2017 Changes to 2018: Public Banking Surges

Next City calls public banking the best urban trend of 2017

Bye Wells Fargo, Hello Public Banks
In the wake of former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf’s disastrous 2016 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Philadelphia began exploring divestment. This year, the city joined the ranks of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and San Francisco in moving forward with a public bank model. New York City also began the process of moving city deposits away from the disgraced entity earlier this year, citing its failing grade on a recent Community Reinvestment Act examination. And Los Angeles is also looking toward alternative models for the 2018 date when its contract with Wells Fargo expires.

In a very strong move (also referred to above), the Los Angeles City Council voted to divest with rigid criteria:

Together this council must take a stand against corporate greed, unfair business practices and a pervasive atmosphere that has poisoned the trust of Angelenos as well as millions of Americans across this great country,” said City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who asked city staffers to examine divesting from Wells Fargo earlier this year. …

The City Council also voted to draft a new law that would impose similar requirements on any future banking contracts, mandating that the city give lower scores to banks if they have flouted state or federal regulations.

Under the proposed rules, L.A. also would require banks to reveal if they have been the target of enforcement actions by regulatory agencies or the courts, affirm that they have rules to protect whistleblowers and certify that illegal and “predatory” practices are not used as the grounds for paying or promoting employees.

In addition, financial institutions would have to certify whether they set sales goals for consumer financial services and whether they use sales to decide what employees are paid or whether they are promoted, a requirement championed by Councilwoman Nury Martinez.

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We would have liked this Examiner article to have mentioned us, but hey, Oakland’s just a suburb of San Francisco anyway. And it’s a good article.

“This ongoing public banking discussion is coming at an important moment in our community,” [San Francisco Supervisor Malia] Cohen said last week. “This month, the San Francisco Retirement Board is expected to finally discuss the vote on fossil fuel divestment. This week, in Washington, the Trump administration is working to diminish the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, thus limiting the oversight of big banks on Wall Street.”

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