Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where's the Party?

The Green Party Struggles To Grow In Baltimore

By Erin Sullivan
The Baltimore City Paper, October 24, 2007

It's lunchtime at Lexington Market, and Maria
is standing outside on Paca Street.
Allwine, 54, is a short blond woman who often
wears buttons announcing her opposition to the
war on the lapels of her blazers and sweaters.
She is not hard to pick out at the market
regardless. The crowd is mostly African-American,
and Allwine is white; they are rushing past,
eager to get their lunches and meet friends,
while she is approaching people and asking them
if they are registered to vote in Baltimore City.
Allwine is running for City Council president as
a member of the Green Party, and right now she
faces stiff competition for the attention of
market patrons.

She is offering party literature and campaign
brochures. The vendors inside are offering
cheeseburgers and fried fish sandwiches. Allwine
is selling her candidacy, full of hope and ideas
and plans to make the city a better place to
live--food for thought that, if introduced
properly, could conceivably affect the quality of
life in Baltimore for years to come. The stalls
inside are selling saturated fats, sweets, and
empty carbs--stuff that'll fill you up for now
but leave you feeling empty again in a matter of

Most people breeze past Allwine and her promise
of a better future and head right for Polock
Johnny's or Sandwich King.

But it's quality, not quantity, that counts for
Allwine right now, and when someone does stop to
take an information sheet outlining her campaign
promises, or ask her a question about her
candidacy, she takes the time to talk to them
about why she's a Green, who she's running
against, what she's running for.

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She tells them that the Democratic Party, which
has ruled city politics for decades, has sold
them out and doesn't have their best interests at
heart. She talks about such things as
single-payer health care, a proposal that Green
Party members say would provide health insurance
for all U.S. citizens. She explains to them that
she opposes the massive investment in development
around the Inner Harbor at the expense of
struggling inner-city neighborhoods that can
barely get enough funding to beautify green
spaces and clean up trash. She talks about making
it a requirement that those corporations
receiving tax breaks and public money create new
jobs for people who live in Baltimore. She tells
them about how it was Democratic and Republican
politicians who deregulated the state's utility
system, making it possible for BGE to slam
ratepayers with a 72 percent increase in their
utility bills over the past two years.

"The City Council does not represent us," Allwine
says when asked why she's running. "People know
they are getting shafted, they know how
redevelopment is done in Baltimore, taking homes
away from people to make way for development
interests. They know what is going on, but they
think they can't do anything about it. . . . I
look at myself as a vessel, as a conduit to
fulfill the needs of the [community]."

Some of Allwine's commentary falls on deaf ears,
but she does attract a good number of curious
onlookers who listen in as she talks to a
reporter about her platform, as well as
disgruntled voters who admit to her that they
rarely vote anymore because none of the
candidates on the ballot speak to them.

"I think things are going really great out here,"
she says when asked how she feels about the
response she's been getting. "We will get
elected, no doubt about it."

This is Allwine's third attempt at public office
on the Green Party ticket. In 2004, she ran for
U.S. Senate; last year, she ran for state Senate.
As with her previous campaigns, the run for City
Council president is an uphill battle. She's
running a citywide campaign as a member of a
party not widely recognized by city voters
against Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, an incumbent
with tremendous name recognition. She's got very
little in the way of resources, because the Green
Party does not permit candidates to take money
from corporate interests, and Allwine has made a
personal commitment to cap all donations to her
campaign at just $500. Campaign-finance reports
reveal that she had just $91.76 in her campaign
account as of Aug. 31--a pittance compared to the
$99,000 balance boasted by Rawlings-Blake in the
same filing. She doesn't even have many fellow
Green candidates to campaign with; after a slate
of candidates filed to run for various state and
city offices as Greens in the 2003-'04 election
season, Allwine and Bill Barry, who is running
for City Council in the 3rd District, are the
only Baltimore Greens out on the stump this year.

But all that's OK with her.

"When you have one-party rule and no
accountability, people become hopeless," Allwine
says. "People feel they don't have any choice. .
. . If I could buy TV time, and it's too bad we
have to buy it at all, and people heard me, I
know I would win an election. I have no doubt
about it. And I am politically savvy, I am not

Ever since the Green Party formally established
itself as a political party in Maryland in 2000,
when it gained enough signatures from registered
voters to secure a place on the state ballot, an
ever-changing array of smart, well-meaning
political activists, theorists, community
organizers, and disaffected former Democrats have
been trying to get out a progressive message they
believe many of Baltimore's voters would embrace,
if they ever heard it. But election cycle after
election cycle, the Greens battle fringe status.
Some of the party faithful blame the media, which
they say doesn't offer equal time to third
parties in a two-party system. Others point to
the fact that the party doesn't have the money
the larger parties have to buy TV ad time. Still
others say the nature of the party
itself--activist, idealistic, egalitarian,
dedicated to the vagaries of "change" that its
adherents say they want in their
communities--makes it inherently difficult to

The Green Party is now at a critical point in its
development, locally, as it has solidified a base
of 1,564 registered Greens in the city and 7,998
in the state. Those in charge of steering it are
hopeful that the party is on the verge of
breaking through to voters and figuring out what
elements make for that perfect combination of
factors that thrusts candidates from the
sidelines into the limelight and, ultimately,
into office.

So what does the Green Party stand for?

According to Maryland Green Party co-chairman Tim
Willard, who has been a Green since 2004, the
party has four pillars upon which all of its
political activism is based.

"The four pillars to the Green Party are
ecological wisdom, grass-roots democracy," he
begins, but then pauses. "I can't think of the
others right now. Um. Oh. They are nonviolence
and social justice.

"I used to be a Democrat," Willard continues,
"but it seems the Democrats are more and more
just another party of corporate interests. They
used to stand for these things. And there are
some good Democrats on a local level, but on the
national level, they have moved away from what
they used to believe in. So the Green Party, to
me, is the party of change."

The national Green Party is nothing more than a
federation of state Green parties, and those
state parties are made up of various locals,
smaller groups of individuals working at the
community level to get people elected, raise
issues important to the community and the larger
party, and build up the party--all without the
support of corporate donors or special interests.
The party overall has 10 "key values" that it
asks all its candidates to support. Those include
the four points Willard brought up, as well as
equal opportunity for all, decentralization of
wealth and power, community-based economics and
economic justice, feminism, diversity, personal
and global responsibility, and sustainability.
The values are loosely defined so that each state
or local party can adjust them to fit to its
particular situation. In Baltimore, the values
are defined by local Green Party members to
represent a massive change in the way the city's
wealth is distributed, its poor are treated, and
its people are represented at the state and local

And change is what many people in Baltimore say
they want. They aren't satisfied by the current
Democratic administration, the foundering city
school system, the skyrocketing crime, mediocre
city services. Yet, voters keep re-electing
Democrats--even Democrats they say do nothing for

Since 2000, the Baltimore Green Party has fielded
candidates for local and state elections. In
2003, it put up eight candidates for City
Council. In 2006, in addition to Green
gubernatorial candidate Ed Boyd, five city
Greens--Jan Danforth, Richard Ochs, David Greene,
Brandy Baker, and Allwine--were on the ballot for
various state offices. Some, such as Allwine,
Baker, and Boyd, campaigned aggressively and
actually made the occasional headline in local
media outlets. Others ran quieter campaigns that
served more to fill out the slate and raise
issues than win votes. According to the Maryland
State Board of Elections, Allwine took 11 percent
of the vote in the race for 43rd District state
senator; Danforth took roughly 8 percent in her
40th District state delegate race; and Ochs,
Baker, and Greene each received between 2 percent
and 3 percent of the vote in their bids as
delegates for 43rd District. Despite the party
not winning any races, it was, by all accounts, a
banner year in terms of teamwork and visibility.

This election season, however, it's just Allwine
and Barry, who ran for the 3rd District City
Council seat in 2003.

According to Green Party organizers, few people
petitioned the party to run this year--partially,
they say, due to burnout, and partially because
the party did not aggressively seek out a large
number of candidates to fill the ballot this
season. Different members of the party,
representing different branches, have different
takes on the situation.

According to the Maryland Green Party, which is
the umbrella for all Green locals in the state,
the reason there are so few Greens running in
Baltimore this year is because the party is no
longer interested in just filling up the ballot
with names of candidates who don't have a serious
interest in being elected to office.

"Sometimes we run a lot of candidates," says Rob
Savidge, co-chair of the Maryland Green Party.
"And not all of them will run, like, a very
strong race. Sometimes they will just be on the
ballot for the name. Nowadays we like to run real
candidates who run real races."

According to Myles Hoenig, co-founder and
c0-chair of the Charm City Greens local, which
was formed in 2006, the party is trying to build
its base and needs to focus on that more than on
filling up ballots.

"Our focus is not on elections," he says. "This
time it's more about party building. Doing
outreach, doing fundraising, building a base.
More than just electoral politics."

And according to Vince Tola, interim chairman of
the Baltimore Green Party (of which Allwine and
Barry are members), the party is actually doing a
smart thing by only backing two city candidates.
It puts itself in a very good position, he says,
because both candidates are serious contenders
with lots of community involvement under their
belts, both are running real campaigns, and both
have researched what their roles would be if
elected and how to use those roles to implement
meaningful changes in city government. In Tola's
view, the party is in a better position now to
get a candidate elected than it's ever been.

"In 2004 we beat the Republicans [at the city
level] and essentially became the second party of
Baltimore," Tola says. Indeed, in several City
Council races, including ones in the 5th, 12th,
and 13th districts Green candidates earned more
votes than the perennially hapless Republican
candidates. "Now we want to beat the Democrats.
With these candidates we have this year, and the
way the election is going to go, I think we are
closer than we have ever been to winning a seat
on the council."

Hoenig says that finding candidates who can both
run for office and build coalitions to strengthen
the party is key. Candidates like Allwine and
Barry, he says, serve that purpose.

"Having fewer candidates this time shows a
maturity within the Green Party," Hoenig says.
"Always better to have quality than just focus on
quantity. In '04 it was a breaking-out event and
numbers mattered. But in addition to quality, we
need people who are there to promote the party as
strongly as they do their campaign."

One of the reasons the Green Party hasn't made
more inroads in local elected politics, members
and candidates say, is that they're already
working to make inroads elsewhere. As Bill Barry
puts it, "One of the problems with most of the
Greens is that they are doing so many other

The very core of the party is grass-roots
activism, so naturally many of the people
attracted to the Green Party line are activists
heavily involved in issues like environmental
justice, the death penalty, and community
building. "Between elections nobody wants to put
any time into building the party," Barry says.

Among the things Barry says he'd like to see the
party do to develop and grow is do some
fundraising and create a structure that makes
room for young up-and-comers to work on outreach
and organization. "At Towson University there's a
very active Green Party chapter," he says. "I
would love to get those guys involved, to maybe
hire them two days a week to go out and recruit
new members. We need to create a structure where
we can make room for these guys, bring them into
the party."

Right now, he says, there is not enough money to
hire young guns to rally the faithful, nor is
there enough organizational support to make such
an effort reality. But he prefers to be proactive
within the party's structure, weak though it may
be, than to sit on the sidelines criticizing.
That's why Barry, 65, the director of labor
studies at the Community College of Baltimore
County in Dundalk, is taking the time and making
the effort to challenge longtime incumbent City
Councilman Robert Curran (D-3rd) in the Nov. 6
general election.

"It's easy to point out the shortcomings of the
[Green Party] organization," Barry says. "The
mentality is, `What are you going to do about so
and so.' But the reality is, it's a function of
time. . . . I tell my students, `Don't sit back
and complain. Get active and go do stuff. Be
involved. Because somebody is going to run the
country. Somebody is going to run the city.'"

And since those currently running the city are
running it into the ground, Barry says, he feels
it's his responsibility to change that.

In his district, he says, Curran is satisfied to
sit back and "fill potholes." Rather than finding
solutions to the problems plaguing the
district--and the city--Barry says Curran focuses
on land use and responding to complaints.

Curran, who has represented the communities that
make up the 3rd District for the past 12 years,
says, "I'm not running against Barry, I'm running
to represent the 3rd District, and I've done it
every well. My record of accomplishment is second
to none on the Baltimore City Council."

Curran lists among his accomplishments in the
past year helping the Lauraville and Waltherson
communities close down the Cameo Lounge, a bar he
says was disrupting life in those neighborhoods;
helping secure funding for a project to build
senior-citizen apartments in a complex near the
neighborhoods of Lauraville and Hamilton Hills
(without that funding, he says, the developer
planned to turn 30 of the units into low-income
apartments instead); and acting as the main force
behind the bill that will put an end to smoking
in city bars and restaurants beginning Jan. 1,

"If Mr. Barry is able to unseat me, that legacy
will still go on," Curran says. "It's not about
pie in the sky ideals, it's about nuts and bolts
and improving your community through land-use
issues. That's what a councilman is basically
there for, land-use issues."

But Barry, like Allwine, insists he offers needed
change for changing times. "Used to be that [U.S.
Sen.] Barbara Mikulski could go to Washington and
the money would just trickle down to use in the
city," he says. "But that money is not there
anymore, it's in Iraq." As a result, he says,
it's incumbent upon the City Council and other
local politicians to find new ways to raise money
to combat urban problems. "It's not enough to
just fill potholes anymore," he says, and notes
that if he were elected, he'd stop giving away
massive money in the form of subsidies to local
developers. He'd stop spreading money around the
Inner Harbor to build high-rises and condos and
invest it in the city's schools, neighborhoods,
and infrastructure. In his campaign handout, he
asks voters: "Remember when the Democrats
promised that Baltimore City schools would be
fully funded and accountable to parents? They got
elected and what happened--nothing."

"I just got fed up," Barry says when asked why he
decided to run. "If nobody else is going to do
it, then why not me?"

While Allwine has to attract attention and votes
all across Baltimore for the citywide City
Council president race, things are a bit easier
for Barry. All he has to do is get the voters of
his Northeast Baltimore district to pay attention
to what he's saying.

Barry, who says he's affiliated himself with the
Green Party since Ralph Nader's presidential
campaign in 2000, has watched the ebb and flow in
active party membership since he's been involved,
and acknowledges that, regrettably, the party
needs to do a lot of work to be a force in city

"The Green Party doesn't have a big structure in
the city," he acknowledges. But, Barry adds, "I
just don't want to give up. I think you have to
keep raising the issues. I don't want to give up
and just be hopeless. . . . Anybody can be
against something. But you've got to be for
something and do something."

One of the things the party needs to do to make a
greater impact, says Glenn Ross, is create a
presence that Baltimore's inner-city
residents--mostly black and Hispanic and
overwhelmingly lower-income--can relate to.

A longtime East Baltimore community activist,
Ross ran on the Green Party slate for the City
Council's 13th District in 2004. He says that
when he ran for office as a Green, he found that
lots of Baltimoreans just aren't familiar enough
with the party or its candidates to feel
comfortable enough to vote for them.

"The Green Party was very supportive of me when I
ran," Ross says. "The national and state Green
Party were very supportive of me. The Baltimore
chapter of the Green Party, though, they really
need some help as far as reaching different
ethnic types of groups and really getting them
involved. I don't mean to talk negatively about
them, but they are still growing and they still
have a lot of work to do."

People are afraid of change, Ross opines. They
don't often go out on a limb and support unknown
candidates, and to many voters in his East
Baltimore neighborhood, the candidates run by the
Greens are as unknown as the Democrats who come
forward to challenge Democratic incumbents--often
even more so. Also, when people look at the Green
Party, they are likely to see mostly white
candidates who talk about bigger-picture problems
that are not as easy to relate to as, say, crime
and grime or murder--issues local Democratic
candidates use as leverage to convince voters to
support them. Often, the Greens address the
issues in terms of how larger problems--the war
in Iraq, the two-party system, corruption--create
the day-to-day problems that plague people in
Baltimore. It's a tactic, Ross says, that many
Baltimoreans aren't accustomed to and don't
necessarily gravitate to.

"I feel like the people [in East Baltimore] don't
really understand the Green Party movement," Ross
says. "And maybe the people in the city in
general don't really understand it. They don't
understand what the Green Party is about. On the
West Coast, in the Midwest, further north of
Maryland, people are beginning to understand the
Green Party issues, and they have elected people
to offices in some places. But I don't think
Baltimore Greens have done enough to reach out to
our communities."

Ronald Owens-Bey, a regular on the political
circuit who over the years has run for city
office on Republican, Democratic, and Populist
party tickets, is more direct in his assessment
of why the Greens don't make inroads in the
Baltimore communities they seek to represent.
"That party is probably about 99.44 percent
European-American," he says. "In a city that is
roughly 67 to 68 percent African-American, it
would behoove them, if you will, to accept some
more African-Americans to run."

Owens-Bey has a bone to pick with the party,
because he says he sought Green Party endorsement
and support this year when he wanted to run for
City Council in the 13th District. He says he
filed his paperwork but was rejected by the
nominating committee.

"Would you believe they acted as if I had to
convince them of my credibility?" Owens-Bey says.
"That party wished for me to do some sort of song
and dance and perhaps do some licking where the
sun doesn't shine in order to get their
nomination. And I only chose their party because
one of their members suggested that was the way
to go. . . . I could have gone with the
Libertarians or the Republicans. They rolled out
the red carpet for me--`Hey, thanks for coming
around.' But the good old Green party, I'm not
good enough for them."

When asked about Owens-Bey's petition to run on
the Green ticket, Baltimore Green Party chair
Tola says the situation was more complicated than
that: He says Owens-Bey filed his paperwork, but
when it came time to go before the nominating
committee to discuss his platform, Owens-Bey
never showed up.

"He came out real last minute, and basically we
set up kind of an emergency procedure and we held
a caucus for him," Tola says. "And he didn't show
up. He says he showed up late, and maybe he did,
but by the time he got there we left. That made
people uncomfortable."

Then there was the fact that Owens-Bey has shown
he will change affiliation just to get on the
ballot. "That also makes people uncomfortable, I
think," Tola says. "People who shift their party
alliances all the time."

Ross, who chose not to run this year, says he
appreciates the party's adherence to its core
beliefs, but he also found that it can be a bit
rigid. Environmental justice, for example, is an
issue Ross says is important to the East
Baltimore communities he hoped to represent. But
the Greens nominating committee, he says, wasn't
very knowledgeable about it and "nobody was
really interested" in hearing about it either.
Instead, he says, the committee, which ultimately
approved his candidacy, questioned his dedication
to the issues it felt were most important. "I
felt like, when I went there to the nominating
committee for the 13th Councilmanic District,
they were trying to beat me up with questions,"
Ross says.

While he supports the things the Green Party
stands for, and the party's efforts in the city,
Ross says he's probably going to "switch over to
Democrat" for the coming election.

"This is a Democratic town," he says simply, and
adds that he put his vote in the September
primary behind Warren Branch, who will have no
opponent in the Nov. 6 general election. Branch
may be affiliated with the massive Democratic
Party, Ross says, but he is "an independent
thinker" who is known in the 13th District and,
Ross believes, able to get things done.

That said, Ross stresses, "I am a Green Party

"When I was running for City Council [as a
Green]," he recalls, "I told people we were
working with that we had to put the Green Party
values out there. And people would say, `Green
Party, what is that?' So I would give it to them,
and they would say, `Oh, OK.' Now, when was the
last time you saw the Democratic Party give you
what their core values are?

"But this city," Ross says, "is not ready for
Green Party people."

When Charm City Greens co-founder Myles Hoenig
first met Ed Boyd at a Veterans for Peace event
in 2005, he says he knew he'd met someone unique.

Boyd, a Navy veteran who had served in the 1982
U.S.-Israeli invasion of Lebanon, had just come,
he told Hoenig, from "sleeping in a ditch in
Texas, supporting Cindy Sheehan." He was born and
raised in Miami, but after leaving the military
he drifted--he lived in Washington, D.C.,
Vermont, and California, among other places, and
for a while, Boyd says, he was homeless. Over the
years, he struggled with drug and alcohol
addiction. When Hoenig met him, Boyd was working
as a recruiter for a temporary-employment agency
and classified himself as one of this country's
"working poor." Boyd says he thought of himself
as just a regular guy.

A regular guy is just what the Green Party needed
to represent it on the ballot. In the looming
2006 gubernatorial election, in which then-Gov.
Robert Ehrlich was going to face off against
Baltimore Mayor (now governor) Martin O'Malley,
both were politicians heavily entrenched in the
two-party system that many Greens feel is corrupt
and fails to offer adequate solutions to the
problems facing working families and the poor. As
Hoenig told City Paper at the time ("Power to the
People," Campaign Beat, Nov. 1, 2006), "Boyd
wasn't a smooth-talking, slick, snake-oil
salesman like O'Malley and Ehrlich." And the
Green Party was ready to break ground by backing
the first African-American to head a statewide
party ticket in Maryland. Hoenig thought Boyd
would make a great Green gubernatorial candidate
for governor.

At first, Boyd balked. Though he aligned himself
wholeheartedly with the Green Party and believed
in its values, he had no political experience at
all and did not envision himself a politician.
Hoenig envisioned otherwise and, eventually,
convinced him.

Once he accepted the party's nomination, Boyd ran
with gusto. He was a regular at community
meetings and demonstrations protesting the
deregulation of Maryland's utility industry,
which had resulted in a 72 percent rate increase
for BGE customers. His face, round and glowing as
a fresh-picked apple, was familiar to commuters
and pedestrians who would see him standing on
street corners waving signs denouncing BGE,
Ehrlich, O'Malley, and the Iraq war. He
challenged local TV stations WJZ and MPT for not
inviting him to debate with the other
gubernatorial candidates during campaign season,
and he appeared on local radio shows and the
national syndicated radio show Democracy Now!

In the end, he earned 15,551 votes in the general
election, coming in third in a field of four
candidates and a handful of write-ins. O'Malley
was the victor and, as Boyd likes to say about
the two-party political system, it was "business
as usual."

At least in Annapolis. Back in Baltimore, where
he lives, Boyd, who also serves as co-chair of
the Charm City Greens, had been having health
problems on and off, and had been treated at the
Veterans Affairs Medical Center for difficulty
breathing and for ongoing pain in his leg, which
he had broken while in the service. One evening
in July 2007, Boyd was home alone, says Brandy
Baker, who is married to Hoenig and is a
co-founder of the Charm City Greens, when he
started having problems with his lungs. He became
so uncomfortable that he dialed 911 and an
ambulance took him to Union Memorial Hospital in
Charles Village. Once there, Boyd says, he was
stunned when a doctor treating him told him what
the problem really was.

"The doctor said, `I don't know if you know this,
but you seem to have cancer,'" Boyd recalls. The
VA doctors had told him they were running tests
on him, but they had not given him a definitive
diagnosis. The doctor at Union Memorial told Boyd
he was suffering from serious lung cancer. Later,
Boyd found out that the pain in his leg was also

"That is where it really hit me what was going
on. I had been going to the VA because I'm a
disabled vet," he says from his bed at the VA
Medical Center downtown. Boyd rubs his eyes,
which are still bright behind his wire-rimmed
glasses, despite the fact that chemotherapy and
illness have exhausted him. "I had thought they
would have picked up something like that, but if
it was picked up, nobody ever told me. And the
more I talked to people, the more I found out
that there are a lot of veterans in the hospital
who were either told they were ill and haven't
gotten treatment, or who found out they are ill
but no one knows what is going on with them."

A lot of people in Boyd's predicament would have
put their political interests aside and focused
on getting better. But Boyd's battle with cancer,
exhausting as it has been for him, has given him
intensity and focus. More than ever, he's one of
America's down and out citizens--with no health
care except for the VA, and no ability to pay for
better treatment, he is one of millions that
would benefit from the Green Party's suggestion
that the nation employ a single-payer health-care
system that would provide the same quality of
care to everyone, regardless of income or
employment status.

He sits up in bed a bit and pulls the blankets up
over his chest to talk about why now, more than
ever, he feels the need to promote the Green
Party to anyone who will listen. Even fellow
hospital patients.

"I got a guy the other day who had the same
values as the Green Party," Boyd says. "But he
didn't know where to turn. He didn't want to vote
for either of the two major parties, and he was
thinking that he wouldn't vote at all. But that
is the worst thing of all you can do. So we
talked about the Green Party, and by the end of
the night, I had given a blank voter registration
form for him to fill out."

According to Charm City Greens co-founders Baker
and Hoenig, Boyd's situation perfectly
encapsulates why the Green Party needs to keep
fighting, increase its exposure, and win some
races. If Boyd did not have to rely on the
resource-stretched VA system, which often
shuffles patients in and out with little
follow-up, Baker says, he might have been
diagnosed sooner and been able to catch the
cancer before it ravaged his body. He might not
be lying in a VA hospital bed right now.

But Boyd is more than just a political ally to
Baker and Hoenig; he is a friend. And it clearly
pains them to see him in his current dilemma. No
one, they say, should be denied adequate health
care in a time of need because they can't afford
it--and that underscores their desire to see the
Green Party in Baltimore and beyond grow larger
and stronger.

"We need to have events," says Baker, standing on
a cool Friday evening in the lobby of the VA
Medical Center after a visit with Boyd. "We need
to do film festivals, community things. There are
still people who don't know about us."

"We need to be talking to communities, talking to
people who don't even know there is a Green
Party," Hoenig agrees. "We need to do the kind of
outreach that right now isn't really being done."

Hoenig says the Charm City Greens have been doing
some of that kind of thing, and the local is most
interested in "meeting with the people who are
really feeling disenfranchised," trying to get
them to understand how getting involved and
voting for a Green candidate can actually improve
their lives--even if that candidate does not get
elected right away. The Charm City Greens are in
the process of putting up a web page, he says,
and working on finding ways to get the word out
about what the Green Party is.

In fact, Hoenig says he'd like to see people get
out there and start up their own locals of the
Green Party. "But people are afraid to change
their party affiliation," he says. "It's almost a
religious thing. A lot of people are waking up,
though, and seeing that the Democratic Party is
not ordained for them, it's not the only way to

Hoenig says he feels people still have
preconceived notions about what it is and what it
stands for. It is not just a bunch of knee-jerk
types who don't think about how their actions
will affect the world. Though he doesn't come out
and say it, he clearly wants it understood that
the party defies the image of white, suburban,
tree-hugging liberals.

"We don't want to be pigeonholed," he says. "We
need people like Glenn Ross, we need people like
Ed Boyd. We need everything in this party, from
age to color to gender."

Likewise, the Baltimore Green Party's Vince Tola
says the Green Party is the people's party--its
loose structure, though sometimes a weak spot, is
also a strength because it makes it easy for
citizens to become involved.

"Essentially, we have a ballot line available to
the public to use the way they want to," Tola
says. "If they want change in their area, the
Green Party is there. We just need to come
together, to organize. It's not hard for a
community person to become a candidate, or to get
together a group of like-minded people to work
together. They could start their own local or
work within our existing structure. We are open
to diverse points of view in the party."

Which ultimately is what drew in a guy like Ed
Boyd and keeps him fighting for Green Party
growth, even from his downtown hospital bed.

"Once I do get better, I'm going to have a new
fight on my hands," Boyd says. "I'm gonna be a
pathfinder for other veterans. There is a war out
there, and I do not want vets out there, coming
home, and finding out too late that he has
cancer. . . . We have much to do.

"The Green Party is not going away. If people
want the status quo, if they want business as
usual, they can go and vote the two-party system.
But if they want real change, if they want to
vote their real conscience, they should vote

? 2007 Baltimore City Paper

1 comment:

Rusty Kane said...

The Down-Fall of the Greens in New Zealand.

The Green Party is a lot more about politics than it is green. It is a big supporter and promoter of the MMP system, yet it is not in coalition with labour or any other party. Stating it wont compromise its values. Is that not what MMP is all about compromising, working with other parties. Are not the Green Party compromising their belief in MMP by not being a willing coalition partner. The only reason they are not a coalition partner with Labour is because they would not compromise on policy and was rightly left out in the cold by Labour. How does this uncompromising help their supporters, when they are not in Government. If the National Party win the next election but need the Greens as a coalition partner to pass policy. Will the Green Party again make it so difficult for themselves to be a coalition partner because of policy, that National to will have to also leave them out in the cold. And not because they won't to. If the Greens instead try to go with Labour against the wish of the voters, Labour will have to compromise its parties values and policy's to do so. This could likely lead to Labour and the Greens out the cold come next election if not before.. Its about time the Greens realized it is the smaller coalition partner that needs to do the major compromising. It is them that need to work with MMP not against it. And if that means being a coalition partner with National so be it. At least they will be in Government with the support of the voters, and not in Government against the will of the people. They also need to realize the world of politics's is moving towards green policy's, and they won't be the only party promoting green.

by Rusty Kane.
Independent and
Leader of The People's Choice Party. New Zealand