California Reinvestment Committee of San Francisco is another activist group that's been in touch with Rinehart and Maher since the proposed acquisition announcement, said Alan Fischer, executive director of the committee. Like the Greenlining Institute, the California Reinvestment Committee promotes CRA lending by California financial institutions.

In the case of Ahmanson and Great Western, the committee is concerned about branch closures and decreased competition in the minority and low-income lending arena, said Fischer.

"We've contacted both sides to express our concerns and hope to meet with the banks and talk about the issues. We've also been passing on our concerns to the regulators," he said.

Smaller community activist groups also are pressing their cases.

A group called Seniors Against Investment Fraud issued a warning to Ahmanson, pointing out that it could become the target of a consumer boycott if it acquires Great Western. The organization is angry at Great Western over previous charges most of them already settled that the thrift allegedly misled older people into using their savings to buy shares in Great Western mutual funds.

"It's a propitious time to do this," said Norma Resnick, chairwoman of the seniors' group. "Anyone who wants to achieve a goal has to work with the situation and take action at the proper time."

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