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Thursday, May 21, 2009

it's Only Good on Paper


With Priority One Credit Union's annual election scheduled to take place in 6 days, we thought we'd report on three topics: the credit union procedures used to nominate candidate to run for a seat on the Board of Directors or the Supervisory Committee, the credit union's $600,000 telephone system solely selected by President Wiggington and the credit union's bylaws, last revised on November 26, 2008. 

Nominating Candidates

As we reported in several previous posts, late last year and earlier this year, President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, disrupted the credit union's electoral process for the purpose of trying to preserve in tact, the current Board who are all subservient to Mrs. Harris-Brooks and who the President needs to remain in place so that he continue carrying out his personal and often illegal, agendas. 

The two tried to limit mailing of the the state-mandated which both informs them of the upcoming election and which invites them to nominate themselves to run for an available seat on the Board or Supervisory Committee. The two, placed the announcement in Priority One's quarterly newsletter which is only mailed to members who have a checking account while excluding the large sector of members who only have savings account. Though illegal, it might have actually been a clever plan had the President not boasted about their conspiracy. The notice provides the following information for those members who may wish to to nominate themselves to run for a seat on the Board or Supervisory Committee: 

Any member in good standing, who is not an employee of the credit union, may submit their request to be a candidate in the forthcoming election by mailing their request to:

Nominating Committee
P.O. Box 512195
Los Angeles, CA 90051-0195

The P.O. Box address forwards all correspondence, which in this case is nominations, to the main branch in South Pasadena, California. It may not be evident, but mailing nominations to this address is a conflict of interest and wholly inappropriate. Its a well known fact by many employees of the South Pasadena branch, that President Wiggington intercepts mail sent to the P.O. Box designation. He has been known to intercept member complaints sent to the address and to the attention of the Board and Supervisory Committee, so that these are never received by the Board. 

For members who wish to nominate themselves, we suggest mailing your nomination to the following address and send it preferably by certified delivery to ensure your correspondence arrives at its destination. 

c/o Nominating Committee
Priority One Credit Union

1631 Huntington Dr.
South Pasadena, CA 91030

The $600,000 Phone System

Yesterday, after 5 p.m., we called Priority One's Pasadena branch for the purpose of testing out the options offered to callers reaching the credit union after business hours. 

A recorded stated it was after 5 p.m. and invited callers to call back when the office is open or provides the following options: 

  • Press 1* for Priority One Connect, the credit union's 24-hour account access by phone or press 2 to apply for a new loan; or
  • Press 3 to report a problem with a card; or
  • Press 4 to obtain branch locations; and 
  • Press 9 for instructions in Spanish

Employees have reported that the voice on Priority Connect is that of former AVP, Liz Campos, who was terminated in April 2007, because it was discovered she was kiting- a federal offense.

We decided to test numbers not referenced in the recorded. To our surprise, pressing #5 asks callers to leave a message on the credit union's general voicemail box or invites callers t use the credit union's directory to search for employee names. .If wishing to use the employee directory, press #4. We spelled out W-i-g-g-i-n-g-t-o-n and were provided extension 1001 for Charles Wiggington. It seems the President doesn't want the employee directory to be found easily. 

The Bylaws
Last amended: 11/26/2008

Bylaws, which are the laws governing the internal affairs of an organization, are typically rarely read by members though members can request to obtain copies of these. Bylaws provide the rules governing the roles and limitations of Directors and Supervisors and their limitations. If member-owners are displeased with the credit union's performance, they possess the ability to affect the organization's directions. The following are a few excerpts obtained from Priority One's bylaws.

C/O Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.

Priority One Credit Union
1631 Huntington Dr.
South Pasadena, CA 91030


The Board of Directors shall have the duty of general management of the affairs, funds and records of this credit union and shall possess all express or implied powers and duties conferred or imposed upon...under applicable law and regulations or elsewhere in these bylaws... 

(d) the board's ability to determine interest paid on certificates funds; interest charged for loans, and any service charges as allowed under the law or as described in the bylaws.

(e) concerns authorization to pay dividends on shares and the payment of interest refunds. 

(g) This concerns the adoption of amendments to the bylaws. 

(l) To borrow money in the name of the credit union

(m) To perform any other duties as prescribed under the the bylaws or any amendment of the bylaws.

In 2008 and under authorization of Board Chairperson, Mrs. Harris-Brooks, the credit union allowed President Wiggington to borrow $20 million from the credit union's line-of-credit. The reason why the money was borrowed was to increase the amount of Net Income because in less than a two year period and under President Wiggington, Net Income had decreased by more than $6 million. The President and the Board were alarmed by the drastic decline during such a short period and quickly blamed the national economy for the decline. In an effort to regain member confidence, they took the $20 million loan without of course, informing the membership and by applying it towards Net Income, increased Net Income from approximately $166 million to more than $180 million. Over the approximately next 30 months, the credit union would pay interest only payments approximating $30,000 to $32.000 against the loan. 

Under Section 610, Special Powers, Directors shall:

(c) Call special meeting of the members

At no time, has the Board under direction of its Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, ever called a special meeting even when Net Income began declining or when President Wiggington was accused of sexual harassment or to present the investigator's findings. It should have been the membership and not Mrs. Harris-Brooks and her posy who decided whether or not Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. should be terminated. 

(e) To develop procedures for and to direct the contact of writing ballots and to submit by written ballot mailed to all members....

(f) To schedule a date for the members to vote....

Mrs. Harris-Brooks may have become disoriented and failed to comprehend that that developing "procedures for and to direct the contact of writing ballots" including interfering with the electoral process and deciding what sector of members would and would not receive notices of upcoming elections or who would or would not be invited to submit a nomination to vie for a seat on the Board of Directors and/or Supervisory Committee. 

The Board Chair's Duties
The chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the Board of Directors and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors.


(a) All books of account and other records of this credit union shall be available to the directors, members, credit and supervisory committee members of this credit union, and to duly authorized representatives of the government of the State of California or the United States on need to know basis and in conformity with applicable law and /or regulation.

(b) Members are entitled to request access to the membership list in conformity with applicable laws and/or regulations. Further, the credit union shall prepare, and every member shall receive, upon request, a copy of the credit union's current statement of financial condition.

The President refusal to at times post Monthly Income Statements and his directive ordering that he be provided the names of members requesting Monthly Income Statements and Bylaws and the REASONS why they want to see these is out-of-compliance with what the bylaws state and undermines the fact that members are also owners of the credit union and thus have a right to review financial information and the rules governing the credit union's two governing bodies. 


Amendments to the Articles of Incorporation of this credit union may be adopted by the affirmative vote or written consent of the members, except as otherwise provided by the California Credit Union Law.

Section 1701, BYLAWS, Page 31

Subject to the right of the members to amend these bylaws, amendments to said bylaws, other than an amendment changing the authorized number of directors, or relating to membership voting by mail, may be adopted by the affirmative vote of a majority of the Board of Directors at any duly held meeting thereof. An amendment changing the authorized number of directors may be adopted by the written vote of the members provided, notice of the meeting has been given in accordance with the provisions of Section 401 of these bylaws and provided such notice has contained a copy of the proposed amendment. An amendment relating to membership voting by mail shall be submitted to all members for their written vote which shall be certified by the president and secretary as to the manner by which it was submitted and the result of the voting. Proxy voting shall not be permitted in regard to any amendment submitted to the members of their written vote.

Section 1701, above, further affirms that members have a right to amend the credit union's bylaws but under Mrs. Harris-Brooks, and President Wiggington, immense effort has been made to keep members from obtaining access to these. In fact, President Wiggington has often refused to issue copies of documents to members. And though members are entitled to request that copies of certain documents be provided to them, the President has issued directives to all officers that he must be first provided why members wish to review these. Dependant upon the reasons provided, the President will approve or deny their issuance though to date, few Monthly Income Statements have been provided to members requesting to view these and no bylaws have ever been approved for issuance by the President. 

Under Chairperson, Diedra Harris-Brooks, the Board of Directors has failed to direct Priority One's direction which should have secured its sound financial standing. Not only has she failed as the Board's leader, the Directors have proven they lack the knowledge and education to understand financials. 

Furthermore, Mrs. Harris-Brooks has abused her authority, manipulated directives and defied the very rules she is required to abide to. Clearly, she has exceeded her authority.

In 2007, Mrs. Harris-Brooks showed her defiance to the bylaws and federal law, chastised then Board Director, Dave Davidson, for delivering an anonymous letter mailed to his home which accused then AVP, Liz Campos, of having incurred more than 24 individual NSF incidents during the months of September 2006 and January 2007. An investigation uncovered that Mrs. Campos had been kiting which is a violation of federal law. Mrs. Harris-Brooks demanded that if in the future, Mr. Davidson become the recipient of information that implicates any officer of violating federal law, that the accusations must be submitted to the Board who will conduct its own investigation. The problem with Mrs. Harris-Brooks' statement is that neither she or any other Director is qualified to investigate federal crimes. What's more, in the case of Mrs. Campos, the AVP should have been arrested, booked and tried. She wasn't because President Wiggington and Mrs. Harris-Brooks decided that the AVP should not face punishment. There decision proved to be a double-standard because historically, the credit union enforces policy for some employees and not for others. 

Furthermore, Mrs. Harris-Brooks is the same Chairperson who in 2008, received evidence proving Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. sexually harassed a former employee and leading 2 Directors and the Supervisory Committee's Chairperson, squashed the evidence and voted for President Wiggington's reinstatement.  

Directors and Supervisors can be removed. According to Section 1501, Removal from Office, Page 29, the bylaws state:

Notwithstanding any other provisions in these bylaws any director, supervisory committee member or Board officer of this credit union may be removed from office by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present at a special meeting called for the purpose, but only after an opportunity has been given them to be heard.


Since January 2007, President Wiggington has successfully violated credit union policies, bylaws, and state and federal laws, all with the help of the Board and more specifically, it's Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks. The two have made mockery of the structure that is designed to maintain order and protect the credit union, members and employees. 

The duo- the President and Board Chair, have disregarded all ethics to ensure their personal agendas are realized. Evidently, their agendas have nothing to do with the betterment of the credit union as business remains in decline, not as a result of the national economy but the inability of the President to develop strategies that realize their purpose. And Mrs. Harris-Brooks seems more preoccupied with her title of Chairperson than fulfilling the duties assigned to her position. 

The evidence of the President and Board's failures are attested to by the credit union's well-documented performance recorded in the Monthly Income Statements that the President and Board Chair have guarded with gusto and in the credit union's quarterly Financial Performance Reports submitted to the NCUA. Despite having borrowed $20 million in mid-2008, the credit union ended the year -$690,652 in the negative. 

So where will the two egocentric, self-indulgent officers next take the credit union? We think everyone should put their seat belts on and get ready to take a wild ride that's going to take the credit union, it's members and it's employees to new, unimagined lows. 

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Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the posts but am just amazed that this man could get away with so much and apparantly doesn't feel bad about what he has done. This is more than just taking a car and trying to cheat on the election, both of which are illegal, but its about violating the trust of your employees and of your members and even of anyone who reads this blog and believes that presidents and other leaders answer to a higher authority. This is so, so sad.

Anonymous said...

Wigg wants to change the credit union's tag line which is “you are our first priority.” Do you know why? Because members are not P1's first priority. It is easier for him to change the tagline than to live up the tagline.

He should change it to "you are our last priority" or "you are never going to be our priority" or "if you want to be a priority, go to another credit union." Just some suggestions.

You are our last priority

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