Momentum Builds Toward Override to Restore the Vote to More Than 40,000!

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Override vote now scheduled for Wednesday January 20! Take action today to urge your state legislators to vote FOR the override.

Communities United will be there for the vote on Wednesday! Contact Perry Hopkins at 443-680-1136 or perry@communitiesunite.org if you want to make the trip to Annapolis with us!

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Baltimore City Council Urges General Assembly to Override Governor's Veto of Ex-offender Voting Rights Bill!

With an override vote looming THIS WEEK, the Baltimore City Council UNANIMOUSLY passed a resolution on Monday night, January 11 urging the General Assembly to OVERRIDE Governor Hogan's veto of legislation to restoring voting rights to all Marylanders who have been released from prison and are living in our communities! This legislation (SB340/HB980) passed the legislature by significant margins last spring but the governor vetoed it in May.

Today's City Council resolution states:

"In order for our community to move forward, all of its members, even, perhaps especially, those who have made mistakes in the past, must feel that they have a stake in building progress towards a better tomorrow. Denying so many of our neighbors the right to vote makes it much more difficult to engage them in this process. The General Assembly was right to open the door to meaningful participation in our society to all non-incarcerated ex-offenders, and it should complete the process by overriding the Governor’s veto at the earliest opportunity in the 2016 legislative session."

Add your voice! Contact your legislators NOW and urge them to vote to override the veto and enfranchise more than 40,000 Maryland citizens live and work in our communities but cannot vote because of a criminal conviction in their past!

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Override the Veto!

It's January and the state legislative session opens on Wednesday, January 13. With the 2016 legislative session comes the opportunity for the General Assembly to override Governor Hogan's May veto of SB340/HB980 -- which will restore voting rights to about 40,000 Maryland citizens who live in our communities but cannot vote because of a criminal conviction in their past.

Now is the time to urge your legislators to vote for this override! Please take action today!

 

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Public Housing Residents Demand Livable Housing!

Communities United members living in Gilmor and McCulloh Homes take their demands to Housing Authority Head Paul Graziano

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(Click the photo above to read City Paper coverage about October 26 meeting and action.)

Residents of Gilmor Homes, McCulloh Homes, and other Baltimore public housing facilities are demanding immediate repairs in their housing developments to secure the health and safety of residents. These residents, members of Communities United, are organizing themselves for real accountability from Housing Authority management and the City and for a comprehensive plan to assure livable units.

Throughout public housing in Baltimore, life threatening conditions include mold, a lack of heat, rodent and insect infestations, water and gas leaks and shut offs, and the risk of electrocution. Residents held a press conference on October 21 to lay out their demands, which include immediate repairs related to sanitation, health and safety and detail how to the overall maintenance system needs to be overhauled.  (A full list of resident demands is below.) As a result, Housing Authority head Paul Graziano agreed to meet with them on October 26

(Click the photo below to read Sun coverage about October 26 meeting and action.)

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Communities United Uncovers Sex Abuse Scandal in Public Housing

City Maintenance Men Demand Sex from Single Mothers for Repairs in Public Housing Units: Federal Lawsuit Filed

As Communities United has knocked on doors and engaged residents in Gilmor Homes in Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, almost everyone identifies the deplorable conditions of their apartments as a top priority for action. Life threatening conditions are found throughout Baltimore's public housing: mold, a lack of heat, rodent and insect infestations, water and gas leaks and shut offs, and the risk of electrocution.

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Yet as Communities United worked with Gilmore residents, an even more shocking story was uncovered - maintenance men sexually harassing and demanding sex from women who had come to them for much needed repairs in their apartments. Several women, who did not know each other, told this same story. Determined that something had to be done, Communities United reached out to Cary J. Hansel of Hansel Law, PC. He teamed up with Annie Hirsch of Hirsch and Cosca, PC and on September 28, a federal lawsuit was filed against the Housing Authority and the City of Baltimore on behalf of seven brave women (six from Gilmore and one from Westport) who came forward to tell their stories of harassment, threats and abuse. Since the lawsuit was filed, four more women victimized by maintenance workers have joined the class action suit. On October 21, the Housing Authority finally fired Clinton Coleman and Michael Robertson, the abusive employees named in the lawsuit, and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced a criminal investigation.

The story has gone national and international as residents continue to organize for decent conditions in public housing. (See the Sun story and video here.)

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Rally to Unlock the Vote

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Veto Won't Stop Expanded Ex-offender Voting Rights in Maryland!

Governor Larry Hogan has stamped a veto on SB340/HB980, which would expand expand voting rights to all returning citizens on their release from prison. The governor's May 22 veto is cynical and contrary to public opinion that favors this extension of voting rights.

Cynical in that this voting rights bill is still bound to become law, when the General Assembly overrides the veto next January!

 

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Governor Hogan: Heal Baltimore. Let us Vote!

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Communities United rallies in front of Hogan's Baltimore office on May 11 to urge him to sign legislation extending voting rights to citizens on release from prison.

The majority of the men and women who will be enfranchised by SB340/HB980 live in West Baltimore.

Call Governor Hogan at 410-974-3901 and tell him: To heal Baltimore, you must sign SB340/HB980!

Former prisoners and their supporters gathered outside Governor Hogan's Baltimore office today to urge him to sign SB 340/HB980.This bill, which overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly last month, would restore voting rights to Maryland citizens who live in our communities but cannot vote because of a criminal conviction in their past.

We made the front pages of the Baltimore Sun and the Daily Record!

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"Youth development isn't another priority in competition with public safety; youth development is public safety."

Amidst Social Upheaval Over Freddie Gray's Death

City Council Unanimously Calls on Mayor to Increase Funding for Proven Community Schools Strategy 

Resolution urges Mayor to expand funding to Community Schools & Out of School time in Baltimore

With little more than a week before the Mayor sends her FY2016 budget to the City Council, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night urging her to increase funding for Community Schools and Out-of-School-Time (OST). The Council's ask is to increase funding from $6 to $10 million, which would fund an estimated 60 Community Schools and 6,000 kids in OST next year – up from 48 schools and not quite 4,000 kids this year. This investment of an additional $4 million is expected to leverage an additional $4 million in state and private dollars.

“Youth development isn't another priority in competition with public safety; youth development is public safety. Community schools and out-of-school-time programs . . . are among the tools city government has available to prevent not just crime, but criminals,” Councilman Bill Henry insisted at a press conference before the Council meeting last night. “For years, many of us have preached this gospel . . .that we will not simply police our way out of our current situation.” He ended his remarks noting, “This increase represents less than 1% of what the city will spend on the police.”

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Urge Governor Hogan to Sign Bill Expanding Former Prisoner Voting Rights

Our bill to extend voting rights to all citizens once they are released from prison (SB340/HB980) has overwhelming passed the General Assembly and is on the way to Governor Larry Hogans' desk.

Now we need to urge the governor to sign it. Please sign this petition to Governor Hogan and follow it up with a phone call today to him TODAY at 410-974-3901. Tell the staff person answering the phone that you support SB340 and urge the governor to sign it. They will ask for your phone number and address, which it is important you share so they know that you are a real, live Marylander.  A spokesperson for the governor told MSNBC on Friday that his decision on whether to sign or veto will come very soon so the governor needs to hear from you ASAP!

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