For Immediate Release


Nada Khader, WESPAC – [email protected] (914) 449-6514

Andy Morrison, New Economy Project – [email protected] – (716) 308-2265


Westchester, NY – Today, racial and economic justice groups from the NYS Community Equity Agenda coalition released a new analysis estimating that banks have exacted more than $1.6 billion in fees from New Yorkers since New York declared a state of emergency last March, and nearly $50 million in Westchester County. They stressed that banks’ overdraft fees, in particular, target low-income and Black and brown New Yorkers and push people out of mainstream banking. Banks exacted $1 billion in overdraft fees alone statewide since the start of the pandemic, according to the groups’ analysis.

“It’s outrageous that we continue to allow these banks that exploit our communities to hold our public dollars. A well functioning public bank is vital for the economic prosperity of our region,” said Nada Khader of WESPAC.  “We need a public banking institution that serves our community’s needs and that uses our public monies to invest in affordable housing, renewable energy and infrastructure development while also moving us towards racial equity and living wages.”

As has been widely reported, predatory overdraft fees disproportionately siphon money from low-income people and people of color, including those hardest hit by COVID-19. Just nine percent of all account holders pay 84 percent of the billions in overdraft fees that banks exact, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. These account holders typically carry low balances—averaging less than $350—and have relatively small monthly deposits.

“As New Yorkers struggled, banks smuggled massive sums in predatory fees out of hard hit communities of color,” said Andy Morrison of New Economy Project. “New York must divest from banks that exploited New Yorkers during the worst public health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, and get serious about public banking. We need Albany to pass the New York Public Banking Act this session.”

Community development credit unions and other local financial institutions across the state have come out in support of local public banks, which they say would partner with them to help grow, expand and diversify their loans and services statewide. These community development financial institutions, advocates said, do not charge overdraft and other fees that advocates say are unfair, extractive and disproportionately impact low-income Black, brown and immigrant communities.

The NY Public Banking Act (S1762A/A5782), a top priority for the Equity Agenda coalition, would pave the way for local governments to create their own publicly-owned financial institution that would hold municipal deposits and reinvest in cooperative and community-led economic development, including permanently-affordable housing, small and worker-owned businesses and other community needs. The legislation has been co-sponsored by 21 State Senators and 44 Assemblymembers, including Westchester’s Shelley Mayer, Jamaal Bailey, Alessandra Biaggi, Chris Burdick, and Sandy Galef.

To assess the amount of bank fees charged in New York, the coalition examined quarterly Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income that banks are required to file by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). Banks report only the total amount in fees charged to all customers. The coalition estimated the amount of fees charged to New Yorkers based on each bank’s share of deposits in New York, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation‘s Summary of Deposits Annual Survey.   


We are receiving fabulous feedback from this very informative panel discussion yesterday regarding “Advancing Restorative Justice in Westchester County.”  You can watch the full recording here: https://youtu.be/MqemoUpdebQ

URGENT ACTION: Please call Gov Cuomo today at 877-235-6537 

Tell the Governor: We’re in a climate crisis. The New York State Public Service Commision must phase out gas utilities! 


Gov. Cuomo’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is once again prioritizing gas utility profits over the survival of our planet. In their current gas planning proceeding, they ignored the demands of 200 elected officials and 130 organizations. Instead of creating a real plan to replace gas with renewable heating, cooking, and hot water services, the PSC made minor tweaks to the status quo. Minor tweaks do not provide the roadmap NY needs for an orderly and equitable gas phaseout!

Please tell the PSC that their proposal is inadequate. We need a real plan to phase out the gas utilities and give us renewable heat now! Fossil fuel corporations see the writing on the wall that they are an outdated and poisonous way to power, heat, and cool our homes. Governor Cuomo’s Public Service Commission that is tasked to regulate utilities has ignored millions of New Yorkers who fought for a fracking ban and the plethora of fracking infrastructure projects across the state over the years.  

Governor Cuomo appoints the members of the Public Service Commission. It’s his decision. Call Governor Cuomo today at 877-235-6537 and tell him we are in a real climate crisis. Tell him that his Public Service Commission must work to phase out gas utilities and provide renewable heat to all New Yorkers.  

If you want to really pack a punch, please show them how much people-power we have and flood their system with comments.  

Longmont Public Safety utilizes restorative principles and practices to address many of the crime, social and health issues in their community. They utilize these principles and practices when responding to circumstances in which people are struggling with their mental health, addiction, disorder-related issues, crime and more. Police Chief Butler, long ago, disconnected Longmont Public Safety from the criminal justice system as they connected more with their community. Chief Butler transformed the culture of his department so that police officers prefer to divert individuals out of the traditional criminal justice system into restorative processes.
G. Jeannie Lopez, Bureau Chief, District Attorney Kings County works in the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn. The winner of multiple national awards for innovation, the Red Hook Justice Center houses a courtroom in which a single judge hears cases that under ordinary circumstances would go to three different courts­Civil, Family, and Criminal. An independent evaluation found the Justice Center significantly reduced recidivism and the number of people receiving jail sentences while enhancing public confidence in government. She works with their innovative programs, focused on healing and community restoration rather than punishment.

 Jill Sternberg, co-founder of Restorative Justice Westchester, is working with this new network to bring more restorative Justice to Westchester. As a school-based restorative justice coordinator, Jill supports schools to become restorative places of learning that empower everyone in the educational community, from parents and students to principals and school resource officers.
Registration to attend the Zoom required here
Wednesday, June 2nd at 12 noon EDT via Zoom.  All are welcome.  Free and open to the public.

1.  We need to ask our congressional representatives and New York Senators to urgently make a public statement urging the State Department and the Biden Administration to pressure the Israeli government to stop the bombing of Gaza and end the removal of families from their homes in Sheik Jarrar and Silwan.
2. We need to ask our electeds to co-sponsor  Betty McCollum’s bill HR 2590, Defending The Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.  This bill would prohibit Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars on the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; to support the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; or on any support or assistance for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory in violation of international humanitarian law. (In the case of Jamaal Bowman in district 16, please call his office and thank him for co-sponsoring.)
3. Call House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and demand that he place a hold on weapons to Israel at (202) 225-5021.


WESPAC 2021 Dinner Journal (1)

WESPAC 2021 Dinner Journal_SPREAD (2)

Invitation to Rally for the New York Public Banking Act (S.1762-A/A.5782) 

RALLY! Fight Back Against Wall Street, Fight Forward for a Just Recovery!

Dear friends and supporters of WESPAC, 

Across New York, communities are calling for local public banks to help lead a just recovery. 

Join us on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 at 1 p.m on Facebook live to rally in support of the New York Public Banking Act (S.1762-A (Sanders) / A.5782 (Pichardo)), a transformative bill that would create a framework for the creation of local public banks dedicated to advancing racial and economic justice. 

Through public banking, communities can divest public money from predatory Wall Street banks that harm New Yorkers and New York communities, and invest in cooperative and community-led economic development, including permanently affordable housing, small and worker-owned businesses, community-controlled renewable energy, and more. 

When: Tuesday, April 13th 2021 at 1 p.m.

Where: Facebook livestream

Who: Co-sponsored by the NYS Community Equity Agenda, Public Bank NYC, and the Rochester Public Banking Coalition

Speakers: NYS Senator James Sanders, Jr.; NYS Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo; Hae-Lin Choi, Communications Workers of America; Stanley Fritz, Citizen Action of New York; Sarah Ludwig, New Economy Project; Melissa Marquez, Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union; Brendan Martin, The Working World; and others.

In Solidarity, 


Nada for WESPAC


Skills to keep in mind for navigating controversial conversations

We can all become better listeners

  • Our educational system is derived from a Eurocentric system which values, the thoughts and opinions and life experiences of those who are in dominant positions in society. We have learned that some people’s stories and life experiences matter and some don’t.
  • Examine your position and whether you always assume people will be interested in what you have to say (based on your racialized background, gender, class background, age, sexual orientation, nationality, language) or you never have that expectation.
  • Notice how often you insert yourself into a conversation, interrupt or speak first in your interactions.

Listening is to gain understanding.

Listening does not equal condoning

Listening does not equal agreeing.

Listening does not equal compromising your beliefs.

Listening = valuing and understanding.

“One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.” Steven Covey

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Steven Covey

When we are engaged in conversation, we have been trained to think about opposing arguments.  Someone gives their opinion and while they are talking, we are planning our response.

  • Listen to position of person.
  • Listen beyond what feels bearable.
  • Ask a question that will try to reach for understanding why this is so important to them. (Is there a personal story that led you to hold this position?)

A mistake we often make is we feel so urgent that our position be understood that we assume everything has to be solved and shifted in one conversation. 

Our goal is to reach for the person behind the position. 

Find an entry point to engage that is based on curiosity and real interest without the agenda of changing the person.

We are training for the long haul, especially with colleagues, family and community members.  This is about building something authentic where we can find common ground so we can work toward moving issues and policies forward as well as building and strengthening relationships.

Culture of shaming – the only thing that shaming accomplishes is we either we get the person to shut up in the moment, and they look for somewhere else to spew their offensive remarks or they become combative, and the conflict escalates.

When do we use these skills? 

When we have a long-lasting relationship and want to maintain and build bridges to greater understanding,

When we a share common goal and want to have civil conversations to create path forward even when there are points of disagreement.

We may NOT be able to reach everyone. 

There may be people or groups that you don’t have the attention to listen to – YET.

Start small and recognize and celebrate every time you can shift the interaction forward.  (This is part of the muscle building process. We are more likely to keep trying when we experience success.)

Stephanie Low

The National Coalition Building Institute (ncbi.org)

Evolution, LLC, consultant

[email protected]