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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Dog and Pony Show


There were several comments in response to Priority One Credit Union's May 27, 2009, Annual Meeting which was conducted at it's main branch in South Pasadena, California.

The meeting was apparently like no previous Annual Meeting and apparently, highly censored by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, who made certain the entire Board of Directors and entire Supervisory Committee were present along with attorney, William Adler, and two other representatives from his firm and two armed guards. Rather humorously, there were less members in attendance than there were officers and attorneys. It was a spectacle mired in intrigue that could only have been concocted by the chronic exaggerator, President Wiggington, and chronically dense, Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks. The level of histrionics characterizing this year;s annual meeting is unprecedented.   

Another change at this year's meeting is that all attendees were required to sign-in at a table located in the downstairs branch entry. Standing alongside the table where credit union employees sat assisting visitors to sign-in, was an armed guard exhibiting a holstered gun. The meeting could be described as "overkill." So what is the reason for such a heavy handed presentation? It is clear, President Wiggington and Mrs. Harris-Brooks were send a clear message but to whom and why? 

Despite the fact the meeting only last 20 minutes, the President, the Board Chair and two other officers managed to skim over a lot of information, providing only the barest details. The highlights of their presentations included touching ever so slightly on the subject of improvements that will be introduced in the upcoming year, and without going into details, providing a short list of improvements they plan on introducing. 


We're not certain what is it that the President and Board Chair were trying to accomplish but based on the hurried presentations, we have to conclude that the goal was to finish up as quickly as possible. Here are comments posted on this blog by some attendees:

"Wiggington's face and bald head were covered with sweat. Gross!"

"I never met Diedra but what an unprofessional. When people asked questions she couldn't answer, she waived her hands at board members, asking they respond to the question. God, it was embarrassing." 

"Diedra asked the credit union's management team to come up and introduce themselves. Charles [Wiggington] stood up and introduced himself and then we waited and waited. Rodger did not come up even though he was just a few feet away standing at the reception desk. It was embarrassing. And no one knew where Manny [Gaitmaitan the CFO] was. We thought the was avoiding being at the meeting."  

"I [now] know Charles is guilty. He had lawyers, the board, the supervisors, a guard with a gun, a friend, he had an army. The guy is a pussy! No one at the office likes him and I am sure members who know him don't like either."  

"Everybody on the board and supervisor Committee is black except for one guy. Why? I know they don't represent me. How could they?" 

"They were so disorganized. Charles read from the annual report. He asked us to look at page 3 then page 2 and then back to page 3 and then back to page 2. It was awful. He tried to fool us. He said the figures were on page 3 or 2 or 4, I don't remember but he never came out and said if we are still in the negative. And then he gave us that bull that all credit unions have the same problems." 

"There was a guard with a gun!"


So why did the President and Board Chair hire armed guards? The answer lies in statements made made by the President over a period of several weeks prior to the date of the meeting. The comments, more importantly than the hiring of an armed guard or the presence of the entire Board, Supervisory Committee and attorneys, reveal the Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is both an alarmist and exaggerator and provide psychological insight into his fears, insecurities, and unfettered imagination.

Weeks before the meeting he easily convinced Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, and the other Directors that an invisible body of armed employees was planning on disrupting the annual meeting. The ignorant Directors were easily persuaded that what the President alleged, must in fact be true. So what evidence did the President provide that solidified his concerns? Not a thing, only because he had nothing to support his outlandish contentions. 

Here are the facts:
  • No one ever told the President there was a coup being planned. 
  • He concocted his story based on his fear and possibly because he, more than anyone else knows the long record of egregious acts he's committed and the abuses he alone has perpetrated against employee who he victimized.

And though his story was contrived and immensely absurd, the Board believed it at face value and never demanded evidence to support his claims. This is the same Board who rejected evidence proving Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., sexually harassed a former employee. 

The hiring of the guard, the added presence of the entire Board and Supervisory Committee and the attorney and two companions was carried out based only on the fantastic ramblings of Priority One's undisciplined President. Here are other comments posted by attendees of the annual meeting: 

"Diedra [Harris-Brooks] started the meeting. She introduced herself and then had Charles [Wiggington] talk about the finances. He looked awful. Some of the board wore suits but he stood there wearing an old yellow short sleeve shirt and some old pants that we have all seen too often. He pulled out the cheapest looking annual report the company has ever published. It was even stapled at one corner." 

"Diedra said someone was going to give the treasurer's report but its like she caught herself and changed the subject. She must think we are as stupid as Wiggington!" 

"After Wiggington finished speaking Deedra said she forgot to tell us about the question and answer session which was to follow the meeting. She told us we could only ask questions that had to do with what the meeting is about. That made a lot of us feel we couldn't ask questions like why is Charles still president or why did they allow him to take a members car or why are we in the negative. She controlled the meeting."  

"Why were the attorneys really there. She said they were there to answer questions but don't Diedra or anyone on the board or supervisory committee able to answer questions."

"Rodger was hiding from Charles earlier in the day. I heard him say Charles was tiring him out. Isn't that his friend?" 

"Charles wore the same old short-sleeved shirt. All he was missing was the pen holder. He wore some beige pants but no coat. Some of the board members actually wore coats."   

"They passed out the annual report. It is horrible. It was a few pages stapled at the corner. What is happening to the credit union?" 

"Diedra and Charles are connected at the woo woo. Forget Charles, how do we get her out!" 

"In the afternoon these people dressed in suits all showed up. Charles, who was not smiling, led them to the board room where they met with the board of directors and supervisory committee. The door closed and they stayed there about an hour."

The comments suggest that the President and Board Chair chose to create drama versus conducting a well-executed business meeting. The comments reveal that the two officers chose to control every aspect of the meeting and inarguably, did not want to listen to questions that could pose an inconvenience to their respective agendas. Were they afraid that someone might ask why the President hasn't been fired following the decline of millions of dollars in net income or why they opted to circumvent evidence proving he sexually harassed a former employee and decided he was worth retaining as President and CEO of a declining credit union? 

It's also interesting that attendees were distracted by the President's inappropriate attire. President Wiggington is not your traditional CEO. Since being appointed President, he usually wears short sleeved shirts, often without a tie. He does have suits though many worn and he often doesn't wear the coat. He is definitely not trying to project a professional appearance and clearly, he's not preoccupied with impressing anyone. Then again, for those who have met, seen, or know him, is there anything about him that suggests he possesses business acumen?  

Other officers attending the meeting included Senior Vice President, Rodger Smock, who was ordered to stand by the reception desk and guard stacks of neatly piled documents and copies of the 2008 Annual Report. Based on one attendees comments, the Vice President had spent a part of the day avoiding the President. 


There was an apparently nervous Board Chair who was apparently in a hurry to start and finish the proceedings. The President who was inappropriately dressed and who disclosed little of any importance. And then there's the presence of an armed guard.  The impression made by this year's proceedings was a meeting that the Board Chair possibly wished had never taken place. The President was so disinterested that he chose not to dress for the occasion. The armed guards are the finishing touch. Nothing says, "This is your credit union. Welcome!" as do armed guards. 

Maybe a better choice would have been that Mrs. Harris-Brooks choose to be forthright. She could have explained why she and the Board chose to defend the many egregious and illegal acts perpetrated by the President, including why Mrs. Harris-Brooks chose to lead a contingent of four officers to vote for President Wiggington's reinstatement. 


The President spoke ever so briefly about the credit union's current financial state and stated that he is currently focusing his attention on "trying to save money" and that he is busily "streamlining" and finding ways to "work smarter." We don't believe he knows how to streamline spending and we certainly know he doesn't work and knows anything about working smarter. The evidence is found in more than 2 years of failed decisions, a drastic decline of Net Income, declining sales, and increasing overhead. 

He also said, "This is going to be confusing but open the report [Annual Report] and go to page 3." Why would the information contained in the report be confusing? 

The financials published on page 3 are shown below:





Unaudited for 3/31/09

Unaudited for 3/31/08


Unaudited for 3/31/09

Unaudited for 3/31/08


(Net of the allowance for loan losses)

Unaudited for 3/31/09

Audited for 3/31/08



Unaudited as of 3/31/09

Audited as of 3/31/08

Property and Equipment

Unaudited as of 3/31/09

Audited as of 3/31/08



Federal Share Insurance Fund Deposit

 Unaudited as of 3/31/09

Audited as of 3/31/08
$ 1,421,796
$180,108.351 as of 3/31/09
$166,570,751 as of 3/31/08




Members Shares
$146,443.482 as of 3/31/09
$143,877,378 as of 3/31/08

Borrowed Funds
$20,000,000 as of 3/31/09
$5,000,000 as of 3/31/08

Accrued expenses & other liabilities
$427,297 as of 3/31/09
$363,956 as of 3/31/08

Total Liabilities
$166,870,779 as of 3/31/09
$149,241.334 as of 3/31/08



Regular Reserve
$5,128,606 as of 3/31/09
$5,128,606 as of 3/31/08

Undivided Earnings
$8,108,965 as of 3/31/09
$12,200,811 as of 3/31/08

Total Members' Equity
$13,237.571 as of 3/31/09
$17,329.417 as of 3/31/08

Total Liabilities and Members' Equities
$180,108,351 as of 3/31/09
$166,570,751 as of 3/31/08


Interest on Loans to members
$7,013.262 as of 3/31/09
$7,058.298 as of 3/31/08

Interest on investment and cash equivalents
$519,223 as of 3/31/09
$2,531.093 as of 3/31/08

Total Interest Income
$7,532,485 as of 3/31/09
$9,589,391 as of 3/31/08



Dividends on members' shares
$1,854,519 as of 3/31/09
$2,570,540 as of 3/31/08

Interest expense on borrowed funds
$583,448 as of 3/31/09
$174,834 as of 3/31/08

Net Interest Income
$5,094.518 as of 3/31/09
$6,844,017 as of 3/31/08

Provision for Loan Losses
$1,724,915 as of 3/31/09
$494,360 as of 3/31/08

Net Interest Income After Provision for loan losses
$3,369,603 as of 3/31/09
$6,349,657 as of 3/31/08



Fees and Charges
$2,621,624 as of 3/31/09
$2,517,539 as of 3/31/08

$172,431 as of 3/31/09
$167,063 as of 3/31/08

Total Non-Interest Income
$2,794,055 as of 3/31/09
$2,684,602 as of 3/31/08

$6,163,658 as of 3/31/09
$9,034,259 as of 3/31/08


General and Administrative Expenses

Salaries and benefits
$4,517,329 as of 3/31/09
$4,413,307 as of 3/31/08

Office operations
$2,384,927 as of 3/31/09
$3,054,124 as of 3/31/08

Office Occupancy
$597,564 as of 3/31/09
$569,002 as of 3/31/08

$2,755,685 as of 3/31/09
$599,468 as of 3/31/08


 (Unaudited) as of 3/31/09

(Audited) as of 3/31/08 


Instead of taking the opportunity to try and regain trust, the Board and Supervisory Committee chose to conduct a hasty meeting and issued a stipulation prior and during the meeting that no questions would be answered about topics not in the agenda compiled by the President and Mrs. Harris-Brooks. No doubt the two appointed officers conducted themselves more like dictators than members of a cooperative. 


Attendees informed us that Mrs. Harris-Brooks announced "we will next give you the Treasurer's Report" but stopped suddenly, stuttered and looked around the room in confusion. Her voice shaking, she introduced Supervisory Committee Chair,  Cornelia Simmons. .

At the end of the meeting, she pointed to the reception desk where Rodger Smock stood, guarding neatly placed documents. She invited attendees to obtain copies of the Monthly Income Statements that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. had refused to post in defiance to state law but when attendees got to the reception desk, there were no Monthly Income Statements. Mrs., Harris-Brooks lied.


Each year, Mrs. Simmons reads the same old stale report which always ends with the statement that all is well according to the Supervisory Committee. This year she departed, exerting tremendous effort to convince attendees that the Supervisory Committee cares about the concerns of member-owners.  

The 2008 Annual Report, which was distributed to guests when they first entered the branch contains Ms. Simmons report describing the Supervisory Committee's annually issued assessment about Priority One 's performance.  Her report states: 

The Supervisory Committee is pleased to announce that the Credit Union's financial condition and results of operations have been properly disclosed. Our review of recent regulatory and external audits confirms that management is in compliance and has taken measures to ensure effective operational procedures in this economic environment.

She certainly never explains why the credit union is losing millions of dollars in net income. She fails to explain why she ignored evidence in 2008, that proved Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. sexually harassed a former employee. She makes no reference to the fact that since March 2009, President Wiggington has refused to post the credit union's Monthly Income Statements despite he is required to do so under state law. We think Ms. Simmons is not being forthright at all and no amount of diversion is going to deter attention from President Wiggington's amassing failures. 

Mrs. Simmons also described the credit union's performance as "sound." We'd like to know what annual report she was reading because according to the credit union's 2008 financial reports Priority One lost $4,091,846! We'd like Ms. Simmons to explain how a loss of over $4 million can be construed as sound. 


We were surprised to learn that the usually verbose President, seemed unusually nervous and according to attendees, he sweated profusely causing his short-sleeved shirt to become stained. 

He began by stating that ALL credit unions are losing money due to the national economy. Of course, he failed to provide a single example of another credit union losing money due to the national economy. Though we agree, the national economy has caused challenges, some credit union's are actually led by Presidents who have found ways of reinventing their business models and have actually grown and prospered, but why quibble with facts when at best, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s statements are borne out of his vivid imagination. 

The President pointed out that Priority One's Net Income exceeds $180,000,000 but what he failed to state is that $20 million of that amount represents the loan borrowed in mid-2008. Subsequently, the credit union's real Net Income is actually $160 million. That's a loss of more than $12 million since January 1, 2007, the date he began his appointment as President. 

The day after the annual meeting, the President mocked attendees while speaking to Mrs. Harris-Brooks, exclaiming, "You told them to ask questions and they didn't!" Mr. Wiggington may have struck his head on his way to work because what Diedra Harris-Brooks said during the annual meeting was that only questions could be asked if the topic of the question was referenced in the Board Chair's agenda. Any questions pertaining to topics not on her agenda, would not be answered. 


The President recently confided to some staff members at the South Pasadena branch that he is planning to hire a COO who will take-over those responsibilities he is too busy to attend to. And though no announcement has officially been made, we've learned the new unnamed COO will start working at South Pasadena on Monday, June 1st and will occupy an office where the former Training Room was located.  

We have to assume the COO will be paid an executive's salary, possibly in the range of $75,000 to $95,000 per year. During the annual meeting, the President stated he is reducing spending, "streamling", and "working smarter. Is hiring another officer who will be paid an executive's salary an example of streamling? Clearly, the President is spending excess money in installing yet another officer while depriving employees. For examples, employees have been subject to a wage freeze that was implemented months ago. The credit union can no longer afford perks like food for employees on Payday Fridays nor can it afford the annual holiday party. What's more, he recently reduced the amount of gasoline reimbursement from .58.5 cents per mile to .55 cents per mile. 

We think President Wiggington views taking from employees and applying it to executives as an example of "working smarter." No, its working dishonestly and its counter-productive. The President and the Board Chair are now relishing a false victory, believing by suppressing attendees from asking questions that they've come out unscathed. To the contrary, their conduct during the annual meeting revealed that these two sluggards have much to hide and that they will do anything to avoid accountability for their disastrous decisions. The annual meeting may not have been disrupted by the President's imagined gun-wielding rebels but he clearly shot himself in his metaphorical foot. If deception was their plan, it failed because their plot found its way to this blog. Better luck next year, Senor Wiggington. 

More about the annual meeting in our next post.

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Mr. Freeze said...

This is absolute BS. How can you hire another employee that will probably earn a six figure salary (because she is educated) and you have a freeze. I suggest they get a dictionary and look up the word FREEZE. It's like a kick to the liver to all employees. They should just say there is a freeze for you people not for the Executives and maybe the employees wont feel sucker punched.

Sunshine said...

This was the first annual meeting I attended. It was embarassing. When you see the board sitting all together and when you hear them speak, it is so sad. They are uneducated. I never imagined a board that looks or sounds like ours. Wiggington fits right in.

Yesterday notices were passed out to most not all employees announcing the arrival of the COO. Her name is Beatrice Walker. She has 15 years experience in cu's and has an MA in business admin. She is right off the top more educated than Wiggington. He has a BA in black studies. If she is experienced and good at what she does she is going to discover just how bad Wiggington and Smock are. It will be interesting.

Frostbitten said...

I hope you are right Sunshine and she sees that the problem lays on the top and not at the bottom. What can she even do? Can she be the one or will she be like them? Can she backstab the ones who put her there? What a waste.

Ghost Whisperer said...

Charles is a liar! He spread rumors that are completely not true about ex-employees to ruin their reputation. For Instance he said that Kim Burke, Clayton, and Anwar were doing fruadulent loans at the Van Nuys branch. If he had audited the loans he would have found that Kim Burke was not responsible for most of the loan approvals from that office.
Charles Wiggington is the culprit; his lack of management skills and his lack of placing adequate policies and procedures for the employees.
It's so easy to blame ex-employees that are not there to defend themselves for his inability to perform his job.
My statements are true because he told the former Lending Director, Aaron Cavazos.
Charles resign before you cause POCU to you have failed the employees and members.

Anonymous said...

The meeting and hiring a chief operations officers are just more proof of how dishonest and stupid Charles Wiggington is!

When Mr Harris was president the credit union grew. Its territory got larger, there were more member growth, and the asset size grew.

With Charles Wiggington, the assets have dropped, delinquencies have increased, and the territories remain the same, unchanged.

Mr Harris didn't need a COO and yet the credit union grew. Charles needs a COO plus he had to borrow $20,000,000 in 2008. What's up with that?

A guard with a gun, lawyers, the entire board and supervisory committee! They were all there to protect that big stupid baby, Charles and the even dumber Diedra. They should both quit but they don't have any self-respect to do so, so they stay and continue ruining the credit union. I guess their goal is to see the credit union merged by a bigger cu or wait till every employee loses their job. Is that your goal Charles? Is that your goal Diedra?

Crane said...

That's a good point. Will the new COO be like Charles or will she be honest? No one can answer that question yet.

Charles does have a BA but its in black studies. She has an MA in business. Obviously, she worked hard to earn that MA.

Lets hope that her degree and experience will save P-1. I just wonder how she will react when she begins to discover who Charles is. A friend told me that the board has already taken some of his responsibilities away. Wiggington seems to think thats a good thing, but is it?

Another thing, if I were the attorneys or a member of the board or from the superviosry committee, I would be pissed knowing had forced everyone to appear at the annual meeting just to protect him.

Lets hope this is part of some plan to move him out of the cu.

Anonymous said...

this is for ghost whisperer commentator, yes indeed baldy charles is a liar, spreading rumors about kim burke, etc. doing fraud loans. But remember, these are his own RUMORS, anyone can spread rumors, but baldy has been hit with FACTS of all the FRAUD he has commited. there is proof on black and white, he will not be able to get out of this one. Charles has low self-esteem and low confidence in himself, therefore, when he lies and puts down other people, he feels better about himself,this is his way of having self therapy to try to re-gain his self esteem. If he would not have done all of these louzy things to the cred union he would feel better about himself. He will feel ever worse when he does his time in LA county for the crimes he commited FRAUD FRAUD. He will be with his type of people from Watts and Compton.

Anonymous said...

Here at the LAPDC, people still talk about Diedra. No one has anything good to say about her. She is so hated. She treated people horribly and had an attitude. Good riddence that she's not at the post office but she should be thrown out of priority one. This is awful.

Dick Tracy said...

A guard with a gun! Did anyone have a bazooka? All that needed to happen was someone getting hit with a pie in the face.

If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny. What a bunch of loosers! Hey Charles, I just drove by Popeys and their hiring.

Frosty the Snowman said...

Of course Charles doesn't know what a freeze is he doesn't even speak English correctly. freeze.
He said no raises, but he built a new training room.
He said no raises, but he has tellers working as FSRs which is working outside their classification. That is illegal by the way!
I guess he's trying to get the most for his buck.
He said no raises and took away employee treats every other Friday like that's going to even make a dent on the budget.
During the annual meeting he said everything was good but he never pointed out the huge losses appearing on page 4 of the annual report. I guess he thought we can't read.
That woman from the supervisory committee also said everything was good.
So if everything is good why no raises?
You can't trust anybody on the board or supervisory committee and you sure as hell can't trust Charles or Rodger.
So what is a freeze? Probably the temperature between Charles' ears.
I hope this new COO shows his ass up. At least she has a degree you can use in business.

John said...

I wanted to share the following message received earlier today from one of this blog's readers.

" doesn’t sound like any of the serious issues were addressed [during the Annual Meeting]. Did anyone ask if delinquents were expected to keep rising; what extra efforts were being made to control expenses, etc?

This COO development is interesting but I don’t see it changing the game at all. Based on what has been reported about Wig and my personal experience, there is no way he would hire someone who would make him look bad (i.e. Is smarter than he) and with all due respect to the new hire, MA's in Business are cheaper than a dime a dozen today not to mention that you can earn MA's through correspondence school; these degrees in no way mean a person has any clue about business, how to grow a business, etc. I know because I had a women who worked for me [who earned her MA in business] and she had no more business insight when she finished than when she started.

On the other hand, let’s say this woman does have her act long will she last with the ineptitude going on at Priority 1? A month, two tops? If she’s smart and stays, she’s likely as dirty as Wig and Smock.’s another possibility...she’s the heir apparent and Wig has made a Golden Parachute arrangement with the he get’s a million if he leaves....just a thought.

John, it will be interesting to see May’s numbers...if they are more of the same (losses) the only way for the members of P1 to save the credit union, IMHO, is to petition with member signatures to have a special election. The entire board and Supervisory Committee should be removed as well as most if not all of the senior management team for potential breach of fiduciary duty."

I believe the writer certainly provides food for thought.

Mr. Harris who started work before 9 a.m. and often remained after 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, never needed a Chief Operations Officer. She, by the way is not Black. I am also told that she was referred to the company by an employee of the South Pasadena office.

Hopefully, she will be effective and most of all, ethical.

Judge Dread said...

Charles is too dumb to realize that hiding behind Diedra one of the stupidist chairpersons any board has ever seen, and dragging attorneys and every member of the board and supervisory committee to the annual meeting just made them all look stupid and guilty. They tried to show their solidatary by backing the dumbest ceo any credit union has ever seen which made them all look as stupid as he is. A guard with a gun was a great pr move. What's next, cleaning out member accounts?

And Diedra and Wigg thought they would pull a fast one by not actually saying "we are in the negative more than $4 million." Didn't they think someone might notice? Do they think people can't read the annual report. Ya, the report looks cheap and tacky but anyone can read and understand that they are in the negative.

Of course how do you explain building a training room and creating an office for the new COO? And how can the cu pay for her salary but not give employees raises? The board and the supervisory committee have bet all their money on a big fat dead horse. Thats really impressive! Way to go Diedra and the board and Cornelia and the supervisory committee. You guys are right up their with the Trumps of this world. Just kidding ya bunch of loosers!

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