Minority Church, Small Business and Nonprofits Withdraw Request for Public Hearing: Royal Bank of Canada Acquisition of City National

DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION

June 24, 2015

Chair Janet Yellen
Governor Stanley Fischer
Governor Daniel Tarullo
Governor Jerome Powell
Governor Lael Brainard
Federal Reserve
Constitution Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20551

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew
US Comptroller Tom Curry

CC: Ivan Hurwitz

Minority Church, Small Business and Nonprofits Withdraw Request for Public Hearing: Royal Bank of Canada Acquisition of City National

Dear Chair Yellen and Governors Fischer, Tarullo, Powell and Brainard, and Secretary of Treasury Lew and Comptroller Curry,

Despite the National Diversity Coalition members filing more than four thousand two hundred (4,200)  written requests for public hearings in the Royal Bank of Canada/City National case, the National Diversity Coalition, on behalf of the 4,200 protestants, withdraws its requests for public hearings and withdraws its protest of the proposed merger.

We do so in the context of the revised City National commitment, fully endorsed by the CEO of Royal Bank of Canada, David McKay. Most importantly, we do so in the context of the commitments made by both CEOs that their CRA commitment, established in the written document is just a part of a larger future-oriented commitment to work with underserved communities to develop a commitment of resources and innovation to the underserved that is as significant as City National has historically provided to the wealthy.

The withdrawal is consistent with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s[1] comments of June 17th that the Federal Reserve “is examining ways to improve its implementation of the Community Reinvestment Act amid concerns that regulators are letting too many poor communities go unserved by banks” (emphasis added) American Banker, “Yellen: Fed Looking for Ways to ‘Improve’ CRA Rules”, June 17th 2015.

We make this withdrawal recognizing Chair Yellen’s further comments that the Federal Reserve takes:

“CRA very seriously and … for those banks that we supervise, we have a set of guidelines and are very conscientious in attempting to evaluate CRA performance. But we are looking at CRA and will continue to look to see if there are ways in which implementation can be improved” Ibid, emphasis added.

This withdrawal is also in the context of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Elijah Cummings May 11th letter to the Government Accountability Office, “asking the agency to examine ways to use CRA to ‘responsibly increase access to basic banking services’” Ibid.

In order to address the Federal Reserve’s interest in improving CRA, particularly to underserved communities, and avoiding as the American Banker states, additional Ferguson and Baltimore unrest, both CEOs have committed to working closely with the National Diversity Coalition and its members. For example, the CEO of Royal Bank of Canada will informally be meeting in Los Angeles with the members of the National Diversity Coalition to discuss a future consistent with that raised both by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, Tom Curry.

Some of the most innovative efforts committed to include:

Very specific and innovative efforts with faith-based institutions to directly assist underserved communities. This includes homeownership, micro- and small-business lending and youth financial education.

To date, few financial institutions have made this cost efficient and well respected mechanism a priority. It is our expectation that as the leaders of our nation’s 5,000 African Methodist Episcopal churches and 40,000 Latino evangelical churches including 3,500 over 4,000 in California alone develop cost-efficient and effective programs, this will have a positive impact on other financial institutions, including both regulated and unregulated, such as hedge funds. It is also our hope that this will serve as an incentive to foundations throughout the nation to co-invest with financial institutions and faith-based institutions in innovative programs designed to minimize growing wealth and income inequality and minimize social and economic unrest in our inner cities. [2]

Another innovation committed to by the CEOs of the banks (that could have far reaching but still unknown consequences) is creating large matching CRA funds from other financial institutions. Few banks, particularly those below the level of “Too Big to Fail” have the resources on their own to make fundamental change, particularly in large communities such as LA County with a population of ten million including five million Latinos and 200,000 Latino-owned businesses.

As Pastor Mark Whitlock, the Senior Pastor at Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine, (with a congregation of 3,500) who is also the Chair of Corporate Partnerships for 5,000 AME churches stated, “Black and Latino churches are one of the most effective mechanisms for achieving CRA results. It is my hope that banks as well as foundations across the nation will carefully observe what we are seeking to do and soon replicate this with their own innovations.”

Senior Pastor Jesse Miranda, the former Chair for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (consisting of 40,000 Latino evangelical churches) and the Director of the Jesse Miranda Hispanic Leadership Institute, strongly echoed Pastor Whitlock’s statement, “Our new relationship with Royal Bank of Canada and City National is based on faith. Our faith and belief that both CEOs are as committed as we are to elevating our communities through job creation, small business ownership, financial education, home ownership and consumer empowerment.”

Faith Bautista, the President and CEO of the National Asian American Coalition said, “A large number of the community leaders who joined us in requesting public hearings were Asian American, particularly our state’s two million Filipino Americans. Filipino Americans remember with great pride, the peaceful ‘People Power Revolution’ of 1986. They therefore are withdrawing their protest, primarily because they share the perspective of the Black and Latino pastors that the most effective way of achieving the Federal Reserve’s CRA goals is through a peaceful revolution led jointly by the communities and the banks’ CEOs.”

Gil Vasquez, the Chair of the largest Latino business chamber in the West, the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce (which serves 200,000 Latino-owned businesses in the LA area) stated, “The unfair realities of underserved communities next door to well-served wealthy communities led to this protest. We withdraw our protest based on the commitments and expectations that the new bank and its CEO will enable more than one million Latino-owned businesses in California to flourish.  Working together, we will accomplish this and be a model for other financial institutions and corporate America as a whole.”[3]

In conclusion, this withdrawal of the request for a Public Hearing and protest of the proposed merger recognizes that far better and more effective CRA plans are necessary if banks wish to have their mergers approved with limited or no conditions and/or expedited. See for example, American Banker, June 19th, “The New Merger Requirement: A Better CRA Plan.” It discusses that the $19 billion Valley Bancorp of New Jersey was forced to substantially upgrade its CRA commitments despite receiving from the OCC a “High Satisfactory” on the most important part of the CRA test — lending. This CRA upgrade led to the approval of its expansion into Florida.

All the members of the National Diversity Coalition, including 4,200 community members requesting a public hearing, look forward to Royal Bank of Canada (as it acquires City National), becoming an outstanding bank in community service as viewed by the community, including church based groups. And, it is our expectation that Royal Bank of Canada will attain, if possible, the highest regulatory evaluation, “Outstanding”, in lending, services and investments to the community. [4]

Therefore, it is our request that Royal Bank of Canada’s request to acquire City National be expedited and no Public Hearings be held. An expedited approval will send a strong message to all other banks regarding the importance of robust and innovative CRA commitments to become “outstanding” through the active support and involvement of the CEO.

Most Respectfully Submitted,

/s/ Faith Bautista
President & CEO, National Asian American Coalition
/s/ Mark Whitlock                                                        
Senior Minister, COR AME Church, Irvine, CA
Director of Corporate Partnerships, 5,000 African Methodist Episcopal Churches
Executive Director, Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies
Chair, Orange County Interdenominational Alliance
/s/ Charles Dorsey
Associate Pastor – Youth and Young Adults, Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, Irvine, CA
/s/ Jack Miranda
Vice Chair, Orange County Interdenominational Ecumenical Council
/s/ Lee de Leon
Pastor, Templo Calvario 
/s/ Jesse Miranda
Founder, Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership
Former CEO, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
/s/ Gilbert Vasquez
Chair, Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce Serving 250,000 Latino Businesses 
/s/ Theresa Martinez
Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce

 

/s/ Vivian Araullo
Executive Director, West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center
/s/ George McDaniel
Co-Chair, African Americans for Economic Justice
/s/ Alex Anderson
Co-Chair, African Americans for Economic Justice
/s/ Jin Sung
Executive Director, Oasis Center International, Inc.


[1] Members of the National Diversity Coalition met with Chair Janet Yellen and Governor Brainard on this issue on November 14, 2014 and some met with Comptroller of the Currency Tom Curry on December 2nd and with Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew on December 9th 2014. They have also discussed this on October 3rd, 2014 with Richard Cordray, the Director of CFPB and on December 2nd, the Chair of the FDIC, Marty Gruenberg.

[2] Comparable City National commitments have been made by their CEOs to minority business chambers and non-profits that are members of the NDC and/or work closely with the NDC. Note, for example, that the California Black Chamber of Commerce, based largely on the CEO commitments, will also be withdrawing its request for Public Hearings and protest of the merger.

[3] The Latinos population presently exceeds even the white population in California and is projected by the Pew Institute to be close to a majority of California’s population within one to two generations. Presently, the Z Generation in California includes a public school population that is 75% minority including a majority whom are Latino. See The Economist, June 20th “Latino Mojo.”

[4] Please note the contrast in significance and accuracy of gauging the community concerns by the fact that all 4,200 requests for public hearings were in writing and most of the writers of letters and the signers of petitions were committed to appearing at the Federal Reserve Public Hearing. This is in contrast to the potential “rigging” of any online or other non-verifiable requests to the Federal Reserve. See, for example, Wall Street Journal showing how online voting for the Major League Baseball All Star Game has been artificially “rigged” so that all eight position players at the All Star game could be from one team, Kansas City. This has occurred even though its second baseman and so-called “All-Star” is the worst hitter in all of Major League Baseball. “A Royal Flush for Kansas City in All-Star Voting, Wall Street Journal, 6/17/2015

 

Urge Governor to Return $331 Million to Homeowners

Return $331 Million in Misappropriated Funds to Help 800,000 California Homeowners in Distress

>>SIGN PETITION>>

 

In 2012, California Attorney General Kamala Harris negotiated a settlement with many of the banks to help homeowners struggling as a result of the financial crisis. $350 million was supposed to go to assistance programs for California homeowners.

In 2013, Facing a huge deficit, Governor Brown took the money to balance the budget. Now that the state is projected to see major surpluses, we want the money to be used for its original intended purpose.

On June 12th 2015, the California Superior Court ordered the Governor to return $331 million he illegally took from a homeowner and renter fund. The fund could help millions of homeowners, future homeowners and present renters. However, the state legislators still need to work with the Governor to pass legislation to re-appropriate the money.

Help us by showing the state legislators you want this done. Many legislators are already supporting the return of the money.

More about the issue:

NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/business/california-has-to-repay-331-million-to-homeowners-fund-court-rules.html

SF Chronicle
http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Judge-Brown-and-Legislature-illegally-raided-6329098.php

>>SIGN PETITION>>

California Court Rules That Governor Brown Unlawfully Diverted $331 Million from National Homeowner Special Deposit Fund by BofA, Wells Fargo and Other Major Banks

Court Ruling: click here

Press Release: click here

New York Times Article: click here

Press Release California Court Rules That Governor Brown Unlawfully Diverted $331 Million

 

Groups Demand that $369 Million Improperly Taken from Attorney General Bank Settlement be Returned to Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

At 9:30 a.m. on March 14th, major Black, Latino and Asian American organizations filed a Petition in Sacramento Superior Court demanding that Governor Brown return up to $350 million out of California’s share of the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement that was secured by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, so that it can be used as intended – to aid the state’s millions of homeowners in distress via direct relief and through grants to the organizations that support them.

The full text of the petition for writ of mandamus can be viewed here.

Letters of support have been sent to the Governor by HomeFree-USA, the largest minority-led, HUD-approved home counseling intermediary in the nation, with affiliates in California, including the NAAC; and Operation HOPE, a national organization headed by John Bryant that also offers HUD-approved home counseling, and whose Chairman is leading civil rights figure and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young. Both organizations state that they are available to meet with the Governor and the Petitioners to resolve the lawsuit.

The lawsuit has been covered by Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times.

Internship (Daly City): HANDS-ON MARKETING INTERNSHIP AT GROWING NONPROFIT

ORGANIZATION OVERVIEW

The National Asian American Coalition is a fast-growing 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Daly City, CA with service branches in San Diego, Hercules, Fresno and Las Vegas. The NAAC is a pan Asian American advocacy organization with a focus on the public interest, corporate responsibility, homeownership, and small business and economic development. For more information on the NAAC, visit us online at www.naac.org. No phone calls please.

POSITION SUMMARY This is a hands-on marketing internship to provide much needed services to the immigrant and non-English speaking communities and other communities of color, including home preservation (foreclosure counseling), guidance and counseling for first-time homebuyers, free small business technical assistance, and financial education. All trainings will be in the Daly City office and interns will be placed according to need and proximity to locations (Union City, San Jose, Vallejo and Pittsburg). This is a great opportunity to learn about the banking, finance, and housing industries, as well as the nonprofit sector. We will provide training and workshops for all interns. Each intern is expected to work 10-12 hours per week (2 shifts/ week, one shift = 5-6 hours). You will manage our NAAC booths and market our resources to the community.

Duties include: Managing the NAAC service booth, marketing resources and services, providing preliminary counseling services, conducting community outreach, and attending all workshops and training

STATUS

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and start/end dates of the internship are negotiable

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Current undergraduate or graduate students (particularly MBAs, finance or marketing students)
  • Results-oriented
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication skills, verbal and written
  • Self-starter and able to determine priorities and meet differing deadlines.
  • Ability to respond resourcefully to new demands and challenges with limited resources.
  • Demonstrated ability to think creatively/strategically and “think outside the box”
  • Must have an understanding of serving culturally diverse populations; interest in community development and economic development is a PLUS but not required.
  • Bilingual applicants preferred but not required

COMPENSATION

This is an unpaid internship position; however, we will provide a small travel stipend and performance-based commission. We will also provide strong letters of recommendation upon completion of the internship and will work with your school for college credit if applicable.

 

How to apply

CONTACT Please e-mail resume to Darwin Pham dpham@naac.org (no phone calls please). Cover letters optional.

Asian Americans Could Provide Swing Vote in Future Elections

faith picture

FAITH BAUTISTA AND ALAN THIAN-SPECIAL TO THE BEE
12/13/2014 4:00 PM

With the 2014 midterm elections behind us, one demographic has both Republicans and Democrats buzzing. Based on exit polling of the 2014 midterm elections, 50 percent of Asian American support went to the Republicans. This is in stark contrast to 2012, when President Barack Obama and the Democrats won the Asian American vote in a landslide with 73 percent.This significant swing among Asian American voters should signal to both parties that 20 million Asian Americans cannot be locked in politically and that they could very well be the unknown quotient that tips the scales in future elections.

Asian Americans are the nation’s fastest-growing swing vote, outpacing Hispanic Americans in terms of annual growth. The growing influence of this voting bloc is evidenced in certain gubernatorial races and in many close Senate and House races in 2014 where they tipped the scales, such as Virginia’s 10th Congressional District race.

Even in California – home to almost one-third of all Asian Americans in the nation – where one party appears to have a lock, Republicans focused on a long-term strategy of courting the Asian American vote. In Orange County, the Republican Party expended the time and funding necessary to recruit three Asian American candidates for the California Senate and Assembly races.

 

As a result, we now have two new Asian American assemblywomen, Ling-Ling Chang and Young Kim, and one new Asian American state senator, Janet Nguyen. This small effort has changed the dynamics in the California Assembly since the Democrats no longer have a supermajority.

The takeaway from the 2014 elections is that Asian Americans are not committed Democrats. In a poll by the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund, 40 percent of the Asian American electorate still does not identify with either political party. The Asian American constituency is therefore persuadable on key issues affecting them. All that may be required is just a better and deeper understanding of Asian American voters.

The same poll also showed that, although the Asian American electorate is a diverse voting bloc, there are many commonalities. The economy, jobs, education, and health care represent the top four issues among Asian Americans ethnic groups. This includes upward employment mobility, small business development and homeownership, which is the dream of 95 percent of Asian Americans.

However, a majority of Asian Americans, 56 percent, were never contacted by either party about voting or registering to vote for the 2014 elections. This failure, combined with the low turnout of Asian Americans, could be a future opportunity for both political parties to substantially increase their efforts to engage the growing Asian American electorate.

For example, in the 2014 Virginia Senate race, it appears that numerous campaign outreach events held at Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian and Filipino community centers might have tipped the scales for Sen. Mark Warner. In a state where Asian Americans represent 3 percent of total voters, as compared to 12 to 15 percent in California, Warner secured 68 percent of the Asian vote, a margin of support greater than his margin of victory. Warner won with 49 percent of the vote, Republican Ed Gillespie had 48 percent.

If both parties committed more efforts to engage Asian American voters, a little investment could well make the difference in the 2016 presidential election and future elections, even in seemingly one-party states such as California.

Link to the Original Article:  http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article4436176.html#storylink=cpy