These are critical moments as Congress fumbles a foundation for working families' recovery, there's nobody in charge of quelling the pandemic, and Gov. Hogan resists the evidence that mail-in voting is the way to ensure everyone in Maryland's ability to vote in November.
We have tools for action at every level in this Monday's Memo. Build power, take charge.
Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, August 3, 2020
THE NATIONAL PICTURE Dispatches from our national affiliate, People’s Action
Top things to do related to the People’s Bailout this week include:
Maryland Activists: circulate our action portal (ppls.ac/PeoplesBailout) via email and social media to your local lists - this allows people to email, call, and Tweet at US Senators about our priorities. You can access the People’s Action/ People’s Bailout social media toolkit for the Week of August 3rd (social media toolkit here) with more information and graphics to share.
Public health/COVID 19 national info: Hope for a reliable vaccine against COVID-19 is of course entangled with political advantage: The optimism [from Dr. Anthony Fauci and others) about an eventual vaccine... is now accompanied by ample doses of caution in the public health community because of pressure to approve it before it might actually be ready. (NYTimes) Trump is dying for an October Surprise while folks around the country are dying of this mismanaged crisis.
The next move from Congress: Differences between House & Senate Bills as of today (Monday) are laid out in: this NY Times Piece, this CNBC piece, and here in Reuters. There’s also a great explainer that the Progressive Caucus Action Fund put together.
Our pitch: a collective of national networks and unions advocating together. The top action items prioritizing in the Senate relief include:
One trillion dollars in state and local aid to safely reopen schools, avoid mass layoffs, and maintain essential services emphatically including child care. <> An Essential Workers Bill of Rights that covers all people required to work in physical proximity to other people during the crisis, <> Modest but essential immigrant inclusion provisions.
People’s Action supports all of these priorities and we have a few additional priorities of our own around housing (canceling rent & ending evictions), healthcare (less private, more public), cash (recurring payments), unemployment insurance (extending through year-end and keeping the $600 bonus), and more.
How we fight: demonstrate the depth and scale of the crisis in our communities and states; elevate issues that other progressives are not necessarily talking loudly enough about - i.e. housing and healthcare in particular; put pressure on Congress to get a meaningful new installment on a People’s Bailout before they go on recess. Many agree this will be Congress’s last chance to act before the general election in November.
General Election Update: As more and more states, the most recent example being Nevada, decide to move to a mostly vote-by-mail system Governor Hogan refuses to give voters in our state that right. Voting-by-mail has proven to be the safest and best way to guarantee the highest possible voter turnout (provided there are not other limits or voter suppression tactics in place.) Local election officials from both major parties, advocacy groups, and everyday Marylanders support a streamlined and safe way to cast their ballots for this consequential 2020 election. Giving Marylanders only two options, absentee voting or in-person voting, when the pandemic is worsening, amounts to suppressing the vote. We used vote-by-mail for the June Primary Election. We can do that again to cast our ballots in the General. There’s still time for the state to implement this.
Urge the Governor to do the right thing. Call him this week at
410-974- 3901 or 1-800-811-8336
On social media please boost this message: https://twitter.com/everyonevotesmd/status/1289218086269145092?s=21
As noted in our national update, the Republicans in Congress are standing in the way of extending unemployment benefits through the end of the year. The additional $600 payments that millions of Americans have been receiving have helped the recipients feed and house their families and keep up with other expenses. Because Republican leaders in the US Senate and House refuse to do their jobs states will need to step in. Fortunately, The Maryland Department of Labor Friday has taken one important step by announcing on July 31 that it will begin offering an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits through the Federal-State Extended Benefits program. The Extended Benefits program is available for claimants who have exhausted both their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and 13 weeks of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation assistance. There are some stipulations but currently Maryland is meeting the federal threshold on its unemployment rate levels.
At 6:45 tonight, Monday Aug. 3, Sen. Van Hollen is holding a telephone town hall about COVID-19. Sign up to join the call here. Some of us will be on and will work to raise our concerns about racial inequities in our healthcare system and to get a question to him about sponsoring the Emergency Healthcare Emergency Guarantee Act, S. 3790. We need remedies like this as the impact of the virus grows and more and more Americans are facing serious financial difficulties. Here's a link to the bill for reference. //www.sanders.senate.gov/download/healthcare-covidhttps:-summary?id=C150F60D-E8F5-4C27-93B0-37D7F9F7BD73&download=1&inline=file
Our healthcare task force volunteers are phoning supporters across the state about S. 3790 and to ask them about their COVID related concerns. We’ll also be organizing a text bank in early August. Please email Malcolm [email protected] or Patty [email protected] if you want to get involved.
Breaking News: County officials, state legislators, and Marylanders learned this afternoon that the Governor has stripped every County of its power to determine when private schools in their jurisdiction can return to in-person classes. This is a puzzling and disturbing development from a State leader who has routinely (especially in recent weeks) punted the management of many important COVID-19 related issues to County officials. Hogan took to Twitter over the weekend to express his strong disagreement with a Montgomery County order that says private schools can’t offer in person teaching at least until October 1. The County’s Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles gave a fact based explanation in issuing the order last week “At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers.” During this unprecedented crisis it would be nice to see the Governor spending less time tweeting and book promoting and more time offering County officials support, not opposition, to their efforts to flatten the curve. What’s really on his mind? Maybe his shaky rep on the Republican Right, as the blog Seventh State notes http://www.theseventhstate.com/?p=13515
Fresh air schoolin’
As school systems around the state ponder (some desperately) how to get kids back in some sort of non-remote schooling, this story from Sunday’s PBS News Hour Weekend offers some real pathways to avoiding the total failure of imagination that we are seeing in Maryland’s school systems and their leaders.
The outdoors, we know, is much safer than enclosed buildings -- so why is the only choice some social-distancing variation on putting kids back in their classrooms?
The folks pushing their alternatives in this new segment may be overemphasizing the virtues of having kids experiencing nature as a classroom (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But the point we should be getting is that while going back to the classroom may be unsafe even with distancing and masks, there are a lot more outdoor public locations -- pocket parks, community centers, even school athletic fields -- than there are schoolrooms. Many of them are within walking distance of kids’ homes, minimizing the need to monitor distancing on school buses.
There are lots of weddings, parties and other events that are NOT happening, meaning the folks renting mega-tents and canvas pavilions are probably looking for business. A serious rethink outside the box and outside the schoolhouse walls could bring excellent -- and safe -- variety to the school experience even in the pandemic era.
-- Woody Woodruff
The coronavirus continues to spread and infect people throughout Maryland and the DMV region. We urge all residents to use face coverings, practice physical distancing and to avoid crowds and congested areas. It’s absolutely essential to follow public health and safety guidelines. We owe it to all the essential workers, health care providers, community service groups and to our neighbors to do our part to help flatten the curve.
If you are looking for resources or services please check our website Marylanders United -- Go to your city or County website to learn more about services and local support in your area.
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
The Baltimore City chapter of Progressive Maryland will hold its monthly chapter meeting on Tuesday August 11 from 6-7:30. This month we will be focusing on criminal justice, highlighting re-entry and returning citizens. More details later this week, and you can RSVP here: https://secure.everyaction.com/8IRwgOsxVUynXxojrrOyqQ2
Events from our allies statewide
The Baltimore County Fair Elections Coalition is hosting an informational meeting on Tuesday August 4th. The Coalition consists of Progressive Maryland, Common Cause Maryland, Maryland PIRG, and Jews United for Justice. We’d love it if you’d attend this meeting where we’ll be discussing what the Citizens Election Fund will do, why it’s important, and our strategy to pass the ballot initiative in November. You can sign up to attend on the Coalition Facebook Page and to keep up with all the things the coalition is doing here.
Wednesday, Aug 5 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Although 23 states have ended extreme youth sentences, here in Maryland, over 200 people are currently incarcerated who were sentenced as youth to life in prison. Learn about legislation proposed in Maryland to end this practice, which the US Supreme Court has ruled out for youth. More info at https://fairsentencingofyouth.org. Sponsors include MoCo SURJ, Takoma Park Mobilization and Progressive Maryland MoCo.
Thursday, Aug 6 | 7:00 PM
Featuring attorney and author Robert M. Schwartz. Union busting law firms can play mind games with workers in a controlled, adversarial one-on-one; learn how to fight back on their own terrain.
Sunday, Aug 9 | 7:00 PM
A discussion on the connections between Black Lives Matter and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; a webinar presented by Vince Intondi, author of African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement. Intoldi is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Race, Justice & Civic Engagement at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland. Registration required.
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 protected]
Everyone who knows anything about risk management during a statewide election is urging Gov. Larry Hogan to reverse course and plan a mail-in election with limited in-person voting, as was done with the recent primary elections. They got together to say so yesterday, as this Maryland Matters account relates.
Hogan, instead, doesn't know anything (or chooses not to know) about risk management in an election and instead is following the time-honored election practices -- which instead favor Republicans, not working families -- backed by the corporate, Chamber of Commerce types whose support he needs to compete for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Hogan is currently flogging his new book, which explicitly speculates about his opportunities in 2024.
Take Action: The GOP Senate is low-balling critical stimulus needs to keep working people afloat -- instead they want to drive workers back to unsafe jobs. See more below, and act as well to get Larry Hogan off his book tour and on the job, reversing course and giving Marylanders a safe mail-in election not a confusing barrage of absentee ballot requests. Plus chapter news, health care and transit still on the table and our recent blog posts -- all in the Monday Memo.
As a racial, social, economic and environmental justice organization, Progressive Maryland has always and will continue to center Black and Brown working families in our organizing work. As we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests, we are ramping up our work with the Movement for Black Lives.
"In a long-expected move, Governor Larry Hogan has submitted a long list of state budget cuts to the Board of Public Works. Cuts to state employee salaries and positions are getting a lot of attention. So is a proposed $200 million trim in state aid to public schools, although that needs the consent of the General Assembly to pass. What is less discussed is Hogan’s resumption of a time-honored practice used by higher level governments to dump their problems on lower level governments: the shift and shaft."
This post from Seventh State, a blog on Maryland government, by Adam Pagnucco has withering detail about what could happen at today's (July 1) meeting of the Board of Public Works, one of the features of Maryland's strong-executive constitution that gives governors power not only to set the budget but to mess with it every time the BPW meets.
June 30, 2020 Baltimore, it's time to invest in equitable transit NOW!
A petition to get a Regional Transit Authority for Baltimore on the November ballot is gaining traction. If you are a Baltimore voter, sign the petition NOW -- the deadline is July 27 -- and help take control of local transit management and funding for Baltimoreans. Find out more in this article by Jaime Sigaran, a transit activist.
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