Six months after Occupy Evanston activists began protesting the city’s investments in Chase Bank, aldermen approved a motion to solicit proposals for a possible banking transfer.
At Monday’s council meeting, aldermen unanimously authorized the city manager to issue a request for proposals for a local bank that could replace Chase. For the past 10 years, Evanston has used Chase and First Bank and Trust as its primary banks, and the city currently holds more than 30 checking and money market accounts between the two.
Occupy protestors spoke up at the meeting in support of the move—a point they have been making through protests outside the Civic Center on weekdays since January.
“There is serious citizen interest in seeing that funds of the city are moved to, wherever possible, banks that are local and have the interests of Evanston and Evanston residents at heart,” said Elliot Zashin.
Members of Occupy Evanston met with city manager Wally Bobkiewicz within the last couple of weeks to discuss their request that the city divest its holdings in Chase Bank and other major banks. Among those requests are to choose a commercial bank, rather than an investment bank, and to choose a bank that has a moratorium on foreclosures.
“We feel that this cannot be business as usual,” Zashin said. “Chase and the other five big banks wreaked havoc on millions of Americans through their financial manipulations.”
Jack Sigel, organizer of the protests against city involvement with Chase, said that he believed the investment a community bank would make locally would outweigh the difference in fees.
“Up to tonight, the city has been aligned with the one percent,” Sigel said. “I would offer that tonight, the city has the chance to shift that to being aligned with the 99 percent.”
The council unanimously approved the motion to seek proposals for a banking transfer without discussion, as part of a consent agenda vote on several items. Among the criteria for choosing a new bank will be the scope of services provided, fees for those offerings, willingness to work with the city and commitment to social responsibility.
Proposals will tentatively be due in August, with a contract awarded in September, according to city documents. If the council decided to go forward with the bank transfer, it would likely go into effect on or before January 2013.