Campaign For Los Angeles’s Public Bank Gets Into Full Swing

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Above Photo: Public Bank LA campaign launch for Charter Amendment B

In the most recent article in a ten part series on public banking in, Matt Stannard, Policy Director at Commonomics USA, writes about the challenges the public banking movement faces. The article begins by focusing on the vote in Los Angeles described below. Stannard writes:

If Los Angeles voters choose to lift the city’s ban on government-run banking services this November, the battle for a public bank in that city won’t be over. It will just be getting started, and the barriers will be enormous.

Los Angeles residents will vote whether or not to amend Section 104(g) of the City Charter as a prerequisite to the city forming a municipal bank. But this only means voters will have authorized a public bank – not voted for the formation of one. Feasibility studies, hearings and testimony, and, inevitably, backlash from proponents of private banking, will follow. Not all the interference will be engineered by Wall Street lobbyists. Some of it will come from purportedly neutral experts on banking who simply haven’t contemplated that banks ought to be public utilities instead of private enterprises.

Despite Los Angeles currently having one of the most robust, militant and energetic public banking movements anywhere, risk-averse public officials may well decide to stall on creating a public bank in the city. They might offer weaker or watered-down alternatives. They might end up rejecting the idea altogether.

The only thing that will stop them from delaying or killing the vision of public banking is the sheer numerical and moral force of activists, in the thousands. Nothing less will guarantee that Los Angeles gets its public bank. If there is not unyielding public demand, there will be no public bank.

Stannard goes on to describe the kind of mass movement we will need to win public banking. He points out a good idea is not enough, convincing some public officials is not enough. Winning requires a mass movement of tens of thousands of people urban areas and hundreds of thousands nationally.   KZ

November’s Public Banking ballot initiative will allow the citizens of Los Angeles to vote on the first step to creating a city-owned bank. Public Bank LA, along with an overflowing room of community groups and advocates, launched their action campaign July 28 for creating public support for the ballot measure. Chair Ellen Brown and Suzanne O’Keeffe from Public Banking Institute were there in support. …

Advocates were presented with a detailed plan that includes community outreach, political outreach, street art, field strategy into neighborhoods, and media. The campaign is designed to communicate the benefits of public banking, answer questions, and generate excitement around freeing the City from Wall Street and using the power of a bank to benefit the people of Los Angeles.

“How is the Wall Street system working for you now?” asked David Jette, policy director of Public Bank LA. “The current system is under no obligation to improve your living standards. That’s why we should start a bank and start lending to ourselves! Let’s build a bank that we actually want.”

“We’re sick and tired of Wall Street dictating our lives,” said Trinity Tran, co-founder of Public Bank LA. “We’re building alliances since Public Banking can be the cornerstone issue — something everybody is fighting for.”

This ballot measure won’t create a bank but will remove a legal hurdle to creating one. It doesn’t require the City to spend any money.

Recorded live-stream of the meeting is available here. To get involved or support this campaign, you can sign up here.