Home > Banking Information & Regulation > Public Meeting Transcripts > PMT - Agendas June 25-26, 1998
Public Meeting Transcripts
Public Meeting Regarding Citicorp and Travelers Group
Friday, June 26, 1998
Transcript of Panel Eighteen
466 1 2 MR. LONEY: I have to adjust the 3 schedule a little bit. Our next group will be 4 comprised of a couple of folks scheduled from 5 panel 18, and one from panel 19. I would ask 6 Jerry Weber and Jane Canner, and Dr. Francois 7 de Cassagnol to come forward please. 8 MS. WEBER: I'd like to thank you for 9 inviting me here. I am working, and I am the 10 director of branch management for The New York 11 Association for new Americans which is the 12 largest resettlement agency, refugee 13 resettlement agency in the country basically. 14 We have a fifty-year history and we started off 15 with the resettlement of holocaust survivors 16 coming from Europe. 17 We have a really new relationship 18 with Citibank. It's approximately two years 19 old, and I must say that it's a good 20 relationship because it's a relationship backed 21 with commitment. 22 We resettle roughly anywhere between 23 ten and 15,000 people a year. Most of the 24 folks now coming from the former Soviet Union. 25 We also have settled folks from Vietnam, from . 467 1 2 Tibet, from Liberia, et cetera. 3 We also have a very large citizenship 4 program helping folks who become citizens and 5 provide legal assistance in that area. Most of 6 our costs are absorbed through foundations, 7 public and private support and some small fees 8 to cover costs that the INS has in fact asked 9 to be collected, so we do that. 10 We are located right down here in 11 Battery Place, but we work in four of the five 12 boroughs. The only borough we do not work in 13 at this moment is Staten Island. 14 What Citibank has offered us in terms 15 of commitment is two things. One is a vision 16 of a real commitment to work together to 17 revitalize the areas and to put some resources 18 into some parts of Brooklyn where we have a 19 large number of folks from the former Soviet 20 Union living, and that's a part of South 21 Brooklyn. 22 The other thing that Citibank has 23 done already, and Mr. McDonough from the Doe 24 Foundation talked about, you know lines of 25 credit and so on. They have been very good . 468 1 2 about that, and, in fact, have lowered some of 3 the costs to almost nil, so that we could move 4 money and work with money, because we do 5 provide assistance for the first four months 6 for our clients to keep them off public 7 assistance. So it's not only monetary 8 assistance from the philanthropic community but 9 we also work very hard to move clients into the 10 area of self-sufficiency, and, you know I just 11 need a very quick anecdote here, is that when I 12 deal with folks who come from the former Soviet 13 Union, a lot of them their first job is their 14 last job, and it's a whole different mind set 15 coming to this country. It is not your first 16 job is necessarily your last job. It's your 17 beginning. 18 But where Citibank has been extremely 19 helpful right now, we are working with them in 20 the micro enterprise program where we got some 21 OR grant to do some micro enterprise. They 22 have a member one of their vice presidents 23 sitting on our panel, they are providing 24 technical assistance for us and you know I very 25 quickly run that through. . 469 1 2 The other place they are is matching 3 up some of our creative folks with SBA loans 4 giving them technical assistance in how to do 5 that working through that with them and helping 6 them any way they can. Our clients come from 7 folks who have limited, limited, limited 8 education, not the folks who are computer 9 literate to the nth degree, but their whole 10 computer literacy is main frame, okay, so there 11 is a transaction there that goes on, I can't 12 get into the technical end, because you'll see 13 how computer illiterate I am. 14 MR. HODGETTS: I probably wouldn't 15 notice. 16 MS. WEBER: But that in fact is where 17 we can now nurture some of our people to start 18 as entrepreneurs into moving up the ladder of 19 success. 20 The other area that Citibank is 21 working with us on is the whole thing of 22 planning towards the future and working with us 23 to do some community revitalization, some 24 economic development, both from a housing point 25 of view and from a small business point of view . 470 1 2 so that that community becomes self sufficient 3 as a whole and becomes dependent upon itself to 4 survive and I think that's extremely important. 5 Lastly, their branch in Sheepshead 6 Bay has a number of folks who are bilingual, 7 trilingual, we'll name it, who have worked with 8 our folks in teaching them the banking system, 9 in helping them through that system, because 10 one of the things we've done, since we do cash 11 assistance in the first four months, is we have 12 used the ATM systems so that checks and money 13 do not move along, and they have been very 14 helpful in moving our clients through the steps 15 and educating them in the whole banking system. 16 So I thank you for your time. 17 MR. LONEY: We thank you. 18 Ms. Canner. 19 MS. CANNER: On behalf of Classroom 20 Inc., New York City nonprofit organization, 21 where I'm director of programs, I am pleased to 22 be here to support Citibank in the work 23 accomplished through their foundation to 24 improve communities across the country. 25 Classroom Inc., has a two-fold . 471 1 2 mission to engage students in productive 3 learning experiences that will help them in 4 their transition to the world beyond school and 5 to provide teachers with the tools and support 6 they need to enhance their effectiveness. 7 To accomplish our mission we create 8 computer-based simulations of real life 9 experiences for use by students in middle and 10 high schools and we provide ongoing 11 professional development opportunities and 12 support for educators participating in our 13 program. 14 Classroom Inc., is committed to 15 serving those young people who most need to 16 believe in a world beyond the school where they 17 can indeed achieve, and who sadly often have 18 the fewest resources available to them. 19 Participating students are afforded an 20 opportunity too seldom available to our 21 financially and socially disadvantaged 22 children, access to technology, and not mere 23 access, but constructive access through 24 effective software. 25 Through our relationship with . 472 1 2 Citibank we have been able to create 3 simulations and offer these learning tools to 4 thousands of teachers and students across the 5 country. 6 In 1994, Citibank provided support 7 for our first banking simulation Chelsea Bank 8 and subsequently fully funded the development 9 production of a financial services stimulation, 10 a course with a community bank which was 11 completed in 1996. 12 These banking simulations served to 13 bring students to a level of financial literacy 14 and to help them understand the role of the 15 bank in their community. They are introduced 16 to a variety of concepts such as profit and 17 loss, interest rate, credit worthiness, 18 mortgages and loans. 19 The simulations are also designed to 20 encourage these students to competency that I 21 have identified by the US Department of Labor 22 Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary 23 Skills or SCAN competencies, things such that 24 they will need in the world of work such as the 25 effective use of resources, the ability to work . 473 1 2 collaboratively with others and proficiency 3 with technology. 4 External resources that has been done 5 on our work today and on the simulations 6 provides evidence that they are effective. 7 Indiana University has been studying students 8 use of the Chelsea Bank, and has found that 9 students using it are effectively in the SCAN 10 skills, and the case studies show that the 11 students have learned about banking customers 12 and awareness of the world of work. 13 At another more recent research study 14 at the University of Pittsburgh Learning 15 Research and Development Center has been 16 studying our financial services simulation 17 because we're a community bank and they have 18 reported that it's one of the best simulations 19 available to use in schools to work programs in 20 schools, and that it provides many 21 opportunities for the students to learn and use 22 a variety of SCAN skills and our own internal 23 research has corroborated this. 24 Citibank and the Citicorp Foundation 25 have helped us position our simulations in a . 474 1 2 variety of school districts across the country. 3 With Citibank taking the lead, we have been 4 introduced into school districts of Las Vegas, 5 Nevada and Sioux Falls, South Dakota where we 6 are serving hundreds of middle and high stool 7 students. 8 We began our work in Sioux Falls in 9 1997 and are expanding it there this year and 10 in Sioux Falls our work has now been embraced 11 at the state level, and with Citibank's support 12 we would hope to be expanding there. 13 We have also begun to look at 14 partnerships in the States of Florida and 15 Georgia where Citibank is an active community 16 member. In addition, our simulations are used 17 in areas where Citibank is not our primary 18 partner, such as in New York City, Philadelphia 19 the State of West Virginia, Houston and other 20 places across the country. 21 We deeply value our relationship with 22 Citibank and Citicorp Citibank leaders share 23 our goal for improving teaching and learning in 24 schools so that students may look forward to a 25 stable and productive future. . 475 1 2 We have confidence that Citibank will 3 continue to play an important role as a 4 community development financial leader and that 5 its support will continue as a corporate value 6 after the proposed merger. 7 Thank you. 8 MR. LONEY: Did I understand you to 9 say Citibank is not your primary partner in New 10 York City? Is that what you said? 11 MS. CANNER: No, I'm sorry, I said 12 they have been the lead role for bringing us 13 into Sioux Falls and Las Vegas. They help us 14 produce the simulations which are in widespread 15 use in New York City. 16 MR. LONEY: Dr. de Cassagnol. 17 DR. de CASSAGNOL: Thank you. I have 18 provided some information for you all. 19 I am Dr. Cassagnol. I'm the founder 20 and chairman of Dr. Cassagnol Cyber Banking 21 Group, and Dr. Cassagnol Foundation. Certified 22 minority fully centered by the state and some 23 of the government. Dr. Cassagnol Foundation is 24 non-profit, tax exempt, and I have to make it 25 very clear that we do not seek the contribution . 476 1 2 of organization or contribution from anybody, 3 that we doing everything by ourself. And what 4 I would like to see, make it very clear that I 5 support the merger. 6 I had a long talk with Matthew Lee 7 yesterday. I tried to convince him to give me 8 his blessings, and he had done that. I could 9 not convince him to wear the Travelers logo, 10 but he understands and knows our procedure and 11 the message we send to these people. 12 We want to pay for the communities 13 and some of them do it in a different way. In 14 my role as a community person, Matthew Lee is 15 my neighbor and friend, and I'm very happy that 16 he understands my position that I support the 17 merger. He tried to convince me to not to say 18 that I support Citicorp, because for some 19 reason he doesn't care that much for Citicorp. 20 (Laughter) 21 And I don't know why, but, anyhow, I 22 told him I support Travelers because I had a 23 lot of good contact with Travelers. I have sat 24 with them, and they have pledged that they work 25 together with me. With all fairness to . 477 1 2 Citicorp, I have never tried to get in contact 3 with Citicorp, because of the reason that I 4 have had a lot of contact with other banks and 5 I have gone nowhere with them, so I try to save 6 them the aggravation by not being in contact 7 with them. 8 The Travelers, I have presented a 9 huge project to them. This is one of the 10 projects to, the vice-president in charge of 11 property casualty, and that project 12 incorporates the development of the cyber 13 village. In the cyber village we have 14 everything in it from cyber university on line, 15 a greeting cards, everything you can find, 16 cyber view, cyber banking, everything you can 17 find in a village, but electronically. 18 I have presented a huge package like 19 that to them, and we have set up the mechanics 20 to start working together. One of the promise 21 I had to make to Matthew Lee yesterday that if 22 for any reason that Travelers decided not to 23 work together with me, to give him a call, and 24 we'll get our volunteers and go to the 25 building. . 478 1 2 I do not plan to do that because 3 Travelers seems to be, you know, very receptive 4 to me, to my organization and I plan to work 5 together with them, and in that way I support 6 Citicorp. 7 This is the 21st century project and 8 I totally believe we have to spend a lot of 9 time and money in developing that project. 10 This is the 21st century project, and this is 11 another opportunity for an organization like 12 the Travelers to work together, to create the 13 kind of economic development that probably will 14 not find people like myself to work with. 15 This is a unique experience, and what 16 I would like to happen is to work with me and 17 create about two thousand jobs, you know, for 18 the next five, ten years, and I strongly 19 believe that we can do it, because I only use 20 commercial hack library and that hack library 21 can be converted to an unlimited amount of 22 products, and all we have to do is have people 23 working together with us to help people like 24 the people of my Inner City, to make them a 25 little bit happier, because the frustration and . 479 1 2 aggravation with them is people are not 3 listening. 4 And as you can see the way they take 5 all the umbrellas yesterday was to catch the 6 attention of people really making the decision. 7 Again, that I want to make it very clear that I 8 support the merger. Based on my talk with 9 Matthew Lee yesterday, I don't think because of 10 me, I don't think he will want me to deal in my 11 project, and not create the jobs that was 12 promised to create in the Bronx, so he supports 13 me and I will ask the Fed in their 14 consideration not to deny the merger, to give 15 Travelers and Citibank an opportunity to people 16 like myself, and create the kind of 17 opportunities that people like Inner City are 18 looking for. 19 And, again, I'm extremely happy to 20 support the merger. And then I hope that 21 anything I can do to help to support those 22 activities to prevent any delays, because I do 23 understand people like myself create a lot of 24 aggravation for some of those people with 25 Matthew Lee, and I do not want that to happen, . 480 1 2 the same thing that happened with the state 3 merger. 4 We just want to go on and start doing 5 the work that we need for the community. Thank 6 you. 7 MR. LONEY: Thank you. Any questions 8 of these folks? 9 MR. ALVAREZ: I have a question for 10 Mr. Weber. In dealing with immigrants -- in 11 fact, any of the three may want to answer -- do 12 you deal with a bunch of immigrants in 13 particular that come from cash based economies, 14 and they're coming here and beginning to 15 navigate around the financial system in the 16 United States, the bank-serving economy, is 17 there much resistance or difficulty in folks 18 getting adjusted to a different kind of system? 19 MS. WEBER: Yes, especially at the 20 beginning. One of the issues is trust of the 21 institution. They come from a place where very 22 honestly without a cash economy they don't 23 survive. That's the way they've done business. 24 That's the way they've done business for 25 generations, and it's something that we have to . 481 1 2 work with, and explain and we do a whole thing 3 on acculturation, and part of that is to move 4 along and to teach people gradually the system 5 and how it works for them, and that they can 6 trust the system. 7 And, remember, you got folks who came 8 off the plane. You know, years ago you'd come 9 off the boat. But now you got folks coming off 10 the plane with the same fears. They don't know 11 how to get from the airport to where they're 12 going, and they don't know how to get on the R 13 or the N. So, you know, we start at that 14 point. We meet them at the airport. 15 And, you know, I would say two months 16 of or three months of trauma, you know, 17 depression. You know, they've left an 18 environment they're very comfortable with. 19 Many of them have been forced to leave and 20 they're coming here. 21 Now, it's a little better there 22 because there are relatives here now that take 23 them in, but it takes a lot of getting used to. 24 And, you know, if you come to our offices from 25 the first to the fourth month you will see it . 482 1 2 in the dress, how they dress when they first 3 come here and how they slowly become Americans 4 in their dress and some of their gestures even 5 within that short period of time, but, yes, it 6 is an issue. 7 MR. HODGETTS: I have a question of 8 Dr. Cassagnol. You believe that the merger 9 will result in increased community development 10 activity in the South Bronx? 11 DR. de CASSAGNOL: The only way the 12 merger can resolve in increased economic 13 activities in the Bronx is for people like the 14 Travelers and Citicorp to work with people like 15 myself. 16 MR. HODGETTS: More than they do 17 today? 18 DR. de CASSAGNOL: Well, I don't 19 want, I look at Travelers as a friend, and I do 20 not want to say anything to challenge them or 21 to challenge Citicorp, but what I would like to 22 see or what people like Matthew Lee and other 23 community activists would like to see, is for 24 us to get involved in creating things for 25 ourself creating jobs. . 483 1 2 We do not need $5,000, you know, 3 contribution a year for the community. We 4 don't need that. We need to create the 5 mechanism to develop jobs in the community and 6 people like myself can be a link between these 7 people and Travelers or Citibank, but it is, as 8 I indicated in some of my writings, it is 9 impossible to be in a community like New York 10 City, almost 57 percent minorities and not 11 doing anything for this group, and saying that 12 we're doing something for the community. 13 You don't have to be a rocket 14 scientist to understand that. You cannot 15 increase community activities by not getting 16 people like myself and other people get 17 involved in creating those jobs. 18 I have a huge amount of resources 19 that I can help creating those jobs. It has 20 been impossible for some of the banks to work 21 together with me for one reason or the other. 22 They will say, well, these affairs, you know, 23 we cannot do this, we cannot do that, and we 24 are hurting people. Like these people 25 yesterday with the red umbrellas, they are . 484 1 2 hurting. Their aggravation is to trying to 3 catch people's attention and I think in my 4 position the resources that we have we can 5 create that link between them and Travelers. 6 If Travelers work with me, continue 7 working, because it pays to work with me, with 8 all fairness to Citicorp, I have never get in 9 contact with them, so I cannot give, but if 10 they put their heads together, work together 11 with me, I have provided information to 12 Citicorp people, some of the vice presidents -- 13 Ms. Pamela is here? She is there. 14 I provided information to her. I 15 provided information to them. I provided thick 16 package like that to the Travelers' people. 17 All they have to do is find the mechanism to 18 work together with me and create those jobs and 19 we can only develop an activity, but it is not 20 going to happen if you don't work with people 21 like myself, it's not going to happen. 22 It's just like a dream, and that will 23 have to be fulfilled myself or people like 24 myself. 25 MR. HODGETTS: Thank you.
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