Council officially cuts ties with Wells Fargo

This afternoon the City Council ratified an ordinance that sets up the city to cut its ties to Wells Fargo Bank.

The bill does several things:

  • It establishes a new set of “fair banking practices” that apply to all of the city’s contracts;
  • It directs the city to inform Wells Fargo that it will not renew its contract for banking services when it expires in 2018, and to refrain from using Wells Fargo for investment services for the next three years;
  • It increases the importance of socially responsible banking practices as a factor in the selection of banking services vendors;
  • It empowers the Director of FAS to debar businesses from doing business with the city based on their unfair business practices.

When we last heard about this bill last week, Council members Burgess, Juarez, Herbold and Gonzalez were trying to rewrite Council member Sawant’s recitations to rely upon primary sources rather than media reports so that it has a better chance of holding up in a court of law.  Gonzalez and Herbold introduced two amendments today to do just that (here and here).  Gonzalez also amended the definition of “fair business practices” to refer to existing law.

In her comments on the passing of the bill, Sawant noted that Seattle is the first city to divest from Wells Fargo, an important precedent in the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. That’s particularly notable today, when the U.S. government was moving quickly to issue final permits on the project.