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Woo and Banks

March 20, 1993

As senior executive officers of the two African-American owned banks in Los Angeles, we were genuinely concerned by the implications made in your article regarding Mike Woo's track record on issues of banking reform and investment in the inner-city communities (March 5).

Councilman Woo has demonstrated a strong commitment on these important issues. He has worked tirelessly to encourage all banks--especially Asian-American banks--to make loans available to small businesses in the inner city.

Over a year ago, Woo helped lead the way by calling attention to the fact that minorities applying for loans at L.A.'s 10 largest banks were turned down far more often than were white applicants--even applicants with the same incomes. Along with Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Woo called for significant changes in those lending patterns as a condition for the city's support of the merger between the Bank of America and Security Pacific. Woo also supported the city's new policy linking deposits of city funds to a bank's track record on lending in all communities. This policy will apply to all Los Angeles banks--including Cathay Bank.

As minority bankers, we are well aware that minority banks were formed specifically to lend to minority applicants who were overlooked by more mainstream institutions. Asian-American banks tend to lend to Asian-American applicants, and African-American banks tend to lend to African-American applicants--because those applicants often have nowhere else to turn.

Almost a year ago Woo began efforts to bring Asian-American bankers together with African-American bankers to make joint loans to inner-city communities. This group of minority bankers has been meeting regularly, and we have formed a consortium that is now preparing to make its first loans to small minority businesses--creating jobs and revitalizing underdeveloped neighborhoods.

In spite of his efforts to revitalize the inner city and reform the banking process, your paper sees fit to attack Woo. Your article had the effect of further dividing our communities and city.


Broadway Federal Savings


Founders National Bank

Los Angeles

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