Monday, October 16, 2023

SECU - This Is All Getting to Be A Bit "Unseemly", Isn't It?  ...with the facts.

❓Why telling the SECU membership the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth has become so difficult for this Board and CEO remains a mystery to me.
😎 Well, here we go again. Sorry, know most of you have other things to do in life, but...
Yesterday's blog [link - October 15] caught out and called out our CEO for her rebuke of a long-term SECU Advisory Board member, who had questioned our CEO's multiple-muddle of statements to the press after the 2023 Annual Meeting - disappointed in the election results, vote totals indicated members really didn't care,  full speed ahead with risk-based lending, and the "someone's" not playing fair excuse. 
A particularly bizarre mix of faux pas, which most leaders would quietly hope to "walk back" (like a former CEO's bank/brothels/Godfather joke slips, for example )... and move on to more important issues. But no such luck on this one... Ms. Brady decided to double-down and publish the entire Advisory Board member rebuke [here's where you can find it at BusinessNC], which to most folks is contrary to the popular wisdom: "When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging!" But you know how CEOs are sometimes...

So, I guess we're going to have to invest some more time on each of these - OK? "Fair enough"?
First, let's return to yesterday's  [BNC article] and expand on what I considered the most egregious "misstatement" in Ms. Brady's now fully public member rebuke (it's down there in the 3rd paragraph):  "Playing fair would have been Mr. Blaine agreeing to meet with McKinley Wooten, Bob Brinson and Jo Anne Sanford last year to discuss his concerns (he refused)." In yesterday's blog post (see link above), I published an email to Jo Anne Sanford, McKinley Wooten and Bob Brinson dated Nov. 19, 2022 which clearly states that: [here - stop take a look] "I remain entirely willing to meet with the Board if it would be beneficial."  Not sure how Ms. Brady can misconstrue that statement, are you?
✅ But in the interest of full and "fair" disclosure here's the entire email chain which Ms. Sanford initiated on October18, 2022 (assume it might amaze some of you to find Ms. Sanford and I were (at the time!) on very cordial terms!): 
1) On Tue, Oct 18, 2022 at 11:35 AM Jo Anne Sanford <> wrote:

"Heartened by the possible  opportunity to talk with you about many things,  I am asking if you would agree to meet with McKinley, Bob B and me to discuss some of our issues and challenges.   Clearly communication is one, but I don’t say that to gloss over others.   This is a sincere request for some of your time and your help, and we’ll do it on whatever terms and place work for you Please say yes! Jo Anne"

2) to Jo Anne Sanford Oct 18, 2022, 4:57 PM
 "Miz J! 
First, glad to hear from you. Hope all's well with you and yours, especially that Billy's health reports are back on a positive track.
Assume you would like to talk about the Resolution at the Annual Meeting. Want you to know that I was there with great reluctance, only after fending off requests for many months. I have no interest in leading any crusades concerning SECU - promise! Hope the resolution came across as respectful, direct, but polite - with no personal attacks and praise for the successful leadership of the Board.
I would be happy to respond to your request, but would ask that you send me  the email addresses of all the Board members, so that I am responding to the full Board. 
I am trying to stay out of the middle of all this and I think transparency can be of help. I do not even know a majority of the Board and have not met your new leader. As I recall, during my tenure we often "fought" (not infrequently!) about proposed policies and issues and it was not unheard of for the Board "to debate" strongly among themselves over proposals. I would simply like to assure that everyone is hearing the same message.
Hope that's okay, so I can respond to you as soon as possible. Thanks, and best to Bob and McKinley!
Jim Blaine

3) Jo Anne Sanford sanford@sanfordlawoffice.comFri, Oct 28, 2022, 6:37 AM

 Know you think I've disappeared

I’ve been in Beaufort, Boone, Jacksonville, Wilmington, and now Richmond over last couple weeks.  The good news is that my retirement plan, which is to finish these 3 cases then bag it, is become more etched in stone.   We sealed plans for a trip to Ireland in May, an Alaska cruise in the summer, and a something in September, so we’re dreaming on till then.    Billy is making an argument in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals today and I’m with him as the driver and moral support.   It’s an issue he’s chased for a long time and I think he’s pleased at one last chance to tend it here.  

I attended the Tues. Board meeting from parking lots down east, and I have to catch up.  For more reasons than you might imagine I look forward to talking to you and I hope we can arrange it.  Ball’s in my court, I know, and I’m hunting McK and Bob.
Best to you both. Bet it’s pretty at your house; the leaves were pretty on the way to Richmond."

4) Jim Blaine jimblainenc@gmail.comOct 28, 2022, 10:10 AM

to Jo
"Even in retirement your planned itinerary is busy, busy, busy!
As you suggested a week or so ago, I would be happy to discuss the member resolution from the Annual Meeting with the Board, if you feel it is appropriate. Understanding the basis for these decisions, hopefully will clear the air among staff and members. Concern and unhappiness appears to be growing - whether justified or not. 

Had hoped that the resolution would be posted on the SECU website or at least emailed to the advisory boards. If `"communications" is the real issue...the lack thereof so far is not helping the cause! Tell Billy hello!"

5) Jo Anne Sanford sanford@sanfordlawoffice.comSat, Nov 19, 2022, 11:03 A

"Hi Jim!

We  brought your request to the full  Board  and  we  discussed it as a group.  All are pleased to say that we are  working hard to address the opportunities  presented by the Resolution---the outreach is underway and it will be robust.   We’ll share more publicly, very soon, and we will be sure that you and all others are aware of the efforts.  We are carefully  observing the language and requirements of the Resolution and believe the outcome will  take the form of a full  explanation of changes the Board is undertaking that are necessary and beneficial to our members and employees. 

All  appreciate your interest in meeting with a larger group, but the Board believes it most productive for it to be represented by the three of us.    We’d like to  do that ---- we want   to share some of the work the Board is doing with respect to challenges, decisions and communication, and we’d like to better  focus our understanding of the issues you raise.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Jo Anne, McKinley and Bob"

6) Jim Blaine jimblainenc@gmail.comSat, Nov 19, 2022, 1:55 PM

to Jo,,, bcc: Mike Lord
"Dear Miz J,

Thanks very much for the response.

First, I would like to be sure to reaffirm that the invitation to meet came from you and the SECU Board, not me. The resolution approved at the annual meeting requests a response to the full membership, not a discussion with me.  My concern with meeting with a small "committee" of the Board (composed of the only 3 folks on the Board I have worked with - not exactly a random sample!) is that it is widely believed that the SECU Board is split on many of the issues being discussed.

If in fact divided - which wouldn't be at all unusual for most boards -, I would not feel comfortable in having any remarks I might make not subject to challenge nor inquiry by each of the individual SECU Board members. Perhaps the best route at this point is to defer a potential meeting until after your meetings with the Advisory Board chairs next week. A full explanation from the Board of the reasoning behind your decisions may hopefully resolve all questions and concerns.

I do understand that the SECU Board has a difficult task in responding fully in a reasonable time frame. Would note that many of the more thoughtful member letters being emailed directly to the SECU Board are being widely circulated, which is increasing the importance of a timely response. If your group wishes to meet with a former CEO, you might want to contact Mike Lord, particularly given his strong condemnation of the Board's approval of risk-based lending.

I remain entirely willing to meet with the Board if it would be beneficial. Hopefully, the official SECU Board response to the member approved annual meeting resolution will suffice to clarify the questions asked.

Wishing you the best, Jim Blaine"

7) Jo Anne Sanford

Sat, Nov 19, 2022, 3:27 PM

"Hey Jim, 
More later as I want to mull this over but will confess that I’m in Asheville with only a 2 hour free window, so I gotta get downtown to my favorite craft store at Biltmore Village.  Got priorities here!

Quickly to say that yes….absolutely the invitation came from us and everyone know that.   And thank you…..lemme think through this. 

Back with you!"

✅ That "Back with you!" was the last I heard from Ms. Sanford...
😎 Again, here's what Ms. Brady said happened:
"Playing fair would have been Mr. Blaine agreeing to meet with McKinley Wooten, Bob Brinson and Jo Anne Sanford last year to discuss his concerns (he refused)."
Guess I'll let you decide where the "truth lies"....! 
 Why telling the SECU membership the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth has become so difficult for this Board and CEO remains a mystery to me.


  1. In Brady's letter she says "Jim Blaine led readers on his blog to believe that the 500 signatures in 10 days requirement for outside Board candidates to be put on the ballot was just implemented this year. The truth is that the requirement of 500 signatures in 10 days was put in under Jim Blaine in 2015."
    Brady/Haze and this board put in the 10 day requirement in April of this year. 500 signatures had been a requirement, maybe for longer than 2015. Brady and friends added all sorts of illegal onerous requirements enshrined in an application, in addition to the 10 days. Previously, you could decide you wanted to run, and proceed with your signature gathering. This year not only did candidates only have 10 days, they had to wait until The Brady Bunch released the "official petition" which was numbered 1-500 to begin gathering. Ten days was the killer this year, but members rallied and got it done with extras! What is up with Brady that she lies so egregiously? Think Business NC needs to be enlightened.

  2. Mr Blaine is wise not to meet individually with any of these snakes. If ever he did, he would need to record it and take witnesses of sterling character with him!!

  3. Wow! Gone past sour grapes, moving on to smearing reputations with half truths-- just enough truth to put a question in some folks minds. Brady and this board have done it with financials-- remember using July 23 as June year end, after borrowing money at the Fed in July to plump up the balance sheet? Why is it so hard for them to admit failed policy decisions? A paper are taking their savings out of SECU driving down assets. If SECU will pay more on savings accounts(all of them), A paper will stay at SECU. Then the balance sheet will plump itself up! DUH! No need to dissemble Poor Leigh!

    1. Incompetence at every angle

    2. As a 35 year employee of SECU and COO, why did Ms Brady not reach out to Jim Blaine and Mike Lord earlier for support and guidance while Hayes and Ayers were tearing the credit union down? Some of the disasters brought into SECU could have been prevented had she not waited until she secured the CEO position to reach out.

    3. This board told her to. She had no interest in what either Lord or Blaine had to say. Poor leigh was all in with Jim Hayes and assisting him and this board in their destruction of SECU.

  4. "A truthful witness saves lives,
    But he who utters lies is treacherous."

  5. Society seems to have forgotten #9 ...

    “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."

    tsk tsk ... what you sow so shall you reap!

  6. May I be so bold as to ask "What have these folks done for the members in recent years?" "Are we better now under these new policies?" Why did they fight so hard to keep the incumbents and make it so difficult to run for the board? Why did they hire an outside disrupter as CEO? Why all the new outside organizations making policy decisions instead of the board/CEO with the members/owners input? Why did you have to be "encouraged" to post the financial reports? Why do you continue down the path that members are opposed to?
    Why are you making financial decisions that are not in the best interest of the owners of the credit union?
    Have you lost your way? Do you have ulterior
    motives? I could go on but you get the picture.
    You notice we never actually get any answers to these questions ... NEVER... in other words they really don't feel they have to answer to the owners of the credit union (the peasants).
    This is what's know as a hostile take-over in "Industry Standard" lingo!
    I didn't even touch on the way they treated Legacy Employees'... but to sum it up it was just more hostility aimed at those who helped build this organization for the last 85 years. Yep what they are doing now is a slap in the face of those who have dedicated their lives over the last 85 years including the founders... think about that for a minute. How dare they treat those founders this way. These new/new folks are intellectually dishonest! Those who think they are wise are fools!

    1. All 8K employees at this point know this admin is JOKE. A sh** show.

    2. 7000, the other 1000 were hired by these incompetents ! and given a kings ransom, especially Mr Gym Selfie the "hip"ster ...

    3. To put it more bluntly,
      What has happened to 'Our' Credit Union???
      Was Gym just a Trojan Horse wheeled in by this board?
      How long has Ms Brady been in the ear of this board, because OBVIOUSLY she has no problems with the way things are transpiring.

    4. @ 11:58 am. Your question #3 is something I have been thinking for quite awhile now. There are two many signs pointing in that thought direction. This Board had already checked out on most of the legacy credit union leaders prior to Mike Lord's retirement announcement.

  7. We have to fight harder now more than ever and plan to unseat another 4 Board members next year. This is the mission! We can only hope and pray that Ms Brady will get the hell outta Dodge asap! She doesn't represent US and never will. If she doesn't "get it" after 35 years - talk about a slow learner - Good Bye and Good Riddance!!!

  8. That sounded like a cordial conversation ...

  9. This board will soon vote to trade in the "not for profit" Credit Union charter and replace it with a "for profit" Bank charter. WHY? Bank directors are HIGHLY compensated. Credit union directors are not compensated. Credit union directors are "volunteer" directors. Follow the money. And when the directors issue IPO (Initial Public Offering) stock they will get greased like a pig at the trough. Follow the money. SECU once converted to a Bank will be the largest state bank. The directors are pimping the credit union. Greed - when more is not enough.

    1. THIS! THIS is what is happening. This is what will happen under their tenure. I hope everyone understands what is on the line.

    2. @11:59-how would that be accomplished? Is this a real possibility, ability to change to a bank charter, just like that?

  10. If only "this board" believed in democracy and "doing the right thing".

    "I believe that people have a right to decide their own destinies; people own themselves. I also believe that, in a democracy, government exists because (and only so long as) individual citizens give it a 'temporary license to exist'—in exchange for a promise that it will behave itself. In a democracy, you own the government—it doesn't own you." Frank Zappa

  11. I think the main purpose here is also to distract. To take a personal problem that Brady seems to have with you and amplify it so that we AREN'T talking about them continuing to implement risk based lending and all the other problems happening at the credit union. Liars all of them. Don't they have some crisis management firm on retainer? Or at least a PR agent? Wait, wasn't Leigh Brady in charge of PR for how ever many years? Incompetent all around that they aren't handling THIS better. Much less people's money.

    Went to look up her roles and found this quote from her: “I’ve spent my career focused on enhancing SECU for its members and their families,” Brady said. “I’m excited to step into this new role and will work to further strengthen our Credit Union. That work will be centered on what SECU has always done well — remembering our mission and serving our members.”

    Seems like she forgets fast.

    1. She could not care less about the membership nor employees. She's made that crystal clear.

    2. Someone probably wrote that for her ...

  12. Back in Fall 2022, I was wondering why my CEO was sending me selfies and Stuart Smalley phrases, “I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me!”, everyday. Also why SECU was compulsively hiring in operations. Out of control hiring. So many people that they didn’t know their roles or didn’t even have a division to lead. So. Much. Bloat.

  13. Haze was an absolute wrecking ball here . Unfit to lead , ego centric and extremely reckless.