News_You_Can_Use_graphic_(2).pngMaryland's educational establishment is already having trouble digesting the brute facts of the Blueprint for America's Future, and after last week it will have to start looking for a new top state actor to bring it about -- the incumbent state superintendent has opted to go elsewhere.

Plus power company scams, Bidenomics bullhorn in Prince George's, not enough money for transportation projects and social justice action at the county level -- is the Assembly watching? It's News You Can Use for this tumultuous week, including the chaos in Congress for dessert.


Maryland state Schools Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury announced Friday that he would not seek a second term. Choudhury has recently faced criticism from state lawmakers, former employees and others, and the WaPo chronicled allegations against him that cited a “toxic” work environment, late payments and mismanagement. WaPo  The board held a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss “a personnel matter.” Two days later on Friday, Choudhury decided to not seek a second term. WaPo and Maryland Matters via Maryland Reporter

Moore Stands By Blueprint Despite Low Scores: While acknowledging low performance scores largely related to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Wes Moore stood in firm support of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education policy at a town hall hosted by Maryland Public Television on Wednesday afternoon.  Baltimore Sun via Maryland Reporter.

Inside Climate News has a great followup on the way private power companies have been scamming low-income ratepayers in Baltimore: “Policymakers hoped deregulated energy markets would lower utility bills through open competition. Energy advocates found the opposite: retail energy companies are fleecing low-income communities of color in cities like Baltimore.” Via Megan Essaheb, People’s Action.

Biden Visits P.G. Community College To Push Policies: President Joe Biden on Thursday touted his economic policies and contrasted the results with what he called the Republicans’ “extreme” budget proposals to give more tax breaks to the wealthy and cut social programs. Bidenomics, the Democrat told a crowd at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, “is investing in America, the American people, growing the economy from the middle out from the bottom up instead of the top down.” Gov. Wes Moore (D) joined Biden, supporting key investments that he said will grow the economy, including $17.4 million in adult education. Capital News Service via Maryland Reporter

Financial Shortfall Projected For Transportation Projects: Maryland’s pending list of ambitious transportation projects — the Red Line in Baltimore, a Southern Maryland transit way and a new American Legion Bridge over the Potomac River — faced a brutal financial reality Wednesday: Officials said there’s not enough money to pay for projects already approved. WaPo

Counties Throw Shade on Assembly With Tipped Wage, Rent Stabilization Efforts: Activists in Howard County are pushing to stabilize fast-growing rent, and in Montgomery County to end the disparity between tipped wages and the minimum wage. WMAR-TV and MoCo360 via Maryland Reporter


Legal Aid, Community Groups Begin Outreach On Free Eviction Counsel Outreach is the latest phase in implementation of a 2021 state law establishing access to free legal representation for low-income tenants facing eviction in Maryland. Many tenants remain unaware of their rights in eviction proceedings, and sometimes free counsel arrives too late to keep a household in place. Maryland Matters

Early Guesses Come in About 2024’s SSI Monthlies -- Retirees will probably see a 3.2% boost in their Social Security benefits next year after consumer prices in August ticked up slightly more than expected, according to The Messenger (an online newsletter). A leading advocacy group pinned down its earlier estimate of a boost “in the 3% range. Another nonprofit estimated upward adjustment would raise the average monthly benefit by $57.30, to $1,790.

Only Around 1/3 Of Eligible Marylanders Accessing Federal Broadband Help -- Maryland recently received $267 million in federal broadband infrastructure funding, and aims to increase participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for low-income and retired folks in the state.  By one count, though, just 220,614 of 779,981 eligible Marylanders were enrolled in the program as of April 2023.The ACP provides eligible recipients with a monthly discount of up to $30 for high-speed internet services plus discounts on computer hardware.  The AARP newsletter has details.

Zero-Emissions Vehicles Sales Up, But Not Enough: The number of zero-emission vehicles sold and registered in Maryland is growing. But last year electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up just over 1% of light-duty vehicles registered in Maryland, leaving a long road to the state’s goal of ending sales of new gas-powered passenger cars and light trucks by model year 2035.  Baltimore Sun.

 How ‘Bout that Infrastructure Spending? A New Dashboard Helps – The National League of Cities just popped a new dashboard for states and local governments participating in the federal infrastructure bill. It’s right here and you can choose Maryland from among the states and see who’s going to spend what from Annapolis to Salisbury.

500 APPLY FOR 200 POSITIONS IN MOORE's YEAR-OF-SERVICE PROGRAM: About 500 people have applied for Gov. Wes Moore’s signature plan to create a year-of-service program for recent high school graduates, which is scheduled to begin next month. About 200 will be selected to begin on or around Oct. 25.  Baltimore Sun.



Tens Of Thousands Of Trees Will Be Planted In Black And Brown Communities Across The DC Area, thanks to $34 million awarded via the Inflation Reduction Act to the U.S. Forest Service. The project is designed to address the disparity in tree cover in DC’s wards 5, 7, and 8; Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties; and Fairfax County, Virginia.  Many cities have been rethinking which trees they plant due to drought and extreme weather. DCist and NextCity via Seven:Thirty  And what could go wrong? Check this NYT memoir of a children’s crusade in Canada that went way wrong.



Self-Strangling Urban Zoning Codes -- Roughly two-thirds of land zoned for housing in major U.S. cities only allows for single-family homes, an Urban Land Institute report notes, and in most cities apartments are banned in at least 70% of residential areas. Experts say that those regulations often hinder environmental and racial equity efforts. Molly Bolan reported earlier this year on the study for Route Fifty, and follows up this week with a look at how Boston is shaking off the coils of its own old code.

California Has Sued Oil Industry Giants Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and the American Petroleum Institute, alleging decades-long deception over the harms of burning fossil fuel. Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) asked a San Francisco County Superior Court to order the companies to pay into a climate mitigation and adaptation fund. (Pluribus News) MORE: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says he will sign legislation requiring corporations to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. The bill, approved last week, will apply to companies that take in more than $1 billion in annual revenue.



People’s Action fed watcher Megan Essaheb reports

People’s Action’s member organizations represented at yesterday’s March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City, which received a lot of great news coverage. The march is organized around this week’s UN general assembly and a UN climate ambition summit on Wednesday. The Guardian covered the march here and the LA Times editorial board urged everyone to join participants calls to end fossil fuels. 

...  There will likely be a government shutdown on October 1st, Essaheb opines. Here, from our Maryland neighborhood perspective, are some of the factors. 

Hope or No Hope in Shutdown Scenario: Warring factions in the House GOP Caucus appear to have agreed on a Continuing Resolution-type device (“CR”) to send to the Senate (if they can pass it out of the House --first the MAGA-stacked Rules Committee will have to OK it being debated, taking place today). It contains way too many poison pills and gaps for the minority Dems to vote for it so the weakened and endangered Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, will have to cobble together 218 GOP votes when he really doesn’t have enough (resignations, illnesses and homebound new parents have erased his five-member “majority.”)

What’s in the package, or not in it? The WaPo’s Early 202: “The proposal would lead to immediate, dramatic spending cuts across the federal government, with agency budgets being slashed by 8 percent, except for the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which would be funded at current levels.” The CR, if passed, looks from here as though it will come back from the Senate with agency funding mostly restored, gaps (Ukraine aid, disaster relief and more) filled and some border bombs defused. The Senate has its own moron-corner behavior to cope with – Tommy Tuberville’s holds on military promotions and Ron Johnson’s holds on three funding bills. The House GOP Caucus will probably not be able to pass the mangled Senate product without Dem help, but Hakeem Jeffries, House minority leader, has shown he’s no pushover – Dems will get some of what they want, maybe a lot. They’ll have to be careful about visibly delaying the end of a shutdown, though, since right now the GOP will own it outright.

Meanwhile, Megan continues, last week, the United Auto Workers (UAW) began their stand up strike for increased wages and working conditions. The strike began in three key plants, one for each automaker, leaving room for further escalation. The union is seeking 40% hourly pay increases, a reduced 32-hour workweek, a move back to traditional pensions, the elimination of compensation tiers and a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments. They point to inflation, increased sales prices, high profits and recent executive pay increases of 40%. President Biden made remarks in defense of the UAW workers saying they deserve their fair share of profits and that the companies should make a better offer. You can take action to support them here

Why are the auto workers holding out for their maximum demands? The risks brought on by bad governance, principally in Congress and Red states, make the future unstable and promises uncertain.

Politico reports that, “New data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau found that the poverty rate spiked to 12.4 percent in 2022, from 7.8 percent in the prior year, as an array of enhanced federal benefits meant to help families afford food, housing and other basic needs expired one after another. The poverty rate for children alone also hit 12.4 percent, more than doubling from 5.2 percent in 2021. The numbers represent a sharp reversal from a year earlier and an erasure of the gains made during the pandemic, when the passage of Biden’s American Rescue Plan drove the share of people in poverty to the lowest level on record, outpacing a broader economic recovery that was still in its shaky initial stages.” The expiration of the expanded refundable child tax credit that Republicans refuse to extend is one reason for the increase in poverty. 

The end of federal housing help and eviction protection also meant  Inflation Drags Real US Household Incomes by Most Since 2010. “US inflation-adjusted household income fell in 2022 by the most in over a decade, highlighting the toll of a higher cost of living and the expiration of pandemic-era programs. The median income last year was $74,580 compared with $76,330 in 2021, according to the Census Bureau’s annual reports on income, poverty and health insurance coverage.” Bloomberg



woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...