Green Party wins its first Baltimore City election: A new strategy and a familiar face among community activists
Overcoming a litany of obstacles from the property management, longtime social justice activist and Green Party member Reverend Annie Chambers won an election to the Resident Advisory Board (RAB) of the Baltimore Department of Housing last week. Just days before the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, a local civil rights champion was elected to represent the people of Douglass Homes -- named after Frederick Douglass, who has roots in Baltimore -- and serve as the 11th member of the board. Continue reading
Connor Meek is an avid follower of Baltimore City Council and is BGP's resident correspondent on municipal events and hearings. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views and positions of the Baltimore City Green Party, they are entirely the opinion of the author(s) While campaigning for office, Catherine Pugh promised to raise Baltimore’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, stating in an AFT-Maryland survey, “I am aware of the current initiative to raise the minimum wage in the City Council to $15 per hour and when it reaches my desk I will sign it.” Yet when a watered down bill that was too low and too slow reached her desk she promptly vetoed it. The City Council needs twelve votes to override the veto, and only ten votes to hold a special session to deliberate. They have seven. Continue reading
Bill is an active member of the Baltimore City Green Party and a retired union organizer and retired Director of Labor Studies at The Community College of Baltimore County-Dundalk. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views and positions of the Baltimore City Green Party, they are entirely the opinion of the author(s) The refusal of the Baltimore City Mayor, the President of the Baltimore City Council and the majority of Council members to support the (kinda sorta but not right away) $15.00 minimum wage for workers in Baltimore City is a clear indication that the more things change, the more they stay the same. From the outset, the campaign supported by the “new” Democrats in the Council and the “new” mayor was a phony campaign. The legislation passed by the City Council would not have increased the minimum wage to $15 until 2022, with exceptions for workers under the age of 21. As introduced by Councilperson Mary Pat Clarke, the proposed law would have limited the increase in Baltimore City to the increase in the state minimum wage of $10.10/hour in 2018 but then increasing over the next six years. This article has been excerpted. To see more, please read the full article in the Baltimore Sun
This Monday, March 20, the Baltimore CIty Council votes on whether to adopt a $15 minimum wage in Baltimore. The Baltimore City Green Party officially endorses this action. Our support for this measure arises from the simple principle that the people of Baltimore deserve to live in dignity. Anyone who does an honest day’s work should be able to come home at the end of the day with their needs sustained, their children provided for, and enjoy a reasonable quality of life. The sad truth is that even $15 an hour, which would be about $30,000 a year for full-time work, is inadequate. For those who can only work part-time due to reasons such as child-raising, pursuing an education, disability, or simply being unable to find a full-time job, the situation is even more dire. To maintain an even lower minimum wage as we have today would be not only inadequate but unjust and immoral. Baltimore cannot afford to wait for the state of Maryland or the nation as a whole to pass an increased minimum wage. Indeed, if we can be a leading city in this movement, all the better. An increased minimum wage would not only benefit the tens of thousands of Baltimore workers whose income would directly be affected. Hundreds of thousands of children and other dependents who make up almost half the city’s population rely partially or in whole upon the income of low-wage workers. Local businesses, especially those serving low-income areas, would benefit from workers’ increased spending power. To continue to permit low wages for those businesses who don’t see fit to provide their employees with a living does a disservice to all the other businesses who stand to gain from having those employees as their customers. When people have money in their pockets, they use it and the economy as a whole prospers. The current low wages shift the burden of providing for workers’ sustenance from employers to the taxpayers. By reducing the scourge of poverty in our communities we can move citizens off the rolls of public assistance programs and use those tax dollars on other programs to improve the city and its services. By lifting our neighbors out of poverty we also disassemble the perverse structures that force people to turn to crime to earn an income. The violence and unease that crime creates across our city is measured not only in human suffering, but also as an impediment to further economic growth and prosperity. While the Green Party certainly supports the increased wage, we also have reservations about the compromises that were required to get this bill to move forward. The phase in period extends over the better part of a decade and by the time the wage is actually $15/hr we fear that it will be even less buying power for working people and their families. Furthermore exempting younger workers from the wage increase fails to recognize the simple reality of our city, younger workers need higher wages too. In many cases younger workers are a primary income in their household, and for others the wage they earn is essential to paying for education and training needed to move to higher wage brackets. These compromised aspects of this bill while necessary for passage in the current climate illustrate yet again why we need bold and uncompromising leadership in the highest positions at City Hall. The Baltimore City Council And Mayor are entrusted with the care and protection of the city’s residents. There is nothing more fundamental they can do for their citizens than to ensure that their hard work is rewarded with enough money to live on.
The Baltimore City Green Party (BGP) opposes SB739/HB949, which would stifle free speech by penalizing companies, organizations, and people who boycott Israel in support of Palestinian human rights. The proposed legislation would violate the First Amendment, which includes boycott as a form of protected speech (NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.). We specifically condemn participation of members of the Baltimore delegation, Sen. Carter-Conway and Del. Haynes, in this attempt to squelch dissent and uphold Israel’s apartheid policies. The call of Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) was first issued in 2005. Its stated purpose is: “1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” BDS was affirmed by national Green Party U.S. the same year it was issued. As a local chapter of the Green Party, the BGP stands in solidarity with Palestinians and Marylanders engaging in BDS tactics. BGP calls on its 1,200 members and more than 10,000 2016 voters to oppose SB739/HB949. For More Information GPUS Endorsement-http://gp.org/cgi-bin/vote/propdetail?pid=825 MD Senate Bill-http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2017RS/bills/sb/sb0739F.pdf#page=9 First Amendment Letter http://bordc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/BORDC-MCCRC-First-Amendment-Letter-1.pdf Contact Your State Legislator-http://www.freedom2boycottmd.com/legislators_oppose
Call to Action – Defend Immigrants Fellow Greens and Green Party Supporters, your support and action are needed. The Trump Administration is ramping up its targeting of immigrant communities. ICE agents are emboldened, knowing that they do not have to focus on violent criminals. More people, with little to no criminal record, are being swept up in immigration raids (“Immigration Agents Discover New Freedom to Depot Under Trump,” New York Times, 2/25/17). The Obama Administration was hardly a panacea for immigrants, deporting a record 2 million people. However, Obama's stated policy was to prioritize violent criminals and gang members. Under Trump, anyone without documents is at risk, and the Trump administration will look to far surpass Obama's numbers. As Green Party members, we recognize that Trump and Obama policies on immigration are wrong-headed and completely backwards. Here are a few statements from our national platform: “The Green Party stands firmly for social justice for all those living in this country regardless of their immigration status.” “The undocumented immigrants who are already residing and working in the United States, and their families, should be granted a legal status which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens. Persons should be excluded from this process only if they present a clear and present danger to other members of our society.” “The Green Party calls for permanent border passes to all citizens of Mexico and Canada whose identity can be traced and verified. Work permits for citizens of Mexico and Canada must be easily obtainable, thereby decriminalizing the act of gainful employment.” “All persons fleeing political, racial, religious, or other types of persecution must be welcomed and given permanent resident status.” “There are many countries in the world where the economic policies and military actions of the U.S. government or U.S. based corporations have caused extreme hardships. The peoples of these countries deserve special consideration if they wish to come to the U.S. to escape intolerable conditions created by our government or U.S. corporations.” “We must keep faith with our commitment to the United Nations, to assist in the resettlement, including to our own country, of refugees currently stranded in refugee camps in other parts of the world.” “All those who are issued work permits must have the option to come and go from the U.S. as they desire. They must also have the option of remaining in the U.S. and becoming U.S. Citizens.” What the Green Party recognizes is the benefit that immigrants, documented and undocumented, provide to the well-being of our nation. Immigrants not only do important work and provide important services, they spend money, start businesses and create wealth. We can credit ILLEGAL immigration with providing billions of dollars to our social security system, giving it a chance to remain solvent. Furthermore, immigrants add to the cultural and social fabric of society, making it livable. Many of our rural areas, which are dying from lack of opportunity and drug addiction, would be well served by large influxes of immigrants. Immigration is a net gain for our country, and we should welcome and encourage it, as a matter of policy. *(This is not to say that we should not continue to push for better trade deals that provide more humane conditions for workers, farmers and peasants, thereby reducing the economic push factor of emigration/immigration). While our vision is sound, we have to recognize the current reality. We are nowhere near to realizing a Green Party vision on immigration. Rather, our communities and fellow residents are under threat, and resistance is paramount. Greens should join with immigrant advocacy groups that are resisting the Trump agenda. Many advocates are calling for the passage of the Maryland Trust Act (HB1362/SB825), which would make Maryland a “sanctuary state.” Specifically, the Trust Act would: Allow Maryland authorities to release individuals, despite “detainer requests” from the Feds on immigration violations. Bar Maryland and local law enforcement from making immigration status inquiries, or assisting ICE or DHS with immigration enforcement. Prevent Maryland from assisting with or creating a database for civil immigration enforcement. Prohibit Maryland from having a religious-based registry. Institute policies to ensure accessibility of all people to schools, hospitals and courthouses. I would urge Greens to support the passage of the Maryland Trust Act. It contains important provisions that will help prevent deportations and allow people to feel safer. It is not clear how Maryland would “institute policies” to provide protection from the Feds at schools, hospitals and courthouses, but nonetheless, it remains a bold step in the right direction. We should join with others to support the Trust Act. Even with the passage of the Trust Act, our communities would still be under threat. Therefore, do not stop there. RALLY, DEMONSTRATE, MARCH Give VOICE to the Green Party positions on immigration. SPEAK LOUDLY in defense of immigrant communities. RESIST, RESIST. It is my hope that Greens across the U.S. will speak loudly on immigration, and will participate actively in the defense of our undocumented fellow Americans. Diversity is strength. Immigrants are who we are. Defend America from the Trump Agenda. Show America what it means to BE GREEN on immigration in the era of Trump. Thank you for your support. Vince Tola Baltimore Green Party
HBCUs are an integral part of building excellent colleges that serve all the people of Maryland It is time for the state of Maryland to correct the decades-long error of significantly underfunding and mistreating Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) including Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. In 2013 US. District Court Judge Catherine C. Black found in The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission that the Maryland Higher Education Commission had allowed traditionally white colleges to unfairly duplicate the popular and unique academic programs of HBCUs without any educational justification. At the same time, Maryland systematically underfunded HBCUs, essentially starving them and making it impossible for HBCUs to compete with the predominantly white colleges. Maryland’s actions have ensured a segregated, dual educational system that is racially discriminatory and that continues a system established during the era of segregation. The result of Maryland’s actions is illegal discrimination against black students that undermines not only HBCUs but the predominantly African American communities living where these schools are located. The Baltimore Green Party endorses SB 712, which will begin to correct the long-term racially unfair actions of Maryland by providing supplemental financial assistance to HBCUs to ensure they are comparable and competitive with the majority white four-year public institutions in Maryland. The state needs to give HBCUs the resources they require to succeed because doing so is in the best interests of all students in Maryland. Maryland must also end unnecessary program duplication that they have put in place and return important courses of study to the HBCUs that they excelled in. This is how higher education has been desegregated across the country and must be part of the solution in Maryland. Maryland needs to put into practice the truth that HBCUs are an integral part of building excellent colleges that serve all people of Maryland. Rather than diminishing HBCUs, it is time for Maryland to advance them. The state should also accept the decision of the federal court in this more than decade-old litigation and not appeal the decision. It is time to put this lengthy litigation, which began in 2006, behind us by the state correcting the serious and egregious racially discriminatory policies. It took Maryland two years to merely propose a settlement and the judge found that proposal to be inadequate. Now it is time to stop delaying and to put in place integrated and complementary programs along with adequate funding to correct Maryland’s historic discrimination. This should be seen as an opportunity for the state of Maryland to build a public university system that better serves all Maryland residents.
Baltimore City Schools face a catastrophic $130 million budget shortfall.If City Schools have to absorb this shortfall it will radically change education in our city. If nothing is done about this we will see hundreds of teachers and other school based staff lose their jobs, larger class sizes, more unscheduled school closings, and drastic cuts to the extracurricular and enrichment services that make students come to school. This problem is quickly developing and will need a lot of attention between now and this spring when the final FY2018 Budget will be approved. To avoid this pending catastrophe, we must be informed and involved. There is a School Board meeting Tuesday February 14th, at 6:00 PM. It will occur in the 1st Floor Boardroom of the Baltimore City School Headquarters: 200 E. North Ave. The agenda includes information about the FY 2018 Budget, which will likely include discussion of the cuts that are proposed and the strategy the school system proposes for avoiding them. Before the public School Board meeting there will be a rally led by the Baltimore Teachers Union, show up at 5:00 and stand in solidarity! Take the fight to Annapolis on February 23rd, when the Baltimore Education Coalition hosts a rally The Baltimore Green Party will be following this issue and will continue to provide updates. Useful Links: Baltimore City Schools Budget Website Final Report of the Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in Maryland Video of Baltimore City Council Education and Youth Committee
Vincent S. Tola, Treasurer, Baltimore Green Party Several weeks into the Trump presidency, a majority of Americans are reeling from the shock of the new administration and the initial stages of its regressive agenda that will bring harm to many. We have seen: Cabinet nominees that will undermine and roll back the clock on civil rights, voting rights, environmental protection, women's health and public education. The restart of the racist, imperialistic DAPL pipeline. A silencing of scientific voices within the government. A Supreme Court nominee that will seek to take away a woman's right to make decisions about her own body. The elevation of white nationalism within the top tiers of the federal government. The threat of millions of people losing health insurance, with no alternate plan in place. The stated intention to dismantle regulations of Wall Street, based on the complaints of a few of Trump's “friends.” Open hostility toward an independent press and an independent judiciary. A wreckless attempt to ban immigration from a set of majority-Muslim nations. The continued demonization of immigrants, refugees and Islam. Continued claims on “building a wall” with Mexico. Relations with allies thrown into turmoil. An escalation of hostility toward Iran. A raid resulting in the death of Yemeni civilians (children and women), and an American soldier, labeled as “a success.” … And let's not forget that the nuclear codes are now being held by an individual with the temperament of a middle school bully. These are scary and difficult times. I would claim complete opposition to the Trump administration, but there has been one significant victory for working people. That is, the death of the T.P.P. This trade deal would have dealt yet another blow to U.S. service and manufacturing industries by exporting and outsourcing more jobs overseas, while degrading the environment and protections for consumers and workers. It is a crucial victory that must not be understated. Score exactly ONE point for Trump (and minus NINETY-NINE). It is also significant that the Trump administration seeks to open up a renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement. This is has potential benefits, but forgive me if I don't hold much hope that this regressive, racist administration will bring about positive results. Therefore, in these times, resistance is paramount. We, in the Green Party, have stood and will continue to stand with those resisting Trump and his dangerous agenda. In these times, we need to speak loudly and forcefully against Trump's immigration ban, his demonization of refugees and of Islam, his desecration of native lands, his denial of climate science, his collusion with Wall Street, his attacks on women and reproductive health, his anti-immigrant agenda, and his likely assaults on the poor and communities of color. We must become more organized in our resistance and louder in our speech. We will work with and stand in solidarity with those who are opposing this horrendous agenda. And as we do this, we in the Green Party need to articulate a positive agenda. It's not enough to resist Trump, and get back to the Obama days of massive deportations. Obama deported the undocumented at a higher rate than George W. Bush. We need to demilitarize our borders and respect human rights. The Green Party would give legal status to undocumented high school graduates and allow them to attend colleges an universities on an equal basis. We seek permanent border passes between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. This would reduce exploitation by coyotes and increase the tax base of all three nations. We would seek to renegotiation trade deals in ways that benefit workers, farmers and peasants, reducing the economic push factor of immigration. Regional cooperation is the solution to immigration. On all the fronts that we oppose Trump, we have better solutions than the Democratic Party's status quo. We have a better vision. We need to articulate it well. Furthermore, we need to continue to build on the local level, and get involved in municipal and state-level policy. There we can have the greatest impact. So, Green Party, be UNRELENTING in your resistance to the Trump agenda. Join with others who are in this fight. But don't stop there. Articulate the Green Party's vision. Work to implement it locally, but maintain a global perspective. Champion the Green Party's values and solutions. They are the right path for communities throughout the Americas and for the world.
The Baltimore Green Party believes every vote should be counted. Accuracy of the final tally, however, is only one of many deficiencies in US elections. The Green Party is required to gather tens of thousands of signatures every four years in order to stay on the ballot, while the two corporate-funded parties automatically qualify. Greens are not allowed to vote in non-partisan judicial primaries in Maryland, which are restricted to registered Democrats and Republicans. Greens have to pay for their own primary, unlike the two corporate-funded parties whose primaries are paid for by taxpayers. Green Party candidates are often excluded from forums and debates and the media gives disproportionate free coverage to the two corporate-funded parties. Voters do not get to hear Green Party views because of these obstacles and often do not know alternatives exist and have candidates on the ballot. We are also mindful that under Governor Martin O’Malley in Maryland, both Democrats and Republicans disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of our neighbors through zero tolerance policing, the failed war on drugs, and mass incarceration. The Baltimore Green Party is energized by the inspiring activism that lead to their re-enfranchisement this year. And the BGP is honored to have won the votes of returning citizens, immigrants, union members, public housing residents, elders, young people, and many more who have been taken for granted by the Democratic machine in Baltimore. Regardless of what happens with the recounts in Pennsylvania and the Midwest, we will continue building in all Baltimore neighborhoods and communities resisting the oppressive policies favored by both Clinton and Trump. We stand united with the Baltimore organizations and organizers who are redoubling their commitments to social justice regardless of which of the corporate-funded candidates becomes president. If you are doing the work, know that you have an ally in the Baltimore Green Party.