Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

Q & A with Mayoral Hopeful Gwen Hallsmith


Q. So, why a public bank for Vermont? What’s wrong with our local commercial banks?

A. There is nothing wrong with our local commercial banks, except, perhaps that the new regulatory system imposed on them by the Dodd-Frank legislation has proved to be the straw that broke their back.  A state bank would help them stay in business by making low cost loan programs available to them and assisting them with the regulatory burden.  In North Dakota, the state bank works in partnership with the local banks to make commercial and housing loans.
Q. How did you come to be such a champion of public banking?

A. I came to it through my work on monetary system reform.  That sounds wonky, but people are not aware of the important role that the structure of the monetary system itself plays in our economy and our lives.  They think that the government prints the money we use, and the consolidation of wealth that has occurred is because of greed, or bad luck, or other factors, when in fact it’s built into the monetary system itself.  The money we use is privately owned, and the owners – the banks – charge us interest to use it.  It’s really that simple – they create money out of air and charge us for it.  It’s a good business model if you can get it, but it’s driving human impoverishment and environmental destruction, so we need to change it.  Public banking starts the process by democratizing what we do with our public deposits.

Q. How do we make a public bank for Vermont happen?

A. Senate Bill 204 this year proposes to give the Vermont Economic Development Authority a banking license and deposit 10% of our state deposits there to start public banking in Vermont. We can support that legislation.

Q. Talk about your work as Montpelier city planner between DATES (?) – looking back, what did you see as your biggest challenges and greatest successes during your tenure?

A. I worked for the city from November of 2006 – November of 2013.  Seven years.  In that time, we adopted the country’s first 100 year plan for a city – a sustainable master plan that looks over the long term time horizon.  I received a federal grant to establish the first Care Bank in the country – a time bank based elder care program that uses time instead of money for elders to exchange.  It helps them go further on limited income.  I also raised $8M from the Department of Energy for the city to build the district heating system that’s now being used to heat the downtown in Montpelier.  We also received Growth Center designation for the city, to help us pursue affordable housing options in a city that has outpaced our residents cost for housing.

Q. In your mind, why did you lose your job as Montpelier city planner?

A. There is clear evidence that I lost my job as city planner because of the advocacy work I was doing as a private citizen for public banking.  The mayor is a lobbyist for large private banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and he pressured the City Manager to get rid of me directly because of my advocacy work on public banking.  There are two memos I have obtained through public records requests where the mayor calls me an “anti-capitalist” and tells the City Manager that “this really can’t continue” in reference to my advocacy work.  The City Manager did the mayor’s bidding – he instructed me to stop talking about public banking, and then invented false premises for firing me when I refused to give up my First Amendment rights.

Q. How did you arrive at your decision to run for Montpelier city mayor?

A. As I see it, there is unfinished work at the city to bring our land use regulations into compliance with the master plan – this is required by state law and it’s what the mayor and the leadership on the Planning Commission are trying to stop.  I’d like to see that work completed, and now it seems the only way for it to happen is as an elected official.  I’d also like to give something back to the city – it’s not a trivial piece of work to be the mayor.  It takes time and energy, and thick skin.  It doesn’t pay a lot – the mayor in Montpelier is a figurehead, the Chair of the City Council, not the CEO.  It would appear that the current mayor cares more about his private clients than he does about the city, so I’d like to make sure that someone with the city’s best interests at heart is in that position.  If no one else will do it, I will.

Q. How can Vermont citizens support your campaign?

A. I’m planning a kick-off for it on February 5th at the Local 64, a shared working space in downtown Montpelier.  People can come to that, or send campaign donations to Hallsmith for Mayor, 12 Parkside Dr., Montpelier, VT  05602.  You can also let friends you know in Montpelier know about it, so they vote for me on Town Meeting day

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2014 by in Banking, Civil Liberties, Finance, Homestead Security, Politics.

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