Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration is considering backing a City Council plan to use an obscure city commission as a pressure point to force banks with city business to do more for the neighborhoods they serve.
The mayor’s office is in talks with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s staff about whether to support the Responsible Banking Act, which would require banks that hold city funds to disclose the loans and investments they make in their communities.
“We are working with the Council on the bill, which is still the early stages of the process,” said Bloomberg spokesman Marc La Vorgna.
Quinn plans to announce her backing for the bill at a City Hall rally today, where the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development will release a report saying 20 large New York City banks cut their community investments by $4.4 billion in 2008 and 2009 even while their local deposits increased by $38 billion.
“Speaker Quinn is optimistic that our legislation will increase transparency and encourage banks to reinvest in the communities they serve,” said spokesman Jamie McShane.
Bloomberg has not promised to support a revised bill, and Quinn’s office is still talking with the banking industry about their concerns. Still, it is a marked difference from how the mayor last handled a citywide official who wanted city banks to do more for their communities.
All banks that get city business must be approved every two years by the city Banking Commission, which has two members appointed by Bloomberg and one by Comptroller John Liu.
When the commission last met to approve banks in July, Liu’s deputy Alan van Capelle tried to use the process as leverage to pressure banks to show what they have done to help New Yorkers facing foreclosure – but Bloomberg’s appointees shot the effort down.
Van Capelle said the mayor’s forces blew a prime opportunity to help struggling homeowners, and won’t get another chance for two more years.
“The administration is a day late and a dollar short,” van Capelle said. “The people who suffer are New York homeowners.”
Read the full post at City Hall News.