Community reinvestment expert Kenneth H. Thomas is hopping mad about being snubbed for a task force to revamp the way Florida banks are regulated.

Mr. Thomas sent off an angry three-page letter this week to Art Simon, Florida's director of the division of banking, requesting that he be added to the 22-member group.

The Miami-based banking consultant said in the letter that no one knows Florida banking better than he does - and that Mr. Simon knows this. "Finally my 'big chance' comes along to really make a difference by being on this task force, and I'm excluded from it."

The task force was formed Feb. 23 by Robert F. Milligan, Florida's newly elected bank regulator. Its goal is to come up with a plan for separating the regulation of banking, securities, and other financial services from Mr. Milligan's duties as chief fiscal officer for the state.

Florida is the only state that elects its banking regulators and allows them to receive campaign contributions from bankers. Mr. Milligan doesn't like the present arrangement because it gives the appearance that the official could be bought by the industry.

Mr. Simon said he was shocked by the letter and had no plans to expand the board for Mr. Thomas.

"I find his letter to be absolutely astounding," Mr. Simon said. "I am a little embarrassed that Dr. Thomas would see fit to take the position without discussing it with me. He has chosen the wrong soapbox to be yelling from. He's chosen the wrong guy to be yelling at."

Mr. Simon said that he had recommended Mr. Thomas for a seat, but that the consultant didn't make the final cut. He also noted that according to Florida law, the task force must be diversified by race and gender.

In the letter, Mr. Thomas suggested that the Florida Bankers Association might have lobbied to keep him off the board. "They certainly must be pleased that my pro-consumer and objective views won't be represented on that task force," he wrote.

Mr. Simon rejected the suggestion. "The notion that somehow the industry vetoed him is patently fallacious."

The official added: "I only have the highest regard for Dr. Thomas.

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