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Start or Join a State Chapter of the Institute

There are activities underway in over 25 states around the country. Click here to find the coordinator near you. If there is no coordinator where you are, Click here for assistance getting a local chapter started. PBI's mission is to support local initiatives with training, technical assistance, and conversations with people who are working hard to make public banks succeed in their states.

News from Colorado

The effort to amend the Colorado constitution and create a publicly owned state bank is now in its third year. It is currently focused on using the initiative process. Last week, the proponents, Bob Bows and Earl Staelin, met with representatives of the Legislative Council (a function of the legislature), to go over the Council’s questions and suggestions regarding the text of the proposed amendment.

In approximately three weeks, the initiative will be reviewed by the Title Board (a function of the Secretary of State’s office), to determine if it meets the single subject requirements and, if so, to set the title for the ballot. Based on past experience, if the Title Board sets a title, the process is likely to be challenged by the Colorado Bankers Association and the Independent Bankers of Colorado, who will petition the state supreme court.

If the court upholds the title board’s action, then the petition phase would begin, with efforts to gather 86,000+ signatures (or approximately 113,000 signatures, to account for invalid signatures), before the measure could be placed on the November, 2014 ballot. If the Title Board refuses to set title, the proponents’ choice is to petition the state supreme court or modify the proposed amendment and restart the process.

Vermont Town Meetings

By now, it is very possible that you have heard the news of Vermont’s Town Meetings from some other news outlet besides our newsletter – it has been covered all over the country. Perhaps it was the quote from Erik Esselstyn, when he testified to the Senate Finance Committee in Vermont on the bill to establish a public bank in Vermont by granting the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) a banking license.

“I felt like Atticus Finch addressing the jury in To Kill a Mockingbird,” Erik said, “I emphasized that the committee members had heard from paid lobbyists representing corporations (banks) whose legal mission is to maximize profits for shareholders. And I said that resistance was to be expected from the public servants of the state financial bureaucracy who would defend the status quo. I shared detailed annual CEO compensation figures for TD Bank and People’s United Bank, over five million and over three million respectively. And I made the case that the average Vermonter with a median income just south of $50,000 deserved to be represented at the hearing. While TD Bank and People’s United Bank were in business to serve their shareholders, a Vermont State Bank would be in business to serve the citizens of Vermont.”

“Those of you around the table have become accustomed to supporting a system that rewards those with power and wealth far from the valleys and villages of Vermont. I would urge that new voices be heard at the Finance Committee, those of ordinary Vermonters who would be immeasurably helped by the creation of a Vermont State Bank."

The voices Erik was talking about were all the ordinary Vermonters who went to their annual Town Meetings this year and voted on a resolution that directed the legislators to establish a public bank. Eighteen cities and towns - Albany, Bakersfield, Calais, Craftsbury, East Montpelier, Enosburg, Marshfield, Montgomery, Montpelier, Plainfield, Putney, Randolph, Rochester, Roylaton, Ryegate, Tunbridge, Waitsfield, and Warren – voted in favor, where only four towns considering it did not pass the resolution.

The Town Meeting campaign shows that public banking has grassroots support, and that when asked, ordinary citizens are perfectly capable of understanding enough about the labyrinth of high finance to know that public banks are a good idea. “Vermonters have a wealth of common sense” Hallsmith said to a radio interviewer recently. “The idea that we can short circuit the process by which Wall Street extracts millions of dollars every year from Vermont, when we need investment in our businesses, our infrastructure, and our citizens, is not hard for the average Vermonter to understand.”

The Detroit Statement

The Public Banking debate in Detroit comes at a time when the city is facing serious repercussions of the wholesale theft of their municipal government by the big banks, who encourage the city to bet on interest rate swaps at the exact moment they were poised to go in the opposite direction. This has led to millions of dollars of loss by the city’s pension fund, an attempted declaration of bankruptcy, and the imposition of emergency management measures by the state.

To promote public banking as a real alternative for this economic devastation, the Public Banking Institute issued a call for people to stand in solidarity with the people of Detroit by signing the Detroit Statement. Everyone from luminaries like Chris Hedges and John Cobb to voters in Vermont who participated in the Town Meeting campaign have signed a version that is due to appear in Justice Rising, a publication of the Alliance for Democracy later this month. Please join us by adding your name to the list.

Maine Public Banking

If anyone from Maine receives this PBI newsletter, who would like to become formally involved in Maine Public Banking Coalition, please contact me at this email address:

We would like to have a committee that could evolve into a permanent board. The . web site is:Maine Public Banking Coalition If we can do this we would like to have a periodic conference call and at least 1 face to face meeting per year. We need volunteers in Maine..

I am writing a book on public banking in Maine. I am reading Nomi Prins new book, " All the Presidents Bankers" Good book so far.

- Randall Parr