As Maryland struggles with the effects of COVID-19 and state officials' responses -- some better than others -- issues of national and state relief packages and promises, flattening the infection curve, education practices as schools open, getting a good census count for the future and making sure our voters make a plan to vote and get theirs counted are on our minds. Find issue analysis and resources in the Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo, along with our events calendar and blog posts.
Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 24, 2020
A GOOD CENSUS COUNT is critical for all counties, but particularly for those with high minority populations, traditionally the hardest to reach. Undercounts are particularly devastating. At Prince George’s County’s 450 Coalition virtual meeting Saturday (Aug. 22), a rep from the Census Bureau, Julius Maina, reported on Prince George’s County’s and the state’s experience as the Census project adapts to the times of quarantine and pandemic. Maryland, Maina reported, has a better level of both self-reported responses (68.8 to 64.4 percent) and of reports from teams making (82.6 to 76.5 percent)household contacts as the suddenly-shortened timeframe for improving the count looms For any jurisdiction, though, the goal is 100 percent.
The 450 Coalition conveners are the Dist. 24 (Prince George’s) General Assembly delegation. The Census Bureau is headquartered in Suitland, Prince George’s. Find info about counties in Maryland and their 2020 Census response rates at
Contact the Bureau’s Julius Maina Julius.firstname.lastname@example.org, Prince George’s (Bowie) resident and rep Robin Brown email@example.com or at County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’s office contact Jordan Baucom Colbert PGCensus2020@mncppc.org
Be sure to make your plan to vote in the General Election--it’s only 10 weeks away. Not only will we be casting our votes for President and our U.S. House Representatives, but in many jurisdictions we will also be voting for important school board candidates and judicial seats. Critical ballot measures around campaign finance reform and taxes are also in play in a number of counties.
How to Vote:
Vote by absentee ballot. Request a ballot. Text VBM to 77788. Or call (240) 777-8533. Once you receive your ballot, fill it out, follow the instructions for returning it (by mail or to a drop off box.) Note that absentee ballot request forms are scheduled to be mailed in September but if you want to be proactive it’s okay to request one now.
Vote in person during the Early Voting period from October 26-November 2. Each county will have some designated sites and will set up safe, physically distanced voting places. Check your County Board of Elections website for locations and hours.
Vote in person on Election Day. Counties will open some polling locations on Tuesday November 3. Check your local Board of Elections website for information.
We highly recommend (unless you need special assistance) requesting an absentee ballot now and voting as soon as you receive the ballot. If you have any questions or problems with any aspect of voting call: 866 Our Vote (866) 687-8683
To register to vote go to the State Board of Elections website and you’ll be directed to your County Board of Elections s website where you can obtain a voter registration form.
Not sure you’re registered?
Follow the same steps to check whether you’re on the voter registration rolls.
Call for a Special Session
The unprecedented health and economic crisis the state and country are experiencing continue to affect every aspect of our lives. It’s long been apparent that the Trump Administration and Senator Mitch McConnell are not prepared to work around the clock to protect Americans in order to save lives and livelihoods. Nor are they willing to commit to the resources that families, communities, non-profit organizations, and small businesses need in order to weather this storm. In Maryland, tens of thousands of residents are out of work, families are struggling to meet bills, and schools are dealing with unprecedented challenges. In light of these conditions and the weaknesses in the Federal response we really need all lawmakers to be hands on deck in Maryland. Unfortunately one critical branch of our government for all intents and purposes has been missing in action and that’s the General Assembly.
That has to change. On the state level it’s been the Governor who is driving the response to the overlapping crisis(es) and his response has not matched the enormity of the situation. For example, studies show that more than 347,000 Marylanders are at risk of eviction and our Governor has failed to act. We’re facing a potential $300 million revenue loss due to business tax breaks in the federal CARES Act that can only be addressed by decoupling the state from these federal tax provisions. We can’t afford to leave $300 million on the table. Yet, despite the urgency of these issues, the General Assembly can’t really respond.
In the past several weeks, State Senators and Delegates have tried to provide constituent services; and many are speaking out about the need to safeguard the election and the postal service, the failures of the state unemployment system, and the need to look at criminal justice reforms. But in order to fully deliver on these matters, legislation needs to be enacted, more aid needs to be deployed, and legislative oversight needs to be leveraged. That can only really happen when the legislature is meeting and fully operational.
That’s why Progressive Maryland joined with seventy labor, faith, and community organizations earlier this month to demand that a special session of the Maryland General Assembly be convened as quickly as possible. A window of opportunity is opened by the Attorney General’s opinion delivered recently. We need everyone to get involved. If you want to volunteer to help us in this fight click here.
A ROUNDUP OF NATIONAL ISSUES AND ACTION -- From our national affiliate People’s Action
The past week saw DC kick into action over the postal service crisis.--The House on Saturday passed legislation that would allocate $25 billion in operating funds to the U.S. Postal Service and prevent any changes to its operations that could slow delivery of mailed-in ballots for this fall’s election. Nearly all House Dems and 20+ Republicans backed the bill. (The Hill)
There was also talk in DC of the possibility of moving anew on the relief negotiations, given that House members were back in town, but Speaker Pelosi pushed back on that. holding tight to maintain her leverage for a broader relief package rather than the skimpy Relief Lite package sought by the White House.
On both issues: CALL YOUR U.S. SENATORS, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen: We need to keep pushing for the Senate to reconvene and get back to the negotiating table and bring critical relief and USPS’ critical role in election security up for a vote.
And JOIN A U.S. POSTAL SERVICE ACTION: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25, thousands of people will take action across America alongside the American Postal Service Union with one clear message – #SaveThePostOffice. Actions are calling for the government to provide at least $25 billion (the bill the House passed Saturday) in immediate support for the Postal Service and to stop the mail slowdown policies introduced by Postmaster General DeJoy, which are after all just reversible decisions of his. Find An Action or Sign Up to Host One
And check out the THRIVE/ RECOVERY AGENDA CALL: Prepare to pass a much bolder package for Relief, Recovery, and Transformation… it’s Wednesday, Aug. 25, 8 PM; see our Allies calendar below or register here.
Progressive Maryland continues to work with allied healthcare and community groups to push for the comprehensive and ongoing response we need at the local, state and federal level to COVID-19. This Thursday, August 27th at 7:00 p.m. we’re co-hosting with Right Care Alliance, CASA, and Impact Silver Spring a virtual Community Forum on COVID-19 in Montgomery County. We’ll be joined by At-large Councilmember Gabe Albornoz.
RSVP here Click here to RSVP to the forum!
Contact Josh Raznick, MOCO lead organizer to learn more. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, Aug 27 -- The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools- Prince George's County's Parent/Teacher Group Circle Meeting 4-6 PM
Register on Zoom: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJArcOGsrTMqHNx4gHP59hJbTzomU1FV2T7r
Description: We cordially invite all Parents, Teachers, and Community members of the seven schools we work with (Langley Park McCormick E.S., Mary Harris “Mother Jones” E.S., Edward M. Felegy E.S., Templeton E.S., Mt. Rainier E.S., Beacon Heights E.S., and International H.S. at Largo) to our open meeting this Thursday, August 27, 2020 from 4-6PM to find out how you can get involved with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools in PG County and support Community Schools in PG County! Please reach out to Karen Guzmán- email@example.com and Evie Frankl- firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to confirm your participation!
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
EVENTS FROM OUR ALLIES STATEWIDE
Wednesday, Aug 26 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Discuss clean energy policy in Maryland and the Democratic platform’s climate plan. With special guest MD Sen. Chris Van Hollen*, Maryland – Speakers include: MD Del. Brooke Lierman, Adam Ortiz, Johanna Neumann, ( 100% Renewable Campaign) Mike Tidwell, CCAN; Jahi Wise (Green Capital); Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, (350.org).
Wednesday Aug 26 8 PM (EST) - The THRIVE Agenda Mass Call an event passed along by People’s Action- The THRIVE/ Recovery Agenda puts forth a climate-ambitious, pro-worker, pro-racial justice economic recovery! People’s Action is working on this with the Green New Deal Network. Join us on Wednesday to remember Hurricane Katrina, 15 years later, celebrate the Gulf South, and learn about THRIVE. RSVP: here for the call
OUR RECENT BLOG POSTS
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@example.com
Activists around Maryland are planning events Saturday (Aug. 22) in support of the embattled US Postal Service and its key role in mail-in voting as the pandemic makes in-person voting risky for some. Find where they are here.
August 19, 2020 Wednesday Wrap -- Postal reversal, Bay decline, other scandals
As the week rolls on it's easy to miss some of the juiciest outrages affecting Maryland -- the USPS slowdown and its aftermath doesn't give Congress DeJoy; bye bye to a Hogan staff chief who cashed in too visibly (Larry is more careful); Hogan's "rain tax" gambit besmirches his stewardship of the Bay, and more. Should we be ashamed of always looking at the downside? Well, maybe -- but we aren't.
August 17, 2020 Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 17, 2020
In the Memo this week -- the need for a special session of the General Assembly gains traction; fighting for the right of the mail to go through in an election year, how to ensure your vote in Maryland; events from our allies around Maryland and of course our recent blog posts, curated for you.
In a major victory for organizations demanding solutions from the Maryland General Assembly to address the looming eviction crisis on Friday August 14th, a letter from the Maryland Attorney General lays out a pathway for the General Assembly to reconvene.
In the absence of any leadership from state government, top Assembly leaders and county/city school superintendents work to plan how to safely create school environments -- in-school or remote -- and what they need to make the school systems both safe and effective. Their list of needs is long and the response from the Hogan administration and state schools officials sounds suspiciously like crickets. These two accounts describe a thoughtful encounter Thursday (Aug. 13) between two state Senate leaders and three school superintendents (and readers of the BlogSpace can stream the whole discussion) as well as an opinion piece earlier this week by Sen. Paul Pinsky, who chairs the Senate education panel and was one of the participants. Pinsky lays out the concerns raised by the health emergency and some practices that might make a difference.
Progressive Maryland joined activist groups representing workers, tenants, immigrants, parents, students and others who pledged on Wednesday to ramp up their campaign to bring the Maryland General Assembly back to Annapolis for a special session. This article from Maryland Matters outlines our campaign.
August 12, 2020 We must have a Special Session -- ramping up the campaign
These times demand that our elected representatives take decisive action to aid the people of our state.
However this is not happening. Hard-pressed Marylanders increasingly call on the General Assembly to reconvene for a special session to address our current crisis. Our executive director, Larry Stafford Jr., weighs the options here and explains why today, Progressive
Maryland is joining with 70 labor, faith, and community organizations in the demand for a special session of the Maryland General Assembly.
August 11, 2020 Progressive Maryland launches leadership development program
Progressive Maryland "has launched a program to train and educate potential candidates for office and other political advocates " as we see in this article from Maryland Matters, the insightful statewide political blog. The site's founder/editor, longtime state political observer Josh Kurtz, outlined the plan and the people in an article posted yesterday (Monday, Aug. 10).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
>>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