From the author: I wrote the following in a letter-to-the-editor to the Times the day after they published their horrendously dishonest endorsement of a ‘No’ vote on Measure B. I’ve waited a couple weeks in case they decided to print it, but they haven’t, so I’m posting it here so others can reference it. It’s a couple weeks old now, but I think it’s worth showing that we asked them to air some fraction of our point of view, to no avail. LA Times has printed their ballot recommendations and continue to call B “half-baked,” as if people want more weed puns rather than independent engagement with the issues. We expect more from the editorial board of the Times. This is a serious election where people deserve to know the best information available so they can make an informed decision. – Response to the LA Times from Public Bank LA, Sept. 21, 2018 – I was disappointed to read the editorial board’s piece “Charter Amendment B is one of the most ill-conceived, half-baked ballot measures in years. Vote no,” not just because it recommends a No on B, but because it insists “There’s been no formal study, no plan, nothing of substance completed to determine whether a Bank of Los Angeles is even feasible, much less a good idea.” It also states that “Voters are being asked to approve a vague concept and put their trust — and their money […]
– – The folks against a measure that would allow Los Angeles to explore a public bank that would cut out the Wall Street middleman are making some unfounded but nonetheless scary-sounding claims. – Jack Humphreville, a dogged local advocate and reporter who covers the DWP and city finances beat for the website CityWatch put out a brazen polemic against Charter Amendment B which contained some falsehoods and misrepresentations. I thought I’d retort some of the worst, for the record, and to engage in this important dialogue about the […]
– Citigroup was nearly a public bank. – During the 2007-2008 Great Financial Crisis, the Bush and Obama Treasury Departments, the Federal Reserve, and the leaders of the largest banks and insurance companies in the nation conspired to find a way out of the mountain of worthless debt that was about to fall on the planet. The pages of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bore headlines foretelling the end of American capitalism. The people entrusted to manage risk across our entire economy, the people running our large banks, […]
– Los Angeles manages more than eight billion dollars in annual revenue collected from tax, fee and fine payers, more than the country of Iceland. The city maintains bank accounts with between $4B and $12B in cash, and manages up to $45B in investments for pensions and other funds. That money is currently held in accounts at commercial banks, where it earns next to zero interest. The city paid over $109 million in transactional and originations fees to these commercial banks in 2016. Some of these banks have been downgraded […]
– Most people still shrug when you ask them their opinion on public banking. – That used to be true about lawmakers, but recently, the concept of public ownership of a depository bank is on the lips of elected officials and policy analysts. There seems to be news about the movement for publicly-owned banks every single day. We may have arrived at the moment when city, state and national officials are ready to look at options outside the mainstream financial paradigm that serve the needs of the public directly. It could […]
– Looking back over these long six years to the heady days of Occupy Wall Street can cause a little whiplash. – I remember standing in front of Los Angeles city hall with a crowd of weekend warriors watching Tom Morello sing ‘This Land is Your Land’ arm-in-arm with Danny Glover and feeling like maybe a grassroots anti-finance movement could truly take hold. I also remember standing in that same spot, a few weeks later, as police beat my journalist friend in the face while telling him to stop fighting. And […]
Moving profit-seeking banks out of the public finance equation, and allowing the city to lend to itself, will save hundreds of millions of dollars annually in fees while lowering infrastructure spending by up to 50%.