The Kelly Thomas beating and his death have pitted those seeking justice at odds with those seeking help for the mentally ill and homeless. The bloggers at the FFFF have framed the issue as a murder caused by police brutality but fail to recognize the shortfall in needed services to the homeless and mentally ill.
It’s the later cause being championed by Fullerton City Council Sharon Quirk-Silva.
Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father, was quoted in a September article in the LA Times, suggesting that his son’s death is being used to further political agendas.
From the story: Thomas said that he has been frustrated by what he sees as attempts by people with political agendas on both the right and left to further their own causes through his son’s death.
“I honestly think some folks are out there to use my son’s death to bring light to their own cause,” he said.
One of the causes, more care and assistance to the homeless and the mentally ill, was brought forward due to the efforts of Quirk-Silva. Her work in helping create the Fullerton Task Force on Homelessness and Mental Health Services, dating back to late August, is about to be realized as the Task Force gets set to start their work later this month.
Quirk-Silva’s leadership on this issue is a more productive way of helping people who are homeless and providing assistance to families dealing with their own “Kelly Thomas.” Quirk-Silva’s Task Force seeks to ascertain what services already exist, how to educate people about them and access these services easily, and determine what services are needed or fall short. The Task Force will seek common sense solutions and make recommendations to the Fullerton City Council and possible the County’s Board of Supervisors for action. Quirk-Silva has a good working relationship with 4th district supervisor Shawn Nelson and we believe that helping the homeless and mentally ill is not a partisan issue but a moral one.
The proposals will be regularly reviewed and amended in order to be effective.
With budget cuts, state prisons are preparing to release inmates to the county prison system who will in turn release prisoners early, increasing numbers of parolees will likely struggle to find jobs and a place to live upon release. Some will wind up on the streets.
The concept of providing needed services and, yes, government funding to help the homeless and the mentally ill seems lost on those crying for justice for Kelly. If they can make a connection that the city didn’t act fast as “an example of union power,” as the LA Times suggested, it’s puzzling that they can’t see the need to assist the homeless. The reality is the union and public union employees didn’t kill Kelly Thomas – it was the action of some members of the Fullerton PD who did. Two of the officers at the scene have now been charged, and certainly the police chief and the city manager bear some responsibility for the slow reaction.
Our friends and neighbors in Fullerton who fight for “justice” for Kelly Thomas say it’s about police brutality and the inability of three members of the city council to act quickly. While I can’t disagree with that, comments made by our Fullerton blogger friends suggesting that public employee unions are almost an accessory to the crime but won’t make a case for increased funding for the mentally ill and homeless who still dot Fullerton and other municipalities in Orange County aren’t looking to for justice as much as they are vengeance.
The simple truth is state budget cuts leave the Orange County Department of Mental Health, the agency that could help people like Kelly Thomas, severely underfunded. You have to wonder; if certain funding and programs in place, would Kelly Thomas still have found himself on the street in Fullerton that fateful July night. News reports indicate his family did everything they could for him but could not get Kelly the help he really needed.
The LA Times also referenced comments from FFFF bloggers Tony Bushala and Chris Thompson, the later who is also a school board member.
From the story: “I believe in limited government, I don’t believe government has the solution to all our social problems,” said real estate developer Tony Bushala, a libertarian-leaning Republican who has launched a recall campaign against three council members over the Thomas case. “When government tries to come up with the solution, they create a new problem.”
Fullerton school board member Chris Thompson has emerged as one of the loudest critics of the police handling of the Thomas case, speaking at council meetings, coordinating the recall effort and interviewing witnesses on Bushala’s blog. He sees the Thomas case as part of a larger problem with local government.
“If I were to get a tattoo, I would potentially get, ‘Public employee unions bad,'” he said.
This is a non sequitur. I believe it’s something English teachers instruct students at Fullerton schools about when they teach writing.