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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This Fall, Measure B was Defeated. But Public Banking is on the Rise.

Alison Malisa, California Public Banking Alliance. On November 6, responsible and sustainable economics was on the ballot in Los Angeles in the form of Measure B. Measure B was arguably one of the most important midterm ballot items in the country. For the first time in ninety-nine years, voters had the opportunity to approve by referendum a measure in support of public banking. Without funding, and virtually without precedent, Measure B was the first time many voters had even heard of public banking.

The last time a public bank was on the ballot, it was 1919 and in North Dakota, when 61,495 voters established the only other public bank in the history of our fifty states. Ninety-nine years later, thanks to the laudable efforts of a small group of unfunded activists, the success of the Bank of North Dakota, and the growing need for a common sense and bipartisan solution to the financial crisis, public banking was finally up for a vote again.

This time, over a quarter of a million Angelenos gave their thumbs up, garnering over 43% of the vote in favor of this little-known strategy for local governments to recapture wealth and reinvest it in the community. That is why the public banking movement is celebrating a growing momentum of support. The reality of instituting a bank supportive of people and the planet is becoming ever more tangible.

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Today Americans Determine Our Political Future

John Nichols, The Nation. Public Bank LA is one of the "five contests that could signal where we’re headed on climate change, criminal-justice reform, financial reform, net neutrality, and militarism."

Los Angeles will vote on a charter amendment to remove barriers to developing a city-owned bank. The proposal represents an initial step in the complicated process of developing a municipal bank along the lines of the 99-year-old state-owned Bank of North Dakota. But make no mistake: LA’s first step is a big one—especially at a moment when communities and states across the country are exploring to alternatives to Wall Street. The grassroots Public Bank LA campaign—which has drawn support from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA City Council President Herb Wesson, major unions, Our Revolution, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters—has made a compelling case for a people’s bank. “Last year the City of Los Angeles paid $170 million in banking fees and $1.1 billion in interest to big banks and investors. Banks have leveraged our tax dollars to finance harmful industries including private prisons, fossil fuel extraction, and weapons manufacturing. In 2017, the City of Los Angeles divested its funds from Wells Fargo, which was fined billions of dollars for creating illegal customer accounts, has a history of discriminating against Latino and African-American home buyers, and finances industries harmful to Angelenos. Local community banks are too small to manage the city’s funds, but Wall Street is not the only alternative,” the group reminds voters. “Banking as a public utility is a proven model worldwide. Public banks keep money local and cut costs by eliminating middlemen, shareholders and high-paid executives.”

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What If Banks Were Publicly Owned? In LA, This May Soon Be A Reality.

By: David Dayen, Huffington Post. Voters will decide in November whether to take city money out of the hands of big banks. David Dayen covers the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rally in Los Angeles. Featuring Trinity Tran, Dave Jette and Phoenix Goodman of Public Bank LA.

Trinity Tran is a powerful speaker. Addressing a rally in downtown Los Angeles for New York congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 33-year-old activist and organizer thundered, “We are witnessing the emergence of a solution, from profit and greed to collective prosperity. We can empower our community from the ground up. It’s time to take our power back.”

Tran’s organization, Public Bank LA, is leading the revival of an idea that had largely been discarded until the financial crisis. In November, Los Angeles voters will have the opportunity to approve a public bank for the city. If the measure passes, it would become the first government-owned bank developed in the United States since 1919.

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Why Los Angeles should start a public bank

By: Harold Meyerson, Los Angeles Times. Harold Meyerson is executive editor of the American Prospect. He is a contributing writer to Opinion.

With all that’s at stake in the midterm elections, Los Angeles voters would be forgiven for overlooking Charter Amendment B, a referendum that would amend the city charter to conform with an ordinance the City Council enacted earlier this year.

But Charter Amendment B is no municipal snoozer. It proposes the most fundamental change to our economic system that Angelenos have ever had the opportunity to vote on. The amendment would allow for the creation of a Bank of Los Angeles: a public bank to be operated by and for the city.

Currently, when L.A. collects tax revenue, that revenue does not immediately flow back out to pay city employees. Instead, the revenue is deposited into one of several mega-banks, to be withdrawn when the city needs the funds. This spring, the city’s portfolio came to $9.5 billion. We’re not talking chicken feed.

L.A. has already withdrawn its funds from Wells Fargo, whose steady stream of abusive and fraudulent practices compelled the bank to pay billions in fines in recent years. But the alternatives — the other Wall Street behemoths that brought us the 2008 crash and saddled us with the Great Recession — also have a deference to shareholders and commitment to bonuses that exceed any interest they may have for the well-being of L.A.

Last year, a group of concerned Angelenos who’d formed an advocacy organization, Public Bank LA, began talking to the City Council about establishing a municipal bank. They pointed to North Dakota, which since 1919 has had a state-owned bank that is used to make loans to businesses and farms.

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Will Public Banking Free LA From Wall Street?

Mike Prysner reporting for The Real News Network. In a special report, Mike Prysner speaks to organizers and experts calling for Los Angeles residents to vote ‘yes’ on ballot measure B, which would establish a public bank that could set nationwide precedent for municipalities to divest from Wall Street.

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Lend your skills and talents to put an end to Wall Street greed and join the historic efforts to create the Public Bank of Los Angeles and the first municipal public bank in the nation! 

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