Oakland Needs a Public Bank!

Check out our awesome videos, from videographer and Friend of the Public Bank Maren Poitras.

Becoming a More Regional Organization

We’re changing our name—and we need a new logo!

At our last meeting, we voted to change our name to Public Bank East Bay. After all, Berkeley, Richmond, and Alameda County all contributed funds for the feasibility study. The Treasurer of Alameda County has volunteered to oversee the business plan process. Other jurisdictions will probably be stakeholders in the future, at least as depositors.

We hope to find a graphic artist who’s willing to donate their services to create our new logo and designs for our masthead, t-shirts, and brochures. If you are this wonderful person, please let us know right away at contact@friendsofpublicbankofoakland.org.

Victory at the City Council!

On October 2, Oakland’s finance department staff presented the feasibility study to City Council. Staff described what they saw as serious shortcomings in the study and recommended that the Council take no further action toward establishing a public bank. Instead, they recommended that Oakland wait and watch how San Francisco, Los Angeles, the state of California, and New Mexico go about establishing their banks.

Several public speakers, including a representative from the Berkeley mayor’s office, spoke in favor of continuing to move forward to create a multi-jurisdictional public bank for the East Bay. No one spoke against the bank.

In the discussion that followed, Councilmember Kaplan referred to a letter sent that day by the Alameda County Treasurer, Henry Levy. Levy not only expressed his support for establishing an East Bay public bank, but also offered to take a leadership role in creating a business plan. Especially in light of Oakland staff’s reluctance, this is great news.

In the discussion that followed, Councilmembers Kalb and Gallo also spoke for moving forward in concert with the County and the other jurisdictions. Councilmember McElhaney took an opposite view, claiming that Oakland does too many things it doesn’t understand and is stretched too thin. However, in the end the Council voted unanimously to receive the feasibility study and examine next steps.

Progress at the Finance Committee

On Tuesday, September 11, the City of Oakland’s Finance and Management Committee unanimously recommended to continue moving forward with the process of creating a public bank!! This only happened because of the concerted and passionate response of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, because of your calls, and because your councilmembers know there’s no other path to having our city monies in our own hands.

The Councilmembers recommended moving discussion of public bank next steps to the full Oakland City Council for further consideration. No specific actions are contemplated by the Council at this time; several proposals and next steps are on the table for discussion. (We have plenty of specific actions to propose and help enact.) The discussion was delayed from September to Tuesday, October 2, at 5:30 p.m. in Oakland City Hall.

We will have more information on our strategy for this meeting within the next few days; watch this space.

Our formal response to the City Staff and Feasibility Study was submitted to the Finance and Management Committee of the City of Oakland before their September 11 meeting. Here is our edited version of that response following its unqualified success.

Oakland Shortens Union Bank Commitment; Feasibility Study Timing Announced

On Tuesday, June 5 (Election Day), the Oakland City Council voted down a proposal that the City sign a five-year (!) contract with Union Bank, to start in January 2019, replacing its current banking arrangement with JP Morgan Chase. Spurred by the Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan reduced the five-year commitment to three years.

We fought back because we want a public bank way sooner than five and a half years from now, and because Union Bank is owned by Mitsubish UFJ Financial Group, the second biggest lender to coal around the world, and also heavily invested in oil pipelines.

The Public Bank of Oakland will:
  • Get Oakland out from under the control of nonlocal big banks
  • Reduce the cost of lending and borrowing for the City of Oakland and nearby communities that make use of the Bank
  • Solve the problem of millions of dollars in cash that the cannabis industry cannot legally deposit in private banks
  • Bring jobs, affordable housing, new small businesses and worker cooperatives, infrastructure, credit, and independence to our city

We’d love it if your organization (business, nonprofit, neighborhood association, church, union, etc.) wants to sign our letter of support. We also encourage you to come to our meetings, sign our petition, and purchase one (or more) of our stylish t-shirts. We are happy to speak at your community or business event, and explain the value of public banking.

Read the Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland mission statement.