In the activist city of Oakland, CA, unhappy residents on Tuesday night shared their discontent with the city’s bond debt deal with Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs. Multi-colored, homemade signs could be seen at the city council meeting with language that included “Stop the Swap,” “Give the $ Back” and “Not another dollar to Goldman Sachs.”
At issue is the 1997 deal between the city and the investment bank that included a rate-swap deal of $187 million in city debt. According to OaklandNorth.net, it has already cost the city $26 million with a potential $20 million more during the next decade as the debt is being paid down.
Reverend Daniel Buford stood at the podium at Tuesday’s meeting and said, “We implore you to get the City of Oakland out of this toxic relationship with Goldman Sachs.”
Buford was representing a newly formed alliance that includes religious, labor, educational and activist leaders, local SEIU and ILWU union members and members of Oakland Community Organizations, Block by Block Organizing Network and the Decolonize Oakland Outreach Committee.
Buford added that the group is “demanding” that Oakland sever its ties Goldman Sachs and have the bank repay the money it has earned from the city dating since 2005.
He said, “If Oakland has $5 million a year to throw into hole that is Goldman Sachs pocket, let’s use that money to build a clinic out in East Oakland, do job programs in West Oakland. Let’s use that money for some constructive purpose, rather than to line the pockets of Goldman Sachs.”
A second speaker, eventually numbering 40 for the evening according to OaklandNorth, said on behalf of Oakland’s NAACP chapter, “It’s time to bail out the City of Oakland.”
The pleas by the angry residents had not been on the meeting’s agenda and Dwight McElroy, president of the SEIU 1021 Oakland chapter, said they had just showed up and demanded that that city council include the the item on the agenda for a future meeting. They also want to determine a way out of the deal instead of only discussing it.
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McElroy added that the group’s members have been meeting on a weekly basis for the last year and a half to talk about it and how the city can end it.
He said in an interview, “Instead of talking to us about talking to the banks, I’d like to see something in writing from them to Goldman Sachs. Putting political pressure, out in the public. There’s a lot of ways to get things done.”
Oakland City Council Member Libby Schaaf (District 4) spoke to the group on Tuesday night and said “it’s exciting that people are excited about this.” She believes the item will soon be included on the agenda. Schaaf added that Oakland has been talking with Goldman Sachs and city officials have asked them to waive the early termination fee.
On Tuesday as Schaaf said, “The City of Oakland has asked Goldman Sachs …” she was interrupted by an audience member saying to “not ask the man” but she then continued with, “I support agendizing it soon, and it’s exciting that people are learning about this issue and want to join us in this fight.”