Friday, June 30, 2023

SECU New Culture/New Direction - A Question of Trust, Part 7 

  Baseline. Prior to September, 2021, SECU had an uninterrupted 85-year record of growth in assets and membership, un-besmirched by sanction or scandal.

✅ The SECU Board tried to pull a fast one on the SECU membership with the awkwardly bungled "Fireside Chats" fiasco - a bumbling performance now permanently enshrined (thank goodness!) on You Tube for posterity and factual reference!It was now clear that "this Board" was not going to voluntarily meet its' duty of stewardship and fiduciary responsibility to 2.7 million North Carolinians. 

✔ So, I sought to enlist the help of the "Fourth Estate" - the press and media - to root out the truth. Business North Carolina (BNC) ran a feature article in February, 2023 on the "New/New" SECU, written by the editor, Mr. Dave Mildenberg. The article tried for balance and even-handedness - which pleased no one! By doing his job as a professional journalist, Mr. Mildenberg unitentionally triggered a whole new wave of "spin and obfuscation" from the credit union. The truth has taken a severe beating ever since.

✔ Over the last few months, Dave Mildenberg has followed up from time-to-time on the evolving swamp-saga surprises coming out of the "New/New". This week he happened to mention that the list of "hired gun" PR firms and political operatives under contract with SECU is growing - and, are well-armed and well-funded "to prove that you have lost your marbles".

Uh-oh, look out! Well, before the rest of the marbles get loose, thought it might be wise to pause and publicly declare the principles underlying this blog. Might as well give those "hired guns" a better target at which to shoot!

✅ The following comments were made to the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC - link) in March, 2021. Hope the remarks make it clear why I no longer believe that the current SECU Board understands the remarkable potential and promise of a member-owned and member-focused SECU... 

*April 18, 2021

“I am truly grateful to the African American Credit Union Coalition for this honor. The organization is remarkably successful and on the rise! I have known many of its leaders for a lifetime and have often sought, and even heeded, their advice! We shared a common bond – a belief in credit unions.

My life has been centered around my family, my wife Jean, and credit unions. Why credit unions? Because I could never accept that in America those who had the least and knew the least should always pay the most for financial services. I believe that credit unions were created to correct that injustice. In the words of Thomas Paine – a true revolutionary in all respects – “I have always objected to wealth achieved through the misery and misfortune of others”.

That economic injustice continues to thrive in our financial system today. Credit unions remain the alternative, the best hope, the answer.

We all confront an uncertain future, and many folks would like to rewrite the past. You and I know we cannot change the past. But if we have credit union leaders with integrity, courage and character; we most certainly can reshape the future…but changing the future is very hard work. Arthur Ashe, the great American tennis player, described the credit union leaders we need. Ashe said: “ True leadership is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, true leadership is the urge to serve all others at whatever cost.”

One word of caution as we look to the future and choose our new leaders; let’s make sure that diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a false guide, a false prophet. Can we really tell how diverse a credit union is by looking at the faces of our boards and leaders? Choosing our leaders by their race, their gender or their age is the old way – more of the same. We need a new way for credit unions.

And, the new way is to judge people not by how they look, but by how they think. As a famous preacher – I believe his name was King – said over fifty years ago: “Hopefully my children will be judged by the content of their character.”  Yes, let’s truly diversify and choose leaders based upon the content of their character. That is a more difficult, complex task, but our future depends upon it.

By the way, if you want to get a jump ahead on reshaping the future, try starting a little personal revolution of your own. Next time you are filling out a form and come to the question of “Race?”, drop down to “Other” and write “Human”. When you reach the ethnicity question, drop down to “Other” and write “American”. And of course when you reach the question on “Sex?”, drop down to “Other” and simply write in “Yes!”…and the world will begin to change!

Onward and upward – for all!… With the African American Credit Union Coalition leading the way!

Thank you again for this honor.”

✅ As I mentioned to Mr. Mildenberg about "losing my marbles"

😎 Dave, when I retired from work, I didn't retire from life!

Let the games begin... and may the devil take the hindmost!


  1. Can not think of any one person on this board who exemplifies integrity, courage and character. As North Carolina native and great leader Bill Friday said, "Character is all."

  2. God bless you for losing your marbles, Mr. Blaine!

  3. I am thankful for the the light you have shown on the darkness and for your continued advocacy!! Instead of enjoying your retirement, you are back in trenches with the rest of us.

  4. Was this comment in your blog post from Maurice Smith?

  5. Fantastic quote here:
    Ashe said: “ True leadership is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, true leadership is the urge to serve all others at whatever cost.”

    Thank you, Mr Blaine.

  6. "I have not yet begun to fight!"

    John Paul Jones

  7. you see "this Board" and CEO's (and probably most of the new hires) think this is their CU ... and the members are just the fund raisers for them, and they can just bully the "legacy' UGH! employees ... they know best despite losing money left and right, and systems failures of high impact. In the real world, their performance would lead them out the same door they entered... So how much did the board pay Jim on his way out? I'm sure they are hiding this too .... Did Ms Brady get a 6.5 million bonus as the new boss same as the old boss? Nothing would shock me at this point of this fiasco!!!

    1. so lets divide the work force by having "legacy" vs what "New/New"? What's next essential vs non-essential? Oh yeah we've just seen that garbage (I think the kings & queens ruled who belonged in which group) ... does that thinking fall under the Equity part of this DIE equation? ...

  8. "The only thing worth globalizing is dissent.”

    ~ Arundhati Roy

  9. “[...] perhaps two of the most important healthy practices of all time [...] are –always do the right thing, and help one another.” (Jim Humble)

  10. This Board/CEO/C-Suite's is a top-down system with a small number of “experts” making the decisions for what they believe is the collective good of the members. I never heard the members clamoring for all this digital nonsense they are pushing. I think something else is at play here and they found their puppets to push it. All these new IT folks especially security raises concerns.