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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Slight of Hand, Part 1


In business, its not magic or trickery that determines the competency of a President or in the case of Priority One Credit Union, it's Board of Directors or Supervisory Committee, but what is actually achieved. President Charles R. Wiggington,.Sr. and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, apparently believe that verbalizing the achievement of non-existent success is a wonderful substitution for actual achievements. Their empty assurances have become of deterring attention from losses, failed business decisions, illegal acts and embarrassing scandals. 

Last month an in defiance to state law, President Wiggington declared he will not be posting December 2009's Monthly Income Statement at any of the credit union's branches. Instead, he has entered into another of his absurd campaigns assuring anyone who will listen, that business is good and in fact, the credit union earned profit during the month of January. That is wonderful news. However, his statement seems odd and inconsistent with the fact that 2009 ended with more than $450,000 in losses. It's also peculiar because at Priority One Credit Union January is always one of the slowest months of the year. So how did the credit union produce profit in one of the slowest months of the year when throughout 2009, every month sustained immense losses? 

The President's statement is also being repeating by COO, Beatrice Walker, which doesn't serve as evidence. We'd prefer viewing the Monthly Income Statement but of course, the President refuses to post it. The biggest impediment to the credit union's success is the President who since 2007, has continually sabotaged efforts to instill growth. His excuses, exclamation to success, and assurances that all is proceeding as planned amount to more blather from a President that is obsessed with talking and hiding financial reports. 

This blog was launched in January 2009, with the hope the Board of Directors would step forward and force corrective measures to be implemented that would stop the President's abysmal decisions. The Board refused, choosing instead to enable the horrendous decisions of President Wiggington. 

Since 2007, we've continually listened to the President's promises that business was going to improve but the reversal to the destructive dynamic he created, has yet to be seen. He is clearly a failure as a strategist and his shallow rhetoric has growth thin. In spite of his far flung failures and the fact that the Board has relegated some of his authority to Beatrice Walker, the Board has recently renewed his agreement again. It may be easier to explain the extinction of dinosaurs than understand the Board's illogical reasoning.


In January, the President was urged by his executive staff to post December's monthly financial. It seems that unlike the President, his executives were concerned that his refusal to post the report would provoke the filing of another complaint to the DFi, just as occurred last June when two members filed complaints. 

In spite of the President's well documented failures and abuses, we received the following comments from readers of this blog, leveling criticisms against us. We happen to know who their authors are because President Wiggington could not refrain from boasting about how he and a Director "put them in their place." 

Here are the comments. We've added the names of the authors at the end of each statement:  

Comment #1

"This blog perpetuates mindless redundant rhetoric. Nothing new just more Blah Blah Blah. Blogger if you are so unhappy at P1, look for another J.O.B., otherwise shut the f**k UP."

Thomas Gathers, Board Director

Comment #2

“I’m laughing because your sabotage hasn't worked, and I am still employed. You are laughing because you are unaware that dooms day is very close to you. Soon you will be included in California’s 12.4 unemployment rate. So now, who is the idiot?

President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. 

"So now, who is the idiot?"  Is this a rhetorical question, because the answer is too much too obvious?

Financial statements that document immense losses, an investigation that proved the President committed sexual harassment, the loss of millions of dollars of Net Income, and the need to lie about the credit union's actual performance all tell us who the idiot is. And for those who may not know, one President Wiggington's periodic exclamations is, "I am still employed." And so melodramatic, reminding us that President Wiggington is a man prone to emotional tirades. 

The President and his equally undisciplined lackey prove that when exposed you can expect threats, profanity and inane declarations. The two were too glib to notice that this could have been a wonderful opportunity to provide evidence disproving what we've reported but of course, that would require that there was tangible proof of success, something that President Wiggington knows, doesn't exist. 

Well, thank you Mr. Gathers and President Wiggington for chiming in with mindless rhetoric but if this blog were truly nothing more than "blah, blah, blah" then why would you feel impelled react to what we report? 

 Who Knew?

Priority One continued its immersion in the red at the end of 2009. No wonder the President said he would not be posting December's financials. 

To review, here are the losses reported by the credit union during the months of October, November and December 2009:




Well that certainly isn't "Blah, Blah, Blah", is it? Priority One still has a remaining unpaid $10 million balance due on the $20 million loan borrowed by the President in mid-2008. Due to the unpaid balance, their actual Net Income size is NOT $165,835,128.90 but $155,835,128.90. On January 1, 2007, the date Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. began his appointment as President, the credit union's Net Income size was 
$172,250,649. So how did Priority One's Net Income size decrease by approximately $17 million in a 3-year period? No wonder the President and Board think that our reporting is "blah, blah, blah." 

Since January 1, 2007, the credit union's annual legal expenses have increased by over 270%. A review of the credit union's financials show that annual expenditures on legal increased from $20,000 per year to approximately $38, 000 per year. In 2009, legal expenses soared to $118,000. During last May's annual meeting, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. stated that he was reducing spending, "streamlining" and "working smarter." Is the sudden jump in spending an example of his new business philosophy? 

One reason for the sudden rise in legal expenses is because the ignorant Board frequently consults with the credit union's legal counsel to obtain information about the financials they're supposed to understand. 

The credit union set aside a budget of $67,200 to spend on consultants for 2009, but December's Monthly Income Statement reveals that $82, 000 were spent. 

The budget for the annual meeting was exceeded by $32,000. The credit union recently disclosed that a part of the excess was due to legal expenses but why would legal expenses be reported under annual meeting costs? 

The credit union’s total assets decreased by $3,206,912.27 and loan funding decreased by $1,225,013. Shares decreased by a total of $2,255,468. Net capital decreased to 6.78%. 


This may come as a surprise, but not every member of the Board is pleased with the President’s performance. Some of the Directors have quietly expressed their dissatisfaction but none are willing to challenge Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, for continuing to retain his employment. 

In the recent past, Directors, like David L. Davidson, and Rob Shipp found themselves ostracized and labeled dissenters because they vocalized their disagreements with Mrs. Harris-Brooks mode of doing things. 

An email sent to us a few weeks ago ,provided quotes of an address made by President Wiggington to the Board. Here are the excerpts:

“As stated in my last message, together we will weather this current storm. Together, we will continue to support one another. Together we will arrive at a better day.

You can count on my committed and focused hard work as our servant leader to make 2010 a more prosperous year for all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the privilege of serving you and the rest of the credit union team.”

More meaningless rhetoric from an immensely incompetent President. One of the problems with the President is that he's always trying to sell a bill of goods that has no substance. He always resorts to the same only insincere song and dance hoping people will buy into his vacuous assurances. 

Trying to work with the President requires contending with his psychology. He is currently imploring the Board for help because of the information containing in the Monthly Income Statements and because Beatrice Walker has succeeded to absorbing some of his authority. In 2007, he exclaimed, "No one tells me what to do" and based on the credit union current financial stating, no one could tell him what to do.  The decline of the credit union was caused by him and sanctioned by the Board of Directors.  


Before his final date of employment on December 31, 2009, CFO, Manny Gaitmaitan, warned President Wiggington that the decision to implement Priority Pay, an alternative to payday loans, was not well-planned and could cause the credit union's debts to further amass. His advice was rejected and Mr. Gaitmaitan was labeled uncooperative and even accused by COO, Beatrice Walker, of trying to sabotage her efforts to create new streams of income. 

Recently, the credit union mailed out invitations to Priority Pay to only those employees whose Priority One accounts showed they have obtained loans from payday lenders. The letter was erroneously mailed without inclusion of a Disclosure statement. Additionally, the letter was unsigned. There were also no terms provided. 

A member recently wrote to us, stating that she called Priority One and asked for the Disclosure and Schedule of Fees but was informed that the credit union was out of both. On a side note, the cost of implementing Priority Pay was $50,000. Is this another example of how President Wiggington is reducing expense? 

We've also learned that Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, recently called Mr. Gaitmaitan and asked if he could provide questions that she may ask candidates who are interviewed for the position of CFO. Why didn't she ask President Wiggington for advice? And wasn't it the President and COO, Beatrice Walker who described Mr. Gaitmaitan as "difficult", "uncooperative" and "not a team player." 

Priority One is a credit union with too many overpaid executives, incompetent and dishonest executives. As hard as they try, the President and Board Chair's plots have a tendency of surfacing and becoming public knowledge. The breach in confidentiality can be traced by to President Wiggington and in recent weeks, to Beatrice Walker, who has revealed, more and more, that she wishes to become Priority One's next President and CEO.  Violating confidentiality, she also recently stated, "Where else am I going to get another job that pays as much as this one?" To be frank, we don't think she, President Wiggington, or AVP, Rodger Smock, would ever be hired by any business that values competency and ethics. And its unlikely that Diedra Harris-Brooks and her posy of clowns could ever serve as volunteer or even paid Directors on the Board of any other business. 

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