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“New issues have emerged, old alliances have been broken, and new coalitions are being formed. There has been a jump in voltage of local government and local politics that contrasts vividly with the stalemated atmosphere of Washington during the past decade. The new face of American politics is barely visible from Washington. At the local level, in city councils’ and mayors’ offices, on county boards, and in state capitols, men and women are making decisions now who literally could not have been imagined there a decade ago.” 6 David Broder, The Washington Post. criteria. Brown looks at the composition of a eral level of the loans made is to the amount of total deposits in the bank \(he reasons that banks which loan out a goodly portion of their assets generate more business activity and thus more tax money than more conserinto agriculture, an important Colorado inmade for housing that is more than 40 years made to minorities and women. Brown said that there is so little information available on loans to minorities and women that he can’t really make judgments using that criterion. His main problem now is figuring out how to go about getting adequate information on Colorado banks. In the future he hopes to be able to plot loan composition, census tract by census tract. That might eventually enable the treasurer’s office to make financial impact statements for sections of the state, much like environmental agencies make environmental impact statements. Derek Shearer, the other banks panelist, was with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s Department of Employment Development until he and most of the other people in the cabinet-level department got fired, apparently for being too innovative. Shearer’s job was to come up with ideas for creating jobs. For example, he said, he suggested setting up auto repair co-ops to be manned by outof-work UAW people. The union thought the idea was interesting, but then a memo about the project was leaked to the Oakland. Tribune. Shearer said the entire story was run in red ink. The headline said: “Governor’s Secret Plan for Worker State; Communes Key to Plan.” Shearer, now back to being a private citizen, said that public money ought to be put in public banks. The banks would make loans for profits, but they wouldn’t be as profitable as commercial banks and they would take societal benefits into consideration in distributing their money. He pointed out that populists and socialists started a state owned bank in North Dakota back in 1919. Trade unions bought the bonds that launched the bank. During the Depression, the North Dakota bank provided lots of loans that helped small farmers remain solvent. It is now the largest bank in the state, as well as one of the most profitable. “The bank belies the myth that government is necessarily inefficient,” Shearer said. In British Columbia, the New Democratic Party has created the British Columbia Savings & Trust, Shearer said. Jeff Jones, a member of the Austin Charter Revision Committee, pointed out that the charter committee first passed and then rejected a proposal to provide for a municipal bank in the new Austin charter. Jones said that a municipal bank “would be a yardstick with which to measure all of the other city banks.” Shearer, like Kirshner \(from the local municipalities should invest their employees’ pension funds in new ways. For one thing, the funds could be kept in-state rather than being shipped off to New York. An article in the fall issue of Kirshner’s COOP newsletter, Public Works, explains that the investment of pension funds in private corporate stocks and bonds is not always as profitable as the public is led to believe. The total value of the California public retirement systems is now 15 to 20 percentor $3 billionbelow the original investment, according to Public Works. The COOP recommends that California retirement funds be redirected into a State Development Bank & Development Corporation that would invest in California lowto-moderate income housing and community development. At present, only about 10 percent of the state’s pension funds are invested in mortgages and real estate and almost none is in modest housing. “Initial objections to this community investment program are to be expected from state public employees as well as the traditional recipients of pension fund investments and their financial supporters in the major banks,” the article concludes. “COOP believes these objections can be answered by first bringing the entire portfolio of public employee pension fund investments into the open. Public disclosure of not only the poor performance of investments but also the potential conflict of interest between fund managers, banks, insurance companies, and corporations can go a long way towar.: convincing employees to set new policies for their pension money. Billions of dollars for community development and job creation could be ‘found’ overnight if city, county, and state workers realize the potential of their own pension funds.” There were many other workshops the Observer missedjob restructuring and social priorities, public development of cable television, labor in the public sector, metro/ regional planning, local public enterprises, energy alternatives, local justice and law enforcement, and others. The sessions were all tape-recorded. If the recordings turn out to be audible and if there seems sufficient interest to warrant it, we may publish accounts of some of the other panels in a future issue. A report of the Texas conference will eventually be produced. Mary Sanger is compiling a booklet of model city ordinances and programs related to the issues discussed at the conference. She asks that people in possession of any good ordinance proposals send them to her, c/o The Texas Papers, 3106 Hemphill Park, Austin, Tex. 78705. K.N. REFORM READING Following is a partial listing of some of the newsletters, resource papers, etc., produced by some of the participants at the alternative conference: The Public Works, the fine newsletter of Ed Kirshner’s COOP, 349 62nd St., Oakland, Calif. 94618. The fall issue carries a radical explanation of the New York default and suggestions for new uses for the $15 billion held in the California public retirement system. Don’t know if it costs anything. The Berkeley Papers, a collection of papers on city programs proposed by radicals and populists involved in Berkeley politics, compiled by COOP and available through COOP or the Institute for Policy Studies, 1909 Q. Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009. The Elements, Jim Ridgeway’s monthly energy newsletter, the real poop on important international energy issues. $5 a year for individuals and $10 a year for institutions. Write the Institute for Policy Studies, 1901 Q. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009. Long Term Notes, a newsletter on alternative banking produced by the Center for New Corporate Priorities in Los Angeles. No address available. Nutrition Action, published monthly by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1779 Church St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, $10 a year. Guide to Texas Foundations, Southern Resource Center, 5100 Victor, Dallas, Tex. 75214 $7 plus 50 cents for postage. The Impact of Growth of Santa Barbara by Richard Applebaum and others, soon to be published by Praeger Publishers, 111 Fourth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10003. 6 The Texas Observer