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Public Comment @ Today’s BHAB

April 1, 2021

To: Behavioral Health Advisory Board (BHAB)

Thank you Chair Judith, BHAB Members, staff and guests.

I wear a few hats, and for this comment I’m speaking here as citizen-Jerry. That is because I recently posted a draft report I made to our BHAB Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup on my blog at BHABrehab.com.

I had intended this report to be relatively brief, describing what I perceived as conflicts in our BHAB practices when I compared what I and several others here have been trained year after year by MHSA-funded entities like CALBHBC and ACCESS, versus what I have experienced while serving on this BHAB since its inception.

The more I researched the more rabbit holes I fell into.

Early 20th Century Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, was a champion of government transparency, and once said ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant.’

Some may perceive this report as accusatory or finger wagging at our BHS. That was not my intent. However, I also don’t tend to write to appease sensitivities. I try to be factual, cite my sources, and not be redundant. I failed somewhat on the latter, and perhaps used sloppy grammar, but on the whole it is not factually incorrect.

But, editing the document isn’t the point is it?

I hope those that were put off remember that we all committed to putting those in our county who are challenged with mental health issues and substance use disorders first and foremost in our work, and to ensure that their voices are not sidelined or silenced.

To that end, I believe we as a BHAB have inherited some bad habits, the first being to not step up and fully acknowledge and attend to are relatively clearly described responsibilities.

My hope is that we shake off the past and begin working together with our BHS and other stakeholders, and begin to more systematically advise our Board of Supervisors with our findings – putting our client’s interests first and foremost – all the while reforming this BHAB into a fit and functional advisory board.

We can’t do this work and ensure no one will be offended.

You know who we won’t offend? The people and their families that are needlessly suffering from something their county could be there to help them address.

Finally, that’s why I am here and why I will not cower or be overly swayed by sensitivities. This is hard work. Our community, especially the ones traditionally silenced, deserves better, and I am determined to work alongside those of you that believe so too.

Thank you!

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