WASHINGTON - Broadening its inquiry into loan discrimination, the House Banking Committee turned its attention last week to hiring patterns at regulatory agencies, and found them wanting.
Rep. Maxine Waters, a committee Democrat Demse Los Angeles district was ravaged in the recent riots, said last Thursday she was "embarrassed" by the regulators' "lack of competence" in ending discrimination in their own offices.
Responding to a question from Rep. Waters, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman William L. Taylor said he will have his equal employment officer report directly to him to ensure nondiscriminatory hiring.
RTC Chief Provokes Anger
But the chief executive of the Resolution Trust Corp., Albert V. Casey, angered Rep. Waters by saying he "does not have time" for the equal opportunity issue.
The two officials joined other regulators in responding to a committee staff report that contended women and minorities are inadequately represented in the agencies' top ranks.
Separately, an antipoverty group charged that banks are siphoning money from minority communities. In 13 of 14 cities. studied by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, minority areas received less mortgage credit than other communities for every dollar deposited.
"We're being robbed in broad daylight by the banks," said Acorn president Maude Hurd. "We trust them with our money, but they won't trust us with a home loan."
Ms. Hurd called the industry's lending record "disgraceful," and said a number of major banks have agreed to attend an Acorn-sponsored meeting in New York on July 12. They include Bank of America, Chemical Bank, and Nations Bank.
Also at the banking committee hearing Thursday were officials from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Office of Thrift Supervision, Federal Housing Finance Board, Thrift Depositor Protection Oversight Board, Federal National Mortgage Association, and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.
Rep. Waters also asked the officials to attend a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, an offer that drew a few tentative raised hands from the group of eight officials.
Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., questioned the RTC's hiring of five consulting firms to investigate allegations of discrimination at the agency. He said the expenditure was a waste.