Public Banks exist around the world. They are used to hold public dollars, such as taxes and fees, to keep the money local so it serves the public interest, instead of giving it to Wall Street banks who charge high fees and interest rates. There is only one public bank so far in the United States, the Bank of North Dakota. It has been in existence for almost 100 years. Now, thanks to the work of the Public Banking Institute, there is a vibrant movement to create more public banks in the U.S. at the city and state level. We speak with Walt McRee and John Comerford about the reasons to support public banks, how they would serve people instead of Wall Street profits and current efforts across the country.
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Walt McRee was Chair of the Public Banking Institute (PBI) Board from 2015 – 2017. He continues to donate his time to PBI by coordinating the monthly coalition and coordinator calls. Prior to becoming Chair, Walt was a Senior Advisor to PBI from its earliest days in early 2011 while also serving as a Director of the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project. Following a career in broadcasting, Walt became a media strategist and consultant, writer, producer, marketing entrepreneur, voice talent. In these roles, he developed national media campaigns for world hunger, the environment, public broadcasting and the arts. As Founder and CEO of the Alliance for Public Broadcasting, Inc. he pioneered and implemented new fundraising principles and programs for use in public radio and TV stations nationwide. Walt produces and co-hosts the bi-weekly radio program “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown,” hosts PBI’s TV program “The Public Bank Solution” and has written and produced a number of videos for PBI.
John Comerford is the President of The United States Retirement Corporation, a Seattle based pension consulting firm (www.retirecorp.com). Both John’s business career and his academic research have been focused on the interrelationship between public policy and organizational/individual decision making. John graduated from the University of Massachusetts (1970) and has earned graduate degrees from Harvard University (1984), the American College (2002), the University of London (2006) and the University of Cambridge (2008).
Over the course of his career, John has served as founder and CEO of several successful banks, including the National Cooperative Bank, Prime Bank and The Bank of Massachusetts. He began his career overseeing the outside managment of trust fund assets for the City of Boston. He has also served as a Managing Director of StockAmerica, Calvert Group and Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, a Zurich Financial Services subsidiary.
John recenty served a six year-term as Vice Chair of the Investment Advisory Board for the $3 billion City of Seattle’s Public Employees Retirement System. He is currently Treasurer and Trustee of the Seattle World Affairs Council and Chair of the Queen Anne Food Bank at Sacred Heart. Governor Inslee has appointed John to his second term on the Board of the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority and the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate have appointed John to the Task Force on Infrastructure and Public Banking. John also serves on the Finance Committee of the Rainier Club and is a founding member of the Northwest Friends of the Carter Center, having served in the Administration of President Jimmy Carter, where he organized a White House Conference on Economic Development.
John has also served as a member of the University of Cambridge Governing Board and on President Obama’s Committee for Retirement Security as well as on the National Community Investment Advisory Board. Through the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, John currently provides pension and retirement related financial counseling to military service members.
John holds honorable discharges from the U.S. Air Force and was nominated for the U.S. Congress in 1992 and 1994 and Washington State Treasurer in 2016.
John and his wife Sheia live in Seattle and have one daughter.
Earned Industry Designations
ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant)
CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter)
RHU (Registered Health Underwriter)
GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources)
REBC (Registered Employee Benefits Consultant)
RF (Registered Fiduciary
AIF (Accredited Investment Fiduciary)
PPC (Professional Plan Consultant)
CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist)
FLMI (Fellow, Life Management Institute)