A Credit Union Q&A with Portland Mayor Sam Adams

Last week, Portland, Ore., Mayor Sam Adams requested input on his Responsible Banking Resolution, which would have the city re-examine its investment and deposit practices. It also declares the city’s support for Oregon House Bill 3700, which would allow Oregon credit unions to accept public deposits up to $250,000.

“This is part of my pledge to address some of the founding frustrations of the Occupy movement,” Adams said in a statement, “including economic inequity, banking practices, and the influence of corporations and money in politics.”

This week, Adams took the time to answer a few questions on the subject in the following email exchange with “Anthem” Editor Matt Halvorson.

Sam Adams: First, I wanted to make sure you have all the correct materials.

Here is our blogpost on the subject.

The resolution itself.

The FAQ.

Anthem: Why has this (the Responsible Banking Resolution) become a priority for you recently? I understand that the Occupy movement was part of the impetus, but this certainly wasn’t the movement’s only focus. What gave this a head of steam now?

Adams: I started looking into this issue when I was a Commissioner. At the time it wasn’t really a public conversation, it was more of a personal instinct and conviction for me—I believe we should do as much business locally as is feasible, as a city and as individuals. I’ve long had a “buy local” passion. This isn’t to take away from national or international corporations. Responsible banking is one of the reasons I was attracted to and supported Occupy Wall Street.

Anthem: Do you see diversifying and allowing credit unions to hold deposits as being more “responsible” than the current system?

Adams: On the investment side, having diversity in your portfolio and allowing yourself to invest locally is the responsible thing to do. On the financial services side, the responsible thing to do is to encourage competition and get a good bid result for taxpayers. This resolution aims for both reforms at the City.

Anthem: What do you see as being the potential benefits of this bill for the state of Oregon?

Adams: I think it can help as every area localizes. You can get more competition for a city’s business and a good, fair price for vendors. Big banks have gotten a lot bigger. Local leadership of these banks is overwhelmingly fantastic but I have deep concerns about the company-wide practices and policies set by the home office. The People’s money should be spent consistent with the values of the community and that’s what I’m trying to do here.

Anthem: You asked for input on your website. Have you gotten much feedback? What has the response been like?

Adams: As we mention in our blogpost, we worked with a variety of advocates and financial professionals in crafting the resolution so the draft we released publically is already a result of significant feedback. So far people have given very positive feedback:

  • On our website (7 comments)
  • Facebook page (33 comments, 41 likes, 7 shares)
  • And we have seen a lot of twitter activity and some emails sent directly
  • We are still collecting emails and comments through Friday, Feb 10 – 5pm, so we expect that we will see a spike in additional feedback toward the end of the week.


Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in NWCUA.