Invested Interests

An overview of the city of Santa Rosa’s investment portfolio raised several eyebrows at a city council meeting on April 9.

According to a presentation by the city’s investment management team, PFM Asset Management, Santa Rosa’s $298.2 million portfolio is invested in a variety of federal, state and corporate pools. The city’s corporate investments, totaling $44.7 million, include JPMorgan Chase, General Electric and the Walt Disney Company in amounts of roughly $6 million each, and Wells Fargo, Pepsi and Toyota in amounts of roughly $3 million each, among others. Additionally, roughly $3 million is invested in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

While PFM advocates so-called socially responsible investment policies by refusing corporate investments in the tobacco, firearms, alcohol, pornography, gambling and petroleum industries, councilmember Gary Wysocky pointed out that many Sonoma County residents may not consider JPMorgan Chase, GE and Wells Fargo to be socially responsible. He also questioned investments in Southern California’s water district.

Councilmember Jake Ours agreed with some of Wysocky’s concerns, calling the water district in question “the big bad guy.” Councilmember Julie Combs expressed a desire for the city to invest more in the local economy, ultimately voting not to amend the city’s current practice to allow municipal investments out of state.

While the amendment passed, council asked city staff to research the boundaries of the poorly titled social responsibility clause, to be discussed at a later date.