Mission and Governance

California Public Banking Alliance Mission Statement and Governance Policies

Adopted 4/18/19, modified 12/7/19 and 1/20/20

Contents:

  • Mission Statement
  • Governance Policies
    • One region, one vote
    • Decision-making by modified consent
    • Periodic report-backs
    • Meetings and conference calls
    • Committees
    • Conflict resolution
    • Nonvoting members

Our overarching goal is to create a system of public finance that benefits local and regional California communities as a whole, with particular attention to divestment from out-of-state banks and their unethical practices, as well as reinvestment benefits for low and moderate income California residents. 

Alliance members will maintain a commitment to collective work and collective information, and will share intelligence from the state Department of Business Oversight (DBO) and other regulators so that groups in the process of filing can refine their applications based on new information. We will do our best to keep track of applications to DBO from non-Alliance members.

Mission Statement

To encourage and support the development of socially and environmentally responsible city, county, and regional public banks in California.

Each of these public banks will support the economic development of its region and follow transparent, ethical, sustainable, and regenerative investment guidelines; strengthen existing financial institutions through its partnership with local community banks and credit unions; and serve the needs of its entire community by ensuring the meaningful involvement of their underserved members. 

Governance Policies

One Region, One Vote. Each regional group has one voice in the policy and substance of the decision-making process. In practice, this means that individuals on conference calls or at in-person meetings have to identify as a member of a regional group, and each regional group should have a chance to pick a spokesperson, and to caucus separately (this is complex on conference calls and may have to be flexible). 

Each regional group can determine its own criteria for who counts as a member of that group. Options include:

  • Some kind of formal membership process (Oakland has a criterion of having attended at least three meetings, including both general meetings and working group meetings)
  • Identification as a member is sufficient
  • Must live in the regional area
  • Whatever else the regional group thinks is appropriate.

Each regional group can also determine whether it wishes to abide by the consent model, or pick another form of decision-making (consensus, majority rule, another form of consent) for its internal processes.

Any new regional group must:

a.    be well-enough established to have several active members

b.    have some kind of public presence (website, Facebook page, etc.), and

c.    agree to sign on to our Mission Statement and our Governance Policy. 

Decision-making by modified consent. CPBA’s decision making is done on the following consent model:

Consent is about acceptance rather than approval: not “Would I do it that way?” but “Does this approach have problems which will bother me going forward?” 

The following consent process is only necessary when a substantive disagreement emerges. “Paramount objections” can, in some cases, be logistical or technical; however, the group is encouraged to hold them to one or more of the following categories when appropriate:

  • The proposal is not safe enough for the group at this time, including the possibility that it would (could) cause fractures in the group that could be difficult or impossible to repair;
  • The proposal would harm any of the vulnerable communities (or nonhuman constituencies such as the environment) which our concept of public banking is committed to prioritizing;
  • The proposal would move us backward away from our goal of building California public banks;
  • Implementing the proposal could do irreparable harm to the group or its members.

Following is an example of the Consent Process:

  • Whenever possible, peer-reviewed proposed solutions to open issues are sent out in advance.
  • At the meeting, one person who sponsors a solution presents it as it was sent out, sponsoring the proposal and describing it to the group. 
  • Group members ask only clarifying questions to understand the proposal, not to discuss or debate at this point. 
  • The facilitator asks for a nonbinding “mood check” to determine where the group is starting out in regards to the proposal.
  • If the mood check seems favorable, the facilitator calls for Consent. A quick decision may result if no objections are raised. In that case, the proposal is immediately enacted. 
  • During the Consent round, the facilitator asks, “Does anyone have any paramount objections to the proposal?” Any objections are heard. The only discussion is clarifying questions on the objections rather than a debate or rebuttal. The proposal sponsor offers details rather than defenses; the facilitator keeps the focus on the proposal and not on the individuals.  
  • If Consent is not achieved, all input is valued and the proposal is altered to “integrate” the new information and resolve raised concerns until the objection is removed and another Consent round occurs. 
  • This loop of updating the proposal and asking for objections continues until there are no unresolved objections. If after several rounds the group cannot agree to live with the proposal as stated, the proposal is tabled and a small group is designated to work on it and bring it back when the objections have been resolved.

In the infrequent situations in which a decision must be made quickly and a proposal cannot ethically or logistically be postponed for very long despite objections, the group should agree in advance (using the Consent method) that the proposal is time-bound and cannot be postponed. In this case, if Consent cannot be achieved in 3-4 loops, the facilitator takes a vote. Any proposal which is handled in this matter must have a 2/3 majority or it will not be implemented. 

Periodic report-backs. Working groups should report regularly to the general group; we recommend a report from every active working group, due 3 days before a conference call or in-person meeting. All working groups are designed to have an end date at which they dissolve. The governance committee meets only as an ‘ad hoc Committee’, convening when it is necessary to resolve specific issues under its purview (eg, governance, CPBA policy, escalated conflict resolution or the creation/dissolution of another committee).  In the case of other working groups, each one should set its own end date, and the general group should agree to all of these end dates. 

Meetings and Conference Calls.  The Alliance will maintain our practice of regular phone meetings, and institutionalize annual face-to-face gatherings, to share information, discuss issues, and make decisions. The in-person meetings will alternate geographically. In addition, each group commits to submitting an informal written progress report once every six months.

If someone on a conference call cannot have an agenda in front of them, they should advise the rest of the group of that when they check in. We will take attendance at or near the beginning of each conference call, and attendees should state the regional group with which they affiliate. If a vote is needed on a conference call (which is deprecated), then someone from each regional group should volunteer to be the spokesperson for that group, and time should be allowed for participants from that group to object to having that person as spokesperson. (Every individual should be given the opportunity to speak before a vote, so that we can all be heard, and so that regional spokespeople can know what members of their group think about the proposal.)

A recording secretary is selected at the beginning of every conference call. This person tracks attendance, notes consensus points reached, and action items, as well as any other information the secretary chooses to include.

People who have to leave the meeting voluntarily are urged to say that they are leaving before they leave, so we have some sense of who’s on the call at any given moment.

Committees.  We will review all the committees from time to time to see if we still need them. If we close one down, we will archive its notes, if such exist, for future historians. Our current committees are listed one by one, below.

 a.    National Committee: This committee will move into national organizing and/or national advising roles, and will consult with other Alliance people or with the Alliance as a group, while the Alliance as an organization remains focused on California public banks. 

b.    Communications and Outreach Committee: Our general outreach email will remain  calpba@gmail.com. This committee will designate two press speakers for the Alliance. As local groups start their own application processes, this Committee will coordinate, track and collect local press, including responding coherently to negative press. All current positive or reasonable mixed press is currently collected in the ongoing web page at: https://californiapublicbankingalliance.org/news/. This Committee’s responsibilities  include: a Speakers’ Bureau, social media, newsletter, content creation, educational materials, and creating a format for panel discussions/town halls.

c.    Finance and Fund-raising Committee: This Committee will create a budgetary and expense approval process and proposal re: membership dues. We also need a fundraising process, beyond the donation button on our website, which has not gotten much traction and is unlikely to do better without an active effort behind it..

d.    Governance Committee: The Governance Committee will be ongoing as long as needed (and dormant when not needed). This Committee is not charged with setting the frequency of meetings, or for any other matters of policy within a working group.  In all possible conditions, committees should be self-governed or otherwise adhere to this governance policy. In all cases, a decision by the general group supersedes any decision by the Governance Committee or any other committee. 

e.    Technical Working Group: This group meets  with agencies such as DBO and FDIC to help draft their regulations. It is also charged with setting up the Public Bankers Advisory Council. 

Conflict Resolution. Issues of disagreement between individual members, or disturbing/disruptive behavior by a member are considered differently from substantive policy or organizational approach issues. 

In the case where two (or more) individual members are in a disagreement which impedes the progress of the organization, we recommend that a mediation be scheduled. Mediation can be done by another individual member of CPBA (preferably someone who does not have a strong opinion about the disagreement) or by a third party. The governance group will help identify and provide mediators. If a mediation does not prove sufficient for all involved parties, further action can be identified at that time.

In the case where more than one individual member, acting together, perceive and express that an individual member is disturbing or disrupting the group’s function, mediation is unlikely to be an effective step. While all such situations have to be somewhat case-by-case, the governance committee recommends the following approach:

  1. The members who have expressed concerns
  2.  work with the governance group to identify those concerns clearly in writing, documenting specific behaviors and issues.
  3. The governance group shares the substance of the documented concerns with at least three additional members, including some who are not involved in the conflict at issue.  
  4. The concerned members, the governance group, and the individual members who were consulted formulate an approach to problem-solving based on the degree and intensity of the concerns.
  5. The governance group communicates the conclusion of the approach to the person identified as the source of the disturbance and to the people making the complaint. 
  6. This process should be documented throughout and conducted as transparently as is feasible considering the potential need for protection of some members.

Nonvoting members: Any individual or entity with a demonstrable interest in public banking can be a nonvoting member. Potential nonvoting members will be proposed by a member city/region. The proposing city or region should ensure that all nonvoting members are in accord with our basic values, such as Indigenous sovereignty and divestment from fossil fuels and private prisons. All other cities/regions will have the opportunity to request discussion on the appropriateness of any proposed nonvoting member; if no city or region requests discussion within two weeks of the proposal, the nonvoting member is approved. If discussion is requested, the membership will come to consent through the procedures recommended by the CPBA governance working group.

Nonvoting members may attend conference calls and face-to-face meetings unless an exception is made during the discussion phase above (for example, there are conversations we might not want banks to be part of). The CPBA will reach out to nonvoting members when we need political or public support; nonvoting members who repeatedly don’t provide requested political and/or public support will be subject to removal by consent of the CPBA voting members.

A nonvoting member may be removed for nonparticipation as above, or for acting in some way that is antithetical to our group’s stated values and purposes. Removal will be done by consent through the procedures recommended by the governance working group.