Ruth Caplan with the DC Public Banking Center writes of the fantastic organizing energy happening now around public banking in D.C.:
“This year has been the coming out party for the DC public bank campaign. The DC Council’s FY18 budget included $200,000 to conduct a feasibility study for a DC public bank. Now the study is soon to be released. ...”
“The DC Public Banking Center has been advocating for a public bank since 2012, building our base and our expertise. We formed a strong advisory committee, including nationally known figures like Gar Alperovitz. We also built the support of endorsing organizations ranging from Green America nationally to Ward3Dems and DC4Democracy locally, along with grassroots advocates like EmpowerDC and ONEDC.
“Over the past several years, the DC Divest campaign has also taken off, targeting Wells Fargo which has the city government’s banking contracts. Calling for the city to move its money to local banks, they became DC Reinvest but then realized that local banks don’t have the capacity to take on the $2 billion in city deposits. Now they are advocating for a public bank. Their organizing energy is fantastic.
“When the RFP for the feasibility study was released, DCPBC put together a team of highly qualified consultants ready to bid; however, it turned out that the bidding was restricted to pre-approved small, minority businesses. NIMBUS, a local consulting firm, was awarded the contract. They in turn have subcontracted with Econsult Solutions out of Philadelphia which has much national experience.
“Over the last four months, DCPBC has played a very active role whenever there has been an opportunity for public input. Steve Seuser, on the DCPBC steering committee and an expert on affordable housing, was one of three panelists at public meetings run by NIMBUS. There has also been a series of focus groups on specific topics related to the public bank proposal where those of us on the DCPBC steering committee have been able to play an active role.
“Assuming that the feasibility study opens the door for a public bank, the next step will be a business plan laying out details such as capitalization of the bank, method of appointment and make-up of the Board of Directors, the role for public input regarding public bank priorities, and steps for moving the DC government’s funds into the bank.
“To get the necessary political buy-in, we are further gearing up our public campaign by bringing together key organizers and opinion leaders in the city for a major strategy session in early October.”
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