Introducing PM’s Weekend Reader: smart growth, community internet, community supported fisheries and Maryland’s mental health crisis

Introducing a weekend reading list, as if you needed another one: good reads, mostly about Maryland, in our PM Weekend Reader.

Introducing PM’s Weekend Reader: smart growth, community internet, community supported fisheries and Maryland’s mental health crisis

 Not that any of us have any more time on weekends than on weekdays any more, thanks to flexible scheduling that benefits bosses and drives workers crazy.

But your grizzled moderator remembers the “Weekly Reader” of his misspent youth and thinks “Weekend Reader” is a good handle for an every-Friday roundup of interesting recent reads in a progressive vein. Here are some summaries and links:

In Charles County, a comprehensive plan embodying smart growth has been passed after a long struggle with the development interests. The Smarter Growth Alliance said “For the first time in the county's history, we have a growth plan that preserves our environmental assets and curbs destructive sprawl development.” The Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club celebrates it here.

Scattered farm towns in Minnesota are getting together and building their own broadband networks, bypassing corporate offerings that overcharge for slooooow access. It’s one step in working out of top-down financialized services and building local control and cooperative economics. This account is from Yes! Magazine.

You’ve read about CSAs – “community supported agriculture” where you pay up front to a local farm and get a share of what the farm produces. Maybe you’ve joined one. Now there’s a community supported fishery in Annapolis. The Sun has the story.

Maryland’s disgraceful record on mental health care has left many who are in need of care instead parked in jails awaiting evaluation and treatment, as the WaPo points out in a useful editorial. Van Mitchell, Gov. Hogan’s secretary of health and mental hygiene, was contrite before a judge in Baltimore last week about the state’s dismal record, for which the judge had threatened contempt of court charges. The O’Malley administration’s performance (as Mitchell was quick to point out) had obviously been no prize either, but Secy. Mitchell, a conservative Democrat and former Charles County delegate, has a longtime finger in this pie as the department’s second in command during much of the Ehrlich administration. The WaPo editorial, with a recommendation for privatizing needed mental health care rather than building a supposed excess of public facilities for mental health treatment, shows the paper’s pathological horror of public-ness, meaning public employee unions, for anything. But the paper is right that institutionalization is nothing like the whole answer and outpatient care can ease the state’s shameful shortfall. Still, those of us with long memories recall that this cascade of mental health crises, along with our continuing scourge of homelessness, began back in the Reagan era when mental health institutions (some of them, admittedly, places of Hollywood-level horror) were emptied without any community care resources provided to transition those in need into secure and nurturing situations. Maryland is reaping that continuing whirlwind, like other states, but the Hogan administration is showing very few signs of understanding or addressing it adequately.


Just like us, you may find it helpful to check out the state aggregators Center Maryland and Maryland Reporter for ready links to articles from around the state. A PM blog post on how to get your info in Maryland in an era of transition to digital is here.