After meeting with local Occupy activists, the Austin City Council has unanimously passed a resolution calling for the city to explore divesting all of its funds from Wall Street banks, specifically Bank of America.
The resolution was crafted after council members met with Occupy Austin's Bank Action Team. Its unanimous passage marks the the beginning of a serious review process in which the City of Austin will reevaluate its current banking relationships, explore divestment from Bank of America and consider banking exclusively with local credit unions.
As the resolution states, the City Manager is to make recommendations that:
...give preference to banks that support community reinvestment goals, such as the stabilization of the housing market, provision of loans to local homeowners and businesses, establishment of local branches in low-income communities, and opportunities for local employment.The resolution's sponsor, Laura Morrison, was asked whether the item passed was inspired by the Occupy movement. Her answer is a resounding affirmation of the work being done by activists on the ground in Austin:
Asked if the initiative is an outgrowth of concerns raised by Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Austin (which has organized local customer divestments from large banks to credit unions), Morrison says yes. “It’s specifically something that we’ve spoken about with some of the Occupy Austin folks, but also, clearly something that was raised more generally with the whole Occupy Wall Street movement and the conversation there.”If the City of Austin – the capital of our nation's second-most-populous state – indeed chooses to divest from Wall Street banks, the ripple effect could be unpredictable.
Regardless, the significance of what is happening in Austin currently cannot be overstated.
Nor can the continuing impact of Occupy Wall Street.
Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG