B of A's Last San Francisco Stand: ED LEE


KPFA Weekend News, 10.29.2011


San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee KPFA News Anchor: Fourteen states are now considering creating public banks amidst the backlash against predatory lending, foreclosures, and the federal bailout of the Wall Street investment banks most responsible. North Dakota, which has had a state bank since 1918, was, by 2011, the only state which had escaped the budget crises now facing the other 49. In Yes Magazine, public finance expert Ellen Brown wrote that “North Dakota has its own credit machine, making it independent of the Wall Street banking crisis that has infected the rest of the country.” The Public Banking Institute reports that, over the last 15 years, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) has contributed more to the state budget than oil taxes, even though oil extraction is one of North Dakota's principle industries.  

This week San Francisco District #11 Supervisor and mayoral candidate John Avalos held a hearing about creating a San Francisco municipal bank at a meeting of the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee at San Francisco City Hall.   KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Supervisor Avalos:

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Supervisor Avalos, we know that you're still in the process of gathering information and expertise, but do you have a time line in mind for creating a Municipal Bank of San Francisco?

Supervisor Avalos:  I have a time line that probably consists of a couple years. It's gonna take that long to be able to do it and also to look at ways to build up to the municipal bank around other laws that affect how we invest our public dollars.  

KPFA: So, if your time line is the next couple of years, it will be during the term of the next mayor of San Francisco.

District #11 Supervisor, mayoral candidate, and municipal bank advocate John Avalos, sat down with Occupy SF to oppose a police raid on 10.25.2011. Supervisor Avalos: Yes, it would. 

KPFA: Interim San Francisco Mayor and mayoral candidate Ed Lee has, for two weeks, failed to respond to KPFA's question: "Will he support a San Francisco municipal bank?" It appears that you might be close to a majority in favor of a municipal bank on the Board, the Board of Supervisors, but Interim Mayor, or, should he be elected in November, Mayor Ed Lee, could veto.  What would happen then?  

Supervisor Avalos: Well, the Board of Supervisors would need eight votes to override a veto. But we're nowhere near any piece of legislation that would enable or establish the municipal bank, so, it's very hypothetical to be talkin' about it at this time. I think what's most important to think about is, 'Would Mayor Lee prioritize a municipal bank?'  Clearly he would not. Clearly he would want to keep our banking system the same way it is, 'cause if he's not talkin' about doing anything else, he's probably fine with Wells Fargo and Bank of America having the same influence over our local economy the way they do have, and their influence right now is one of, at best, benign neglect. 

KPFA: So, will there be any point in pursuing this further if San Francisco doesn't elect you or one of the other mayoral candidates favoring a municipal bank on November 8th?

Supervisor Avalos: Of course, if we do not have a mayor who supports a municipal bank, it makes absolute sense to continue to work on the municipal bank. The municipal bank idea is one that has been in the making for a long time, and now you have a whole context, across the country, of people being greatly suspicious of our banks, and frustrated with our banks, that they serve the 1%, and not everyday people, the 99%.

" width= KPFA: That was San Francisco Supervisor and mayoral candidate John Avalos on the possibility of creating a municipal bank. Supervisor Avalos and all the other candidates who attended the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s September candidate forum have gone on record in support of a municipal bank.  They include Playwright/Performer Terry Baum, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Supervisor David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, City Assessor Phil Ting, Entrepreneur Johanna Rees, and State Senator Leland Yee, but NOT Interim Mayor Ed Lee.*

This week Interim Mayor Lee exercised his first mayoral veto of a Board majority to stop legislation that would have closed loopholes in existing law requiring San Francisco corporations to provide health insurance for their employees.  Not vetoing, Interim Mayor Lee said, would have been anti-business.

For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.

*San Francisco City Tax Assessor Phil Ting did not arrive at the San Francisco Bay Guardian forum in time to answer the first question, "Will you support the creation of a municipal bank to offer access to credit to small business instead of relying on tax breaks for economic development?"  However, he has since confirmed, to KPFA, that his answer, like that of all other candidates present at the forum, is "Yes."


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