Friday, December 4, 2020

Hurry #GOTV for the Georgia Senate Races, First Deadline December 7!

Help Get Out The Vote for the Senate Run-Off Election in Georgia on Tuesday, January 5. 


Join Vote Forward (https://votefwd.org) through December 7 to write letters to help encourage voters from historically underrepresented communities in Georgia to vote during early voting or on Election Day. Vote Forward has proven since 2017 that this letter writing campaign has increased voter turnout in special and general elections.

Support the grassroots organizations in Georgia that have successfully increased voter turnout:


For additional information, see the op-ed "How Georgia went blue" in The Washington Post.*

(*This is not an endorsement)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Vote Against Montgomery County Ballot Measures B & D by Shayne Dizard

URGENT MESSAGE TO Montgomery County Voters  —  DEFEAT Ballot Question B.

Four Ballot Questions will be on the Montgomery County Ballot in November. The Maryland Poor People's Campaign recommends voting Against Measures B and D. Just Remember BandD are BAD!

Ballot Question B is especially dangerous for the fiscal health and well being of the County and its residents. Its purpose is to starve our County of resources and reduce services to county residents. The services we rely on for our daily quality of life and the future of our children are in danger: resources such as schools, public health and safety, recreation, parks, libraries, public transit, to name a few.

Protect our quality of life in Montgomery County. Vote against Ballot Question B.

To accomplish its goal of gutting county programs and resources, Ballot Measure B would arbitrarily cap the total property tax revenue the county can collect at the amount collected the previous year (with some exceptions) plus the current rate of inflation, no matter the increase in growth of the economy and taxable property – or the increased need for public services to meet the needs created by that growth. The result will be budget shortfalls and a decline in services to county residents.

And, Ballot Measure B actually goes a step further by all but eliminating the County Council's authority to respond to increased growth and increased needs of county residents by making adjustments that reflect real property growth or needs for public services.

Currently, the council can override limitations and adjust income and revenue with a unanimous vote of the Council. Under Ballot Measure B, that procedure is eliminated, leaving no way for the council to respond to real county fiscal needs.

Freezing County revenue would have a disastrous effect on the health of our county. It would be difficult to maintain quality public services. And, it could put in jeopardy our AAA bond rating.

Ballot B is an effort to cripple our county government when we need it most: Vote Against B.

 

Question D is an effort to decrease countywide representation on the County Council. Currently we have 5 Council members representing their district and 4 At-Large members. We have one vote for our district member and 4 votes for the at-large members. 

Question D would eliminate all at-large council seats. That means we would have only one vote for a council member and there would be no member who represents and is responsive to issues affecting residents county-wide. Vote Against D.

 

We Must Get the Word Out Montgomery County Voters ASAP. Click the following link to join us in calling the over 3,000 Maryland Poor People's Campaign supporters in MoCo to urge them to vote no on Questions BnD = Bad. 

Phone Banking-Door Hanger Sign-Up Link

Vote Against B and D - Remember BnD are BAD.   

Friday, September 18, 2020

5781: A New Year

Today is the last day of the Jewish calendar year 5780; tonight Rosh Hashana begins and the Jewish community around the world begins its new year, 5781.

And so many of us are so ready for a new year. Which is, in a way, funny - after all, no one knows if the new year will be better. It’s entirely plausible that it will be worse. 

Yet, somehow, we are looking hopefully to the new year as a time of redemption, of possible Tikkun - repair, as a chance to do better.

And the structure of the Jewish year encourages this. Rosh Hashana is celebratory, but it’s also solemn. Technically it, like Yom Kippur, is a day of judgement, the day on which nations are brought before the Ruler of All, together with each nation’s government, to be judged. We must answer, each of us, as part of that collective, for what we have participated in, for what we have allowed our nation to do, and we are held responsible, together.

But that collective responsibility is a source of not just fear, but also hope. As Rabbi Nachman said, hundreds of years ago, "believe this: if you can break, so you can also fix." 

If this past year has been a whirlwind of horrors, believe this: together, we can end them. It is in our hands to pull together as a nation and to do cheshbon hanefesh, to take a true and deep accounting of our soul, each of us as individuals who together make up a nation, and each nation that together makes up a world. 

Hayom Harat Olam: Today, the Jewish community says, the world is born. This is the season of repentance, in which IF we can stand to look critically at ourselves and at our collective identity, we can enter the new year clean and ready to fix the brokenness of our world. IF we can commit to changing our ways, commit to doing better, to caring more for others - even others that don’t look like us, that don’t speak like us; others that are carrying burdens that we have placed on their backs - we can remove those burdens and help them walk upright with us, then the year to come will be a year of grace, and we can make a start on making this world a fit place for the divine. 

It seems difficult. And ... perhaps it is. But we can map this out and get there. We have the next few weeks, during which we must unsparingly examine our hearts, and not merely promise, but start acting to do better. Start small, and repeat it every day. You can do this: I have faith in you. The Poor People's Campaign is how we come together to build a better, more just, more fair, more righteous nation. We all come together to care of one another - all of us: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Black, White, Indigenous, every color, every gender, every faith.

May this year to come be a better year for us and for our nation. May we be blessed to repair it together.
 
- Rabbi Alana Suskin, Maryland PPC Tri-Chair
 

 

 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Importance of Responding to the 2020 U.S. Census

I moved to Allegany County Maryland from Washington, D.C. approximately 3 years ago. In that short period of time - several businesses have closed. They are: Aaron’s Jewelers, Verso Paper Co. Mill, four anchor stores at the Country Club Mall (Bon Ton, Payless ShoeSource, Sears & J.C. Penney) ... and countless others in our area.

Wow, that’s a lot of folks in our community - who have lost their jobs - due to businesses permanently closing their doors. And, many of those same folks still haven’t been able to obtain employment elsewhere. The 2010 U.S. Census shows that Allegany County is one of the poorest counties in the State of Maryland - although many people who reside here don’t see it.

That statistic just might be due to many of our county residents who failed to participate in the 2010 Census process. They may not have taken it seriously and didn’t think it was important to be counted in the population. As a result of that being the case, just fast forward 10 years later and look where we are now!

However, if it is true that Allegany County is one of the poorest counties in the State of Maryland, we don’t need to be treated as such. Many corporations do rely on the U.S. Census data to help them determine if it is feasible to open a business or continue providing commerce/services in an area. So, by completing the questionnaire that was mailed to your address, you can definitely make a positive difference in our community. Because an accurate population count could possibly attract businesses to our area - who might be able to create jobs in Allegany County Maryland for our residents.

Please view the link below regarding the importance of responding to the 2020 U.S. Census: https://youtu.be/oXZAe8XYeNQ

The 2020 U.S. Census is:
  • Quick and easy. The 2020 Census Questionnaire will take about 10 minutes to complete.
  • Safe, secure, and confidential. Your information and privacy are protected.
  • A way to participate in Community Improvements. Your response helps to direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, public services and provide data for businesses to create jobs.
  • Also, used to determine the number of seats each state has in Congress and your political representation at all levels of government.

Ways to Respond to the 2020 U.S. Census:

  • Online: bit.ly/mdcounts
  • Phone: 1-844-330-2020 ~ 7am - 2am (EST)/7 days-a-week
  • Mail: Just complete the invitation that was sent to each household and drop it in the mail.
  • Or: A census taker will be in touch with you.
Everyone living in the United States and its five territories is required to be counted in the 2020 Census. Due to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, the deadline to respond has been extended until September 30, 2020. So, for the sake of your community, please take time to complete the 2020 U.S. Census Questionnaire. 

Stay safe,
Antoinette Royster

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Your Voting Questions: Where to Find the Answers

At our Maryland Monthly Monday Meeting on 8/17, many of you asked good questions.

As the answers to some questions could vary depending upon the county, we figured it best to direct you to your appropriate Board of Elections (BOE).

Monday, August 17, 2020

Moses African Cemetery

The Macedonia Baptist Church Community has been waging a fight to reclaim the area on River Road in Bethesda, MD that was the first the burial grounds for slaves, runaway slaves and African Americans who settled there post Civil War and post Reconstruction. Over time as the dominant White power structure sought to develop this land, the African American residents were pushed out and/or bought out. The cemetery was buried under commercial development, including a parking lot. Now an Arizona developer is digging in the area again in order to build a storage facility. There is great concern that this activity is again disrespecting the memory of this important historical community and disturbing the remains of African Americans buried there.

On behalf of the Maryland Poor Peoples Campaign I spoke at a press conference earlier this month (August, 2020). This is what I said.  

– David Mott

 

“The Poor Peoples Campaign is grounded in confronting what we call the Five Interlocking Injustices:

  • Systemic Racism
  • Poverty
  • Militarism and the War Economy
  • Ecological Devastation
  • The prevailing Distorted Moral Narrative

All of these injustices have created the situation that brings us together here today and forces us to speak out against an injustice to the memory of the African American River Road Community, the Macedonia Baptist Church and the Moses African Cemetery.

Therefore We, the Poor Peoples Campaign, stand in solidarity with the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition in calling on county leaders, especially County Executive Marc Elrich to:

  1. Demand a halt to the digging now; 
  2. Facilitate and support a thorough archeological survey and investigation of this historical site led by renowned archeologist Michael Blakey; 
  3. Based on those findings, insure that no harm, no future damage be done to the memory and historical significance of the former African American Community, its Church and Cemetery;
  4. And Work with the Church and Community to establish a fitting memorial and educational site that can serve as a lodestone to the citizens of the Montgomery County, Maryland, indeed, the country as we continue to struggle to build a more perfect Union and a more humane society.

This is a Fight to Preserve the Memory of what Truly Was.


We Can’t Know How to Get to Where We Want to Go, if We Do Not Know Where We Have Been.

 

We are here today because of a “Distorted Moral Narrative,” a perverse conventional wisdom that has been allowed to operate without challenge for far too long.

It is a narrative that says rights of developers are superior to the needs of the community.

It is a narrative that says that Economic Development is the all consuming new God.

It is a narrative that approves of paving over, digging up and disposing of bones, community, culture, and history like so much troublesome refuse – all in the pursuit of profit.

It is a narrative that is sanctioned by County leaders, and in particular, the County Parks and Planning Board.

The history of this community is that since Reconstruction land and wealth has been expropriated, stolen, from it and its residents by the dominant white power structure. That has been a recurring historical fact.

 

I have to take a moment to riff on what I see. Behind us is a storage facility. Up the street is another storage facility. Now construction is underway for a third… I just want to know – how many storage facilities does one intersection need?

 

And what is a storage facility. Empty Space. Empty space for people with hollow lives who bought stuff they didn’t need but were told to buy to fill their empty spaces. All that stuff to fill empty space, and now they don’t want it anymore, can’t use, but can’t bring themselves to throw it away. So we build more empty spaces for them to put stuff in.

 

That is not Development. That is Depressing.

 

Community Planning and Development should not be first and foremost about economic interests and the self interests of developers driven by profit. Rather it must be first and foremost grounded in the goal of creating a healthy community with well developed, educated and informed citizens who can make humane decisions for the common good. Helping us all to make those good, informed decisions requires we hold up for inspection and reflection our history – the good, the bad, and the ugly – not

Bury it or pave it over into obscurity.

 

 

Given that, the prime directive of the Planning Board should have been from the start, before any construction took place, to insure that no harm is done, insure no damage is done.

 

There should have been first completed a thorough and objective archeological assessment of the construction site.

 

That was not done. 

 

Everyone seems to agree that the The Macedonia Baptist Church community has been historically excluded from the process. County Executive Marc Elrich put that fact to writing in a letter to the Planning Commission.

 

Yet nothing is done affirmatively to rectify this omission. The digging goes on; the damage piles up.

 

The community is left in the position of having to play catch-up to decisions made without their involvement. This akin to closing the barn door after the horse and carriage are long gone, down the road, past the woodshed and up the creek. 

 

The Board needs to rectify this injustice immediately and aggressively.

 

So, again, we call on County Officials and the County Planning Board to:

 

  1. Halt the Digging Now;
  2. Underwrite a thorough and objective archeological survey and investigation led by Dr. William Blakey;
  3. Make all findings public, and insure that no further damage is done to this historical site;
  4. Work with the community to create a memorial worthy of the lives led, community built and history made by slaves, decedents of slaves, African Americans all – who persevered in fighting for a better life when all around them a dominant white power structure conspired to crush that dream. Through that struggle they have left us a legacy we should not allowed to be buried, but that we should shine a light on.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Urgent Action to GET OUT THE VOTE

Each person can make a difference to ensure that we have a massive voter turnout in this election.

This is necessary in order to overcome the voting barriers and to ensure that our government represents the majority of people in this country who all want social, economic, and environmental justice.

Below are two things you can do:

1. Make sure you request to Vote-by-Mail and share that information with friends and community groups.
2. Sign up for The Big Send and write letters to people in swing states to encourage them to vote.


Below are the details…
(which are also summarized in the bilingual flyer linked below that you can print to hand out and/or share with friends!)

Maryland Voting Information for General Election, November 3, 2020

Governor Hogan has decided that the election in Maryland will be conducted in the usual manner with in-person voting for early voting (10/26-11/2*) and election day (11/3).

Vote-by-Mail can be done in Maryland by requesting a Mail-In (also called "Absentee") Ballot to be sent to you. In Maryland, you do not need to provide a reason why you have decided to Vote-by-Mail. 

It is recommended that – in order to avoid exposure to COVID, waiting in long lines, and perhaps not your usual polling place – you REQUEST a Mail-In (Absentee) Ballot NOW.

Governor Hogan will mail everyone the "Maryland Application for an Absentee Ballot", but the ballot itself will not be mailed to you unless you request it. This is different from what was done for the June primary when you may have received the ballot without requesting it. Don't wait to get this application form in the mail, but make the request NOW. This will prevent the system from being overloaded with requests that come in all at once in the fall. 

When you request a Mail-In Ballot, it is best to request that the ballot be mailed to you rather than to receive it via email. The mailed form can easily be electronically counted and will include a prepaid stamped envelope for returning to the Board of Elections.

To request to VOTE-BY-MAIL, go to the link below. When you complete the request online, you will enter information at the "Voter Registration and Mail-In Ballot Request" site. You will be required to complete each section, going through all the steps as though you are registering to vote until at the end you indicate that you are requesting a Mail-In Ballot. You have to do this even if you are already registered to vote.

It is preferable that you make the request online, as handwritten requests can be difficult to read.

If you have not yet registered to vote, below is the link to register online or request a form be mailed to you. 
If you want to check your voter registration information or update it, that can be done online:
To review or update your voter record:

If you need to call to request forms or have questions, call the Maryland State Board of Elections: 800-222-8683

Help Get Out The Vote in Other States

A national effort, The Big Send, has been launched to get out the vote in areas of states where turnout has been low. This is being done by sending letters to infrequent voters with a hand written note telling the person why you vote in every election and asking them to join you as a voter. The message is non-partisan. Research has shown that these letters can increase voter turnout by 3%. Below is a short video explaining the campaign and a link to sign up to write letters.

You can also join a zoom letter writing or learn about other voting activities through Do the Most Good (MoCo) 

 

*Note – the state has updated the early voting dates to 10/26-11/2

 

 

Hurry #GOTV for the Georgia Senate Races, First Deadline December 7!

Help Get Out The Vote for the Senate Run-Off Election in Georgia on Tuesday, January 5.  Join Vote Forward ( https://votefwd.org ) through D...