Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Iowa Rain Forest ("Earthpark") Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Blog, FromDC2Iowa

Optiva name here to stay

Voting issue won’t affect UI credit union change

George C. Ford

The Gazette

January 24, 2007

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

  IOWA CITY — A procedural issue will not affect the final outcome of a membership vote to change the name of the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. By a vote of 198 to 192, the Iowa City-based credit union’s members voted Oct. 4 at a special membership meeting to change the name of the institution to Optiva Credit Union.

  Jeff Disterhoft, president and chief executive officer of the credit union, said the name change will occur March 1.

  Disterhoft said the credit union had received requests from members prior to the day of the vote — primarily those opposed to the name change — to cast their ballots between 5 p.m. when the doors to the meeting room opened and 6 p.m. when the meeting began.

  Disterhoft said the credit union requested guidance from the office of James Forney, Iowa credit union superintendent, on the legality of accepting ballots prior to the start of the membership meeting.

  ‘‘On Oct. 3, we spoke with Rebecca Vocca, the executive officer of the Iowa Division of Credit Unions,’’ Disterhoft said. ‘‘Rebecca indicated that we could accommodate those members by allowing them to vote early and leave prior to commencement of the meeting.

  ‘‘Two individuals contacted the Iowa Division of Credit Unions, requesting that it examine the balloting procedures and all of the operational sides of what took place.’’

  Forney, responding to the request in a Jan. 8 letter to Disterhoft and Dean Borg, chairman of the UI Community Credit Union board of directors, did not reference the conversation involving Vocca. Rather, he termed the acceptance of ballots prior to the meeting ‘‘an unconventional procedure.’’

  ‘‘If this did in fact occur, it subjects the vote to a challenge as to whether it conformed to Iowa Code,’’ Forney wrote.

  Iowa Code states that the ‘‘Articles of incorporation may be amended by a favorable vote of a majority of the members present at a meeting.’’

  Forney wrote that it is impossible to determine which ballots were cast prior to 6 p.m. because the ballots cast before and during the meeting were commingled. He also indicates that no action will be taken by his office to overturn the vote.

  ‘‘Although the Division of Credit Unions finds that an unconventional balloting procedure appears to have been followed, the Division is reluctant to involve itself in matters of credit union governance,’’ Forney wrote. ‘‘No action by the division is appropriate at this time.’’

  Disterhoft said the name change was recommended because a majority of the credit union’s 44,000 members are not directly affiliated with the University of Iowa.

  ‘‘Our relationship with University of Iowa students, employees, alumni and their families will remain the same,’’ Disterhoft said. ‘‘We wanted to find a name that aligned better with our increasingly diverse demographics and supported our vision for the future."