If you're thinking of campaigning for a public bank in your city or county, you aren't alone. People form new groups almost monthly, in over 30 states in the U.S., and most of them contact PBI for resources. So here are five resources you may not know about yet, all of which I consider essential for the local education, strategic planning, and grassroots execution necessary to get that seat at the governance table, where you can make the case for a public bank.
First, my favorite: Banking on New Mexico's Glossary of Banking Terms is brilliant and vital. The glossary begins with Banker's Bank and ends with State-Chartered Bank and consists of five pages of definitions, many with alternate definitions and commentary where appropriate. This is an absolute must both for the newly interested and the veterans of the public banking movement who want to check their own definitional understandings against others'. It should be required reading for any seminar, course, or strategy session on public banks.
Second, Scott Baker's fabulous and brand new How to Start a Public Bank. Baker, who has been senior advisor to and New York State Coordinator for the Public Banking Institute, has put together a 20-page document, with accompanying video. The presentation is the "nuts and bolts" of creating the operational requirements for a public bank, following a model Baker lays out for the city of Oakland, California and other cities.
Third, here's The Benefits of a Public Bank for Cities and Municipalities, by Hub Public Banking (the organization promoting public banking in Boston), in league with the Pennsylvania Public Banking Project and activists in Philadelphia. With questions like "how does a public bank generate non-tax municipal revenue?" "how do public banks eliminate non-productive rainy day funds?" and "how does a public bank reduce public debt and debt services costs?" this resource--which contains extensive footnotes and additional source material--is a primer for those of us who will have face-to-face meetings with city and county officials, who will attend public hearings, and who will explain to neighborhood associates why they should get involved in the public banking movement.
Fourth, we have this Open Letter to the Seattle City Council -- written by Martha Koester of the Seattle Public Banking Coalition. It's a model for reaching out to your city council members and candidates. It argues that Seattle has $4.2 billion in debt, and that a municipal bank would manage the city's money better--"for the benefit of the community." In a few short paragraphs, it conveys an understanding of public banks in theory and practice. The response to the SPBC's inquiry to the city is another valuable resource--so we'll include it here as a bonus and supplement. It's a memo written by Peter S. Holmes, City Attorney. It advises a "measured and deliberate approach," and you and I might take issue with some of Mr. Holmes's risk assessments, but it doesn't say it's illegal (because it isn't), and doesn't say it's a bad idea.
And finally, the Case Statement for Public Banks, another product by the hard-working people at Banking on New Mexico. This six-page document begins with "What is a Public Bank" and follows with historical and contemporary public banks in the U.S. and abroad, where money in a public bank comes from and what the bank does with it, and includes how to form the charter and mission statement and business plan. It's written in accessible, non-controversial language.
Now go out and either form or join a public banking local. You can find our chapters here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you live somewhere where you'd need to form a brand new one.
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