Ex-Occupy campers, who are doing their best to carry the anti-bankster torch sans permanent digs, rallied outside City Hall today to urge the "Responsible Banking Ordinance" through the Budget and Finance Committee to council floor.
What they got, instead...
... was a brain-paining discussion about 1) what is and isn't a bank, 2) who should get to decide which banks are "bad" and 3) how our nation's greedy financial institutions might be punished without dealing L.A. taxpayers a simultaneous blow.
After two hours of squawking, the committee decided to revisit the item on January 23, 2012.
City News Service reports that 75 union workers, religious leaders, and occupiers chanted, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!'' and "Bank of America, bad for America!" at the rally.
Once the discussion moved inside, though, it got a bit more complicated.
L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who dreamt up the ordinance years ago, argued for the creation of a working group "made up of three community advocates, three banking industry representatives and three community reinvestment experts," reports the City Maven.
That group would then rate banks on a scorecard, based on their dedication to the Community Reinvestment Act.
Here's where the ordinance gets a little wimpy: It wouldn't actually give elected officials the power to divest from low-scoring banks, if the scoring system is even adopted. Instead, they'd just be able to "award" the more responsible ones "for good behavior," in Alarcon's words.
Additional bicker points from today's meeting, via City News:
However, the committee could not agree on the makeup of the working group. Members were also unsure about whether to measure investment banks that handle the city's bonds or other investments, but are not involved home loans or foreclosures.
Glad we're spending so much time and energy on tsk-tsk legislation that, at this rate of watering down, will probably just end up like the council's flimsy, undercommited Arizona boycott.
"I think we need to have [a definition of] what is wrongdoing so that it's not just our perceptions that something went wrong, but we actually have either sanctions from the regulatory bodies or there's criminal behavior or judgments - things you could actually point at," Councilman Bernard Parks suggested to his fellow committee members. (As jotted down, again, by the City Maven.)
Of course, with such a rigid definition of bad banking, steering clear of corrupt 1-percent behavior would be even more difficult -- and this ordinance rendered even more useless.
Here's City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana's excuse for the delay:
"What we've been trying to do is really build a compromise approach between a banking community who doesn't want to have anything at all, who strongly opposes any kind of responsible banking ordinance ... and advocates who are appropriately reminding us that we have a responsibility as a major consumer of these products to hold banks accountable," Santana said.
Whadya say, 99 percent? Good enough for you?