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Monday, August 29, 2011

Kicked to the Curb

Dead Weight

On Wednesday, July 13, 2011, Priority One Credit Union's COO, Beatrice Walker was informed that her employment was being terminated immediately. She was escorted to her office where she picked up her purse and informed that her personal possessions would be packed and shipped to her in a few days. It was an unceremonious expulsion for a woman whose abusive tendencies overshadowed any of her alleged efforts to reverse the cycle of financial losses set into motion by President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. She won't be missed. 

Within a day following her ouster, President Wiggington and AVP, Rodger Smock, both began informing employees at the South Pasadena branch that they can expect "big changes." 

Since Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. began his appointment to President on January 1, 2007, we've constantly heard him say that he's planning to make "big changes" yet the only changes we've witnessed are a sharp decline in net income, the rampant abuse of employees, the deterioration of relations between the credit union and members, and the weakening of employee morale. 

So what other "big changes" is the President alluding to?  He is the person who introduced his friend, Beatrice Walker, to the credit union and their plot to flush out "enemy" employees might have worked had she not decided that she wanted to become Priority One's next President. 

Ms. Walker considered most employees of the credit union too ethnic for her liking. She though them less educated and thus less intelligent than herself. She certainly wasn't shy about pointing out that the President was "too ghetto", "too gruff", "to unsophisticated" and "too unrepresentable" to head the credit union.  She was actually correct. 

On June 2, 2009, AVP, Rodger Smock, issued a memo to all employees announcing the hiring of Ms. Walker as the credit union's new and first COO and extolled her expertise in business development and streamling. The dense AVP proved once again, that he is a man whose personal opinions are eventually proven to be untrue. Ms. Walker very quickly provide to be a deterrent to business and employee morale. She was insufferable, undisciplined, abusive and immensely dishonest.  

By October 2009, Ms. Walker had convinced the ignorant Board of Directors that if allowed, she would implement strategies that would reap profit and which would dispel the many problems caused by President Wiggington's many failed projects. Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, smitten by Ms. Walker agreed to provide her with the freedom needed to implement whatever she deemed necessary to restore Priority One to the state of prosperity enjoyed in the many years before Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was appointed President. 

During the last quarterly all-staff meeting conducted at the main branch in South Pasadena, California, the shift in power was noticeable to most employees. The President did not attend the meeting. Furthermore, he arrived at the branch 15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to end and quietly passed out Christmas bonus checks. Employees were grateful for the bonuses but perplexed, because it was a well known fact that the credit union was continuing to lose money. 

It wasn't until 10 days later that some employees discovered the decision to pass out Christmas bonus checks had been suggested to the Board by Ms. Walker who convinced them that the checks might serve to bring an end to the blog. She was wrong. 

By January 2010, Ms. Walker had formed a clique consisting of Director of Project Management, Yvonne Boutte, and Real Estate and Consumer Loan Manager, Joseph Garcia. Mrs. Boutte and Mr. Garcia became her confidants and she often conducted meetings in her office with only Mrs. Boutte and Mr. Garcia present and clearly sending a message to President Wiggington and AVP, Rodger Smock, that they were not only part of her inner sanctum, they were also not welcome to her meetings. 

By March 2010, Ms. Walker had grown confidant enough to start boasting about her plans to become the credit union's next President and CEO and disclosing plans to drive AVP, Rodger Smock, and Training and Education Manager, Robert West, out of the credit union 

By May 2010, she had grown weary of being the subject of employee gossip and complaints and decided to escalate efforts to terminate any employee she imagined were purposely undermining her authority. 

It was quite incredible that during the May 2010 annual meeting conducted in South Pasadena, notorious Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, stood before attendees and thanked Ms.Walker for her efforts which were turning business around. She also thanked Joseph Garcia because according to Mrs. Harris-Brooks, he was single-handedly correcting the issues which had been afflicting employee morale and ending by stating that in her opinion, the credit union had "the right management team in place." The ignorant Board Chair was wrong. 

Over the next several months, numerous employee were laid-off, allegedly because the credit union could not afford to keep them employed but the indiscreet and pompous COO, confided to Mrs. Boutte and Mr. Garcia that she "knew" that the employees were all bloggers, friends of the bloggers and confederates of the blogger. 

By August 2010, the Board of Directors started growing concerned that nothing Ms. Walker had introduced was reaping profits promised by the COO. Ms. Walker had easily convinced the ignorant Directors that if allowed to, she could induce growth and the financial turmoil induced by President Wiggington. Unbeknownst to Ms. Walker, her credibility before the Board was about to sustain a major crack that would eventually lead to her termination. 

In August, AVP, Rodger Smock, who is also the director the Human Resources, called the Valencia Branch Manager and asked her if she and Beatrice Walker had argued. The Branch Manager said they hadn't. He replied, "Well, she hates you." We find it incredulous that the self-described "peacemaker" had no hesitation making a comment that could provoke further discord between the Branch Manager and the COO. 

Due to the increasingly hostility inflicted by Ms. Walker, the Branch Manager left the credit union on a medical leave of absence. During the days she remained on leave, Ms. Walker visited the Valencia Branch and instilled discord by slandering the Branch Manager to her staff. She also ordered that all of the Branch Manager's emails and voicemails be forwarded to her so that she could review each and every piece of communication. Ms. Walker also the subservient, Rodger Smock, to contact the Branch Manager and demand she return the keys to her office or the credit union would be forced to change the locks at  the Valencia branch along with the security code to it's alarm system. It was so apparent that Ms. Walker had become obsessed with the Branch Manager to the point it disrupted the working environment. 

Her obsession with the Valencia Branch Manager also provoked her to implement an attack on the people she imagined were the blogger, bloggers, and confederates of the blogger(s).

In August, Ms. Walker transferred all authority over Human Resources to herself. The reason for removing AVP Mr. Smock's authority over the department was two-fold. The first was that she had targeted the aged AVP for forthcoming termination. The second was, she wanted access to employee records and specifically, to those files of employees who had leveled complaints against her. 

In September, the Valencia Branch Manager filed a verbal and later written complaint against Ms. Walker accusing her of:
  • Creating a hostile working environment
  • Alienating the branch manager from her staff and peers
  • Harassment
  • Same-sex sexual harassment; and 
  • Stalking 
Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. may not be very intelligent but he is an opportunist and as cunning as any scavenger in nature. He had heard rumors in the South Pasadena office about Ms. Walker's sexuality. Granted none of it was supported by evidence but nonetheless, he and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, had conferred about the rumors and she told him that the Directors were highly concerned about Ms. Walker's alleged lifestyle.  

When the President was informed of the Valencia Branch Manager's complaint, he and Roger Smock drove to the Valencia branch. During his visit, he asked that manager to provide him with a written statement describing her allegations against Ms. Walker. The self-indulgent President took the opportunity to gather written allegations that he would use remove Ms. Walker's authority over Human Resources. Because he knew Ms. Walker wanted to fire his "friends", Rodger Smock and Robert West, he used the situation to transfer human resources to Mr. West, the Training and Education Manager, despite the fact Mr. West had absolutely no experience in anything related to human resources. 

In October, the Branch Manager submitted her letter of resignation, all to the chagrin of Ms. Walker. Ms. Walker with the help of Human Resources "clerk", Esmeralda Sandoval, and unofficial Human Resources Director, Robert West, increased her stranglehold on the Branch Manager even though the Branch Manager had submitted her notice to resign. 

In October, her inner-circle suffered a blow when Director of Project Management, Yvonne Boutte, and Loan Manager, Joseph Garcia stopped speaking to one another. Mrs. Boutte would begin telling employees that "Joseph isn't what he appears to be." 

In November 2010, Ms. Walker's inner-circle further crumbled when her relationship with Ms. Boutte grew strained and by the end of the month, the women were no longer speaking to one another. In the weeks which followed, Mrs. Boutte would disparage Ms. Walker's abilities and character to her staff. 
In December 2010, Ms. Walker's relationship with her last remaining confidant, Joseph Garcia end, bringing an end to her aspirations to one day become President of the waning credit union. 

By January 2011, Ms. Walker leveraged her deteriorating authority to promote South Pasadena Branch Manager, Gema Pleitez, to the post of AVP over the Riverside Branch and the Call Center. What few people knew was that in January 2010, she promised Joseph Garcia, that she would in time, promote him to the post of AVP and also increase his salary. Not only did she rescind on her promise to Mr. Garcia but she stripped him of his authority over the Call center. 

Having grown exasperated by Ms. Walker's business failures and alleged homosexual tendencies, the Board informed her that from hereon she must present her plans for new products and services and any planned changes to either the President or AVP, Rodger Smock. Their mandate revealed Ms. Walker had lost her luster and was apparently, no longer trusted. 

Mrs. Walker reacted by complaining to South Pasadena staff that the Board Directors were ignorant and in her words, "uneducated' and that none of them possessed the ability to comprehend the credit union's financial statements and knew nothing about strategical planning. She was actually correct, but this was clearly yet another case of the "kettle calling the pot black." Ms. Walker's criticisms would reach the ears of the President who in turn, would report all he heard to the Board. 

Ms. Walker also was unaware that in April 2011, the Board placed an ad in local newspapers and the Nevada/California Credit Union League's website seeking a Director of Lending. 

In July was informed she was being terminated. She was so distrusted that she was not allowed to remove anything from her office except her purse. Her personal things were later packed by AVP, Gema Pleitez, and shipped to Ms. Walker' home. 

All we can say is good-bye to a truly awful person and officer who failed at everything she endeavored to do with exception of creating discord. 



In August, just a few weeks following Beatrice Walker's termination., President Wiggington and AVP, Rodger Smock, announced yet another internal organizational restructuring intended to promote efficiency. Isn't this his 50th reorganization of the credit union's internal operation since Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was named President on January 1, 2007? The changes they outlined will include
  • Closing the Riverside Branch on October 14, 2011
  • Realigning Human Resources
  • Announcing that two currently exempt employees will be promoted; and 
  • Hiring a new Director of Lending
The closure of the Riverside branch hardly comes as a surprise. The closure of the Redlands and Valencia branches in 2010 were intended to slow losses, but apparently the closures were not sufficiently significant to change the credit union's financial climate. 

Branch closures as a means to survival is indicative that Priority One is wallowing in trouble. Closures also denote the level of the President's incompetence as a strategist. In 2009, the always obtuse President thought it prudent that in the midst of financial losses, the solution for his bungling business decisions was to hire a COO who was paid more than $100,000 per year. Not only did almost everything she implemented under guise of a solution to Priority One's woes fail, she proved to be as much of an instigator of trouble as is Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.  Just like his failed $600,000 phone system, the President wasted more than $200,000 on paying a COO who not only failed to fulfill her responsibilities by who like President Wiggington, immersed the credit union in scandals. 

The closure of the Riverside branch brings an end to the credit union's physical presence in all of Riverside County. The President evidently didn't posses the cranial capacity to develop new business in the more than 7000 square mile region nor did possess an inkling of the knowledge needed to build and maintain relations with employees of the U.S. Postal Service living and working in Riverside County. 

During the months of June, July and August, Priority One reported profit created by the closure of branches which undercuts service and availability to members. However, the credit union's Monthly Income Statements confirm that consumer loan funding is lagging, the development of new membership is slowing down, and delinquencies continue to grow.


As we've warned month after month since January 2009, President Wiggington would prove destructive to the credit union unless his misappropriation of authority were reined in. As it turned out, we were correct.

Priority One is now in the midst of staving-off two lawsuits filed by former employees and each leveling a barrage of accusations alleging violations credit union policies and state and federal laws. Irrelevant of whether the trials go to court and whether or not the plaintiffs prevail. the credit union will now be known as a corrupt and mismanaged organization. The behaviors and acts perpetrated by the President and his executive staff and the efforts by the Board to hide illegal acts, will probably now be brought into public light. 

Recently, while attending an industry event, we listened while attendees discussed the information reported on this blog while at least two vendors shared their experiences about President Wiggington who is apparently considered highly unbecoming as an executive. There were also conversations about the credit union's abhorrent service including references to long wait periods when trying to reach Priority One's not-so-state-of-the art call center. 

So how much will Priority One spend on litigation in the upcoming year? One thing is for sure, long gone are the days when $20,000 to $22,000 were the annual amount spent on legal-related matters.  


President Wiggington just announced he will not be seeking a replacement for Beatrice Walker though within two-weeks following her untimely departure, the Board of Directors hired a new Director of Lending. The decision to hire a Director of Lending is more than a little peculiar since the credit union has a highly knowledgeable, albeit socially grating, loan specialist in Patti Loiacano. Though Ms. Loiacano spent years working in the Real Estate and Consumer Loan Departments, as a Loan Officer, Loan Supervisor, Assistant to the Director of Lending, Lending Director and AVP of Lending, nowadays she occupies the role of AVP of Compliance, a role forced upon her by Beatrice Walker. Mrs. Loiacano is yet another wonderful example of how Charles R. Wiggington is incapable of developing the resources the credit union has in its possession and will instead, continue to use credit union funds to hire officers who are not needed. 

In 2009, this decision to hire his friend, Beatrice Walker, proved catastrophic to the organization and during her stay, caused the credit union to waste more than $200,000 on paying her salary and benefits. She in turn immersed herself in spending credit union monies on a slew of products and services that were poorly responded to and others that were entirely shunned. 

We recently happened upon an ad on the California Nevada Credit Union League's site, seeing a Director of Lending in the city of South Pasadena, California and referencing a salary of $68,000 per year. This is one President who treats Priority One like his personal piggy bank and slush fund. 

As for Beatrice Walker, she will not be missed. On the day the credit union announced that she was no longer employed by the credit union, the entire staff at Burbank cheered in joy and even the corrupt and incompetent AVP, Sylvia Perez, exclaimed, "There was something wrong with that woman!" Mrs. Perez ought to know.

To be continued.......
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