Restoring voting rights to ex-offenders
In March 2002, the Maryland Legislature passed Senate Bill 184, which restored the right to vote to two-time ex-felons convicted of non-violent crimes. Baltimore Greens and Maryland Greens worked with 50 other organizations allied with the Maryland Voting Rights Restoration Coalition (led by “Doc” Cheatham). The bill and the efforts by the Maryland Voting Rights Restoration Coalition address the disproportional number of African Americans removed permanently from the electoral process. (In 2000, 15.4% of African American men in Maryland were unable to vote.) For more information see the City Paper’s April article and January article.
Restructuring the Baltimore City Council to make it more democratic (Question P)
Baltimore Greens helped CLUB, a coalition of community groups which includes ACORN, the League of Women Voters, and AFSCME local 44, with its efforts to put Question P on the November 2002 ballot. The amendment to the City Charter cut 4 seats from the 19-member council, creating 14 single-member districts (as opposed to the old system of six 3-member districts). Voters approved Question P, against the disapproval of City Council President Sheila Dixon and Mayor Martin O’Malley.
For more information check out Baltimore Sun coverage, read a Baltimore Indymedia article, or look at the Baltimore City Council’s press release urging voters to oppose Question P.
Supporting peace initiatives and protection of civil liberties
The Baltimore Green Party has been active in the antiwar movement against military involvement in Iraq. The BGP is a member of BAWCC, the Baltimore Anti-War Coordinating Committee. Many Baltimore Greens have attended demonstrations and protests in the city, as well as D.C. and New York.
Supporting the labor movement
Baltimore Greens stood with the 330 union members of the United Food and Commercial Workers local 392 last December when they went on strike against American Sugar Refining Co., owner of Domino Sugar. After 5 weeks of picketing, workers won a fair contract and returned to work. For more information see Mobtown.org’s coverage, the Baltimore Chronicle’s article, or the UFCW union website.
Opposing harmful development projects
Baltimore Greens joined the Urban Forest Initiative, the Woodberry Planning Committe, and the local chapter of ACORN in protesting Loyola College’s planned construction of an athletic complex in 68 acres of undeveloped, forested Woodberry Woods. The plan calls for the building of a 6,000-seat stadium, practice fields, a second access road, and 675 parking spaces. Baltimore city’s planning department and Mayor O’Malley are in favor of Loyola’s plans. More than 300 opponents of the development have collected 4,000 signatures on a petition to save Woodberry Woods, concerned about environmental degradation and destruction to the region. After a City Council vote in favor of the Loyola plan last June, it looks like the construction is unstoppable.
For more information read the City Paper coverage, an article from Baltimore Indymedia, or the comprehensive in the news section on the Woodberry website.
Improving the public school system
Baltimore Greens are working with community groups to raise awareness of the plight of city schools and to fight for better conditions for Baltimore students. Crisis conditions abound: over half of all city students don’t graduate, the Health Department has confirmed that drinking water in the schools contains toxic levels of lead, the schools are woefully underfunded and staff underpaid, $600 million is required for construction and repair, many schools are without books or libraries, and special needs children have been neglected. Baltimore Greens were at the Camden Yards opening day demonstration organized by Children 1st aimed at making school reform a number one priority for city officials. For more information see the Children 1st website or read a Baltimore Sun article.
Outreach and voter registration
Many hardworking Baltimore Green volunteers helped with tabling at festivals in the city this summer, spreading awareness about important electoral reform issues such as instant runoff voting and proportional representation systems. Greens have been promoting discussion about living wage laws, the death penalty, politics on the national level, educational reform, and development projects. And, besides for dialogue, Baltimore Greens at the various festivals have signed up hundreds of new voters (many chose to affiliate with the Green Party, but that was certainly not a requirement for registration).