A coalition of community organizations and aldermen held a press conference at City Hall demanding a vote on an ordinance requiring more transparency and accountability from banks that hold the city’s money.
The Municipal Depository Ordinance Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Tom Tunney (44) and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) introduced in June forces banks that hold the city’s money to provide regular reports on minority and Chicago-area employment numbers and local lending practices.
Aldermen accused banks of pressuring to stall the ordinance in committee, and demanded that Finance Chairman Ed Burke (14) add it to Monday’s Finance agenda so it can advance to the full City Council next Thursday.
“We are here in solidarity to call for a hearing and vote,” Ald. Pat Dowell (3) said. “This ordinance, which is a product of struggle to overcome decades of redlining of many of Chicago’s communities, would shine a much-needed light on the institutions that hold the city’s money.”
The ordinance’s sponsors have since amended the text, adding additional transparency requirements. This substitute ordinance will be introduced as a replacement when the original ordinance is called in committee. The regular reports from the City’s banks would have to detail if the financial institutions are investing in local small businesses, providing loans for affordable housing, or promoting youth and entrepreneurial development, according to Ald. Dowell.
“At any given moment, Chicago’s Municipal Depositories hold $500 million to $1 billion for the City of Chicago. But investment by those banks continues to lag in underserved communities,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) said. “Banks doing business with the City must also invest in our neighborhoods.”
A few hours after the presser, City Treasurer Kurt Summers released a statement praising the aldermen for pushing a vote on the ordinance he helped draft. Getting the city’s municipal depositories to invest in the city is part of the 90-day-plan “Invest in Our Chicago” Summers unveiled when he first took office in 2014.
“Access to capital was the number one challenge I heard while visiting each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods,” Summers was quoted saying in the release. “I am taking the concerns of the groups represented today very seriously and will continue to work closely with residents, the Mayor’s office and members of City Council to come to a swift resolution in order to provide the transparency and investment our neighborhoods deserve.”
Treasurer Summers wants to use the local lending information to create a so-called “Banking Scorecard” that would be available to the public, so they can see how frequently their local bank is investing back in their communities.