The Weekly Memo is taking a week off, but we don't want you to miss important news that concerns progressive activists -- and struggling working families in Maryland -- that fall in the hammock between Christmas and New Year's.
Local special elections; inequities in how to get federal money (it's an art!); Maryland's gains in diversity; Maryland COVID data returns from ransomware exile; and more.
A reminder: we swipe a lot of our news coverage throughout the year from the nonprofit news sites Maryland Matters and Maryland Reporter. They deserve your support in this giving time. As Maryland taxpayers you are already supporting the nationally acclaimed Capital News Service at UM's Merrill College of Journalism, where skilled student reporters provide statewide coverage that's used by many of our local papers across the state.
Progressive Maryland's Membership Assembly is Saturday, January 8 and we'll build momentum for the legislative session and a busy 2022. See more below.
News you can use gets stale quickly, especially if you are distracted by the holidays (we are, too). Here's some that you might miss between now and New Year's.
Thank you for attending our events, sending emails to elected officials, making calls, and signing petitions. We need to continue building on our organizing in 2022 — we have to reach more Marylanders, continue winning in Annapolis, and secure progressive victories at the ballot box in the June and November elections.
You can learn about our plans and meet like-minded Marylanders at our virtual statewide Progressive Maryland Membership Assembly on Saturday, January 8, 2022. All you need to do to attend is become a Progressive Maryland (at $5 a month, $10 a month, or with a waived dues membership). Here’s the link to join. https://www.progressivemaryland.org/join
Once you join, we’ll send you the RSVP link for the Membership Assembly. We're looking forward to January 8th (11am–2pm) and a chance to be with our supporters and to hear from PM's grassroots leaders and members, progressive elected officials, and some of our endorsed candidates for 2022!
Now, the news.
Harking back to a piece we did in the PM BlogSpace earlier, POLITICO has taken a long look at the opportunities for building community resilience via the huge fund lode in the “Bipartisan Infrastructure bill” that did pass late this year. It is meant to help frontline communities (like Maryland’s Eastern Shore or mountain west – but are they prepared to jump the hurdles it takes to get the dough?
“Washington is providing hundreds of billions of dollars to develop clean energy, eliminate contaminated drinking water and help communities withstand floods, storms and other calamities driven by climate change.
“Many supporters’ big fear: Those who most need the cash will be unable to navigate the federal bureaucracy required to obtain it.
“[Federal] agencies are under enormous pressure to use much of this money to revive communities at the forefront of the energy transition — including struggling rural coal towns and inner-city communities of color that disproportionately suffer from pollution.”
Fun fact: According to the Census Bureau’s Diversity Index — a formula that measures the probability that two people chosen randomly will be from different ethnic or racial groups — Maryland saw the largest gain of any state in the U.S. since 2010.
And where did we get that fun fact? From this POLITICO deep dive into the Democrats’ prospects for recapturing our state’s governors’ mansion in 2022. Two skilled political reporters show the advantages and disadvantages of parachuting into local issues.
Thursday, from Union City: No holiday for labor effort in Jan 4 PG Special Election
With the Special Election for the Prince George’s County Council District 8 vacancy coming up in just 13 days, the Metro Washington Council’s Member-to-Member phonebanks are up and running for labor-endorsed candidate Edward Burroughs. CLICK HERE for the schedule – which runs through the holidays – leading up to the January 4 Election Day. Burroughs, who spoke to Metro Council delegates Tuesday night while out door-knocking, reiterated his “strong, strong support for labor” and promised to “stand shoulder to shoulder with you on your issues and concerns.” With over 8,000 union members in the district, “We can win this,” said Metro Council president Dyana Forester.
From last Tuesday – Maryland statewide covid data was in a two-week hiatus due to third-party action, like ransomware. The updated data showed that the state has seen an increase of 28,541 cases since Dec. 3. During the same time frame, the statewide seven-day average testing positivity rate nearly doubled from 5.43% on Dec. 3 to 10.27%.
[Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters]
JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORMERS HAVE HOPE IN UPCOMING SESSION: Supporters of juvenile justice reform in Maryland are hopeful the time has come to end the policy of automatically charging children as adults for certain crimes — a practice that many other states have changed in recent years. Brian Witte/The Associated Press, relayed by Maryand Reporter.
More on the session:
The Job Opportunity Task Force Baltimore-based newsletter focuses on low-income families and individuals who suffer from the "criminalization of poverty" built into our legal system. They have an Assembly session agenda worth everyone's look.
Update on the Governor's race: Here's the Baltimore Sun's regular update on Maryland's lineup for governor.
The Patuxent Riverkeeper, Fred Tutman, and others who actually want to protect Maryland's longest in-state river against development seem to have run afoul of state officials who are more interested in sprawl than in healthy landscape. They've been kicked off the Patuxent Watershed Commission and the rationale is pretty lame.
At the federal level, news of the three broken branches: POLITICO Playbook Wednesday reported numerous senators still voicing optimism about BBB, including: For example, after the [Democratic Caucus call, which included Joe Manchin], Sen. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Md.) told Playbook, “Feeling confident that we will find a way to move forward on a revised version of our plan to expand opportunity for every American, cut the cost of prescription drugs and child care, and tackle the climate crisis.”
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