We can and must stop the Wall Street grand theft of our cities and states. We begin by attending council meetings and asking questions of those we have elected to represent us.

I’ll use my own city of Garland Texas as a specific  example if you care to follow.  $85,304,816 of our total $512,713,285 budget for the city of Garland goes to “service debt”. [Source]  Almost 1/5 of our entire budget is paid to a financial institution.  By reducing the annual payments on debt and by reducing the interest and fees paid on this debt, we would free up money for job creation and repair of the infrastructure of our community.  For example, perhaps we wouldn’t have to be closing libraries as we are now if we had a deal which was mutually beneficial instead of so horribly one-sided.

We need to start asking the real questions–the answers to which will educate and inform us regarding what steps to take next.  We the people must work with those we have elected in supporting them in finding solutions that work better for the majority.

We the people should ask for a more detailed explanation of exactly what is meant by the term:  ”service debt”.  For example, these would be questions for the city council and mayor of Garland such as:

  • How much of this $85,304,816 “debt service” is interest?
  • How much of the $85,304,816 is payment on principal?
  • How much of this $85,304,816 is for bank fees and other charges to the bank that are neither interest nor principal?
  • Who is the financial institution that is making a profit twice off the citizens of our community (once for our personal debt and then again for our public debt)?

Once we have these answers, we negotiate with these financial institutions for better terms for the people of our city and if the financial institutions are not prepared to meet us half-way, then we research what it would mean in terms of benefits for the majority of Garland if our local government exercised eminent domain over these banks–particularly in terms of bank foreclosures against our citizens.  As I mentioned previously, the city of Garland has no less than 311 homes in our city that are currently in foreclosure.  The leverage of eminent domain is a powerful leverage that even local city governments have.

And the rights of eminent domain are not limited to homes or property of private citizens.  Local city governments could exercise eminent domain against the buildings of Wall Street banks in our communities if they so desired and seize those properties.

The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for public utilities, highways and railroads. however, property may also be taken for reasons of public safety–just ask the people of  Brownsville about their Wall.  What threatens the safety, indeed, the survival of many of our local communities now more than the unreasonable burden of debt imposed on them by Wall Street institutions with their fees, fines and usury collected as interest rates?  It’s time to fight back at the bargaining table by  representing the people first and Wall Street second.

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Look at your own city budgets now!  The city you save may be your own. Find out exactly how much of your city’s annual budget goes to “service debt” and then work with your city council to negotiate a MUCH better deal with the financial institution who is holding them hostage.  Don’t be afraid to use the leverage of eminent domain at the bargaining table and above all, don’t be afraid to use it if the financial institutions don’t meet you half-way.

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In the past, many of the municipal governments all over the USA have sold out their citizens for a nickel to Wall Street interests. Now is the time to stop that and to renegotiate these bad deals for the people.  And yes we can and we need to begin today.  Maybe instead of occupying the streets, OCCUPY needs to move into the chambers of city government.

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Against the bleak backdrop of our national economy, Wall Street continues to squeeze the majority of local government across the USA, but it is squeezing Detroit, one of America’s weakest cities for every penny it can and more.

A few years ago Detroit struck a derivatives deal with UBS and other banks that allowed it to save more than $2 million a year in interest on $800 million worth of bonds.  But the fine print carried a potentially devastating condition.  If the city’s credit rating dropped, the banks could ope out of the deal and demand a sizable breakup fee.  That is precisely what happened in January of 2009.  After years of fiscal trouble, Detroit saw its credit rating slashed to junk.  But that was only part of the cash grab from Wall Street.  Detroit was also on the hook for a $400 million tab in “breakup” fee to the USB– a breakup that USB themselves orchestrated, not the city of Detroit.

Now Detroit must use the revenues from its three casinos:  MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino, and Motor Casino to cover a $4.2 million monthly payment to the banks before a single cent can go to schools, transportation and other critical services.

Read the complete article here.

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The economies of U.S. States are sinking as well as our local governments.  A January 2011 report from THE ECONOMIST compared economies of various U.S. states to those of other nations.  It found that the economy of Mississippi compares to that of Bangladesh and the economy of Alabama to Nigeria.  In other world, those in Alabama could move to Nigeria and expect the same standard of living.  Of course, what separates Alabama from Nigeria is that Alabama is part of a UNITED states whereas Nigeria must get by without ay help.  Ironic that Southern and Western states talk of secession when in fact they are the ones who are most dependent on the Federal government.

Liz Berry

Liz Berry

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