Left Coast Podcast E024: HELL'S MANCALA // PUBLIC BANK LA

Democratic Socialists of America LA's Josh Androsky interviews Public Bank LA's Legislative Director Dave Jette for Left Coast Podcast. Dave explains why most of the money in the world is invisible and why municipalities like LA should divest from private banks and instead create publicly funded banks, controlled by the residents of the city it serves.

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A Movement for Public Banking Gains Momentum

By: Aaron Fernando, Progressive.org. Aaron talks with Deyanira Del Río, co-director of the New Economy Project and Trinity Tran, co-founder of Public Bank LA on the growing national grassroots public banking movement.

The other day in front of the New York Stock Exchange, a diverse group of demonstrators held colorful signs and chanted, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Wall Street banks have got to go!” The rally on June 5 was reminiscent of the Occupy Movement seven years ago—a microcosm of organized, strategic social and political demonstrations across states.

But the new movement extends beyond protest to present a practical solution to the problem caused by big banks that continue to fail large segments of society. The rally on Wall Street called for establishing a public bank for New York City, as part of a broader movement to establish public banks in cities and states across the United States.

In contrast with big private banks, which balance customer satisfaction against generating shareholder profit, public banks are fully operated with the public interest in mind.

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A Tale of Two Cities: Can the Public Banking Movement Learn How to Fight?

By: Matt Stannard, Occupy.com. Matt talks with Trinity Tran and Phoenix Goodman in his latest article for Occupy.com. This is Part 5 of a 10-part series on public banking and economic justice.

In 2014, then-Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales recognized that poverty and shrinking city budgets were problems that needed out-of-the-box solutions. Deeply concerned with inequality, Gonzales welcomed a discussion about public banking and even participated in a conference featuring leading figures in the movement. He later cheered on his Santa Fe City Council’s approvalof a feasibility study that concluded that a city-owned bank would have an impact of millions of dollars a year in savings and investment potential for the city.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's L.A. fundraisers were more about raising consciousness than money

By: David Dayen, Los Angeles Times. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's L.A. fundraisers were more about raising consciousness than money.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the probable next member of Congress from New York’s 14th District, barnstormed through Los Angeles with two fundraisers last week. But I hesitate to call them fundraisers. They weren’t held on the Hollywood Hills balcony of some showrunner for prestige TV. They weren’t showcases for one woman’s singular vision to personally revive the American left and solve the nation’s challenges.

They were organizing meetings — the kind that used to be held in the back of union halls and community centers when we still had unions, and communities. Ocasio-Cortez presented herself not as the savior of a moment but a small part of a movement, amplifying the actions of everyday activists toiling in relative obscurity on the ground. “This work doesn’t rely on any one person,” Ocasio-Cortez said at one event. “But the work needs every one person to act. That’s what collective movement-building is all about.”

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

By: Trinity Tran & Chris Roth. Occupy.com. The Los Angeles Times editorial board published a denouncement of Charter Amendment B on September 20, 2018. This is a summary of what they got wrong.

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.

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Banking on the Public Option: Will LA Lead the Way for People-Owned Banks?

By: Glenn Daigon, Who.What.Why. Glenn Daigon talks to Trinity Tran and Ellen Brown on Los Angeles establishing a public bank - an issue its residents will vote on in the fall.

If Los Angeles were to establish a public bank — an issue its residents will vote on in the fall — one of two things could happen.

In the opinion of plan proponents, a public bank would free the city from predatory Wall Street institutions and save taxpayers a lot of money. That money could then be used to fund needed projects, such as affordable housing, infrastructure, renewable energy, and small-business expansion.

Opponents of the proposal, on the other hand, predict that such a bank would be a disaster. Untethered from market forces, the “public” bank might make loans to the politically connected without regard to profitable returns. Critics argue it would be so inefficient and poorly managed that city taxpayers would eventually be forced to bail it out.

Granted, even public approval does not mean LA will get a public bank. Other local, state, and federal hurdles need to be cleared before such a bank could be up and running.

Nevertheless, the vote on the measure could have implications far beyond the city or even California. If the proposal passes this November, it could jumpstart other efforts by cities and states around the nation that are currently considering setting up their own public banks.

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Gov. Murphy's team launches NJ State Public Bank bill into legislature

Posted by Public Banking Institute. Trailblazer New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wastes no time. Directly following his swearing in last week, State Senators Nia Gill and Richard Codey introduced the State Bank of New Jersey Act at the beginning of the legislative session.

According to Politico: "Under the Codey-Gill proposal, all public entities in New Jersey would be able to use the state-run bank. It would provide transportation project loans, student loans, small business loans and be able to purchase mortgages from commercial banks. The bank would also be able to purchase, lease and construct buildings, and would even have the power of eminent domain. And it would be able to buy and sell federal funds."

The bill sets up a 13-member board of directors to govern the bank. The board would appoint a president and determine his or her salary. Six of the directors would be appointed by the governor, including four with respective experience in banking administration, credit union administration, consumer financial advocacy and public administration. Two picks would be recommended by the Senate president, two by the Assembly speaker, and one each by the Assembly and Senate minority leaders. The state treasurer would serve as the 13th member.

The state auditor would be required to hire an independent financial firm to examine the bank once a year and to prepare a report.

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Housing, battling racism and a municipal bank top agenda for L.A. council president

By Emily Alpert Reyes, LA Times. Los Angeles should explore whether to create a municipal bank that would finance affordable housing and throw its doors open to the cannabis industry, City Council President Herb Wesson said Tuesday.

Wesson tossed out the idea as part of a sweeping speech that set out his agenda for his final term. In addition to the bank, Wesson said L.A. must take new and innovative steps to battle racism, protect immigrants and build more affordable housing.

“When our grandchildren tell stories of us, what will they say? Will they say we were brave?” asked Wesson, who recently was reelected as council president. “When the history books remember us, will they say that we did everything within our power to improve the lives of the people we represent?”

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Is 2018 the Year of the Public Bank in America?

By Aaron Fernando, The Progressive. The Progressive Magazine talks with Phoenix Goodman and Trinity Tran of Revolution LA/ Divest LA/ Public Bank LA and Walt McRee of the Public Banking Institute on the rising public banking movement.

2018 could be a turning point in the way banking is done in America. The creation of publicly owned banks could save the public millions in fees and interest each year, lead to improved financial infrastructure, and drastically reduce the cost of public projects. In recent months, more than a dozen American cities and states have been exploring the idea of transferring their accounts from private banks into banks of their own.

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L.A. voters will decide whether to eliminate a barrier to a public bank

By: Emily Alpert Reyes and James Rufus Koren. Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles voters will decide next month whether to nudge along the budding movement to create a public bank owned by the city.

The choice is a seemingly modest one: whether to alter the City Charter to allow L.A. to create a “purely commercial” enterprise.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who first floated the idea of a municipal bank more than a year ago, said the ballot measure is simply a way to gauge whether Angelenos want officials to explore a public bank before the city goes to the trouble of hammering out a detailed plan.

“If people say, ‘We don’t want you to do this,’ then we don’t move forward with it,” Wesson said.

But public banking advocates nonetheless see Charter Amendment B as a potential watershed moment — one that could help shape the debate about public banks for years to come.

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.

There are only two public banks in the United States and its territories: the Bank of North Dakota, which was founded nearly a century ago, and the recently formed Territorial Bank of American Samoa, which was created after commercial banks decided to stop doing business in the seven-island territory.

Economic justice groups and other advocacy organizations have backed the idea of financial institutions owned by cities or states as an alternative that could save money on banking fees, avoid risky financial schemes and predatory lending, refinance public debt at lower rates and generate profit that could be invested to help the community.

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LA Voters to Consider Creating Nation’s First Municipal Public Bank

By: Dharna Noor. Dharna interviews Phoenix Goodman of Public Bank LA. The Real News Network.

DHARNA NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network, I’m Dharna Noor.

A charter amendment that will go before Los Angeles voters on November 6 could put LA on track to create the nation’s first municipal public bank. If created, the bank would put public dollars, that’s things like tax dollars and electric bills, into the hands of public officials. Proponents of the historic measure say that unlike for profit banks, which finance things like weapons manufacturers and fossil fuel extraction, the public bank would make loans to LA for things like public education and transit and invest in solutions to issues like homelessness and climate change.

Now joining me to talk about this ballot initiative is Phoenix Goodman. He’s a co-founder of Public Bank LA, an organization which evolved from Divest LA, you may know them for successfully lobbying LA City Hall last year to support divesting its accounts from Wells Fargo. He’s also a co-founder of California Public Banking Alliance, a coalition of municipal public bank organizations in California. Thanks so much for joining us today.

PHOENIX GOODMAN: My pleasure, thank you.

DHARNA NOOR: So, let’s start with the very basics. What exactly is a public bank? I mean, obviously it’s a bank which is publicly owned, in this case by the municipality of Los Angeles. But what does that concretely change about it, and why is it better than a privately owned bank like Wells Fargo, which you pushed LA to stop doing business with?

PHOENIX GOODMAN: Well, Wells Fargo and similar banks on Wall Street have one impetus, and that’s to maximize profits on a quarterly basis. And so, they’re not bound by any ethical guidelines in how those dollars are spent and what they do with their investments. What we want to create is something more than just a public sector bank, but really a people’s bank that takes us this immense power of banking, which is to create money and decide where the flow of funds goes into our economy and put that into publicly accountable hands to democratize the economy itself.

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Los Angeles County Democratic Party Passes Public Banking Resolution

On April 10, 2018, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) unanimously voted to endorse the Public Bank of Los Angeles, taking a position in favor of socially and environmentally responsible, state-chartered public banks. The resolution is a significant milestone for the public banking movement, as the LACDP represents over 2.4 million registered Democrats.

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Los Angeles Weighs Bringing Its Wall Street Cash Home

By: Romy Varghese. Bloomberg.com. A ballot measure to create a public bank could designate funds for investment within city limits.

When revenue from sales taxes and parking fines comes in, the city of Los Angeles does what every other local government in America does: deposits it in safe, boring bank accounts or invests it in safe, boring short-term securities. 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?

On Nov. 6, Los Angeles will hold a referendum to ask voters just that. If the answer is yes, the city will amend its charter and become the first U.S. metropolis to take this step toward creating a public bank, giving a big boost to similar campaigns around the country.

The only public bank in the 50 states is Bank of North Dakota. Established in 1919 to support North Dakota’s agriculture industry, it returns profits to the state for reinvestment and works with other financial institutions to stimulate local economies. Outside the 50 states, American Samoa won the Federal Reserve’s approval to tap into its payment system for a public bank earlier this year. The impetus there was pragmatic and urgent: The territory needed a replacement after the commercial Bank of Hawaii said it would close its branches there.

The path to the ballot in Los Angeles began with environmental protests about two years ago, when activists from the group Divest LA descended on city hall to lobby officials to stop doing business with Wells Fargo & Co., a major financier of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Then last year, following revelations that the San Francisco-based bank opened millions of unauthorized customer accounts, organizers began considering wider issues as well. Soon they formed an advocacy group called Public Bank LA, proposing that Los Angeles form an institution using Bank of North Dakota and local banks in Germany as models.

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Regulation Is Killing Community Banks Public Banks Can Revive Them

By Ellen Brown, Public Banking Institute. Crushing regulations are driving small banks to sell out to the megabanks, a consolidation process that appears to be intentional. Publicly-owned banks can help avoid that trend and keep credit flowing in local economies.

At his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said, “regulation is killing community banks.” If the process is not reversed, he warned, we could “end up in a world where we have four big banks in this country.” That would be bad for both jobs and the economy. “I think that we all appreciate the engine of growth is with small and medium-sized businesses,” said Mnuchin. “We’re losing the ability for small and medium-sized banks to make good loans to small and medium-sized businesses in the community, where they understand those credit risks better than anybody else.

The number of US banks with assets under $100 million dropped from 13,000 in 1995 to under 1,900 in 2014. The regulatory burden imposed by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act exacerbated this trend, with community banks losing market share at double the rate during the four years after 2010 as in the four years before. But the number had already dropped to only 2,625 in 2010.  What happened between 1995 and 2010?

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Taking Back Agency and Accountability for the Banking System

By: Alejandra Molina, NextCity.org. Alejandra discusses bank accountability with Public Bank LA's Community Outreach Director Carlos Marroquin and Legislative Director Dave Jette.

Community organizer Carlos Marroquin, 57, of Hollywood, is a housing advocate who knows of homeless people who are employed but do not make enough to put a roof over their heads. He envisions a city-owned bank that would work directly with community banks and credit unions, “providing them the money they need to be able to give reasonable and affordable mortgage rates to people.”

It might sound like an outlandish plan, but he’s far from alone. In New York City, for example, dozens of residents and community organizers in early June gathered in front of the New York Stock Exchange to launch the Public Bank NYC Coalition, a group calling for the creation of a New York City-owned bank. Oakland and San Francisco are exploring the idea. New Jersey and Michigan are also considering setting up state-owned banks.

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The New New Deal w/ Phoenix Goodman

WE REBEL speaks with Phoenix Goodman, the Co-Founder of Revolution LA, Public Bank LA, and Divest LA. He outlines how a regional public banking systems could leverage deposits, loan money, and reinvest in local infrastructure, businesses, and communities.

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The Savings and Stability of Public Banking

By Ralph Nader, Common Dreams. As a society obsessed by money, we pay a gigantic price for not educating high school and college students about money and banking.

The ways of the giant global banks – both commercial and investment operations – are as mysterious as they are damaging to the people. Big banks use the Federal Reserve to maximize their influence and profits. The federal Freedom of Information Act provides an exemption for matters that are “contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.” This exemption allows financial institutions to wallow in secrecy. Financial institutions are so influential in Congress that Senator Durbin (D, IL) says “[The banks] frankly own this place.”

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The Ultimate Cash Crop

By: David Dayen, The New Republic. David talks to Dave Jette of Public Bank LA and Walt McRee of the Public Banking Institute on finance moving from blind profit to solving actual public needs.The Ultimate Cash Crop - How a pot crisis restarted a conversation about public banking in America.

In January, days after Californians were first allowed to buy recreational marijuana in the state, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to federal prosecutors instructing them not to shy away from enforcing federal pot laws. “Marijuana is a dangerous drug,” Sessions wrote. “Marijuana activity is a serious crime.”

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