“The best investment Alabama can make is in itself,” says Jeremy Sherer, Democratic candidate for Alabama Treasurer, as he pledged to deposit state money in Alabama financial institutions that “…make small business loans, entrepreneurial loans, farm loans, student loans, and invest within our local socio-economic fabric.”
If only Sherer had been Treasurer last summer – instead of Kay Ivey – he might have been able to save Alabama jobs when lack of bank support forced Meadowcraft facilities in both Selma and Wadly, AL to close.
Sherer spoke last month to the Madison County Democratic Women about the challenges facing Alabama's next state treasurer and also answered questions later from Left in Alabama.
Problems with Alabama's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program (PACT) have received the lion's share of attention, Sherer said. But the PACT crisis is just one more in a long line of important issues that current treasurer, Kay Ivey, has left unattended:
Not only has the Ivey administration overseen the collapse of Alabama's PACT program, but over the previous seven years, Alabama's once nationally-recognized, local banking industry has been decapitated.
We all know the names of the local financial institutions which, seven years ago, enriched our communities and employed our family members before the Ivey administration began managing our state's finances and investments – Southtrust, AmSouth, Colonial, Regions, Compass. Every one of those banks has since failed, merged or been purchased by an out of state bank.
Presently, $40 million of state taxpayer money is placed within a California based bank that in 2009 forced the bankruptcy of Meadowcraft, a financial sound Alabama industry that employed over 2,000 Alabamians across Jefferson, Dallas and Randolph Counties.
Alabama state taxpayer dollars belong in local banks that create jobs and invest in Alabamians, not with out of state banks that merely foreclose upon Alabamians.
There's a lot of attention today focused on a former Democrat – temporary Congressman Parker Griffith. That makes it a good day to take a look at a real Democrat who offers new ideas, innovative solutions, and pledges to work to move Alabama forward, not merely protect the status quo.
More details about Sherer's plans on the flip:
Sherer discussed this disturbing information about racial discrimination in one Alabama bank:
Presently, nearly $7 million of state taxpayer money is deposited in a Clarke County bank that last year was found by federal law enforcement to have racially discriminated against Alabamians in its loan practices.
Alabama's taxpayer dollars do not belong in banks that discriminate against Alabama taxpayers. And, as Treasurer, I will ensure that if any certified depository is found to have discriminated against Alabamians in its business practices that institution will immediately face repercussions in terms of its state deposits, while protecting the financial security of the communities it services.
As Treasurer, Sherer promises other initiatives to help Alabama taxpayers – particularly those in poor and under-served communities who rely on check cashing services and payday loan outlets for access to cash:
A 2009 study by the FDIC discovered that nearly 12% of Alabama household lack any form of a bank account, while more than 20% of Alabamians are dependent upon non-traditions financial tools such as pay-day loans or pawn-shop services. While non-traditional lending tools do serve a narrow need within communities, they are not meant to be seen as long-term or permanent lending solutions for citizens.
We must do more as a state to educate all Alabamians, regardless of their age, income or location regarding the financial instruments that are utilized by today's lending institutions. Adjustable rate mortgages, pay day loans, credit cards, checking fees, all are too frequently misunderstood by all citizens. And, if Alabama had done a more appropriate job of educating young and old alike regarding financial instruments, many a family would have weathered the recent recession with greater success – by not having to be foreclosed upon or declare bankruptcy.
A Sherer administration would be a refreshing change from the asleep-at-the-wheel Ivey car crash we've witnessed during her two terms. Sherer is eager to tackle difficult problems and offers real solutions instead of pandering platitudes.
Even better, Sherer promises a Treasurer's office that works for Alabamians and helps restore their trust in state government.
My Treasury administration will do more than fix PACT. We will restore honesty, integrity and competency to Alabama's Treasury, while striving each day to create a more profitable, financially secure Alabama which operates with equality and fairness in all its practices.
Sherer is running in the primary against a wealthy, well-funded candidate – Charlie Grimsley – who's best known in some circles for holding the jug for Steve Windom as he urinated during a session of the Alabama State Senate as well as his numerous political contributions to Republicans (including Roy Moore, George Bush, and Karl Rove-affiliated PACs). Democrats who have been burned once by Griffith, might well be wary of being taken in yet again.
If we want new solutions and new leadership in the Alabama Treasurer's office, we need to elect new leadership – not party retreads (George Wallace, Jr. is running on the Republican side).