People power pays off!


Well, today, in the midst of all the Make Banks Pay actions and the continuing work of the people invovled with #OccupyWallStreet, we got some great news that is a testament to how people power can make elected officials do the right thing. California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that she is pulling California out of a proposed 50-state settlement with the Wall Street banks because the terms basically absolve banks of any responsiblity for the ruin they've cause for the paltry sum of $20 billion. I know this may not seem like a Big Deal, but it really is. Here's why.

We all know that the reason that the economy is in such crisis and our lives have been turned upside down because Wall Street created a massive housing bubble and left the rest of us holding the bag when it exploded. Actually, they left us holding the bag, got billions of dollars in bailouts, and then gave themselves record bonuses and are now awash in record profits. Since 2008 not one banker has done any time for their Wall Street crime. The massive foreclosures, the huge drops in income and employment and the resulting devastating cuts to education, to investments in infrastructure, to health care programs, and to every single human-serving program are all a direct result of the predatory lending games Wall Street bankers were playing with our lives.

There are literally millions of households in the foreclosure process and over one quarter of California homeowners have seen the values of their homes drop so much that they owe more on their mortgages than the houses are worth (aka “being underwater”). Fixing the housing crisis at the heart of our economic meltdown is a critical step in rebuilding California and reclaiming the American Dream. 

Click the "read more" button to see how putting people in the streets helped CA AG Harris stand up to Wall Street banks and why her decision is so important!

One especially powerful tool we have for forcing banks to treat underwater homeowners and families in foreclosure fairly and to take responsibility for the fraudulent and predatory loans they pushed on the most vulnerable homeowners is legal action by a state’s Attorney General, like Kamala Harris here in California. For almost a year now, Attorneys General from all 50 states have been negotiating with Wall Street banks to force them to take some responsibility for the economic chaos they have created.

Frustratingly, the deeper the negotiations got, the clearer it became that the banks were successfully pushing them towards a relatively paltry settlement (around $20 billion compared to the estimated $650 billion in damage that has been caused) that also includes a provision that blocks anyone else from taking legal action against them. In essence the proposal on the table is a $20 billion get out of jail free card.

But today, just this afternoon, we got Kamala Harris' big piece of good news. Even as almost 1000 people marched in San Francisco to demand Wall Street banks pay their fair share and even as people in Southern California are gearing up for another week of actions against the banks and on the heels of a coalitional effort to demand that AG Harris use her powers to push for real accountability from the very people who caused the current crisis that included delivering 38,000 signatures along with letters from some of the state’s most powerful elected officials and people’s organizations, the Attorney General announced that she was pulling California out of the settlement talks with the big banks because the terms for the proposed deal were too weak for her to go along with.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), one of the organizations that are helping organize the Make Banks Pay weeks of action, believes that the direction of the 50-state Attorneys General settlement fails to provide Californians the help and relief they need and deserve.

Richard Hopson, Chair of the Board of ACCE had this to say about AG Harris’ action,

“We are grateful to Attorney General for pulling out of this proposed “settlement”. As people across California and the rest of the United States have watched this crisis unfold, we have seen how the banks fail to provide homeowners with due process as they struggle to hold on to their homes. While reaping historic profits the banks have bankrupted California and destroyed neighborhoods. We believe a thorough investigation that leads to real relief for California homeowners is what we need!  The banks need to pay for what they have done!”

In addition to pushing the Make Banks Pay California actions, ACCE is a lead group in the recently formed Californians for a Fair Settlement, which includes organizations representing well over a million California homeowners. CFS is looking forward to working with Attorney General Harris as this process moves forward in order to make sure that the banks are forced to fully address the crisis they created.

 Here is what Californians for a Fair Settlement is calling for:

  1. A reduction on principal balances on all underwater mortgages to help stabilize our state economy and create more than 300,000 jobs in California
  2. Limited immunity so banks are not let off the hook from wrongdoing or future investigations
  3. A monetary penalty that is commensurate with the harm caused by the banks: far more than the bank-proposed nationally-shared $20 billion that has been on the table so far.

So you see, when you take action you can make people in power do the right thing. So we’re looking forward to seeing all of you in the streets of Los Angeles starting Monday! You can follow all the action here at or on the Facebook page.

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commented 2011-10-04 08:11:12 -0700 · Flag
excellent, AG Harris! thank you!

to everyone: please consider looking at the following review of the original problem (private vs public banking) and a great proposed solution by ellen brown, based on the truly publicly-owned bank of north dakota. there are now bills in at least 8 states proposing this. we could have a public bank of LA if we wanted to! let’s return to public banking! (and get rid of the federal reserve while we’re at it! :P )

video (2 similar talks):

her book:

her web site:
commented 2011-10-02 13:46:48 -0700 · Flag
I’ve added your blog RSS feed to
published this page in Blog 2011-09-30 18:43:26 -0700

ABOUT US: ReFUND California is a coalition of organizations throughout California committed to exposing the unfairness of the state’s current economic reality and engaging in public campaigns to force the changes that are necessary.