S.F. needs a can-do attitude toward creating a public bank


Two years ago, unarmed protesters of the Dakota Access oil pipeline were hit with water cannons, tear gas and other weapons in below-freezing weather. The violence at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota was a sickening display of inhumanity and greed. In response, San Franciscans — some who had personally witnessed the brutalities — called on the Board of Supervisors to divest billions in taxpayer money from big banks financing oil pipelines.

“San Francisco is not only the City that can, it’s the City that knows how and will do,” Marcus Arana, a Native American of Ohlone and Blackfeet descent, said to the supervisors.

The City’s decision to consider establishing a public bank grew in the wake of Standing Rock. Instead of investing in pipelines and supporting predatory practices, a public bank could redirect taxpayer money to local priorities, like affordable housing and small businesses.

But a can-do attitude is critical. Not only are there significant start-up costs and legal hurdles to overcome, but ensuring that taxpayer money will uphold social and environmental values is also complicated. A public bank is not a promise that San Francisco’s money will stay green. The Bank of North Dakota, the oldest of the two public banks in the United States, for example, provided financing to suppress the resisters at Standing Rock.

On Thursday, the task force convened by Treasurer Jose Cisneros will begin reviewing potential bank models. It may be the first time a city has provided actual numbers that detail a public bank’s potential costs and services. While advocates are happy with the progress, they also want to ensure taxpayer money is protected in an institution that reflects San Francisco values now and into the future.

“There’s no reason this isn’t feasible,” Treasurer’s Office spokesperson Amanda Kahn Fried told me. “The question for the Board is whether the investment is worth it. We’re going to provide enough analysis so the Board and the Mayor can make the best choice for The City.”

Establishing a public bank was a good economic choice for North Dakota. As Americans suffered through the Great Depression, the Bank of North Dakota ensured teachers received their full pay and farmers kept their land. It helped Grand Forks recover from floods in 1997. During the 2008 financial crisis, North Dakota enjoyed a budget surplus.

The Territorial Bank of American Samoa, which officially opened this year, is the only other American public bank. Although cities, such as Santa Fe, Los Angeles and Oakland, have considered a public bank, questions and concerns over costs and services have slowed progress.

But San Francisco’s Treasurer’s Office isn’t shying away from specifics. Staff released models this week that analyze the cost and timeframes associated with different services, such as managing The City’s banking and offering loans to small businesses. Members of the task force and public are invited to review these models before a report is later provided to the Board of Supervisors.

“This is not an exact science, but we are using our expertise in banking to inform models that reflect — to the extent possible — actual numbers about the costs and loan output for different bank models,” Molly Cohen, a senior policy analyst at the Treasurer’s Office, said.

Advocates have mixed emotions. Jacqueline Fielder, an organizer with the Public Bank Coalition, is happy to see the analysis, but concerned about its contents. Models could make divestment look too costly. She also wants to ensure a public bank will uphold social justice and ecological sustainability now and into the future, unlike the Bank of North Dakota.

“We’re concerned that they will underestimate the opportunity of investing in our own city and the fines and fees we pay to Wall Street banks,” Fielder told me.

The two-year anniversary of the Dakota Access pipeline protests offers an opportunity to reflect on the inspiration behind the movement. San Francisco is making commendable progress toward establishing a public bank. But there is much more to do to ensure that The City’s incredible wealth is used for good.

Robyn Purchia is an environmental attorney, environmental blogger and environmental activist who hikes, gardens and tree hugs in her spare time. Check her out at robynpurchia.com.

Portugal’s drug policy shows what common-sense approach looks like

Naomi Klein on change

“To change everything, we need everyone.” 

–Naomi Klein (born May 8, 1970)  is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of capitalism. She is currently the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University, a three year appointment.Wikipedia

Vote Yes on Measure B for an L.A. Public Bank! #YesOnB

Published on Oct 5, 2018
On November 6, 2018, Los Angeles voters will be the first in the nation to vote in support of a municipal public bank. Measure B paves the path for the creation of a socially and environmentally responsible public bank. So what’s a public bank? #YesOnB

Director: Josh Androsky
Writer: David Jette
Narration: Brandie Posey
Editor: Jarred Endres
Graphics: Andrew Polk

Paid for by Yes on B – a Coalition of Labor, Renters and Environmentalists for Responsible Public Banking.

How Voter Suppression Could Swing the Midterms


Campaigns are in the final dash to make sure people show up at the polls. But that doesn’t matter if you’re being systematically disenfranchised.

In the weeks before an election, political campaigns are focused on getting voters to the polls — holding rallies, knocking on doors and making phone calls to make sure people show up.

In Georgia and other states, the question in this election is not just about which candidates voters will support, but whether they’ll be able to cast a ballot in the first place. The fight over voting rights in the midterms is a reminder that elections are not solely about who is running, what their commercials say or how many people are registered to vote. They are about who is allowed to vote and which officials are placing obstacles in the way of would-be voters.

The issue of voter suppression has exploded in recent weeks, most notably in the Georgia governor’s race between Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, and Brian Kemp, a Republican. While running for higher office, Mr. Kemp, as secretary of state, also enforces Georgia’s voting laws. This month, The Associated Press reported that Mr. Kemp’s office had put more than 53,000 voter registration applications in limbo because the information on the forms did not exactly match state databases. Seventy percent of the pending registrations were from African-Americans, leading Ms. Abrams to charge that Mr. Kemp was trying “to tilt the playing field in his favor.” Mr. Kemp claimed a voter registration group tied to Ms. Abrams had “submitted sloppy forms.”

Since the 2010 election, 24 states overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans have put in place new voting restrictions, such as tougher voter ID laws, cutbacks to early voting and barriers to registration. Republicans say these measures are necessary to combat the threat of widespread voter fraud, even though study after study shows that such fraud is exceedingly rare. Many of these states have hotly contested races in 2018, and a drop in turnout among Democratic constituencies, such as young people and voters of color, could keep Republicans in power.

This month, the Supreme Court upheld a law in North Dakota that could block 70,000 residents who don’t have a qualifying ID from the polls, including 5,000 Native American voters. The law is particularly burdensome for Native Americans because it requires an ID with a “current residential street address,” but some Native Americans live on reservations and get their mail through post-office boxes. This is worrisome news for Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, who is trailing her Republican opponent in the polls. She won election to the Senate in 2012 by 3,000 votes, thanks largely to 80 percent support from the two counties with large Indian reservations.

Could Blocking Voters Swing Elections?

A comparison of winning vote margins in recent elections and voter restrictions or purges in those same states.


Lacking voter ID required by new law

70,000 people

North Dakota

Heidi Heitkamp,

2012 Senate race

2,881 votes

Including these Native Americans



Donald Trump, 2016


Disenfranchised in 2 largest counties by voter ID law

Up to 23,000


Kris Kobach, 2018

primary for governor


Blocked from registering by proof of

citizenship law (later struck down by court)



Nathan Deal,

2012 governor’s race


Purged from voter rolls, 2012-2016

1.5 million

Pending voter purge



Ex-felons who can’t vote

1.6 million

Rick Scott, 2010 governor’s race


Amendment 4, on the ballot in Florida next month, would restore the right to vote for people with felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including parole and probation.

Rick Scott, 2014 governor’s race


To view the original chart, click on this link:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/opinion/sunday/voter-suppression-georgia-2018.html

By Bill Marsh/The New York Times | Sources: Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections; Brennan Center for Justice; The Sentencing Project; Elections Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ballotpedia; Times and other news reports

In Florida, where Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, is running for governor — he would be the state’s first black governor — 1.6 million ex-felons won’t be able to vote in this year’s election, including almost half a million African-Americans. Florida is one of only four states that prevent ex-felons from voting unless they’re pardoned by the governor. The architect of the current law, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, is running for the Senate. Mr. Scott’s predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican who later switched parties, restored voting rights to 155,000 ex-felons; of those who registered to vote in 2012, 59 percent signed up as Democrats.

But Mr. Scott, who won two elections as governor by just 60,000 votes, reversed that policy and has restored voting rights to just a little more than 3,000 people while in office, with white ex-felons twice as likely to have their rights restored compared with African-Americans. He’s now locked in a dead heat with Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat. Though there’s an amendment on the ballot that would restore voting rights to up to 1.4 million ex-felons in the state, those directly impacted by Mr. Scott’s felon disenfranchisement law won’t be able to vote this year. Nearly 100,000 people who were on track to get their rights restored under Mr. Crist lost that chance when Mr. Scott changed the rules — a stark example of the precariousness of voting rights.

Voter suppression isn’t just a potential problem in 2018 — it seems to have already had a decisive impact in recent years. In 2016, the year of the first presidential election with Wisconsin’s voter ID law in place, the state saw a plunge in black voter turnout, which undoubtedly helped Donald Trump carry the state. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the ID requirement kept up to 23,000 people from voting in two of the state’s most Democratic counties, Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County; African-Americans were more than three times as likely as whites to be deterred from voting by the law. Mr. Trump won the state by 23,000 votes. “It is very probable,” Milwaukee’s top election official, Neil Albrecht, told me last year, that “enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin.” The ID requirement remains in effect today, and its biggest cheerleader, the Republican governor, Scott Walker, who claimed it was “a load of crap” that the law kept people from the polls, is locked in a close race for re-election against Tony Evers, a Democrat.

Kris Kobach, former vice chairman of President Trump’s election integrity commission, is also running for governor this year. A voter ID law Mr. Kobach championed led to a 2 percent decrease in turnout in 2012, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office, with the largest drop-off among young, black and newly registered voters. Mr. Kobach won his primary in the governor’s race by just 350 votes and is now in an extremely tight race against Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and an independent candidate, Greg Orman, so even a tiny reduction in participation among Democratic constituencies could put him in the governor’s mansion. Since Mr. Kobach became secretary of state in 2011, more than 1,200 ballots have been tossed because voters showed up at the polls without a sufficient ID, a much larger number than the 15 cases of voter fraud his office has prosecuted.

Nowhere have hopes for high Democratic turnout collided with the reality of suppressive voting laws more than in Texas. In 2016, there were three million unregistered voters of color in the state, including 2.2 million unregistered Latinos and 750,000 unregistered African-Americans. Though Texas set a new voter registration record this year, it’s unlikely that the number of unregistered Latinos and African-Americans has changed much. Texas has the most restrictive voter registration law in the country — to register voters, you must be deputized by a county and can register voters only in the county you’re deputized in. The number of unregistered voters of color is a major obstacle for the Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke in his race against Senator Ted Cruz. Though the demographics of the state suggest that it should be trending purple, the state’s voting rules help keep it red.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling he wrote that gutted the Voting Rights Act, dismissed the idea that voting discrimination was still “flagrant” and “widespread.” Instead he wrote, “Our country has changed.” Yet since that decision, state and local governments that formerly had to approve their voting changes with the federal government, like Georgia and Texas, have closed 20 percent more polling places per capita than other states have, many in neighborhoods with large minority populations. More than half the states freed from federal oversight have put in place new voting restrictions in recent years. The 2016 election had the unfortunate distinction of being the first presidential contest in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act; in 2018, the threat of disenfranchisement has gotten worse, in the South and beyond.

People tend to focus on obstacles to voting when they believe it will affect a close election, as in Georgia. But efforts to erect barriers to the ballot box are wrong regardless of whether they decide the outcome of an election. If Democrats turn out in large numbers on Nov. 6, as the early-voting data suggests is happening in some key states, it will be in spite of these barriers, not because they didn’t exist or didn’t matter.

Despite rampant suppression efforts, there is some hope. In seven states, ballot initiatives would restore voting rights to ex-felons, make it easier to register to vote and crack down on gerrymandering. If these pass, we could see 2018 as a turning point for expanding voting rights, instead of an election tainted by voter suppression. But first people need to have the right to cast a ballot.

Ari Berman (@AriBerman), a senior reporter for Mother Jones, is the author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTOpinion) andInstagram.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Blocking the Ballot Box. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Housing and Dignity Village in Oakland

From The Village:

Update: the # HousingAndDignityVillage list of needs – any and all donations can be dropped off at Edes & Edmonton off 98th.

– chairs
– shade structure
– shelving units
– folding tables
– compostable fresh bags
– compostable silverware
– a fuckton of water
– 2 buckets (ideally with spigots)

Building supplies:

– sawdust
– 3 hinges
– gate latch
– 2 5-gallon buckets
– fiberglass roofing

–JP Massar

Nancy Armstrong  & APTP just tweeted:

URGENT! WE HAVE TAKEN LAND! New # HousingAndDignityVillage started @ Edes/Elmhurst off 98th COME THRU & SUPPORT ALL WKND starting now! Spread the word!

There is what looks like an empty lot (from Google images) on the corner of Edes and S. Elmhurst.

My understanding is that this is an action by Oakland homeless.  Edes and Elmhurst is down by the Coliseum, near the Brookfield Branch of the Oakland Public library. Looks easy to get to via the 98th St. freeway exit. Looks like less than a mile from the Coliseum BART.

Slavoj Žižek: Trump’s rise is a symptom of a dark and subtle force

Instead of focusing on President Donald Trump, the Slovenian philosopher says liberals should incrementally challenge the fundamentals of the economic system.

  • Slavoj Žižek and British political writer Owen Jones recently spoke about American politics, the left and global capitalism.
  • Žižek sees the success of President Donald Trump as proof that the left needs a major overhaul.
  • Žižek said one positive aspect of Trump’s presidency could be the rise of a new movement on the left.

The crucial battle in American politics today is what’s happening within the Democratic Party, not what’s happening against President Donald Trump, according to the philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek.

Žižek recently sat down with political commentator Owen Jones for an interview that covered the changing nature of global capitalism, the successes and failures of modern leftist movements, and the best ways to change existing political structures.

Žižek, a frequent critic of both capitalism and the shortcomings of the modern left, said liberals focus too much on social issues, such as LGBT rights and racism, and on new right-leaning factions. The cost? The majority of working-class voters may not hear what’s in it for them.

“The crucial event today is not the rise of the New Right,” he said. “The crucial thing is the disintegration of the central-left welfare consensus. This is why the crucial battle in the U.S. today, it’s not against Trump, it’s what happens within the Democratic Party.”

Donald Trump is “not the real problem”

Hillary Clinton and what she stands for—the status quo, the preservation of global capitalism and even the Republican tradition—is the primary problem for the left, which Žižek said has ceased to question the fundamentals of the system.

“Capitalism is changing, but we simply don’t notice this in front of our eyes,” Žižek said. “It’s crucial to bear in mind that Trump is, to use your terms, a reaction–a consequence–of the new processes in global capitalism, which brought about the disintegration of this welfare state, liberal capitalist consensus.”

Žižek said people are dismissed as radicals if they identify as Social Democrats today, even though policy proposals from figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are relatively modest compared to mainstream European democracy in the mid-20th century.

“But I claim, maybe this is also our hope,” he said. “Maybe we will not succeed but we will trigger a process. Officially, Occupy Wall Stress was a failure. But they laid the foundation, they fertilized the ground.”

Žižek said a similar new movement could arise as a result of Trump’s presidency.

“I see a possible positive function of Trump,” he said. “He from, the wrong side, nonetheless unsettled this liberal consensus and opened up a space also in this sense, for a more radical left. My idea is that, in some deeper sense, [there’s] no Bernie Sanders without Trump.”

Oakland Occupation!

Nancy Armstrong  & APTP just tweeted:

URGENT! WE HAVE TAKEN LAND! New # HousingAndDignityVillage started @ Edes/Elmhurst off 98th COME THRU & SUPPORT ALL WKND starting now! Spread the word!

There is what looks like an empty lot (from Google images) on the corner of Edes and S. Elmhurst.

My understanding is that this is an action by Oakland homeless.  Edes and Elmhurst is down by the Coliseum, near the Brookfield Branch of the Oakland Public library. Looks easy to get to via the 98th St. freeway exit. Looks like less than a mile from the Coliseum BART.

(Submitted by JP Massar.)