City He’s a mean one, Mr. MoneyTree
posted by December 28 at 10:53 AMon
I have a story in this week’s paper about efforts by payday lenders to court minority communities by hiring black and Latino spokesmen and spreading money to nonprofits like the Urban League and El Centro de la Raza. The story mostly focuses on George Griffin, a black political consultant who’s been hired by MoneyTree, a Renton-based lender. But the company’s CEO, Dennis Bassford, shouldn’t go unnoticed. I interviewed Bassford and Griffin together at the First Hill MoneyTree. I describe in the story how Bassford lurched over the desk between us to yell at me, getting inches from my face and schooling me about the ideas that had been implanted in my head. Griffin calmed things down momentarily. But, and this didn’t fit in the story, Bassford kept escalating. He implied that I shouldn’t ask certain questions. He rolled his eyes. He interrupted. Finally, I lurched over the desk and hollered at Bassford. “It’s hard to think like this, isn’t it?” It was a little silly, but it did the trick. Old Sparky calmed down and we had ourselves a nice interview.
I think it had been a hard week for the CEO. The day before, he’d received the Grinch of the Year award from Jobs with Justice. He has to share the award with Al Moscatel of 13 Coins.