November 02, 2004

Let's Get Out the Vote

Here it is - the day we've all been waiting for. It's been a long road over the last two years, from idea to election day.

And here's what you've done. You collected 100,000 volunteer signatures, which, to my knowledge, is unprecedented in ballot initiative history. Almost 4,500 of you have made donations to the campaign. Over one hundred thousand of you have visited this website. Our Flash animation featuring Ed Asner has been viewed close to 15,000 times and counting. Thousands of you came to rallies and other Prop. 63-related events. And thousands of you are on our email list, constituting the mental health constituency that we have never had in this state - until now.

If you're reading this, I'm almost certain that you've already cast your vote as an absentee voter, or that you'll cast your vote today. Please urge everyone you know to vote today, and ask them to vote YES on Prop 63. Our polling shows that it's going to be a close election for us, and we need every vote that we can get. A large number of voters are undecided on Prop. 63, so your talking to people can actually help us get the votes we need to win.

Thanks again for everything. Your help has made all the difference in this campaign, and we couldn't have come this far without you and your dedication.

I like to vote at the polls on election day, so I'll be there first thing this morning. And then I'll wait for the results. I'll try to get a post on the website this evening as the results are coming in.

November 02, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 01, 2004

Humboldt County

Just wanted to thank all the people in Humboldt County who welcomed and hosted me during my day there on Tuesday of last week. I had a really wonderful day of meeting people in the mental health community in Humboldt County, and of touring and learning about the county's mental health programs. The county has done an outstanding job of delivering services, despite insufficient resources. The Humboldt County folks have the energy and dedication, and Prop. 63 will fulfill the promise and give them the resources they need to meet the need for mental health services in the county.

Humboldt County, like many others in the state, has an AB 34 program that is very successful, and is achieving very positive employment and education performance outcome measures for clients in the program. The county uses contract providers to provide supported employment to people in the AB 34 program, and also has a cooperative program with the State Department of Rehabilitation to provide vocational services to clients. Humboldt has a dedicated group of people who are helping others gets their lives on track.

The Board of Supervisors in Humboldt presented me with a resolution of appreciation for the AB 34 bill I authored in 1999, and I was honored to receive that. I want to thank the board, Lance Morton, the Humboldt County Mental Health Branch Director, Assembly Member Patty Berg, my colleague with whom I shared lunch on Tuesday, Pamlyn Millsap, the Homeless Coordinator for Street Outreach Services, and all of the other people who welcomed me to Humboldt County.

Please continue to talk with and email your friends and colleagues about Prop. 63, and don't be shy about asking for their vote. We've put in so much work, and we have only one more day to make Prop. 63 the law in California.

November 01, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 28, 2004

Rapid Responders: Call to Action

This afternoon we alerted all Prop 63 Rapid Responders that their donation was needed immediately.

The No on 63 campaign has now crossed the threshold of $200,000 in publicly reported campaign cash. They also got almost $400,000 worth of free slots on statewide voter mailings from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and affiliated groups. Opponents have expanded their radio advertising purchases, purchasing a a heavy blitz for the final four days on four radio stations in the Sacramento media market, the third largest in the state.

We can counter this, but we must act fast. We are running out of time to purchase the additional TV advertising we need to counter this late push by opponents of Prop 63.

Every $1 will help our ads reach 33 additional VOTERS. That means:

$100 = 3,300 additional VOTERS
$1,000 = 33,000 additional VOTERS
$10,000 = 330,000 additional VOTERS
Please give as much as you can as soon as possible.

Click here to donate »

Donations received within the next 24 hours will go straight to supplementing the Yes on 63 advertising campaign for the final days.

Opposition activity - reported and unreported - is increasing. The truth is, there is enough new activity going on against Prop 63 to cause us all concern. Our best comeback is to get our positive message out to more and more California voters. That is what your donation will be used for. Every dollar we collect from Rapid Responders will be used immediately to boost our advertising airtime purchases.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment and support! Let's do everything we can in the next 24 hours and then celebrate together on November 2.

October 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kelsey's Story: Ending Discrimination

Thank you, Rock and Linda, for sharing Kelsey's story at I saw your story on the website a month or so ago, but just couldn't find the words to respond immediately. I'm so sorry about your loss, and I thank you so much for sharing your and your daughter's story.

Just this week, Garen Staglin told the story of his son's schizophrenia in the LA Times. No reason to suspect it--no known family history.

We have built a mental health constituency, thanks to the help of people like you, who are willing to come forward and tell their stories and talk about ending the discrimination against mental disabilities, and against people with mental disabilities. And we'll keep working. This is what Prop 63 is all about.

October 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

A Week and Change

We're just over a week away from the election. With an estimated 10,000,000 people expected to vote, we need 5,000,000 votes, plus one, to win this election--a simple majority. I've heard about a third of us are absentee voters, so we've already got hundreds of thousands of votes for Prop. 63 just waiting to be counted.

I just want to thank everyone again for everything you've done. Many ballot initiative campaigns have big financial backers who put in millions of dollars to ensure success. We didn't have that. Ours was a grassroots effort. Most of our money came in donations of $10,000 or less. Much of it came in donations of $25 to $100. Every donation counted.

We'll begin hearing some "No on 63" advertising as we near the election. I've heard their arguments, and I'll tell you that I have not wavered a bit in my commitment to this cause. In fact, I'm all the more committed to the cause because I haven't heard a viable alternative.

Continue reading "A Week and Change"

October 24, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 22, 2004

Steve Fields and More on Prop. 63

The article in today's San Francisco Chronicle about Prop. 63 is a reminder to me to thank Steve Fields for his guest blog of a week or two ago. Steve is a highly intelligent person, a Harvard graduate, who has dedicated his professional life to helping people with severe mental illness. He's been with Progress Foundation, a provider of frontline services, in San Francisco decades. Thank you, Steve, for your commitment to mental health, and for your very kind guest blog.

Here's my favorite quote from today's article:

"'It's a holistic issue,' he said. 'Somebody's quality of life, their relationships with other people, their opportunities to work are all integral to whether they recover from mental illness to the point where they become functional, contributing people in society.'"

Prop. 63 will fund these integrated services that are essential to recovery. These are the services that were recognized by President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and that are now recognized as "best practices." The services funded by Prop. 63 will give people with severe mental illness the tools they need to succeed.

The AB 34 programs, which were recognized by President Bush's commission and on which Prop. 63 is based, have a proven track record of successfully providing integrated services that dramatically reduce jail time and hospital time for people with severe mental illnesses, and the services provided by these AB 34 programs give them the services they need to lead productive lives.

These integrated services include "whatever it takes" to put each person on the road to recovery--transportation to appointments, job training, counseling, 24-hour access to person who can provide help or advice.

Not only is providing integrated services the humane thing to do, it is also cost effective. The idea of providing integrated services, rather than just medication, is a simple one, really, but it works.

I recognize that most people with severe mental illnesses are already leading very productive lives. Many are leaders in the mental health field in California, and I know many of them very well. Prop. 63 will help those who need and want the help, and it will give them the help they need finding the road to recovery and success.

October 22, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 21, 2004

Prop. 63 Endorsed by the California State Sheriffs Association

I am very pleased and very proud to tell you all that the California State Sheriffs Association has given its formal endorsement to Prop. 63.

The members of this statewide organization are the deputies who provide law enforcement services in our counties, and they also run our county jails. The Los Angeles County Jail, the largest jail in the state, is the largest de facto mental institution in the country. Our other county jails in California are smaller versions. The reason for this is the severe shortage of mental health services in California.

Let me say that I have enormous respect for the sheriffs in this state. The job is not an easy one, and it requires an enormous amount of skill and training. Many of us have difficult jobs, but not many of us have, or would accept, jobs that require that we be willing to risk our lives. Our deputies are willing to put their lives on the line as part of their jobs. I am reminded of this fact every year when thousands of uniformed officers converge on the State Capital and, in formation, they honor their fallen comrades.

Yet these deputies spend, on average, 20 percent of their time responding to calls regarding involving people with severe mental illnesses--people who are not criminals. Our deputy sheriffs have enough on their plates without taking on this non-law enforcement job.

I also have enormous respect for people who have severe mental illnesses, and it is just not right that our system of treatment and services for people with severe mental illnesses has come to rely so heavily on law enforcement as a result of the shortage of services. Having a severe mental illness is not a crime. We fund emergency medical services in California, and we wouldn't think of sending a person suffering a heart attack to a jail.

Prop. 63 will expand the funding for mental health services so that people won't have to reach a crisis in order to get services. They'll have an alternative. Prop. 63 will fund services for people who want them. Prop. 63 will also expand funding for mobile response teams of social workers and mental health professionals to respond to calls involving people with severe mental illnesses, relieving members of law enforcement of this job that does not involve law enforcement.

I thank the sheriffs for their support of Prop. 63.

October 21, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 20, 2004

Reaching California Voters

In a roundup of the statewide ballot initiatives this week, the Los Angeles Times pointed to new poll numbers which show Prop 63 running at 54 percent in favor; 27 percent opposed; and 19 percent undecided. The race is definitely getting closer, as we expected. But perhaps the most interesting number is the fact that 70 percent of voters haven't heard anything about Prop 63.

That number may amaze you. After over two years of work, with all we’ve done, to register awareness with less than one third of the electorate seems almost unbelievable. But it is to be believed, and it makes a powerful point.

The sheer size of California makes it difficult to reach significant numbers of voters. Consider this: if we spread out statewide and talked to 1,000 new people every day about Prop 63, it would take us 27 years to reach every California voter one time. 27 years.

Thus the importance of television advertising. Soon you'll see OUR message over the airwaves. Thanks to your support, we’ve bought enough TV advertising time to be on the air for the last week before the election, and we'll reach millions of Californians with our ads and direct mail pieces. But we still need help adding to that TV air time, and possibly building a radio campaign to match any radio campaign our opponents may mount.

This is what we've been working toward, and why even after all you've done, we still need your help. If you can, donate now to help Prop 63 over the top on election day. Or if you haven't already, become a Rapid Responder - pledge to donate in the event of an significant opposition threat. There are no more important things you can do to help us win on November 2.

October 20, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 19, 2004

The Current Fiscal Environment and Prop. 63

When we set about forming our work groups and drafting Proposition 63, the state's fiscal situation was nowhere near as bad as it is now. We knew of the long-term, chronic underfunding of mental health services, but time has shown us that the situation can worsen, as it has.

Prop. 63 will provide a dedicated funding source to help solve the counties' chronic funding shortfalls, and it will enable them to address the unmet need, i.e., provide help to the people with severe mental illness who are on waiting lists or are turned away because the programs do not have the staff or resources to serve them.

In addition to providing these urgently needed resources, Prop. 63 will bring to Californians a vision for client-centered and integrated mental health services. It will give counties the resources they need to restructure their mental health system into systems that are client-centered, which is a widely accepted feature of best mental health practices.

We had a question about why Prop. 63 requires that counties administer the programs. Under the law in California, counties are responsible for administering mental health programs at the local level. That has been the law in California for decades. Counties, in turn, contract with providers to provide services. Our system of delivery of mental health services in California has been "privatized" to some degree for decades, with the private and county agencies working together to deliver services.

The system of delivery of mental health services will be vastly improved when counties have the funding to serve more people in need, and serve them in the client-centered manner, with integrated services, that meet the standard of best practices.

While I believed that Prop. 63 was essential two years ago when this all began, the need is now an urgent one. With each cut, more people with severe mental illnesses who qualify for services and are there asking help have to be turned away.

October 19, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004

Our Constituency

Last night, our campaign took me to the Clift Hotel in San Francisco for an event organized by the Iris Foundation, founded by Mary Chung Hayashi, which is an organization devoted to suicide prevention.

The honored guest at last night's event was Mariel Hemingway, whose family has been affected by mental illness for generations. Ms. Hemingway is one of our fellow travelers, and I would be honored to have her at all of our campaign events. She's an excellent spokesperson for the cause.

As we near the election, I continue to be inspired by the camaraderie of the people dedicated to the cause of improving mental health services, research, and treatment. We have clearly hit on a longstanding need - to organize the constituency of supporters of mental health causes. Each day, we reach more people and our support base expands.

Out on the campaign trail, every day I find myself among people who are devoting all of their spare time to doing everything they can do to see that Prop. 63 gets the votes it needs to pass. I am very touched by the dedication of so many people.

We have little more than two weeks to go until the election. Please do everything you can to get the word out. Please forward our weekly email newsletter to everyone that you can, and email your friends about Prop. 63.

If you haven't already, please become a Prop 63 Rapid Responder to make sure we have the resources to counter last minute TV advertising by our opposition.

Click here to become a Rapid Responder >>

Click here to forward our website to your friends >>

October 15, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (4)