Two former state regulators who tried to save a faltering Guardian Savings & Loan were quietly forced this week by federal regulators to resign from their positions at the thrift.
William J. Crawford and William D. Davis said Friday that the federal agency running the S&L; asked them Tuesday to resign. Neither of them said they know why they were forced out.
An RTC spokesman said that he did not know the reasons for the resignations.
"They're probably just going to downsize the institution and wind the thing up, and they don't need two bosses," said Crawford, who was chairman, president and chief executive but reported to an RTC official. "It's just part of life."
"It was rather a sudden decision that apparently came from (RTC regional headquarters in) Denver," said Davis, who was executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We were sort of intent on seeing this thing through."
The action came a month after word leaked that Crawford had tried to interest regulators in a plan to turn the Huntington Beach thrift into an employee-owned, minority-controlled institution. But regulators wanted a $25-million investment up front, and Crawford could not find that much.
Both Crawford and Davis were known as tough regulators when they headed the state Department of Savings and Loan through the second half of the 1980s.
They were brought in earlier this year after the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision ousted Guardian's owner, Russell M. Jedinak, from management. They had expected to turn Guardian around within two years, and OTS had approved their plan to recapitalize the thrift.
But Crawford and Davis were surprised when the agency seized the institution June 21 and turned it over to the RTC to manage under conservatorship. The RTC halted the S&L;'s lending activities, killing the source of revenue to rescue the institution.
At the end of June, Guardian still met one of the three tough federal standards for capital, the final reserve against losses, and fell just short of a second one.
Its $3.3-million second-quarter loss wiped out its $3.1-million first-quarter profit. The loss was attributed mainly to a writedown of the value of the S&L;'s headquarters building, ordered by the OTS.
Crawford, 71, who was commissioner of the state Department of Corporations from March, 1985, to May, 1989, said he does not want to retire yet and might try to work again for the RTC. Before taking the reins at Guardian on Feb. 1, he had managed failed thrifts for the RTC.
Davis, 54, who was Crawford's deputy and took over for a year as commissioner until joining Guardian on May 1, said he is not sure yet where he will land.
"I'll have to hit the streets," he said.