Some St. Pete officials ponder pulling money out of Bank of America in favor of smaller bank

03/18/13 Janelle Irwin
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St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell will ask his colleagues not to renew a contract with Bank of America on Thursday. His push comes after a resident complained that Bank of America was not abiding by the foreclosure rules it agreed to. It also coincides with a related effort to invest taxpayer dollars into local banks.

“I happen to have a new business item that was referred to committee asking that a percentage of our deposits be referred to local banks.

Kofi Hunt, a St. Petersburg activist said severing ties with Bank of America is a step in that direction.

“We’re looking for someone to build a way forward, someone to be investing in us, someone to be building a way for our potential to be unleashed and I think that when you talk about taking the hundreds of millions of dollars that St. Petersburg has and putting it in a local community bank, that goes a long way to helping a lot of people here in the city.”

Five major banks, including Bank of America agreed to a multi-billion dollar settlement with 49 states after being sued for improperly handling foreclosures. The settlement requires those banks to stop foreclosing on properties where the customer is in the process of getting a loan modification. It also requires banks to provide a single point of contact for customers facing foreclosure. Kornell said the nearly $500 million operating budget is an awful lot of money to invest with a company that may not be following those rules.

“Had I been able to talk to somebody and have them just call the citizen, that would have been great to me. But they were so snotty to me – so uncooperative – and then the number I was given for the person, I called for a week in a row and the person didn’t even return my call. I didn’t get a chance to leave a message, nobody even answered at that number and if that’s how they’re treating our citizens, I have a big problem with that.”

Even if other city council members want to renew a contract with Bank of America, Kornell is hoping to delay signing anything until the board has a chance to vet their local options. And he’s not alone. Council chair Karl Nurse won’t vote to renew the contract.

“Well, to me the logical thing to do is to try to use our banking policies that are aimed at is this bank lending to local businesses and what are they doing in terms of lending to homeowners across the economic spectrum and I’m not sure that Bank of America is necessarily any better than the others, but we’re not even asking the question at this point.”

And Nurse agrees that part of the question should be - where can the city keep its money that will be best for residents and local businesses?

“I am a successful businessman today because a local bank gave me a line of credit just as my company broke even so when I asked him why he said it’s because ‘I thought you would make it.’ This is a few years later – and I asked them if they could do that today as they were taken over by a bigger bank and they said of course they couldn’t do that today.”

The push to start investing some city funds into a community bank was referred to a committee and isn’t scheduled to be discussed as of yet. But regardless of who the city banks with, mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman said officials do need to be asking some questions.

“Are you lending to those small businesses that are trying to locate or continue to be able to keep their doors open? How are you treating those homeowners who are doing everything they can to make their mortgage payments but might be interested in trying to restructure – are you working with them?

A spokesperson for Bank of America did not respond to requests for comment before broadcast.

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It is incredible just how little the public knows about how badly the banks are robbing us blind. But that is just it, they have robbed us blind to the extent that the public is blind to around 80% of the corrupt and often illegal practices of the big banks. It was said long ago that "If the American people are ever to discover how the money system REALLY works there would be a revolution by tomorrow morning!" For every horror story you have heard there are a thousand more that the lie stream corporate news media will chose not to cover. So you could say that 90% of the public is not aware of 90% of what is really going on. How are the big banks, who operate on fake digital money that is not worth the paper its not even printed on, considered "for profit" with they exist on public bail outs and subsidies?! What am I talking about? Here take a look for yourselves. This is an article from Bloomberg that shows just how badly we are being scammed by the banksters. I would suggest you take a seat before you read it, because you might just fall over in outrage. IT shows that we gave them over 83 Billion is subsidies! Bank of Americas profit was -.04% NO that is not a mistype, I said MINUS! Our taxpayer subsidy to them actually exceeded their annual profit. And yet the credit unions are forbidden from having city government accounts because they are "nonprofit" while the big 5 banks don't even turn a profit and would collapse if it we not for public funds that they wont even loan out? This country is supposed to be Of the People, By the People, For the People. NOT Of, by and For the Corporations! It is time to take our country back! Thank WMNF for hosting todays show and standing with the people on these critically important issues! Here is the link to the article. I will send it to the brave folks in St Pete!