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Bayside man takes on Citi

TimesLedger Newspapers

Baysider David Yale empathizes with the millions of people across the country searching for jobs, but if he had his way, there is one person he would like to send to the unemployment line.

Last week, the man behind Occupy Bayside and the “Make Them Pay” protest at Bell Boulevard’s Citibank branch earlier this year sent a pink slip to Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, citing unsatisfactory performance.

“Inasmuch as your performance as fiduciary guardian of my funds, and as a member of the community, has been unsatisfactory, you are hereby notified that your services are no longer needed,” the letter read.

“I have closed two of my accounts (checking and money market) at Citibank’s Bayside NY branch effective immediately. In other words, you’re fired!” it continued.

Yale protested at his bank branch back in April, decrying the corporation’s use of overseas tax shelters. This time around, it is the number crunching of his bank’s terms that has him incensed.

“They pay .05 percent on savings accounts, so I’m only getting a few cents a month,” he said. “Then they take my money and lend it out and charge 22.9 percent on credit cards.”

“Meanwhile, I had hoped to retire sometime soon. I’m 67 years old. I have a nest egg, but the income on that nest egg is minimal because of the low interest rates.”

So Yale sent pink slips to Pandit’s home, his office and his pied-a-terre in Manhattan — all addresses he found on contact-the-ceo.com.

“It’s a very useful page,” he said, adding that he did not have plans the moment to send out any more notices of involuntary separation.

“I’m not really in the same situation with anybody else. I suppose I could sell my stock in GE, but it’s not exactly the same thing,” he said.

Yale said he recently closed out several of his Citibank accounts — he is working on closing the remaining ones — and took his money down the block to Capital One on the corner of Bell and Northern boulevards.

The activist said he could not find any information to indicate that his new bank uses overseas tax havens.

“I don’t know that they do; I haven’t seen anything reported on that,” Yale said. “They’re not angels, but I think they’re better. The staff is very community-oriented and they know who I am.”

“I was with Citi 15, 20 years and they don’t know who I am,” he said. “They didn’t even know after [the protest].”

Yale said he takes many of his cues from Occupy Wall Street, such as voting with his feet by moving money out of larger banks into smaller community banks and credit unions.

“I have some money in a bank in South Dakota. They’re making loans to farmers and homeowners,” he said. “The bank has a very high rating from the bank rating services. It’s a pretty solid bank.”

Yale said putting his money in smaller institutions serves both his personal and the public goods.

“You can see I’m a combination of altruistic and practical,” he said. “I’m pragmatic.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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