A month ago, two members of the grassroots group protesting Park National’s takeover flew to Washington, D.C., to get Oak Park and Austin’s outrage on the national agenda.

They succeeded.

Thursday morning, a House subcommittee will host a hearing titled, The Condition of Financial Institutions: Examining the Failure and Seizure of an American Bank.

“We’re ensuring that the FDIC is held accountable,” said David Pope, president of the Village of Oak Park and a member of the coalition. Pope is referring to the seizure Oct. 30 of the nine banks in four states that were the largest assets of FBOP Corp., the Oak Park-based holding company whose sole owner is River Forest resident Mike Kelly.

Park National, the village icon at Madison Street and Austin Boulevard, was the near-bottomless funding source for Kelly’s philanthropy, which was particularly evident on Chicago’s West Side. On Wednesday afternoon, from the parking lot of Bethel New Life, a faith-based organization in West Garfield, a busload of 54 people – almost all members of the coalition – departed for the 10- to 12-hour drive to Washington, D.C.

Their destination is the Rayburn House Office Building, where at 10 a.m. Eastern on Thursday the two-hour investigative hearing that they demanded will begin. The hearing was arranged by the staff of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, who represents Illinois’s 4th Congressional District.

There will be two panels. The first will include Steve McCullough, a coalition member and CEO of Bethel New Life; a representative of U.S. Bank, the Minneapolis-based company to which the FDIC sold Park National and its sister banks, and a representative of FBOP Corp., whom many say will be Kelly, a man known for his media shyness as much as he is for his community support.

The second panel will include government witnesses from the Treasury Department and from the two federal bank-regulating bodies: the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Only one news organization will be on the bus from Austin to Washington, D.C. Helen Karakoudas, managing editor for our sister papers, will be filing reports from the road. Sign up at Austinweeklynews.com for breaking news updates.

To get involved

Members of the Coalition to Save Community Banking were passing the hat at local churches this weekend to cover the trip's expense – $5,300 for rental of a bus. Money still is needed to cover an advance for that expense.
Volunteers who will be making the bus trip to Washington won't be finding lodging there. Their first stop in the nation's capital will be at a nonprofit that's allowing use of its community room and its restrooms.
If you can make a donation toward the bus expense, send a check to:
Bethel New Life, Inc. –   
    CSCB Fund
c/o Mildred Wiley
Bethel New Life, Inc.
4950 W. Thomas
Chicago, IL 60651