After nearly three hours of public comment dominated by Occupy Los Angeles demonstrators, the City Council voted Wednesday to support the movement calling attention to what activists say is a growing gap between the nation’s rich and poor.
The resolution sponsored by Councilmen Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl supports the “peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by `Occupy Los Angeles.”’
An amendment by Councilman Paul Krekorian also thanked Los Angeles police for handling the demonstrations in a professional way.
Dozens of activists who have been camping on the lawn of City Hall for the past 10 days addressed the council. Despite the resolution, many verbally attacked the lawmakers, accusing them of being allied with big banks and of perpetuating inequality.
“As long as you receive money from banks and corporations, you are allied with the banks,” one person told the council.
Part of the resolution calls for accelerating a “responsible banking” ordinance in which banks would be scored based on the number of home loan modifications accommodated, the number and location of branches and how they contribute to affordable housing.
The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Central City Association object to that idea.
“This proposed ordinance will not halt one foreclosure. It will cost the city money to enforce and a new bureaucracy to enforce it. It’s the irresponsible banking ordinance,” said Carol Schatz, president of the downtown business association. “Like it or not, we need banks. And only large banks have the capabilities to handle this city’s financial needs. You guys can’t put your money under a mattress.”
Activist David Rodwin told the council it had been dragging its feet on the banking ordinance.
“What most people do not know, but the council members do, is that these banking regulations were presented before this council over 2.5 years ago,” Rodwin said. “We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and this council has dragged its feet simply on taking a vote on these banking regulations, and I find that deeply irresponsible.”
The council agreed to hear the banking ordinance in the Budget and Finance Committee on Nov. 21 and to discuss it before the full City Council before mid-December.
The meeting got tense when one public speaker accused the city’s three black council members — Jan Perry, Bernard Parks and Herb Wesson — of doing a poor job of representing their constituents.
I would hope that “you could lift people up with your words and not stereotype them, perpetuate bigotry and prejudice,” Perry said. “You’re entitled to your opinion. I am entitled to my opinion