Missing members on new city banking board

TD Bank is among those approved to take city deposits and under scrutiny from a new law. Sam Teigen/Flickr

The city’s new banking law — hailed by Council Speaker Christine Quinn as “groundbreaking” when it passed this spring — is already behind schedule.

Under the Responsible Banking Act, which took effect June 28, Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg had 60 days to appoint representatives to an advisory board that would examine the mortgage and lending practices of the banks that hold the city’s money.

Nearly two months after the deadline, Quinn has only appointed one of her two representatives to that board, while it does not appear that Bloomberg has named his selection.

A mayoral spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“I do have faith we’ll move forward,” said Jaime Weisberg, advocacy associate at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, which backed the bill. “I just don’t know the pace yet.”

Inaddition to the three appointees, the eight-member Community Investment Advisory Board also includes five representatives from government: the offices of Quinn, Bloomberg, Comptroller John Liu, and the commissioners of the city’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, and Department of Finance.

Under the law, one advocate for small business and community development are to be appointed by the Speaker of the City Council, and an advocate for the city banking industry is supposed to be to be appointed by the Mayor.

Quinn was a proponent of the act, and spokesman Jamie McShane said that the Speaker would be making her second appointment shortly. Quinn has already chosen Bernell Grier, a housing advocate, to serve on the board.

The Speaker’s second selection “will be announced in the near future,” McShane said.

Bloomberg, however, was strongly opposed to the measure, and the Council had to pass it over his veto. He said in May that banking oversight should be left to federal and state regulators, and quipped that the law “sets probably a new low for idiocy.”

Originally sponsored by Brooklyn councilmember Al Vann, the act was designed to encourage community-friendly business practices at the banks that receive city deposits, which amount to billions of dollars. Financial institutions currently on New York’s list of authorized recipients include big national banks like J.P. Morgan Chase and TD Bank, as well as smaller, state-chartered depositories like Flushing Commercial Bank.

Every two years, the new advisory board is supposed to conduct a citywide survey to assess neighborhood needs for credit, banking, and financial services. The board is also supposed to publish an annual report on how well the banks receiving city money are meeting those needs.

“It’s a chance to get down in the granular level and see where banks are investing…and perhaps not investing,” Weisberg said.

The information can then be used by the City Banking Commission, the panel that’s ultimately responsible for selecting which financial institutions get New York’s dollars.

Under the terms of the bill, the initial needs assessment is not due until early 2014, with the first annual report scheduled for publication the following year.

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