Sunday, May 6, 2012

Minutes of Our May 2012 Meeting

PDA Tucson:  Economic and Social Justice Team
Saturday, May 5, 2012, 10 AM – noon, Ward 6 Council Office, 3202 E. First St.
Present:  Harvey Akeson, Betty Fridena, Richard Fridena, Pat Wiedhopf, Richard Brodesky
1.1        Approval of Minutes
1.2        Announcements
1.3        Agenda Modifications  We welcomed Pat Wiedhopf.  She is one of Barbara LaWall’s asistants.  She is most interested in women’s issues.  We explained that she would have an important perspective to our work and that we are not just looking at women’s issues although they are quite important.  At this time, our IOT believes that economic justice covers almost all important areas, and we feel that members of a particular group almost always have a valuable, special contribution to make. 

Old Business
2.1     Meeting at Primavera Foundation           Richard
At the request of the PDA Tucson steering Committee, Richard met with Peggy Hutchison, CEO of the Primavera Foundation.  Her organization has been most interested in helping clients build personal wealth and get into first homes.  Primavera has good working agreements with several banking institutions, but it has not investigated public banking.  We discussed the possibility of collaboration in the future.  This meeting revealed a need to clarify our language and one concrete example of a possible partnership. 
2.2     Usage
          2.2.1   Commercial Bank:  Nowadays any bank investing for profit, usually a large bank such as Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo.
          2.2.2   Community Banks and Credit Unions:  Focus on their communities.  The former makes money for shareholders; the latter is a cooperative and distributes dividends to the depositors who are also the shareholders. 
          2.2.3   Hebrew Free Loan Societies:   Developed about 100 years ago by Jews on NYC’s Lowe East Side who had no access to credit.  These organizations are funded by donations.  The loans are approved based on business plans and repaid at no interest.  Presumably, borrower will repay their loans and contribute in the future.  Others contribute as well.  These organizations are quite successful but quiet. 
          2.2.4   Public Banks:  We reviewed this text written by Marc Armstrong, Executive Director of the Public Banking Institute:

- In all the talk about public banks it's easy for forget that banking is all about creating NEW money for an economy.  You basically monetize future revenue by creating it as a loan and then having the loan slowly disappear with every monthly payment.  Without this fundamental extension of credit, it's really hard for investments to happen, as we've so plainly seen over the last few years.  Compounding things, money "leaks" out of our economies because we buy stuff at franchises (instead of independent businesses), with profits going to remote shareholders (instead of being reinvested locally).  But, to your point, any pool of money OTHER than that generated by a depository bank is RECYCLED money -- it simply collects money from one pocket and puts it in another.  Might be a good approach if the money you are attracting is coming from the state or fed govt, but that is not like creating NEW money, like what a depository bank does.
New Business
3.1     Hotel Arizona Project Since the Hotel Arizona has been closed, Richard has suggested that the city acquire it by eminent domain and run it as a living laboratory for on-the-job training with Primavera Foundation, the NAU School of Hotel and Restaurant Management and Pima Community College Culinary arts Program.  Peggy Hutchison, CEO of Primavera Foundation, will be leading an effort to evaluate this idea. 

We had a lengthy discussion and realized that the situation at the Hotel Arizona has occasioned a need for a new type of dialogue, a new set of roles for public action, and new ways of solving problems. 

We will ask the steering Committee to involve PDA Tucson in this endeavor.  We believe this proposal, whatever its outcome, typifies the creative thinking and problem solving we endorse for our present economic and social justice situation.  We will be asking everyone to develop ideas and to discuss them as ideas engender ideas and lead to dynamic solutions.

3.2     Meeting with Mayor on May 8th 
Richard announced that we’ll be taking our proposal for a menial public bank based on Susan Willis and Betty Fridena’s research to Mayor Rothschild on 5/8.  Richard and Phil Lopes will be going.  Jim Hannley, our point person for finance, was scheduled to attend as well but will not be able to do so.  Harvey Akeson and Richard Fridena both volunteered to replace Jim. 

3.3     Review of Economic Plan from Last Summer (See below)
We reviewed the economic plan developed last summer in response to the article on poverty in the Tucson Weekly.  Richard will edit our materials and then review them with Phil and possibly Richard F. and Harvey on Monday before presenting them to the Mayor on Tuesday.  The entire proposal will be distributed to IOT members and Steering Committee members later in the week. 

3.4     Next Meeting:  The next meeting will be in mid or late June.  Details will be forthcoming. 

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