What we think: Wade v. CUB is unneeded diversion

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By The Staff

The news for Citizens Union Bank seems more dark today, and we fear that darkness might be obscuring a very key process for all of us.

In the wake of what seemed an announcement to celebrate – the naming of two willing new chairs for CUB’s boards – came the discordant drop of a lawsuit from former CEO Billie Wade.

When Mr. Wade’s departure was announced in March, just days after the revelation that the bank was under federal and state scrutiny, we had our doubts about its veracity.

A man so committed to his job and his community, a man who had appeared direct with the public about why his bank was under state and federal examination, did not appear to us the sort who would walk away and leave everyone else to fix problems that had occurred on his watch.

At the time, the response was clear from CUB President David Bowling that Mr. Wade indeed had decided that this was the appropriate time to pursue the next phase of his life.

But Mr. Wade’s filing last week of a wrongful termination suit brings those questions again to full glaring spotlight.

Whether Mr. Wade’s contract was breeched and his name defamed is a matter for the courts, but his very loud, 18-page suggestion that there was no retirement takes on the very distinct peel of the truth.

Lawsuits, we certainly know, have two sides that often leave the truth somewhere astride all the legal posturing.

And we aren’t here to take sides in determining who is right in this one. But we are here to ask a few simple questions that we believe must be answered:

§       Why in the middle of such a public cleansing process as a Consent Order from the state would Mr. Wade leave the building?

§       If Mr. Wade’s claim that he was fired by the recommendation of consultants were to be true, why wouldn’t bank officials not want to be forthright in saying their actions were in response to the state-required personnel review? After all, isn’t that the sort of desired transparency we seek when an institution is attempting to clean up a mess?

§       If Mr. Wade truly was not party to the announced resignation, why did he not say so at the time? Why let this situation simmer in a cauldron of public speculation for 100 days and then enumerate it in legal action?

There are other questions as well, but the answers likely won’t be forthcoming. Mr. Wade is avoiding all communiqué, and the bank is being terse, as defendants in lawsuits tend to be.

The courts will sort this out, probably over a period of years and in a manner that is as quiet and inconspicuous as is possible.

Mr. Wade wants a public forum for his voice to be heard. The bank will want to shut the doors on this process with the loud thud of a vault door.

We expect that to be the final solution: a quiet settlement based in dollars rather than a public discussion based in clarity and facts.

But the bottom line for what could be a corporate soap opera of sorts is simple and must without question remain the focus:

CUB, one of our oldest institutions, a regional bank with its foundation in our soil, is the focus of a federal and state examination.

We want the outcome to be positive: a more vital bank that retains its focus on our county and its leaders from among our citizens.

We don’t need mudslinging, board-room politics and compensation questions to muddle that picture.

After all, those are the sorts of things that cause bank examinations in the first place.