to voting for "electors" rather than voting directly for the presidential candidate of our choice. Id., Art. II, Sec. 1.)

With the passage of the years the electorate was expanded to include African-American males, U.S. Constitution, Amendment XV (1870), those who didn't own land, females, Id., Amendment XIX (1920) and finally all over the age of 18. Id., Amendment XXVI (1971).

But democracy's spread hasn't stopped there.
As the national president of the YMCA's high school organization, Hi-Y, I was given a seat on the national YMCA board of directors -- with white guys in suits, all of whom were at least three or four times my age.

We require that the Iowa Board of Regents has at least one student from the Regents' universities. Iowa Code Sec. 262 (1) (2007).

At one time Chrysler included on its board of directors the national president of the UAW.

Schools, from K-12 through university, have accorded some responsibility, however limited, to "student councils."
There are numerous other examples, including "family councils" in some families that, generations ago, would have been subject to the dictatorial whims of the father.

Unlike many of these democratizing moves within hierarchal organizations, credit unions are, and have been since their beginnings, nothing but their members, coming together in democratically-controlled institutions called credit unions. Thus, any tendency toward hierarchy and top-down control inside a credit union is the equivalent of what, within a nation's government, would be characterized as a coup-d'etat, or treason.

The UICCU's Loss of Membership Control
and the Perversion of "The Rule of Law"

In fairness to the UICCU board and CEO, it is the natural tendency of all institutions -- corporate, non-profit, military, educational -- to concentrate power, function in increasing isolation and secrecy, and look upon members of its stakeholder groups as pesky intruders to be "dealt with" when they cannot be ignored, rather than sought out as constructive, collegial participants in the governing process.
The President of the U.S., rather than seek out and respond to the overwhelming majority of Americans, increasing numbers of members of the U.S. Senate and House, former military leaders and government officials who oppose his preemptive war in Iraq, cites Art. II, Sec. 2, of the U.S. Constitution as the legal basis for going his own way.

The Iowa Board of Regents, claims the legal power to rebuff the UI faculty, and according to Feb. 24's papers, the Iowa Ombudsperson's investigation as well.

Search Committee II, created by the same Board of Regents legally required to have a student member, exercises its power to forbid any undergraduate representation on the Committee.

Iowa State, also according to Feb. 24's morning's papers, unilaterally decides to charge UI fans $90 a ticket to attend the UI-ISU football game this year -- 50% more than the $60 the UI charged the ISU fans last year.
The listing of examples could go on, but this should be enough to make the point.

"The law," which is designed to set the absolute minimums, and maximums, of socially acceptable behavior, all too often becomes the justification for behavior that is offensive, insensitive to others, contrary to the spirt of the organization and its mission, or that excludes from participation in decision-making stakeholders with legitimate rights to be heard. If the behavior in question has not been defined as a crime, and does not result in civil liability, that is taken as justification for the action, regardless of how offensive and contrary to the mission of the institution it may be.

So it's not that the UICCU leadership is necessarily any worse than that of comparable organizations. It may even be better. But that doesn't make it good.
When I first took an interest in this "Optiva" name change I wanted to communicate with the board members about it. However, when I asked for their names I was told by employees I was not entitled to know them. Since those employees had first checked with supervisors, it was obvious they had been instructed by management to handle my inquiry this way; it was not just an individual's unique display of ignorance or exercise of bad judgment. When I did finally get the names (although not an up-to-date list) I was still denied access to addresses for them. I discussed this matter with the CEO, pointing out that the ICCSD School Board members' names, titles and terms, home addresses and phone numbers, e-mail addresses, photos and bios are available on the District's Web site. Although the UICCU Web site now contains the names, titles, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of employees of the credit union, there is still no contact information whatsoever for the CEO and board members (that I could find).

It was not my personal experience, but I was told of a member who asked for -- and was refused -- the minutes of UICCU board meetings. (So far as I know they are not posted on the UICCU Web site -- although even the secretive Iowa Board of Regents puts the minutes of its meetings on its Web site!)

UICCU members have been told that a significant study preceded the Board's selection of the name "Optiva." However, I have also been told that someone who asked to see that study was told he or she could not even see it, let alone have a copy.

Whatever else may be said of the October membership meeting's legality, at a minimum there were "irregularities." There was apparently an effort by management to get employees to attend and vote for the "Optiva" name. (I was told of at least one such case.) There's no reason employees who are members should be denied the right to vote. But when management becomes an active and antagonistic advocate for its pre-determined proposal, and the outcome it wants from a "membership" meeting, and uses its influence with employees to bring about that result -- rather than conduct a genuine inquiry as to the preferences of the rest of the membership base -- and then insists that it has "won" because it was able to get six more votes than its "opponents" at a meeting at which less than 1% of the credit union's membership was polled, the UICCU has strayed very far afield indeed from the "democratically operated organization" envisioned in the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998.

Again, the following has been told me as another example of UICCU attempts at legal bullying of members, but was not a personal experience. Apparently the UICCU's first response to the petition for the February 28 meeting was rebuffed, and the February 28 date rejected. When it was discovered that the law required a meeting be called, so was the credit union's lawyer -- who set about the task of trying to find some legal fault with the petition. He was ultimately turned down by the Iowa Superintendent of credit unions, who wrote that the lawyer had misrepresented conversations with the Superintendent. [Matt Nelson's story, linked below, reports: "James Forney, the superintendent of the Iowa division of credit unions . . . disagreed with Lynch's [Lawrence Lynch, the legal counsel for the credit union] assessment that the petition was 'defective.' Lynch had recommended that a meeting be held to discuss the petition, but any votes in that meeting 'cannot be binding upon the credit union or its Board of Directors.' Forney's review of the documents found that the petition presented to the credit union adequately stated the purpose of the meeting - the critical requirement to guide the board to hold a second meeting about the name change."]

According to Matt Nelson's story, linked below, a firm called "Optiva Mortgage" has been using the Optiva name since 2004 and, since it anticipates doing business in Iowa, has requested the UICCU abandon its claim on "Optiva Mortgage's" name. While that would be the decent thing to do, once again UICCU administration has decided to bull ahead on the basis of a legal technicality that gives it the right to "steal it fair and square."

Now the board and administration are arguing that we have to go ahead with the name change to Optiva -- why? Because they've already gone ahead with the name change preparations and are ready to make the changeover on March 1. It's kind of like what the Administration in Washington argues is the reason we have to support not only a continuation of what's going on in Iraq, but a "surge" of additional troops. We no longer have the option of staying out of Iraq, of not engaging in a preemptive war we're told. Why? Because we're already there. Similarly, knowing of the widespread membership opposition to the name change, and having known for some time of the demand for another meeting, they went ahead with purchases to effectuate the name change anyway. And now, they say, we are, for that reason, bound to support what they've done.

I am not as concerned about the legal requirements (though I'm not suggesting they should be ignored) as I am about genuine credit union democracy. I want a board that wants to know what all of its membership wants to do -- not just those who are free and inclined to attend an evening meeting that can be manipulated. I proposed that -- legal requirements regarding a "membership meeting" aside -- there be an informal poll of the membership on the name change. This could have been done by mail; if not to the entire membership, then a scientific sampling. Even cheaper (essentially free), easier and probably more effective, it could have been done online, with a Web page set up for the purpose. It still could be. I suggested this to the CEO and board members. There was zero interest in the idea. I pointed out that even though the controversy (and thus the need for a pre-October meeting poll) might not have been anticipated, once the controversy over "Optiva" arose such a poll was even more essential as a matter of public relations and a good faith gesture from the Board. Still zero interest.
I don't need, or want, to get into a "who shot John" debate about the details described above. Some may not be accurate. And I certainly don't want to cast aspersions or be judgmental about the character of those involved. That's neither constructive nor necessary to my point. I'm just describing actions. And my only point is that, taken together, if even a half of these incidents occurred, they paint a picture of something other that an open, transparent, welcoming, board and CEO anxious to ascertain (and follow) the will of the membership.

It may sound odd, coming from a law professor, but I find it sad, disappointing, and discouraging the extent to which the UICCU administration seems so focused on "the law." It does not seem even to grasp the concept of, let alone express a desire to encourage, genuine membership involvement. It gives the impression it thinks that so long as it does not violate the law in ways that can result in prison terms or heavy fines it is free to force its will upon the membership.

There is, of course, an element of the "Six Blind Men and an Elephant" in all of this. Some see the February 28 meeting as a time to "support your board" -- or to put down those members who would dare to challenge management. Some see it as the result of a need to follow the letter of the law regarding membership meetings.

As the forgoing makes clear, I see the meeting as an opportunity to do a "Jet Blue reorganization;" to "take it from the top." As I see it, the membership needs to deliver a message, loud and clear, to the board and administration: "We appreciate what you are doing for us financially. We do not appreciate the way you are doing it, running this credit union as if it were the branch bank of a national banking chain with corporate headquarters elsewhere -- or a bank that you personally own, and that views us as 'customers' rather than 'members and owners.' We want more respect and transparency. We are members of this credit union precisely because we don't want to be 'customers' of a 'bank.'"

That's why I think we should vote choice two at the meeting:
“I vote to reverse the membership vote of Oct. 4th, 2006, whereby the credit union’s name will remain the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. _____”
(The precise language to be voted on is available on page 2 of the online reproduction of a postcard the Web site represents was sent to all members. The credit union's site also provides a general "Name Change Information" Web page.)

That's what that vote does. It takes us back to square one. It doesn't mean we have to stick with "University of Iowa Community Credit Union" as a name if a subsequent online (or postal) poll of the membership (followed by the legal "membership meeting") decides to change it later. It doesn't even foreclose the possibility of that process adopting the name "Optiva" in the future -- though if the majority votes to at least temporarily retain the UICCU name it is unlikely a subsequent poll would support "Optiva."

That vote is just an effort at a little surgery: an attitude transplant for UICCU board and administration. It forecloses nothing. What it does do is to help reestablish in the hearts and minds of the membership, the board, and the administration, our desire to become once again the kind of membership organization envisioned by those who started the credit union movement over 100 years ago, by President Franklin Roosevelt, whose 1934 New Deal legislation enabled the UICCU's creation in 1938, and by those in the Congress in 1998 who passed the Credit Union Membership Access Act.

# # #

[Note: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story . . .

These blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006.

Wondering where the "UI Held Hostage" came from? Click here. (As of January 25 the count has run from January 21, 2006, rather than last November.)

For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to FromDC2Iowa.Blogspot.com will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006.

My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006.

Searching: the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References." A Blog Index of entries on all subjects since June 2006 is also available. And note that if you know (or can guess at) a word to search on, the "Blogger" bar near the top of your browser has a blank, followed by "SEARCH THIS BLOG," that enables you to search all entries in this Blog since June 2006.]

# # #

Media Stories and Commentary

David Burgess, "We Can Do Better Than 'Optiva,'" The Daily Iowan, February 26, 2007

Matt Nelson, "Firm Asks Credit Union to Discard 'Optiva,'" The Daily Iowan, February 21, 2007

Dave DeWitte, "State Regulators to Oversee Credit Union Vote Today; Name of Organization Hangs in the Balance," The Gazette, February 28, 2007

Editorial, "New Election is Optimal Option for Optiva," Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 20, 2007, ( plus text of op eds and letters to the editor that day, pro and con)

Iowa City Press-Citizen Optiva Letters to the Editor:
February 19, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 26, 2007
February 27, 2007
February 28, 2007
Nicholas Johnson Blog Entries Regarding Optiva

"What the Credit Union Feb. 28 Meeting is Really About" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 398 - Feb. 23 -- Optiva,"
February 23, 2007

"UICCU and 'Optiva'" in Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 392 - Feb. 17," February 17, 2007

Nicholas Johnson, "UI Held Hostage Day 62 - Revisiting Optiva," January 17, 2007

Nicholas Johnson, "Seattle's Optiva," October 23, 2006

Nicholas Johnson, "Optiva," October 13, 2006

Others' Blogs

Open Country (Maria Houser Conzemius), "'Optiva' A Sign of the Times," February 27, 2007

Cintara's POPwink, "University of Iowa Community Credit Union may Optiva Out of New Name," February 18, 2007


The Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998, Sec. 2(4)

The Credit Union Difference," on the site of the USA Federal Credit Union

National Credit Union Administration

National Association of Federal Credit Unions

State of Iowa Credit Union Division

Iowa Credit Union League

The Credit Union Journal


Optiva Video

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Anonymous said...

Hello - and thanks for the link to our company website and blog.

I had a question regarding the $250K number you quoted (and that I've seen in the Daily Iowan.) I've been unable to confirm that amount myself - and the Iowan doesn't say where they got the number.

Do you have confirmation from someone at Weber or Optiva with access to the contract details?

I'm wondering whether we've got a number here that isn't connected to reality. Sure - it shouldn't affect whether or not we like the Optiva name... and for that very reason we shouldn't be spreading the number unless we have confirmation from someone that knows.

I have a feeling that the number is much lower than we're hearing.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes! Pilcher has been policing blogs at least since the October vote, if not before. I'm rather very surprised he never showed up here.

Unknown said...

Thanks Hermit Greg. I'd not seen that link. So the number is significantly lower than $250K but we don't know by how much.

And FWIW, in the naming industry I've seen everything from $50 for a name to over $5 million. Pretty scary, eh?