San Leandro: Staff favors contract with Wells Fargo, despite past protest

Since 2016, Wells Fargo Bank has been an angry touchstone among progressives because of its unscrupulous business practices and support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The latter triggered a number of East Bay cities to seek divestiture from Wells Fargo in recent years.

In November 2017, San Leandro sold $700,000 in investments with Wells Fargo, while beginning the process of shedding them as its primary banking services provider for the city’s government.

San Leandro’s Finance Department, however, believes replacing Wells Fargo will be time-consuming, complicated, and costly, according to a memo that recommends the council maintain its $5 million partnership with the bank. The proposal will come before the San Leandro City Council Finance Committee on Tuesday, April 2.

The city’s banking service contract was put out for bid last November. Wells Fargo, in addition, to Bank of the West/PNB Baribas and JP Morgan bid for the contract. Incidentally, all three have investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Wells Fargo offered the lowest monthly rate, according to the Finance Department, while also providing a stimulus to the city. Wells Fargo employs 451 people in San Leandro, including more than 200 who reside in the city, according to the memo.

“There is a complicated and time-consuming process for changing banks… It should be noted that there are very few banks that could meet the City’s complex needs, Investment Policy restrictions, and State law requirements and not in some way be affiliated with the DAPL Project,” according to the memo.

Nevertheless, the recommendation is likely to upset progressive groups in San Leandro, along with some councilmembers. During a city council Finance Committee meeting last November, several residents spoke out against Wells Fargo, primarily for its support of the oil pipeline.

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