YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

L.A. Mayor Candidates

March 14, 1993

Your article about Cathay Bank (March 5) seriously distorted my record and position on the important issue of banking policies and reform. I resent the inferences implicit in the story and want to set the record straight.

First, The Times knows full well that I have never been an officer, employee or director of Cathay Bank, and have never played any role in the bank's policy-making or decision-making.

My father is a retired vice president of Cathay Bank, but he is not running for mayor--I am. And despite his former position with the bank, I have been a vocal public advocate for reform and innovation in the banking industry, both as a councilman and as a candidate for mayor.

I have stated that, as mayor, I will seek to close the loophole exempting banks and other financial institutions from the city's business tax--a progressive step that the state Legislature has refused to enact. I have also stated that, as mayor, I will redirect city funds away from banks that discriminate in their lending policies against applicants from minority communities. Last year I also spelled out an aggressive anti-redlining proposal; significantly, The Times never covered this announcement.

Second, The Times also ought to know that minority-owned banks such as Cathay Bank were formed precisely because the larger, well-established downtown banks excluded minority homeowners and business owners from getting loans. It is therefore neither an accident nor a secret that most minority-owned banks have historically concentrated most of their loans among applicants from their own ethnic communities.

Nonetheless, I strongly believe it is time to change that pattern, and that's why I've taken the lead in putting together the nation's first consortium of Asian-American and African-American banks to make joint investments in minority enterprises throughout the city. I initiated this months ago, long before the campaign began. Although The Times never covered this announcement either, the consortium is now up and running and will soon be making its first loans.

I'm very proud of my efforts to increase lending in minority communities. The fact is, many of the larger lending institutions whose names are commonplace to your readers have fallen short of meeting the lending needs of all of our diverse communities in Los Angeles. MICHAEL K. WOO

Los Angeles Councilman

Los Angeles Times Articles