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.