Pawar makes final push for treasurer with Sierra Club endorsement, public bank plans

CHICAGO (February 25, 2019)--A day ahead of the Chicago municipal election, Ameya Pawar made his final push in the hotly contested race for city treasurer, announcing the coveted endorsement of Sierra Club Illinois and showcasing his pitch for a municipal bank that could be used to finance Chicago’s Green New Deal initiatives to combat the impacts of climate change.

Flanked by representatives from Sierra Club Illinois and supporter Ald. David Moore (17), Pawar laid out his plan for the City of Chicago to create a depositing institution through a state charter amendment.

The bank would have to be established as a legally separate entity from the City, incorporated under state or federal charter as an independent banking institution. To ensure autonomy from city politics, Pawar said, the bank should have an independent board of directors, similar to the Bank of North Dakota’s Industrial Commission. Pawar proposed a five-member board of permanent and elected members to govern the major policies of the banks, with the day-to-day operations of the bank being overseen by the bank’s president and CEO. The treasurer would hold one of those five board seats.

Pawar cited several funding sources and vehicles for the bank, including the city’s own equity investment, funded through a one-time appropriation from the city’s general funds or transfers of assets from Chicago’s existing investment pool; equity investments in non-voting shares sold to other local governments and pension funds; the transfer of the city’s deposits and cash accounts currently held in large commercial banking institutions; the issuance of debt (short-term and medium-term notes) purchased using funds under management by the treasurer; and the issuance of certificates of deposit sold to the treasurer and other outside investors.

“A well-established and managed public bank can assist in stabilizing Chicago’s government finances, while opening up lending to marginalized groups across the city,” said Pawar.

In addition to using the bank to refinance student loan debt and facilitate the development of affordable housing, Pawar has pledged to make Chicago the municipal launching point of the Green New Deal championed by progressive Democrats in Congress like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and environmental organizations like the Sunrise Movement.

“Ameya Pawar has been one of our strongest champions for the environment during his time on City Council, and we trust him to carry that dedication forward as city treasurer,” said Kady McFadden, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club Illinois. “He’s the only candidate in this race who has made responsible environmental policy that moves us toward 100 percent clean energy by 2035 a priority. We are proud to endorse him.”

“I’m grateful to have Sierra Club Illinois’ endorsement,” said Pawar. “Across the globe, cities are standing up to make meaningful, systemic changes to stem the tide of climate change and the decline of our environment’s health. Chicago should be leading the way through responsible investments and a commitment to move to 100 percent clean energy by 2030. I look forward to working with Sierra Club and other environmental allies to help get us there as treasurer.”

Recent polls show Pawar leading the three-way race.