As soon as Reverend Daniel Buford took the podium in the council chambers at Oakland City Hall on Tuesday night, bright, hand-drawn, multi-colored signs with inscriptions like “Stop the Swap,” “Give the $ Back” and “Not another dollar to Goldman Sachs” popped up around the room.
Buford, a minister at Allen Temple Baptist Church on International Boulevard, began speaking about the city’s relationship with Goldman Sachs, and a rate-swap deal the city and the bank agreed to in 1997 relating to $187 million in citydebt. The deal has already cost the city $26 million, and could cost up to $20 million more over the next 10 years as the debt is paid off.
“We implore you to get the City of Oakland out of this toxic relationship with Goldman Sachs,” Buford said to the city council during its meeting on Tuesday to rounds of applause.
Buford was speaking on behalf of a recently formed coalition of religious, labor, educational and activist leaders, including local SEIU and ILWU union members, as well as members of Oakland Community Organizations, Block by Block Organizing Network and the Decolonize Oakland Outreach Committee.
Buford said the coalition is demanding that the city end its relationship with Goldman Sachs and the bank pay back any money it has gained from the city since 2005.
“If Oakland has $5 million a year to throw into hole that is Goldman Sachs pocket, let’s use that money to build a clinic out in East Oakland, do job programs in West Oakland,” Buford said. “Let’s use that money for some constructive purpose, rather than to line the pockets of Goldman Sachs.”
Another speaker, Jemahl Amen, who was there on behalf of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP, added “It’s time to bail out the City of Oakland.”
More than 40 people got up to speak about the bond debt deal, though it wasn’t on the meeting’s agenda.