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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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Friday, August 8, 2014

The Tale of the Missing Report


On May 26, 2014, we learned Priority One Credit Union President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. ordered that managers of the Credit Union's last three (3) remaining branches, not distribute copies of the 2013 Annual Report which was scheduled to be distributed in two days, during the Wednesday, May 28th Annual Meeting. 

Intermittently, since January 1, 2007, President Wiggington has tried to censor information about the Priority One's financials. His efforts have often been accompanied by rumors of the Credit Union's success, all perpetrated by the President and boasting that business is growing physically and financially. Unfortunately, the President's deceitful acts have been undermined by the Credit Union's financial reports whose data eventually trickles on to the Internet. 

Each year, Priority One makes its annual report available on its website, in a PDF format. However, in 2014 the last annual report published by the Internet on its website is the 2012 Annual Report.  

Since 2009, Priority One's Balance Sheet/Income Statement and Annual Report have proven problematic to the President and continually undermined his efforts to create the impression that Priority One is a credit union experiencing real growth and generating real and substantial profits. Over the years, President Wiggington's fabrications have always garnered the support of the Board of Directors and more specifically, its Chairperson, Diedra Harris-Brooks. What their efforts to hide information proves, is that the President and Board have a lot to hide, otherwise why expend so much censoring the credit union's financial information? 

Under state and federal laws, Priority One like all other credit unions, is required as a non-profit, to post its monthly Balance Sheet/Income Statement in a conspicuous place within each branch. Priority One is also required to provide copies of its Balance Sheet/Income Statement to all active members who request they be provided a copy of the statement. The Credit Union is also required by law, to provide copies of its annual report to members requesting the report. 

Source: https://priorityonecu.org/community/newsletter/

Since mid-2009, the President and Board Chair have periodically complained they are weary of seeing the Credit Union's financials analyzed and dissected publicly. Their almost compulsive need to paint a rosy picture of a thriving Credit Union is possibly founded on the hope people will cleave to their statements at face value and without demanding evidence to support their contentions. Their actions suggest they will always try and divert attention from the Credit Union's decaying service standards, closing branches, declining asset size and the Credit Union's absence withing the communities it allegedly serves. 

As we've often reported in past posts, Priority One is nowadays a credit union addictively reliant on expense reductions. The public exposure of President Wiggington's bungling decisions, failed enterprises and sometimes illegal acts, have not boded well for a President who in 2007 proclaimed he would transform Priority One's then nine branches into state-of-the-art, technically savvy service centers that would rival the products and services offered by bigger, wealthier credit unions. Unfortunately, for the chronically boastful President, his alleged transformation of the credit union never materialized. In fact, under his leadership, Priority One was transformed from a growing medium-sized credit union to a small, inconspicuous and no longer competitive credit union. 

In 2010, auditors informed the President that the credit union's capital was dropping dangerously close to the dreaded 6% minimum. At the time, auditors urged the President to reduce expenses and even consider closing one of the credit union's least profitable branches. In January 2010, he and then COO, Beatrice Walker, asked employees during an all staff meeting, to provide suggestions on how to reduce spending. Numerous suggestions were made by employees, including one which asked that management voluntarily reduce their salaries until Priority One could regain its financial footing. The employee making the suggestion was laid-off a few weeks later- a victim of a plot concocted by the President, the COO, and Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock who took tremendous effrontery from her remark. 

In September 2010, the COO and then CFO, Saeid Raad, decided the Credit Union would close its Redlands and Valencia branches because neither location was generating enough business to offset the more than $5200 spent each month to lease each space. The REAL reason for choosing to close the Redlands branch is that President Wiggington suffered from a purely emotional disdain for Riverside County which had been acquisitioned through a merger orchestrated by his predecessor in late 2006.  In January 2007, during his first month as President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. complained to staff and representatives of other credit unions that he "inherited a mess" from his predecessor. 

Closure of the Valencia branch was also personal and emotional. Prior to targeting the location for closure, the then COO tried to force a friendship of sorts, with that office's Branch Manager. When the Branch Manager rejected the COO's advancements, the COO ordered the office closed and the Branch Manager demoted. The Branch Manager resigned before the Valencia branch closed and in 2012 filed a lawsuit citing wrongful termination and same-sex sexual harassment. 

In mid-2011, the President concocted a contrived story, alleging he ordered closure of the Redlands and Valencia branches as part of a grand scheme to eliminate offices located in regions where Member-Owners did "not show allegiance" to the credit union and who were only interested in maintaining single-service (savings/share) accounts, adding that this apparently large sector of members were not only unprofitable to but costing the credit union valuable monies paid out in the form of dividends.


MORE EXCUSES

The President's statement was nothing less than preposterous and another in a long list of lame excuses made over the past 7 years, trying and hoping to rationalize his gross ineptitude. The closures were necessary and not planned for the purpose of eradicating unprofitable single account holders. The closures enabled Priority One to remain in business, however, one might have thought that after 7 years of public failures and inane excuses, that the President might have thought it a little too late to try and save face by concocting excuses to escape accountability for his frequent bungling. However, even without the credit union's financials, the most obvious testament to his failures is the closure of 6 branches since October 2010, though the closures are but one of a long slew of failures that have continually proven Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is unqualified to serve in the capacity of President and CEO of the now small credit union.  His immature tendency to try and escape accountability does nothing to dispel the fact that over the years, he has proven completely incapable of creating and implementing effective strategies that produce real growth and generate profit. Clearly, planning and strategizing are not his forte. In 2007, he bludgeoned and eventually decimated the Credit Union's once prize-winning Marketing Department. In 2012, he disbanded the Business Development Department and in 2013, he relegated all business development efforts to the chronically inept, Joseph Garcia, who once served as an AVP before being demoted to Business Development Representative on January 15, 2013. 


IN SEARCH OF THE REPORT




This past June, we decided to try and obtain a copy of the concealed 2013 Annual Report.  Our trek began with a visit to the Los Angeles branch, located in the depressed corner of Central and Florence Avenues south of downtown Los Angeles. When we entered the branch, we discovered six people standing in line waiting to be assisted by a single teller. We looked towards the desks where not so long ago, one could find a receptionist and FSR's but during our visit, there was no one at any of the 4 desks. We did observe two Asian women leaving the vault, carrying a single box and after placing it on a counter, re-entering the vault. We decided waiting in line was our only recourse. 

After a 23-minute wait, we finally met with the teller. We asked if we could have a copy of the 2013 Annual Report. She stared back, apparently unaware of what is an annual report. We asked, "Do you have a copy of the latest annual report?" She replied, "I don't know what that is." We explained that the report is usually distributed during and after the annual meeting. She asked, "Annual meeting?" She then turned to a woman who sat to her right. She asked if she knew what an annual report is? The woman replied that she did not. The teller turned and advised us that the woman- her supervisor, did not know what an annual report is. We walked over to the reception area where we noticed an FSR who apparently arrived while we waited in line. We asked if we could obtain a copy of the annual report, but like the teller, stated she did not know what an annual report is. We thanked her and left. 

A few days later, we drove to the main branch in South Pasadena. We proceeded to the teller area and waited for 10 minutes before we were able to speak  to a teller. The teller informed us that she never heard of an annual report and apologized because her supervisor was at lunch, asking if someone could call us back. We declined and advised we would return later that same day. 

The following week we visited the Van Nuys branch and were referred to an FSR by a teller who like the other tellers we spoke to at the other branches, that she never heard of an annual report, however, she called an FSR who sat nearby. The FSR informed us that the office had not been provided copies of the annual report but they could call the main branch and ask that one be sent to us. We told her that we would visit the main branch instead. 

Evidently, President Wiggington has raised an army of mostly unskilled and uninformed employees. In past posts, we've periodically reported that President Wiggington apparently views ignorance as bliss, but unbeknownst to the incompetent President, ignorance is simply ignorance.  

NOTHING SAYS CHEAP LIKE.....

Cover of Priority One Credit Union's 2013 Annual Report


A Study in Frugality

At the end of June, we obtained a copy of Priority One's closely guarded 2013 Annual Report. We were taken aback by the cheap quality and appearance of the report. The report stands as yet another example of what every business should avoid when reducing expenses. Priority One's 2013 Annual Report screams frugal and its construction is shoddy. It is also an embarrassing testament to how Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. chooses to do business. This year's publication- a thin, single glossy page, folded in half, quickly became worn and covered with creases while we first read it. Inarguably, the 2014 Annual Report is a far cry from the beautifully designed reports produced by Priority One's once prize-winning Marketing Department in the many years before Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was appointed President. 

However, even the report's shoddy and cheap appearance is overshadowed by its contents consisting of three poorly written addresses signed by the President and Board Chair, the Board's Treasurer, and the Supervisory Committee Chair. We believe the addresses may have been authored by Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock. 

This year's report is titled Maintaining Forward Progress (versus Maintaining Backward Progress). We assume it never occurred to any of the officers that "Forward" and "Progress" are synonyms. A better title might have been Moving Forward. That said, the addresses contain the usual inferences of success and express hope for the future. As usual, the veracity of the statements made by each officer are all too easily dispelled by Priority One's own monthly Balance Sheet/Income Statements and quarterly Financial Performance Reports filed with the NCUA. Here are the four addresses:

Message from the
PRESIDENT/CEO and BOARD CHAIRPERSON   

"What are the priorities to ensure our mission, Maintaining Forward Progress?

To continue and maintain a safe and sound Credit Union; continue to reduce operating expenses; improve overall Credit Union operations and control loan losses. Most importantly, we are improving our net income. We have continued to see improvements - specifically in real-estate values, delinquencies, and unemployment." 


Forward Progress? In December 2013, Priority One closed its Airport branch, an event that sharply undercuts the Credit Union's claim of Forward Progress. One month following closure of the Airport branch, Priority One closed its Santa Clarita branch which originally opened on February 2, 2012, amidst tremendous fanfare incited by the President, who at the time proclaimed arrogantly, that people in Santa Clarita would flock to the new branch "wanting to become Members." January 2014's closure brought a permanent end to that office's 23-month run, something that can hardly be described as Forward Progress


In their opening statement, the President and Board Chair make absolutely no reference to the February 2013 audit of the Los Angeles branch's records which disclosed that money had again been stolen from that location. In March 2013, Vice President of Operations, Yvonne Boutte, violated the policy governing confidentiality and informed some of her staff in South Pasadena that the thefts were allegedly perpetrated by the AVP of the Los Angeles and Airport branches. What we find peculiar is that Priority One's President and Board chose not to seek prosecution of the AVP, despite the fact the thefts constitute a felony. In March 2013, the President disclosed a trial bring more negative attention to the scandal ridden credit union and might be used as fodder by his detractors and critics. 

In their address, the President and Board Chair state they "continue to reduce operating expenses." As we began pointing out in late 2010, reducing operating expenses was initially introduced as a temporary solution to help the struggling credit union regain its financial footing. At the time, auditors informed the President that net capital was dropping dangerously close to 6%. The temporary solution has since become a way of life for Priority One who appears to have developed an addictive reliance on budgetary reductions to maintain net capital above the dreaded 6% and to sustain its three (3) remaining branches.  

Clearly, the President and Board are inferring that business is performing well though the credit union's financial statements confirm Priority One is not experiencing improvement in the area real estate loan funding.  In 2012, real estate loan funding changed with most funding relegated to HELOCs. Not mentioned by the President or Board Chair is the fact that nowadays mortgage loans that are not HELOCs are referred to CU Partners for review and if approved, for funding. The credit union receives a fee for each application that is referred and approved for funding.  Continuing:

"During the last two quarters of the fiscal year, we have been working to convert our Airport and Santa Clarita Branches to self-service types in order to be cost efficient."


Shown below, is an excerpt obtained from the Credit Union's webpage and serving to rent a hole in the President and Board Chair's preposterous statement that they are (or were) "working to convert" the Airport or Santa Clarita Branches to service types." And why did the President and Board Chair allude to the Santa Clarita branch in the 2013 Annual Report when that office closed its doors on January 29, 2014? Clearly, the two have tainted the information presented in the 2013 report by including an event that occurred in 2014.  


Evidently, neither President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. or Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, is aware that continuing to maintain an ATM at the former Airport and Santa Clarita branches is not synonymous with “We have been working to CONVERT our Airport and Santa Clarita branches to self-service types.” Clearly, no conversion has ever taken place. The credit union merely vacated its former branch locations, leaving its ATMs behind and in place. THE END. There was no conversion nor are plans for a conversion in the works. There are also absolutely no efforts being made to increase convenience to Member-Owners in the Santa Clarita Valley or in the communities around the former Airport branch. 

A problem that continually undermines the President's and Board Chair's deceptive statements is that the two hope people will never try and validate their statements and accept everything they say and write at face value. The two have amassed such a long and well-documented record of lying to members and employees that it would be foolish in 2014, to believe anything they disclose, at face value.  

Ultimately, the decision to close both branches was not so much prompted by a desire to instill more cost-effective measures but rather to desperately reduce expenses because business at Priority One was and is failing to generate the amount of profit required to maintain its ongoing operation. The President and Board Chair's statement is just more hyperbole from the credit union's two highest officers whose chronic indulgences are to fabricate facades and create impressions they are proactive and always cognoscente of the need to enhance member service while simultaneously reducing expenses. We believe the President and the Board Chair are again, trying to pull another fast one and hoping Member-Owners and employees who read the annual report will buy into their charade purely on faith and without demanding evidence supporting their statements. Continuing.....

"We have also continued to provide greater awareness in our Shared Branch and CO-OP service networks as a way to promote convenience. As of July 25th 2013, the Department of Business Oversight (DBO) approved our new community charter for the city of South Pasadena. SLOW and PLANNED growth will enable the Credit Union to maintain "SAFETY and SOUNDNESS." 

It is important to note Priority One is NOT exacting efforts to bring GREATER awareness to Shared Branch and CO-OP service networks. It is also important to note that the reference to approval by the DBO, granting Priority One a community charter in South Pasadena, is completely unrelated to their statement alleging efforts to bring greater awareness to Shared Branching services. 



For years, promoting Shared Branching and CO-OP service networks has been limited to advertising on the Credit Union's Web, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Prior to 2014, the Credit Union also advertised Shared Branching in the quarterly newsletter but as we've pointed out in previous posts, the quarterly newsletter has not been published since 2013, the victim of another expense reduction ordered by President Wiggington. 

It's true that in early 2013, Priority One received approval to do business in the city of South Pasadena, however, all business development efforts in that city are failing. In 2012, the President boasted that the charter to do business in South Pasadena would enable the credit union to tap into a potentially rich and previously undeveloped resource. He pointed to the fact that there are no other credit unions in South Pasadena with the nearest competitors located a few miles away in the city of Pasadena. 

The Credit Union's inability to develop new business in South Pasadena, forced the President earlier this year, to visit businesses in the city, believing that his title might cajole people into opening accounts and applying for loans. The President was again, incorrect in his belief. To deter from what is another abysmal failure, the President and some Directors of the Board are now asserting that the credit union is proceedings slowly and cautiously. Their statements are just another spin effort and an outright lie. The fact is, by no choice of its own, Priority One is not making progress in South Pasadena- either slow or cautiously. The affluent community is populated by many professionals and long time residents. Our assumption is that this highly intelligent population would investigate the Credit Union's reputation and financials before agreeing in faith, to become members of the troubled credit union.  

The President's belief that South Pasadena posed a valuable, untapped resource that Priority One Credit Union could develop was based wholly on his personal opinion wrought from what he imagined to be true. This is not the first time his fantastical belief system has failed him and the credit union. As we've also revealed in the past, President Wiggington historically relies on his imagination more than he does on information obtained from  surveys, focus groups, or other studies that could gauge the potential feasibility of his far-fetched beliefs. 

The "safety" and "soundness" referenced in the President and Board Chair's address is the antithesis of the President's usual erratic and disorganized methodologies all of which have over the years, chipped away at the Credit Union's once stable financial foundation. Other expensive failures committed by the President, include: 
  • Introduction of an overpaid and vastly incompetent AVP sector.
  • Purchase of a technically troubled phone system.
  • Installation of a substandard Call Center.
  • Hiring of an incompetent COO and equally incompetent CLO.
  • Hiring of a CFO who the President now blames for some of the credit union's financial failures; and lawsuits filed by four former employees and one former member which quadrupled the credit union's annual legal fees. 
Since 2010, the President has focused on reducing expenses as part of his strategy to retain net capital above 6%. Of course, his reductions have ultimately compromised the quality of member service, forced the closure of 6 of 9 branches, and reduced budgets which once enabled successful marketing and advertising. The Credit Union no longer has a presence in all of Riverside County, most of the San Fernando Valley and as mentioned previously, in the Santa Clarita Valley or in the communities around the Los Angeles International Airport. Their presence in the city of Burbank ended at the end of May 2012. Their once blossoming relationship with employees of Providence Hospitals, particularly St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank and with employees of the United States Postal Service, has been dramatically undercut by the President's cut-backs and refusal to maintain relations with that community. Under his leadership, the President and the aberrant and highly incompetent Board of Directors, have placed Priority One in a state of regression. 

We're also uncertain how the President and Board Chair define safe and sound when in 2009 an audit of the Los Angeles Branch's records revealed an internal theft committed by a former receptionist of approximately $60,000. In February 2013, an audit of the Los Angeles' branch's records revealed another internal theft, this time allegedly committed by the AVP assigned to that location. The President and Board Chair are either being daft in their address or just outright lying. 

Continuing-

"What's ahead for the upcoming year? We will be evaluating all credit union owned ATMs to ensure effectiveness. Our entire FLEET of ATMs must be upgraded to Windows 7 and be smart card compliant in 2014. We will be evaluating the cost of the upgrade and the cost of replacing ATMs." 


The statement suggests Priority One's President and Board are going to spend an unspecified amount of time evaluating ATMs and according to the two officers, the Credit Union maintains a literal FLEET of ATMs. 

Shown below, is a list of Priority One's so-called FLEET. Not referenced, are the Credit Union's ATMs located at the no longer existent Airport and Santa Clarita branches. 



The Credit Union's FLEET consists of 10 ATMs minus the Victorville location which according to the credit union, is OUT OF SERVICE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Does this really constitute a FLEET? Business currently gotten through ATMs is not sufficient to substantially offset its overhead. The President and Board Chair conclude, stating:

Our committed staff, executives and volunteers will continue to provide viable products and services and also keep you informed of any new promotions or events. We welcome any suggestions to improve Priority One, your preferred financial institution. We are committed to serving you, our valued member, and we are committed in Maintaining Forward Progress.

Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. 
President/CEO

Diedra E. Harris-Brooks
Board Chairperson

Our visits to Priority One's remaining 3 branches revealed that President Wiggington is maintaining a staff of mostly uninformed employees. The overpaid executive sector all seem to lack the ability to reverse the injuries caused by President Wiggington over the past 7 years to Priority One's performance and certainly, none of his executive and managerial staff, have proven capable in slowing down branch closures.  

In their address, the President and Board Chair allude to volunteers. Nowadays, volunteers shown little interest in promoting the Credit Union's products and services. In fact, attendance to the once popular Ambassadors has continually declined since 2013, when Business Development Representative, Joseph Garcia, was appointed the task of planning and overseeing the Ambassador meetings. 


THE SUPERVISORY

COMMITTEE'S ADDRESS

The Supervisory Committee has the responsibility of overseeing the internal and external audits of the Credit Union. This is to ensure compliance with all governing laws to ensure policies and procedures are being performed properly and with the time constraints required. 

The external audit firm of Turner, Warren, Hwang, and Conrad, Certified Public Accountants and Consultants, conducts a comprehensive annual financial audit with a verification of member accounts each year.

The Supervisory Committee also ensure that an internal audit on operational procedures as to monthly, weekly and daily reviews are conducted on all reports in accordance with regulatory compliance.

The Supervisory Committee will strive to assist and guide the Credit Union in Maintaining Forward Progress.


Cornelia Simmons
Supervisory Committee Chair

Ms. Simmons' annual address is as usual, safe, robotic and droll. The supervisory committee’s ability to ensure Priority One’s compliance to “all governing laws to ensure policies and procedures are performed properly” is proven to be untrue and undermined by the 2009 disclosure that approximately $60,000 were stolen by an employee of the Los Angeles branch and the disclosures from a February 2013 audit proving another the theft of member monies at the Los Angeles branch, though this time allegedly embezzled by that office’s AVP.

If policies were an actual concern of the Supervisory Committee, then one has to wonder why President Wiggington and his executive staff succeeded in violated numerous state and federal laws which provoked the filing of lawsuits by former employees and a now former member?

Ms. Simmons of course fails to provide any evidence that she and the committee’s alleged audits served to ensure that monthly, weekly and daily reviews were conducted on all unnamed reports to ensure these were complied in accordance with regulatory compliance.  Ms. Simmons’ so-called address is sufficiently general and devoid of specifics to reduce it to nothing more than another vacuous declaration created by one of the Credit Union's two governing bodies. Historically or at least since 2007, the Supervisory Committee like the Board, have done absolutely nothing to reverse the problems created and perpetuated by President Wiggington and his rabble of executives and managers.

THE BOARD TREASURER'S ADDRESS

Over the course of the last fiscal year, we continued to strengthen our net capital to 8.34% from our previous fiscal year of 8.21% We are projecting our net capital to be above 9% by next fiscal year end. As of March 31, 2014, the most recent call reporting period, the NCUA has continued to categorize the Credit Union as “Well Capitalized.” Moving forward in this atmosphere of slow economic growth, we continue to reduce operating expenses, as well as increase gross income through loan growth and conservative but prudent investments.

Our greatest goal is to provide quality products and services that help you win with money. We have been entrusted with one of our most valuable assets - our member-owners. We want to provide a friendly comprehensive financial platform for our member-owners through our services and products. We will continue our efforts in Maintaining Forward Progress.

Joseph Marchica, Treasurer

We have to commend Mr. Marchica for identifying Member-Owners as the credit union’s “most valuable assets”.  Mr. Marchica’s heartfelt sentiment that the credit union’s goal is to provide a friendly and comprehensive platform for Member-Owners is lost by the fact that Mr. Marchica rarely attends monthly Board meetings. Mr. Marchica who is either in his 80’s or 90’s, lives in Temecula, California. His physical proximity from the credit union’s main branch is sufficient to preclude him from attending Board meetings on a regular basis. Subsequently, his involvement or for that matter, investment in time to the credit union, is less than minimal, prompting us to wonder why he just doesn’t resign and allow a more involved candidate to take his place. Then again, replacing Mr. Marchica would place a crimp in Madame Harris-Brooks’ grip over the Board who have since 2006, pandered to her almost every whim. 

Just as in previous years. the four officers and in particular, the President and Board Chair, have misused the Annual Report as a vehicle through which to dessiminate misinformation about the Credit Union's actual and real financial standing. One only need look at Priority One's monthly Balance Sheet/Income Statements and Financial Performance Report to see that Priority One is not in the throes of a resurgence of new business. What's more contrary to what the President and Board Chair would like Member-Owners and employees to believe, the closures of the Airport and Santa Clarita branches was not a carefully plan to covert the former branches into self-service modules. What the Credit Union did, was break their leases for each location, close down each operation, vacated the premises, and left the ATMs behind for use by Member-Owners. This hardly constitutes a well-planned conversion. The bottom line is the locations were not drawing member interest, in great part because the President chose not to promote and develop these. 



THINKING SMALL



As we disclosed previously in this post, in 2010 then COO, Beatrice Walker, and then CFO, Saeid Raad, targeted closure of the Redlands and Valencia branches because the credit union could no longer afford to pay the more than $5400 monthly cost required to lease each location and to stave off the continued drop of Priority One's Net Capital.

In February 2014, President Wiggington disclosed that the closure of branches in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and in January 2014, was intended to drive out Member-Owners who only maintain a savings (share) account and who have shown no interest in obtaining the financial products offered by Priority One. He also explained that this sector of Member-Owners who refuse to become recipients of the Credit Union's products are unprofitable and tax the Credit Union's resources, each time Priority One is forced to pay out dividends to single service (savings) accounts. 

The President would like people to believe that closing branches is meant to vanquish single service account holders. Reviewing documentation produced over the past 7 years, we discovered that unlike his predecessor, President Wiggington has never developed promotions catering to single service account holders. It is reasonable to conclude that one reason why the large sector of single service account holders don't participate in in the credit union's offerings is because President Wiggington refuses to reach out to them. A problem with President Wiggington's view of business is that he believes people will want to become members of Priority One without the Credit Union trying to reach out to potential members. We can only conclude that is apparent disinterest in entering into relationship with the communities served and once served by Priority One is the result of his ignorance, laziness, a lack of experience, disinterest, or a complete lack of intellect.   

The President's campaign to create the impression branch closures are the result of some inspired plan is of course, ludicrous. If his hope is to drive out single service account holders then it hasn't occurred that branch closures which reduce convenience and the quality of service the Credit Union is able to provide, will also drive out Member-Owners who have more than one account at the Credit Union and who have at sometime obtained loans and other products from the Credit Union. What is acutely clear is that President Wiggington is a slave to his own addictive proclivity to fabricate excuses rationalizing his chronic and incessant failures. 


OVER A CLIFF



In their address, the President and Board Chair make reference to an improved real estate market, but the reference is the state of the real estate industry in the United States and/or the state of California. According to the Credit Union's Financial Performance Report ("FPR") for the quarter ending June 31, 2014, real estate loan funding actually declined over a period of 12 months.

Quarter ending June 30, 2013
Total: $48,111,110.

Quarter ending September 30, 2013
Total: $47,098,067.

Quarter ending December 31, 2013
Total: $45,619,455

Quarter ending March 31, 2014
Total: $45,099,116

Total ending June 30, 2014
Total: $44,765,168

As shown above, real estate funding has declined. So where is the improvement cited in the President and Board Chair’s address and that of the Treasurer? 


Another peculiar reference in the quarterly Financial Performance Report or the quarters ending June 30, 2013 and June 30, 2014, is that to loan losses. During the entire last 5 quarters, the amount has been well in the negative despite the fact the President's declarations in 2013 and 2014 insisting losses from loans had been reduced substantially. 


In his address, Board Treasurer, Joseph Marchica states that the NCUA categorizes Priority One as "well capitalized." What Mr. Marchica avoids is any reference that since 2012, Bauer Financial has reduced Priority One from a 4-Star Credit Union to a 3-Star Credit Union. He also avoids making reference to Bankrate's analysis which concludes that Priority One's overhead is unusually and abnormally, high. 

If it weren't for expense reductions, Priority One would be in far more trouble than what it currently wallows in. According to their last Financial Performance Report for the quarter ending June 30, 2014, Priority One's Total Assets have declined by more than $2 million since the quarter ending June 30, 2013. So where is the improvement? Clearly, the Board Treasurer was only referring to Net Capital while ignoring all other critical indicators which provide a complete picture of Priority One's actual financial health. 





CONVENIENCE?



This past May, the President ordered renewed efforts to promote convenience and ordered a post placed on the Credit Union's Facebook page advising Member-Owners that the main branch in South Pasadena is open on Saturdays, between 9 am and 1 pm.

The now much smaller credit union is hoping to clinch new business by emphasizing convenience but nowadays, Priority One is no longer able to offer the convenience once available to Member-Owners in the years before Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. became President. 

If one lives near the Los Angeles Airport, the drive to South Pasadena is approximately 50 miles roundtrip to and from South Pasadena. 

If one drives from downtown Redlands, California,Priority One’s southern-most community, than the trek to and from South Pasadena is approximately 116 miles, roundtrip.

If one drives from Valencia, Priority One’s northern most community, the roundtrip drive is 72 miles.

Yes, the South Pasadena office opens on Saturdays but unless one lives or works in close proximity to South Pasadena, the trek to the main branch is anything but convenient. 




CONCLUSION



There is a difference between being a poor man's credit union and being a poor credit union just like there is a difference between having a promising future and not having a promising future. President Wiggington's recent attempts to hide the credit union's 2013 Annual Report suggests he and the Board Chair have much to hide. Over the years, their ploys to suppress evidence of wrongdoing and mismanagement have eventually failed with evidence of their acts and behaviors, surfacing.  

Obviously, Priority One is not Maintaining Forward Progress. Like the 2012 Annual Report, misnamed A Brighter Future Ahead, the 2013 statement relies on concoctions primarily authored by the President and Board Chair inferring that Priority One is in the process of moving forward despite the fact that branch closures and the credit union's monthly Balance Sheet/Income Statements and quarterly Financial Performance Reports (FPRs) suggest decline, ongoing failure, and decay.  What the 2013 report fails to mention is that in February 2013, an audit discovered that monies had allegedly been stolen by the now former AVP overseeing that office and the now defunct, Airport branch. The President and Board Chair go on to declare that the closure of the Airport branch in December 2013 and closure of the Santa Clarita branch in January 2014, were intentional and part of a conversion plan to reduce expenses and turn the branches into what the describe as "self-service types." Of course, as we've proven no conversion took place. The Credit Union terminated its leases, closed each locations and left its ATMs at each location. The two should take a moment to acquaint themselves with the definition of the word conversion. Clearly, Priority One did not experience A Brighter Future Ahead in 2013. As for the 2013 Annual Report which has remained hidden until now, a more appropriate title for the frugal document may have been Trudging Slowly Along at a Snail's Pace in Quicksand.

The great lengths taken by the President and Board Chair to hide the 2013 Annual Report has officially failed. The report, a shoddy, frugal looking, and embarrassing piece of literature speaks audibly and clearly about Priority One's real financial standing. Now that we've seen the report, could it be the President's efforts to conceal the report was merely because it is an embarrassing tacky, poorly written piece of documentation?  

The 2013 Annual Report, like all reports published under President Wiggington, is riddled with empty, meaningless and general statements which try in earnest to create an impression that the credit union is performing quite well when clearly, it is not. The President and Board Chair may hope no one will notice the closure of six (6) branches since October 2010, the decline in service standards, the drop in Net Income, or subpar marketing and advertising.  

The President's statements that the closure of all branches was part of a carefully wrought strategy to drive out single service account holders is both preposterous and typically childish adding to our contention that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s statements should always be verified to ensure he is not concocting stories.  

The take aways from the addresses contained in the 2013 Annual Report is that the statements made by the Credit Union's highest officers can never be trusted, that the Credit Union plans to spend inordinate amounts of time in 2014, evaluating the Credit Union's FLEET of ATMs, and that the Credit Union's highest officers apparently believe their statements will never be verified. 


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