San Jose to Discuss Investment Policy, Social Responsibility

In 2009, San Jose became the first city in the nation to divest from a bank because of its role in the subprime mortgage crisis. The City Council voted unanimously to pull $1 billion from the Bank of America for failing to prevent foreclosures, which the nation’s biggest banks promised to do when they accepted federal bailouts.

This week, the council will consider updating the social responsibility clause of the city’s investment policy for the first time since the Great Recession.

The proposal, spearheaded by freshman Councilman Sergio Jimenez, comes on the heels of Seattle and San Francisco’s decisions to pull money out of Wells Fargo over the bank’s fake account scandal and its role in financing in the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).

“San Jose is trailing behind other large city’s [sic] such as San Francisco and Seattle who have strong policies in place that provide guidance and prioritize city values and address public concern,” Jimenez wrote. “We recommend that staff expand San Jose's investment policy … to reflect the city's commitment to comprehensive fair practices and engagement with socially responsible businesses.”

City staff, however, recommends no change to the investment rules. Per policy, the city has to review its guidelines every year. Normally, the assessment and council approval are perfunctory. Here’s what the city’s social responsibility clause looks like now:

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 8.50.17 AM

Jimenez, who co-signed his proposal with Lan Diep, another newcomer to the council, argues that strengthening the social responsibility clause is in the public’s interest.

“It is a priority to protect the city’s investments and the public’s trust by conducting city business with partners that are committed to and consistently demonstrate fair and responsible business practices,” Jimenez wrote in his memo. “A broadened social responsibility policy will further the city’s financial objectives and ensure that the city does not support partners that engage in criminal or systematic deceptive, fraudulent, or abusive business practices.”

San Jose banks with Wells Fargo, which has been the target of divestment campaigns throughout the nation. Last month, the University of California system agreed to terminate $475 million worth of contracts with Wells Fargo after activists called attention to the bank’s ties to private prisons.

California lawmakers are debating legislation that would divest the state’s public employee pension funds from Wells Fargo and other companies financing the Dakota Access pipeline. Silicon Valley Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) proposed Assembly Bill 20 after visiting the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where thousands of indigenous people and allies camped out for months to protest the $3.8 billion pipeline.

Last month, Kalra spoke at a “NoDAPL divestment crawl” in Willow Glen, where protesters marched down Lincoln Avenue with signs and a bullhorn to urge people to move their money to community banks and credit unions. The former San Jose councilman said he’s seen a lot of backlash to his divestment bill, including from the state’s two pension funds—CalPERS and CalSTRS.

“If we’re going to say as a state, as Californians, that we’re going to stand up to climate change, then we need to act on that,” Kalra said.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 7, 2017:

  • The council will vote on whether to approve a $2.5 million contract with CMG Landscape Architecture to redesign St. James Park. The landscaping company redesign proposal was chosen in a contest, which sparked some controversy when another contender accused the judges of giving the winner preferential treatment. Mayor Sam Liccardo and downtown Councilman Raul Peralez suggested knocking the contract down to $1.5 million while also prioritizing the contruction of a Levitt Pavilion, which they said would bring more people to the park. “The catalyst for St. James Park … will not be creative designs, or even construction projects,” Liccardo and Peralez said in a shared memo. “It will be people. We must activate the park to engage the surrounding community, to make it a welcoming, fun, and safe gathering space for residents aged 8 to 80.”

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.



    What do they have to invest? The doofusses are out of money! They’ve spent tax money that they won’t collect for ten years.

    What a bunch of useless virtue signaling gasbags.

    • Well just as soon as the get rich from the Trump Boom they will invest some money, if they have some!

  2. In a sane world it’d be the orher way around. Wells Fargo’s social responsibility policy would prohibit it from allowing it’s stock to be held by irresponsble organizations such as the City of San Jose that confiscate money from people and squander it on bullshit “causes” while ignoring the very real tasks for which the money was intended.
    Now THAT’s the kind of social responsibility I could get behind.

  3. Didn’t Sham Lie-hard-doh recently say the City was headed for another deficit…? I thought his book was the answer, that electing him was the fix, that Measure F was the financial solution, that enacting (the old) Measure B was the bees knees? That getting rid of Measure B would make San Jose great again?

    Why don’t we hold these politicians accountable, as well as the publications that continue to endorse them (looking at you Murky Gnus and San Jose Inside)?

    • Why don’t we hold them accountable? That is what elections are for Jate. However, CA is a liberal/progressive haven. Liberalism/progressivism, especially in the SF Bay Area, is a disease, which is probably caused by an as yet unidentified virus that adversely affects the part of the brain responsible for clear, critical thinking. The virus also results in the creation of double standard thinking on such things as obeying the rule of law espoused so loudly by liberals and progressives as they riot, vandalize, loot, and attempt to silence the speech of those with whom they disagree. It exists in less virulent forms throughout our once great nation. This virus also increases its victims’ emotional responses exponentially, such that they are easily traumatized by everyday events, and require emotional support animals to get on with their lives. They bring their emotional support creatures wherever they go, such as malls, bistros, and wine bars; well, except to their riots, which the mainstream press continually calls protests. It may take decades to isolate this brain softening virus, and still more time to create and administer a vaccine, the administration of which they will also “protest” violently. Until then, the rest of us are screwed. The latest manifestation of rampant liberalism:

      • I would think they are the product of mood altering drugs.
        Nothing more than a chemical imbalance, started in public schools?

  4. Just another bunch of Gavin Newsom-type opportunists looking to accumulate the progressive credentials needed to move up the ladder in the nation’s dumbest state. In a city faced with a crumbling infrastructure, a police department on life support, and a host of other serious problems, this is what these fools think is important?

  5. Are you sure you’ve got your facts straight here Jennifer? As it’s written this story just makes no sense to me. Maybe you got the names reversed? Simple mistake- could happen to anyone. Even a guy.
    Undoubtedly what you meant to say is that Wells Fargo’s social responsibility policy prohibits IT from allowing it’s stock to be held by crooked organizations such as the City of San Jose and that Wells Fargo doesn’t think it’s right to support those who confiscate diverse people’s money under false pretenses, then squander it on a never ending list of bullshit social “causes” in a futile effort to satisfy their own massive egos.
    See what I mean? THAT story would actually make some sense!

  6. > “It will be people. We must activate the park to engage the surrounding community, to make it a welcoming, fun, and safe gathering space for residents aged 8 to 80.”

    Will St. James Park be a “welcoming, fun, and safe gathering space” for “homeless” residents?

    Will social workers provide “services” for the “homeless” residents having fun in the park? How about mobile showers for “homeless” residents in the park? How about meals on wheels for the “homeless”? Will there be enough public toilets for “the homeless”?

    What is the CIty’s backup plan if “the homeless” DON’T feel safe or welcome, or are not having enough fun?

  7. Questions for Law Enforcers:

    Do Berkeley Police Officers have body cams? Are the body cams required to be turned on at all times? Will the body cams record instructions from police supervisors to “stand down” or to not interfere with attacks by anti-Trump agitators on pro-Trump demonstrators?

    Do citizens have access to the unedited content recorded by the body cams?

    • Bodycam on, turn and face other direction, and repeat ” I See Nothing Colonel Hogan, Nothing”!
      Wasn’t that fun?

  8. The city has a fiduciary obligation to the people whose money is involved to seek out the highest return commensurate with safety. If the Council disregards that, they had best never come back to the taxpayers with their hand out. We don’t pay taxes to get a substandard return, or to give Council members do-gooder bragging rights at our expense. We pay for a well run city. But so far, this mayor and council isn’t delivering.

    If the Council has any questions about the newbie Council member’s proposal to play Mr. Holier-Than-Thou, they can put the question on the ballot:

    “Should the city put “social responsibility” above the safest and best return when investing the taxpayers’ money?”

    I notice the pot holes are still multiplying like bunny rabbits. With all the problems facing San Jose, it would be a breath of fresh air to see the Mayor and City Council taking care of business for once.

    And I see that the newest council member is chomping at the bit to gamble with the taxpayers’ money, as he ignores our crumbling infrastructure. So I suppose it’s only a matter of time before he starts flogging the ridiculous “urban farm” nonsense.

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