The FFFF’s Finest Hour

It’s no secret there is little love between this blog and the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog, but we tip our hat to Tony Bushala, Travis Kiger and Chris Thompson for their coverage of the Kelly Thomas case.  The July 5th incident got little initial coverage and, frankly, wasn’t a political story until days of silence from Fullerton’s police chief, city manager and city council members turned into weeks and revealed the political dysfunction that Tony and his team often write about.

The reporting has been solid, the questions serious and the pressure immense showing that political blogs here and anywhere can shape debate and affect policy in a way that helps average people.  While we certainly don’t agree with many things Tony and his team advocate for, we have to applaud them for their tireless efforts to expose what any reasonable person can surmise from this case — that Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by members of the Fullerton Police Department.

The FFFF team is circulating recall petitions for three members of the city council.  And they are calling for the resignation of firing of the city’s Police chief and the criminal prosecution of the six police officers involved.   I suggest that Bushala’s call for recall should extend to the entire city council.  It took 23 days from the time of the incident to Sharon Quirk’s email to the city manager asking for the police officers to be placed on administrative leave; Bruce Whitaker was quick to call the John and Ken show on KFI to do the “me too” call for action, but these things should have been done in the first 23 hours not 23 days.  Instead, Quirk and Whitaker reacted late to angry residents instead of doing their jobs and leading the charge.  The other three members of the Fullerton City Council still seem oblivious to the outcry.  I think voters in Fullerton ought to clean house and show them all the door.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Bushala’s former neighbor, also jumped on the “investigate the case” bandwagon.  But what Nelson should be focusing on instead is making sure the county’s office of Mental Health has the adequate funding available to help people like Kelly Thomas and his family.  As liberals, we believe there are certain services individuals can turn to the government for help when there is no other place to go.  And mental health services is just one example where we should budget adequate funds so people like Kelly Thomas aren’t forced to the street and his family gets the sort of advice needed that lets them help a son or daughter no matter how old they are.

Bushala’s efforts scream for justice for the Thomas family, responsive government for Fullerton residents (and all residents of OC cities), and better budgets for Orange County’s mental health services. And he proves the power of political blogs to steer the conversation.  Well done gentlemen.


  20 comments for “The FFFF’s Finest Hour

  1. August 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I have to agree. I always thought of the Friends For Fullertons Future a rant blog that did not deserve much of my browsing time. Even at the beginning of the investigation by them, with what seemed to be, prompted interviews, etc. I hung around a few days and discovered a genuine desire to bring justice to Kelly Thomas and healing to a Fullerton Citizenry that had lately discovered their police department and leadership left a lot to be desired. FFFF and other local blogs who have joined with them (go on, admit it, you guys too) will ensure that Kelly’s death will continue to hold some meaning.

    Several people should step down. You have mentioned the entire city council. I also believe that Chief Sellers and his Deputy Chief should also step down for their apparent willingness to, at most cover this tragedy up, at the least, fail to live up to the higher standard peace officers are held to.

    The issue now is to continue to make sure that this effort is not lost; that Ron Thomas and the City of Fullerton find justice and peace. And, as you have said, that mental health and our homeless, yes, our homeless, are not forgotten and swept under the rug.

  2. August 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Again, I don’t think you realize that Bruce Whitaker wrote his letter calling for release of the video and more, on July 17, not 23 but TWELVE days after the incident.

    Teabagger though he may be, he doesn’t deserve to be painted with the same brush as the others.

    • junior
      August 9, 2011 at 6:27 am

      Vern ……

    • August 9, 2011 at 8:24 am

      And it took him 12 days Vern! Why not 2? Recall all of them.

      • August 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm

        Okay, I know both Sharon and Bruce. And I’ve spoken to both of them about this. And it may be fashionable to think of all politicians as self-serving liars, but I don’t think Sharon and Bruce are.

        And the fact is that, unlike the “Three Blind Mice” Jones, Bankhead and McKinley, they were working on this thing since a couple days after the incident, trying to get some action, some accountability, even a public statement, from Chief Sellers.

        The fact that Bruce made a public statement after 12 days, and Sharon after 23, doesn’t mean they were doing nothing till then. It means that was the point where they gave up on getting any co-operation from the Chief.

        Fullerton recall activists are right to concentrate only on the Three Blind Mice. And I wonder if someone here has some kind of grudge against Sharon.

        • August 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm

          Save the conspiracy theories for your blog Vern

  3. Kathy Findley
    August 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t believe there will EVER be adequate or decent funding for mental health services until people in mass educated themselves about what mentally ill people and their families experience. I did my best to capture that briefly in what I have learned on my job and posted about it in this blog a few days ago. I have my doubts that many,if anyone, bothered to read it. I am disappointed in that. This beating will hopefully result in some cops going to prison, but I don’t think it will change the stigma and lack of empathy people have for the millions of mentally ill persons and their families that are out there right now. It has to matter every day, and it has to be a priority, but mentally ill people don’t generate revenue, so they are pushed to the way side. It is as we say at work, “not a sexy problem” like politics, so interest doesn’t last.

    • August 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      Kathy, just because people may not comment on your blog entry,doesn’t mean we don’t read it. I did and I was glad that you wrote yet another piece to the mental health puzzle.

      I work in juvenile hall. The psych/behavior modification unit has been my home for the past 8 of the 14 years I have been with the department. I can’t tell you if that makes me a mental health professional or not.

      What I can tell you is, for the first time in the past 32 years as a law enforcement officer, I am ashamed to be cast among them. What has happened in Fullerton is a travesty. But, it is by no means an isolated incident. You are correct that addressing the needs of the mentally ill and the homeless has gone unheeded for far too long in this country. Although I hold Ronald Reagan in high esteem as a great President, one of his lowest points, in my opinion, was his treatment of the mentally ill when he was governor. The result was the huge number of mentally ill homeless we now have. Republicans have not changed their view even 30 years later.

      We in Orange County have an opportunity, borne of the death of Kelly Thomas, to change that. We need to put pressure on the elected in this county and in this state to address the issues of the mentally ill and the homeless. Through blog postings such as yours and others, we can continue this fight long after the memory of Kelly Thomas drifts from the minds of the citizens of this county.

      • August 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

        Yes, Kathy. Sometimes with the best, most-read stories, nobody can think of anything to add; while other stories can get a non-stop back & forth between 3 or 4 loudmouths and no-one else is paying any attention. Keep up the good work!

  4. August 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Dan, I agree with your evaluation of FFFF on this issue. They’ve been like a pack of pit bulls around the Fullerton Council and the Police Department and have used the media available to them – John and Ken, for example – to expand their reach. Those of us who blog about local issues try to do our best to inform our readers. Unfortunately, the death of Kelly Thomas struck a chord with millions of people, and the FFFF boys stood their ground and just kept the information coming. I can only imagine the intimidation they’ve experienced recently. Good job, boys.

    • August 9, 2011 at 8:27 am

      I think they would have struck a cord sooner if all along they’d avoid some of the more juvenile tactics and name calling from the anonymous bloggers who seem so afraid of government retribution–ankle biters on so many issues. This issue gives them a decent measure of credibility and I hope it serves as an example of what solid journalism standards can mean for a political blog.

      • August 9, 2011 at 10:01 am

        I can appreciate that view. But, much of what makes up FFFF is the seemingly juvenile behavior of the commenters. What this shows is, when necessary, they are capable of taking care of business and getting the job done.

      • August 9, 2011 at 9:23 pm

        With praise like yours, who needs nastiness? There’s a reason why we called FFFF OC’s best blog last year, and the Liberal OC, well, never.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          August 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm

          How fortunate for us that we don’t need you to validate our work Gustavo. I’ m much happier with he OC Press Club award we got last year. The criteria changed this tear but we lose no sleep over the Best of OC awards from your publication.

        • August 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm

          Nice of you to come by and run down the Lib. Like we need a loudmouth from the other side to talk about us gabachos.

          • August 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

            hey, gabacho is a racist term against white people. Let’s keep it clean here (sarcasm for those who don’t get it)

        • August 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

          Well Gustavo, were still waiting for you to start poking at the mess that is the Santa ana City Council again. It seems like ever since Art Pedroza stuffed his head firmly up Pulido’s ass, you have laid off. What’s up with that?

  5. RHackett
    August 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I would agree this is FFFF’s finest moment if I believed any of them actually cared about the homeless.

    There is nothing in their writings that substantiates that belief. I view this episode as a vehicle for them to continue their tirade against law enforcement in general and the FPD in particular.

    • nooclib
      August 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      I have to agree. We need to look at why they latched on to this issue. To quote T.S. Eliot:

      There is no greater sin; there is no greater treason
      Than to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

  6. Sandra Throwerrr
    August 9, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Tony has a get out of jail free card if the Fullerton cops ever pop him for possession.

Comments are closed.