I have spoken about Maryland's capture of politics centered in the movement away from a strong public sector which has been replaced by private non-profits controlled by corporations that simply place someone as head of the organization that makes sure public policy goes the way the corporations want. In Maryland we have AGAB serving that goal. Johns Hopkins creates and controls most non-profits in Baltimore and in doing so captures all public policy. What we see less of in Maryland and Baltimore are real citizens coming out and organizing and controlling their own non-profits. My non-profit, Citizens Oversight Maryland speaks freely because there is no corporate connection. If you see a non-profit that is silent on all of the issues I address here-----they are being controlled by a corporation. We have great groups doing good work in Baltimore but very few of them will shout against the power structures -----Johns Hopkins and Baltimore Development or identify the fact that all of Baltimore's politicians work for these institutions and not the citizens of Baltimore. I told you about the anti-fracking environmental group that ran when I asked them to educate about Trans Pacific Trade Pact and the fact that it allows all environmental laws to be ignored. Now, if an environmental non-profit is not talking about this----it is headed by a corporation. This is why TPP is not even mentioned in Maryland.....corporations control all of our private non-profits.
PLEASE WAKE UP AND ENGAGE IN POLITICS FOLKS! THE MIDDLE CLASS CANNOT WATCH AS THE POOR ARE BRUTALIZED BECAUSE WE KNOW THE GOAL OF NEO-LIBERALISM IS TO GET RID OF ALL MIDDLE-CLASS. YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN/GRANDCHILDREN WILL BE THE POOR. YOU CANNOT BE SILENT FOR FEAR OF YOUR JOB BECAUSE LOSING DEMOCRACY AND YOUR RIGHTS AS CITIZENS IS MORE IMPORTANT.
Maryland and especially Baltimore is now running just a global corporations do overseas----Non-governmental organizations NGOs control our state and local governments as a 'quasi-governmental agency' and corporations 'donate' rather than pay taxes to private non-profits that then do what that 'donor' wants. No doubt national non-profits have always been this way but now they are controlling all policy at state and local levels as well. This is the capture we are feeling in Maryland. The neo-liberals and neo-cons work to establish these private non-profits and then make sure that these groups are the ones heard in policy discussion. This is why many community associations in Baltimore are silent to politicians pushing neo-conservative/neo-liberal policies that are killing the residents living in these communities. They instead are the ones backing these same pols dismantling our democratic structures. The heads of these organizations sound to be supporting the community when in fact they are working to push corporate policy.
As you see below you must have politicians in office that want the public engaged in public policy. They build the structures to make sure to stimulate participation. In Maryland all policy is written behind closed doors and the public is pulled from public meetings if they try to speak on the most important issues. Go to Baltimore City Hall and you look at pols that are simply sitting there----they are no more connected to the people speaking than a man on the moon. They are simply meeting a charter requirement to have hearings.
IT IS THE DISMANTLING OF ALL OF THE PUBLIC STRUCTURES OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT THAT HAS PRODUCED THE LACK OF PARTICIPATION AND IT HAS BEEN REPLACED BY THESE PRIVATE NON-PROFITS.
The Citizens Most Vocal in Local Government
View detailed demographic data from a national survey about the most and least likely people to speak up. by Mike Maciag | July 2014 Flickr/Kelby Carr
In his first few months in office, Park City, Utah, Mayor Jack Thomas has heard from quite a few constituents. His office phone rings off the hook. Going out for lunch takes about twice as long as before, too, as he constantly fields concerns from residents who walk up. “If you want a quiet moment,” he jokes, “you’ve got to leave town.”
The small resort community is home to some of the nation’s more vocal residents. In a recent survey, 28 percent of city residents reported contacting elected officials to express their opinions and 37 percent said they had attended a local public meeting over a 12-month period.
Nationwide, though, citizen participation in local government remains abysmally low. The National Research Center (NRC), a firm that conducts citizen surveys for more than 200 communities, compiled data for Governing shedding light on the types of residents who are most active. Overall, only 19 percent of Americans recently surveyed contacted their local elected officials over a 12-month period, while about a quarter reported attending a public meeting.
In many city halls, extremists on either side of an issue dominate public hearings. Those who do show up at the sparsely attended meetings are often the same cast of characters week after week. But some public officials have found ways to reach a much wider segment of residents.
Park City’s Mayor Thomas said he’ll go door-to-door along the town’s main corridor to gauge resident sentiment about everything from new development projects to air quality and garbage pickup. “If you want to have a government that’s rooted in the community, you better start that way,” Thomas said. “It’s all about trust.”
NRC survey data identifies types of residents who are the most active or, in some cases, the least vocal. Individuals living in a community for more than 10 years, for example, are about three times more likely to attend public meetings and contact elected officials than new residents. Among racial groups, Asians tend to have the lowest participation rates. Low-income residents also aren’t as active as those earning six-figure incomes.
In general, residents often aren’t compelled to weigh in on an issue unless it negatively affects them, said Cheryl Hilvert of the International City/County Management Association. It’s for this reason that much of the citizen engagement in communities is confined to typical hot-button issues, such as planning and zoning meetings.
Many residents don’t think they have time to participate. Others, particularly newer residents with lower participation rates, may not know where or how to get involved, Hilvert said.
Survey data further suggests that younger residents aren’t inclined to speak up. Those under the age of 35 attend meetings and contact elected officials at far lower rates than those over 35. Hilvert suspects their busy lifestyles may have something to do with it, especially if they have children.
Connecting with these groups of residents requires stepping outside of city hall and meeting residents on their own turf. Park City officials say they’ve held meetings in school lunch rooms, performing arts centers and with local homeowners’ associations.
“To truly engage the community,” Hilvert said, “managers have to think broader about it than in the past.”
Some localities employ unconventional approaches to raise the level of citizen engagement. When the city of Rancho Cordova, Calif., debated permitting more residents to raise chickens on their properties last year, it launched an online Open Town Hall. More than 500 residents visited the interactive forum to make or review public statements. “It is noisy and smelly enough with pigeons, turkeys, feral cats, and untended dogs without adding chickens to the mix,” wrote one resident. The city drafted an ordinance reflecting citizen input, then emailed it to forum subscribers.
Outreach efforts through local media or civic organizations help further community involvement. Some residents also form Facebook groups or online petitions to promote their causes.
The city of Chanhassen, Minn., relied heavily on social media to connect with citizens when it confronted an issue that’s about as contentious as any local government can face: a proposal to build a new Walmart. The city posted regular updates on its Facebook page and uploaded all documents online. Laurie Hokkanen, the city’s assistant city manager, said residents continued hearing rumors even after the city rejected the company’s rezoning proposal. As a result, staff kept lines of communication open.
“A vote by the city council does not end the issue for residents who are invested in it,” Hokkanen said. “It’s important to tell people you appreciate their input.”
Citizen Survey Data Across much of the country, citizens rarely voice their opinion to local governments. The National Research Center provided survey results from local jurisdictions throughout the country participating in the National Citizen Survey, collected between 2012 and earlier this year.
Two questions on the survey assessed how vocal citizens were in government. Survey respondents were asked if they had done the following in the last 12 months:
1) "Contacted [locality name] elected officials (in-person, phone, email or web) to express your opinion?"
- Yes: 19 percent
- No: 81 percent
- Two times a week or more: 1 percent
- Two to four times a month: 1 percent
- Once a month or less: 22 percent
- Not at all: 76 percent
We all know the quasi nature of Baltimore Development and the University of Maryland Medical Center but let's look at AGAB and how corporations 'donate' for tax write-offs and then simply write the public policy tied to that non-profit.
If you could look at what this organization does------and the details are very private-----you will see that corporations and the rich simply choose a category to contribute and then are allowed to write what that 'donation' will create. So, greening as a category can channel money to paying for corporate parks that simply subsidize the costs of a corporation's headquarters. Why pay to landscape your property when you can get a tax write-off as 'donation' to greening and have the city contribute a chunk for example. A corporation wanting to 'donate' to eduction would direct that money to a national education non-profit controlled by corporations to go into schools and tell parents, teachers, and students just what 'wellness' will look like in the schools. In Baltimore parents asking for recess for their children may not be discussed in these 'wellness' groups in many schools.
This entire system allows corporations not paying taxes in Baltimore and Maryland to instead 'donate' money and then control the public policy in whatever area they choose. This is how the citizens of Maryland have lost their voices in their own communities. When I first moved to Baltimore I had the nerve as a citizen to try to organize for an athletic field on a vacant lot in my community and the response-----JOHNS HOPKINS HOMEWOOD DEVELOPMENT WILL DECIDE WHAT WILL GO THERE----ARE YOU CRAZY? As a resident of a community you must go to that development corporation for community grants to do anything and that allows that development corporation to decide what they want-----
AND ALL OF THIS IS THE CORPORATION THAT IS JOHNS HOPKINS AND BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT.
This is what happens when the public sector is dismantled-----all money is funneled through private non-profits that have no transparency and whose membership becomes ever more exclusive.
GET RID OF THE NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS ALLOWING THIS DISMANTLING OF OUR PUBLIC SECTOR----REMEMBER, IF YOU THINK GOVERNMENT HAS TOO MUCH CONTROL----CORPORATE CONTROL IS MUCH WORSE AS REGARDS DEMOCRATIC FREEDOMS.
About The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG)
ABAG's mission is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective grantmakers.
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is the region’s premier resource on philanthropy, dedicated to informing grantmakers and improving our community. ABAG was founded in 1983 to provide a forum in which colleagues could address common problems, approaches and interests.
Our members include more than 145 private and community foundations, donor advised funds, and corporations with strategic grantmaking programs - representing the vast majority of institutional giving in our area.
ABAG is …
- The Resource on Grantmaking
- The Network for Givers
- The Voice for Philanthropy
Maryand Health Care for All and Baltimore Education Coalition are two examples of many. Maryland Health Care for All is a Johns Hopkins non-profit created to make sure the Affordable Care Act was the health reform that moved forward in Maryland and not REAL health care for all like Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. People see that the ACA is not about access----it is about building structures that will deregulate and consolidate the health industry killing oversight and accountability and denying most people most access to care. Maryland has already disconnected from Medicare by receiving exemptions from the Federal government. All of this makes Maryland have one of the worst health environments in the nation. The poor have a life span 30 years less than affluent, people are fearful when going to the hospital because of poor quality and staff work in some of the most difficult conditions. Now, the state health reform is creating a tiered health system that has most people only able to connect to clinic care. We see this breakdown in health care in Maryland best if we look at the dismantled Veteran's Administration with Baltimore having the worst in the nation. All of the doctors in this system were moved out and into private health systems that now cater to the world's rich------HEALTH TOURISM. THIS IS JOHNS HOPKINS SPECIALTY NOW.
Below you see two Hopkins grads placed in charge of controlling the health care policy. Bill and Hillary tried to do to health care what Obama has done with ACA at the same time they created the conditions for global banks---so this group in 1999 had the goal of moving health policy in that direction. This is why Maryland sought the exemption from Medicare----to create the private health systems that are tied to the Maryland state health exchange. Medicare and Medicaid fraud is rampant in Maryland because the oversight and accountability of the public sector was long ago dismantled.
The leaders advocating for the Affordable Care Act knew the goal was maximizing corporate profits and building global health corporations and not REAL health care for all. The groups joining this coalition often did not. They assumed they were actually working for health care for all. This is an example of corporate capture of a policy. Maryland spent this time from 1999 dismantling the public programs Medicare and Medicaid---and the Veteran's Administration and creating a tiered level of coverage that denied basic access by allowing health institutions to create the most profitable definition of care.
While neo-liberals claimed to be building the most cost-effective health delivery system------patient outcomes in Maryland worsened and longevity declined. So much for health care for all. Johns Hopkins was able to build a global corporate empire with all that Medicare and Medicaid----not to mention Federal, state, and local grants and public funding.
A GLOBAL HEALTH EMPIRE BUILT ON PUBLIC MONEY----THAT IS A SUCCESSFUL PRIVATE NON-PROFIT.
The people attached to Maryland Health Care for All really seeking this goal now need to join Expanded and Improved Medicare for All in Maryland to actually get health care for all. We need to replace the most private and profit-driven health system in the nation that is Maryland health exchange with this public structure that keeps Medicare strong.
The Founder of the Initiative is Peter Beilenson, MD, MPH, and the President is Vincent DeMarco, MA, JD.
The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative Education Fund (“MCHI”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit advocacy organization that was created in 1999 with a mission to educate all Marylanders about sound ways to achieve quality, affordable health care for all. In order to create a comprehensive, economically sound health care for all plan, MCHI organized the state’s largest coalition and solicited input from coalition members and thousands of Maryland citizens in town hall meetings. National experts at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland Law School then worked to incorporate this community input into MCHI’s Health Care for All! Plan. In 2002, MCHI released its first plan and conducted a statewide campaign to educate people about how the plan would guarantee health care security for all Marylanders. A revised version of the plan was released in 2008 by the same set of experts that created the original following another round of public stakeholder meetings. The updated plan includes similar components as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) and is being used to guide analysis and planning for state and local implementation of the federal health reform law.
Over 1,200 faith, labor, business, health, and community organizations have joined the Health Care for All! Coalition to support enactment of MCHI’s plan. This is the largest coalition ever created in Maryland and certainly one of the largest health care consumer coalitions in the country.
The Coalition successfully advocated for a number of laws that will increase access to care and prescription drugs. In addition, MCHI continues to work with key state leaders to educate members of our broad coalition about how they can access health care programs now in existence. In the years ahead, MCHI will continue to educate and activate its powerful coalition to increase health care access in Maryland.
Baltimore Education Coalition is the Michelle Rhee of privatization groups again created by Johns Hopkins this time with the goal of capturing education policy and making sure reforms go the way of corporate control-----just as did Maryland Health Care for All. In both cases the leaders knew the goal but the people joining often think they are really working towards the goal of health care for all or quality public education. It is not until all of the bad policy the BEC unrolls that many people in these coalitions find they did not get what they bargained for. Good people wanting to work for good public policy captured by joining private non-profits that exist to make sure that does not happen.
This is why activism in Baltimore and Maryland is so low----people trying to organize have to fight these corporate non-profits !
Please stop allowing corporate non-profits to control all public policy in Maryland. Know what the policies these groups are advocating and know that they actually have a goal that works for the people and not only for maximizing corporate profit.
This is a prime example of why getting rid of neo-liberals and neo-cons is so important. It is not only how they vote in City Hall or the Maryland Assembly. It is the environment they allow to exist in public community organizations ------where is the public discussion-----is it open and inclusive? Neither Maryland Health Care for All nor Baltimore Education Coalition would allow Cindy Walsh to come in to educate and/or speak against these policies. If they do not allow open dialog----they are hiding something and that is that what they are doing is not in the public interest!
Baltimore Education Coalition
We are public schools – traditional and charter. We are after-school programs and neighborhood associations. We are education policy organizations, religious institutions, broad-based organizations, and schools. We are policy analysts, teachers, students, parents, community members, grandparents, and Baltimoreans working together to organize, mobilize, and energize the City of Baltimore to achieve our mission that all Baltimore students receive an excellent education. We focus on the issues that impact our students and families the most. Together, we have stopped over $100 million dollars in proposed funding cuts to city schools. In the face of potential harmful cuts to School Based Health Centers the BEC responded and advocated to successfully keep this important resource in the budget. We have also worked together to address the deplorable facility conditions in Baltimore City including winning the bottle tax in Baltimore City to support the successful campaign to pass state legislation to provide an unprecedented financing plan providing up to $1 billion to rebuild or renovate schools in Baltimore City. This effort was successful due to the dedication and perseverance of the more than 3,000 parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community leaders who came to Annapolis and City Hall to make their voices heard for Baltimore City’s 85,000 students and their communities.