Growing Our Common Wealth™
2017Nov Newsletter
by Commonomics Media Team on November 28th, 2017

​From addressing climate change mitigation, with a video and paper in Spanish, to explaining how a public bank can help with disaster recovery, Commonomics USA has been defining the role and value of public banks. The initiative we show is effective -- it’s moved public banking to the center of many public policy discussions.

Our most recent news is kind of a big deal. With direction provided by Commonomics USA, one of the most prestigious law firms in the country has written a legal memo that suggests developing legislation in California that will establish a new bank charter, or “license." We hope that this license will serve as a standard approach to establishing public banks in potentially every county in California. It will eventually result in a network of public banks, each with its own territory, and will go a long way to address governance, liquidity, solvency, economies of scale, and other public banking matters.

Thanks to Susan Harman’s outreach, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area arranged for the Davis Polk & Wardwell law firm to provide us with pro bono legal support by researching and writing a legal memo on bank regulatory considerations and public banking in California. Their legal memo, which you may download upon request, reviews state constitutional authority, banking regulation, and cannabis, matters that we have been involved with for years. Their concluding recommended actions include establishing statutory authority for of a new kind of banking charter, or “license,” in the state of California.

This Public Banking License portends to be a way to effectively address and remove many of the issues that inhibit the adoption of public banking. The Divest LA group leading LA's highly effective public banking endeavor and Women's Intl. League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) are spearheading the state legislative effort to establish a Public Bank License. They see the value of a network of public banks and an accompanying association that will serve to standardize what we hope will be the eventual widespread adoption of public banking in California.

Following my sign off, the next section in this newsletter is a list of other developments we’ve steered throughout the course of the year. 

Five of us have done all this with a budget of less than $35,000 during 2017, thanks to the generosity of two major donors and a small but increasing number of Sustaining Members who simply pay $10 each month. You can be a part of making public banking happen by becoming a Sustaining Member. Your financial contributions go a long way towards making public banking work throughout the USA.

We plan to do more public banking work throughout the USA, particularly in New Jersey where Governor-elect Phil Murphy is committed to public banking, and in Virginia, with 15 new progressive state delegates who were successful against incumbents. Please help by making a tax deductible donation to support our important work as we continue with our efforts to establish public banking in all fifty states of the USA.  

Best Regards,
Marc Armstrong
Commonomics USA

Here’s what Commonomics USA has done to move public banking to the center of public policy discussions:
  • Climate Change. We initiated a public forum on low-cost funding of renewable energy projects in Oakland by inviting Wolfram Morales of the Sparkasse Association of public savings banks to talk about how Germany produced 41% of its energy (during the 1st half of 2017) using new renewable energy systems financed by Sparkasse public banks. See video here. Result: Climate activists in the SF Bay Area are a new constituency of support for the Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland.
  • Los Angeles. We held a series of high level meetings (in close association with Revolution LA) with City of Los Angeles government officials that helped further their public banking commitment. Read why LA needs a public bank here. Result: A city councilman called for specific public banking research reports to be developed by LA City staff.
  • CA Treasurer’s Office. We successfully petitioned the California State Treasurer to include a full day of testimony on public banking as part of his Cannabis Banking Working Group. Watch public banking testimony from the Aug 10 public banking meeting here. Result: Over five hours of public banking testimony provided to the State Treasurer.
  • Public Bank License. We provided written testimony to the State Treasurer’s Cannabis Banking Working Group and proposed that a Public Bank License be issued by the CA Dept. of Business Oversight. See associated Legal Memo written by Davis Polk law firm. Result: A list of conceptual ideas for the Public Bank License has been submitted (by Revolution LA, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and by Ellen Brown) to the Treasurer’s office and is being discussed.
  • Divest & Build Coalition. We linked the divest movement with the public banking movement by creating the Divest & Build Coalition in California, with trainings held this summer in LA and Santa Cruz. Result: Additional coalition work will begin this winter once we obtain funding.

Within the growing public banking movement, the people at Commonomics USA do much of the public policy work needed for substantive gains to be made. If you want to be involved in the efforts we are making in California, New Jersey, or Virginia, please contact us and we can discuss how you might be able to help. You can reach us at

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