Governance/Meeting Minutes

At the May 22, 2017 meeting we adopted a basic governance document, which we will refine over time.

We share our procedures and our minutes because, as one member put it, “people checking out an organization for either joining or vetting, it is comforting to see that there is a structure and a way to see what issues are being discussed.” Email addresses have been deleted. If you want to follow up on something here, email us.


May 8, 2017
April 24, 2017

May 8, 2017

Facilitated and notes by Maeve Elise Brown

  • Introductions:  About 20 participants showed up for this general meeting, with approximately 3 participants who are new to the effort.
  • Next meeting: will be in two weeks on May 22nd at 5:30 p.m. at 360 14th Street, in the downstairs offices of the Oakland Post (thank you, Post!)
  • Report on City of Oakland Finance Committee meeting of 4/25/17 and group’s response

At the 4/25/17 meeting councilmembers who are members of the finance committee responded to city staff’s recommendation that the GIC group (Cathy Gent) and her team be awarded the contract to prepare a feasibility study regarding creation of a public bank for the city or region.  Meeting participants and those who reviewed footage of the meeting shared highlights, and impressions.  Key takeaways:

  • Finance Committee member responses regarding why they wanted to postpone deciding on the contract award were conflicting.  One member said that the GIC group was not charging enough money and was likely to come back to ask for more money just for the feasibility study.  Several members of the committee made reference to a regional proposal for a public bank perhaps being more desirable than a city proposal.
  • Finance Committee members are worried about the projected budget shortfall for the city.
  • One Committee member suggested that perhaps the cannabis industry should pay instead of the city.

Next Steps:

Engage with all finance committee members.  Upcoming meeting dates at bottom of agenda and on Friends website (  Key items that may be of concern to our city’s elected officials are:

  • divestment— big push on city to divest from larger banking institutions
  • affordable housing needs— huge and growing
  • sanctuary city concerns— political uncertainty and pressure federally
  • cannabis industry money management concerns— public safety and political concern
  • Councilmember Campbell Washington concerned about soda tax funds being diverted. May appreciate where we’re coming from in terms of having expected funds diverted.
  • Councilmember McElhaney may be particularly attuned to the affordable housing needs of her district and the city as a whole.

For district meetings or individual meetings with councilmembers, understanding what additional, particular concerns and fears they may have that we may not have understood before would be helpful.  Any additional insights that Friends members can gain would be welcome.

Additional tools suggested that could be helpful:

  • chart that maps out the cost benefits of a public bank
  • additional written docs that map out the ways in which public banks serve the public
  • list of additional cities focused on creating a public bank

Possible additional strategic considerations:

  1. How we move the effort forward even without city funding
  2. Investigate alternative sources of funding
  3. Which additional strategies will move the city forward.
  4. City may be focused on having the county or some other municipality take on this effort.

All of these ideas are moved into Outreach committee for follow-up.

5. Governance Committee Proposals

A big thanks to the committee for undertaking this effort.  Key feedback from group:  The guts of the mission statement are good.  Suggestions around clarifying language, using stronger terminology regarding fairness rather than just a “seat at the table”.  Also some feedback regarding clarity on whether the mission statement addresses just how the Friends group functions versus the proposed bank. Equity committee and others expressed concern about making sure unrepresented groups’ voices and interests are represented— not just via membership by people who seem to be members of a given group, but via actual representation of concerns and interests.

Regarding using consent mode of governance, there was general appreciation for the notion as articulated by the governance document.  One question was around how to remove members or what to do if there is no agreement on a proposal.  Governance will clarify.

All suggested additional language or edits:  Email to Debbie Notkin.  She and the rest of governance committee will take all feedback into account, make edits, and bring back to larger group for final decision-making.

6.  Outreach Committee report back and proposal

The general meeting agreed with the working group’s proposal that they be permitted to spend up to $100 of funds they raise without general group approval, with one amendment, which is to have monthly reports on how funds are spent.

7.Forming an administrative committee: Agreed.  Those interested in participating:  Debbie, Maeve, David, Craig, Mitch.

8.  Equity Committee survey— issue raised, discussion postponed.


April 24, 2017

Facilitated by Craig Brandt, notes by Janice Hutchinson)

  • Rebecca Kaplan/Laura Holtan re upcoming meeting of finance committee about feasibility

Cathy Gent’s group chosen, money (99,000)supposed to come from current year. But final staff report asks for a no vote on it,  that it be put into next year’s budget instead, because of deficit. Finance committee meeting TOMORROW, Tuesday 4/25 at 9:30, City hall, meeting room 1.  YES on item 7!  If you can’t make it call councilmembers before the meeting.

  • Noel Gallo (238-7005),
  • Abel Guillen (-7002),
  • Dan Kalb (-7001), and
  • Annie Campbell Washington (-7004).

Urgent that feasibility not be delayed because decision on which bank to use (JP Morgan Chase or Wells) coming soon with lobbying by banking industry

Oakland could ask state for some money from its rainy day fund

Public bank would save more money than it costs

2. Active Hope – Mary and Susan went, 150 people

3. People’s Life Fund. We applied for a grant for them and were accepted. Some members went to the award ceremony, and were given check for 1000.

4. Gary  Findley. Consultant, lawyer. Works with banks and regulators. Next steps, assuming feasibility, write a business plan. Gary has done many bank business plans, excited about a public bank. Needs include a state charter,  a Federal master account number, a cannabis committee, FDIC insurance. Also, we need to start looking for management team

5. Jeff Cheung, referred to us by an aide to Libby Schaaf, Oakland mayor. He is the CEO of Gateway Bank – a community bank in Oakland. Focus on community, possible model

6. Divest/Build conference call; next is Thursday 4/27

7. Two San Francisco supervisors want to start a public bank. They want the city’s finance director  to do a study. Susan would prefer going straight to a feasibiliy study.

8. Santa Rosa wants to start a North Coast public bank, primarily for cannabis money

9. Full Oakland City Council meeting on 5/2. If the Finance Committee Tuesday doesn’t pass the resolution, the Council will take the item off the consent calendar. We need to tabulate the petitions we have by district, and lobby the council members

10. State treasurer John Chiang’s group meets in Santa Rosa 5/4. This meeting is geared towards solutions to cannabis banking issue. Public bank is not on the agenda’s list of solutions. We will try to have a presence at the meeting.

11. A group in LA, led by public banking theorist and Green Party candidate Ellen Brown is starting a public banking movement.

12. The Outreach Committee will table at First Friday (5/5) and continue to table at the Grand Avenue Farmers Market. Contact Mark if you can help table.

13. Governance Committee. Last meeting  we all gave our feedback about what a public bank should look like. Governance took all input and synthesized it. We started to critique it as a group, but decided that emailed suggestions would be more efficient. Governance committee will rework mission statement and report back.

14, 15. Equity and Fundraising Committees are still a work in progress

16. Cathy Gent gave us an overview of how she plans to organize the feasibility study. Will start 5/15 if City Council approves. Will take about 10 weeks. Will stay in touch with our group throughout.