Banks have a confirmed commitment to the city--In yesterday's Letters to the Editor in the PD, two of our representatives, one from the government and the other from the nonprofit sector, flew to the rescue of still more banks, citing specific nice little things these other banks do and why they should have a bigger share of whatever City-of-Cleveland preferences shifted to KeyBank a few days ago. Joe Cimperman and Ann Zoller cite a few instances of bank beneficence, but then Joe goes on to begin to start to get around to getting to a key point:
This picture of those two banks is different from the one painted by an outdated city administration formula that doesn't tell the true story. Cleveland's needs change daily. So must its relationships with financial partners. To continue to grade on a scale that does not reflect the banks' support of community needs sends the wrong message. We must recognize when institutions serve our community in ways that mean real quality-of-life improvements for all Clevelanders.
First of all, is there a formula, is this preferential-treatment-of-banks thing actually quantified, and who has seen it lately? Does this formula have at the top of the list the amount that the institution expects to pay the city on the deposits? The term and liquidity of the deposits? The ratings of the institution to hold the deposits, and the default insurance available per account? The ability to provide multiple accounts and also good accountability? The percentage of employees who actually live in Cleveland proper (no municipal income tax recripocity) and the payroll specifically attributable to those employees? The dollar amount of mortgage loans let out, with an offset for sloppy lending practices evidenced by foreclosures? A benevolent practice of cashing government and payroll checks for ordinary people with small or no accounts, so they aren't forced to go to the high-fee check-cashing gouge joints?
Way after all these things, we can list the actual amounts the banks give to city politicians and to the nonprofits, to make sure nobody is buying the business, and the amount of fees they use as incentives for the nonprofits to promote their banking products. Anything over $50 should be accounted for, just like our former governor's golf perks.
We need lots of analysis and then transparency and accountability, so that we can proceed to talk intelligently about who gets what city-deposit business, and how much.
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