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Thursday, December 28, 2006

He’s a mean one, Mr. MoneyTree

posted by on December 28 at 10:53 AM

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.

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Posted by josh | December 28, 2006 10:56 AM

It's *Moscatel*, not Muskatel.

Posted by Correction Central | December 28, 2006 11:09 AM

Someone should ask George about former City Auditor Nora Masters, who accused him of sexual harassment while he worked for Mayor Rice and left the City after her complaint was dismissed.

Posted by Long memory | December 28, 2006 11:29 AM
Posted by georgesux | December 28, 2006 11:40 AM

I'd let loose with the Xena battle cry then do a back flip over his desk.

Posted by Original Andrew | December 28, 2006 11:42 AM

When I saw the headline and George Griffin's face in the paper, I knew instantly what this was about. I think it suprises no one that knows George that he is working for the payday loan industry.

The allegation does not surprise me either. He acts all friendly, but is extremely creepy.

Posted by Mr. Yuk | December 28, 2006 11:56 AM

Predators working for predatory lenders? Pimping aint ez.

Posted by SeMe | December 28, 2006 11:57 AM

In future I hope everyone is nice to that other "Grinch" Al Moscatel. He (ex-Mercer Island and UW b-baller) is a young gun of an oldish family listed by P-I as among largest stakeholders in viaduct-adjacent land. Continental Furniture/Continental Tower block, and the Herpes block under Club Venom including that parking lot where people get shot now and again at closing time. Chastened by "Grinch" award, Moscatel will behave really super-nicely from now on to all his fellow citizens.

Posted by tomasyalba | December 28, 2006 12:18 PM

hoorah for being tough and shouting at assholes.

Posted by S.MIRK | December 28, 2006 4:07 PM

Odd that The Stranger would preoccupy itself with eliminating a rather marginal financial industry that gives poor people in WA access to a billion dollars in loans each year, and generates almost no complaints to the regulating state agency (the advocacy and complaints of unaffected, patronizing limousine liberals notwithstanding), and then leave entirely unaddressed larger financial industry concerns of the poor and middle class alike: Credit card "penalty" interest rates, late fees, and bank overdraft fees that are not capped, are punitive, and affect way more people adversely than payday loans do. How many more poor people have credit cards as opposed to those who take out payday loans? 1000-times more? 10,000-times more? Apparently social justice only appeals to The Stranger in small doses, and its righteous indigation is meted out only for the more politically marginal (heaven forbid anyone persecute poor wittle MBNA, for example!).

Posted by Bob | December 29, 2006 3:29 PM


The Stranger, Basically a group of middle aged, white, wannabe hipsters sends in a newly hired Little Brown Girl (latino), to criticize a white man, who hired a black (African American) man as his community outreach person?

Pot, meet Kettle

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