John DeStefano, in his State of the City Address tonight, showed photos of rallies to keep the New Haven Savings Bank in the hands of its depositors, asserted rightly that strengthening this city means “getting into other people’s business” when those people are entrenched corporate interests, and declared that “we need to do more of that.”
Yes, New Haven’s city government needs to do more of that. Following through the bank fight, rather than cutting a deal and promising corporate power to keep the people of New Haven from getting out of hand, would have been a good place to start.
The Bank hearing last night was intense. The Banking Comission chose a time and place difficult for working people to attend, and a space much too small for the hundreds who showed up anyway; the police, who frisked every attendee at the Bank’s request, kept most of the depositors there outside after Bank staff were sent early to take most of the seats. The Bank was shamed by damning testimony indoors and fiery picket lines on the outside. After attempting a $27.5 million payoff offer the community rightly and universally rejected as too little, too later, the vast majority of the Bank’s board refused the show their faces at the hearing. In response to the overwhelming community response, another hearing’s been planned over the next weeks. Read about in the AP, the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, or the YDN.