Senator Bob Hasegawa of Seattle, presented his thoughts on public banking before the Whatcom County Council’s Finance Committee (all council members were present however) on September 24th. You can listen to the senator’s remarks on the council’s website* [From 2:30 to 53:00 on the video counter] The council members seemed interested and engaged throughout the 50 minute presentation and Q&A. In a later communication with Council Member Satpal Sidhu, he told me, and I agreed, that the general reception was positive. Several seemed not to have even heard of the public banking concept nor were they familiar with the principle of leveraging used by banks throughout the country. Council member Carol Frazey asked, and other council members agreed, that Whatcom County Finance Director Brad Bennett provide his comments on public banking at a future meeting.
I have been coordinating with Sen Hasegawa’s office and the Public Banking Institute (Ellen Brown), among other organizations and individuals, to assist in bringing the idea of public banking to Washington state but, moreover, to Whatcom County and its incorporated cities. I will not pretend to improve on Hasegawa’s presentation to the council on September 24th, however, there is additional information available on public banking in conjunction with the council committee video that might be of interest to you as background.
Locally, the city of Seattle has been working for years for its own public bank so that it can sever its ties with Wells Fargo, a commercial bank whose troubled activities I need not go into now. Seattle has a well organized effort to support public banking, the Seattle Public Bank Coalition from whom we can take some encouragement and direction.
Nationally, the Public Banking Institute under author Ellen Brown, has been at the forefront of the push for public banks nationwide. Just two weeks ago, the state of California passed legislation to establish its public bank. It awaits the governor’s signature.
Sen. Hasegawa needs the support of Whatcom County to turn the tide in the Washington State Legislature. A council resolution would be an effective means to convey Whatcom County’s support for public banking here.
We need to get away from the commercial/investment banks whose actions brought about the last financial crisis. These bankers have demonstrated that they are poor guardians of the monies places in their care, including the revenues of cities and states. As Sen. Hasegawa noted, the public Bank of North Dakota allowed the state to ride out the crisis almost as if there had been no crisis at all.
I also invite you to look at the several links above for additional information on public banking. Sen. Hasegawa is scheduled to return to address the Bellingham City Council on public banking in early December. You can also review the presentation and the Q&As of the senator at the Bellingham City Club from this summer.
*Most unfortunately, the sole camera used for Sen. Hasegawa’s presentation was fixed on the council members on the dais. Sen Hasegawa remained unseen throughout this presentation, speaking as a disembodied voice off-camera. Nor is the viewer able to see the various slides presented by the senator. The voice quality from the county’s system is quite lamentable. I was told that this situation was due to the lack of a videographer during the daytime committee sessions.