The OR chapter in Howard County has been in operation since late 2016, first with an organizing committee and temporary officers, and, since early 2018, with a team of creative and enthusiastic officers.
Issues in Howard County are not that different from those in other Maryland counties, although there are strong emphases on county (mis)development, school plans and crowding, transportation, the environment, and immigrant justice.
We at ORHoCo have subgroups or committees working in a number of these areas, with a special emphasis on healthcare, communications, environment/climate-change, labor, internal education, the public education system, and electoral activity (both campaigning and legislative support).
Our current officers, in place through early 2019, are the following:
Paul J. Baicich – Chair
Megan Johnson – Secretary
Patrick Keesling – Treasurer
Nick Johnson – Fundraising
Meagan Braganca – At large
Harry Dunbar – At large
Dave LeGrande – At large
Mustafa Mirza – At large
Roxana Segovia Beltran – At large
We try to plan our official monthly member meetings for the second Wednesday evenings of each month. We usually keep the meetings short (an hour and a half), focusing on reports and discussing plans for immediate upcoming activities.
We have found that our usual monthly member meetings (held on Wednesdays) are jam-packed with “important business” where there is sometimes little time for in-depth discussion or even easy-going give-and-take. With that in mind, we have organized committee work and some educational meetings, focusing on panels, lunchtime discussions, or broadcast watch-parties.
Sometimes we dedicate an entire special meeting to a subject. For example, on 23 January 2018 we had a great panel discussion on “Improved Medicare for All: An Idea Whose Time Has Come” with Ken Zinn (National Nurses United), Mark Dudzic (Labor Campaign for Single Payer), and Eric Naumburg (Physicians for a National Health Program). The main speaker, however, was OR President, Nina Turner, who inspired the group on the importance of “Medicare for All” as a central concern to Marylanders as well as for the rest of the country. A “drop-in” visit by ORMD endorsed candidate for governor, Ben Jealous, was a real added bonus.
Another of our really successful events was right after the November 2018 elections when Larry Cohen, national chair of Our Revolution, spoke to us on the topic of “2018 Elections: What Comes Next?” It was a great presentation with a lively follow-up discussion on building a meaningful Resistance employing the most important visionary issues.
We have had a number of Saturday “Lefty Lunches” at one or another local Howard County restaurant. Subjects have included, “An Inconvenient Sequel” on the topic of Al Gore’s climate-change follow-up movie,“College for All” on making debt-free college possible in Maryland and across the country, “Protecting Our Immigrant Neighbors” on the status of immigrants – documented and undocumented, and “1968: the Year that Changed Everything.”
We’ve done a few special broadcast watch-party evenings, including one on “Inequality in America” where we gathered at Glory Days restaurant in Ellicott City to watch an exciting internet broadcast with Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore, and others on this vital subject. We’ve done similar things for the Democratic Primary Gubernatorial Debate, the Jealous/Hogan Gubernatorial Debate, the Bernie-Sanders-run “town hall” on climate change, and more.
For 2019 we have ten domestic issues of major concern, listed here in general order of importance:
1 A path toward Medicare-for-all.
2 Bold action to combat climate change.
3 Tuition-free public college and greatly reducing student debt
4 Increasing the minimum wage to $15.
5 Comprehensive immigration reform.
6 A $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
7 Lowering the price of prescription drugs.
8 Expanding Social Security.
9 Fixing our broken criminal-justice system.
10 Progressive tax reform.
A number of local issues are also driving our actions, including the reduction of single-use plastic, e.g., plastic bags, altering school impact fees, and the effective implementation of the Kirwan Commission recommendations.
We invite anyone interested in our activities – electoral and non-electoral – to join with us, come to our meetings, and struggle with us to make Howard County, Maryland, and the country better for all of us!
From January 2018 at our Medicare for All public meeting: Panelists (l-r):
Ken Zinn (National Nurses United), Mark Dudzic (Labor Campaign for Single
Payer), and Eric Naumburg (Physicians for a National Health Program)
Also, Nina Turner at the podium (left) and Ben Jealous at the podium (right).
Do stay in touch!