CUTTING OUT THE SMALL THINGS
Today, we obtained of a memorandum dated February 24, 2009, issued by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. to all of Priority One Credit Union's staff at all branches. The subject of his memorandum is reducing expenditures. According to the President, the elimination of food on payday Fridays will save approximately $12,000 per year. What are they serving employees, caviar and Armand de Brignac Brut Rose Champagne?
The President states that Priority One is no longer able to afford paying "treats" which for years, were provided to employees at all branches on payday Fridays. Prior to January 1, 2007, the date Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. began serving as President of the then thriving and growing credit union, there was no problem providing employees with a perk that expressed how the credit union felt about its employees. And though Charles R. Wiggington spent 2007, 2008, and January and February of this year boasting that business was experiencing an upward surge, the elimination of this long held tradition suggests President Wiggington has been exaggerating the credit union's actual financial standing.
Eliminated unnecessary spending is prudent and should be consistently practiced by all businesses. The current cut-back is being implemented just two months after the credit union ended 2008 with more than $5 million in losses. But is the elimination of this expense sufficient to positively impact the credit union? Aren't there other areas in spending where reductions are more urgently needed? So what items were being purchased on Payday Fridays that added up to an expense of approximately $12,000 per year? Food is always purchased at CostCo in Alhambra, California. The most common foods stuffs purchaed by the credit union, are:
- Fruit, i.e. apples and grapes
- Coffee cake
- Boxes of croissants
The act of buying food for employees on Payday Fridays is not something the credit union has to do. However, it would seen that this bi-weekly expense is hardly going to have a noticeable impact on a business whose financial losses are increasing. President Wiggington's memorandum is shown below:
DATE: February 24, 2009
TO: All Employees
FROM: C.R. Wiggington, Sr.
SUBJECT: REDUCTION OF EXPENSES
As I have asked all of you to submit to me any ideas, suggestions, comments
as to the reduction of expenses for the credit union, this recommendation
will provide a substantial reduction for the year.
It was recommend that the “employee payday treats” be eliminated. Just
think about the savings---food, kitchen supplies (plasticware, cups, plates
napkins) and the time procuring these items. It is estimated that the savings
will be in excess of $12,200 per year.
We will continue to provide the complimentary coffees, teas, cocoa, water,
cups, plates and plasticware in the lunch rooms.
We will still provide the “payday Friday member treats”. This is only
coffee, bottled water, candy, cookies, juice as per previous arrangements.
I will mess the “payday Friday treats” as well. But we must conserve for the
credit union and the membership expectations during the economic situation
of the US and world economies.
This will be effective immediately with February 20, 2009 being the last of
the “payday Friday treats.”
One problem affecting Priority One's financials is President Wiggington's unbridled spending. Since being appointed President he's spent money on a $600,000 phone system, an on an upgraded email program, and on useless, silly an immensely stupid inspirations like a large badge he designed on which were printed the words, "JUST ASK." At the time the badges were distributed to all employees, the President declared the badge would bring in massive amounts of new business. His declaration proved to be untrue and within 30-days after being distributed, the badges stopped being won by staff.
During the 2008, the President approved sending Board's Directors to Hawaii and Las Vegas to attend educational junkets. The credit union paid for airfare, hotel accommodations and provided a daily food allowance. We've confirmed that each member was allotted a total of $3,000 to travel to Hawaii. We also discovered that the Directors did not attend the junkets but visited tourist sites. Evidently, the derelict Directors didn't realize they were flown to Hawaii to obtain knowledge needed to carryout their responsibilities.
In 2008, thousands of dollars were spent hiring EXTTI, Inc. to conduct an extensive investigation of allegations that President Wiggington had allegedly sexually harassed a former employee. Employees were interviewed over a six week period and the investigator concluded that the President had indeed sexually harassed a former Real Estate Loan Officer. And though the investigator recommended the termination of the President, Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, led Directors, Thomas Gathers and O. Glen Saffold and Supervisory Committee Chair, Cornelia Simmons, to vote for the President's reinstatement. The President was also paid for each day he remained on suspension.
The investigation included the involvement of the credit union's attorney, William Adler, which constituted yet another expense.
Two weeks ago, President Wiggington contracted the services of Sepia Consulting. The owner and chief consultant of the firm, conducted an electronic sweep of the President's office, searching for electronic surveillance equipment the President was sure had been placed throughout his office. The sweep turned up nothing though the services for the consultant were paid by the credit union and not the President. .
Two weeks ago, Mr. Wiggington, Sr. contacted a security firm who conducted a sweep of his office to uncover the hidden microphones which are recording the information exposed in this blog. Did he pay for their services from his pocket or did he charge this to the credit union? The money would have been better spent had a sweep of his mouth been performed.
On January 1, 2007, the President unveiled his new Assistant Vice President ("AVP") sector who he said would change how Priority One develops new business and maximize business development. The President was again, wrong. Each of his four AVP's had been managers appointed by former President, William E. Harris. President Wiggington not only hand-picked each new AVP but authorized substantial increases in salary.
The President has also boasted that when he flies on business, he only flies first class. He has said that the seat in coach are uncomfortable.
In 2008, the President ordered all hardcopies of member records packed and sent to be microfiched and afterwards, placed in storage. The area which had served as the File Room was vacated and new carpet installed by the President. Desks were also purchased and new computers installed. He then ordered the IT and Card Services Departments moved into the former File Room leaving the offices empty that the departments had former occupied. .
In 2008, the President spent more credit union monies revamping the South Pasadena patio and installing new redwood planks and purchasing patio furniture for a space that traditionally, has barely been utilized by employees.
In 2006, Priority One manually input information into its network for employees of Inland Counties Federal Postal Credit Union. Inland Counties had merged with Priority One at the end of 2006 and on January 1, 2007, it's members effectively became a part of Priority One's database. Unfortunately, the transition to Priority One failed and many of Inland Counties' employees could not access their new Priority One accounts or use their check cards. Rather than responding to a problem affecting all members formerly under membership to Inland Counties, the President ordered that staff only respond to those members who took the time to call Priority One. His directive backfired and the credit union was forced to pay more than $100,000 to rectify a problem affecting only 1200 members. The President's decision not to address the entire problem resulted in mass account closures by members of the newly merged group.
On January 4, 2007, the President announced he was implementing a retention program which would be staffed by two employees who would try to persuade members requesting to close their accounts, from doing so. He said a retention program would reduce the potential for losses. Two years later, a retention program has yet to be implemented.
Two months ago, the Board of Directors contacted the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and offered $20,000 to settle the complaint filed by the former employee who had been sexually harassed by the President. When the offer was rejected, the Board offered $40,000.
In view of the President's abusive spending habits, its seems more than a little absurd that in an effort to reduce spending, he now chooses to eliminate purchased food for employees on Payday Fridays. We're 100% certain that his decision will have no positive impact on spending.
One last concern we have is what happened to the $15 million in new assets obtained from the merger with Inland Counties? And why did President Wiggington choose to borrow $20 million in mid-2008, from the credit union's line-of-credit?