Good Reads for the Week from Progressive Maryland

The Progressive Maryland Weekend Reader -- (Actually because of a cyber-hiccup appearing at the beginning of the week, this week) Here’s a collection of interesting reads for progressives from inside and outside Maryland.

A Greenbelt activist argues that the most under-observed act of local governments in Maryland is also among the  most crucial – budgeting, spending the people’s money. The local government budgeting process throughout the state, she says, should become more open and transparent but also get more attention from concerned citizens, who let the process go under the radar and then suffer – and gripe about – the consequences. It’s from the aggregator Maryland Reporter.

 

The way racism deforms the quest for housing justice is explored by the New York Time’s deep-dive researching columnist Tom Edsall – and his examples of choice are Baltimore City and Baltimore  County, where federal efforts at housing integrated by race and class are running afoul of Baltimore County’s long history of whites-only resistance.

Since the New Deal, domestic workers – originally excluded from the Social Security system and marginalized ever since – have struggled to catch up with the rights painfully gained by all workers. Illinois, we learn here from Portside and In These Times, is the seventh state to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (Maryland is not one of them). The fight for a national bill continues.
How are we ever going to fix this economy? In the background of our present strife, some serious people are working on models for really different systems of exchange. One of our favorite undertakings is the “Next System” project, and they have just released another four in a series of important alternative scenarios.

 

Exelon’s move to wrap up the local electric power business is still pending in DC and activists are joining the People’s Counsel there in contesting the Mayor’s high-handed cooptation of the DC Public Service Commission. The sleazy way the Maryland PSC OKed the Exelon takeover of Maryland’s portion of Pepco is still remembered but probably not reversible – only a strong movement to take back public control of public power supply will end the corporate domination of that essential product. But DC is fighting to the last gasp, as we hear from Utility Dive.

 

The feisty news blog Baltimore Brew has a strong take on the scathing Justice Department report on the Baltimore PD, with lessons that need to be learned by departments across the state and taken to heart as progressive activists plan to improve on the partial reforms we won in the legislature this past year.

 

D.C.’s think tank the Urban Institute has a (wonkish alert!) interesting and depressing report on how the cost of housing almost dictates that local urban communities cannot – just cannot – meet the housing needs of the working poor and low-income workers. It includes a scenario you can use to juggle the available tools, various sorts of public subsidies, to work toward the affordable housing goal. The alternative of declaration of a housing emergency and use of eminent domain to lower overall land prices is unfortunately not in the Urban Institute tool kit. We wonder if that tool will look less extreme as the emergency broadens.