Olivia One Feather (center) of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe holds up her fist after the Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to divest from Wells Fargo over its role as a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project. Elaine Thompson/AP
February 8, 2017
Seattle’s City Council has voted to not renew its contract with Wells Fargo, in a move that cites the bank’s role as a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project as well as its creation of millions of bogus accounts. As a result, the city won’t renew its contract with the bank that expires next year.
The unanimous vote will pull the city’s more than $3 billion in annual cash flow from the banking giant, the council says. Seattle says the bidding process for its next banking partner will “incentivize ‘Social Responsibility.'”
Not long after Seattle’s vote, the City Council in Davis, Calif., took a similar action over the pipeline. It voted unanimously to find a new bank to handle its roughly $124 million in accounts by the end of 2017.
On the same day the two cities moved to cut ties with Wells Fargo, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. As NPR’s Rebecca Hersher reported, that clears the way for construction of the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1,700-mile pipeline.
“Protests in Seattle against the Dakota Access Pipeline project have been large and frequent, often organized by local tribal members,” member station KUOW reports. “Protesters, many of them Native people from Washington state, share the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which says the pipeline would threaten tribal water supplies, land and cultural sites.”
Wells Fargo has been in the headlines since last fall over a scandal involving bank employees creating fake accounts in customers’ names to bolster performance results and boost bonuses. While other banks are also involved in the pipeline deal, Wells Fargo’s recent history seems to have helped make it a target once again.
Seattle’s plan to stop its dealings with Wells Fargo comes months after the city canceled a $100 million bond deal between its electric utility and the bank. That took place last fall, when the treasurers of California, Illinois and other entities said they would freeze their dealings with the bank — in some cases, for a one-year period.
Wells Fargo’s commercial banking manager for Washington state, Mary Knell, tells KUOW that she’s disappointed in Seattle’s new move, noting that the bank is bound by its contract with the pipeline project.
Knell tells KUOW that the bank has “enhanced our due diligence on projects such as this to include more research into whether indigenous communities are affected and that they have been properly consulted.”
Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant, who spearheaded Seattle’s move away from Wells Fargo, says a rally against the bank is scheduled for this weekend.
And after noting that Wells Fargo is “one of the six primary financiers of the for-profit private prison industry,” Sawant ended a statement about the bill’s initial passage earlier this month with a note of caution, saying, “All of the big banks are terrible, and, as long as we have capitalism, our contracts will be with institutions that put corporate greed over human need.”
Days before Seattle held an initial vote on divesting from the bank, Wells Fargo announced plans to donate $500,000 to five of the city’s nonprofit groups that work to revitalize Seattle neighborhoods.
When Seattle Council member Debora Juarez spoke of voting against Wells Fargo, she repeatedly cited a need for integrity — even as she acknowledged the small direct impact Seattle’s move will likely have.
“For a company whose deposits totaled more than $1 trillion last year, it’s a drop in a very big bucket,” Juarez said in a statement. “But for Seattle, a City whose budget is approx. $4B., voting to withdraw our funds … money that covers the biweekly payroll of $30 million for about 12,000 employees – is an opportunity to send a message.”
In Davis, the city’s report on the possibility of cutting ties with Wells Fargo noted that Philadelphia and Minneapolis are also considering the same move.
As for Seattle’s future options, KUOW reports:
“It’s not clear which financial institutions the city will work with in the future. More than a dozen other banks are connected to the pipeline, including CitiBank, ING, Chase and Bank of America.
“City Council members including Sawant, Mike O’Brien and Lisa Herbold are interested in contracting with a credit union or state-run public bank. Both of those options, however, would require a change to state law.”
In addition to complaints about the pipeline and its business practices, Wells Fargo was hit with a lawsuit at the end of January that accused the bank of “illegally denying student loans to young immigrants who are protected from deportation and allowed to work and study in the U.S. under a program created by former President Barack Obama,” as member station KPCC reported.
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT The UN has confirmed they will be visiting our encampment at old city hall in Berkeley on Sunday, January 21st, at 12:30. Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right To Housing, will be coming to speak with us on several issues. Court, housing, shelter from the elements, systemic abuses of the poor will all be covered. If you are in Oakland, they will be touring there on the 20th. I suggested a visit to the village, and they said yes. Spread the word. –Mike Zint
Grassroots Advocacy “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” –President Barack Obama Our next meeting is at 1:30pm on Sunday, 6/11/17, at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, 1661 15th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. This event is for *both* First Timers and Previous Attendees. Please join us! Note: please read the Indivisible Guide before attending. https://www.indivisibleguide.com/ Goal: working time to plan weekly actions and calls. Agenda: 1) Large group meets to touch base 2)… Continue reading →
Occupy Oakland General Assembly Posted by GNUWorldOrder WHEN: November 20, 2016 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Repeats WHERE: Oscar Grant Plaza Oakland City Hall 1 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612 USA COST: Free CONTACT: Occupy Oakland List Email MEETING The Occupy Oakland General Assembly meets every Sunday at 3 PM at Oscar Grant Plazaamphitheater at 14th Street & Broadway near the steps of City Hall. If for some reason the amphitheater is being used otherwise and/or OGP itself is inaccessible, we will meet at Kaiser Park, right next to the statues, on 19th St. between San Pablo and Telegraph. If… Continue reading →
Defend Aunti Frances Volunteer Meeting Posted by LaborSolidarityCommittee WHEN: January 22, 2018 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm WHERE: Niebyl Proctor Library 6501 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94609 USA CONTACT: Email Event website MEETING FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS & ALLIES of AUNTI FRANCES: Continue volunteering with or newly plug-in to the Defend Aunti Frances eviction defense campaign! We’ll provide updates on the campaign, and breakout into committees to keep up our efforts. You can help by continuing in/taking on an ongoing role and participating this evening’s one-time activities—both are a huge help for the campaign. Please come, invite people, bring food! We’ll also… Continue reading →
Divestment SFERS Retirement Fund from Fossil Fuels Wednesday January 24th 1 PM – 4 PM 1145 Market St, 6th Floor, San Francisco, CA COME ONE, COME ALL, to the December 13th Retirement Board meeting, where they will FINALLY vote on full divestment of community-sickening, climate-destroying, pension-cratering fossil fuels!
The Housing Crisis: What We Must Do Now Posted by LaborSolidarityCommittee WHEN: January 24, 2018 @ 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm WHERE: North Berkeley Senior Center 1901 Hearst Ave Berkeley, CA 94709 USA CONTACT: 510-842-6224 Email EVENT The Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers present The Housing Crisis: What We Must Do Now. Speakers are Michael Kane, executive director of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants and Willie Phillips of the Berkeley NAACP Economic Development Committee, and Friends of Adeline Corridor. The Gray Panther Monthly Meeting. All Welcome, Wheelchair Accessible. Affordable housing is under threat! Michael Kane of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants will speak on issues and organizing strategies in… Continue reading →
San Francisco Peace Vigil@ One Post Street, on the steps facing Market Street, below Feinstein’s office, directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni station)
Jan 24 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
San Francisco Peace Vigil Join CODEPINK, World Can’t Wait, Occupy SF and others for our weekly (most Wednesdays) Peace Vigil. This week we will rise for Yemeni people. WHEN: Wednesday, April 12th @ 5:30-6:30pm WHERE: find us with a huge PEACE banner at One Post Street in San Francisco (on the steps facing Market Street, below Feinstein’s office, directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni station) Contact us here
March to Save Mission Street Thursday, January 25 at 12 PM – 3 PM Mission Street @ 20th, SF Mission Street is becoming a playground for the wealthy and is in danger of becoming another Valencia St. Join us in solidarity and march to City Hall and say NO to high-end restaurants, NO to luxury development, and NO to the red lanes! Protect our working-class family corridor and keep Mission St for La Misión! LET’S MARCH WITH OUR SF BERNIECRATS BANNER! Text (978)631-9593 when you get there.