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SHOWN TO THE RIGHT, ARE THE CONTENTS OF THE 11/27/12 LETTER SIGNED BY PRIORITY ONE CREDIT UNION PRESIDENT, CHARLES R. WIGGINGTON, SR. IN COMPLIANCE TO THE TERMS OF SETTLEMENT AGREED TO BY THE CREDIT UNION AND A MEMBER WHO SUED THE CREDIT UNION, ALLEGING THEIR WILLFUL VIOLATION OF THE PRIVACY ACT.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DISPELLING FANTASIES



On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, Priority One One Credit Union conducted its 2014 Annual Meeting though just a few hours before its start, employees of the credit union's three remaining branches convened at Carrow's Restaurant in South Pasadena, California to participate in an all-staff meeting ordered by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. 

On January 1, 2007, the Credit Union employed in excess of 150 employees but during the May 28th gathering. the staff numbered less than 60. Also noteworthy, is that employees paid for their own lunches and after eating, were forced to listen to President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. ramble on about alleged improved business and a promising future for the supposedly rebounding credit union.

Of course, the President's spiel was nothing more than another outpouring of Wiggington-styled propaganda intended to lure employees into ignoring the massive and lumbering brontosaurus in the room which is a well documented record of chronic failures all orchestrated by President Wiggington and all sanctioned by what may be the most deplorable Board of Directors in the credit union industry. In addition to his well-documented botches is the all too conspicuous closure of 6 branches since October 2010, reducing Priority One from 9 offices to 3. Another telling indicator that the credit union may not be performing as well as the President wanted employees to think is that Priority One could not afford to pay lunches for employees attending the meeting. 

At 6 p.m., the credit union conducted its Annual Meeting which this year was awkwardly dubbed, "Maintaining Forward Progress" (versus Backward Progress).  During the meeting, the President reiterated that Priority One performed well in 2013, however, his over-optimism is sharply undercut by the credit union's own Monthly Income/Balance Sheets and quarterly Financial Performance Reports ("FPR") filed with the NCUA.gov.  A review of the reports reveals a credit union that is unable to generate sufficient new business needed to offset overhead, build desperately needed reserves, and augment capital. All of the failures the credit union continues to experience are born out of President Wiggington's inability to implement effective marketing, build relations within the communities the credit union is supposed to serve,  failure to create cutting edge advertising that succeeds in attracting member interest, and his inability to resolve the credit union's burgeoning member service issues. The President's spin on the credit union's actual performance was another clumsy and all too transparent poorly honed plan designed to dupe listeners into believing his warped version of reality.  

During the meeting, the President went to great lengths to avoid referring to the credit union's present inability to service all of the Santa Clarita and most of the San Fernando valleys and all of Riverside County along with avoiding all reference to the closure of 6 branches since October 2010. Its what he didn't say that most attests to the credit union real performance.  

DOWNSIZNG

In March, President Wiggington disclosed that reason for the closures of the Airport and the Santa Clarita branches in December 2013 and January 2014, respectively, was simply that neither branch was performing well.  

The Airport branch in 2010 and the Santa Clarita branch* opened in February 2012. In the months before opening the Santa Clarita branch, the President declared that the people living and working in the Santa Clarita Valley would be both "grateful" and "excited" that the credit union was reopening a branch in that region. In 2010, the President ordered closure of the successful Valencia branch because at the time, the credit union could no longer afford to pay the more than $5300 monthly cost to lease the space. 

In 2012, then Santa Clarita Post Master, Ralph Tapia, ordered construction of a structure just outside the gates of the Santa Clarita Mail Processing Center located at 28635 Braxton Avenue in Valencia, California. Mr. Tapia is a loyal member of the credit union and wanted to express his gratitude towards the once well-respected organization. As the new Santa Clarita branch neared completion, President Wiggington began declaring that people would flock to the new branch wanting to becoming members of the credit union. His statements were based on nothing more than conjecture dredged from his fantastical imagination which chronically circumvents logic and evidence to support his far-fetched beliefs. In fact, In November 2011, we stated that the branch would fail, primarily because of its inconvenient location outside of downtown Valencia and because in our opinion, the President would fail to promote the site just as he failed to promote the Redlands, Riverside, Valencia, and Burbank branches, all of which closed during the period of 2010 through 2012. 

The President's own words revealed that from his skewed perspective, people would "flock" to the new branch without him having to market the location. His failure to develop strategies to market the Santa Clarita branch serves to affirm that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s inspirations are bombastic at base and grounded in fantasy. He sincerely believes that Priority One has something to offer without have to make any effort to reach out to the communities it serves which explains why he was forced to close the Redlands and Valencia branches in 2010; the Riverside branch in 2011; the Burbank branch in 2012; the Airport branch in 2013; and the Santa Clarita branch in 2014. In the end, his beliefs are spurious and both self indulgent and self deluded. 

*In 2013, the new Post Master in Santa Clarita informed the credit union that he was going to increase the amount of their lease. The decision by the Post Master prompted EVP, Rodger Smock, to exclaim, "What are they (the postal service) doing to us!:




Over the years, the two most frequently asked questions we've received are, "Why has President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. not been terminated?" and "Why hasn't the Board of Directors been removed?" 

To remove the President, the entire Board or some of the Directors of the Board requires filing of a complaint by member-owners. Without member-owners filing a complaint with the state of California, both the President and Board remain securely in place. We must add that if a non-member files a complaint and submits evidence to the Department of Financial Institutions ("DFI") proving the credit union has violated state and federal law, the DFI will not open an investigation because the complaint must be filed by a member-owner. Evidence- even compelling evidence is in itself, insufficient to launch an investigation. Of course, this brings into conflict what the state mandates under law and what is unethical and moral. However, state mandates override the principles of ethics and morals since unethical acts are not synonymous with illegal acts. 

Of course, the validity of those things said by the President and Board over the years, assuring members and employees that things are just grand at the credit union requires that we believe them at face value. Unfortunately for the President and Board, in 2014 neither possesses a shred of credibility. Their addresses published in the annual reports are laced with distortions of the truth including exaggerations, and always ignoring the fact that the credit union's asset value has declined by millions of dollars since January 2007, the date which Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. began his reign of terror. The fact the credit union has terminated more than 50% of its employees since January 2007 is another indicator that things are not going well for the credit union. Couple this with 4 lawsuits filed by former employees since August 2010 along with the closure of 6 branches since October 2010, and all indicators point to decline, though President Wiggington and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, would like employees and members to believe that the credit union's business is increasing and its profits, amassing. Any doubt to the credit union's decline can be easily dispelled by reviewing their Monthly Income Statements/Balance Sheets or their quarterly reports published by the National Credit Union Association at http://www.ncua.gov.  The financials contained in their financial statements conspicuously conflicts with the President's and Board Chair's bloated claims of success.

We recently revisited Bankrate.com and discovered that the credit union’s financial standing was downgraded from 4 stars at the end of 2012, to 3 stars at the end of 2013.  The reason for the downgrade is due to a drop in capital. President Wiggington has since 2009, avoided closure of the credit union by introducing often drastic cut-backs in spending. In February 2012, President Wiggington lied to employees when he explained that capital represents earnings from profit. At the time, he distorted the truth because the credit union was preparing, unbeknownst to employees, to close the Burbank branch and begin what would be approximately 8 months during which many employees were terminated for allegedly failing to meet their assigned monthly sales quotas. 

The 2013 assessment by Bankrate.com states that Net Capital has declined. Additionally, since March 2013, the credit union has been reporting negative loan loss allowance which suggests their delinquencies have declined thus reducing the amount of reserve set side to cover projected/estimated losses from delinquent loans. Normally, this would be wonderful news but based solely on  the President's manipulation of accounting practices, the report by the credit union cannot be believed without tangible evidence. If the President is lying again and underestimating the amount of projected loan losses or if he is merely being overly optimistic, t then the credit union could potentially create new and additional problems for itself. 

Since 2010, the President's weapon of choice to counter the sluggish development of new business has been cutting back expenditures, however, 

Branch closures are unfortunate, though in the case of Priority One, necessary. However, closing branches was intended as a temporary means by which to reduce expenses and develop new strategies needed to produce income. The credit union's current inability to acquire sufficient levels of new business is failing to: 
  • Generate profit
  • Create reserves
  • Increase capital 
In 2010, auditors advised the President he must reduce expenses immediately and substantially to avoid further decline leading to possible closure. At the time, then COO, Beatrice Walker, and CFO, Saeid Raad, decided that the most immediate and effective means by which to reduce expenses was to close the Redlands and Valencia branches though at the time, Ms. Walker vindictively targeted the Valencia branch because she was at odds with its Manager. The closures should have represented a single, desperate effort to save the credit union and provide an opportunity to the President and his executive staff to create and implement strategies that would more effectively promote the credit union's products, services, and name. At no time, were branch closures intended to become a "usual and customary" part of how the credit union conducts fiscal business. Unfortunately, due to President Wiggington's immense limitations, cut-backs have become an addictive way of life for the credit union and its survival. 

According to Bankrate.com, the credit union’s business is not profitable. Priority One’s Return on Average Assets is according to Bankrate.com, “Substantially below Average.”

Bankrate.com also determined that the credit union’s outgoing expenses aka “overhead”, is “Significantly Higher than average.” This indicates that Priority One is not generating sufficient new business needed to build capital and produce adequate loss reserves.

According to Bankrate.com, their assessment about Priority One’s earnings is based on their review of Priority One’s last four quarters of income and expenditures meaning quite simply, that it includes all of 2013. Bankrate. com also concluded that a review of the four quarters ending December 31 2013, revealed Priority One has a “substantially below average return on average assets” and “A significantly higher than average overhead ratio is in evidence.”

Priority One’s inability to generate sufficient new business is undermining their ability to pay their expenses, generate a profit and create sufficient monetary reserves to sustain its operation.

Bankrate.com also discloses that the 3 star rating indicates a “GENERALLY satisfactory financial condition.” In analyzing Priority One’s capital, Bankrate.com “that this credit union demonstrates well below standard capitalization. Notwithstanding any of the information contained within this section, we believe, based on our analysis, that the institution should consider plans for enhancing reported capitalization.”

So how does one develop plans to enhance reported capitalization when they have no idea of how to create effective marketing strategies, how to build relationships with the people living and residing in the credit union’s vast but not maintained territories. The fact is, the problems which have contributed to Priority One’s decline have been ongoing for the past 7 years and sadly, President Wiggington just doesn’t have what it takes to lead the credit union out of the mire he created. For the President, creating effective business producing plans is just impossible. 


Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

We received the following account from a member who called the credit union to request a copy of the Annual Report. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

"I called the credit union earlier today and asked a woman who picked up the phone to send me an annual report.

She asked "A what?" 

I repeated, "An annual report."

She asked, "What do you need it for?" 

I explained that as a member, I am entitled to a copy of the annual report. She responded, 
"Please hold." 

She returned and asked again, "What do you want?" 

I asked, "Do you know what an annual report is?"

She responded slowly, "No." 

I told her I would call back and speak to someone else. She said, "Okay."

Clearly, unlike the many knowledgeable and competent employees the President drove out of the credit union over the years, new employees are either not being trained and purposely kept ignorant or the caliber of employees hired by the credit union reflects the level of incompetence saturating the credit union since Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was appointed President of what once was a larger and growing credit union. Does Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. truly believe ignorance is bliss or an attractive quality? 

We've recently learned that the President has instructed managers not to release information about the credit union's financials. This reminds us of his 2010 directive, prohibiting managers from releasing the credit union's monthly income statements despite the fact that all members, under state law, can request and receive a copy of the statement. His efforts to try and suppress the release of the credit union's financial information clearly suggests the President has much to hide. 

MAINTAINING FORWARD PROGRESS

This year's Annual Meeting was dubbed, "Maintaining Forward Progress" (versus Maintaining Backward Progress). The event which has over the past 7 years turned into a high school theatrical production, served as a platform during which President Wiggington and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, disingenuously presented a promising picture of the shrinking credit union's future. If one chose to ignore their poorly scripted and unconvincing speeches, then Priority One is indeed a clean, mean running machining and not a sputtering operation reliant on expense reductions as a means by which to remain in business. 

to spend 30-minutes raising yet another sham portraying the sputtering credit union as a clean, mean running machine, a claim quickly and immediately dispelled by Priority One's financial reports which paint a picture of a credit union struggling to sell its products and exerting tremendous effort to pay its overhead. 

For the President and Board Chair, the Annual Meeting is an opportunity to misrepresent the credit union's real performance. Noticeably not mentioned were the closure of the Airport branch in December of last year and closure of the Santa Clarita branch in January of this year. Also not mentioned is why the credit union has closed 6 of it 9 branches since October 2010. The two officers also avoided all reference why the credit unions asset size has decreased by $7 million over the past 7 years.  


REDEFINING STALE



Usually, things reported as news have never been reported previously. Clearly, Priority One Credit Union defines what is news, differently than does everyone else.

On their website, under “Priority One News & Updates” the credit union allegedly publishes notices of current and upcoming events. However, a review of the page discloses the page is being neglected and continues to reference information that is more than 2 years old. This failure by the credit union creates an impression of mismanagement of their own resources and reminds us of the ship shod manner President Wiggington chooses to manage (or mismanage) the credit union’s many differing facets. So doesn’t the credit union have a person or person to maintain its website?

Its incredulous that President Wiggington or Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock; Vice President of Operations, Yvonne Boutte; Vice President of Lending, Patricia Loiacano; Business Development Representative, Joseph Garcia; Director of Employee Services, Robert West; or Manager of Employee Services, Esmeralda Sandoval, have all simultaneously thought it prudent to continue referencing the Airport and Santa Clarita branches on their list of branch locations. Though the two, no longer existent branches, each reference they are closed, they continue to appear on the list of active offices. We can see where members and prospective members might not realize those offices are permanently closed. The credit union annotates information about the closures in red font and also reference the early closure of the three remaining offices on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in red font. We assume the continued inclusion of the two closed offices on their list of active offices is intended to create the impression that Priority One has 5 branches. Isn’t it about time President Wiggington donned his big boy pants and accept that the credit union has lost 6 branches under his tutelage and that maintaining an inaccurate list of offices is nothing more than another Wiggington-styled deceptive ploy?










Inexplicably, the credit union’s last published newsletter was that for Winter 2013. So what could have happened to their quarterly publication?

The credit union’s newsletters plummeted in popularity after 2007. For years, the credit union published a monthly newsletter but in 2010, the then Marketing Specialist gathered evidence that members were not reading or interested in the monthly letters. At the time, COO, Beatrice Walker, ordered cessation of the newsletter which irked Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, who at the time, was the newsletter’s caretaker. Resentful, Mr. Smock launched a personal vendetta against the then Marketing Specialist and falsely informed the COO that the specialist was leaking confidential he had no access to, on to the Internet.

With the elimination of the monthly newsletter, the EVP was left with managing publication of the quarterly newsletter. In 2010, the credit union determined that mailing of the newsletter was too expensive and if eliminated could help reduce spending. The credit union issued letters to all members, asking if they could inform the credit union if they would like to continue receiving the quarterly newsletter or if they would prefer downloading it directly from Priority One’s website. Few members responded to the request, leading the credit union that members were not interested in the newsletters.

Oddly, the credit union renamed the Winter publication to First Connections (yawn) but has never published another newsletter since then. The letters have been chronically dull for years, with the front panel always containing a mundane and dull address allegedly written by the President. On the backside, scant advertisements are shown, none possessing any drawing power. 

In what is apparently his final “President’s Message….,“ Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. begins by stating “The news seemed to be full of fraud and theft stories throughout 2012.” Certainly not a compelling or editorial masterpiece, the President’s message were intended to help members but unfortunately continually smacked of the tedious and stale.

Some men possess the ability to draw others to themselves. Others possess the gift to teach and imbue others with qualities that will enhance their life. Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. causes things he touches to wither.



FACADES

Officers at Priority One Credit Union all seem to suffer from the same insatiable need to exaggerate their online records. We certainly don't comprehend why they are driven to embellish references about themselves and must conclude that their tendencies towards dishonesty are so embedded in their behaviors that they don't possess the ability or desire to change.

Shown above is an online record of Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks though all too conspicuously, the reference omits her complete last name. In 2012, we disclosed that Mrs. Harris-Brooks uses variations of her last name on the Internet. These are:
  • Diedra Harris-Brooks
  • Diedra Harris
  • Diedra Brooks
  • Diedra E. Harris
  • Diedra E. Brooks
  • Diedra E. Harris-Brooks
We not only find the variations unusual but they appear suspicious and suggest the Board Chair has more than a little too hide. Otherwise, why use so many variations of her last name? 

In the above-referenced record, is a list of Mrs. Harris-Brooks professional associations at the credit union. The problem with the record is that contains old references to employees who were terminated as a result of the President and Board Chair's plots. As shown above, the names of former employees, are:. 
  • Tsiu Tang, IT Supervisor
  • Beatrice (“Bea”) Walker, COO
  • Lynette Fortson, AVP
  • David Davidson
  • Kimberly Burke, Assistant Branch Manager
  • Manny Gaitmaitan, CFO
Tsui Tang, IT Supervisor

The first, Tsui Tang, succumbed to a treacherous plot implemented by then COO, Beatrice Walker. Mrs. Walker maintained an open resentment towards Mr. Tang because quite frankly, he was aware of many acts she perpetrated which violated credit union policies. She replaced him by hiring her friend, Randy McBride, who became Mr. Tang’s supervisor and later, at the request of Ms. Walker, terminated Mr. Tang.

Beatrice "Bea" Walker, COO

The treacherous and infamous Ms. Walker was terminated in July 2011 by her one-time friend and business associate, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. The reasons for her ouster were insubordination and her alleged failure to satisfactorily fulfill her assigned duties.
Beatrice Walker was terminated in July 2011, allegedly for failing to fulfill her assigned responsibilities and insubordination to the President and Board. However, preceding her ouster, Ms. Walker made a racist statement about Mexican employees of the credit union, allegedly sexually harassed a female Branch Manager, and disparaged the intelligence of the Board’s Directors. 

Lynette Fortson, AVP, Los Angeles & Airport Branches

Lynnette Fortson was terminated in February 2013 following an audit of the Los Angeles branch’s records which disclosed money had been embezzled from that location.

David Davidson, Board Director

David Davidson, one of the few White Board Directors serving Priority One after Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., became a casualty of a plot concocted by Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, and President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. The two wanted him off the Board because he helped expose that one of the President's confidants and AVP, had kited- a federal offense. The two offered the Director a job at the credit union as their first Financial Planner. He accepted the position, forcing him to resign from the Board. Two months later, the President treacherously terminated him. 

Kimberly Burke, Assistant Branch Manager
  
Kimberly Burke left the credit union in 2008. Prior to her departure, was sexually harassed by President Wiggington.

Manny Gaitmaitan, CFO
  
Manuel Gaitmaitan was a former CFO who resigned in December 2009 after President Wiggington and COO, Beatrice Walker, informed Mrs. Harris-Brooks that he was uncooperative and unwilling to alter account reporting to denote profits were none existed. Mr. Gaitmaitan was ostracized by the President, the COO, and EVP, Rodger Smock. Mr. Gaitmaitan would later disclose that he was forced to resign.

Mrs. Harris-Brooks online profile is evidently proliferated with misinformation that she has either intentionally or unintentionally allowed to remain in one of her public profiles. The fact that the Board Chair of the credit union lacks the motivation to ensure the removal of misinformation, should be deemed disturbing and is a reflection of her negligent attitude while serving as Board Chair. Her inaccurate record also mirrors the credit union's own negligence to maintain accurate information about themselves on the Internet.  


FACT, FICTION OR EXAGGERATION

We recently revisited the credit union's website where we located the following paragraphs describing the benefits offered by the credit union to its members. 

We couldn’t locate evidence proving that “most Fortune 500 companies" consider credit union membership an important benefit to their employees. We of course invite either President Wiggington or Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, to submit whatever proof they are in possession of that makes this statement true. 
Paragraphs 4 and 5

Lastly, the credit union is not a $163 million credit union. It’s current asset size is less than $155 million a loss of over $17 million since January 1, 2007. 

As we proved in 2012, the credit union was rated a four-stars by Bauer Financial and under President Wiggington, has NEVER has received a 5-star rating. Despite their 4-star rating, President Wiggington ordered the always docile, Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, to alter the credit union’s actual rating and increase it from 4 to 5 stars.

In 2010, the credit union received its first complaint declaring that a lawsuit had been filed by a former employee. In 2011, the credit union received a 2nd notice advising the credit union was being sued by yet another former employee. In 2012, the credit union received two additional complaints that it was being sued by two other, former employees. 


In response, the credit union hired an attorney to weave defenses that might help the credit union escape accountability against a list of allegations that it had violated state and federal laws and credit union policy. During depositions conducted in 3 of 4 lawsuits, credit union attorney, Paul F. Schimley, of Richardson-Harmon-Ober, aggressively asked questions about who was and is, writing this blog.  The attorney who was being paid handsomely by the credit union hoped to create a defense the impugned witnesses and plaintiffs through raising a facade that would hid the egregious acts allegedly committed by the President and his staff. All four lawsuits implicated President Wiggington; former COO, Beatrice Walker; and EVP, Rodger Smock. 


Many of the plots orchestrated by the President against employees were crafted by both him and former COO, Beatrice Walker. Ms. Walker, as we've often described, proved to be plutonium to the credit union as a business and employer. On the surface, Ms. Walker was hired to create new streams of business for a company whose performance was beginning to falter. However, within days after being hired, the President divulged that she had been hired to also reduce expenses by identifying positions that were unnecessary to the credit union. He also revealed that she had been hired to drive out enemy employees who were seeking to overthrow the President. Clearly, his imagination has no limits. Though Ms. Walker was hired by the President who told employees he never met her prior to June 1, 2009, the date she was hired. Ms. Walker would later concur, alleging she obtained the position of COO after answering an ad, contacting the credit union, interviewing with the Board, and then being offered the position of COO. Of course their story proved to be a concoction and it turned out Ms. Walker knew the President long before she had been hired, having met him years before while employed by Toyota Federal Credit Union located in Torrance, California. Six months before being hired, the President and Ms. Walker were seen leaving Applebee’s in Alhambra, California.  The only reason the two chose to lie is because she was not merely hired to be a COO and as time quickly proved, she was hired as the President’s personal hatchet-person to target and terminate employees the two imagined were out to undermine their authority.

Priority One does not possess a portfolio containing a “vast array of products and services. Under President Wiggington, there is no concept of what convenience means as attested to by their present scarcity of branch locations in the vast territory they possess.

Finally, a subject of many complaints is the credit union’s impersonal treatment of members and their failure to respond quickly or competently to the needs and requests from members. 





The crux of this blog is inarguably, Priority One Credit Union's perpetually dull President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. Since 2009., we've often reported upon many of the destructive decisions made by glib President. One of the many issues we've reported on, pertains to the ham-fisted President's horrendous inability to select qualified candidates to service in an executive capacity. One decision by the President which would tax the credit union's infrastructure heavily and injure employee morale was the President's 2009 decision to hire Beatrice ("Bea") Walker to serve as the credit union's first COO and who was banished from the credit union in July 2011 for insubordination, failing to fulfill her assigned responsibilities and because she had made comments disparaging the Board's intelligence. 

Approximately three weeks after terminating Ms. Walker, the President hired Cindy Garvin to be the new Director of Lending. So bolled over was Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. by her exemplary performance that 4 months after hiring her, the President promoted Ms. Garvin to the position of Chief Lending Officer ("CLO"). However, something changed in how the President viewed Ms. Garvin and on 12/28/12, she was terminated for failing to satisfy her assigned responsibilities though her departure came at the heels of criticisms she verbalized about the President.  

Over the years, we’ve reported about President Wiggington’s apparent inability to make sound, educated decisions that at one time, could have benefited the credit union. In 2009 through the end of 2010, we were the target of numerous online slurs, criticisms and even received emails accusing us of lying, of omitting facts and of portraying President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. as a horrendous personality and ham-fisted President.

As with all things related to Charles R. Wiggington’s decisions, the plot never progressed as planned. Ms. Walker soon began gossiping about the President’s unprofessional demeanor, complained about his loud boasting hours spent each day on personal telephone calls. She described has as “uncouth”, “brash”, and even embarrassing. Though she initially ingratiated herself to the Board Chair, by early 2011 she began complaining about the lack of education possessed by the Directors and about their ignorance of financials. She also chose to defy the Board’s directive that she obtain approval for all campaigns, promotions, and projects from either the President or EVP, Rodger Smock. She complained that she was being forced to obtain permission from two men she deemed wholly incompetent and in her words, “useless.” Her rebellion ended on July 13, 2011, when she was escorted to the employee entrance at the main branch in South Pasadena and bid adieu. A few days later, her personal possessions left behind in her office were packed and shipped to her home in Santa Clarita. 

Here is an email we received last year from a former colleague of Ms. Walker, while employed at Universal City Studios Credit Union. The account was sent to us after we published that Ms. Walker was named in a lawsuit alleging she retaliated, harassed and sexually harassed a former Branch Manager. As you read the account, remember that Ms. Walker arrived at Priority One Credit Union via her friend, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. The account provided to us in late 2012, describes some of the same reprehensible behaviors manifested by Ms. Walker while serving as COO at Priority One Credit Union.  Also noteworthy is the fact that Ms. Walker was in character a reflection of who Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is as President and as a person. Her failures and character faults accommodate those of the President and most of his executive sector.

THE ACCOUNT

I don't know why she [Beatrice Walker] left [Universal City Studios Credit Union]. I left before she did. I was with my cu for 14 years. I had been considered for the job she ended up being hired for and when she was made aware of this. I became her target. I left December 2004. I believe she was gone by the Summer of 2005 from UCSCU (“Universal City Studios Credit Union”).

All the points made in the lawsuit I saw coming for me. The year I left I had the best review and highest pay increase but all she did was highlight and emphasize any of what she called my shortcomings. I did tell my CEO I was having some communication issues with Bea but at the time my cu had some other issues and at that time this seemed a minor issue and I should just deal with it with her. I did try to speak to her privately.

She of course stonewalled me and said there was no problem AT ALL. She would tell subordinates of what her issues were with me. Her passive and passive aggressive behavior was too much for me to take. I loved my cu and I felt I needed to move on anyways for better things.

I know she plays the victim very well and I'm pretty sure she was asked to leave.

In conclusion, I just knew I had to get away or she would could have ruined my reputation and minimized all the hard work I had done with my cu. She appeared unstable. The cu did hear me after I submitted my resignation threw a lot of money at me, offered a title of my choice and said I did not have to report to her if I stayed. I felt this would make things worse. It took a lot for me to get to that point. I had deep roots with my cu. :0).

They never made their loan goal until new management took over after her departure. That was enough for me. :0)

Inarguably, Bea Walker arrived at credit union loaded with personal baggage and apparently it never occurred to the equally dysfunctional President that her behavioral aberrations could prove adverse to a credit union already burdened by the President’s incompetence and his very special behaviors. Not only did she exacerbate the problems created by the President and Board, she proved an expensive liability who in the end sought to topple the President from his perch.



EMOTIONS VS PROFIT


A President Embedded in Regression

In January 2007, then newly appointed President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., conducted a meeting with Vice President of Operations, Rodger Smock; and then AVP of Operations, Aaron Cavazos, advising them that he was eliminating the seasonal loans implemented by his predecessor and which for years, had served as a reliable source of new business for the then thriving credit union. The President’s decision for eliminating the successful line of products was pure, unadulterated emotion.

At the time, the President stopped referring to the former President by name and began calling him “my predecessor.” He even went as far as removing his name plate and in the presence of some employees, throwing it in a trash can and exclaiming “We don’t need him anymore.” The behavior was deemed disturbing and as time would prove, characteristic of a very mode of troubling which would have far flung reverberations upon employee morale and the credit union’s financial stability.    

In late 2012, the President dredged up the Tax Loan implemented by his predecessor and the credit union’s once award winning Marketing Department. 7 years transpired before the chronically dull President realized that the seasonal loans create a guaranteed source of income and so he is now reintroducing a line of products he once expressed a profound disdain for.







Since 2007, the year when Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was inspired to obliterate the credit union's once prize-winning Marketing Department, Priority One's ability to implement effective marketing and create promotions that generate large member interest, have sputtered and faltered. Despite his history of well-documented failures, the President moves forward, continuing what will surely be his legacy, of concocting ineffective and uninteresting offers. 

Earlier this month members received an incentive offer from the credit union, inviting them to spend $500.00 using their credit union issued check card so that they can receive $10.00. If they spend $750.00 the amount to be paid to members doubles to a whopping $20.00. The offer is intended motivate members into spending using their Priority One check cards, but does it work? 

While reading the credit union’s latest offer we thought we heard the wind blowing while a coyote howled somewhere far in the distance and tumble weed blew across the landscape. Obviously, the President doesn't possess the creativity needed to produce impacting promotions. We can't imagine members rushing out of their homes to spend $500 and $750 respectively so that they can receive what truly are insignificant returns. Maybe before launching a promotion, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. should take the time to reread and reread and reread the credit union’s offer to ensure they possess the impact needed to achieve whatever goals is being targeted. 

Here is another example of the caliber of advertising being dispensed by credit union nowadays. The oddly positioned image, obtained from Priority One's Facebook page, was apparently taken using a cell phone. The language is juvenile at best and semantically incorrect. It is one thing to be cost-effective and quite another to appear frugal and cheap, a fact President Wiggington is evidently unaware of. 

"GIFT CARDS ARE THE EVERYDAY 
CHOICE FOR GIFTS EVERY DAY."

The credit union's advertisement promoting gift cards is awkwardly written and accompanied by a frugal-looking photograph of VISA gift cards neatly positioned in an inexpensive acrylic stand. The photograph appears to have been taken using a cellular camera though no effort was made to create a professional-looking and appealing image serving as yet another metaphor for the way Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. chooses to do business.   





SYSTEM DOWN......AGAIN


One morning in early 2013, the credit union received several calls from members complaining they were unable to access the credit union's website. The problem continued for several hours during which more and more calls were received, inundating phone lines and overwhelming staff. 

The problem was corrected by the end of the day but not before it was revealed the credit union had not paid its website provider.

In 2012, then CFO, Saeid Raad, informed the Accounting Department staff that President Wiggington issued a directive, ordering that invoices received from vendors, be held 3 to 4 weeks before being paid. The inability by Priority One to pay its bills promptly is rooted in its continuing inability to acquisition sufficient new business needed to generate income required to offset overhead a fact identified by Bankrate.com in their 2012 and 2013 financial assessments of the credit union. 

On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at about 2 p.m., the credit union's website was again, inaccessible. We contacted the main branch 3 times and during each call, were told that there was no problem with the website, however, one proactive representative tried to access the webpage and confirmed that the site was indeed, down and inaccessible.


It's more than a little peculiar that no one at Priority One apparently monitors the website. In the years since 2010, when the credit union began closing down branches, the President increased focus on online home banking but online banking doesn't work if the website isn't accessible. 

During the May 28th, Annual Meeting, the President announced that all is well at the heavily troubled credit union though its apparent that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is sufficiently disorganized not to implement procedures needed to monitor the credit union's internal operation to ensure members receive service meeting their high standards and expectations. 



WASTING MONEY

We were sent to the following offer for life insurance mailed by the credit union during the week of June 2nd. The second paragraph of the letter states, "As a member, you are eligible to apply for up to $10,000...."  The problem with the credit union's letter is that the person the offer was sent to, is no longer a member of Priority One Credit Union. Apparently, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is incapable of comprehending that a person closing their credit union account(s) officially terminates their relationship with the credit union. Mailing the offer to non-members is another example of how Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. chooses to waste credit union monies. Since 2007, President Wiggington has exacted decisions that have financially diminished the once profitable credit union. His very public efforts, allegedly intended to taper and even bridle spending, are undermined by chronic undisciplined spending which in this case is attested to by unnecessary printing and fees spent on letters sent to non-members. 




CONCLUSION

When thinking about Priority One Credit Union, two words come to mind- neglect and cheap
Priority One Credit Union is broken and its survival heavily reliant upon expense reductions. Cutting expenses has transformed Priority One from successful and promising to the epitome of frugality. Despite the credit union's inability to generate large new amounts of business, Priority One continues to employ several overpaid and useless executives, almost all unnecessary to the operation and none who has contributed anything of substance to the deficient organization. Despite the obvious, the credit union's ignorant Board and in particular, its impulsive and inept Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, continue in their efforts to ensure Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. remains President and CEO.

As we've periodically done over the years, we extend an invitation to the entire derelict Board or unimpressive executives to provide a single shred of evidence proving that they've contributed to the betterment of the credit union and that in 2014, Priority One is a stronger more potent credit union than it was in the years prior to January 1, 2007- the day Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. began his appointment as President. Certainly, aged Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, can take a moment to leave his office and explain how he's resolved the problems created by his friend and mentor, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. Or possibly the arrogant, verbose and polarizing Vice President, Yvonne Boutte, can show how she's helped increase new business and membership and fostered the development of improved morale. 

Its a well-known fact that Priority One can longer service all of Riverside Country, most of the San Fernando Valley and all of the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, the credit union apparently is unable to maintain its own website which is currently populated by stale information, incomplete pages and boring advertising.  

In his embarrassing 7 years as President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. has been more concerned with the trappings of his position than the well-being of the membership or employees of the credit union. 
Since he became President the credit union no longer provides free education to the communities it allegedly serves nor do its representatives attend credit union events and functions. Over the years, his greatest preoccupation was to fabricating facades intended to create the impression of success though his poorly constructed facades collapsed in the face of well-documented records proving failures and losses resultant from his inept business decisions. 

As of June 2014, Priority One continues to slip into a pool of obscurity and unless its tattered remains are salvaged through a merger with a better, stronger, and bigger credit union, it will eventually close its doors and  be all together forgotten. For all intents and purposes, Priority One is exactly where it should be. It would have been virtually impossible for the credit union to thrive under the inept leadership of Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and his boat of bungling cronies. His deficiencies as President and CEO could only result in chaos and foster failure, stripping the once popular and prospering credit union of its dignity and potential for success as a business.


"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit."
Luke 6:43








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