Native American leaders continue to call for divestment from Wall Street banks heavily invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuel companies, so in March of last year we started a divestment team to work on individual divestment. Shortly thereafter, we began working with the Friends of Public Banking Santa Rosa on public banking as institutional divestment.
JPMorgan Chase: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire
The City of Santa Rosa has decided to divest from Wells Fargo, due to the downgraded “Needs Improvement” status by the DOJ last March. (For more info, go to this page and scroll down to "Wells Fargo Downgraded to Less Than Satisfactory CRA rating".)
So now that the City is leaving Wells Fargo, the City of Santa Rosa is switching to JPMorgan Chase, just as reprehensible, until or unless the city can get a public bank up and running.
According to a report put together by Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, the Indigenous Environmental Network and three other organizations, Chase is among the top three banks financing the expansion of extreme fossil fuel development overall at a total of $26 billion over the past three years. And Chase is among the top three investment banks in 3 of 5 categories, including tar sands, ultra deepwater oil and coal.
At the City's annual goal setting meetings at the beginning of the year, it was clear the city was already running out of money due to the cost of cleaning up and repairs, etc. after the October fires. Chase's bid came in at $40,000 less than Exchange Bank, over the five year period of the contract and Chase offered a $60,000 credit to offset the expense of transferring from Wells Fargo to Chase. But in terms of fossil fuel resistance, especially to indigenous peoples who are all too often on the front lines of fossil fuel resistance, choosing JPMorgan Chase is as bad than Wells Fargo - or worse.
This November two measures to raise revenue for the city will be placed on the ballot: measures N and O. Read the details on the two ballot measures here. However one or both measures could fail if the voters decide they don't want to pay. And the City is considered draconian budget cuts: " Six vacant full-time slots for firefighters are among those proposed for deletion," according to the Press Democrat. And even if both measures do pass in November, it's likely the city needs far more money than the funding these two measures could raise. How on earth will the city raise more money?
If the City starts a public bank, the City will not only be able to divest from fossil fuels. Half the cost of infrastructure is financing. By financing through its own bank, the City could save up to HALF the cost of infrastructure, as well as millions in fees currently being paid to Wall Street banks, and now JPMorgan Chase. Also, as a wholesale bank, a public bank would not compete with local banks but instead partner with local banks and credit unions to offer lower interest rates on loans - all desperately needed for rebuilding for years to come, not just in Santa Rosa. This would raise money for affordable housing, responding to the homeless crisis, and more. Surrounding towns and counties that need to rebuild after fires will also benefit from low interest loans, and keeping our money local.
We continue to press city council and staff for a feasibility study, and to start a public bank as soon as possible. A feasibility study would help to determine if Santa Rosa is a large enough city to do this on its own, or if it would be best to partner with another city such as the chartered City of Eureka in a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) partnership. However to get talks of a partnership going, council members must commit to this project officially in order for discussions with elected representatives and city staff in other cities to even begin.
If you have not done so, please endorse our resolution for a public bank.
Write a letter to the editor asking city council and staff to move ahead as quickly as possible with the feasibility study.
Ask your company or organization to endorse the public bank.
Even if it takes 3 to 5 years to open a pubic bank, we need to get a public bank underway, the sooner the better.
#PublicBank, #PublicBankSantaRosa, #NoDAPL