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Maryland Green U.S. Senate candidate Flowers writes about removal from debate

flowersMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers writes in Baltimore Brew about being forcibly removed from a candidate forum at Goucher College on March 28. Flowers had been twice invited to the event before being disinvited.

She writes, “Greens constantly face these kinds of barriers that prevent them from competing with the two major parties. … The media barely reports our existence and we are excluded from debates and public forums. … This is part of the democracy crisis — when a party that does not represent the interests of the wealthy is left out, the public debate is stifled. And voters are the biggest losers when alternative voices are left out.”

Flowers writes that had she “been permitted to participate in the debate,” she would have raised several issues “that are not being discussed” including construction of the Cove Point fracked gas terminal, the impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “ending poverty by bringing back a Guaranteed Basic Income,” ending the Drug War and mass incarceration, and holding Wall Street accountable for the financial crisis of the last decade and its continued effects.

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Baltimore Green Party nominating primary underway

Baltimore-Green-PartyThe Baltimore Green Party Primary, in which registered Green voters in Baltimore City, Maryland will select nominees for mayor and city council, is now underway. Green voters can request ballots by mail; they must be received by the party by April 30. In-person voting will take place at the Baltimore Green Party office on May 1.

There are three candidates — Joshua Harris, David Marriott, and Emanuel McCray — in the party’s first-ever contested mayoral primary. The city council races are not contested, but voters can also choose None Of The Above or No Candidate In This Seat.

Baltimore Green Party Co-Chair Jeremy Collins said, “The upcoming primary gives the people of Baltimore their chance to choose someone to represent their interests. It’s an exciting thing to witness democracy working as its supposed to. We have exciting candidates ready to challenge this one-party system. This will be a transformative election season for Baltimore.”

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Maryland Green congressional candidate Croydon takes part in White House cannabis march

Elizabeth Croydon, who is running for the Green Party U.S. House nomination in Maryland’s Eighth District, took part in the #Reschedule420 Emergency National Mobilization to Deschedule Cannabis demonstration outside the White House last Saturday.

Charles “Teddy” Galloway III and Nancy Wallace are also seeking the Green nomination in the by-mail primary.

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Maryland Green U.S. House candidate Hoenig says Greens are real alternative

hoenigMyles Hoenig, Green Party candidate for U.S. House in Maryland’s Seventh District, said in an interview with Iran’s PressTV that the Green Party, not Sen. Bernie Sanders, offers the real alternative to traditional American politics.

“For the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the real deal when it comes to a ‘revolution,'” Hoenig said. “However, Sanders is not revolutionary. He’s running as a Democrat. He wants taxes to be fairer. He wants our military to be used better, and if better, have proxies carry out our wars of aggression, primarily in the Middle East.”

He continued, “The only party at the moment that truly reflects a greater degree of revolution is the Green Party, whose likely candidate is Jill Stein. Her ‘Power to the People Plan’ creates deep system change, moving from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered economy that puts people, planet and peace over profit. Her platform goes far beyond that of Sanders or any other Democrat: not just free college education but debt forgiveness, something that would leave the banks empty handed and not something Sanders advocates.”

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Flowers forcibly removed from Maryland U.S. Senate candidate forum

Maryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers was forcibly prevented from participating in a candidate forum sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council and Goucher College on Monday evening. Flowers, who had been extended invitations to the debate twice by the organizers, was abruptly disinvited without notice two weeks before the event.

When the candidates were asked to take the stage, Flowers stepped up to remind the BJC that her exclusion was in violation of IRS regulations that require non-profit organizations to be non-partisan. She said, “Many times during the first half of the forum, the moderator and Republican candidates emphasized that in this political moment voters are fed up with the status quo and are looking for alternatives. Yet, the one candidate who was invited and provides an alternative to the the two party system was excluded. I was ready to answer the questions but I was not given the chance. I wanted to participate in this debate, not protest it.”

Flowers was invited to the event on January 7 and accepted that same day. At that time, Sarah Mersky, the Baltimore Jewish Council’s Director of Government Relations, said the event would be “a wonderful opportunity for Baltimore and the Jewish community to get to know you better.” The BJC also later Dr. Flowers know of a postponement of the original February date, indicating that they still wanted her to take part. However, on March 11, Flowers received a terse message from Mersky disinviting her, saying the event would be limited “to contested primary candidates only” — a late change in the rules. The Flowers campaign said in reply that the IRS “has issued regulations for non-profit organizations requiring them to be non-partisan and inclusive” and that “in recent debates in the Baltimore area, non-profit organizations that initially excluded Green Party candidates decided to reverse their decision when their lawyers looked at the law.”

In phone conversations and personal meetings with the Flowers campaign, the BJC stated that the event was limited to candidates polling at least five in polls, a new requirement that had never been mentioned before to the Flowers campaign. Flowers pointed out that there have been no polls of Green Party candidates, making it impossible for the BJC to know that Flowers does not reach the polling threshold. Flowers asserted that her level of support in the Green Party is well above five percent.

Under Maryland law, Green Party candidates are not permitted to appear on the ballot printed by the state and distributed to voters during the state-funded primary election. “This is one of many ways the two wealth-based parties create an unfair electoral system for those who challenge them,” said Flowers. The Green Party is holding a self-funded primary election that any person registered to vote and affiliated with the Green Party may participate in. By rule, all Green Party nominations are contested.

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Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Flowers calls for action on World Water Day

flowerswebMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers is calling on candidates nationwide to acknowledge and fight the corporate manipulation responsible for water crises across the United States. She is also calling for recognition that access to clean water is a fundamental human right, and should be protected for all people.

Flowers said, “It is World Water Day, and the United Nations estimates that there are over 600 million people without access to clean water. Environmental factors like like factory farming, increased pollution and overuse in industrial production are a major, preventable cause of water shortages. There is another preventable cause of water crises in U.S. cities — corporate manipulation of municipal water programs that steal funds needed to improve failing infrastructure. I am calling on candidates for public office at all levels to resist corporate water grabs that are preventing the repair of degrading water systems and putting people at risk.”

Her full statement is available online.

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Green candidate Harris easily wins Baltimore mayoral youth straw poll

harrisAt the first-ever Baltimore City College Mayoral Straw Poll and Youth Summit on Monday, Joshua Harris, one of three Green Party candidates for Baltimore mayor, easily topped a field of 17 candidates.

More than 250 students, educators, and community members attended the event which featured opportunities for each candidate to engage directly with the audience for over an hour, followed by a 90-second statement from each. (Harris’s statement can be heard here.)

Harris won 28.0% of the straw poll vote, followed by Democratic City Councilman Nick Mosby at 19.6%, Democratic State Prosecutor Elizabeth Embry 14.5%, and Democratic state Sen. Catherine Pugh 11.2%. Green candidates David Marriott and Emanuel McCray did not take part in the event.

Harris said, “This is the purest form of grassroots ‎democracy. This generation does not entertain respectability politics. The youth are educated and aware and they will call you out if they feel you are being dishonest. I believe they recognize that the city needs leadership that is honest, straightforward, and committed to people first, and that’s me.”

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Flowers joins Flint activists at hearing; Stein calls for Snyder and McCarthy to leave office

flowersrayburnMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers joined Flint, Michigan, residents and advocates at the Rayburn House Office Building Thursday to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency and Gov. Rick Snyder be held accountable for their inaction regarding water poisoning in the city.

“I went to speak with people and be in solidarity with them,” Flowers said. “There were so many people from Flint that I gave up my place in line. Let’s hope that those responsible are held accountable, that action is taken to provide clean water to everyone, and treatment for those who are impacted by the contamination and that processes are put in place so this doesn’t happen again.”

Flowers, a pediatrician, said the dangers in the U.S. water supply go far beyond Flint, as is evident from the recent discovery of lead in Newark, New Jersey, school water supplies and New York Sen. Charles Schumer’s introduction of legislation to authorize federal grants for local school water testing after lead was found in water at two Ithaca schools. Also in Schumer’s home state, the toxic industrial pollutant perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) recently poisoned the water supply of about 4,000 upstate New Yorkers.

While Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was not at the hearing, she said Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy should “be removed from office and face any appropriate charges for overseeing this health disaster. Americans across the country owe thanks to the Flint community. By standing up for health and democracy in Flint, they are standing up for us all.”

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Baltimore Sun omits Flowers, other Greens from voter guide

1baltsunmemeMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers was recently asked by The Baltimore Sun to complete a candidate survey — yet the Sun failed to post her replies or those from other Green candidates, even those competing in the three-way Baltimore Green Party mayoral primary. When asked why, the Sun said publishing the Green responses would require changing its webpage design.

Flowers posted her complete responses on her campaign website. They are reprinted below.

 

Recently Dr. Margaret Flowers was asked to complete a questionnaire by The Baltimore Sun. Here are her responses.

Q: Why are you running for office?

A: I am running for the U.S. Senate to bring my expertise, honesty and integrity to that office. I see through my work how the concerns of Marylanders are ignored by our two senators even when serious issues of public health and safety are raised. I do not accept any corporate donations and I will only accept the average Maryland income. My office will be open to constituents so that we can work together to rein in corruption, reduce the wealth divide, solve the health care crisis, move to clean and sustainable energy and end systemic racism.

Q: What is your view of the international agreement intended to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons?

A: I support the international agreement with Iran as a first step towards normalizing relations and I support increasing the use of diplomacy in our foreign policy in general. I also support prohibiting and eliminating all nuclear weapons throughout the world, including in the United States. The U. S. should not spend $1 trillion over the next ten years on upgrading nuclear weapons. Instead, we should use that money for pressing domestic needs and engage in multilateral negotiations with all nuclear weapon states to reach an agreement to ban nuclear weapons. I agree with my physician colleagues who understand the devastation that nuclear weapons can produce and the imperative that we end their threat everywhere.

Q: What strategy should the United States pursue to protect itself and its allies from ISIS?

A: ISIS is a symptom of the destruction of nations in the Middle East through the United States’ failed “War on Terror”. This has led to chaos in countries like Iraq and Libya that creates an opening for extremists and foments anti-American sentiment. Our first priority should be to cut off ISIS’ access to money and to weapons, which are coming from U. S. allies. And our second priority should be to provide basic support to stabilize countries in the Middle East. There is much that needs to be done to restore basic infrastructure and access to energy, food, clean water, education and more. As these states re-stabilize, they will regain the trust of their people and reduce extremism. United States’ militarism and intervention is the cause of this problem, not the solution.

Q: Do you support the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Have free trade deals generally been good for the U.S.?

A: I have been actively working for the past five years to stop international agreements like the TransPacific Partnership. Experience with similar treaties over the past twenty years shows that they drive a global race to the bottom in worker rights and wages and protection of the environment. They give greater rights to transnational corporations to sue our government if our new laws interfere with their ability to make profits in a trade tribunal that supersedes even our Supreme Court. Veolia, a French corporation that operates in Maryland, sued Egypt over a new law to raise its minimum wage. We cannot allow transnational corporations to exploit workers. Baltimore has been hurt enough by agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement that cost us our steel industry. We cannot trade away our rights. All of our trade agreements have worsened the trade deficit, rather than helping. They enrich those at the top and hurt smaller businesses and farms. Studies of the TPP show that it will have a negligible positive effect on our Gross Domestic Product over the next ten years and may actually reduce GDP. The TPP will worsen wealth inequality. It is time to end this failed model of trade and create a new model that lifts up workers and protects the health and safety of our communities and the planet.

Q: Name one thing you would do to improve the functioning of the Affordable Care Act.

A: The reality is that the Affordable Care Act continues to leave tens of millions of people without insurance and tens of millions more who have insurance but still can’t afford health care because of the out-of-pocket costs. I support improving and expanding traditional Medicare to cover everyone, eliminating out-of-pocket costs and broadening coverage to include mental health, dental, vision and long term care without requiring a spend down that drives seniors into poverty. An improved Medicare for all will reduce our health spending while covering everyone with comprehensive benefits. It will end bankruptcies due to medical costs. As a nation, we are already spending enough on health care to accomplish this. It’s time that we join the rest of the industrialized nations who treat health care as a public good, not as a commodity for profits.

Q: Are the steps Congress and the Obama administration took to increase regulation of Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis appropriate? Does more need to be done?

A: As anyone who watched “The Big Short” knows, the fraudulent behavior that was responsible for the 2008 financial crisis continues unabated. Unlike the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980’s in which there were 30,000 investigations and 1,000 felony convictions, no top level executive responsible for the last crash has been held accountable. I have already pledged to support the 19-step plan created by financial crime experts and whistleblowers that would mostly use existing laws to rein in corruption. It would also reduce the size of the too-big-to-fail banks. I would go further to promote financial institutions that serve the public good rather than Wall Street. Like the state of North Dakota, Maryland and other states could create public banks that would serve local needs for infrastructure and investment in businesses. And we can add banking services to the United States Postal Service to meet the needs of those without access to bank accounts. We are fortunate in Maryland to have The Democracy Collaborative which is providing concrete information about how to build and keep wealth in our communities and reduce the wealth divide. I will do what I can to raise awareness of these positive solutions and assist their implementation.

Q: How would you characterize President Barack Obama’s legacy? What are his greatest accomplishments and failures?

A: The Obama campaigns and presidency have demonstrated that there is a widespread desire in the United States for real change. During his presidency, significant movements to end the corruption of government by money, to raise the minimum wage, to end the fossil fuel and nuclear era and move to clean and sustainable energy sources, to end systemic racism and more have grown. Unfortunately, many of the problems driving these movements have not yet been solved. We need leadership in the White House and Congress that are willing to take on the wealthy interests and promote policies that meet the needs of the people and protect the planet. There is already super majority support for many of these policies, but the dysfunction in our political system has made it impossible to move forward on these solutions.

Q: Do you support an increase in the federal minimum wage, and to what level? Should the federal government require paid sick time or family leave?

A: Families and individuals in the United States should have enough income to be able to meet their basic necessities. There are a number of steps that can be taken to accomplish this. A first step would be to look at the reality of the cost of living and raise the federal poverty level to reflect this. There should be a federal minimum wage that is tied to the cost of living in each area and that rises with inflation. Workers should be able to earn a living wage and have paid sick and family leave as well as vacation time. Families have emergencies and workers should not have to fear losing their job when they need time to deal with those emergencies. When workers are sick, they should be able to stay home and recover, especially when they have contagious illnesses. Families need time for recreation in order to be healthy. I would go even farther than a minimum wage to work towards a guaranteed basic income for all people. Instead of public dollars being used to subsidize the profits of big industries, those dollars should be viewed as a public investment with a public return similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund. A universal basic income would eliminate poverty and the need for many poverty programs. This would begin to correct the inequality between workers and capital that has driven the growing wealth divide over the past 50 years.

Q: What steps should Congress take to reduce the toll of gun violence?

A: The high rate of gun deaths is an urgent public health problem that has been a long time in the making and will take some time to resolve. Changes will need to be made to reduce access to guns by people who would use them to kill others or themselves, either intentionally or by accident, and to reduce the socio-economic factors that lead to violent crimes. Congress should regulate the sales of all guns and require universal background checks. Assault weapons and magazines that can carry a large number of rounds should be banned in the US, and this should be combined with a program to buy these back. All gun owners should be licensed and required to take basic gun safety courses or to otherwise demonstrate competence. This should include how to store guns so that children do not have easy access to them. And there should be mandatory reporting of gun thefts to law enforcement. Additionally, Congress should promote policies that curtail the socio-economic factors such as poverty, the failed drug war and lack of access to mental health treatment that drive gun violence towards others and oneself.

Q: Does the process by which congressional district lines are drawn need to be reformed? Should the issue be handled on the federal or state level?

A: There are many reforms that are needed to create a functioning democracy in the United States. How districts are drawn is one of them, but we need to go beyond that to remove barriers to voting, remove barriers to third parties so they have equal access to ballots, primaries and the media and remove the influence of money over who gets elected. We need to hold elections in an open and transparent way so that results are reliable and can be verified. As far as determining districts, I support the drawing of districts by an impartial commission at the state level. There are steps that need to be taken at the federal level such as universal voter registration for everyone 18 and older and Constitutional changes such as ending the Electoral College.

Q: What role should Congress have in helping cities like Baltimore?

A: Members of Congress representing Maryland have a responsibility to constituents throughout the state, including Baltimore. Constituents and local and state government officials should partner with federal legislators to create policies to support necessary solutions that can be implemented at the national, state and local levels. This could include national policies that would benefit people in the city such as putting in place an improved Medicare for all health system, supporting worker rights such as the right to organize unions, creating a basic guaranteed income and protecting our US Postal Service and other public entities that provide high quality jobs and services. For support at the state level, policies can be put in place to promote the transition to a clean and sustainable energy economy including clean transportation, to use a public health approach to drug use, to end mass incarceration and to support a high quality public education system, to create affordable housing and more. The federal government is already investigating the Baltimore police. It should compel police retraining and practices that end police violence, especially those that are done in a racially-prejudiced way. And the federal government can partner to develop policies that promote community-wealth building institutions at the local level such as public banks, support for worker-owned cooperatives, community-owned renewable energy, local food production and community land trusts for permanently-affordable housing.