A little shadow receding from the national scene, but Maryland is back in the grip of COVID-19 contagion and we could use better support for working families at the state and local level. The work continues; read all about it in this week's Progressive Maryland Memo.
Progressive Maryland’s Weekly Memo for Monday, November 16, 2020
UP FRONT FOR PROGRESSIVES
Statewide Justice Task Force Meeting - Postponed from 11/12 to THIS Thursday, 11/19 at 5:30pm. RSVP here.
- In this Thursday’s Justice Task Force Meeting, we will be discussing three of our legislative demands around police reform in Maryland and how we can organize to make them a reality. We’ll hear from some of our leaders across the state on three of our legislative priorities: Repealing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, passing Anton’s Law, and removing police from our schools. Join us to learn how you can be a part of it.
TOMORROW -- Introduction of Bill to Remove Police from Our MoCo Schools: Tuesday, November 17 --11:45 am. County Council Meeting. Introduction of Bill to Remove Police from Schools. JUFJ Watch Party -- The SRO Bill introduction begins at 11:45 am with a press conference at 12 pm. Watch through the County Council webpage or join the Jews United for Justice Watch Party at 11:15 to see it all! Sign up here.
- Progressive Maryland Anne Arundel is having our next Fair Election Taskforce Meeting this Wednesday the 18th at 6:30pm. Sign up to attend here https://secure.everyaction.com/rjBjZGkUD0iS55edTSSa-A2.
Maryland elections officials report that some are still counting votes from the presidential election. It appears there have been a range of experiences during this general election season but the huge turnout facilitated by routine mail-in voting is bringing various levels of officialdom to conclude that once COVID is history, those methods should continue, as the WaPo reports. Next up: universal registration, which we can achieve with a system that features automatic registration at 18, with an opt-out provision. Let’s work for it.
From our friends and allies at Health Care for America Now:
“COVID is raging, with 183,000 infections in just one day over this past weekend and numbers predicted to worsen as people gather for the holidays. More than 1400 people died of COVID in the U.S. on Friday, more than any other nation of the world. States, facing massive burdens on hospitals and increasing death counts are reconsidering shutdowns and other measures that would slow the spread of disease. Chicago, New Mexico, Oregon all announced stay at home order, restrictions on the number of people who can gather and shutdowns last week. Of course there was backlash. Other states implemented mask mandates, travel restrictions and other measures. Read more.”
In Maryland, the positivity rate is climbing ominously as the state “reported 1,840 new cases of the coronavirus and nine more deaths Sunday because new cases continued to surge in Western Maryland and in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. corridor. “ The latest county-level restrictions are rounded up in this Sun article.
This devastating news is a reminder that all of us need to double down on masking, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and limiting or eliminating non-essential travel for the time being. Please carefully consider the size and safety of any holiday gatherings you’re considering, donate if you can to organizations doing COVID relief work, and express your support for our public health officials and their efforts at this crucial time.
Stay tuned to PM’s emails and social media posts for an invitation to an upcoming statewide COVID-19 Forum in mid-December.
In related news, Governor Hogan held two press conferences last week to discuss the rapid increase of cases and hospitalizations in Maryland. In his appearance on Thursday he announced that the state will allocate about $70 million in federal aid during this period. The $70 million includes $20 million for personal protective equipment, $10 million for rental housing assistance for low-income residents, $10 million for food banks, $15 million for the Maryland Department of Labor to increase staffing of its unemployment insurance services, funding for foster care programs, and expanded hours in the Department of Human Services.
Advocates appreciate the Governor's action but this $70 million allocation is definitely a case of too little, too late. Neighboring states have allocated far more money to rent relief and financial aid for their residents. Many states have done a better job of taking a comprehensive approach to managing the overlapping health and economic crises. Maryland should follow suit. For example, all the CARES Act money the state (and local governments) received needs to be brought to bear on the needs of families and communities to help them get through this challenging time.The Governor must assure every unemployed Marylander that the UI system is fully functional and able to process every application in with speed -- which, we learn, remains debatable. We also think it’s past time our Governor expresses tangible support for our public school teachers and public workers. We need more consistent communication, support, and leadership from him. We all benefit when our neighbors have the full housing, food, health and financial security they need. Please take a moment to sign and share this petition to Governor Hogan:
Progressive Maryland turned out for the Supreme Court hearing on the Affordable Care Act Tuesday, November 10. Malcolm Heflin, one of PM’s organizers, addressed the crowd and noted that his neighborhood in Baltimore is next to one of the zip codes hardest hit by COVID in the state. He talked about the number of Marylanders who stand to lose health care coverage which is estimated to be at least 395,000 if the ACA is overturned by the Court. http://www.mdeconomy.org/aca-repeal-lawsuit-would-end-healthcare-coverage-for-395000-marylanders/
A number of the speakers highlighted the need to keep vital protections for families and individuals, like the requirement that health plans cover pre-existing conditions. Malcolm pointed out the hypocrisy of the GOP officials who have been trying for years to take away the health care of the millions of Americans covered under the ACA--they’re going after them and their plans while at the same time receiving taxpayer supported government sponsored healthcare for themselves. You can view the live stream recording on Facebook here. #SaveTheACA #ProtectOurCare #MedicareForAll.
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
Baltimore County -- Supporters and community leaders are applauding the passage of Question A, a Baltimore County Charter Amendment to establish the Citizens’ Election Fund and Commission. As of 10 AM on Saturday, November 7th, the unofficial vote count for the Baltimore County elections has Question A passing with 55.7% of the vote, outpacing the “against” votes by nearly 30,000 votes. This is a monumental step forward towards more inclusive, fair, and representative campaigns in Baltimore County. Progressive Maryland organizers joined other pro-democracy advocate groups to support this first move to democratize the county’s increasingly expensive elections and get big money out of politics in Baltimore County.
Victory in school board and judge races
- In District 1, we re-elected Progressive David Murray to the Board of Education.
- In District 4, we prevailed against a powerful incumbent and elected Shayla Adams-Stafford to the Board of Education. With Shayla on the Board, we will increase teacher salaries, remove SROs from schools, and end the school-to-prison pipeline.
- In District 5, we re-elected Progressive Raaheela Ahmed to the Board of Education
- In District 7, we elected Kenneth Harris, who will expand universal pre-K, increase teacher salaries, and remove SROs, to the Board of Education.
- In District 8, we re-elected Progressive Ed Burroughs to the Board of Education.
- In the county-wide circuit court judge race, we elected Gladys Weatherspoon, who has spent her career fighting back against injustice and working to protect the rights of marginalized people.
Progressive Prince George’s Post-Election Stats:
- 30 volunteers in total completed a phonebank shift and/or poll canvassing shift
- 22 canvassing shifts at the polls completed by Progressive Maryland volunteers during Early Voting and Election Day
- 5,721 total calls into District 4 made between 9/23-10/28
Activist organizations, including Progressive Montgomery, organized successfully against Montgomery County’s Question B, an austerity charter amendment that would have capped local taxes and severely impaired the county’s ability to support public services like parks and libraries. Montgomery County Question B (prohibit override of property-tax limit) • For: 118,543; • Against: 166,169 Here’s a recent but still incomplete update from Bethesda Beat; as noted above, MoCo is still counting ballots.
Bill to Remove Police from Our Schools:
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 11:45 am. County Council Meeting. Introduction of Bill to Remove Police from Schools. JUFJ Watch Party
- The SRO Bill introduction begins at 11:45 am with a press conference at 12 pm. Watch through the County Council webpage or join the Jews United for Justice Watch Party at 11:15 to see it all! Sign up here.
Progressive Maryland Anne Arundel is having our next Fair Election Taskforce Meeting this Wednesday the 18th at 6:30pm. Sign up to attend here https://secure.everyaction.com/rjBjZGkUD0iS55edTSSa-A2.
EVENTS FROM OUR ALLIES
TONIGHT Monday, November 16
Lewis, Congressman for Georgia’s 5th district since 1987, was a man cast into extraordinary times dedicated to seeking justice for the marginalized and ignored. While the film spans more than half a century of courage, confrontations and triumphs, it also provides a current message of being steadfast, politically engaged and compassionate during vitally interesting times. Discussion leaders include SCLC PG and PG Change Makers reps.
Wednesday Nov 18 | 6:30-8:30
The newly ratified Prince George’s Branch of Metro DC DSA will introduce ourselves to our fellow Prince George’s and Maryland progressives in a virtual outreach event. Join us for speakers and workshops focused on ending the school to prison pipeline, on housing, health care, police accountability, progressive legislation, imagining a different community. For Zoom link, click here
Tuesday, Nov 17 | 6 PM and Thursday, Nov 19 | 2 PM
Virtual reports and analysis (6 PM Nov. 17) and panel on building an antiracist state budget in the 2021 General Assembly session (2 PM Nov. 18) presented by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. Info and registration at link.
Monday, November 23
7 – 8:30 PM | Socialist Night School: The Healthcare Fallout
Speaker panel of healthcare activists and policy experts discussing the problems of our healthcare system made worse by COVID-19 and how to fight for Medicare for All
Sunday, December 6
2 – 4:30 PM | MoCo DSA December Branch Meeting
We’ll be joined by state delegates (and MoCo DSA members) Gabe Acevero and Vaughn Stewart, who will discuss the upcoming state legislative session and which bills we may want to advocate on.
Reading the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace: our recent blog posts are shown below, but if you want a handy way to keep track – and never miss a blog post – you can sign up to get this Weekly Memo by email. Remember this is your blogspace and your participation is heartily invited. See something going on that you don’t like – or that you do like and hope to see more of? Send us your thoughts; submit to the moderator at [email protected]
November 10, 2020 Progressive Maryland celebrates wins of endorsed candidates, ballot measures statewide
Progressive Maryland volunteers campaigned for progressive candidates across the state leading up to Election Day 2020, including urging smart mail-in voting during the pandemic. In Baltimore City and in the second-largest county, Prince George's city council and school board candidates endorsed by Progressive Maryland were swept to victory. Read all about it here.
The efforts of activists and volunteers have given us a window to better days, an effective campaign to defeat and recover from COVID-19 and bring relief -- and improved living and working conditions -- for all people, especially those left out during the "good old days" that were good only for the privileged.
Now the task is to push that window wide open and make government work for everyone. Join Progressive Maryland, as Thanksgiving approaches, in gratitude for the narrow escape that we fought for and won, and the chance for improvements that last. If we fight for them.
November 03, 2020 VOTE TODAY. And vote informed
Nearly 2.3 million Marylanders have voted in early voting or by mail. If you or someone you know were not among them, today is the day to put a bow on it. Safely. Aware of scams.
Even if you are not registered you can make your voice heard today by casting a ballot. See how, and more, below. Updated with scam warnings.
October 28, 2020 Where is it easiest (and hardest) to vote? Where is Maryland?
Maryland's barriers to voting are few compared to some other states, but that doesn't mean we should be complacent. And in states where voting IS hard, we might consider how to help our friends and their neighbors get their votes counted. See where our state falls in the rankings, easiest to hardest.
October 12, 2020 Fines, fees dog returning citizens here -- not just in Florida
Marylanders shocked by Florida's vindictive requirement that ex-felons must pay off all fees before they can vote should know that equally onerous requirements hobble returning citizens iin Maryland as well. In Florida, GOP legislators connived to suppress votes after the state's voters, in a referendum, determined that ex-felons should enjoy the right to vote. In Maryland, not so dramatically, the impediiments to resumng life in society pile up with equal, remorseless tenacity. Maryland Matters's Hannah Gaskill recounts testimony from the Job Opportunities Task Force, our progressive ally organization focusing on the ways poverty is criminalized and perpetuated in our state.
Time is running out for the Maryland General Assembly to do what its clear duties require and meet in Special Session to finish their work from the cut-off session in spring 2020 and remedy the shortfalls of the Hogan administration in keeping the state's people and economy protected from the effects of COVID-19.
Here, a participant in the recent People's Special Session recounts how the leaders of the Assembly tried -- and failed -- to pre-empt or muffle these demands by crashing the People's Special Session.
As Rashad Lloyd says here in a Maryland Matters commentary, "The people won’t forget the harm the General Assembly has caused by failing to take action. We certainly won’t forget this moment when they’re up for reelection in 2022."
REMEMBER – these blog posts are frequently expressions of political opinion from our wide-ranging membership and circle of allies. They are not expressions of opinion by Progressive Maryland. Don’t be surprised if they sometimes vary in their political content. You might even disagree with them – a good reason to contribute a blog of your own. Send it to the moderator, Woody Woodruff, at [email protected]
>>Keeping up with the blogs is easier with the index. The blogs published in the PM BlogSpace from June 2015 through December 2016 are all available with descriptions and links here. You can follow blogs for 2017-18 starting from here