BANKING ON THE FUTURE OF LOS ANGELES: WHY WE NEED CHARTER AMENDMENT B

MON, 10/15/2018 – BY TRINITY TRAN AND CHRIS ROTH (Occupy.com)

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON MEDIUM

Grassroots organizers with Public Bank LA, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Democratic Socialists of America — Los Angeles, and the Bernie Sanders Brigade gather at City Hall in May 2018 for a Citizens’ Lobby Day for Public Banking.

Leading the nation on progressive policies is what we do as Angelenos. From setting the boldest mass transit and electric vehicle targets in the nation to divesting the city’s funds from Wells Fargo, Los Angeles is not only the tip of the spear of the West Coast resistance to Donald Trump, but a place where some of the most enlightened measures are emerging to lead our country forward.

Why, then, should the city’s leadership to establish a public bank in Los Angeles be any different?

In his monthly column for the The Los Angeles Times, Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of the American Prospect, penned an October 3 editorial in support of public banking (“Why Los Angeles should start a public bank”). But in a September 20 piece, the paper’s editorial board widely missed the mark (“Charter Amendment B is one of the most ill-conceived, half-baked ballot measures in years. Vote no”).

Which side should voters believe?

The editorial board came down solidly on behalf of Wall Street, offering a full-throated defense of the Big Bank status quo. But Angelenos are no longer interested in business-as-usual politics. They want to see progressive reforms in the people’s best interest — and creating a city bank run by the people of Los Angeles is the clearest example of that.

First, the problem: Los Angeles taxpayers currently pay Wall Street banks over $200 million in fees and over $1.1 billion in interest every year. The giant banks that extract wealth from Los Angeles — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc. — are the same ones regularly in the headlines (of the Los Angeles Times no less) reaching out-of-court settlements and paying billions in fines for perpetually defrauding the public.

Now comes the solution. Across California, municipalities are seeking to create city-managed public banks to cut ties to Wall Street much like they cut ties to the Trump administration, whether on climate, immigration or other issues. Charter Amendment B, on the ballot for Los Angeles voters in November, is another step in the direction of creating a more self-reliant, locally administered economy.

The Municipal Bank of Los Angeles (MBLA) provides a public option for handling the City’s finances. Instead of billions of our tax dollars sitting in checking and short-term investment accounts in Wall Street banks, earning zero interest and costing the city fees to manage, a public bank recirculates the money back into our local economy, putting those dollars to work for the people of L.A.

As a wholesale, or “banker’s bank,” the MBLA would not have physical branches, ATMs, or any of the associated brick-and-mortar costs of traditional retail banks. Rather, a municipal bank would create partnerships with community banks and credit unions to provide services to businesses and consumers. Through this type of public bank, we can cut our borrowing costs in half while doubling our power to invest in our communities with low-income housing, critical infrastructure projects, clean energy and more.

The language of the ballot measure is straightforward: “Shall the City Charter be amended to allow the City to establish a municipal financial institution or bank?” Charter Amendment B is the first step in allowing the city to explore alternatives to Wall Street financing. This is not a blank check; it is just one of many steps in the legislative process and will be followed with state-level legislation to create a license for municipal banks in cities across California. Any proposed bank must be authorized by the State’s Department of Business Oversight to assure compliance with strict rules on risk, capitalization, and general business practices.

As concerned Angelenos, many of us have done our homework. The Los Angeles Times editorial board has not. Their editorial was not responsible, serious journalism. It was a hit piece designed to scare away voters who could set a national precedent by passing Charter Amendment B.

Public Bank LA on stage at an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez event in downtown Los Angeles on August 2, 2018.

They could have cited the Bank of North Dakota (BND) as a model to emulate, with its decades of healthy profits and successful loan programs which, after nearly a century, continue to benefit the people of the state. In fact, BND outperforms Wall Street: It is more profitable than Goldman Sachs and has a better credit rating than JPMorgan Chase. Thanks to its public bank, North Dakota was the only state that survived the economic collapse of 2008 without going into red ink.

Considerable work has gone into laying the groundwork for the Municipal Bank of Los Angeles. For over a year, Public Bank LA, an all-volunteer advocacy group, coordinated with banking and policy experts nationwide to explore how to establish a democratic bank that could operate with lower risk exposure than any of the Wall Street giants. Key to that democratic structure is the creation of a multi-chambered board of directors to provide a balance of power between financial experts, bank workers and community leaders — modeled after Germany’s highly successful Sparkassen, a system of 400 municipally-owned public banks. We also created the California Public Banking Alliance, a network of public banking advocacy groups working on state-level legislation to create a regulatory framework for municipal and regional public banks across the state.

Consider the alternative: without a city-owned bank, our public funds will continue to be exposed to the reckless and fraudulent behavior of too-big-to-fail banks that caused the Great Recession. Charter Amendment B paves a path for Los Angeles to recapture public dollars, mitigate harm from risky investments, and assert local control over our community’s finances. Public banking could also help relieve unbanked and underbanked populations that currently account for half of all Black and Hispanic households, according to a recent report from the city’s Chief Legislative Analyst.

Charter Amendment B and the call to establish a Municipal Bank of Los Angeles has been endorsed by over 100 social justice, labor, environmental, political and community organizations and leaders, including the California Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Los Angeles City Council and Our Revolution National. Voters next month need to ask why private multinational banks still manage our city’s public dollars — and charge us exorbitant interest rates in the process — when a healthy alternative exists.

Wall Street, banking lobbyists and their allies don’t like this measure. But the people do.

Vote YES on Charter Amendment B.

For more information about what Charter Amendment B entails and how a public bank of Los Angeles will be created, visit publicbankla.com.

Originally published on Medium

Los Angeles #YesOnB effort rounds up important endorsements and more national press

Public Banking Inst

 

Public Bank LA and their allies have been actively engaged in securing endorsements from an impressive number of union and political groups throughout the city. Latest endorsements include State Senator Kevin de León; Rusty Hicks, President of the LA County Federation of Labor; Gayle McLaughlin, Former Mayor of Richmond; Carolyn Fowler, Vice Chair California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus; the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; Our Revolution West San Fernando Valley; Stonewall Democratic Club; UC Student-Workers Union UAW Local 2865; and the Progressive Democratic Club. These follow earlier endorsements by Our Revolution, DSA-LA, Green Party of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and the California Democratic Party.

The effort has drawn more major press from Bloomberg and the Los Angeles TimesTo help with this endorsement and outreach effort with your contacts or ideas, connect with PBLA here. The #YesOnB Street Team is hitting the LA neighborhoods this Saturday, Oct 20. See Facebook event list here. Plus there’s a big Defundraiser Rallyevent Saturday, Oct 20 at LA City Hall with Eric Andre, Nick Thorburn, Abby Martin, and more. Facebook event hereDonation link here.

Romy Varghese writes in Bloomberg:

“The city has about $11 billion deposited with or managed by the country’s biggest banks, which use the capital for their own needs and ultimately their own profit. This arrangement has Los Angeles and some of its more adventurous brethren considering an alternative. Why not create a public bank that would support investment within city limits, backing such things as small-business loans and affordable housing instead of sending the money out?”

Emily Alpert Reyes and James Rufus Koren report in the LA Times:

“If the ballot measure passes, advocates say it would bring fresh momentum to the public banking movement, as Los Angeles could be the first jurisdiction in the U.S. where voters have signed off on the idea.”

Amanda Albright, muni bond reporter for Bloomberg, discusses LA’s public bank initiative in a radio interview hosted by Pimm Fox and Lisa Abramowicz.

Senator Kevin de León and Council President Wesson have both agreed to do a press conference for YesOnB. More details to follow.

Endorsements for November 6, 2018 election

Endorsements (sf.curbed.com)

The following is a list of local publications’ and advocacy groups’ endorsements for the November 6 election.

Publications:

Political and advocacy groups:

New Downtown Berkeley BART station chalked

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+17

First they came for the homeless 

9 hrs

No official action was called for the opening. None was needed. Downtown BART plaza opened, and was immediately chalked.

The ambassadors tried to stop us. Parking enforcement tried to stop us. (They are cops) Sarah Menefee, the photographer and our cofounder had an opportunity to explain to the city manager why this was happening.

I’m betting this is going to continue. I’m betting there is something bigger in store. A lot of people are pissed off. A lot of very creative, sarcastic people. Stay tuned.

–Mike Zint of First They Came for the Homeless

Voice of the People (from Share International)

‘Nuit Debout’ – standing up for change (share-international.org)

May 2016 (Share International magazine)

Share International May 2016 images, Nuit Debout – standing up for change in Paris.

A new movement is rapidly sweeping France as protesters occupy French cities calling for change. Roughly translated ‘nuit debout’ means ‘night standing’ or ‘rise up at night’ and was initially a social-media-driven protest movement against labour law reforms that make it easier for employers to sack workers. However, after the first week, now vast nightly gatherings of people of all ages and backgrounds began to occupy large public spaces in more than 30 cities in France. The new citizen-led movement is being compared to the Occupy Movement or Spain’s Indignados.

It began on 31 March 2016 with a night-time sit-in in Paris after the latest street demonstrations by students and unions critical of President François Hollande’s proposed changes to labour laws. But the movement and its radical nocturnal action had been dreamed up months earlier at a Paris meeting of leftwing activists. “There were about 300 or 400 of us at a public meeting in February and we were wondering how can we really scare the government? We had an idea: at the next big street protest, we simply wouldn’t go home,” said Michel, 60, a former delivery driver. “On 31 March, at the time of the labour law protests, that’s what happened. There was torrential rain, but still everyone came back here to the square. Then at 9pm, the rain stopped and we stayed. We came back the next day and as we keep coming back every night, it has scared the government because it’s impossible to define. There’s something here that I’ve never seen before in France – all these people converge here each night of their own accord to talk and debate ideas – from housing to the universal wages, refugees, any topic they like. No one has told them to, no unions are pushing them on – they’re coming of their own accord.”

As night falls over Paris, thousands of people sit cross-legged in public spaces, taking turns to pass round a microphone and denounce everything from the dominance of Google to tax evasion or inequality on housing estates. The debating continues into the early hours of the morning. It has expanded to address a host of different grievances, including the state of emergency and security crackdown in response to last year’s terrorist attacks.

“The labour law was the final straw,” said Matthiew, 35, who was retraining to be a teacher after 10 years in the private sector, and had set up an impromptu revolutionary singing group at the square. “But it’s much bigger than that. This government, which is supposed to be socialist, has come up with a raft of things I don’t agree with, while failing to deal with the real problems like unemployment, climate change and a society heading for disaster.”

Jocelyn, 26, a former medical student acting as a press spokesman for the movement, said: “There are parallels with Occupy and Indignados. The idea is to let everyone speak out. People are really sick and tired and that feeling has been building for years…. Personally, it’s the state of emergency, the new surveillance laws, the changes to the justice system and the security crackdown.”

Various committees have sprung up to debate a new constitution, society, work, and how to occupy the square with more permanent wooden structures on a nightly basis. Whiteboards list the evening’s discussions and activities – from debates on economics to media training for the demonstrators. “No hatred, no arms, no violence,” was the credo described by the “action committee”. “This must be a perfect mini-society,” a member of the gardening committee told the crowd. A poetry committee has been set up to document and create the movement’s slogans. “Every movement needs its artistic and literary element,” said the poet who proposed it.

“Generation revolution”, was scrawled on the pavement. The concept behind the movement is a “convergence of struggles” with no one leader. There are no union banners or flags of specific groups decorating the protest in the square – a rarity in France. No issue is “off agenda”; social problems such as labour laws, inequality, injustice, climate change, the refugee crisis, racism and more are all debated through the night.

Cécile, 22, a Paris law student at Thursday night’s general assembly, said: “I don’t agree with the state society is in today. To me, politics feels broken. This movement appeals in terms of citizen action. I come here after class and I intend to keep coming back. I hope it lasts.”

(Source: theguardian.com; ibtimes.co.uk; liberation.fr; a Share International correspondent attending Nuit Debout gatherings.)

The Occupy Movement in Idaho (2011)


Season 2011 Episode 29 | 28m 49s (pbs.org)

Marcia Franklin talks with participants of Occupy movements around Idaho about why they joined and what they hope to accomplish. The group also discusses planned encampments in Boise and Pocatello, and whether the recent violence at a protest in Oakland will affect the movement. They also take phone calls from viewers.

Aired: 11/03/11

Rating: TV-G

Book: “America: The Farewell Tour” by Chris Hedges

America: The Farewell Tour

America: The Farewell Tour

by Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges’s profound and provocative examination of America in crisis is “an exceedingly…provocative book, certain to arouse controversy, but offering a point of view that needs to be heard” (Booklist), about how bitter hopelessness and malaise have resulted in a culture of sadism and hate.

America, says Pulitzer Prize­–winning reporter Chris Hedges, is convulsed by an array of pathologies that have arisen out of profound hopelessness, a bitter despair, and a civil society that has ceased to function. The opioid crisis; the retreat into gambling to cope with economic distress; the pornification of culture; the rise of magical thinking; the celebration of sadism, hate, and plagues of suicides are the physical manifestations of a society that is being ravaged by corporate pillage and a failed democracy. As our society unravels, we also face global upheaval caused by catastrophic climate change. All these ills presage a frightening reconfiguration of the nation and the planet.

Donald Trump rode this disenchantment to power. In his “forceful and direct” (Publishers WeeklyAmerica: The Farewell Tour, Hedges argues that neither political party, now captured by corporate power, addresses the systemic problem. Until our corporate coup d’état is reversed these diseases will grow and ravage the country. “With a trademark blend of…sharply observed detail, Hedges writes a requiem for the American dream” (Kirkus Reviews) and seeks to jolt us out of our complacency while there is still time.

(Goodreads.com)

Another occupation? In Berkeley?

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First they came for the homeless

14 hrs

Note from Mike Zint of First They Came for the Homeless:

Why? Another occupation?

Same people as two years ago. Still not housed. Still nothing from the HUB. And today, they aren’t allowed more than 9 square feet on the sidewalk.

Damn straight, another occupation.

A final word on this. Michelle Lot could have died because homeless people have surgery and go right back to the streets. There is nothing offered, like a hotel voucher for a few days. A voucher would have prevented everything, including current medical issues resulting from homeless medical care. A few hundred for a voucher or many thousands for the resulting medical bills? Screw the homeless and the tax payer!

Photos by Sarah Menefee