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Public Meeting Transcripts

Public Meeting Regarding Citicorp and Travelers Group

Friday, June 26, 1998

Transcript of Panel Eighteen

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   2               MR. LONEY:  I have to adjust the

   3     schedule a little bit.  Our next group will be

   4     comprised of a couple of folks scheduled from

   5     panel 18, and one from panel 19.  I would ask

   6     Jerry Weber and Jane Canner, and Dr. Francois

   7     de Cassagnol to come forward please.

   8               MS. WEBER:  I'd like to thank you for

   9     inviting me here.  I am working, and I am the

  10     director of branch management for The New York

  11     Association for new Americans which is the

  12     largest resettlement agency, refugee

  13     resettlement agency in the country basically.

  14     We have a fifty-year history and we started off

  15     with the resettlement of holocaust survivors

  16     coming from Europe.

  17               We have a really new relationship

  18     with Citibank.  It's approximately two years

  19     old, and I must say that it's a good

  20     relationship because it's a relationship backed

  21     with commitment.

  22               We resettle roughly anywhere between

  23     ten and 15,000 people a year.  Most of the

  24     folks now coming from the former Soviet Union.

  25     We also have settled folks from Vietnam, from



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   2     Tibet, from Liberia, et cetera.

   3               We also have a very large citizenship

   4     program helping folks who become citizens and

   5     provide legal assistance in that area.  Most of

   6     our costs are absorbed through foundations,

   7     public and private support and some small fees

   8     to cover costs that the INS has in fact asked

   9     to be collected, so we do that.

  10               We are located right down here in

  11     Battery Place, but we work in four of the five

  12     boroughs.  The only borough we do not work in

  13     at this moment is Staten Island.

  14               What Citibank has offered us in terms

  15     of commitment is two things.  One is a vision

  16     of a real commitment to work together to

  17     revitalize the areas and to put some resources

  18     into some parts of Brooklyn where we have a

  19     large number of folks from the former Soviet

  20     Union living, and that's a part of South

  21     Brooklyn.

  22               The other thing that Citibank has

  23     done already, and Mr. McDonough from the Doe

  24     Foundation talked about, you know lines of

  25     credit and so on.  They have been very good



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   2     about that, and, in fact, have lowered some of

   3     the costs to almost nil, so that we could move

   4     money and work with money, because we do

   5     provide assistance for the first four months

   6     for our clients to keep them off public

   7     assistance.  So it's not only monetary

   8     assistance from the philanthropic community but

   9     we also work very hard to move clients into the

  10     area of self-sufficiency, and, you know I just

  11     need a very quick anecdote here, is that when I

  12     deal with folks who come from the former Soviet

  13     Union, a lot of them their first job is their

  14     last job, and it's a whole different mind set

  15     coming to this country.  It is not your first

  16     job is necessarily your last job.  It's your

  17     beginning.

  18               But where Citibank has been extremely

  19     helpful right now, we are working with them in

  20     the micro enterprise program where we got some

  21     OR grant to do some micro enterprise.  They

  22     have a member one of their vice presidents

  23     sitting on our panel, they are providing

  24     technical assistance for us and you know I very

  25     quickly run that through.



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   2               The other place they are is matching

   3     up some of our creative folks with SBA loans

   4     giving them technical assistance in how to do

   5     that working through that with them and helping

   6     them any way they can.  Our clients come from

   7     folks who have limited, limited, limited

   8     education, not the folks who are computer

   9     literate to the nth degree, but their whole

  10     computer literacy is main frame, okay, so there

  11     is a transaction there that goes on, I can't

  12     get into the technical end, because you'll see

  13     how computer illiterate I am.

  14               MR. HODGETTS:  I probably wouldn't

  15     notice.

  16               MS. WEBER:  But that in fact is where

  17     we can now nurture some of our people to start

  18     as entrepreneurs into moving up the ladder of

  19     success.

  20               The other area that Citibank is

  21     working with us on is the whole thing of

  22     planning towards the future and working with us

  23     to do some community revitalization, some

  24     economic development, both from a housing point

  25     of view and from a small business point of view



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   2     so that that community becomes self sufficient

   3     as a whole and becomes dependent upon itself to

   4     survive and I think that's extremely important.

   5               Lastly, their branch in Sheepshead

   6     Bay has a number of folks who are bilingual,

   7     trilingual, we'll name it, who have worked with

   8     our folks in teaching them the banking system,

   9     in helping them through that system, because

  10     one of the things we've done, since we do cash

  11     assistance in the first four months, is we have

  12     used the ATM systems so that checks and money

  13     do not move along, and they have been very

  14     helpful in moving our clients through the steps

  15     and educating them in the whole banking system.

  16     So I thank you for your time.

  17               MR. LONEY:  We thank you.

  18               Ms. Canner.

  19               MS. CANNER:  On behalf of Classroom

  20     Inc., New York City nonprofit organization,

  21     where I'm director of programs, I am pleased to

  22     be here to support Citibank in the work

  23     accomplished through their foundation to

  24     improve communities across the country.

  25               Classroom Inc., has a two-fold



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   2     mission to engage students in productive

   3     learning experiences that will help them in

   4     their transition to the world beyond school and

   5     to provide teachers with the tools and support

   6     they need to enhance their effectiveness.

   7               To accomplish our mission we create

   8     computer-based simulations of real life

   9     experiences for use by students in middle and

  10     high schools and we provide ongoing

  11     professional development opportunities and

  12     support for educators participating in our

  13     program.

  14               Classroom Inc., is committed to

  15     serving those young people who most need to

  16     believe in a world beyond the school where they

  17     can indeed achieve, and who sadly often have

  18     the fewest resources available to them.

  19     Participating students are afforded an

  20     opportunity too seldom available to our

  21     financially and socially disadvantaged

  22     children, access to technology, and not mere

  23     access, but constructive access through

  24     effective software.

  25               Through our relationship with



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   2     Citibank we have been able to create

   3     simulations and offer these learning tools to

   4     thousands of teachers and students across the

   5     country.

   6               In 1994, Citibank provided support

   7     for our first banking simulation Chelsea Bank

   8     and subsequently fully funded the development

   9     production of a financial services stimulation,

  10     a course with a community bank which was

  11     completed in 1996.

  12               These banking simulations served to

  13     bring students to a level of financial literacy

  14     and to help them understand the role of the

  15     bank in their community.  They are introduced

  16     to a variety of concepts such as profit and

  17     loss, interest rate, credit worthiness,

  18     mortgages and loans.

  19               The simulations are also designed to

  20     encourage these students to competency that I

  21     have identified by the US Department of Labor

  22     Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary

  23     Skills or SCAN competencies, things such that

  24     they will need in the world of work such as the

  25     effective use of resources, the ability to work



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   2     collaboratively with others and proficiency

   3     with technology.

   4               External resources that has been done

   5     on our work today and on the simulations

   6     provides evidence that they are effective.

   7     Indiana University has been studying students

   8     use of the Chelsea Bank, and has found that

   9     students using it are effectively in the SCAN

  10     skills, and the case studies show that the

  11     students have learned about banking customers

  12     and awareness of the world of work.

  13               At another more recent research study

  14     at the University of Pittsburgh Learning

  15     Research and Development Center has been

  16     studying our financial services simulation

  17     because we're a community bank and they have

  18     reported that it's one of the best simulations

  19     available to use in schools to work programs in

  20     schools, and that it provides many

  21     opportunities for the students to learn and use

  22     a variety of SCAN skills and our own internal

  23     research has corroborated this.

  24               Citibank and the Citicorp Foundation

  25     have helped us position our simulations in a



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   2     variety of school districts across the country.

   3     With Citibank taking the lead, we have been

   4     introduced into school districts of Las Vegas,

   5     Nevada and Sioux Falls, South Dakota where we

   6     are serving hundreds of middle and high stool

   7     students.

   8               We began our work in Sioux Falls in

   9     1997 and are expanding it there this year and

  10     in Sioux Falls our work has now been embraced

  11     at the state level, and with Citibank's support

  12     we would hope to be expanding there.

  13               We have also begun to look at

  14     partnerships in the States of Florida and

  15     Georgia where Citibank is an active community

  16     member.  In addition, our simulations are used

  17     in areas where Citibank is not our primary

  18     partner, such as in New York City, Philadelphia

  19     the State of West Virginia, Houston and other

  20     places across the country.

  21               We deeply value our relationship with

  22     Citibank and Citicorp Citibank leaders share

  23     our goal for improving teaching and learning in

  24     schools so that students may look forward to a

  25     stable and productive future.



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   2               We have confidence that Citibank will

   3     continue to play an important role as a

   4     community development financial leader and that

   5     its support will continue as a corporate value

   6     after the proposed merger.

   7               Thank you.

   8               MR. LONEY:  Did I understand you to

   9     say Citibank is not your primary partner in New

  10     York City?  Is that what you said?

  11               MS. CANNER:  No, I'm sorry, I said

  12     they have been the lead role for bringing us

  13     into Sioux Falls and Las Vegas.  They help us

  14     produce the simulations which are in widespread

  15     use in New York City.

  16               MR. LONEY:  Dr. de Cassagnol.

  17               DR. de CASSAGNOL:  Thank you.  I have

  18     provided some information for you all.

  19               I am Dr. Cassagnol.  I'm the founder

  20     and chairman of Dr. Cassagnol Cyber Banking

  21     Group, and Dr. Cassagnol Foundation.  Certified

  22     minority fully centered by the state and some

  23     of the government.  Dr. Cassagnol Foundation is

  24     non-profit, tax exempt, and I have to make it

  25     very clear that we do not seek the contribution



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   2     of organization or contribution from anybody,

   3     that we doing everything by ourself.  And what

   4     I would like to see, make it very clear that I

   5     support the merger.

   6               I had a long talk with Matthew Lee

   7     yesterday.  I tried to convince him to give me

   8     his blessings, and he had done that.  I could

   9     not convince him to wear the Travelers logo,

  10     but he understands and knows our procedure and

  11     the message we send to these people.

  12               We want to pay for the communities

  13     and some of them do it in a different way. In

  14     my role as a community person, Matthew Lee is

  15     my neighbor and friend, and I'm very happy that

  16     he understands my position that I support the

  17     merger.  He tried to convince me to not to say

  18     that I support Citicorp, because for some

  19     reason he doesn't care that much for Citicorp.

  20               (Laughter)

  21               And I don't know why, but, anyhow, I

  22     told him I support Travelers because I had a

  23     lot of good contact with Travelers.  I have sat

  24     with them, and they have pledged that they work

  25     together with me.  With all fairness to



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   2     Citicorp, I have never tried to get in contact

   3     with Citicorp, because of the reason that I

   4     have had a lot of contact with other banks and

   5     I have gone nowhere with them, so I try to save

   6     them the aggravation by not being in contact

   7     with them.

   8               The Travelers, I have presented a

   9     huge project to them.  This is one of the

  10     projects to, the vice-president in charge of

  11     property casualty, and that project

  12     incorporates the development of the cyber

  13     village.  In the cyber village we have

  14     everything in it from cyber university on line,

  15     a greeting cards, everything you can find,

  16     cyber view, cyber banking, everything you can

  17     find in a village, but electronically.

  18               I have presented a huge package like

  19     that to them, and we have set up the mechanics

  20     to start working together.  One of the promise

  21     I had to make to Matthew Lee yesterday that if

  22     for any reason that Travelers decided not to

  23     work together with me, to give him a call, and

  24     we'll get our volunteers and go to the

  25     building.



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   2               I do not plan to do that because

   3     Travelers seems to be, you know, very receptive

   4     to me, to my organization and I plan to work

   5     together with them, and in that way I support

   6     Citicorp.

   7               This is the 21st century project and

   8     I totally believe we have to spend a lot of

   9     time and money in developing that project.

  10     This is the 21st century project, and this is

  11     another opportunity for an organization like

  12     the Travelers to work together, to create the

  13     kind of economic development that probably will

  14     not find people like myself to work with.

  15               This is a unique experience, and what

  16     I would like to happen is to work with me and

  17     create about two thousand jobs, you know, for

  18     the next five, ten years, and I strongly

  19     believe that we can do it, because I only use

  20     commercial hack library and that hack library

  21     can be converted to an unlimited amount of

  22     products, and all we have to do is have people

  23     working together with us to help people like

  24     the people of my Inner City, to make them a

  25     little bit happier, because the frustration and



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   2     aggravation with them is people are not

   3     listening.

   4               And as you can see the way they take

   5     all the umbrellas yesterday was to catch the

   6     attention of people really making the decision.

   7     Again, that I want to make it very clear that I

   8     support the merger.  Based on my talk with

   9     Matthew Lee yesterday, I don't think because of

  10     me, I don't think he will want me to deal in my

  11     project, and not create the jobs that was

  12     promised to create in the Bronx, so he supports

  13     me and I will ask the Fed in their

  14     consideration not to deny the merger, to give

  15     Travelers and Citibank an opportunity to people

  16     like myself, and create the kind of

  17     opportunities that people like Inner City are

  18     looking for.

  19               And, again, I'm extremely happy to

  20     support the merger.  And then I hope that

  21     anything I can do to help to support those

  22     activities to prevent any delays, because I do

  23     understand people like myself create a lot of

  24     aggravation for some of those people with

  25     Matthew Lee, and I do not want that to happen,



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   2     the same thing that happened with the state

   3     merger.

   4               We just want to go on and start doing

   5     the work that we need for the community.  Thank

   6     you.

   7               MR. LONEY:  Thank you.  Any questions

   8     of these folks?

   9               MR. ALVAREZ:  I have a question for

  10     Mr. Weber.  In dealing with immigrants -- in

  11     fact, any of the three may want to answer -- do

  12     you deal with a bunch of immigrants in

  13     particular that come from cash based economies,

  14     and they're coming here and beginning to

  15     navigate around the financial system in the

  16     United States, the bank-serving economy, is

  17     there much resistance or difficulty in folks

  18     getting adjusted to a different kind of system?

  19               MS. WEBER:  Yes, especially at the

  20     beginning.  One of the issues is trust of the

  21     institution.  They come from a place where very

  22     honestly without a cash economy they don't

  23     survive.  That's the way they've done business.

  24     That's the way they've done business for

  25     generations, and it's something that we have to



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   2     work with, and explain and we do a whole thing

   3     on acculturation, and part of that is to move

   4     along and to teach people gradually the system

   5     and how it works for them, and that they can

   6     trust the system.

   7               And, remember, you got folks who came

   8     off the plane.  You know, years ago you'd come

   9     off the boat.  But now you got folks coming off

  10     the plane with the same fears.  They don't know

  11     how to get from the airport to where they're

  12     going, and they don't know how to get on the R

  13     or the N.  So, you know, we start at that

  14     point.  We meet them at the airport.

  15               And, you know, I would say two months

  16     of or three months of trauma, you know,

  17     depression.  You know, they've left an

  18     environment they're very comfortable with.

  19     Many of them have been forced to leave and

  20     they're coming here.

  21               Now, it's a little better there

  22     because there are relatives here now that take

  23     them in, but it takes a lot of getting used to.

  24     And, you know, if you come to our offices from

  25     the first to the fourth month you will see it



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   2     in the dress, how they dress when they first

   3     come here and how they slowly become Americans

   4     in their dress and some of their gestures even

   5     within that short period of time, but, yes, it

   6     is an issue.

   7               MR. HODGETTS:  I have a question of

   8     Dr. Cassagnol.  You believe that the merger

   9     will result in increased community development

  10     activity in the South Bronx?

  11               DR. de CASSAGNOL:  The only way the

  12     merger can resolve in increased economic

  13     activities in the Bronx is for people like the

  14     Travelers and Citicorp to work with people like

  15     myself.

  16               MR. HODGETTS:  More than they do

  17     today?

  18               DR. de CASSAGNOL:  Well, I don't

  19     want, I look at Travelers as a friend, and I do

  20     not want to say anything to challenge them or

  21     to challenge Citicorp, but what I would like to

  22     see or what people like Matthew Lee and other

  23     community activists would like to see, is for

  24     us to get involved in creating things for

  25     ourself creating jobs.



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   2               We do not need $5,000, you know,

   3     contribution a year for the community.  We

   4     don't need that.  We need to create the

   5     mechanism to develop jobs in the community and

   6     people like myself can be a link between these

   7     people and Travelers or Citibank, but it is, as

   8     I indicated in some of my writings, it is

   9     impossible to be in a community like New York

  10     City, almost 57 percent minorities and not

  11     doing anything for this group, and saying that

  12     we're doing something for the community.

  13               You don't have to be a rocket

  14     scientist to understand that.  You cannot

  15     increase community activities by not getting

  16     people like myself and other people get

  17     involved in creating those jobs.

  18               I have a huge amount of resources

  19     that I can help creating those jobs.  It has

  20     been impossible for some of the banks to work

  21     together with me for one reason or the other.

  22     They will say, well, these affairs, you know,

  23     we cannot do this, we cannot do that, and we

  24     are hurting people.  Like these people

  25     yesterday with the red umbrellas, they are



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                                                                484
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   2     hurting.  Their aggravation is to trying to

   3     catch people's attention and I think in my

   4     position the resources that we have we can

   5     create that link between them and Travelers.

   6               If Travelers work with me, continue

   7     working, because it pays to work with me, with

   8     all fairness to Citicorp, I have never get in

   9     contact with them, so I cannot give, but if

  10     they put their heads together, work together

  11     with me, I have provided information to

  12     Citicorp people, some of the vice presidents --

  13     Ms. Pamela is here?  She is there.

  14               I provided information to her.  I

  15     provided information to them.  I provided thick

  16     package like that to the Travelers' people.

  17     All they have to do is find the mechanism to

  18     work together with me and create those jobs and

  19     we can only develop an activity, but it is not

  20     going to happen if you don't work with people

  21     like myself, it's not going to happen.

  22               It's just like a dream, and that will

  23     have to be fulfilled myself or people like

  24     myself.

  25               MR. HODGETTS:  Thank you.

Last update: December 3, 2010