I've been asked what I think about this movement now targeting the big banks and investment companies who make hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars (usually off the backs of working, middle income and poor people) and balk at paying taxes or investing in jobs.
My response? It's great. People are finally pointing to the real culprits and trying to bring some measure of accountability to these institutions which, day after day, put their drive for profit ahead of people's needs.
These companies take federal money, pay their own CEOs exorbitant salaries with stock options and are oblivious to the suffering and joblessness of others.
But we shouldn't be surprised by the actions of these companies. The late Molly Ivins put it best when she said that corporations were not intrinsically evil, they're simply programmed to increase profits. She wrote, "The question is what we the people, who have spent more than two hundred years working slowly toward greater liberty and justice for all, should do with these powerful entities now shaping our lives... Corporations are not concerned with economic justice or with social justice -- it's not their job. It is our job!"
And it remains our job today. And that's why I applaud the 'Occupy' movement. They are raising their voices and, to be clear, the "they" is a real cross section of people. Yes, many are young and some may have college degrees. But more and more, they are joined by the unemployed, young and old, people who are tired of the inequity and inequality in our country. And despite how the right wing tries to paint them, they are respectful and responsible. They are also articulate and not afraid to speak out.
Yes, some of their practices may be cumbersome and their hesitancy to unify and clarify their demands may leave many scratching their collective heads, but these people believe in democracy. They are also unwilling to sit back, waiting for the wheels of the traditional bureaucracy to move. They are doing something.
Most people know where I stand and what I believe: we need a multi-pronged approach to bring necessary change to our country, to bring real social and economic justice. We need broad civic activism, both inside and outside of existing institutions. We need people running for public office and we need people demonstrating and organizing in our neighborhoods.
The gains achieved by the civil rights, women's and gay rights movements, to name a few, did not come about simply by relying on traditional institutions. People put themselves out there, many paying a high price.
We should be energized by this "Occupy" movement. In fact, we just might learn a few valuable lessons from these very brave people.
But it's done. For Prince George's County, there are few changes. Actually, the area in Chillum and part of the Port Towns, formerly represented by Chris Van Hollen, will now be represented by Donna Edwards. The 22nd district remains as it was: Cong. Hoyer representing about 2/3s and Cong. Edwards representing the other 1/3 (Hyattsville, etc). The new redistricting increases the possibility of picking up an additional Democratic seat in western Maryland, now joined with western Montgomery County; and the current two seats held by African-Americans are secured.
Our Board of Education boundaries will remain almost exclusively as they were redrawn two years ago. This affords some degree of continuity.
The maps for the state legislature will be redrawn when we return to the regular legislative session beginning in early January.
On Monday, November 7th, along with Congresswoman Edwards and County Executive Baker, I will be speaking at a Town Hall meeting that is being held to help find progressive solutions to the fiscal crisis in Washington and Annapolis. The theme of this event is to reduce spending/increase revenue and put more funding into human services. The Town Hall will be focusing on Maryland's budget issues and expansion of human services in the state. There will be a plenary session and then some interactive breakout sessions. The goal of the meeting is to come out with some action items for the General Assembly around budget and tax issues.
This Town Hall is being sponsored by a wide variety of organizations such as: Human Services Coalition of Prince George's County and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, Progressive Cheverly, Peace & Justice Coalition, Prince George's County NAACP-Branch Maryland, CASA, and Commercial Workers Union Local 400. The People's Budget Town Hall will take place at Prince George's Community College in Marlboro Hall room 1097 from 7 to 9:30pm. For more information, click here.
The Maryland Transit Administration will be conducting two open houses in our area up to provide further updates and answer questions from the community.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
University of Maryland
Adele H. Stamp Student Union
Prince George's Room
College Park, MD 20740
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Beacon Heights Elementary School
6929 Fruman Parkway
Riverdale, MD 20737
Last year I wrote about October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October, along with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is also National Anti-Bullying Month. Bullying is a problem in schools, workplaces, public venues and online for people of all ages and backgrounds.
There are several different types of bullying: verbal, social, physical, and cyber. Verbal bullying usually involves name calling and or teasing. Social bullying involves spreading rumors, among other actions. The traditional form of bullying, physical, involves hitting, punching, shoving and other acts of intention physical harm. The newest form of bullying, cyber bullying, involves using the Internet, texting, email and other digital technologies to harm others. The American Justice Department bullying statistics show that one out of every 4 kids will be bullied sometime throughout their adolescence. Unfortunately, about 58 percent of kids admit to never telling an adult when they've been the victim of a bullying attack. Cyber bullying is on the rise more so than any other form of bullying.
Bullying is never acceptable. We all need to be aware that bullying exists, speak up if we witness bullying, and support any victims of bullying. Stop Bullying Now!, a website maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to educate kids, parents, teachers, and other adults about bullying and how to handle it.
Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III nominated John Shoaff, an attorney from University Park, MD, to serve as a member of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is a bi-county agency that manages growth, stewards natural, cultural, and historical resources, and provides leisure and recreational experiences in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. John was a member of the East Campus Redevelopment Community Review Steering Committee.
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