Category Archives: Baltimore City

SEIU Targets Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam for Defeat

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of Maryland’s most powerful labor unions, has targeted District 44 Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam for defeat by running one of their own against her.  Aletheia McCaskill, a rank-and-file leader in SEIU Local 500, is announcing her challenge to the incumbent on Saturday.  Nathan-Pulliam has antagonized SEIU and several other progressive organizations by dragging her heels on last session’s sick leave bill, which she ultimately voted for.

Several things make this race interesting.

1.  SEIU has a record of defeating Senate incumbents, including Nat Exum and David Harrington (Prince George’s County), Rona Kramer (Montgomery County) and George Della (Baltimore City). Their negative mail against Exum was particularly devastating.

One of at least seven anti-Exum mailers from SEIU.

2.  Nathan-Pulliam has not had a truly competitive election in her entire career. She walked into her current Senate seat after the incumbent retired and had five straight cakewalk House races before that.  She is also not a great fundraiser, raising $77,695 in the 2006 cycle, $72,363 in the 2010 cycle and $124,732 in the 2014 cycle.  She reported $33,533 in the bank in January.  Those are easy numbers for a big organization like SEIU to overcome.

3.  Many labor organizations have supported Nathan-Pulliam over the years, including AFT Maryland, MSEA, the Fire Fighters, the Police, UFCW Local 400, several building trades local unions, the AFL-CIO and SEIU. Those unions have given her more than $30,000 over the last four cycles.  How many of them will follow SEIU’s lead and dump the incumbent?

SEIU endorses Nathan-Pulliam in 2014.

4.  Nathan-Pulliam has not represented many of her current constituents all that long. True, she has been in office since 1994.  But her district has changed substantially since then.  District 44 now includes a portion of the western part of Baltimore City along with Lochearn, Woodlawn, Catonsville and the areas around US-40 and I-70 in Baltimore County.  Prior to that, Nathan-Pulliam represented District 10.  During the 2000s, District 10 did not include any part of the City and during the 1990s, the City portions it did include are not part of today’s District 44.  This somewhat erodes the advantage a decades-long incumbent would normally have.

5.  At age 78, Nathan-Pulliam could decide not to fight SEIU and simply retire.

We reprint McCaskill’s kickoff announcement below.

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Event: Working Families Democrat and SEIU Union Leader Aletheia McCaskill announces a Democratic primary challenge in Maryland’s 44th State Senatorial District

Date:  September 9, 2017, 2:00-4:00

Where: Karate Family Center 1101 N. Rolling Road, Catonsville, MD 21228

Aletheia McCaskill is a wife, mother, activist and advocate who has owned her own small business providing early learning child care services to the residents of West Baltimore and Western Baltimore County for over 20 years.  She got involved on issues of economic justice such as the fight for fair wages and earned sick leave legislation because of the reality she saw in the lives of the families whose children she provided care for.  She has been the Statewide Political Member Leader for the largest Maryland local in the Service Employees International Union and has been a leader in the fight in Baltimore and Annapolis to pass the Women’s Economic Security Agenda- a package of bills aimed at  providing some measure of economic stability for the working families of the 44th.  Aletheia believes that the 44th District deserved a choice, she wants to be our voice in Annapolis fighting for stronger schools and for finally giving our Seniors the services and facilities WITHIN the 44th, that they deserve.

https://www.mccaskill44.com/

For Press or scheduling, please contact:

Mark Jason McLaurin, Political Director

SEIU Local 500

901 Russell Avenue, Suite 300

Gaithersburg, MD 20879

(301) 740-7100 – Voice

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Cory McCray to Announce for Senate

By Adam Pagnucco.

Next Saturday, freshman Delegate Cory McCray (D-45) is holding a campaign event in which he is expected to announce a challenge to long-time Baltimore City Senator Nathaniel McFadden.  It’s a gutsy move that will be one of the marquee races in the city.  The Baltimore Sun and Maryland Matters have both covered the impending race.  We reprint McCray’s announcement below.

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Special Announcement about the 2018 Elections

What: Friends, family, and neighbors across Baltimore’s 45th Legislative District will gather for a special announcement from Delegate Cory McCray

When: Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ 10:00 A.M.

Where: Clifton Park – 2555 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21218 (Across From Fairmount Harford High School)

Who: Lifelong Baltimore resident and member of the House of Delegates, Delegate Cory McCray

Why: Baltimore is a strong community filled with potential, and we deserve political leadership who will help turn that potential into a reality.

Growing up in Baltimore, Cory could have easily become a statistic. He changed his life when he found an opportunity to do better. He wants to provide those same opportunities to the residents in the 45th district. Though the challenges Baltimore faces are significant, Cory is prepared to deal with those challenges head on. Baltimore is a town that has passion and determination to push through these difficult times. September 16th, Cory will make an announcement regarding his plans to fight for the community that raised him. The 45th district deserves a leader who will listen and provide services to improve the quality of life, where the community are partners in progress.

Cory McCray, is a husband, father of four, union electrician and, he’s willing to make the hard choices necessary to begin the healing in Baltimore.

Cory V. McCray

corymccray@gmail.com

www.corymccray.com

Facebook – http://on.fb.me/gAIEJ0

Twitter – @corymccray

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Ex-Felons Demand Removal of Baltimore City Board of Elections Chair for Voter Suppression

From the Communities United Press Release:

“We have the right to due process!”

Ex-Felons and Members of the Community Demand the Immediate Removal of Sr. Director, Armistead Jones.

Baltimore, Md. – Communities United chapter of Ex-Felons are holding a press conference and rally to call for the immediate dismissal of Sr. Director, Armistead Jones. Under the leadership of Mr. Armistead Jones, the Baltimore City Board of Elections has made a mockery of the voting process, which can be viewed as voter suppression. Numerous errors have occurred under the leadership of Mr. Jones;  enough for him to be called before a special hearing in the Maryland Senate to explain the debacle of the most recent Primary Election. Even at that time, Sr. Director Jones has repeatedly failed the members of his staff, while never taking any personal accountability or ownership of the failings in his role as Sr. Director of the Baltimore Office of the Board of Elections. Mr. Jones’ position of leadership requires that personal accountability for the proper execution of all tasks be solely his. Perry Hopkins, a Field Organizer for Communities United and Ex-Felon states, “Voting is the bedrock of our democracy and as such, we must have absolute faith in the process and be able to rely on those entrusted to handle our votes, accurately count our votes and accurately report the results in an orderly and timely manner.” As a direct result of mismanagement by the current leadership of Sr. Director, Armistead Jones, this was clearly not the case across Baltimore City in the last and most recent Primary Election cycle.

Sr. Director Jones has repeatedly faulted the members of his staff, while never taking any personal accountability or ownership of the failings in his role as the head administrator and Sr. Director of the Baltimore Office of the Board of Elections. Mr. Jones’ position of leadership requires that personal accountability for the proper execution of all tasks be solely his.  Kimberly Haven, an Ex-Felon and advocate stated, “It is our contention, that the actions of Mr. Jones (and his office) not only violated the basic tenet of trust in the execution of our voting process, but in our Democracy as well.”

“I think it’s a personal matter of how he feels. He doesn’t want to look at the Ex-Felons who want to vote, because he’s not concerned about our rights,” says Reginald Smith.

All of the problems listed below, happened on Sr. Director, Armistead Jones’ watch:

1. Several polls did not open or close on time, thereby suppressing the vote, as voters were turned away.

2. Unlawful letters were sent to numerous newly enfranchised Ex-Felon Voters, discouraging them to register to vote, which is an act of voter suppression.

3. There were not sufficient numbers of functionally trained judges to service voters at polling sites.

4. Of his own volition, the Sr. Director certified election results before all votes were accurately counted.

5. Votes and voting ballots were improperly handled and miscounted. Provisional ballots were scanned, over 1000 more votes were erroneously cast than were checked in, and boxes of ballots were missing only to be found at a later date.

6. His current actions have now breached the public trust in the proper and accurate execution of the voting process and his continued tenure also serves as an act of voter suppression.

7. Reasons supporting the termination of Mr. Jones’ tenure clearly outweigh reasons to retain him, as indicated by his recent performance in the service of Baltimore City Voters.

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There is Still Time to Move to District 20 or 40

vacancy

Eighth Congressional District Democratic Nominee Jamie Raskin will presumably vacate his State Senate seat some time after the November elections. A number of people’s names are already being bandied about to fill the seat, including Heather Mizeur who  represented D20 in the House of Delegates until 2015 but now lives on the Eastern Shore.

Good news for Mizeur and any other potential Senate aspirants. There is still time to establish residency in D20 because Article III, Section 9 of Maryland’s Constitution requires that legislators live in a district for only six months in advance of the election. May 9th is six months before the day after Election Day.

Sen. Raskin could wait until being sworn into Congress to resign his seat, which would delay the appointment process. As the General Assembly session begins in January, I imagine he would want to start the ball rolling earlier, so that someone could be in the seat from the beginning of the session.

Of course, all of the above also applies to District 40, which can expect with equal certainty that now Sen. Catherine Pugh will become Mayor of the City of Baltimore after the general election. So watch for any moving trucks in these districts!

 

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MoCo Delegation Protests Hogan’s Effort to Shift Money from Higher Ed to Corrections

The following is an excerpt from a letter sent by the Montgomery County legislative delegation to Governor Larry Hogan. Emphasis added.

Dear Governor Hogan:

As you know, your unilateral decision to spend $480 million on a new jail will result in unreasonable delays in funding for major projects at numerous universities. One of the projects that will be delayed by your decision to redirect funding from higher education to the Baltimore City jail is a long-planned expansion of the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) in Montgomery County. . . .

It is a sad, unfortunate and startling fact that Maryland spends more on corrections than it does on higher education. This is exacerbated by your decision to fund the Baltimore City jail over higher education. Again, we understand there is a clear need for a new correctional facility in Baltimore. However, there is a capital improvement plan already in place for such a new facility. Note that many of us would support expediting the plan given the deplorable conditions of the facility. But, expediting the entirety of the new jail facility at the expense of higher education is pure folly. Respectfully, if Maryland is “open for business,” then we must invest in higher education for many reasons, including providing an educated workforce for current and future Maryland businesses.

You can download the full letter here:

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Awaiting the Verdict from Del. Mary Washington

Today, I received the following from Del. Mary Washington (D-43):

Like most of you, I have followed the trial of Officer William Porter with a passion for justice and a deep concern for our city’s future. Now, as we await the jury’s verdict, my thoughts are not only with the family of Freddie Gray but with the thousands of diverse and dedicated people across our city who are working hard to stem the violence that chokes so many of our communities – from the advocates fighting to stop police violence, to those police officers who are struggling to keep our streets safe, to the activists trying to reclaim streets blighted by drugs, decay, and decades of disinvestment.

There is no doubt that this case, and the ones to follow, are historic. But the work and dedication of our city’s citizens are more long-standing than the verdict in any of these cases. Because if and when the jury reaches a verdict for this case, that verdict will represent its judgment on the facts presented in the case against Officer Porter. It will not be a verdict on the character of our city or the justice of our cause or the value of our work.

Whatever the jury finds, we will continue to work to stop racial profiling and excessive force by law enforcement officers– to see to it that our police serve the communities they are sworn to protect and to hold them accountable when they behave more like an aggressive occupation force than the public servants our communities need.

Whatever the jury finds, we will continue to work to make clear that Black Lives Matter – and to stand up to judicial systems, public officials, and entrenched institutions that fail to value the lives and needs of too many of our citizens.

Whatever the jury finds, we will continue to work to change a system of mass incarceration that often warehouses the poor and homeless in terrible jails – and leaves too many city residents trapped in a downward spiral of addiction and incarceration.

Whatever the jury finds, we will work to make the kind of investments in our schools, in drug treatment, in alternatives to incarceration, in job training, in affordable housing, and in community development that can lift neighborhoods decimated by drugs, despair and violence toward a brighter future.

As your State Delegate I will work with city and state leaders during the upcoming session and beyond to make sure that we not only hold law enforcement accountable when they cross the line into violence but hold all our institutions to higher standards in working to bring hope and possibility to our most vulnerable residents.

Whatever the jury finds this week, that unfinished work will continue.

In Partnership,

Mary L. Washington, Member
Maryland House of Delegates, 43rd Legislative District, Baltimore City

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More Giraffes Than Black People

UPDATE: Visit Maryland has now removed the video from YouTube. Twitter reports that it is also gone from Baltimore’s Penn Station. @visitmaryland is so far quiet on the subject.

Visit Maryland has air-brushed African Americans out of Baltimore. If the above official tourism promotion video, playing on an endless loop in Baltimore’s Penn Station, is to be believed, more giraffes live in Baltimore than African Americans.

Black people should not be deemed too scary to feature in videos touting any part of Maryland. Nevertheless, their absence is especially glaring–and I imagine galling–in a video about majority-black Baltimore City.

Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery) noticed the video during a visit to Charm City and has written the Commerce Secretary to demand its removal from public circulation:

Letter to Secretary GillBeyond the blatant racism, the video is also economically foolish. African Americans have a lot of tourism dollars to spend. As Del. Waldstreicher points out, there is enormous cultural and historical richness in Baltimore black history. Don’t we want African-American tourists to think of Baltimore as a potential destination?

Whitewashing Baltimore is not going to make Baltimore more appealing or its well-known problems go away.

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Analysis: Democrats Must Address Baltimore or Drown Politically in the Undertow

Much debate swirls around police brutality in Baltimore and the peaceful protests then riots following Freddie Gray’s death but little discussion has taken place about the political impact of these events. Today’s post focuses on that question.

Put bluntly, it puts the squeeze on Democrats.

In the struggle over public opinion regarding police actions, many voters tend to give the police the benefit of the doubt as they value law and order and respect that it’s a tough and often dangerous job. That bias can be overcome, as in New York, if protests stay peaceful and the police overplay their hand.

In Maryland, however, the Baltimore riots are likely to hurt the Democrats among the swingy white voters who elected Gov. Larry Hogan and helped the Republicans to take the Senate nationally. Remember that the events in Ferguson were in the spotlight just before the 2014 elections.

And the effect may not be limited to whites. There is no guarantee that Maryland’s Latino and Asian voters will not be more concerned about public safety than police brutality. People of color are not a political or social monolith.

Messages that Won’t Work

Unsurprisingly, people have strong views on the police, race, and many related issues. However, some of these viewpoints have the potential to harm Democrats greatly. Critically, I emphasize that the point here is not whether the views are right or wrong but that seem likely to me to have a sharp negative political impact.

Arguments that these problems all stem from racism will only exacerbate Democratic political problems. Nobody likes being accused of being a racist–an excellent way to alienate voters appalled by the riots. Moreover, they know some of the police involved in Freddie Gray’s death are African American, as is the police chief and mayor.

Similarly, efforts to label the riots an “uprising” will strike the same voters as hopelessly out of touch (read: insane). Quotes from Democrats that appear to justify violence, like Del. Maricé Morales’ Facebook post, will be used against Democrats.

The sharp spike in the murder rate in the wake of the riots will only increase the demand for law and order. Many of the victims are African American. Charnice Milton, a promising young journalist with a moving personal story, was shot to death just a few days ago in Washington, DC when she got caught in gang crossfire responsible for many recent killings in Baltimore.

Blaming chronic neglect of the poorest parts of Baltimore won’t work either. After sixteen years of William Donald Schaefer and Martin O’Malley as Governor, it’s a hard sell that the State has not sent sufficient cash Baltimore’s way.

It doesn’t matter whether these points are correct so much as this is how many swing voters will perceive it. It’s their views that shape their votes–not how you think they should see events.

Crafting a Democratic Message

Getting a grip on this tough issue politically is going to require a clear message that doesn’t sound hedging yet addresses the very legitimate concerns of the party’s oft-divided constituencies. Borrowing a version of Tony Blair’s “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” slogan from the 1990s might fit the bill.

Criminal behavior is unacceptable. Full stop. The recent riots stole jobs from working people and burned down housing being built by local leaders for the elderly. Violence eats at the fabric of already struggling communities.

For exactly these reasons, we need stronger policing policies that protect the rights and dignity of citizens as well as the police. We need to do it not only because it’s right but because our communities will be safer for it. Mutual lack of trust and hostility between the police and the community is a direct threat to public safety.

Crises provide opportunities for leaders. These are tough problems but addressing them can advance the party’s strong commitment to justice and to public safety. Articulating a strong message supporting both is critical to preserving public trust.

It’s more complicated that straightforward condemnations of either criminal behavior or police brutality. Fortunately, there are signs of some Democrats leading the way. See the Facebook comments by Del. Brooke Lierman (and the other legislators from D46) as well as Del. David Moon’s call to end the damaging drug war.

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