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Posted by: | Posted on: June 12, 2021

In “encouraging” move, journalist’s killer sentenced to life imprisonment

first_imgThe National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility welcomed the verdict. In a written message to Reporters Without Borders after sentencing, Amoro’s daughter wrote: “Finally, the day has come when I could gladly say to the spirit of my late dad, ‘This is the day I promised you, Father’.” Maulana’s lawyers plan to appeal against the verdict, reached on 26 January by a court on the neighbouring island of Cebu. Receive email alerts PhilippinesAsia – Pacific RSF_en News January 29, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 In “encouraging” move, journalist’s killer sentenced to life imprisonment Philippines: RSF and the #HoldTheLine Coalition welcome reprieve for Maria Ressa, demand all other charges and cases be dropped Filipina journalist still held although court dismissed case eleven days ago PhilippinesAsia – Pacific News Organisation Maulana, who was convicted of shooting Amoro, was also ordered by the court to pay more than 195,000 pesos (about 3,000 euros) in damages. A local politician’s former bodyguard, Maulana was arrested in Pagadian, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur province. However, the police never seriously investigated claims that former Pagadian police chief Asuri Hawani was involved in the murders of both Amoro and Damalerio. Follow the news on Philippines Amoro, a journalist with local radio dxKP and the main witness in the murder of his friend and fellow journalist Edgar Damalerio, was gunned down on 2 February 2005 despite being under the justice ministry’s witness protection programme.center_img In a statement, a member of the Amoro family said: “The fruit of all our labour and extraordinary sacrifice is evident where hope is close at hand. I do not just speak on behalf of my family but also on behalf of all the families of slain journalists in our country who cry for justice.” Mass international solidarity campaign launched in support of Maria Ressa News At least five journalists have been killed in Pagadian in the past 10 years and at least 165 journalists have been killed in the course of their work in the Philippines since 1986. News to go further “We hail the Amoro family’s courage,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Despite the threats to their lives, they fought to obtain the conviction of this killer, who was able to flout justice for a long time thanks to local complicity. The judicial authorities satisfied the family’s expectations, especially when they transferred the case from Pagadian to Cebu City in 2007 following serious death threats.” June 1, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders welcomes the life sentence passed on hit man Madix Maulana for the 2005 murder of radio journalist Edgar Amoro in Pagadian, on the southern island of Mindanao. The organisation regards it as an “encouraging sign” but believes the case should not be closed until the masterminds and accomplices have been identified and brought to trial. Help by sharing this information May 3, 2021 Find out more Before being murdered, Amoro told Reporters Without Borders that, despite the threats, he was determined to testify at the trial of Damalerio’s alleged killer, police officer Guillermo Wapile. He was the second witness to be eliminated by accomplices of Wapile, who was given a life sentence for Damalerio’s murder the following November (http://www.rsf.org/Conviction-of-Edgar-Damalerio-s.html). One of Amoro’s daughters told Reporters Without Borders: “As for the guilty people behind the murders of my father and Edgar Damalerio, it is very difficult to have them brought to trial without increasing the dangers to our safety.” The entire family is guarded by officers of the witness protection programme. February 16, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: May 18, 2021

All Michigan State students asked to quarantine due to ‘exponential growth’ of COVID-19

first_imgRichVintage/iStockBY: MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS(EAST LANSING, Mich.) — All local Michigan State University students have been asked to self-quarantine immediately for the next two weeks to contain the “exponential growth” of COVID-19 cases, county health officials said.At least 342 people affiliated with the East Lansing school have tested positive for the coronavirus since Aug. 24, according to the Ingham County Health Department. In the three weeks prior, there were only 23 such cases, officials said. Cases started to rise once thousands of students returned to the area for the fall semester, officials said.At least a third of the people who tested positive had recently attended parties or social gatherings — and at least a third of those were associated with a fraternity or sorority, the health department said.“This is an urgent situation,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail said in a statement issued Saturday. “The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases must stop. I am concerned about the health and safety of the MSU community, and importantly, I am seriously concerned that unchecked transmission locally will affect the health and safety of all Ingham County residents.”“If we do not slow the spread immediately, we will be dealing with the consequences across the county for months to come,” she added.Until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 26, students are advised to only attend in-person classes, labs and athletic training. They can also leave for work and for food, medicine, medical care or other necessary supplies that aren’t available via delivery.The recommendation is not an emergency order, though the health department warned that “more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply and break the transmission cycle.”The university stood behind the recommendation. In the statement, Michigan State physician David Weismantel said the quarantine “is another tool” to help them prevent the spread of the virus.East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens also voiced support for the health department’s recommendation. “While we know many students are doing the right thing, we are still seeing far too many social gatherings in the off-campus community, where individuals are in close contact without face coverings,” he said in the statement.Michigan State has limited in-person classes for the fall and has restricted the number of students living on campus. According to the Lansing State Journal, there are about 1,200 students living in on-campus apartments and under 2,000 in dorms. An indeterminate number of students live off campus in the area. The school has nearly 50,000 total students.In July, all members of the university’s football team had to quarantine or isolate after two members of the football staff and one student-athlete tested positive for COVID-19.The University of Illinois is currently under a similar lockdown, as it attempts to quell a recent rise in cases. Through Sept. 16, undergraduate students are advised to only leave their residences for essential activities, such as getting food, working or taking mandated COVID-19 tests, and to avoid gathering in groups.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: March 2, 2021

Listen To Bernie Worrell’s Final Recording, With The Joe Marcinek Band [Premiere]

first_imgEarlier this year, funk fans everywhere mourned the loss of Bernie Worrell. The elite keyboard player cut his jib with Parliament Funkadelic, and later found success with the Talking Heads and many more exciting projects. Though he suffered from cancer in his final days, Worrell maintained a positive spirit, working with musicians whenever he had the strength.One of Bernie Worrell’s final projects was with the Joe Marcinek Band, working on their upcoming album Slink. Due out on December 9th via Hitman Records, the album sees Marcinek collaborate with greats like Joey Porter (The Motet), Garrett Sayers (The Motet), Pete Koopmans (Family Groove Company), Nicholas Gerlach (Turbo Suit) and Gabriel Mervine (The Motet).Worrell had previously toured with Joe Marcinek, and the two had discussed recording together, but unfortunately Worrell’s condition left him unable to physically attend the sessions in Colorado. However, one track was in need of a keyboard melody part. Marcinek sent over the tape to Worrell, who recorded a lead melody at his home studio back in March. After Worrell’s death just a few months later, the track become a living tribute and earned the title, “Bernie”.“It was such an honor to know and work with Bernie and I am forever grateful for the time spent together,” said Marcinek. “Not only a remarkable musician and a genius innovator of the keyboards. He was a loving giving human being who left everyone he met a better person.” In honor of Worrell, we’re beyond honored to exclusively share the Joe Marcinek’s newest song, “Bernie”. Enjoy it below.Joe Marcinek Band Tour Dates11.30.16 The Cabooze – Minneapolis, MN12.1.16 Redstone Room – Davenport, IA12.2.16 House Pub – St Charles, IL12.3.16 Beachview Motel – Burlington, WI12.8.16 IPA – Greenville, SC12.9.16 Asheville Music Hall – Asheville, NC12.10.16 Good Ol Days – Cumming, GA12.14.16 High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI12.15.16 Tonic Room – Chicago, IL12.16.16 Buddy & Pals – Schererville, IN12.17.18 Cranky Pats – Neenah, WI12.18.16 Founders Taproom – Grand Rapids, MI1.8.17 Charleston Pour House1.13.17 The Funky Biscuit – Boca Raton, FLlast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: March 1, 2021

Politics in a ‘post-truth’ age

first_imgPolitics has always been a nasty and brutish game, but what has startled political observers about the 2016 election is how long-established standards and rules once thought to govern the way we choose a president have seemingly fallen away.Conventional wisdom appears up for grabs about who’s qualified to run, who’s likelier to win, how candidates conduct themselves, how campaigns are run, how the media remains fair, and what ideas and actions voters will embrace or reject. The unpredictable race is now down to the unorthodox but successful candidacy of Donald Trump, the brash celebrity business mogul, and Hillary Clinton, the familiar careerist politician who’s been eyeing the presidency since at least 2007. This has been an election in which no political experts have had a handle on what will happen next.Do these surprising dynamics and developments suggest that this nation is simply in a strange, outlier election cycle, or has it somehow crossed a political Rubicon? After 57 presidential elections since 1789, has something fundamentally changed?“I look at this as a normal revolt in the cycle of revolt and collapse that is the history of America and the way it manages change. We’ve avoided the violence of European revolutions quite extraordinarily because we’re in fact a more institutionally and culturally conservative country than we’d like to think we are,” said Richard Parker, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and senior fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.“We have a story of our being independent and independent-minded and ‘Don’t tread on me,’ and that’s why the Tea Party is the image of this latest eruption. And yet at the same time, we’ve got one of the most conservative governing constitutions in the world. We’ve got all the constraints of a two-party system and its comparative lack of representativeness compared to a multiparty parliamentary system. We’ve got information distribution concentrated in a relatively small number of hands. Wealth is as concentrated as it’s been at any point in 100 years. So it doesn’t feel to me like a country that: A., is falling apart, or B., is all that prone” to making huge structural changes, he said.‘The ability of democracies to function is not reflected simply in whether or not there are quadrennial elections that are carried out fairly, but whether there’s a culture of democracy that constitutes rules of the game for most people and that are felt not just as rules, but as values.’ — Richard Parker“I don’t think it’s new. If you look at political campaigns in the 19th century, there’s [some] pretty vicious rhetoric,” added Jennifer Hochschild, the H.L. Jayne Professor of Government at Harvard. “The media were very, very, very partisan through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. The notion of the nonpartisan, fair, and balanced media is really a kind of mid-20th century phenomenon.“I’m not prepared to say that we are in uncharted waters,” although “it’s hard to think of a presidential candidate — we’ve certainly had demagogues and racist demagogues — I don’t think any presidential candidate of the two major parties looks like” Trump, she said, noting parallels between his surprising success and that of first-term U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, an outsider who rode an emotional wave of change into office seven years ago.Yet analysts say this election does raise important questions about what it means to be Americans in a democracy today.“For me, one of the principal underlying questions has to do with who we are as an American society in a pluralistic world,” said Harvey Cox, Harvard’s Hollis Research Professor of Divinity. The proliferation of partisan media that has driven rising political polarization is worrisome because such outlets reinforce biases and squelch our ability to empathize as we talk past one another, he said. “We’re not learning how to negotiate our differences at a very basic, grassroots level, and I think losing the capacity to do it at a national level.”“The ability of democracies to function,” said Parker, “is not reflected simply in whether or not there are quadrennial elections that are carried out fairly, but whether there’s a culture of democracy that constitutes rules of the game for most people and that are felt not just as rules, but as values.“I think that the great moral questions for me are, first of all, whether or not we can recover a sense of being a moral community that functions as a democracy. That’s the most pressing. And then you move on to the writ policy questions and the issue of what it means for America to be a global leader or a global hegemon and what it’s going to mean going forward,” compared with what it’s meant in the 60 years since World War II.“There’s no clear sense in which America can point, as it did in the Rooseveltian period, toward a set of rights or an organization of societies and international rules that are clear victories for this idea of moral democracy,” he said.A diverse, democratic populace like that of the United States will never reach total unanimity on an issue, said political theorist Danielle Allen, who directs the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. But “you do have to have shared principles. Fundamentally, you have to have a commitment to democratic lawfulness and to constitutionalism and basic rights. And Trump is challenging that in a way that other candidates are not.” Media coverage of candidates was unbalanced early and often, study says Lies, damn lies, and politicsPresidential elections are the ultimate popularity contest. Whoever persuades the most people in enough states to provide 270 electoral votes is the winner. And yet, after the Democratic and Republican primaries winnowed a field of 23 contenders, the 2016 electorate will have to choose between Trump and Clinton, two of the least-liked major candidates ever to run for president. In May, according to a Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans said that neither Clinton nor Trump is honest and trustworthy, and both have unfavorable numbers at historic highs.How can this be? Certainly, the dissembling politician who skillfully shades the truth, gives the issues a self-serving spin, or sidetracks inconvenient facts is a timeworn archetype in American politics. But outright lying or routinely withholding information that may cast an unflattering light on a candidate or campaign has become a central, unifying theme this year. Both Trump and Clinton are trying to brand the other as a habitual liar who can’t be trusted to run the country or look out for the interests of ordinary citizens. In previous elections, such assertions, if proven false, likely would have damaged the candidate who made them. That’s far less true in this election.The fact-checking nonpartisan organization Politifact recently rated 129 of 169 statements made by Trump as “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” It found that of 212 statements made by Clinton, whose assertions about her use of a private email server while secretary of state have been undermined repeatedly, 59 were similarly untrue.So how did we end up with these presumptive party nominees? Has the United States entered some sort of “post-factual” political period? Critics of the United Kingdom’s recent vote to exit the European Union suggested that the result was at least partly caused by misleading ads and editorializing by the “Leave” campaign, and that some voters either didn’t know the assertions were inaccurate or, worse, didn’t care.“This has just been a clinic on the post-truth age of politics, Trump in particular. It’s performance art at this point,” said Christopher Robichaud, a lecturer in ethics and public policy at HKS. “It’s true that what Trump is saying is false, it’s just that in the post-truth age of politics, we’re beyond criticizing someone for that. It’s like criticizing an actor for saying a lot of false things. He says whatever he needs to say to move people emotionally.”‘We’re in the very unlucky situation that the first person who happens to have mastered the new communications architecture is also filling those channels with junk.’ — Danielle AllenHochschild, co-author of “Do Facts Matter?,” a book on truth and democracy, disagrees. “I think that’s a little too strong. It is certainly the case that to some degree people have different truths. We listen to different media, we either see different events or prioritize different events differently or interpret the same event differently. There’s a lot of that going on, there’s no question.“Whether he’s crossed some line that had, to some degree, restrained previous politicians and it turns out it wasn’t a real line anyway and they all are kind of fools for having thought that facts actually matter — I think you could make a case for that,” she said.“I still would like to believe that it’s going to catch up with him, that once we get [further] away from the primary season, it’s not going to work…,” she said. “But I wouldn’t put money on that at this point.”Rules of the gameMuch of what’s astounded the professional political class is the extent to which the seemingly immutable rules about how elections are won and lost no longer appear valid. Most evident is the way in which U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a white-haired, little-known Socialist from Vermont, managed to draw stadium-sized crowds and raised more money than every Republican and Democrat except Clinton. Then there is the way that the novice Trump built a national political following using Twitter and pep rallies while eschewing major fundraising, polling, data analytics, and ground campaigning.“The communications marketplace has been transformed, and Trump is the only candidate in either party who understands the new architecture,” said Allen. “Any candidate could actually master the communications architecture just as well as Trump has and fill it with positive content. We’re in the very unlucky situation that the first person who happens to have mastered the new communications architecture is also filling those channels with junk.“For starters, we have to acknowledge that the culture has bifurcated between a culture that reads and a culture that watches. Trump’s is the only campaign that’s built around that principle. Most of his campaigning is directed at people who watch and don’t read, which is partly why he can ignore the text press. If you look at his campaign website, he doesn’t have policy papers, he has short videos expressing more or less his attitude on particular things. The old-fashioned read-a-lecture-from-a-text does not meet audiences where they are right now. And Trump gets that,” said Allen.“Second, he gets the bifurcation of the audience, and he’s using that very much to his advantage. And then there’s the social media piece. He knows how to amplify conversations in a way that’s well beyond the capacity of the other candidates.”Everyone’s a whinerNot that long ago, elections were hard-fought because they were decisive. Someone won and someone lost. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in an extremely tight race between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore to deliver the presidency to Bush through electoral votes despite Gore garnering more votes nationwide. Gore’s concession speech was a gracious acknowledgment of the court’s decision and a pledge of cooperation despite an outcome that many voters felt was fraudulent.Now, our politics appears to put a lie to the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous line that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” while embracing a culture of whining. A contest that does not yield someone’s desired result is often not a loss now, but “rigged” or “unfair” and therefore illegitimate. The untrue assertion promoted for years by Trump and others that Obama was twice elected president of the United States under false pretenses — that he is not an American-born citizen as the Constitution requires and thus not entitled to the powers of the office — is at the heart of “Birtherism.”“I’m always sensitive to challenges of a public official’s legitimacy because that’s a moral claim. It’s not ‘You’re wrong,’ or ‘I think you’re bad for the country,’ or ‘I’m going to oppose your ideas.’ It’s ‘You don’t belong,’” said Robichaud, also noting the grumblings from the Sanders camp and his supporters that Clinton’s pending party nomination will be the result of an unfair selection process manipulated by the Democratic National Committee.“I think in an election year in which anti-establishment sentiments run high, you’re going to see an increased use of language about the lack of legitimacy, and up to a point it’s fine — all’s fair in love, war, and politics. But I do think at some point it crosses a line. I don’t think it’s healthy for our democracy to claim there are no legitimate political mechanisms,” he said. “It’s just not true.”Certainly, the primaries process is “ugly and messy” and “the way we vote for a president in this country is deeply problematic. These are real problems we need to and should look at and address … But I’m not ready, nor do I think it’s reasonable, to look at them and go ‘nothing legitimate can come out of this process.’” Pollster Peter Hart explores electorate’s mood, gauges early presidential prospects Defining deviancy downJust four years ago, the line between what was fit for public discourse and what was best left for private conversation was pretty clear. Candidates vying for the presidency strove to project a statesmanlike demeanor before voters at all times, talking about topics and issues that played to their perceived strengths in tone and language that reinforced those goals. Few thought it strategically sound to provide ammunition to enemies by speaking intemperately or risking off-color or self-destructive comments like Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks.Yet, since the Republican primary began last summer, Trump has blazed his trail through cursing, name-calling, making sexual innuendos, advancing conspiracy theories, and making tabloid-style smears about opponents’ alleged criminal behavior, and disparaging and mocking people for their ethnicity, gender, appearance, disability, and religious beliefs. His comments have rarely hurt him badly and have belied the conventional wisdom about what 21st-century voters will tolerate. Some Trump opponents, including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren, also have also dipped their toes into brackish water with mixed results.Allen, who teaches a course on justice and citizenship in ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy, said the tone of the race in 2016 is “demonstrably different” from past elections. The Athenians “were incredibly scurrilous and said all kinds of things about each other’s mothers and so forth,” but “they never stooped to the level of vulgarity we’ve seen this year.”The coarsening of our political language is an “unsurprising” carryover of our shifting tastes and standards of popular culture over the last few decades, which paved the way for acquiescence to what once was shocking or even deadly for a political career, she said. Throw in the post-Internet culture of casualization, where billionaire CEOs wear sweatshirts to board meetings, where cyber-bullying is unfettered, and where everyone feels free to offer unsolicited opinions on everything from politics to poor restaurant service across global publishing platforms, and it’s not hard to see the decline.‘Trump is tapping into part of our culture that doesn’t want to be told that the way that they conceptualize and speak about the world is problematic at all — and they really ought to reconsider that.’ — Christopher RobichaudThe Continental DivideHistory often provides clues to the present, however. Analysts say this election’s populist themes of division and suspicion are straight from the frayed pages of the American political playbook.“Before the Civil War, people referred to the United States in the plural. It’s only after Northern triumphalism takes hold of the country that we begin to actually speak of the United States in a unitary way,” said Parker. “We are in many ways a deeply disunited country and have been all along. To our great advantage in some ways, we have downplayed, ignored, or lied to ourselves about the degrees of disunity, but they are there.“Race, region, and religion are the great axial forces or vectors of American politics. So to know where someone is going to stand, you need to know race and religious background and gender, but you also need to know something about region, because region becomes a proxy for very powerful communal attitudes that play out in individual ethics even though the overlay of law may make the region look not substantially different from other parts of the country,” he said.“Our culture has had the beliefs that Trump has given voice to for quite some time — a portion of the culture anyway. I don’t think it’s purely a result of Trump being Trump. I think it’s the times as well,” said Robichaud. “There’s a lot of anxiety out there that has made it ‘permissible’ to say these things again [because] we’re in crisis mode. Trump is tapping into part of our culture that doesn’t want to be told that the way that they conceptualize and speak about the world is problematic at all — and they really ought to reconsider that.”In a culture founded on the pursuit of religious freedom, stoking fears of terrorism by blaming Muslims is the dark side of what has been an extended period of religious tolerance since the anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism of 1950s politics, said Cox.Would a Trump victory in November open the door to other celebrities and public figures outside politics to run for president? Richard Parker, a lecturer in public policy at HKS, says it’s more likely we’re going to see more women elected president than billionaire TV stars.“There’s more mutuality and mutual respect and cooperation among religious groups in this country than there has been for a very, very long time,” he said. “It’s enormously improved on the one side. On the other side, it’s been exacerbated by people who want to stimulate this sleeping, underlying, dormant animosity and use it for their own purposes.”Does the resonance of naked appeals to racial, religious, ethnic, and gender prejudices indicate a sudden reversal of what’s acceptable?“It’s important to say that the norms are still obvious and in existence. The trouble is that they seem to have lost their power. It’s not that they’re gone; we see a good number of the candidates adhering to the norms of civility and reasoned argumentation,” said Allen, a frequent Trump critic. “The majority of Americans do not approve of what Trump’s doing, and we’re all sort of losing sight of that fact.“We have a kind of collective-action problem: How do you re-establish norms of decency and civility so that they do capture … to some extent the whole of the culture?”Allen likens it to the advent of “quiet cars” on trains. “Everybody’s annoyed” if there’s still noise, “but nobody wants to say anything; nobody wants to be the one to stand up and say, ‘Hey, would you turn your music down?’ So you have a collective-action problem, which is actually that the majority of opinion is against this kind of behavior, but the majority doesn’t know how to coordinate around re-establishing those norms,” she said.Where we go from hereWould a Trump victory in November open the door to other celebrities and public figures outside politics to run for president?Parker said Trump’s decades of television celebrity coupled with his personal wealth and his unusual skill at garnering billions in free media exposure make him an anomaly. “I don’t think this sets a precedent. It’s more likely we’re going to see more women elected president than we’re going to see billionaire TV stars elected president over the next 40 years.“I’m struck by the fact that the passions are so high relative to the policy stakes, which are so low. There’s nobody advocating we overthrow the government by force and violence, there’s no marshaling of nighttime rallies with giant bonfires and the burning of the books of the opposition. I don’t think we’re going there,” he added.“I actually think that we’re in another one of those long period interregnums, just as we were in the 1920s or the 1970s. This is not going to be a determinative election, but that rather 2020 or 2024 is going to produce a major new president who’s then going to lock in an ideological direction for the country that’s probably going to last for 30 or 40 years. And it’s going to be driven in no small part by this massive demographic shift that’s going on,” said Parker.“If this continues for a couple of generations, we’re really in trouble. The good news is I don’t see why we should think it will,” said Robichaud. “I’m hoping this is just a moment for us to go through, collect ourselves, and hopefully move forth. I don’t know where the bottom is, but I’m really hoping Trump represents the bottom and we can start pulling ourselves up from that and recognizing that not everything goes.”Added Hochshild: “I cling to the belief that sooner or later, the chickens come home to roost.”SaveSave Related 2016 issues: Voter anger, distrust The making of the campaign, 2016 Relatedlast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: December 17, 2020

Business as unusual: Exclusive insights from credit union experts

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Paroon Chadha Paroon Chadha co-founded Passageways in 2003 and continues to lead as CEO. He serves on Boards at Passageways, Big Brother Big Sister of Greater Lafayette, Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, … Web: https://www.passageways.com Details “Unprecedented!”“The calm before the storm!”“A source of nervousness!”These were just a few words senior leaders of the credit union movement used to describe the current business environment, which we call “Business As Unusual.”Since the very beginning, credit unions have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. From strategic planning to community engagement, the pandemic has required credit union boards and leaders to throw out the status quo and adapt to ensure their members can continue to grow and thrive.Filene Research Institute and OnBoard recently brought a panel of innovative leaders together to share their insights on how board and leaders are navigating this new era. They included:Paroon Chadha, Co-Founder and CEO, PassagewaysBob Falk, CEO, Purdue Federal Credit UnionDean Pielemeier, President & CEO, Abbey Credit UnionErin Coleman, Senior Director, Advisory Services, Filene Research InstituteAmit Seru, Steven and Roberta Denning Professor of Finance, Stanford Graduate School of BusinessKey takeaways from this panel of experts included:The State of the Economy and Industry: “Now is Calm Before the Storm”Resilience and Recovery Plans: “As Good as Your Experience”Board Interaction During the Crisis: Frequent Updates, Surveys, and Changing FocusMemo from Management to the Board: “Keep It as Strategic as Possible”2021: Predicting the UnpredictableThe State of the Economy and Industry: “Now is Calm Before the Storm”The current environment has been called “the calm before the storm.” Panelists expect the next 12 to 18 months – and even further into the long-term – to be crucial for the economy and the financial services industry.“2020 is still somewhat normal, but we expect 2021 to be a pretty rough year on both the consumer and commercial portfolios. We’ll start seeing some improvement in the economy in 2022. Then in 2023, maybe we’ll get back to a new version of normal.” – Bob Falk“I don’t have a real warm and fuzzy about the next couple years for the economy and how we’re going to have to react to it. I think debts are going to be a very huge burden for the country for years to come. I am concerned about the delinquency we may see this year and into next year. We’ve started ramping up our probation as most people have because we do think that’s coming. We’re going see a lot of cost cutting in our shop just to help offset the PLL provision expense.” – Dean Pielemeier“When thinking about the opportunity for us in the next 12 to 18 months, we’ve talked about focusing on the human connection, which is our superpower as credit unions. It’s not about boiling the ocean, but focusing on what we can control.” – Erin Coleman“In the financial services industry, the last decade was all about banks and credit unions facing headwinds from FinTech and big tech firms. Credit unions and banks will regain the advantage because they understand the industry. But they will have to pull their socks up and try to get into the digital space, and potentially even collaborate with a bunch of these firms.” – Amit SeruResilience and Recovery Plans: “As Good as Your Experience”Disaster recovery plans (DRP) and business continuity plans (BCP) have long been in place as a requirement of regulatory compliance. Written mainly to address recovery from natural disasters, the pandemic and immediate switch to a remote workforce required credit unions to adapt their DRPs and BCPs quickly.“We kicked off our first meeting somewhere in January. I brought it together saying, ‘Hey, we should pay attention to this COVID thing.’ Then we started meeting daily right around mid-February. We were meeting every day and virtually rewriting our business continuity plan every day. How many of us have ever had to shut down our branches within 24 hours and try to figure out how to serve members remotely? How many of us had to figure out how to shut our rear offices down, virtually kick every employee out of the office, and then have them work from home within 24 to 48 hours? We never had that written anywhere in the plan. We had it written for a building hit by a tornado or struck by lightning or flooded, but never a widespread ‘clear out the whole place immediately and everyone work from home.’” – Bob Falk“For us, our plan was more of a disaster scenario. But we had a workforce that really took it seriously and stepped up to the plate where they needed to. Even though we weren’t what I would consider one hundred percent prepared – I don’t think anybody was – we did in short order get things up and running and really never missed a beat with the members. We always had the drive-throughs open. We went out and closed loans out in the parking lot. We kept things running and kept the members safe.” – Dean Pielemeier “Disaster recovery plans are as good as your experience. Credit unions also have had to figure out how to continue engagement and communication with their employees as they are remote. Those are components that were not written in their plans, but became evident relatively quickly because employees and managers needed a connection. While it has been very difficult, credit unions overall were brilliant in creating this pivot and creating a workforce that could continue to serve members right away.” – Erin ColemanBoard Interaction During the Crisis: Frequent Updates, Surveys, and Changing FocusAs their businesses have evolved, so too have interactions between between credit union executives and their boards of directors.“What changed the most was the amount of updates. We moved to virtual meetings in February, and we said ‘We’re going to need the latitude to be able to make decisions quickly. Are we okay just doing that and letting [the board] know what we’re doing?’ And I got that approval to do that, which was really important.”“We were meeting daily making decisions on what we’re changing in the operation. Then I would give the board a Friday update. Here’s the synopsis. Here’s all the stuff we did this week. Here’s when the branches are closing. Here’s when we moved all the employees off site. Here’s all the latest. So there was much more regular communication to the board.” – Bob Falk“I’ve used the survey module within OnBoard to get a feel of where the board members stand on things. For example, I did one recently to get an idea where people stand on getting back together in person.” – Dean Pielemeier“We saw that initially the conversations were one-on-one and were very quick because the CEOs were communicating with board members to tell them what was going on with the business and also to let them know what was going on with the health and safety of the employees. Then the focus went broad and turned to providing immediate relief to members. As that eased, the focus turned to employee safety, security, and providing support to members who still need it.” – Erin ColemanMemo from Management to the Board: “Keep It as Strategic as Possible”During a crisis, events on the ground can shift daily. Credit union executives need the flexibility to move quickly and stay nimble, and boards need to focus on broad-level governance. The key is to recruit board members who are strategic and keep their focus not only every day-to-day detail, but on the bigger picture strategic issues. “The biggest thing that we saw with our board reinforced our path where we are recruiting board members who are strategic. They weren’t involved in the day-to-day. They were very much in a governance role. They stepped back and said ‘Management, you’ve got this. You have the tools to make the decisions. Go and make the decisions. Just keep us in the loop.’ That’s very different from some of my peers who had to go to their board to make those decisions every time. They were much more of an operational board. For me, it really crystallized that it was important to have that strategic governance level board member. Not someone that really wants to watch and run the organization from the boardroom. It just isn’t effective.” – Bob Falk“We’ve been talking to credit unions about making sure you give the board the tools that they need to have that open communication. It’s also very important for them to give the CEO the support that they need, boost them up, provide constructive feedback, and keep it as strategic as possible. Make sure that you’re approaching things from a factual standpoint. It’s easy to say and hard to do in these tumultuous times, but it’s imperative to keep your eye as a board member on the facts of the current state and on the future. Give the flexibility and the trust to the CEO and the executive team to run the business while you keep your eye on higher-level information. Listen and ask questions if you don’t understand what decisions are being made and what that means strategically.” – Erin Coleman2021: Predicting the UnpredictableThere is a saying: “It is often said there are two types of forecasts: lucky or wrong.” Nevertheless, each of the panelists offered one prediction they see coming true by the end of 2021.“I think you’re going to see an extreme ramp up of consolidation.  There are absolute capital drain and capital impactful types of issues that are headed our industry’s way, and that’s going to drive immense consolidation in both the credit union and banking industries. It’s won’t just be about small credit unions merging into bigger credit unions. It’s going to be shops like my billion and a half credit union [Purdue Federal Credit Union] with another billion and a half or 2 billion credit union to get those economies of scale, to pick up some functionality, and to handle the load on the organization.” – Bob Falk“The dollar is the most dominant currency in terms of how transactions are done worldwide. I expect a lot of competition to come up at a fast pace and are going to slowly but surely chip away at the dominance that dollar has. All this spending of trillions of dollars that we have done and probably need to keep doing is not going to help on that front. And it’s going to probably happen much faster than anybody thought because everybody thought that the only currency we need to worry about probably is the central bank currency of China. But there are digital players coming up, too, and they are going to challenge the dollar as well.” – Amit Seru“I think it’s going to be very difficult for credit unions to keep their bottom line because capital is going to be an issue because of the growth that we’ve seen and some of this stimulus money that’s coming in. We’ve grown 23%, and if we don’t see some that go back out, our capital ratio is going to be something to be concerned about. So I think keeping capital up is going to be a struggle next year. We’ll start seeing credit unions merge to try and resolve the issues and some of it just out of necessity.” – Dean Pielemeier“The reason for all this economic conversation we’re having is the health pandemic. And I think a year from now, we will see a widely available and affordable vaccine. Our conversations next year will be about how we shore up that bottom line, and also about encouraging mobility, spending where possible, and continuing to support members where they need it most. From a cultural perspective, I expect that more of us will work remote and that there will be different ways of interacting with members that perhaps we haven’t even thought of yet. I think the face of our workforce and the face of our membership is going to change because conversations about racial and economic justice are going to continue. And I think ultimately that’s going to be a good thing.” – Erin Coleman“I predict the death of privately-owned data centers. We’re starting to see the real grinding on that front.” – Paroon ChadhaWatch the Webinar Replay to Learn Even MoreThose were just five of the insights that the leadership panel shared. There was plenty more to be learned from this rich and thoughtful conversation, so we encourage you to sign up and watch the full webinar replay.Watch the webinar replay.last_img read more