Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vermont Secessionist and Occupy Vermont Activist, Matt Cropp, Plots Takeover of Vermont Credit Unions

Matthew Cropp, the 2010 campaign manager for one of the most inept, unhinged gubernatorial campaigns in recent memory, that of the middle-finger waving Dennis Steele; one of the founders of the secessionist provisional capitol in Hancock, VT; maintainer of an inneffectual website that has apparently met none of the goals he set for it; recipient of an internet head pat from the baas of Second Vermont Republic, the Dixie singin' Thomas Naylor; an editorial board member of the defunct Vermont Commons newsletter secessionist propaganda rag where he still blogs on their unpopular website; stunningly failed candidate for the board of directors of City Market/Onion River Co-op in Burlington; and one of the leaders of disastrously operated Occupy encampments - one dead - in City Hall Park, Burlington, and he's now got a new idea. He intends an Occupy Vermont takeover Vermont's various credit unions. He even scheduled to be held this past Saturday his first organizing meeting for the takeover of credit unions by Occupiers at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, VT between 1:00 and 3:00 PM.


I don't know whether to laugh or pee or both.

Here's Matt Cropp's plan:
Occupy Your Credit Union! A Tactic for Activist Members
"...Being a credit union member is not basically the same as being a bank customer who gets better rates and fewer fees; rather, at its core, credit union membership means that you own your bank. With that ownership comes not simply a claim to your fair share of the profits that Bank of America would otherwise have shipped off to its shareholders, but the right to have an equal say in determining the policies and priorities of your credit union."


"In order to wield that power to effectively advance our interests against the plutocracy, however, requires that we push for more participatory and responsive democratic processes in our credit unions. As long as the democratic deficit remains, credit unions will remain a passive counter-balance to the excesses of the Wall Street model; once we resolve it, however, I believe credit unions have the potential to become champions that can lend an enormous amount of weight to the struggle for a just financial order."

"Though there are many possible ways to increase the empowerment of credit union members, I propose that one effective strategy would be the formation of "Credit Union Members Associations." Open to all members of a particular credit union and run on the consensus model popularized by the Occupy movement, each Members Association will initially serve as a bi-monthly forum at which members can get to know each other and discuss their the credit union. Then, as the credit union's annual meeting approaches, members of the Association will nominate a slate of "Association Delegates" from their own ranks to challenge the incumbent members of the board of directors whose seats are up for election."

"To receive the endorsement of the Members Association, prospective candidates must meet a few requirements. As in credit union board elections, they must receive the support of the majority of Association members, and, if successfully elected to the credit union board, they must pledge to fulfill several key responsibilities. First, Association Delegates will be responsible for organizing a general meeting (run on the aforementioned consensus process) open to all members of the credit union every two months at which they will report on important news and developments. Second, during such meetings, should the assembled members come to consensus on a proposal (which any member is empowered to bring before the body), the Association Delegates will be obligated to do everything in their power to push for the enactment of the policies called for by the members. Finally, the Association Delegates will commit to pushing for the incorporation of the participatory processes of the Members Association into the structure of the credit union itself, with the aim of eventually making the Association redundant."

"This final goal will likely take time, since, in most credit unions, only a third of the board seats are up for reelection each year. Nonetheless, since credit union annual meeting attendance is (for complex historical reason, and with some exceptions) abysmally low, those seats should be easy pickings for the delegates of a well organized Members Association (as long as they make sure to check the credit union's bylaws to see if you have to turn in a petition in advance to be on the ballot; many credit unions don't allow for nominations from the floor at their annual meetings). In all honesty, a committed block of 25-50 people in a credit union of 20,000+ members would likely be sufficient for success, and, with a few seats at the table, the new board members could start successfully pushing for new initiatives to increase member engagement and participation right off the bat (one such idea: democratizing community giving)."

Great! If members want any say in how their credit union's run they'll need to attend one of those dopey finger wiggling General Assemblies that Ocuppiers think all decision making groups should be reduced to or lose their say as a credit union member. Matt's a little vague on who'll benefit most in this sweeping takeover but I think his focus on "community giving" is a hint. A small group of Occupiers - "25-50 people in a credit union of 20,000+ members" - calling the shots using their governing model and standing the local credit unions longtime very good relationship with its members on its head, all in furtherance of goals of what must be one of the most incompetent Occupy groups in the country, Occupy Burlington-Vermont. Matt's process outlined in his statement in bold is based on the anarchist model or principles called "direct democracy", not unlike the governing principles of a "dictatorship of the proletariat".

Like most of what Matt does, this probably will go nowhere and hopefully with no casualities this time, but it's interesting that Matt proposes that less than 1% of credit union members control the assests of the remaining more than 99% of credit union members. Odd, no?

If you are a member of one of Vermont's credit unions, you may want to let yours know what Matt Cropp is planning. You can find yours in this online list of 27 Vermont Credit Unions. Our Vermont credit unions have 290,000 members and assets totaling $2.4 billion. Wouldn't Matt just love to control that?

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