“Oakland public bank study put on hold while city passes the hat around to cannabis interests”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (ebcitizen.com)

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL
During the Oakland City Council committee stage, at least one Oakland councilmember consistently urged stakeholders in the city’s cannabis business community to fund a proposed $100,000 public bank feasibility study rather than using the depleted general fund. Councilmember Noel Gallo‘s idea was never elaborated upon by his colleagues until Tuesday night and the suggestion appears to have led to the City Council’s postponement of the allocation to the July 18 meeting.

Funding for the public bank study appeared on the path to approval until Councilmember Abel Guillen suggested the city attempt to recoup the $100,000 from the cannabis community, which is bound to greatly benefit from a banking system decentralized from Big Banks. Access to banking services are difficult for many cannabis businesses to attain since the federal government still views cannabis production and sales as illegal.

“Oakland cannot go at this alone,” said Guillen. “I think a regional approach might make the most sense and any risk we are exposed to needs to be shared with a geographical area.”

Oakland would definitely be treading on somewhat unprecedented territory if a public bank is ever created in the East Bay. Although, prevalent in some countries, the only other public bank in the U.S. is in North Dakota.

Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville and possibly Alameda County have already shown interest in joining Oakland in a proposed public bank. “Ask them to put their money where their mouth is,” said Guillen. The public bank issue, he added, is being framed as a benefit for the cannabis industry in Oakland. “Ask some in that community to reimburse the city.”

Others on the council appeared to latch onto Guillen’s remark.

“I don’t want to waste $100,000, if in fact, Emeryville and Alameda County wants to do this. They should step up to the plate,” said Council President Larry Reid. Don’t burden the city of Oakland.” Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney offered a similar argument, saying the county has more than ample reserves to cover the study or wait until other cities are fully on-board with the plan before moving forward.

Earlier, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth urged the council to wait until a similar study in San Francisco was released before acting to spend money on a feasibility study of their own.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, perhaps the public bank’s most enthusiastic supporter, tried to urge her colleagues to move forward with Tuesday night’s agenda item, saying the consultant for the study has already been vetted and ready to begin its work.

The feasibility study’s price tag is a bargain, said Councilmember Dan Kalb, and will get more expensive if the city waits. He equated the regional aspect of the public bank proposal to the recently formed Alameda County Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program that allows its city’s to buy clean energy for residents through the existing utility company.

“CCA didn’t wait for everybody to chip in,” said Kalb. “Reality is we’re the biggest city in the county. San Francisco is not who we should be partnering with.”

“Berkeley Police Arrest and Beat Opponents of Urban Shield” from Mike Zint

This is what happens when you oppose the police state. Urban shield was used on urban shield protesters. Beating seniors makes cops big, tough people.

It won’t stop until we stop it. They are coming for all of us. The police are the enemy of the people. The proof is in these pictures! 

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Brooke Anderson Photography: Stills of Our Stories & Struggles added 49 new photos to the album: Berkeley Police Arrest and Beat Opponents of Urban Shield  

June 21, 2017

Need proof that Urban Shield is poison? Look no further than Berkeley Police arresting and beating peaceful protesters at last night’s city council meeting in which hundreds of opponents of the war games and militarized weapons expo spent 6 hours passionately testifying about how the Urban Shield program trains police to see activists and communities of color as enemies, only to be arrested and beaten as the council tried to push through a vote in support of the city’s participation in the program. Two protestors were arrested and many more beaten, including several who sustained bloody head and other injuries.

Note from Mike Zint:

Please take a moment of your day to do this. Take a stand!

Thank you for coming out last night!

The Stop Urban Shield coalition is proud of the unity and resilience displayed by all those in attendance at last night’s hearing in Berkeley. We need to maintain this resolve in order to Stop Urban Shield in Berkeley and end the program entirely. We cannot tolerate this police abuse and city evasion of democratic process – Take Action Immediately!

Over 500 of us – advocates and Berkeley residents fighting to end police militarization – attended last night’s hearing. We were united in our call to permanently withdraw Berkeley from Urban Shield participation and to end participation in NCRIC. After listening to hours of testimony, with only one speaker out of hundreds speaking in support of the violent police program, Mayor Arreguin and other council members approved participation in NCRIC and attempted to move forward with a vote to remain in Urban Shield.

With the mayor attempting to rush and confuse the vote, community members broke out in chants and unfurled a banner to nonviolently display their protest. This prompted the police to respond with aggressive force with two people arrested (they have since been released) and others injured. This is exactly the type of repression we are standing against when demand an end to Urban Shield. It is the brutality faced daily by Black, Brown, and poor communities in the Bay Area.

The Clerk’s Office and City Council are deciding today on whether the vote will stand. Make a call right now!

I’m contacting you to demand that yesterday’s attempted vote on Urban Shield is not sustained by the Council or Clerk. The proposal was not transparent to the public or council, the motion and process were convoluted, and the vote was not publicly heard. In light of this evasion of democracy and yesterday’s show of police brutality following the hearing, this vote needs to be rescinded and heard again.

First, call the below numbers before 5pm today!

City Clerk: (510) 981-6900
Mayor Arreguin: (510) 981-7100

Then, copy the above message and send to: council@cityofberkeley.info, clerk@CityofBerkeley.info

“A Student Strike Becomes an Occupation, for 17 Years” by John Daniels

WORLD-AMERICAS

June 19, 2017 (theinformer.life)

MEXICO CITY — Exams are over and classrooms have gone dark as summer comes to the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the pride of the country’s public education system.

But as students and professors melt away, there remains one strange and lively corner of the university’s main campus where nothing much will change, where tomorrow will be a lot like yesterday, and next month a lot like this one.

Since 2000, the university’s Justo Sierra Auditorium has been commandeered by political protesters, making it one of the longest-running occupations of a university building in history and putting more famous college takeovers to shame.

The student occupation at Columbia University in 1968, for instance, lasted only about a week. At the National Autonomous University of Mexico, known by its Spanish initials UNAM, the occupation has stretched for nearly 17 years and shows no sign of flagging.

It remains unclear exactly who occupies the building and how many members compose the occupying force. Insular and mercurial, they refused repeated requests for interviews.

“We’re against the mass media,” explained one occupier, who declined to give his name, saying it was a policy of the occupation not to grant interviews without consent of “the general assembly.” He was standing in what was once the lobby of the auditorium, its walls now covered with insurrectionist stickers, graffiti, posters and murals.

“I don’t want to be assimilated into the mass media,” he said.

But what is absolutely clear is that the administration of UNAM, the largest university in Latin America with more than 230,000 undergraduate and graduate students, lost control of the building nearly two decades ago.

And despite the occupation’s widespread unpopularity on campus, the university authorities seem incapable of, or uninterested in, regaining possession and returning it to the general use of the UNAM community.

(The occupiers do not have a monopoly on reticence: UNAM’s communications office ignored or refused repeated requests for interviews and information about the matter.)

The occupation began after a crippling student strike that started in 1999 and stretched for more than nine months. Strikers were protesting the administration’s attempt to raise tuition for some students, threatening the institution’s longstanding promise of a nearly free, quality education.

The auditorium had for years been a focus of political and cultural life on campus, hosting presentations and conferences involving prominent writers and intellects from Latin America and elsewhere. Since the late 1960s, the building has been commonly known as the Che Guevara Auditorium.

“This has been the most politically symbolic space that the university has had in its entire history,” said Imanol Ordorika Sacristán, head of UNAM’s office of institutional evaluation.

While a student at UNAM, Mr. Ordorika was a prominent activist, helping to lead a strike in 1987 against tuition increases. He and his comrades used the auditorium for assemblies and meetings, as did successive generations of student activists.

During the strike of 1999-2000, the protest leaders made the auditorium their base of operations. But in September 2000, months after the strike had ended, some activists took up residence there, beginning the long occupation.

For many years the occupation operated as a collective of various radical groups, though its composition mutated, sometimes violently.

In 2013, for instance, self-proclaimed anarchists drove other groups out of the building, according to local news accounts. Three months later, however, a band of rivals stormed the auditorium and ejected the anarchists. Later the anarchists — armed with metal rods, fire extinguishers and sticks embedded with nails — violently retook control of the building.

The university administration issued a denunciation of the violence and ordered “the immediate surrender” of the auditorium, to no avail.

The building is hard to miss. Its exterior walls are now tattooed with murals and graffiti and draped with banners covered in hand-painted slogans demanding the liberty of imprisoned comrades and urging revolution. “Burn the jail,” one banner says.

The occupants have cultivated a garden on the roof for making herbal medicine and run a vegetarian cafeteria, open to the public, that charges less than $2 for a multicourse lunch.

A banner hanging over the main entrance puts a label, however opaque, on what is going on: “OkupaChe: Autonomous, Self-Managed Work Space.”

The occupation appears to be affiliated with a politicized, international squatters’ movement, sometimes known as Okupa, that involves the conversion of abandoned buildings into community centers managed through collective decision-making.

While there are some students still involved in the UNAM takeover, most of the occupiers apparently are not enrolled at the university, faculty and students said.

They move in and out of the building throughout the day. Some appear to work in an informal market out front; vendors sell T-shirts, used books, handmade journals and jewelry, marijuana paraphernalia and food. A sound system outside the auditorium blasts hard-core punk music.

Ambrosio Velasco Gómez, a former director of the School of Philosophy and Literature, adjacent to the auditorium, said that during his eight years running the department, he repeatedly tried to engage the occupiers in a dialogue that might have led to an end to the occupation.

He never got a handle on how many occupiers were maintaining control of the place. On some visits he might have crossed paths with six to eight occupiers, he recalled, adding: “But they have networks of people and in a few minutes there could be 200.”

The group claims to have an open-door policy, though it comes with limits: One occupier said that most everyone but the news media, political party representatives and governmental authorities were welcome.

Occupiers also tried to block a New York Times photographer from taking photos, even of the exterior, claiming that it would compromise their security.

Beyond the lobby and cafeteria, the auditorium itself is now empty; the chairs were long ago removed, leaving only terraces. During a recent visit, the entire place looked tidy and swept.

The occupiers have been accused of dealing drugs and running other criminal operations out of the building, charges they deny. But many in the broader community say the persistence of the occupation has contributed to a culture of lawlessness on the campus.

“Around the auditorium, a kind of zone of tolerance has been created,” said Gabriel Ramos García, a professor and administrator in the School of Philosophy and Literature. “Now anybody can come and do what they feel like with the excuse that they are in autonomous territory.”

Nallely Pérez, 23, who is completing her undergraduate studies in the School of Philosophy and Literature, said the occupiers had sullied the reputation of her department. “They give the students of the school a bad image,” she said. “They occupy the space.”

Over the years, faculty members and students have organized petitions, meetings and protests to pressure an end to the takeover.

UNAM’s administration seems to have frozen somewhere between its stated desire to regain possession of the auditorium and its hesitance to call in the police.

The idea of government security personnel on public university campuses is anathema throughout Latin America. UNAM faculty members and students said an attempt to retake the auditorium by force would most likely provoke wider resistance and social upheaval, leaving negotiation the only widely accepted path to a resolution.

The durability of the occupation, and the lack of visible effort by the administration to resolve it, has dismayed many in the UNAM community.

Dr. Ordorika urged the university’s leadership to take action on the issue. “Do politics, people of the rector’s office!” he said. “Solve it! Get them out!”

He added: “It’s my auditorium!”

One undergraduate student, a close ally of the occupation, praised the occupiers for creating what he said was a horizontal organization — no hierarchy, no leaders, no political parties.

He suggested there was little chance that the occupiers might be willing to broker some sort of accord with UNAM to end the occupation. Should an outside force begin an assault on the building, he warned, the occupiers had a defense plan ready. And he would be alongside them, he vowed — fighting, if necessary, to the death.

“The Special Election In Georgia Was Stolen From Jon Ossoff And Here’s How” by Lee Camp

June 21, 2017 by Lee Camp (leecamp.com)
The special election in Georgia yesterday was stolen.
 
The Democrats are officially Charlie Brown. Every election – every special election, every mid-term election, every general election, and every election for town dogcatcher – every election that is even remotely close, they think they can pull it out. They think if they just pump enough money into it, they can kick that football. They look in Lucy’s eyes and they say, “This time, I’m gonna kick that fucking football.” And every time the Republicans steal it from them. They yank the football away and watch the Democrats fall on their ass. Then the Democrats go back into their corner and come up with the conclusion that if Bernie Sanders weren’t a goddamn socialist, they would’ve won the town dogcatcher race.
 
And I’m about to tell you how it’s stolen from them – and I do know how. But first I have to ask – Is dogcatcher still a thing? Is that a job? And if so, is it an elected official? Was it EVER an elected official? Did they campaign to the dogs or the citizens? And if it’s not still a job, then what happened to all the dogcatchers? Or more importantly the wild dogs? …I kind of wish there were still wild dogs. That would keep things exciting and probably get people moving a little faster on the subway escalators.
 
Anyway, Jon Ossoff – the Democrat favored to win the Georgia special election – had the election stolen from him in the same way Republicans steal most elections. It has been well documented by investigative journalist Greg Palast in the pages of Rolling Stone and elsewhere, and yet you’ll hardly hear a peep about it on the mainstream media. (You’ll hear more on cable news about fake words Trump tweets than you’ll hear about the following real words: Election Fraud.)
 
And by the way, I want to make clear I’m not a huge fan of Jon Ossoff. He seems to share a lot of neo-liberal ideas that are crushing people’s lives and making it exceedingly difficult to watch a happy polar bear in the wild. But just because I don’t LOVE Ossoff doesn’t mean I don’t want legit elections. We no longer have a democracy or a republic – we have corporate totalitarianism with a hint of fascism and a sprinkle of bad reality TV (that’s not really reality, nor, one could argue, even TV).
 
Ossoff’s election was stolen from him by making it very hard, if not impossible, for people of color to vote. As Palast has documented, this was done with a combination of neo-Jim Crow laws, closed polling places, gerrymandering, and Interstate Crosscheck. Crosscheck alone knocked millions off the rolls in the last presidential election. And in fact Palast was assaulted when he tried to question Ossoff’s opponent about these issues. Yet, for some reason, the Democrats continue to think they’ve got a shot in hell of winning these elections. They don’t.
 
And again, I’m no fan of the Democrats. (I support them about as much as I support tiny tot football – which is to say “not at all but if it HAS to happen, it should be the ones who already have brain damage who participate.”)
 
I can only surmise that the reason the Democrats don’t scream bloody murder about election fraud is that they want to continue to have an illegitimate system in which they can rig the primaries – as they did with Bernie Sanders. But jesus, what does rigging the primaries matter if you get pounded in the general?? If the Democrats don’t stand up for legit elections, they will spend most of the coming years staring up at the clouds and rubbing their ass.
Keep Fighting,
Lee

Cities And States Prefer Public Banks To Wall Street

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Above Photo: From publicbankinginstitute.org

Alarmed by the corruption and greed of Wall Street, many US cities and states are studying the feasibility of establishing public banks.

Public banks are owned by cities, states or other jurisdictions and serve to keep funds local instead of being deposited on Wall Street. The funds are then used to support local economic activities like small business loans and student loans.

Washington State has already cut its ties with Wells Fargo because they funded DAPL. Now they want to get rid of Wall Street as a place to park their money making use of the local economy and profiting the people of Washington instead of the bankers of Wall Street. Bills were introduced on January 18 in both the House and Senate of the Washington State Legislature that add Washington to the growing number of states now actively moving to create public banking facilities.

Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt and The Public Banking Solution writes:

The bills, House Bill 1320 and Senate Bill 5238, propose creation of a Washington Investment Trust (WIT) to “promote agriculture, education, community development, economic development, housing, and industry” by using “the resources of the people of Washington State within the state.”

Currently, all the state’s funds are deposited with Bank of America. HB 1320 proposes that, in the future, “all state funds be deposited in the Washington Investment Trust and be guaranteed by the state and used to promote the common good and public benefit of all the people and their businesses within [the] state.”

The legislation is similar to that now being studied or proposed in states including Illinois, Virginia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, California, and others.

Santa Fe, NM Considers Public Bank as Trump Threatens to Take Away Funding for Sanctuary Cities

The Mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico has declared his city to be a sanctuary city in which case Trump has threatened to deny Federal monies to the city. The Mayor noted that Santa Fe had welcomed immigrants for over 400 years. A public bank could replace that funding:

If McEvers [interviewer from NPR] had asked what possible sources of funding might replace the money Trump is threatening to take away, Gonzales might have answered that Santa Fe was in the advanced stages of considering the creation of a publicly owned bank. In late October, three City Council members introduced a resolution to take the “final steps to determine” whether a public bank would be feasible. Earlier in 2016, a local advocacy group named Banking on New Mexico released a five-year model projecting that a Santa Fe bank could reduce debt service costs by $1 million a year and earn an annual profit, netting the city over $10 million in the bank’s first five years. While that wouldn’t completely offset funds the new administration is threatening to withhold, it would put the city in better shape to absorb the loss and begin the process of building an autonomous local economy that over time could transcend much of the need for federal dollars.

Oakland, CA Gets Serious About Public Banking

Two Council members have introduced a resolution to the Oakland City Council which says in part:

Resolution Directing The City Administrator To Prepare An Informational Report With The Cost Estimates Of Commissioning A Study Analyzing The Feasibility And Economic Impact Of Establishing A Public Bank For Or Including The City Of Oakland, And Providing Funding Options For The Feasibility Study, Including The Option Of Allocating To The Study Any Remainder Of The Money That Was Budgeted For The Goldman Sachs Debarment Proceedings.

WHEREAS, a public bank can have investment priorities that focus on the creation of jobs in Oakland that spur local economic growth by providing affordable credit to small and medium-sized businesses that have been historically ignored by the larger, more established banks; and

WHEREAS, a public bank can have investment priorities that center on providing loans for low and moderate income housing to help relieve the current housing crisis facing Oakland; and

WHEREAS, a public bank can have investment priorities that provide loans for energy conservation, installation of solar panels and measures for conserving water in Oakland; and

WHEREAS, Wall Street banks seek short-term profits for their private shareholders by investing in stocks, derivatives, credit default swaps and other speculative financial instruments; and

WHEREAS, there is a desire for local funding solutions that reinvest public funds in the local community; and

WHEREAS, public banking operates in the public interest, through institutions owned by the people through their representative governments; and

WHEREAS, public banks are able to return revenue to the community and can provide low-cost financing in support of City policies; and

WHEREAS, on September 8, 2016, Wells Fargo bank was fined $185 million for fraudulently opening up accounts without customers’ consent, which then damaged customers’ credit scores and caused customers to be charged illegal banking fees; and

WHEREAS, on May 20, 2015, Citigroup Inc. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to plead guilty to felony charges for conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the foreign currency exchange spot market; and

WHEREAS, on May 20, 2015, Citigroup Inc. agreed to pay a criminal fine of $945 million and JP Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay a criminal fine of $550, for illegally manipulating the foreign exchange market; and

WHEREAS, on May 20, 2015, the Federal Reserve announced that it was imposing a separate set of fines on Citigroup, Inc. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. of $342 million for their illegal practices in the foreign exchange markets; and

WHEREAS, on March 9th, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wall Street banks had paid in total more than $100 billion in fines and penalties for mortgage-related fraud, and

WHEREAS, said Wall Street banks’ criminal conduct and wrongful behavior should not be rewarded with future business dealings with Oakland; and

WHEREAS, the City of Oakland is tasked with holding and protecting the fundamental interest of the public as well as the financial well-being of the City; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED: That the Oakland City Council directs the City Administrator, or his/her designee, to prepare an informational report with the cost estimates of commissioning experts in public banking to conduct a study analyzing the feasibility and economic impact of establishing a public bank for the City of Oakland;

Please note that these are only a few of the “Whereas’s”. There’s more.

Profits to the People

Currently, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) is the only public bank in the country. All other states and cities deposit their revenues and pension funds with Wall Street with the profits going to Wall Street. That’s why so many states are in dire straits while North Dakota’s fiscal situation is just fine.

According to a January 19, 2017, New York Times article:

[A]lmost everywhere the fiscal crisis of states has grown more acute. Rainy day funds are drained, cities and towns have laid off more than 200,000 people, and Arizona even has leased out its state office building…

“It’s the time of the once unthinkable,” noted Lori Grange, deputy director of the Pew Center on the States. “Whether there are tax increases or dramatic cuts to education and vital services, the crisis is bad.”

Is it any wonder that President Pussy Grabber and his Republican cohorts are calling for the privatization of everything? Their mantra is that government is incompetent when the true fault lies in the fact that states and municipalities are being bled to death by Wall Street. Wall Street banks borrow money from the Fed at zero percent interest and then loan it to municipalities at 5% interest. That profit could go to the municipalities. The antidote for that is to establish a public bank from which profits will flow to the people as they have in North Dakota. Local control of local money should be the mantra.

There is a move in Congress to let states go bankrupt the way many US cities have. For instance, San Bernardino, CA; Stockton, CA; Orange County, CA; Jefferson County, AL; and Detroit, MI have all declared bankruptcy with the result that concomitant pension fund and contractual obligations to unions and others have gone by the wayside.

While those and other cities have been drained by the Wall Street banking crisis which resulted in increased borrowing costs and loss of revenues, BND and North Dakota have churned along quite nicely, thank you very much. They have provided low-cost affordable loans to small businesses and students, thus totally averting the worst effects that most cities and states which rely on Wall Street have suffered.

BND provides back-up for local private banks by offering check clearing services and liquidity support. They invest in North Dakota municipal bonds to provide economic development. In the last ten years, the BND has returned more than a third of a billion dollars to the state’s general fund. North Dakota is one of the few states to consistently post a budget surplus.

Washington State Representative Bob Hasegawa, a prime sponsor of the Washington legislation, called the proposal for a publicly-owned bank “a simple concept that will reap huge benefits for Washington.”

In a letter to constituents, he explained, “The concept (is) to keep taxpayers’ money working here in Washington to build our economy. Currently, all tax revenues go into a ‘Concentration Account’ held by the Bank of America. BoA makes money off our money and we never see those profits again. Instead, we can create our own institution and keep taxpayers’ dollars here in Washington, working for Washington.”

Dennis Ortblad writes in the Seattle Times:

“In fact, we propose a public bank in Washington that lends primarily to public institutions — such as school districts, affordable housing programs, public utilities — in order to reduce the state’s or a municipality’s reliance on the expensive bonds and fees in Wall Street markets.”

While President Pussy Grabber, Betsy DeVos and Repubs in general want to privatize everything, a public bank would help to shore up public enterprises like the public school system and local infrastructure. BND has a sterling credit record and earned for the state $130 million in 2015 alone, with total assets of $7.4 billion (its 12th consecutive year of record profits for the people of the state). That $130 million would have gone to Wall Street in any other state.

The US banking system including its central bank, the Federal Reserve, is privately owned. Is it any wonder that during the banking crisis of 2008, the first and only order of business was to bail out the banks, not homeowners who were overdue in their mortgages? They were hung out to dry despite the fact that many were told the bank would “help” them either by lowering interest rates, refinancing or forgiving principal in “underwater” mortgages. A public banking system is beholden not to private interests but to the people of the state or city in which it’s registered.

In an article, Seattle Votes to End $3 Billion Relationship with Wells Fargo Because of the Bank’s Dakota Access Pipeline Financing, Sydney Brownstone writes:

The Seattle City Council has unanimously voted to end the city’s relationship with Wells Fargo over the bank’s financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), its financing of private prison companies, and a regulatory scandal involving the bank’s creation of two million unauthorized accounts.

All nine council members voted to take $3 billion of city funds away from the bank after Seattle’s current contract expires in 2018. The vote occurred just hours after the Army notified Congress that it will be granting an easement allowing DAPL builders to drill under the Missouri River following a presidential memo from Donald Trump.

That $3 billion could find a home in a Seattle or Washington state public bank when one becomes available. All they have to do is mimic North Dakota’s public bank which has been working well for over 100 years. The Public Banking Institute is working on a model which could be replicated in cities and states throughout the US. All city council members would have to do is to vote to replicate the model.

One Seattle City Council member who is determined to bring about a public bank is Kshama Sawant. She is an American socialist politician, activist, and member of the Socialist Alternative. A former software engineer, Sawant became a socialist activist and part-time economics instructor in Seattle after immigrating to the United States. Sawant ran unsuccessfully for the Washington House of Representatives before winning her seat on the Seattle City Council. Sawant was the first socialist to win a city-wide election in Seattle since Anna Louise Strong was elected to the School Board in 1916. Socialist Alternative describes itself as “a community of activists fighting against budget cuts in public services; fighting for living wage jobs and militant, democratic unions; and people of all colors speaking out against racism and attacks on immigrants, students organizing against tuition hikes and war, and men fighting sexism and homophobia.”

A public bank could cut the cost of building public schools in Washington in half. Half the cost of building new schools is in interest paid to banks and bondholders. That would all come back to state or city coffers depending on whether the schools were financed by a state or city public bank.

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From the Washington Public Bank Coalition website:

How Our State Can Solve Its Budget Crisis: Create a Public Bank

Cut spending, fire teachers, raise taxes—these are the solutions always proposed to offset Washington State’s budget deficits. The state’s budget crises do not arise from too much spending or too little taxation on the poor and middle class. Instead, since 2000, corporate tax breaks in Washington State have more than doubled. The state simply isn’t getting enough tax revenue from corporations (see: realwashingtonstatebudget.info).

Also, since the 2008 financial market collapse, banks have cut back on lending. When small local businesses can’t secure low-interest loans, there are layoffs and business closures in the private sector, which also cause state revenues to plummet. To solve this problem, since 2010, 17 states, including Washington State, have drafted legislation to establish public banks based on the successful Bank of North Dakota.

A Public Bank for Cities in San Diego County

There is a local movement to create a public bank in San Diego. A group has been meeting regularly and is studying the possibilities for several cities within San Diego County. They are meeting with local officials people and hope to use the Oakland Resolution cited partially above as a first step in getting the ball rolling.

Notwithstanding some setbacks and some attrition of the ranks, our courageous group continues to fight for banking reform and the creation of public banks throughout California. We have been encouraged by the recent success in Oakland with the unanimous approval of the Public Banking Resolution by their City Council. It gives us hope! We need referrals to the mayors, city Council members and finance directors for the 18 incorporated cities in San Diego County to stop our money from flowing to Wall Street!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

John Lawrence graduated from Georgia Tech, Stanford and University of California at San Diego. While at UCSD, he was one of the original writer/workers on the San Diego Free Press in the late 1960s. He founded the San Diego Jazz Society in 1984 which had grants from the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and presented both local and nationally known jazz artists. John received a Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego chapter, 2014 award. His website is Social Choice and Beyond which exemplifies his interest in Economic Democracy. His book is East West Synthesis. He also blogs at Will Blog For Food. He can be reached at j.c.lawrence@cox.net.

“Karen Handel Has a Long History of Suppressing Votes” by Ari Berman

She’s purged voter rolls, blocked Democratic candidates from running, and supported strict voter-ID laws.

JUNE 19, 2017 (thenation.com)

In early May, a federal judge extended the voter-registration deadline for the special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District by two months, from March 20 to May 21. That allowed nearly 8,000 additional people to register to vote in time for the June 20 election.

Democrat Jon Ossoff praised the decision. “Voting rights are constitutional rights,” he said. “I encourage all eligible voters to ensure that they are registered and make their voices heard on June 20th and in all elections, regardless of their party or political persuasion.”

But Republican Karen Handel did not. “This is going to boil your blood,” she wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “Just hours ago, the Democrats won their lawsuit to extend voter registration in Georgia before our election. This lawsuit should be seen for exactly what it is: A partisan attempt to change the rules in the middle of an election for a nakedly partisan outcome.”

There was more than a little irony in Handel’s e-mail: Not only did she not want more people to register and vote, but shaping election rules to achieve a partisan outcome was exactly what Handel was known for as Georgia’s secretary of state from 2007 to 2010. She has a long record of making it harder to vote—supporting Georgia’s strict voter-ID law, trying to purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls before the 2008 election, repeatedly challenging the residency of qualified Democratic candidates, and failing to secure the state’s electronic voting machines.

Let’s start with the purge. Weeks before the 2008 election, thousands of registered voters in Georgia had their citizenship challenged by the state, a policy spearheaded by Handel. One of them was Jose Morales, a student at Kennesaw State University, a legal permanent resident since he was a toddler who became a US citizen in November 2007. After filling out a voter registration form in September 2008, Morales received a letter from Cherokee County telling him that he must provide evidence of his citizenship in court or would be kept off the voter rolls.

Morales drove 30 minutes from his home in Kennesaw to the Cherokee County Elections office in Canton, to give the clerk a copy of his passport. He was told that was sufficient evidence to prove his citizenship and received a copy of his voting card a week later. But a month before the election, on October 7, 2008, he received another letter saying he was still not qualified to vote and had to appear again before the Cherokee County Elections office to prove his citizenship again or else he would be purged from the rolls.

At that point, the ACLU sued Georgia on Morales’s behalf, holding that the state’s citizenship verification process violated the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. “Despite all the steps he has gone through, Mr. Morales’ right to vote is still being threatened,” the lawsuit said. “Mr. Morales wants to vote, particularly in the upcoming election, and wants to make sure his vote is counted.”

Handel criticized the lawsuit and spread unfounded claims about noncitizens voting. “Unfortunately, some groups appear to want to open the door to allow non-citizens to register and vote in the General Election,” she wrote.

As Ian Millhiser of Think Progress noted, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges ruled against Handel and ordered her to “reasonably ensure that no voter is permanently deleted from the voter registration list.”

However, despite the court victory, nearly 5,000 registered voters were told by the state they had to cast a “challenge” ballot at the polls. Congressman John Lewis called it “an attempt to take us back to another dark period in our history when people were denied access to the ballot box simply because of their race or nationality.” Of the 4,700 “challenged” voters, 2,700 never cast a ballot or had their ballots rejected, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After the election, the Justice Department said the voter purge violated the Voting Rights Act and was “seriously flawed.” “African Americans comprise a majority of the registrants flagged,” Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King wrote to Georgia officials. “Hispanic and Asian individuals are more than twice as likely to appear on the list as are white applicants.”

But that wasn’t the only way Handel undermined election rules, during the 2008 election or after. She repeatedly tried to prevent Democratic candidates from running for office, no matter how small, including Jim Powell, a candidate in 2008 for the Georgia Public Service Commission. Powell had moved from Cobb County to Towns County but Handel ruled he couldn’t run for the Fourth District seat on the commission because he didn’t live there, even though as the AJC wrote, “Powell had bought a home in the district in 2006, had voted in the district three times, and got his mail, attended church, paid taxes and spent the majority of his time there.”

Handel removed Powell from the ballot and, even after an administrative court ruled in his favor, there were signs at polling places during the July primary that votes for him wouldn’t count and he was disqualified from running for office.

“She’s wrong, she’s absolutely wrong,” Powell said. “I’m troubled that she continues to disadvantage my campaign by filing these legal challenges and tries to keep me off the ballot by legal means.”

Handel attempted to strike Powell’s name from the ballot on two more occasions through the courts before the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously for Powell a week before the election. “No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s election, a loser has emerged—Secretary of State Karen Handel,” wrote the AJC.

But the damage to Powell’s campaign was done. He lost to a Republican in 2008.

At the same time she was trying to purge qualified voters from the rolls and prevent Democrats from running for office, Handel championed Georgia’s strict voter-ID law, among the first of its kind to take effect in 2005. Four of five career lawyers at the Justice Department recommended blocking the law, but political appointees in the George W. Bush administration approved it even though the bill’s Republican sponsor in the legislature, Rep. Sue Burmeister, told DOJ lawyers: “If there are fewer black voters because of the bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. She said when black voters in her precinct are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.”

“Opponents of photo ID have failed to produce even one voter who has been harmed by the requirement, despite nearly three years of scouring the state in search of such an individual,” Handel wrote in the AJC.

That prompted a response from reader Ed Neubaum of Marietta, who wrote:

My 73-year-old mother is one.

After moving to Georgia from Florida, we attempted to obtain a Georgia ID. Based on the then-published requirements on the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, we gathered proof of her new address (bank statement), birth certificate and valid Florida driver’s license. At the DMV, we where told that as of May, the secretary of state required her marriage certificate because the name on her birth certificate did not match her driver’s license. They would accept a passport with her married name, something she has never applied for.

The harm:

Tracking down and paying $40 for a copy of her marriage certificate.

Two trips to the DMV, time and gas.

Missing the July 15 primary.

In fact, political scientists M. V. Hood III and Charles S. Bullock III found that the Georgia law did reduce voter turnout. When the law passed, they noted, 289,622 Georgia registrants—5.66 percent of the electorate—had neither a driver’s license nor state ID card.

Before the voter ID law: “In 2004, those registrants lacking photo ID had a turnout rate of 47.6% compared with other registrants with a 72.9% rate of turnout.” After the voter-ID law: “In 2008, the turnout rate for those registrants lacking ID drops to 39.6%, whereas for those with photo ID the rate falls to 70.0%.”

“Stated succinctly, we estimate turnout in Georgia in 2008 would have been about four-tenths of a percentage point higher had the courts blocked the law.” That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could be enough to swing a close election. They called the turnout drop “a conservative estimate of voter suppression.” They also noted that Handel’s predecessor, Democrat Cathy Cox, who was secretary of state from 1997 to 2007, didn’t have a single case of in-person voter fraud reported to her office, which was the supposed justification for the law.

To this day, Handel cites the voter-ID law as one of her “most important accomplishments.” She said in a TV ad for the Sixth District race: “As secretary of state, I fought President Obama to implement photo ID and won,” even though Georgia’s voter-ID law was passed in 2005 and took effect in 2007, well before President Obama assumed office.

Handel was so busy fearmongering about voter fraud that she ignored a far more serious problem: the security of Georgia’s electronic voting machines, which to this day have no verifiable paper trail. As Politico reported, she was warned as secretary of state about the system’s vulnerability, but did nothing:

In 2006, when Handel ran for secretary of state of Georgia, she made the security of the state’s voting systems one of her campaign issues. After her win, she ordered a security review of the systems and the procedures for using them.

Experts at Georgia Tech conducted the review and found a number of security concerns, which they discussed in a report submitted to Handel. But, oddly, they were prohibited from examining the center’s network or reviewing its security procedures. Richard DeMillo, who was dean of computing at Georgia Tech at the time and led the review, told Politico he and his team argued with officials from the center in Handel’s office, but they were adamant that its procedures and networks would not be included in the review.

“I thought it was very strange,” says DeMillo. “It was kind of a contentious meeting. The Kennesaw people just stamped their foot and said ‘Over our dead body.’”

Although Handel could have insisted that the center’s network be included in the security review, she didn’t. But when DeMillo’s team submitted a draft of their report, he says she sent it back instructing them to add a caveat about the center’s absence from the review. It reads: “The Election Center at Kennesaw State University fills a key role in Georgia’s statewide election procedures, which makes it a potential target of a systematic attack. We did not have sufficient information to evaluate the security safeguards protecting against a centralized compromise at the state level.”

But once they delivered the finished report to Handel, DeMillo says, “We never heard anything more about it.” It’s not clear whether Handel’s office acted on recommendations made in the report.

Handel’s failure to protect Georgia’s voting system and repeated attempts to limit access to the ballot stand in sharp contrast to Jon Ossoff’s pledge to protect the right to vote. When asked in a debate to name an issue he wouldn’t compromise on, Ossoff answered: “voting rights.”

“I am concerned by apparent inclination of the Justice Department under Attorney General Sessions to back away from strict enforcement of civil rights and voting rights legislation,” he said. “I will stand up for the right of every Georgian to exercise their right to make their voice heard at the polls. I will conduct aggressive congressional oversight to ensure that federal agencies are enforcing the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.”

Rented Paper (from Mike Zint)

No automatic alt text available.
First they came for the homeless

19 hrs

On Father’s day, I think of my kids, and now, my granddaughter. I understand why they have a very difficult future. Our society has been led to believe they have freedom and ownership. It is all lies. We own what we are allowed to. Homes? Nope, they can take them. Cars? Nope, they can take them. Money? Nope, they can take it. Food, water? Nope, they can arrest you for a garden or having a pond.

Where is the outrage?

Drugged, poorly nourished, and distracted by what the media tells them to be like.

The struggle will continue. As parents, we have no choice.

A public bank in Oakland? (from Susan Harman, Occupy Oakland)

GREAT NEWS! 

At the Oakland City Council Finance Committee Meeting on June 13th, the council members voted 3-1 (Abel Guillén, Dan Kalb, and Annie Campbell Washington affirming, Noel Gallo dissenting) on a resolution to allocate $100,000 for a public bank feasibility study! The resolution now goes to the full council for a final vote next week. Here’s what you can do to help ensure that we get the 5 votes we need to fund a public bank feasibility study:

1. Call your council member and urge them to support the funding of a public bank feasibility study. 

Call Script:

Hi, my name is ________ and I am a constituent of council member _______. I wanted to let my council member know that I strongly support allocating $100,000 for a public bank feasibility study. Please vote yes on the public bank resolution on June 20th.

Don’t know who your council member is? Type your address and find out here: http://mapgis.oaklandnet.com/councildistricts/

2. Attend the council meeting.

Date: Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
Time: 5:30PM
Location: 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Room: City Council Chamber, 3rd floor

The Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland will be out in full force at the council meeting next Tuesday. Please find us in our bright green shirts to receive signs. We will also have t-shirts available for sale. If this is your first time participating in something like this, please find us and we will help you get oriented.

3. Attend our outreach event before the council meeting.

Date: Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
Time: 4:30PM
Location: Frank Ogawa Plaza

The Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland is organizing a political action an hour before the full council meeting. We will be making money grow on the Coastal Live Oak in the Plaza by taping paper bills onto the leaves to symbolize the revenue the city of Oakland can earn for our community if it creates a public bank. Please join us and support the movement!

Jeremy Corbyn Is Leading the Left Out of the Wilderness and Toward Power (theintercept.com)

THANK YOU, Jeremy Corbyn.

It is no exaggeration to say that the British Labour Party leader has changed progressive politics in the UK, and perhaps the wider West too, for a generation. The bearded, 68-year-old, self-declared socialist has proved that an unashamedly, unabashedly, unapologetically left-wing offer is not the politics of the impossible but, rather, a politics of the very much possible. Last Thursday’s election result in the UK is a ringing confirmation that stirring idealism need not be sacrificed at the altar of political pragmatism.

In these dark, depressing times of Trump and Brexit, of the fallout from the Great Recession and the rise of the far right, Corbyn has reminded us that a politics of hope can go toe to toe with a politics of fear. Millions of people will turn out to vote for a leader who preaches optimism over pessimism, who offers inspiration instead of enervation.

Corbyn has proved that the much-maligned young can be a force for change. Younger voters are not lazy, indifferent or apathetic, as the conventional wisdom goes, but will in fact come out in their droves for a leader who motivates and excites them; who gives them not just something to vote for — be it a scrapping of tuition fees or a higher minimum wage or a new house-building program — but something to believe in. A common struggle, a better future, a more equal society. Because something always beats nothing.

Corbyn has showed how it is possible for progressives to build a coalition between the young, people of color and cosmopolitan liberals on the one hand and, yes, those dreaded white working class communities on the other. It is a fiction to claim that leaders on the left must choose between them, or play one marginalized group off against another. White ex-UKIP voters in the north of the country returned to Labour last week in their hundreds of thousands.

So socialists and social democrats no longer need be on the defensive. Yes, mainstream center-left parties may have been crushed in recent European elections — think of France or the Netherlands. However, Corbyn — who spent 32 years toiling in obscurity on the backbenches before becoming leader of his party in a shock victory in 2015 — has now a paved a road out of the wilderness.

To be clear: the Labour Party did not win the the UK’s general election. Theresa May’s Conservatives secured more votes and more seats. Yet it is difficult to overstate — as even Corbyn’s biggest critics have now conceded — the sheer size of his electoral achievement. Labour’s 40% share of the national vote is its highest since 1970, with the exception of Tony Blair’s two landslide wins in 1997 and 2001. Last Thursday’s election also saw the the biggest increase in vote share for Labour — nearly 10% — since the party’s post-war blowout in 1945 under iconic leader Clement Attlee.

All of this despite Corbyn having begun the campaign more than 20 percentage points behind the Conservatives; having been written off by politicians and pundits from across the spectrum and relentlessly undermined by members of his own parliamentary party; and having endured an unprecedented campaign of demonization by the right-wing press. Corbyn, lest we forget, was smeared as a terrorist sympathizer; ridiculed for forgetting the details of various policies; dismissed as a crank and an eccentric.

“To take Labour’s prospects seriously under Corbyn was to abandon being taken seriously yourself,” wrote the Guardian’s Gary Younge on the eve of the election. “The political class imparted as much to the media class, and the media class duly printed and broadcast it… The wisdom was distributed to all who mattered. Those who did not receive it did not, by definition, matter.”

On Thursday, they proved once and for all that they mattered. And the quiet, unassuming Corbyn proved that he was indeed a serious and viable candidate for the highest office in the land — one analysis found that a mere 2,227 votes, in seven swing seats, blocked him from becoming prime minister at the head of a “progressive” coalition of Labour and the other smaller parties in parliament.

As former critics of his now help themselves to bigger and bigger slices of humble pie, the Labour leader may want to consider borrowing George W. Bush’s famous malaproprism: “They misunderestimated me.”

To be honest, I “misunderestimated” him as well. Full disclosure: I know Corbyn personally and share many of his political positions. I have never doubted his integrity or his honesty. Yet even I did not expect he would win 40% of the vote or prevent May from winning a majority in parliament. I did not imagine that Labour would win seats such as Canterbury, held by the Conservatives for the past 99 years, or Kensington and Chelsea, the UK’s richest constituency and home of the Daily Mail. I would not let myself believe, as many others on the left did, that a Corbyn premiership was a very real and live possibility, rather than a mad fantasy, a progressive delusion.

I was wrong. Completely, utterly, hopelessly wrong … but never have I been happier to be wrong.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention. The much-mocked Corbyn had a very clear plan from the very beginning. “The politics of hope are not an inevitable reaction when politics fails,” he declared in a speech at the London School of Economics in May 2016. “The politics of hope have to be rebuilt.” Rebuilding, the Labour leader explained, required three things. First, “a vision to inspire people that politics has the power to make a positive difference to their lives.” Second, “trust – that people believe both that we can and that we will change things for the better.” Third, “the involvement and engagement of people to make the first two possible.”

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 14: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) jokes around as he speaks during a campaign rally at Bonanza High School on February 14, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sanders is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination ahead of Nevada's February 20th Democratic caucus. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Feb. 14, 2016 in Las Vegas.

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Corbyn, like Bernie Sanders before him, succeeded on all three fronts. He mobilized huge numbers of people to get organized, attend rallies, knock on doors. He upended the old political and economic orthodoxies, refusing to embrace austerity, or demonize immigrants, or push for foreign wars. And guess what? It turns out that you don’t have to triangulate to win 40% of the vote. Nor do you have to kowtow to the reactionary and illiberal agendas of the Mail or the Murdoch-owned press to win marginal seats in Middle England.

Neither Corbyn nor Sanders won their elections. But they came so close. Give them a bit more time. “One more heave” is no longer a political pejorative. With parliament hung, and Theresa May under fire from her own party, the next UK election could be held in a matter of months. The bookies have slashed Corbyn’s odds on becoming the next UK prime minister and a new post-election poll shows the Labour leader is now tied with his Conservative counterpart on the question of who would make the best prime minister. After last week’s shock results, what were once Conservative safe seats are now marginals and what were once Labour marginals are now safe seats.

Here in the United States, meanwhile, the Corbyn-esque Sanders has become the most popular politician in the country and would probably win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination by a landslide if the contest were to be held tomorrow. Some polls also suggest he might have defeated Trump last November, too.

So: President Sanders? Prime Minister Corbyn? What were once progressive fantasies are now potential realities. The left may have finally awoken from its slumber — and, therefore, the attacks from the right will only escalate. But what was it Gandhi is said to have remarked? “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

“Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America”

Front Cover
Penguin, Jun 13, 2017Political Science368 pages

An explosive exposé of the right’s relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, and change the Constitution.

“Perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.”
—Booklist (starred review)

Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did. Democracy in Chains names its true architect—the Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan—and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority.

In a brilliant and engrossing narrative, Nancy MacLean shows how Buchanan forged his ideas about government in a last gasp attempt to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. In response to the widening of American democracy, he developed a brilliant, if diabolical, plan to undermine the ability of the majority to use its numbers to level the playing field between the rich and powerful and the rest of us.

Corporate donors and their right-wing foundations were only too eager to support Buchanan’s work in teaching others how to divide America into “makers” and “takers.” And when a multibillionaire on a messianic mission to rewrite the social contract of the modern world, Charles Koch, discovered Buchanan, he created a vast, relentless, and multi-armed machine to carry out Buchanan’s strategy.

Without Buchanan’s ideas and Koch’s money, the libertarian right would not have succeeded in its stealth takeover of the Republican Party as a delivery mechanism. Now, with Mike Pence as Vice President, the cause has a longtime loyalist in the White House, not to mention a phalanx of Republicans in the House, the Senate, a majority of state governments, and the courts, all carrying out the plan. That plan includes harsher laws to undermine unions, privatizing everything from schools to health care and Social Security, and keeping as many of us as possible from voting. Based on ten years of unique research, Democracy in Chains tells a chilling story of right-wing academics and big money run amok. This revelatory work of scholarship is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government.

(Google Books)

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