November 17, 2011
Portland Mayor Sam Adams revealed this week that he will pursue a plan to move Portland’s funds out of national banks and into local credit unions.
The announcement came during the public testimony portion of Wednesday’s Portland City Council meeting—and came just two weeks after state Rep. Jefferson Smith, one of the mayoral candidates vying to replace Adams, challenged the city to move its funds.
Smith’s letter indicated that he sees this as having national implications, representing opportunity for the city of Portland to be a thought-leader in the realm and to serve as an example for other cities tackling similar issues.
“This century’s big question is figuring out an economic future that is prosperous, sustainable, and fair,” Smith said. “Let’s help in a small way to answer that question.”
Adams indicated that this was an issue he had been exploring before Smith took up the cause, but he did not detail any specific plans or proposals for how or where Portland might move its money. Wells Fargo, one of the most significant targets of the Bank Transfer Day and Occupy movements, currently holds millions of dollars of Portland’s funds.
An organization called New Bottom Line has spearheaded a Bank Transfer Day-esque movement called Move Our Money, which is working to get large entities to take their money from national banks to local institutions, as opposed to Bank Transfer Day’s call simply for individuals to move their deposits.
Portland resident Todd Olson, who is associated with Oregon Move Our Money, introduced the issue at City Council.
The Seattle City Council, meanwhile, voted unanimously this week to review the city’s banking practices, a process that could lead to the removal of city funds from national banks. The resolution was sponsored by Councilmen Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien, both of whom announced on Bank Transfer Day that they were joining credit unions.