We mourn the loss of a genuine hero, Rep. John Lewis, and keep fighting. Here's what you need to know about the upcoming week -- it's all in the Memo.
photo by Mike Hogan -- Creative Commons
Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday, July 20, 2020
"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble." Rep. John Lewis, 1940-2020.
Rest in power, live on in our patient and resolute action. Let us all recommit ourselves to the fight for social justice and voting rights to honor his life and legacy
Friday July 24 Join CASA in Annapolis to demand no evictions and expanded rent relief. Gov. Hogan is dragging his feet while Marylanders are in danger of cascading homelessness. See details below in COVID-19 Briefing/State Action.
Tuesday, July 21 | 6:00 to 7:30 PM get engaged with Black Lives Matter: Statewide Town Hall on Environmental Justice
Hosted by Progressive Maryland, this virtual Town Hall will explore the deep history of redlining and environmental racism impacting our communities. Environmental justice is the fair treatment of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, and/or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. As we continue our fight against structural racism in Maryland in defense of Black lives, it is crucial that we recognize the environmental toxins and harms that communities of color have long been exposed to purposefully. Moderated by PM’s digital comms lead Christianne Marguerite, the webinar features these panelists:
Senator Mary Washington (D-43) covering next steps in legislation to combat environmental racism in MD (statewide) and protect our Black communities from the environmental toxins and harms they have long been exposed to and the overall importance of policy within the topic of environmental justice, etc.
Dante Swinton, Energy Justice Network & Clean Air Baltimore Coalition on the history of redlining & environmental racism in Baltimore, and the efforts to shut down the trash incinerator including a timeline for ending the City's contract with the NE MD Waste Disposal Authority and implementing more robust recycling & composting infrastructure to create thousands of new jobs in its place and small businesses, etc.
Samuel Jordan, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition (BTEC) discussing the ballot initiative to establish a Baltimore Regional Transportation Authority Mandate Fund for an equitable public transportation system throughout the City and why it’s important for racial, economic, environmental and disability justice, etc.
Amber Brown, Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development describing The Energy Program’s work on providing energy efficiency and health / safety upgrades for Marylanders that fall below 200% of the federal poverty line and doing in-home energy efficiency trainings, all with a goal of lowering their energy bills and creating a hazard free home while encouraging eco-friendly energy habits for residents and why this is important not only for the planet but also for the people who wouldn’t have access to the knowledge or upgrades if it weren’t for the agency providing resources for an environmentally sound home, etc.
Vote By Mail: Calls for a vote by mail system for the November election are increasing across the state. We join those calls and urge Governor Hogan to reconsider his unilateral decision to use an absentee ballot program for the 2020 general election. Absentee ballot voting creates additional steps and increases the potential for Marylanders to not receive ballots. During a public health emergency like the one we’re experiencing voting by mail can help take the burden off local election officials working to guarantee safe early voting and Election Day voting locations as fewer people will need to rely on the in-person voting option. Election officials have also expressed concern about recruiting enough election judges and poll helpers for the early voting period and Election Day. Call Governor Hogan and urge him to do the right thing and institute vote-by-mail in our state. Phone # 410 974-3901.
What’s that you say? Judges get elected?
What are usually sleepy (and foreordained) elections for Maryland Circuit Court judge seats have livened up considerably with the primary victories of insurgent black women candidates in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Some sitting circuit judges, mostly white and male, have been put in the position of running from behind in the November election as April Ademiluyi and Gladys Weatherspoon in Prince George’s and Marylin Pierre in Montgomery won in their Democratic primary.
As frequently happens, the Washington Post turned to Progressive Maryland’s executive director to sort out the unexpected:
“Many people are hungry for change and tired of the status quo, especially when it comes to our criminal justice system,” said Larry Stafford, the head of Progressive Maryland, a grass-roots advocacy organization that has supported Pierre and Ademiluyi in previous elections but did not endorse any candidates before the primary. “This is a victory for candidates that think differently.”
Len Lazarick in Maryland Reporter painstakingly explains the barriers facing insurgent judicial candidates who do not follow the prescribed path, including schmoozing with powerful lawyers and lobbyists and getting the blessing of judicial vetting committees on local bar associations -- and that is before the labyrinth of running (“nonpartisan,” remember?) in both Democratic and Republican primaries before the general election. Politics-as-usual and the influence of the powerful play an enormous role as candidates thread this narrow path. Bottom line, Lazarick summarized, across the state “Six white male judges appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan lost the Democratic primaries to mostly women and Black challengers.”
In the past few weeks, across the country (and the world) we’ve seen an alarming rise in the number of Coronavirus cases and dramatic spikes in hospitalizations. The death toll now exceeds 140,000 in the United States, a disproportionate percentage of those deaths being experienced by Black and Brown residents. Patterson Clark’s graphic.
One hundred and forty thousand people. Staggering.
Many scientists and public health officials are predicting that at the rate we’re going 200,000 Ameicans may be dead by November. This should not be happening. It’s happening due to the Trump Administration and the GOP’s handling of the virus on the national and state level. Their lies, their lack of action, their greed, and their cruel disregard for those suffering from COVD-19 and all those workers treating COVID patients is an assault on our communities and it is killing people. We must fight back.
We have to organize for a response that makes the pandemic the national state and local priority it needs to be. Americans and every elected official need to pay attention to the experts, to practice social distancing, wear face coverings, and stay away from crowded and congested areas and to ensure that these standards are communicated and consistently enforced. Public officials at the federal, state and county levels must also find and allocate the additional resources we need to deal with this crisis.
Stand with the Maryland State Education Association, the Maryland PTA, and the Baltimore Teachers Union and urge your County elected officials to delay an in person start to the school year until it is safe to do so. http://www.marylandeducators.org/press/msea-btu-and-maryland-pta-call-virtual-start-school-year-protect-student-and-educator-safety
Congress is back in session and needs to act on some priority measures before the end of the month and the August recess. To help those out of work Unemployment Insurance payments at the $600 weekly level must be extended; to help those who have lost health insurance Congress should enact the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act; and to help state and local governments manage and meet the scale of this health and economic crisis hundreds of billions of dollars must be allocated.
Call the Senate switchboard and urge Sen.Van Hollen and Sen. Cardin to support these programs now. Switchboard # 202 224-3121.
Please support our friends at CASA who are leading a campaign pressure the Governor to:
- Allocate at least $175 million to rental assistance and eviction protection from both state and federal funds. Expand the eviction moratorium to cover all types of eviction cases and extend the moratorium until the public health emergency ends, and folks have sufficient relief. Prohibit rental late fees and debt collection activities on rental payment for at least one year after the State of Emergency is lifted.
If Gov. Hogan takes no action this week, you can challenge him to do so at:
The No Evictions Rent Action this Friday July 24
Location: March will begin at District Courthouse (251 Rowe Boulevard). We will march down Rowe Blvd to Governor's Mansion.
What to Bring: Signs and posters (We will present Governor Hogan with a giant eviction notice), hand sanitizer, mask, walking shoes, mask)
OUR CHAPTERS AROUND THE STATE
EVENTS FROM OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV
Monday, July 20 | 6:30 PM
Part of the Utopia Film Festival, the director of “illegal,” who fled war in El Salvador, hopes to counter the right-wing rhetoric so prevalent these past four years by depicting examples of real people seeking refuge in the US. The director of “Illegal,” who fled war in El Salvador, hopes to counter the right-wing rhetoric so prevalent these past four years by depicting examples of real people seeking refuge in the US. For more about this program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday July 20 | 7-8:30 PM
Our Revolution Prince George’s virtual meeting
on tax measures proposed in PG Council and term limits effort Register here
Thursday, July 23 | 11:30 to 1:00 PM
One in a pandemic politics series presented virtually by the Institute for Policy Studies in DC. Authoritarian leaders have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to further concentrate power in their own hands. Meanwhile, the far right has pushed hard from the margins to accelerate the collapse of democracy. John Feffer will discuss the power grabs. Follow the link for more info; register here.
Saturday, August 22 | 3:00 PM
Baker Park Bandshell, Frederick, MD
This year’s Black Celebration (Juneteenth), aimed at supporting the black community, will feature local entertainment in the form of black-owned businesses, vendors, artists, dancers, food trucks, and more. College student Alexus Washington has worked to shape this event to sharpen “the message of proudly embracing one’s blackness [so it] will expand to black youth, and counteract what blacks have time and time again been taught - that being black is “something less-than and something to be feared.”
OUR RECENT BLOG POSTS
Reading the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace: our recent blogs 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
We recently published these blog posts:
Reports on Larry Hogan's many ways of letting Marylanders down while basking in unearned praise in national media (pretty easy when you are compared to Trump). Plus a tough report from our national affiliate Progressive Action on how the struggle to emerge from the COVID trough (or not) is going. And reports and news from our chapters around the state and from our allies, and our most recent blog posts. All in the Weekly Memo today
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.
A Hogan mouthpiece said revenue shortfalls will require “painful choices” but he didn’t say whose pain was involved. Workers can guess – and state workers won’t be the only ones penalized because Hogan will soften the blow to business interests at their expense.
One legislator told Maryland Matters, below, the state workers he has spoken with are "under no delusion that something needs to be done in the face of the deficit, but that they want a seat at the table in the negotiation process."
The Covid-19 pandemic clearly shows why the U.S. needs a health care system that gives every resident access to health care at every stage of life. A system that relies primarily on employer-provided medical insurance is inadequate. Even unemployed people need affordable health care. This nation needs a system that offers health care for all, all the time.
Have your say about this Thursday evening June 25 at 5:30 in our statewide call to create a Health Care Task Force. Please join us for a timely conversation about health and racial justice. RSVP for the virtual meeting here.
Federal protection against evictions ends July 25 and Maryland judges say they will processs evictions after that. The governor is being pushed to strengthen protections for low-income renters and mortgage-holders, and municipalities have the power to control rental policy, as this report in Maryland Matters details. Will renters work together to get relief? Watch our statewide call on the pandemic's impact on the long-term housing crisis in Maryland, with testimony for advocates and activists.
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