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Public Meeting Transcripts

Public Meeting Regarding NationsBank and BankAmerica

Thursday, July 9, 1998

Transcript of Panel Fourteen


      23              MS. SMITH:  We are ready to start with
      24   Mr. Butts. 
      25              MR. BUTTS:  Good afternoon.  My name is
      26   George Butts and I serve as president of ACORN Housing


       1   Corporation.  ACORN, for those of you who may not know,
       2   stands for The Association of Community Organizations
       3   for Reform Now.  And the ACORN Housing Corporation we
       4   like to call the service arm of the organization, and we
       5   provide loan counseling and some development.  We are 24
       6   states now, 24 cities now, with two hopefully opening by
       7   the end of the year. 
       8              It's not the usual role for ACORN Housing
       9   Corporation to testify to the Federal Reserve Bank in
      10   favor of the merger of banks.  This is a different role
      11   for us. 
      12              We're living in a country where the home
      13   ownership rate for white households is 72 percent, but
      14   the home ownership rate for black households is 45
      15   percent and Hispanic households of only 42 percent. 
      16   Redlining and unfair barriers to credit have profoundly
      17   impacted our communities as we will continue to speak
      18   out and we will continue to speak out on these issues. 
      19              But we're here today because NationsBank
      20   stands out as a leader in the community reinvestment
      21   field.  They're leaders for some very specific reasons. 
      22   First, NationsBank has recognized that community
      23   organizations are the vehicles for real success to the
      24   community.  
      25              We have too many banks which believe that an
      26   occasional loan to a community development corporation,


       1   a small grant means a partnership.  
       2              NationsBank has invested in building the
       3   infrastructure for the nonprofit community organizations
       4   to grow and produce.  For us that means our housing
       5   counseling program has grown with Nations from five
       6   cities to, now, 11 cities across the country.  We have
       7   expanded the housing staff working in Nation's cities
       8   from 10 to 32. 
       9              Second, NationsBank has produced, the ACORN
      10   Housing Corporation NationsBank partnership alone has
      11   produced over $236 million in mortgages.  Virtually all
      12   of these loans were to lower income households with
      13   small down payments, with non-traditional credit, with
      14   cash-on-hand, with older urban housing stock, and these
      15   loans performed well and with low delinquencies. 
      16              Third, NationsBank has been flexible.  They
      17   were the first multi-state lender to negotiate their
      18   mortgage underwriting standards with us, and their
      19   having stepped forward did a lot to bring our kind of
      20   underwriting standards for low-income people into the
      21   mainstream of the mortgage market. 
      22              At the time, these things were pretty
      23   radical, but today no one thinks twice about the
      24   appropriate use of low down payments, non-traditional
      25   credit, foods stamps as income, voluntary child support,
      26   cash on hand or steady income rather than the same job


       1   for two years. 
       2              In the early days plenty of lenders talked
       3   the talked but Nations rewrote the mortgage program. 
       4   Within the year, we were doing three to four hundred
       5   mortgages a year in cities like Houston and Dallas,
       6   Texas where other lenders told us low-income people told
       7   us couldn't even own a house. 
       8              Fourth, NationsBank is innovative.  We are
       9   now talking with them about providing significant
      10   pre-development and interim financing.  Nonprofits lose
      11   out on the bidding for affordable multi-family housing
      12   project to wealthier for-profit speculators, unless we
      13   can move quickly to evaluate and acquire
      14              Nations is hammering a 30-day fast track
      15   development fund so that more multi-family properties
      16   around the country can be purchased, upgraded and
      17   maintained as affordable housing by nonprofits. 
      18   NationsBank views their commitment to our communities as
      19   part of their business. 
      20              Many lenders view the community reinvestment
      21   as a legal obligation rather than a core market. 
      22              With their new $350 billion commitment and
      23   their aggressive 50,000-unit target, we are seeing them
      24   view our community as a market of its own. 
      25              For me, the single event that best
      26   illustrates the NationsBank commitment to our


       1   communities occurred a few years ago when the Community
       2   Reinvestment Act was under attack in congress by radical
       3   right-wing republican.  NationsBank was the only
       4   national bank that took a stand ino support CRA. 
       5              When I say public, I am not just talking
       6   about writing letters.  Cathy Bessant sat next to me in
       7   front of a hostile banking chair who wanted to hand our
       8   heads to us on a plate and told the congressmen exactly
       9   what they didn't want to hear.  
      10              She testified that NationsBank was against
      11   any effort to weaken the CRA.  NationsBank was bucking
      12   the industry mainstream, but the message was clear,
      13   NationsBank saw the underserved covered by the Community
      14   Reinvestment Act as their market.  In that first
      15   negotiation, that's exactly what we asked them to do for
      16   us. 
      17              NationsBank 350 billion ten-year community
      18   investment commitment is different from the commitments
      19   we see from other lenders. 
      20              Nations senior management sat down for a day
      21   with us and the product of those discussions shows up in
      22   a single-family, multi-family and economic development
      23   commitments.  
      24              (Bell)
      25              MR. BUTTS:  I'm not done. 
      26              But to sum up quickly, when the rubber meets


       1   the road, they're not just talking the talk, they're
       2   actually doing what they say they're going to do. 
       3   They'll make credit work for low and moderate income
       4   people and they'll work with community institutions. 
       5   The fight for affordable housing and fair access to
       6   credit is not over, not by a long shot.  
       7              NationsBank has been an ally among leaders
       8   and the leader in these struggles, and we believe
       9   they'll bring to Bank of America markets the same
      10   attitude of innovation, flexibility and production. 
      11              Thank you.  
      12              MS. SMITH:  Yes, please do submit your full
      13   statement for the record. 
      14              Ms. Galvin. 
      15              MS. GALVIN:  Yes.  My name is Karen Galvin,
      16   and I am a board member with the Summerhill Neighborhood
      17   Development Corporation.  SNDC is a nonprofit community
      18   development corporation in downtown Atlanta that is
      19   dedicated to revitalizing a community that is full of
      20   assets that have been overshadowed by crime, poverty,
      21   and drugs.  My statements today are in strong favor of
      22   the NationsBank acquisition of Bank of America. 
      23              Two years ago my husband and I began the
      24   process of finding and purchasing a new home.  We
      25   weren't just looking for a house, we were looking for a
      26   true community.  One in which you could sit on the front


       1   porch and wave to people, one in which neighbors knew
       2   each other and looked after each other.  
       3              We were looking for a diverse, mixed-income
       4   community in which residents felt empowered against
       5   crime and urban decay. 
       6              Some friends of ours told us about the
       7   Summerhill neighborhood.  That was historically very
       8   prosperous, had been overrun by highways, model cities,
       9   crime, and was now in the midst of revitalization
      10   efforts. 
      11              Our very first meeting was with a staff
      12   person with SNDC and a representative of NationsBank
      13   CDC.  It was at that meeting I first heard of the
      14   partnership between NationsBank and SNDC.  It was at
      15   that time I realized that both entities were committed
      16   to rebuilding a community by uplifting its residents and
      17   not just building houses. 
      18              My husband and I that day bought a house, but
      19   we also bought into a vision.  After moving into the
      20   Summerhill community, the dedication of SNDC and its
      21   partner, NationsBank, expired me to join the board of
      22   directors.  Since that time, SNDC has had numerous
      23   partners, but none has risen to the level of commitment
      24   that NationsBank has exhibited.  
      25              Other corporate sponsors have come into our
      26   community, built a few homes, co-sponsored a few events


       1   and moved on to the next media-focused area in the city. 
       2              NationsBank has proved time after time that
       3   they are committed to being with us for the long hall. 
       4              The CDC always strikes the balance of
       5   empowering the community to revitalize itself as opposed
       6   to merely pouring money into various situations for
       7   short-term solutions. 
       8              They have referred us to various resources to
       9   assist with more development, introduced and advocated
      10   for us with various foundations that assist us with
      11   providing programs and services to our children and
      12   elderly residents, and they have also provided technical
      13   support for community mobilization against crime and
      14   housing code violations. 
      15              Currently, they are in the process of
      16   partnering with us to complete the Terry Place Housing
      17   Development in which I reside, which is 40 houses which
      18   are mixed income.  They also just signed an agreement to
      19   partner with us to complete another area in the
      20   community called the Orchard. 
      21              The Orchard was started five years ago by
      22   another bank institution that was partnering with us,
      23   and it was left far from completion.  Once again,
      24   NationsBank saw a void and volunteered to assist us in
      25   filling it. 
      26              I cannot begin to relate to you the


       1   excitement and the appreciation of the residents in this
       2   community. 
       3              In closing, I see the acquisition of
       4   BankAmerica by NationsBank as an opportunity for
       5   NationsBank to continue its positive work in even more
       6   communities. 
       7              As a former antitrust attorney, I realize
       8   that has businesses grow as quickly as NationsBank has
       9   grown over the past few years, people start to get
      10   nervous, but NationsBank has proven that they are a
      11   responsible and committed citizen partner -- citizen
      12   partner with us.  As they continue to grow, I truly
      13   believe that their efforts to empower people and build
      14   communities will become even more far reaching parks. 
      15              I thank you for this opportunity to speak
      16   today and again I fully support the merger. 
      17              MS. SMITH:  Thank you very much.  Ms. Ford. 
      18              MS. FORD:  My name is Carolyn Ford.  I'm the
      19   Executive Director from North Florida Education
      20   Development Corporation, and I come out of North
      21   Florida.  
      22              I'm here to support the merger for
      23   BankAmerica and NationsBank.  As I listen to a lot of
      24   the testomonies and I kept thinking what I had to say
      25   about it from a personal basis, coming from a community
      26   that's kind of void completely of banks altogether. 


       1              I'd like to talk a little about BankAmerica,
       2   which is more or less a west coast bank, and how I
       3   became involved with them. 
       4              I'm a recent graduate of DTI.    That's
       5   Development Training Institute.  And BankAmerica
       6   financed that fellowship partly.  While I was there in
       7   training, in training with other 35 nonprofits
       8   throughout the nation, and I was trained in many things,
       9   someone from a very rural community such as Gasden
      10   County where you have 38 percent poverty level.  This
      11   kind of commitment from a bank is kind of unheard of in
      12   our area. 
      13              Since that time, NationsBank has acquired
      14   Barnett Bank which is in our area.  So they have been in
      15   our area about approximately six months.  Since that
      16   time they have reached out to our very impoverished
      17   community.  
      18              I have had many meetings with the local
      19   NationsBank community development person there, and we
      20   are in the process of developing a partnership where we
      21   can -- we'll be able to, really, to bring affordable
      22   homes into the area.  
      23              The last home that was built in my county was
      24   like in 1994.  So you see some of the problems that --
      25   we have some local banks there, some home, rural banks
      26   there, but home ownership and business development is


       1   kind of unheard of. 
       2              So, with the merger of Bank of America, which
       3   I know a lot about, and their commitment to low-income
       4   communities and with the merger of NationsBank, it has
       5   to be a win/win situation for us in North Florida. 
       6              Also, I am also involved with the Stand Up
       7   for Rural American campaign where BankAmerica and
       8   NationsBank are also members of their campaign.  So
       9   their commitment to rural America is -- to rural America
      10   is just exciting at this moment, because, you know,
      11   rural America has just kind of been overlooked pretty
      12   much by everybody. 
      13              So, but their commitment in terms of the $10
      14   billion in lending and investment to foster economic
      15   development in our area is just exciting at the moment. 
      16   I think that with this merger there has to be the kind
      17   of vision that all people especially in these -- in poor
      18   communities throughout this nation to benefit from --
      19   it's just not how you benefit from.  
      20              A lot of the things that have been said here,
      21   I have to agree, I really don't understand, so I rely on
      22   you all to really tie down the numbers and really I
      23   guess put their feet to the fire in terms of specific
      24   kind of things, but, when it comes to partnerships, this
      25   is unheard of in our area.  
      26              I just want to thank you for allowing me to


       1   come here and speak to you and the fact that we support
       2   the merger in North Florida.  Thank you. 
       3              MS. SMITH:  Thank you.  Mr. VanbBrunt. 
       4              MR. VANBRUNT:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and
       5   members of the committee.  
       6              My name is Mark VanBrunt, I am a Deputy Vice
       7   President for community development with the National
       8   Council of LaRaza.  NCLR is the nation's principal
       9   national Hispanic organization representing more than
      10   200 affiliated organizations in 32 states, District of
      11   Columbia and Puerto Rico.  
      12              I personally serve this affiliate base with a
      13   range of urban and rural housing community development
      14   programs for 22 years.  
      15              As an organization, we're committed to
      16   reducing poverty and discrimination and improving life
      17   opportunities for the more than 30 million American of
      18   Spanish descent.  
      19              NCR approaches these issues from two
      20   positions, two roles and perspectives.  As an advocate
      21   we're very much interested in the larger policy
      22   implications of legislation, it's implementation and the
      23   rule making that's associated with that that may produce
      24   disparate impacts on Latinos in all income and ethnic
      25   communities. 
      26              To this end, we would submit to the board


       1   formal comments which are attached for the record. 
       2              But NCR is also very concerned about helping
       3   affiliates achieve a meaningful local impact for our
       4   common customer, which is the Latino family. 
       5              Briefly, I'd like to inform the board of some
       6   concrete ways in which the current bank relationships
       7   have had this kind of impact.  I should say I'm not
       8   familiar with the whole national, the totality of it and
       9   the national scope of their activities, but I would
      10   speak to ours with our affiliates. 
      11              I can only echo previously, what's previously
      12   been said about a long relationship with Bank of
      13   America, being our office serving predominantly the
      14   southwest.  The support of the community development
      15   staff, the capital of particularly the community
      16   development bank and more recently we have great
      17   expectations for the Rural 2000 initiative and its
      18   resources. 
      19              Our relationship with Nations is a lot more
      20   recent, the last -- just over the last two years.  They
      21   have made some significant commitments that have
      22   enhanced our capacity and effectiveness to particularly
      23   have some local impact with our affiliates, three ways. 
      24   First, we've really received some direct staff support,
      25   support that has allowed us to reach new markets and
      26   more affiliates with transactions that are both


       1   traditional and non-traditional. 
       2              So, in addition to housing development and
       3   home ownership network which we've pursued for sometime,
       4   we have been able to assist affiliates with other
       5   priorities such as essential community facilities,
       6   charter schools and economic development projects. 
       7              Secondly, pre-development and capacity
       8   investments to these projects by Nations has proved very
       9   critical in helping them become operational in starting
      10   them up. 
      11              Third, I'd say, especially over the past
      12   year, the Nations community development staff has played
      13   a key role in helping us evaluate and define investment
      14   strategies and products to serve more of our affiliate
      15   base in some unique ways.  
      16              This same kind of commitment has been
      17   extended to a number of affiliates and their boards
      18   themselves, which we have appreciated. 
      19              To this end, NCR expects to soon consummate
      20   an agreement with the bank as a major capital
      21   contributor to our expanding affiliate partnerships,
      22   which we call the Initiative to our Partnerships of
      23   Hope. 
      24              In conclusion, I would characterize our
      25   relationship as very positive and fruitful and we would
      26   say that we have every expectation that the merged bank


       1   would be able to address both the policy concerns raised
       2   in our comments as submitted and continue to expand the
       3   investments which I have described above, which are so
       4   critical to expanding and reaching Latino market.
       5              Thank you.  
       6              (Pause in proceedings to change Court
       7        Reporters.)


         1            MR. McNULTY:   My name is Robert McNulty.  I'm 

         2   president of Partners for Livable Communities.  My 

         3   statements today are to emphasize the key involvement of 

         4   NationsBank and the leadership of community investment

         5   over the last decade in this country.  Partners is a 

         6   25-year-old nonprofit organization that grew out of a 

         7   national conference on neighborhoods.

         8            Our board is made up of governors.  Paris 

         9   Glendenning serves on our hoard, commentators, Neil 

        10   Pierce, the writer, the publisher of Governing Magazine, 

        11   Peter Harkness, Mayor Webb of Denver, Monsignor Linder of 

        12   the New Community Corporation is vice chair of our board,

        13   and the chair is Linda Good.  Past trustees have included 

        14   Michael Wu of Los Angeles City Council, Wanda Vinski, and 

        15   currently serving on our board is Katherine Vinson of 

        16   NationsBank.

        17             Partners believes livability is an equal 

        18   opportunity goal.  We use community mobilization 

        19   asset-based conference.  Community development strategies 

        20   and social equity are the concept of fairness as 

        21   strategies to effect change and create more livable 

        22   communities for all citizens.

        23            Partners has served as a bridge to create 

        24   first-time racial partnerships in Richmond, Savannah, 

        25   Memphis, Chattanooga, and recently we put together a 

        26   white leadership pledge of $200 million investment in 

         1   downtown Kansas City in the historic African-American 

         2   18th and Vine neighborhood.  

         3            Thus I do not come lightly to the statement that 

         4   NationsBank, through its Chair Hugh McColl, through it's 

         5   president Ken Lewis, and for the president of the 

         6   community investment, Kathy Bessant, have put in place in 

         7   the last decade a culture of community reinvestment 

         8   leadership for the corporation, for their market 

         9   communities, and for a national policy on this agenda 

        10   that is the exemplar in the country, bar none.  

        11            As examples, we are pleased to be associated 

        12   with NationsBank in 1992, '93, and '94 with a republican 

        13   secretary of HUD, a democratic secretary of HUD, a 

        14   republican secretary of HHS, and a democratic secretary 

        15   of HHS to research with Johns Hopkins a way of 

        16   restructuring the categorical programs to try to give 

        17   more independent ability of supporting families and

        18   community across America.  This result was published and 

        19   distributed, was sponsored by NationsBank, some six years 

        20   ahead of the restructure of welfare entitlements.  

        21            We were a cosponsor of Blueprint 2000, a program 

        22   undertaken by NationsBank with the National Community 

        23   Reinvestment Coalition, the National Council of LaRaza, 

        24   the National Urban League in 1994, '95, and '96, which 

        25   brought together 500 citizens throughout NationsBank's 

        26   community of trying to create a team work to meet 

         1   community reinvestment goals and set priorities for 

         2   furthering.

         3            We were also part of a planning team for 

         4   community capitalism, rediscovery of the market of 

         5   America's urban neighborhoods hosted by Columbia 

         6   University in 1997, chaired by Hugh McColl.  All 65 

         7   business leaders, government, and community practitioners 

         8   called for a self-interest redefinition of investing in 

         9   the economics of our inner city.  Again, a leadership 

        10   initiative continuing today done by NationsBank.  

        11            For these acts and many more, I urge that the 

        12   merger of NationsBank and Bank of America proceed and 

        13   that we look forward to continuing leadership on the 

        14   field of community reinvestment, continuing redefinition 

        15   of both profit and opportunity and community value as 

        16   NationsBank has done for the last ten years.  Thank you. 

        17            MS. SMITH:    Thank you.  I don't have our last 

        18   speaker's name.  

        19            MS. GARRETT:   My name is Pat Garrett.  I'm the 

        20   president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing 

        21   Partnership in Charlotte, North Carolina.  First I'd like 

        22   to thank all of you for letting us have an opportunity to 

        23   tell you about NationsBank commitment to our housing 

        24   partnership and to our local community.

        25            Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership is a 

        26   nonprofit housing developer providing affordable rental 

         1   and home ownership in the Charlotte area.  Since 1990, we 

         2   have produced 300 single family homes and 700 rental 

         3   units.  Many of those homes would not have been developed 

         4   without the assistance of NationsBank.  The average of 

         5   all our families served is 60 percent or less of median 

         6   income.

         7            NationsBank has been one of our major partners 

         8   of our organizations as we have developed and implemented 

         9   our strategies for housing development.  In fact, 

        10   NationsBank was instrumental in setting up the 

        11   partnership.  The corporation provided initial operating 

        12   support and senior executives that committed many hours 

        13   of work as we developed our programs for single-family 

        14   and multi-family housing.  

        15            In the area of home ownership, NationsBank has 

        16   made a major commitment to our single family loan 

        17   consortium, which has now made over 270 loans to low and 

        18   moderate income buyers, utilizing relaxed credit 

        19   standards and at a reduced interest rate.  This 

        20   commitment of over $5 million is more than 75 percent 

        21   encumbered, and the bank has indicated its willingness to 

        22   commit additional funds, as well as to assist in the 

        23   establishment of a second mortgage pool so that we can 

        24   sell these mortgages to neighborhood reinvestment.  

        25            Nations was selected by the other five bank 

        26   members to act as the lead bank.  We can count on 

         1   NationsBank to be out in front in the development of new 

         2   mortgage products such as the most recent acquisition 

         3   rehab product, as well as some issues such as the 

         4   recognition of the need for lenders to reimburse for the 

         5   cost of home ownership counseling.  

         6            A major part of our organization's focus has 

         7   been on reclaiming deteriorating high crime areas.  As a 

         8   part of that focus, NationsBank employees, including 

         9   executives, volunteered numerous hours in rehabilitation 

        10   projects.  Although the houses have been sold, we still 

        11   refer to several of those houses as NationsBank houses  

        12   because of the extensive work undertaken by the bank 

        13   employees as well as the support that they provided to 

        14   the new homeowner.  

        15            NationsBank has also provided financial support 

        16   for our multi-family developments.  The bank provided an 

        17   equity investment for our second tax credit development.  

        18   Most importantly, the bank provided both construction and 

        19   permanent financing for the renovation of four former 

        20   housing authority complexes that we were able to 

        21   acquire.  This produced 171 affordable rental homes and 

        22   also provided a cash flow stream to our organization that 

        23   enables us to carry out other affordable housing 

        24   efforts.  

        25            Not only has nations been a good partner as 

        26   Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership carries out its 

         1   mission of providing affordable housing, but the bank has 

         2   been instrumental in several other areas that improve 

         3   housing in our community.

         4            NationsBank has been involved in a Hope 6 

         5   project to revitalize a very distressed public housing 

         6   complex and to remake it into an economically integrated 

         7   community.  This project was done in cooperation with the 

         8   Housing Authority, the city, and our organization.  The 

         9   same team is now uniting to revitalize another extremely 

        10   distressed public housing community, and we are waiting 

        11   word on our Hope 6 application for this project.  

        12            NationsBank is innovative in their investments,  

        13   with the impact of the project typically taking precedent 

        14   over the return of the project, and thus many of the 

        15   investments are structured to help to build the capacity 

        16   of the nonprofit developers and to have a significant 

        17   impact on the neighborhood.  

        18            Perhaps the most valuable service NationsBank 

        19   has provided to our organization is the dedication of 

        20   senior level executives at the board level to serve on 

        21   the board of directors, board committees, and as 

        22   consultants on specific issues.  

        23            Whether it's a video to promote our organization 

        24   or an analysis of a complicated loan, we know that we can 

        25   count on NationsBank to help us out.  

        26            In summary, NationsBank has truly been a partner 

         1   in our housing and community redevelopment efforts, and 

         2   we look forward to a continued relationship with them.  I 

         3   believe that they care about the communities that they 

         4   serve and that they will develop strong partnerships in 

         5   new communities.  

         6            MS. SMITH:    Thank you very much.  One 

         7   question.  

         8            MR. FRIERSON:   Mr. Butts, I wanted to follow up 

         9   on your observation that this is an unusual position for 

        10   your organization to be in.

        11            We've heard a lot of criticism today about the 

        12   NationsBank CRA pledges lacking in specifics, and I 

        13   believe you were -- just when you ran out of time, you 

        14   were getting ready to discuss the -- your views of the 

        15   pledge.  And I'd like to give you the opportunity, if you 

        16   would like, to expound on how you view the pledge.

        17            MR. BUTTS:   Thank you.  What happened was we 

        18   sat down that day with them and talked in real terms 

        19   about what this $350 billion would really mean, that we 

        20   didn't want it to be a hollow -- just a number that 

        21   looked good.

        22            I think one of the examples that somebody 

        23   commented was we viewed this in contrast with the 

        24   Citibank/Travelers commitment.  They haven't even met

        25   with us to talk about their commitment yet.  The 

        26   NationsBank commitment and mortgage production loan 

         1   equals the Citibank/Travelers total commitment.

         2            And I think the difference -- the difference is 

         3   that there's something backing up this commitment.  It's 

         4   not the commitment in terms of public relations.  It's 

         5   commitment in terms of what they really think they can 

         6   do, what real programs are going to come out there, and

         7   that the real commitment comes from the top down.  I 

         8   mean, I've seen them grow into these commitments.

         9            So our history with them is long enough and 

        10   we've done enough agreements with enough banks that I can 

        11   see the difference between what a NationsBank commitment 

        12   means and what some other bank commitment means, and 

        13   that's really why I'm up here talking about them as

        14   opposed to talking about other people who have merged. 

        15   This is the first time we've done this.

        16            And to me, I put a lot on the line to come out 

        17   and say this, but I believe it to be true.  If I didn't 

        18   believe that they were the kind of people that they were 

        19   doing this and that these commitments are real 

        20   commitments and not public relation commitments or stuff 

        21   to make it look good but they really want to change these 

        22   communities -- I mean, our first bunch of meetings were 

        23   not pleasant experiences for either one of us, you know, 

        24   and to see that movement from those meetings to the 

        25   meetings we have now has shown me that this is real.  So 

        26   I can stay here and say with conviction that this is 

         1   real.  

         2            MR. FRIERSON:   Thank you.  

         3            MS. SMITH:    Thank you very much for your 

         4   testimony this afternoon.  And with that, we'll move on

         5   to Panel 14.  We'll go ahead and start.  And if there are 

         6   other members of the panel, they can join us as we go 

         7   along.  Mr. Espinosa.  
Last update: December 3, 2010