[pjw] Action: Council to vote on investment/divestment plan Wed 2 PM

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Fri Mar 24 18:58:45 EDT 2017

Last fall we sent you information about supporting our allies' efforts to 
get the City to divest from Wells Fargo and Caterpillar (among others).

The end result was a suspension of all City investments for four months 
until a new policy could be written.

Well, the good news (?) is that the policy was written. The bad news is it 
eliminates the "do-not-buy" list created by a community-volunteer-staffed 
Socially Responsible Investments group and replaces that with an opaque 
social/environmental assessment. By opaque, I mean that the City has 
signed a $37,000 a year contract with a company which rates the 
responsibility scale of various corporations, but **forbids the city to 
list what companies are being blocked because of their ratings.** I don't 
understand how that can be part of a democracy.

Council will be voting on the new policy next Wednesday, March 29 at 2 PM. 
An action alert from our friends at Occupation-Free Portland is below.

Here's the link to the agenda item:


Here's what I noticed in the new draft:

They did not define the term "ESG" but it means 
environmental-social-governance rating (as noted in the cover letter, 
actually tacked on the end of the agenda item).

They are inserting this language about how to decide whether to invest:

  Minimum ESG rating of the parent company:
  BBB (or better) by MSCI ESG Research Inc. at the time of purchase.
  Direct investments are not to be made in debt securities issued by:
  Companies on the Carbon Underground 200 TM list (as updated); and

This language is being cut:

  From time to time City Council may approve the addition of specific
  company names to its Do Not Buy list, at which point investment officers
  are not permitted to purchase securities of the companies that have been
  added; any existing positions of these companies need not be sold. From
  time to time City Council may approve the removal of specific company
  names from its Do Not Buy list, at which point investment officers are
  permitted to purchase securities issued by these companies.

Here's more information about the contract with the secretive research 

  In May 2015, the Division executed a contract with MSCI ESG Research Inc.
  (MSCI) for online access to the MSCI World database. The current annual
  subscription fee of $37,500 is included in the Division's budget. The
  contract obligates the City to not disclose MSCl's detailed ESG
  methodology or individual company ESG-ratings. City staff with access to
  MSCl's proprietary ESG research and members of the Socially Responsible
  Investments Committee (SRIC) have executed confidentiality agreements.

There's also an acknowledgment that there may be a fossil fuel investment 
ban but it needs to go through a separate process:

  Banning Fossil Fuel Investments
  We expect City Council will want to continue the ban on fossil fuel
  investments. Since adding a minimum ESG rating threshold will not
  necessarily eliminate investments in fossil fuel companies because
  MSCl's analysis is agnostic as to industry (i.e., a company's ESG rating
  is relative to the standards and performance of a company's industry
  peers), this ban will need to be addressed separately in the Investment
  Policy. Reinstating this ban will eliminate two Eligible Issuers from
  the current universe of thirty-five (35).

Maybe this isn't as bad as it seems, but I read this as saying the City 
will make these decisions regardless of public input and concerns.

dan h
peace and justice works

From: Rod Such
Subject: [jvp_pdxnews] ACTION ALERT; Call/Email City Council and Please 
Attend March 29 Hearing
Date: March 22, 2017 at 10:29:07 AM PDT

Dear Supporters of Occupation-Free Portland,

Please call or email at your earliest opportunity the members of 
Portland's City Council to ask them to continue the city's Socially 
Responsible Investments policy and affirm the recommendation of the 
Socially Responsible Investments Committee to place four companies on the 
City's Do-Not-Buy list. The four companies are Amazon, Caterpillar, 
Nestle, and Wells Fargo.

We are in an emergency situation because the City is threatening to end 
the SRI policy and leave our investment decisions to the City Treasurer 
and a Wall Street firm. This is not only an undemocratic maneuver to 
prevent the community from having a say in how our tax dollars are 
invested but also prevents human rights violations from being considered 
in the City's investment portfolio.

Below please find contact information and talking points for your phone 
calls or emails. Please contact the Council as soon as possible and then 
plan to attend the March 29 City Council meeting at 2 pm at the Portland 
Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave. right next to City Hall.

  Commissioner Nick Fish: Nick at portlandoregon.gov 
<mailto:Nick at portlandoregon.gov>  503-823-3589

  Commissioner Amanda Fritz: Amanda at portlandoregon.gov 
<mailto:Amanda at portlandoregon.gov> 503-823-3008

  Commissioner Dan Saltzman: Dan at portlandoregon.gov 
<mailto:Dan at portlandoregon.gov> 503-823-4151

  Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: chloe at portlandoregon.gov 
<mailto:chloe at portlandoregon.gov> 503-823-4682

  Mayor Ted Wheeler: mayorwheeler at portlandoregon.gov 
<mailto:mayorwheeler at portlandoregon.gov> 503-823-4120

Talking Points:

1. We need a public democratic process for making decisions about 
investments. It's taxpayer money, and the community has a right to have a 
voice in how its money is invested. That's why the Socially Responsible 
Investments policy was created in the first place. Keep the policy in 
place and keep the Socially Responsible Investments Committee.

2. Make our actions consistent with our words. The City Council 
unanimously opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and declared 
Portland a Sanctuary city. How can the City then invest in Caterpillar and 
Wells Fargo? Caterpillar helped build DAPL and Wells Fargo helped finance 
it. Wells Fargo invests in the private prison companies that run immigrant 
detention centers and Caterpillar is President Trump's chosen contractor 
to build the anti-immigrant Wall on our southern border.

3. Wall Street shouldn't be in charge of our investments. Under the 
proposed new policy, the City Treasurer will rely on reports from MSCI, 
an offshoot of the failed Morgan Stanley investment bank.

4. This process is not transparent. MSCI reports are proprietary and can't 
be seen by the public. Portland taxpayers will have no idea what these 
reports say.

5. Portland should join Seattle and other cities across country and take 
a stand for indigenous rights, Palestinian rights, immigrant rights, 
prisoner rights, and universal human rights.

6. Our alternative proposal can be found here:

Curt and Rod
> for OFP Steering Committee

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