Buffalo's Call for a Responsible Banking Ordinance


"I killed the bank"

This was Andrew Jackson's greatest claim to fame during his time as president of the United States in the 1800's. He was referring to the Central Bank which is now known as the Federal Reserve Bank.

You see, if you don't study history then you're doomed to repeat it.

The people of the United States during the mid 1800's had a problem with big banks. The call went out, and people organized to make some changes to hold these big banks accountable. Andrew Jackson who was a senator from Tennessee ran for president with much anti-banking industry sentiment as his platform. He had no financial backing from the very powerful banking industry, but he had the support of the people. He won in 1828.

Once in office President Jackson bust out with the broom and began cleaning house. At least 2,000 government workers, many of whom were banking industry political operatives were fired.

Realizing that they were in trouble, the banking industry requested a renewal of the Central Bank's 20 year charter from congress. They asked for the charter renewal 4 years earlier than many expected. Congress passed the request, but Jackson vetoed it.

The following is from Jackson about vetoing the banking industry's request to renew their charter:

"If [government] would confine itself to equal protection, and, as heaven does its rains, shower its favor alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me, there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles."

Here in Buffalo in 2014 the call is going out again. The Buffalo Community Reinvestment Coalition (BCRC, or #BuffaloBCRC) is organizing to hold big banks like Chase accountable for their harmful banking practices that are hurting our communities.

Unequal lending is among their most harmful practices, and this is a huge problem in Buffalo. For example African Americans make up almost 40% of households here, but receive less than 10% of all prime loans. The BCRC is calling for a responsible banking ordinance (RBO) in Buffalo.

A RBO would make it difficult for banks that hold large amounts of the city of Buffalo's money to play games with us and not live up to the written business plans that they themselves have developed.

Join us! The BCRC includes PUSH Buffalo, Western New York Law Center, the Community Action Organization of Erie County, and others. The Keeping Banks Accountable to Our Communities Conference takes place this Thursday June 26, 2014 from 9am-2pm. We will gather at 237 Main St in Buffalo on the first floor. We hope to see you there!