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Calif. league chair defends Cheney's half-million dollar paycheck.

Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, received $545,178 in salary and benefits during 2007 plus contributions toward a retirement plan worth $175,512 and a $10,000 expense account, according to IRS forms obtained by Credit Union Times.

California league chair Brett Martinez defended the half-million dollar paycheck as appropriate for the CEO of an organization of that size.

"The California Credit Union League is the largest organization among state credit union leagues, representing over 400 credit unions in California and, through a management services agreement, Nevada," Martinez said. "The responsibilities of the CEO are extensive, and the league feels strongly that the position deserves compensation consistent with the expertise required to successfully lead the organization ahead-especially during these difficult economic times." Furthermore, Martinez added, Cheney himself requested a suspension of all league salaries and bonuses this year, which "has resulted in a significant decrease in his total compensation." Additionally, league spokesman Henry Kertman said Cheney's retirement plan is not fully vested until 2015 but must be reported now because of IRS regulations.

Eric Bruen, president/CEO of the $19 million Desert Valleys Credit Union, said he thinks Cheney's compensation is appropriate, saying, "Bill earns every cent of it."

Bruen said in his opinion, the California league is second only to CUNA in industry leadership, and the organization provides several complicated products and services to members.

"Everybody wants to throw stones at glass houses and say compensation is part of the problem, but that wasn't what created the problems California credit unions are facing," Bruen said.

California credit unions don't underestimate the value of "forward legislative thinking" Cheney and his predecessor, Dave Chatfield, have delivered, he said.

Martinez also cheered Cheney's legislative accomplishments, saying the value of his leadership has "proven critical" over the past year.

"Our member credit unions depend upon him to successfully represent their best interests in leading credit union advocacy efforts in our state capitols and in Washington, D.C.; to help sustain a regulatory environment that ensures the safety and soundness of credit unions; to build public awareness of credit unions; and to provide a variety of educational and business services that benefit credit unions and their members," he said.

The league's ability to maintain members, manage finances and reduce the financial burden on league members is a testament to his successful leadership, Martinez said.

--handerson@cutimes.com
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Author:Anderson, Heather
Publication:Credit Union Times
Date:Sep 23, 2009
Words:400
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