Sarah Holder writes in City Lab of how a coalition of public bank activists in ten California cities have enabled both elected officials and the general public to envision and rally behind building democratic financial institutions. Holder talks with several of these groundbreaking advocates from California Public Banking Alliance including Julian LaRosa, Sushil Jacob, and David Jette:

“‘We’re at that moment where housing and environmental and education crises are especially acute in California,’ said LaRosa. ‘It’s time to act now, instead of waiting for another decade and hoping things will get fixed.’ …

“‘Every politician is talking about affordable housing, but it would be so much more powerful if they had a bank that was financing affordable housing,’ said Sushil Jacob, the director of Economic Justice for Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights SF, and one of the architects of the state and local legislation.”

Holder’s interviewees keep emphasizing the vision of a democratic bank:

“‘When you’re backed by a city, you have a democratic constituency to hold the bank accountable,’ said Jacob …. ‘The city is identifying the needs for the community, and they’re turning to the bank to finance those needs.’

“‘Some cities might institute independent boards,’ said Jette. ‘The model I prefer to see and would like to see in L.A. is one that derives from neighborhood councils, so you have a maximum level of democracy in choosing the administrators of this bank all the way up to the professional bankers that run it.’”

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