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Robert Trigaux

Big weeks ahead for Al Pina of Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition as he takes on Bank of America

Alpinaphelanebehack Al Pina is on steroids. Not that stuff baseball guys lap up, but the figurative steroids that re-energize and empower a rare Florida activist— one who was just about to call it quits last year and leave the state. Says Pina, 47, who heads Tampa's Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition:

"I was going to take that midnight train out of Florida." he says. "There was so much fear and loss of hope in Florida's poor communities. Why fight a battle when you can't make a difference?"

But things changed, "almost overnight," says Pina, when the Obama administrationtook office in January. It's not that the feds suddenly kowtow to Pina. But the new administration — especially federal bank regulators — actually listens to Pina now. The feds, he says, seem genuinely engaged.

Now Pina's forgotten all about retirement. "I decided there was a fighting chance we can make a difference and shift socio-economic policy," he says. Albert Robert Pina III is back.

A refreshed Pina spells trouble for those businesses — especially Bank of America— that, to Pina, disrespect his coalition. And Pina turns up the heat this coming week. His FMCRC holds its annual summit on Clearwater Beach (well attended by federal regulators and bankers, he points out), and it unveils its boycott against Bank of America. Then, on June 15, Pina starts a hunger strike (he will take water only) against the Charlotte, N.C., banking giant, one of the biggest banking players in the state of Florida. Pina employed a similar tactic against SunTrust in 2005.

Pina's also taking on philanthropic foundations that, he says, largely ignore Florida's poor, as noted in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Read more here about Pina, BofA and the FMCRC.

(Pina photo by Phelan Ebenhack.)

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist 

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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