Department of Justice ATTN: Civil Rights Division
RE: Actions Moving Forward
On behalf of the Renaissance Indexes Group (Rendexes) it was a real pleasure to talk to you today – in order to advance the agenda for the correction of patterns and practices that discriminate by race the exchanges must be robust and spirited.
Indeed, as the correction, fixing and ending of the systemic, pervasive and continuing practices, patterns and policies that result in the disproportionate discriminate effect, disparate impact, illegal discrimination and redlining perpetrated against the protected class of black Americans (PC/BA) by the Banks named in the Complaints is a noble cause and one well within the jurisdiction of the US Attorneys’ office it is in the best interest of justice and laws to move forward with the civil actions in Federal District Court.
In our conversations today it was established that the Civil Rights Section (CRS) was set up to – inter alia- to go after the Banks engaged in patterns and practices of illegal discrimination and redlining – it was also established that the CRS has failed to file a single civil action against a single Bank in Houston. This becomes the worst kind of contradiction in terms in addition to being a cruel disservice to the PC/BA who are daily aggrieved by the actions (and non-actions), policies and procedures of the named Banks.
With all due respect to the integrity of Counsel this continuing failing by the CRS raises disturbing questions of whether the CRS has the will and desire to correct, fix and end the continuing injustices that deny to the PC/BA the equal access to capital, lending, credit and banking services.
While your statement…”there is nothing more I would like to than to file civil actions…” is heartwarming and touchy feely comfort it does not advance the civilized agenda for the reclamation of Constitutional rights Civil Rights and federally protected rights of the PC/BA presently denied by the continuing practices and patterns of the Banks named in the Complaints.
The statement that our Complaints do not rise to civil actions does not comport with the precedence of civil actions filed by the DOJ / Civil Rights in similar cases. Indeed, in all matters of law precedence is important.
The basis for our Complaints is rooted in the physical address reality and placement of the named Banks’ location, Bank branches, Bank Financed Developments and Community Development Lending inside of the black American Neighborhoods in the specified Zip Codes in Houston and – and in the geographical distribution of the named Banks’ lending (dollar amounts) in – business – to include working capital and bridge loans, mortgages, home improvement (equity) to include the financing of Wealth Creating Entities – Private Equity Groups, Real Estate Investment Trusts, Trading Companies and Brokerage Houses and in the actual investments made in Community Outreach, Advertising and Charitable Contributions to the black American Charities, Non-Profits, Organizations and Media Outlets in Houston.
These are the duties and responsibilities of the named Banks pursuant to the banking laws – Community Reinvestment Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act – to include the Final Rule, Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act and pursuant to the controlling authority of the Court Rulings – US V Chevy Chase FSB, US V Hudson City Savings, US V Midland States Bank, US V Klein Bank and the US Supreme Court holding in TDHCA V ICP, Inc.
It is axiomatic that the named Banks do not get to pick and choose which of the banking laws it is going to comply with and which to ignore; does not get to pick and choose whether it will abide by the Civil Rights laws and does not get to pick and choose which of the applicable Court rulings it will get in compliance with. Nor does the named Bank get to determine the level of compliance – as in “substantial compliance” with any of the above. What does that even mean? The Rule of Law is clear: the named Banks are duty bound to be in and remain in full compliance with all of the components of the above banking laws, Civil Rights laws and controlling authority of the Court rulings
One need not be cynical to see that such power – if allocated to the named Banks – can lead to abuse and entrenched practices of illegal discrimination. Does the bank get to determine what percentage of compliance it is to be in? Does the bank get to state that while it has 90% of its Bank branches in the Anglo Neighborhoods and 1 Bank branch and mainly ATM machines in the black American Neighborhoods, we – the Bank - have determined that this placement is “substantial compliance” with the banking laws. This is exactly what the named Banks have been allowed to get away with – up until now.
As a matter of the Rule of Law neither the named Banks nor the Civil Rights Section can have it both ways – the named Banks are either in full compliance with all of the components of all of the above laws and can provide the evidence to verify their full compliance - or the named Banks are not in full compliance with all of the components of the above laws and cannot provide the evidence of same.
Where the named Banks are not in full compliance with all of the components of the above laws and cannot provide the evidence – this is evidence of violations of the above laws – to include patterns and practices of illegal discrimination and redlining and constitutes grounds for civil actions in Federal District Court.
The Complaints filed by the Renaissance Indexes Group can be retrofitted with the very Complaints filed in District Court by the DOJ / Civil Rights Division.
Indeed, we have taken pains to ensure that we have filed legitimate Complaints – i.e. Complaints that outline the named Banks’ actions (and non-actions), policies and procedures that are not in full compliance with all of the components of the banking laws, Civil Rights laws and controlling authority of the Court cases.
Banking Laws –
The named Banks are duty bound to abide by and to comply with all of the components of the banking laws – to include the Community Reinvestment Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act – to include the Final Rule, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, FTC Section 5, Fair Lending Laws
Title VIII – 1968 Civil Rights Act
Court Rulings – US V Chevy Chase FSB, US V Hudson City Saving Bank. US V Klein Bank. US V Midland States Bancorp, Supreme Court case o TDHCA V ICP, Inc.
The named Banks have consistently failed to comply with all of the components of the banking laws –
Bank Branches – the Illegal Discrimination Claim outline that the named Banks are engaged in practices and patterns of illegal discrimination in the placement of its Bank branches and that the named Banks deny the black American Neighborhoods the equal per capita Bank branches – free standing bricks and mortar edifices – instead the black American Neighborhoods are relegate to an average of 2% of all of the named Banks branches and to ATM machines in dim liquor stores. Not one single named Bank has refuted this Claim with evidence of equal placement of Bank branches. Indeed, Comerica Bank has placed a single Bank branch in the black American Neighborhoods out of a total of 48 branches in Houston MSA. Pursuant to the law – ECOA- this practice alone is grounds for Department Civil Rights civil actions in Federal District Court.
This is far worse than the ratio cited in US V Chevy Chase FSB and fits with the ruling in US V Hudson Savings Bank that such practices deny the equal opportunity to secure credit Developments transactions and discourages same for the PC/BA.
Bank Financed Developments– the Illegal Discrimination Claim outline that the named Banks discriminate against the black American Neighborhoods in the placement and building of its Bank Financed Developments – Bank Main Office buildings, stores, restaurants, retail outlets, supermarkets, and luxury mixed use developments. Not one single Bank has refuted – with evidence – this Claim.
Community Development Lending (CDL) -The Illegal Discrimination Claim outline that the named Banks have failed to make the Community Development Lending in the black American Neighborhoods even though the named Banks are duty bound to make the CDL investments that stabilize and revitalize the Neighborhoods in the communities it serves. Not one single named Bank has made a single material investment – Hi Tech Centers, Apprenticeship Facilities, Neighborhood Centers - that has stabilized or revitalized a single black American Neighborhood in a single specified Zip Code in Houston MSA. Not one of the named Banks has refuted this Claim – with any evidence. Not one single Bank has outlined a single black American Neighborhood where the Bank has made any material investments that has revitalized or stabilized a single black American Neighborhood in Houston MSA
The Illegal Discrimination Claims (IDC) outline that the named Banks have failed to promote and have failed to make available the full range of all of the named Banks’ lending and credit products – to include Wealth Management and Wealth Creating Financing and mortgages, home equity, Working Capital, Bridge Loans to- the individuals, businesses and households of the PC/BA in in the black American Neighborhoods in the specified Zip Codes of Houston MSA.
Not one single Bank has refuted this Claim – with evidence of the comparative number of loan originations, applications, approvals to the PC/BA in comparison to the Anglo Neighborhoods in any of the above lending categories.
Beyond this, the pittance of lending the named Banks have made to the PC/BA have been toxic and have come saddled with higher interest rates, demands for larger collateral, much lower dollar amounts and denial of any deferments. Indeed, as outlined in the recent report – “An Uneven Recovery” - from the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank that even after controlling for all of the credit factors black Americans were still denied more than 3 times the rate of Anglo Americans for the exact same loan or credit product – and found glaring disparities in all of the Bank lending and credit categories by race and income.
The Renaissance Indexes Group is hardly picking on the poor little Banks – with invented Illegal Discrimination Claims.
Community Outreach – the Illegal Discrimination Claim outlines that the named Banks have engaged in practices that discriminate against the PC/BA and the black American Neighborhoods in the equal investments in the Banks duties in product development, advertising, Sponsorship of Neighborhood Events, Aquatic Parks, landscaping and beautification of Neighborhoods. Not one single Bank has refuted this Claim – with evidence.
Advertising – the Illegal Discrimination Claim outlines where the named Banks have discriminated against the PC/BA in the equal advertising, marketing and promotion of the full range of all of the Banks’ lending and credit products – to include Wealth Management and wealth creating entities – Real Estate Investment Trust, Private Equity Groups, Trading Companies, Brokerage Houses. This continuing failure to market the real estate related transactions and other credit products by the named Banks fails to penetrate the black American Neighborhoods and is in violation of the ECOA and of the controlling authority of the Court ruling in US V Midland State Bancorp.
Beyond this not one single named bank has a single annual contract with any of the black American Media outlets – print, radio, TV. Not on single Bank has refuted this Claim – with evidence. Charitable Contributions – the Illegal Discrimination Claim outlines where the named Banks have discriminated against the black American Charities, Non-Profit Corporations, and Organizations. None of the named Banks has made any material contributions, have provided any University Scholarships, have underwritten any Charity Galas, have taken the lead in any Capital Campaigns to the black American Non-Profits in the black American Neighborhoods. Not one named Bank has refuted this Claim with any evidence
The Illegal Discrimination Claims outlined in the Civil Rights Complaints are modeled after the controlling authority of the Court rulings in the Complaints filed by DOJ / Civil Rights as outlined above, are modeled on the laws the Civil Rights Section is empowered to prosecute – Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act – to include the Final Rule and Title VIII – 1968 Civil Rights Act, are pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause – 14th Amendment – US Constitution and are crafted on the Department Rules – HUD Fair Housing Act Final Rule.
In the relentless pursuit of justice and to secure equal rights of equal access to capital, lending and credit for the protected class that is aggrieved by the systemic, pervasive and continuing practices and patterns that results in the disproportionate discriminate effect; disparate impact; illegal discrimination perpetrated against the members of the protected class of black Americans and that result in the redlining of whole black American Neighborhoods by the Banks named in the Complaints it is important that the applicable laws and Court rulings be liberally construed.
To this end the spirit of the law needs to be equally applied to the letter of the law – this is the hallmark of a civilized society and is applicable.
Though these civil rights violations are divested of the more aggravating incidents of the historical discrimination perpetrated against the protected class of black Americans it contains their very essence and substance and effects the same substantial purpose – it may be then that these continuing Bank practices and patterns are the obnoxious horror in their milder and less repulsive forms but the wholesale abdication of civil rights and Constitutional rights gain their chokehold in this way and then become entrenched practices – made that much harder to eradicate.
It is the duty of the guardian of Constitutional and civil rights – in this case the Office of US Attorney - to guard against these very kinds of stealthy encroachments and take robust and remedial actions to correct, fix and end these injustices in the very beginning – prior to becoming the entrenched practices of The Civil Rights Complaints are filed against Independent Financial and Comerica Bank and its actionability is established by the components of the Fair Housing Act Final Rule
Discriminatory Effect Defined 100.500 (a) Section 100.500 (a) provides that a discriminatory effect occurs where a facially neutral practice actually or predictably results in a discriminatory effect on a group of persons protected by the Act (that is, it has a disparate impact) or on the community as a whole on the basis of a protected characteristic (perpetuation of segregation).
Any facially neutral action, e.g. laws, rules, decisions, standards, policies, practices, or procedures, including those that allow for discretion or the use of subjective criteria, may result in a discriminatory effect actionable under the Fair Housing Act and this Rule.
There is no question that the practices, patterns, actions (and non-actions), polices of these two Banks – everything from placing its bank branches outside the black American Neighborhoods to outright denial of the full range of all of the Banks’ lending and credit products to include Wealth Creating Financing – Private Equity Groups, Real Estate Investment Trusts - results in the disproportionate discriminatory effect, disparate impact and illegal discrimination perpetrated against the protected class of black Americans in the specified Zip Codes in Houston MSA.
The Civil Rights Complaints are also are actionable established and by the Effects Test of the Equal CreditOpportunity Act that states
Method of assessing the discriminatory impact of supposedly neutral credit policies. In general, the Effects Test works this way…the person (or party) that alleges illegal discrimination need only establish that the action in question has a disproportionate discriminate effect on a member of a protected class, and therefore is discriminatory in effect.
There is no question that the practices, patterns, actions (and non-actions) of these two Banks – everything from failure to market, advertise and penetrate the black American Neighborhood markets (US V Midland States Bancorp) – to denial of the equal Discretionary Accommodations for credit approval that the Banks freely extend to the Anglo applicants and customers - result in the discriminatory impact on the members of the protected class of black Americans in the specified Zip Codes in Houston.
In The Relentless Pursuit of Justice
Renaissance Indexes Group