How We Handle a Controversial Article

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In July 2022, the Community Alliance newspaper printed “Smell Their Dairy Airs,” written by Kevin Hall for his “Climate Politics” column. The article was also on our website but was removed because of complaints we received. Those complaints centered on Hall’s comments relative to Beneficial State Bank, Tom Steyer, Kat Taylor and Bill McKibben’s answer to a question raised with him at his talk in Fresno on June 11.

McKibben, a well-known climate change activist and co-founder of 350.org, was in town as the featured speaker at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence 30th anniversary event held at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Fresno. He spoke about his new organization, Third Act, which encourages investment in efforts to stop human caused climate change.

In answer to a question about where people who care about the environment should invest their money, McKibben answered Beneficial State Bank.

In his column, Hall explained why he thought that was a bad answer. Reasonable people can disagree.

Moreover, Beneficial State Bank alleged that there were factual inaccuracies in the column although we were unable to substantiate any. We invited a representative from Beneficial State Bank to respond regarding the alleged inaccuracies, but the invitation was declined.

We asked Hall to review and rewrite the article. He declined too.

In an interesting twist to this controversy, the San Joaquin Valley Media Alliance, a newly formed 501(c)(3) created to help the Community Alliance newspaper and keep independent journalism alive, set up its bank account at Beneficial State Bank.  

The bank has a local branch near Shaw and Blackstone avenues, and here is what they say about their guiding principles: “Beneficial State serves the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity for all. The bank’s unique ownership structure supports these strategic priorities.

“The bank’s capital is majority-owned by the U.S. Treasury and nonprofit Beneficial State Foundation, both of which are permanently governed in the public interest. 

“Beneficial State Bank is a founding signatory of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a member of Bank.Green’s Fossil Free Banking Alliance, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and one of the world’s top-rated Certified B Corporations, awarded B Corp ‘Best for the World’ status every year since 2013.”

Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor are co-founders of Beneficial State Bank. Steyer also is a co-founder of Galvanize Climate Solutions, which gives us insight into the motivation behind his investment principles. This is from a press release issued last year:

Noted investors Katie Hall and Tom Steyer are launching a new investment platform named Galvanize Climate Solutions (“Galvanize”). Galvanize will be a mission-driven investment platform, bringing together the ingenuity of the public and private sectors to support companies that contribute meaningful solutions to securing a livable future. Galvanize believes in the use of Movement Capitalism to accelerate the adoption of clean technology and increase the rate of decarbonization.

“Movement Capitalism is an economic philosophy that employs the foundations of capitalism—innovation, entrepreneurship, competition—and merges those with the power of global activism, in support of a higher public purpose,” said Steyer. “The practice of Movement Capitalism involves not only generating profit, but also successfully addressing global challenges, such as the climate crisis.”

It’s estimated that, over the next 30 years, the global community will need to invest close to $4 trillion per year in energy transition technologies to secure a livable future. Currently, global investments total just over $800 billion per year, leaving a $3 trillion gap annually. Given the magnitude of the crisis and global political constraints, the public sector cannot close this gap without significant private sector investment.

To learn more about Beneficial State Bank, visit beneficialstatebank.com. More information about Bill McKibben and his Third Act group can be found at thirdact.org.

  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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