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Public Meeting Transcripts

Public Meeting Regarding NationsBank and BankAmerica

Thursday, July 9, 1998

Transcript of Panel Seven


       9                 MS. SMITH:  All right.  Thank you.  If we
      10   can start, please 
      11                 MR. BROWN:  Good afternoon.  My name is
      12   Keith Brown and I am from Kansas City, Missouri.  I am 
      13   a minister, a community activist, I am the Executive
      14   Director of an organization called Project 
      15   Neighborhood, and the focus of Project Neighborhood 
      16   is to work with service providers, community groups 
      17   and coalitions and neighborhoods to restore
      18   neighborhoods to safe, drug-free, economically-viable
      19   communities.  
      20                 One way that we feel if we're going to get
      21   a real hold and grip on the problem of substance abuse
      22   is really to develop the economic infrastructure and
      23   commercial infrastructure of the urban core in Kansas
      24   City. 
      25                 And NationsBank, without fear of
      26   successful contradiction, marvelous things have begun to


       1   take place in our community.  Because and as a result of
       2   the partnership with the NationsBank under the
       3   leadership of the regional president William, Bill,
       4   Nelson, a Rainbow Coalition has developed.  For the
       5   first time, people of color, clergy, community
       6   activists, city planners, civic leaders, have gathered
       7   themselves around the table to really -- not only to
       8   discuss but to strategically plan on how are we going to
       9   rebuild the infrastructure, the economic infrastructure
      10   of the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri. 
      11                 What has taken place is that we have had
      12   the opportunity to go on tours in the community to see
      13   what some of the problems and the concerns are relative
      14   to redevelopment and development.  For the record, I
      15   have a video that, you know, illustrates that as well as
      16   a pictorial presentation that illustrates that.  I'm
      17   going to turn that in.  
      18                 We feel that if NationsBank -- they have a
      19   marvelous track record, and if they have been able to do
      20   what they are embarking on in our community in terms of
      21   really enhancing the viability and the aspirations of
      22   that community, if they can do that by themselves, then
      23   we feel that a merge with them and BankAmerica will only
      24   increase and enhance what we are striving and what we
      25   have begun to do in the City of Kansas City, Missouri.  
      26                 So I and we, as grass root participants,


       1   members of the clergy, and neighborhood residents who
       2   historically are left behind, are not at the table when
       3   it comes to planning, when it comes to what's going to
       4   take place in a community, they are at the table and we
       5   are in support of this merge and we have a strong leader
       6   in William, Bill, Nelson, who is the president of the
       7   regional, you know, chapter, branch of NationsBank. 
       8                 So I wanted to share that with you.  The
       9   proof is in the pudding right here.  So we're going to
      10   turn this in. 
      11                 MS. SMITH:   Thank you. 
      12                 MS. CONEY:  Good afternoon.  Thank you for
      13   allowing me to come today.  My name is Chloe Coney, and
      14   I'm President and CEO of Corporation Development
      15   Communities of Tampa, Choice CDC of Tampa.      
      16                 CDC of Tampa is a community-based
      17   development corporation located the second highest
      18   poverty area, only second the Liberty City in Miami.  My
      19   neighborhood, East Tampa, which is College Hill, Bellman
      20   and Jackson Height has been known in the past for
      21   highest decay and disinvestment.                
      22                 Nine years ago, Alex Sinc, President of
      23   NationsBank, Florida, adopted our blighted, distressed
      24   neighborhood, East Tampa. NationsBank pledged their
      25   support by working with our Mayor's Challenge Fund
      26   Housing providing loans to low-income families.  


       1                 NationsBank branch office is located in
       2   our community and provides excellent service to the
       3   residents.  The six years of CDC Tampa, Inc. existence,
       4   NationsBank has been a strong partner. 
       5                 NationsBank has provided leadership to our
       6   community through their staff with countless hours of
       7   volunteering.  Joe Vickersian, Mary Ellen Camilla serves
       8   on my board, and, now, Mary Beth Stoltz, who is with
       9   NationsBank CDC.  
      10                 One of NationsBank employee won the
      11   community service award and donated our CDC as a
      12   nonprofit.  
      13                 Our community-building project, the NEMY
      14   [phonetic] community building brick by brick is located
      15   in the worst of the worst neighborhood, the drug
      16   affected neighborhood.  You all know what I'm talking
      17   about in the inner city.  
      18                 We are rehabing old laundromat, rehabing
      19   old bar, and we're going to do an indoor-outdoor food
      20   market.  NationsBank stepped to the plate and made a
      21   financial contribution. 
      22                 Many of the banks did not want to take
      23   that kind of risk.  So, again, I'm excited about
      24   partnering with NationsBank CDC to build the first, the
      25   very first, multi-family housing, a $2 million project,
      26   in East Tampa in over 30 years. 


       1                 We're also looking forward to building new
       2   single-family housing in our blighted, distressed area. 
       3                 Tampa, Florida, East Tampa neighborhoods
       4   is like Atlanta, Georgia, Summerhill and the black
       5   historic district.  We want to continue to work with
       6   NationsBank CDC to rebuild and create a strong, safe
       7   prosperous, wealth building community. 
       8                 As with the merge of Barnett Bank in
       9   Florida, I challenge nonprofit organizations located in
      10   blighted, distressed neighborhoods to sit at the table
      11   to represent your neighborhood. 
      12                 Again, NationsBank has been there for our
      13   poor inner city neighborhoods.  I do recommend the
      14   merger and I will be sitting at the table.  Thank you. 
      15                 MS. SMITH:  Thank you. 
      16                 MR. PRICE:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, my
      17   name is Hugh Price.  I am President of the National
      18   Urban League headquartered in New York City.  We were
      19   founded in the 1950s to assist African Americans who
      20   were making the transition to rural cities.  Today our
      21   goal is to help African Americans and other people with
      22   color to become self-reliant and equal citizens under
      23   the law. 
      24                 Through our economic self-sufficiency
      25   agenda, the Urban League developed partnerships with
      26   national institutions like NationsBank.  As a result of


       1   these relationships, the Urban League is in a key
       2   position to discuss recommendation of performance and
       3   commitment in serving color. 
       4                 We support the merger of NationsBank and
       5   Bank of America because we have a long history in
       6   partnership with NationsBank.  Through this partnership
       7   we have seen NationsBank commit to ensuring that African
       8   Americans and others of color have access to credit and
       9   communities that are highly available.  
      10                 I'd like to highlight the record of
      11   NationsBank's performance first.  President of Community
      12   Initiatives, Cathy Bessant, testified before Congress,
      13   Senator DeMoto, along with community groups on the
      14   strength in maintaining the Community Reinvestment Act.  
      15                 It was unique to find a lending
      16   institution willing to sit on the same panel with
      17   controversy groups and offer support and testimony on
      18   behalf of CRA.  This act is a commitment to extending
      19   credit to those who have been traditionally neglected. 
      20                 Second, NationsBank commitment to the
      21   prevention and eradication of differential treatment at
      22   the branch level.  Through its mystery-shopping
      23   initiative, NationsBank conducts self-testing at the
      24   branch level to detect patterns of differential
      25   treatment by its own employees.  We think that
      26   NationsBank's interest in policing itself demonstrates


       1   foresight, and that is another reason why we support its
       2   application to merge. 
       3                 Third, the bank has made a commitment to
       4   lend $10 billion over the next ten years to  underserved
       5   communities.  Within a four-year period NationsBank has
       6   not only met its commitment but exceeded it by providing
       7   $13 billion to communities.  We are confident the bank
       8   will exceed its $350 billion commitment to underserved
       9   communities.  
      10                 Fourth, NationsBank pledged to provide $25
      11   million to community development financial institutions,
      12   through its own CDFI fund.  Again, NationsBank showed
      13   courage and commitment when it announced the
      14   establishment of its CDFI fund on the same day that
      15   President Clinton signed the federal CDFI fund law.  It
      16   was NationsBank's view that their fund would complement
      17   the Federal Government's effort to finance CDFIs.  We
      18   view their announcement of $25 million CDFI fund as
      19   another sign of its commitment to increasing access to
      20   credit for traditionally underserved communities. 
      21                 Fifth, NationsBank held BluePrint 2000. 
      22   This was a convening of nearly 500 community leaders
      23   from 111 urban and rural communities across the country. 
      24   The event marked a -- served as a retreat and think tank
      25   for community groups to seriously ponder the viability
      26   of their neighborhoods. 


       1                 Finally, let me add that NationsBank has
       2   been very aggressive in advancing African American
       3   executives up the ladder into positions of
       4   profit-and-loss responsibility for major business units. 
       5   Its impressive track record could be and should be
       6   emulated by other financial institutions. 
       7                 We strongly support the continuation and
       8   extension of the Community Reinvestment Act.  We think
       9   there is much more work to be done in this country on
      10   rebuilding low-income neighborhoods and the commitments
      11   must be strong and firm and must be even bigger than
      12   ever before.  
      13                 We look forward to seeing the lightened
      14   philosophy of NationsBank extent throughout the entire
      15   footprint of the new bank.  We believe that the new bank
      16   offers the opportunity for unprecedented economic growth
      17   in communities that we serve and as a result the new
      18   bank will create new venues for venture capital, will
      19   enhance the level of mortgage credit to low-income
      20   communities and will help revitalize economically
      21   distressed neighborhoods. 
      22                 Again, we support the proposed merger. 
      23   Thank you. 
      24                 MS. SMITH:  Thank you.  
      25                 MR. PEDRON:  Good afternoon, and thank you
      26   for the opportunity to present testimony before you


       1   today.  My name is Eduardo Pedron.  I'm the president of
       2   Miami Dade Community College in Miami, Dade County,
       3   Florida, serving 127,000 students. 
       4                 I'm here today, though, to present my
       5   community perspective on this issue.  I most agree that
       6   when mergers of this magnitude take place none of
       7   society in concern develop in the various communities
       8   throughout the nation.  Such was the case when
       9   NationsBank acquired Barnett Bank, Florida's largest
      10   bank.  The level of inciting our community was very high
      11   and I have to confess that I myself had serious concerns
      12   about it. 
      13                 However, I think the record of NationsBank
      14   during this acquisition, this merger, is one that has
      15   encouraged me to support the merger with BankAmerica,
      16   because I really feel that their track record has been
      17   exemplary. 
      18                 I want to be very brief and mention three
      19   or four examples that I think are very indicative of the
      20   level of sensitivity that NationsBank has shown in this
      21   regard. 
      22                 First of all, I have seen during that
      23   merger for them to go through significant effort to fold
      24   the local management into the new organization, with a
      25   special attention to minority members.  Both Hispanic
      26   African Americans and others.  This has provided for a


       1   significant degree of continuity and something the
       2   community has applauded. 
       3                 The other aspect, which I think has been
       4   significant, is the involvement in civic and community
       5   affairs with a special reference to inner city issues
       6   and education issues. 
       7                 Not only has NationsBank respected
       8   previous programs that were supported by the -- by
       9   Barnett Bank, but, frankly, we have seen that
      10   participation heightened and efforts such as Take Stock
      11   in Children, which is a program throughout Florida to
      12   provide and guarantee poor children the opportunity for
      13   a college education, has been enhanced, and I could go
      14   on and on with many many initiatives that we have seen. 
      15                 Also something that is very indicative of
      16   that sensitivity is the fact that they have incorporated
      17   many of the former members of Barnett adviser, local
      18   advisory boards into their advisory boards, and
      19   especially minority members.  And I think if the Miami
      20   experience is indicative of what has happened in the
      21   rest of the country, we have seen most of the former
      22   members of the advisory board of Barnett Bank been
      23   applauding to the NationsBank advisory board.  And they
      24   have gone beyond that to seek and make sure that they
      25   have the support and the advice of members of the
      26   community which is something that you rarely see in


       1   terms of banking institutions. 
       2                 Finally, I'd like to mention that the --
       3   we have seen with great enthusiasm the fact that
       4   NationsBank has taken the necessary step to strengthen
       5   national strategic partnerships with national
       6   organizations like the NAACP and the council of La Raza,
       7   the Urban League and many others.  So I feel this is a
       8   good sign. 
       9                 For a state such as Florida, and there are
      10   other states, which Bank of America has not had a
      11   significant presence, this is something that our
      12   community is welcoming, in my opinion, because you take
      13   a state like Florida with a very strong and growing
      14   business activity in the whole area of international
      15   trade and finance and with Bank of America
      16   well-established presence throughout the world, we feel
      17   that this will be to the benefit of our economy and to
      18   the benefit of businesses that are involved in
      19   international trade and finance.  
      20                 So I'm here very gladly to support this
      21   merger and pleased to do so at this time.  Thank you.  
      22                 MS. ROBERTSON:  My name is Ellen Robertson
      23   and I'm from Richmond, Virginia.  and I'm the Executive
      24   Director of HP Wrap which is a nonprofit community
      25   development organization.  I'm also a partner with
      26   NationsBank in the development of a target neighborhood


       1   development program in the community by the name of
       2   Highland Park. 
       3                 I'm honored to be here and to participate
       4   in this public hearing on behalf of NationsBank and to
       5   also have this great opportunity to express our thanks
       6   for the services that NationsBank has provided in the
       7   development of that community. 
       8                 We especially want to recognize bank
       9   leaders Doug Crukshank, James Jackson, Marsha Woody and
      10   Cindy Mimms for their outstanding leadership and
      11   demonstration of their interest in community
      12   reinvestment.  It's because of the services that they
      13   have provided that I am confident that this merger is in
      14   the best interest for all parties at stake. 
      15                 I'd like to first give you a general
      16   overview of the community that I'm speaking of.  It's an
      17   urban community that is located in the heart of Richmond
      18   that is home for about 8,000 residents, which consists
      19   35 percent of very low income, 50 percent single family
      20   head of household and the remaining largely blue class
      21   homeowners and renters. 
      22                 In 1989 a group of residents in which I
      23   was one of formed this nonprofit HP Wrap for the purpose
      24   of revitalizing the community.  NationsBank at that
      25   time, a sovereign bank, was the first to come to our
      26   support.  They have served on our board since that time


       1   and supported us to be the first organization in the
       2   United States to influence HUD to provide first-time
       3   grants to qualified buyers to purchase their first home. 
       4   Today this is a national program.  
       5                 Since 1989 until today, nine years,
       6   NationsBank support in providing home purchase training
       7   has resorted in 342 new families having purchased their
       8   first home in Highland Park.  I'd like to thank
       9   NationsBank.                Highland Park has more than
      10   2,000 homes, most historic two-story Victorian homes
      11   with 2,000-plus square footage of space nested on large
      12   lots and accessible by tree-lined streets. 
      13                 Due to the block busting and redlining of
      14   the -- in 1960 transition resorted to flight and we are
      15   now living are blight.  More than 300 homes are
      16   abandoned in this community.  NationsBank supported HP
      17   Wrap purchasing and restoring one of these abandoned
      18   homes to serve as the neighborhood model Victorian sales
      19   center to market a historic restorated development plan. 
      20                 NationsBank provided the funds to restore
      21   the model, to serve as the center and completed the
      22   furnishing.  Due to this creative investment, we now
      23   sell an average of 15 restored abandoned homes to
      24   first-time buyers.                NationsBank invests 65
      25   to 75 percent of the total development cost using very
      26   workable flexible terms and lines of credit for


       1   construction, property acquisition and permanent
       2   mortgage financing.  In addition, two new products are
       3   being developed to provide existing owners equitable
       4   rehab loans as well as second mortgage. 
       5                 Again, we thank NationsBank. 
       6                 In nine years NationsBank investment in
       7   Highland Park has impacted property values increased by
       8   65 to 85 percent and 448 homes have been sold to new
       9   buyers and/or rehab work done on them. 
      10                 NationsBank makes direct leveraging
      11   contribution to support people, growth and development
      12   specifically to support volunteerism and youth
      13   development. 
      14                 Our children are operating in neighborhood
      15   school greenhouse to redesign the urban landscape for
      16   public safety. 
      17                 NationsBank has also supported directly
      18   the development of programs to deal with increase crime
      19   that we have in the community.  
      20                 Because of NationsBank investment over the
      21   last couple years, we have been successful in bringing
      22   an additional $1.5 million in the United States Americor
      23   National Volunteer Service to our community to deal with
      24   crime issues. 
      25                 Because of NationsBank leadership, we are
      26   now receiving large contributions from other public and


       1   private sources, corporations and foundations.  We
       2   assess NationsBank contribution directly to our
       3   community at a rate of 3.5 to 5 million annually. 
       4                 To maintain the community development
       5   orientation, five characteristics of NationsBank is
       6   encouraged to be continued as part of this merger. 
       7   Number one, we ask that we keep local branches in
       8   Highland Park community types.  Your bank serves as
       9   anchors to the neighborhood development successes. 
      10                 Number two, we ask that you maintain the
      11   sensitivity to hiring staff at all levels reflective of
      12   the cultural diversity of the neighborhood population
      13   served. 
      14                 Number three, we ask that you continue to
      15   be simple.  Don't get big, keeping -- don't let your big
      16   keep you from being small.  We love people that have
      17   smiling faces that are set across the table from us to
      18   help work out things to make things happen in our
      19   community. 
      20                 And, number four, we ask that you maintain
      21   your neighborhood target development strategy. 
      22                 And, finally, number five, we ask that you
      23   regulate bank relocation, that it does not influence or
      24   contribute to urban sprawl which is the leading cause
      25   for urban decline. 
      26                 I thank you for this opportunity to speak


       1   and we strongly support the application for the merger. 
       2                 BISHOP BATTLE:  I am Bishop George Battle. 
       3   One of 12 Bishops of Episcopal Zion Church consisting of
       4   3.5 million members worldwide. 
       5                 I wrote a speech, but I am going to give
       6   you this and speak from my heart.  
       7                 MS. SMITH:  Thank you very much.  
       8                 BISHOP BATTLE:  Number one, I've known
       9   NationsBank, NC&B Bank, before they became NationsBank,
      10   for 25 years.  I am privileged to say this bank has
      11   always been involved in the community. 
      12                 I can recall going to Mr. McColl's office
      13   as a young pastor store living in a parsonage where the
      14   members felt, you know, the minister should have a good
      15   house.  I went in there with no money, no credit, met
      16   with Mr. Mc Call and said, "I want a house."  Interest
      17   rate was 21 and a quarter percent.  I am pleased to tell
      18   you, I not only got the house at nine and a quarter
      19   percent, but since that time I moved into even a bigger
      20   house. 
      21                 NationsBank, that's not necessarily
      22   because of me, I know of a young man in St. Louis, just
      23   several months ago who had a terrible financial problem. 
      24   He needed help.  He called me, I called NationsBank, he
      25   received in three days $6,000. 
      26                 If you ever come to Charlotte and you hear


       1   talk of a Gethsemane Enrichment Program, a program that
       2   works with the Lord's underprivileged, a social
       3   development program in the community.  
       4                 Some 500 kids in 1974 received a national
       5   award from President Bush as one of the best programs of
       6   its kind in the nation.  You will find that NationsBank
       7   have supported that program with hundreds of thousands
       8   of dollars before any other corporate contributor put
       9   one dime in. 
      10                 I can recall one session with Mr. McColl
      11   brought the community in, these were the most low
      12   economic development persons in the community.  We told
      13   him that we needed housing and three of the communities
      14   where we work were the poorest kids in the neighborhood. 
      15                 Those communities have been completely
      16   redeveloped by NationsBank.  Oh, by the way, I'm a
      17   member of First Union Bank, so you ought to know that. 
      18   So I have no invested interest other than telling the
      19   truth. 
      20                 If all of the banks incorporated in
      21   America was successful to the culture and to the people
      22   that work in high management position at NationsBank,
      23   your job would be a lot easier.  I am pleased the tell
      24   you that just several months ago my school --
      25   (interruption.)
      26                 I hope you all aren't going to hold that


       1   against me.  Thank you, I have to start all over again. 
       2   Remove that. 
       3                 In 1994 Livingston College, a small
       4   historical black college 30 miles north of Charlotte,
       5   was facing very, very financial difficulties.  No other
       6   institution would make a loan.  I went to Mr. McColl, we
       7   received $7 million that not only put us in terms of
       8   ahead of where we were but now we are probably the only
       9   small black college in America that have internet
      10   capability for every student.  That's a plug for
      11   Livingston College. 
      12                 In addition to that, they also made a
      13   grant in helping that school in excess of -- over the
      14   period of five years in excess of $350,000.  
      15                 I can also attest to the fact that we have
      16   a small junior college in South Carolina that was
      17   struggling with accreditation.  NationsBank came to the
      18   plate and loaned the school $500,000 at the low interest
      19   market rate.  In addition to that, through in a hundred
      20   thousand dollars to hire the consultants to make sure
      21   that the school would be a credit for a minority student
      22   that could not go anywhere in America because of
      23   economic standards.  
      24                 In addition to that, we could talk about
      25   how they helped to completely transform Charlotte,
      26   that's where I have been, and how if you ever travel


       1   down Highway 49, that's southwest of Charlotte, you will
       2   see an AME Zion church that was built there on Highway
       3   49 that received all kinds of architect's award.  Thanks
       4   to NationsBank. 
       5                 NationsBank, along with Mr. McColl and all
       6   of the persons that work for him, you can call them on a
       7   moment's notice and say, "We need a meeting.  We have to
       8   talk about some issues we have in our community." 
       9   They're always at the forefront.  
      10                 Right here in California, right here in
      11   California, one of our largest churches was set on fire. 
      12   NationsBank, without knowing the church, without having
      13   any kind of investments, gave the church a substantial
      14   contribution to help it get on its feet. 
      15                 Birds of a feather flock together,
      16   NationsBank -- when I see this sign, "NationsBank go
      17   home."  This can be home for NationsBank and it would
      18   make this community a much, much better place, because
      19   anywhere NationsBank has been they have been fair, they
      20   have given minorities chances, opportunities to excel
      21   and exceed.  
      22                 And I'm here today at my own expense, I
      23   couldn't even catch Mr. McColl to catch a ride, I had to
      24   fly my own plane, to say that I think it would be a
      25   disaster not to cause these two great things to come
      26   together to provide the services for entire nation. 


       1   What a historical step we're taking today.  I believe
       2   with the smartness of this panel, I believe NationsBank
       3   is going to prevail with the Bank of America and this
       4   community is going to be better.                Thank
       5   you. 
       6                 MS. SMITH:  Any questions.  
       7                 BISHOP BATTLE:  Yes, I have my speech
       8   submitted already.  If you need me, just give me a
       9   moment's notice and I'll be back. 
      10                 MS. SMITH:  Thank you very much.  
      11                 We have no questions, so we thank you and
      12   we'll go on to the next panel. 
Last update: December 3, 2010