#CripTheVote

Californians with physical & developmental disabilities rely on state funded services to live, thrive and survive. I fully support the critical and vast array of programs that are available today for the Disabled in California, but I believe we’re more than capable of restructuring and expanding service delivery systems to ensure ALL disabled Californians can receive the highest quality of individualized services they need and deserve in order to stay safe, healthy, independent, full inclusion and integration in our communities across #OurCalifornia.

Effective, healthy, and beneficial pathways have not been built to link us to one another or society as a whole.  These policy failures impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in vastly different measurable ways. Economic inequity, generational, cultural isolation, and discrimination in education, employment and a broad range of societal activities are often specific to a person’s disability, which are generally nonfactors for non-disabled individuals across the State.

Our State has denied human rights, dignity and the basic humanity to Disabled people existing within this State’s borders.

California’s history of reforms tells somewhat of a different story however – inclusive and empathetic, even when lacking funding, effective implementation or enforcement mechanisms.  The State began with the Short-Doyle Act in 1957, which provided a funding mechanism for community mental health services.  The State’s efforts to reduce State hospital and institutionalized populations began soon after.  By 1968, The Lanterman-Prentis-Short Act required a judge to sign off on the commitments of patients, bringing a more uniform approach to commitments.  California also enacted Government Code 11135 by 1977 which barred any program or activity funded by the state from discriminating on the basis of ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or physical or mental disability.  Though it lacked effective implementation and enforcement mechanisms, Government Code 11135 was still remarkable in its day for its inclusion of both physical and mental disability in a more general civil rights statute.

On paper, California generally stood equal to or ahead of the nation when it came to protecting the interests of  people with disabilities, be it:  requirements for physical access to State buildings, employment discrimination law, equal education opportunities, disability-specific public accomodations laws addressing physical and sensory disabilities, the Unruh Act, & anti-discrimination law for recipients of State funding, which explicitly covered both physical and mental disabilities.  On paper, the State was progressive, mindful & humane.

But these policies versus the reality of these reforms and recognized rights of the Disabled falls far short in the State’s practice – and always has.

The State has long-treated individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in this State and in their care, cruelly and inhumanely.  Equality and equity in healthcare, housing, education, employment, discrimination, & the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation have never been achieved for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.  These abject policy failures result in denying individuals with disabilities opportunities for safe, healthy, independent lives.  And denying opportunities for full inclusion and integration for our most marginalized, ultimately harms us all.

California’s history of dealing with mental health mirrors our nation’s sadly – inadequate, neglectful and violent.  In 1853, three years after entering the Union, the State of California built the Stockton State Hospital – the only hospital able to provide short- and long-term care for California’s disabled.  Police, Courts, Families and hospital staff, often forced the disabled to stay in this State Hospital, which became severely overcrowded and ill-equipped to meet the needs of individuals there by 1857.  It wasn’t until 1875, that the State opened it’s first State Asylum – a gothic Victorian four story, 500 bed facility with a self-sufficient farm, animals and crops on it’s original 192 acres known as the Napa State Asylum.

State Hospitals and Asylums grew over the years, but a majority of these facilities quickly became overcrowded, with many falling into severe disrepair. State and locality Institutional treatment became synonymous with neglect and extreme abuse of patient – Napa State Asylum became something horror films were inspired by. By 1891, 500 beds were home to 1,373 people under the care of the State who needlessly endured extreme experimentations, therapies and practices including:

  • Lobotomies
  • Organ transplants
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Intentionally providing incorrect medication
  • Unconsented medical trials
  • Starvation
  • Solitary confinement
  • Hysterectomies
  • Medicinal genocide
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Physical, psychological and sexual assault
  • Refusal to provide basic medical, dental & vision care
  • Refusal to effectively treat or quarantine lethal and infectious diseases

Treatment of the Disabled in the State and County Jail Systems didn’t differ.  This is treatment that was on par for 1800s and a majority of these practices still remain today for most individuals with disabilities under State care today.

The federal government and State of California combined contribute less than 40% of the $13.2 billion in special education spending in California, with school districts paying the rest out of their general budgets.  So the quality of education for individuals with disabilities becomes more what a district can afford rather than equitable and tailored education to their individual needs.  Recent State budgets have have plateaued at just above $13billion, with forecasted changes to come after a decades-old funding formula left vast differences between school districts in how much money schools received to educate students with special needs – and for seven long decades have failed our students with disabilities.

In a 1999 study for the California Policy Research Center, Professor Joan Petersilia concluded, “If a culture is measured by how it treats its weakest members, then the handling of people with physical and cognitive disabilities in our criminal justice system reveals American justice at its basest and it is unconscionable.”

Our State denied human rights, dignity and the basic humanity to people in their care – the people most in need of support and some basic decency.

No more.

For far too long, Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been silenced, ignored, and neglected.  It’s time that the State’s, Nation’s & World’s largest minority receive the respect, dignity, policies and support they deserve.

I believe that protecting and expanding disability rights is essential to a thriving economy, just society & the resilient communities we are entitled to.  #OurCalifornia deserves a government and Governor that strives for the complete integration and inclusion of disabled people in our communities and across our State.  I recognize this commitment must move past empty platitudes and superficial policies that do not transform our ableist spaces, government and laws – and in order to achieve this I am eager to work with disability activists, advocates, and disability organizations across this State and nation to ensure we get this right.  We must.

We cannot continue to allow the logistical, social and structural barriers people with disabilities face without full, systemic & nonincremental change.   We cannot elevate healthcare, women’s rights, LGBTQIAA rights, civil rights and human rights without ensuring that disability rights are at the forefront of the conversation.  Because of the unique and often disability-specific experiences, insights and perspectives people with intellectual and developmental disabilities must be empowered to lead this movement, take part in this movement and see this movement as a pathway to community-led and community-based changes our State deserves.

As your gubernatorial candidate for 2022, I proudly call for our government, and our communities to protect and advance the rights of individuals with disabilities across California and I’m ready to #CripTheVote.  When #OurCalifornia’s most marginalized are protected and succeed, we all win.  I intend to End Poverty in California, and I believe the following policies that protect and expand disability rights will help us achieve this:

  • Create additional State legislation that further expands protections and rights of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Disabled Persons Act, and federal legislation of Rehabilitation Act, ADA &  ADA Amendments Act of 2008;
  • Although the State has a Department of Developmental Services which “oversees the coordination and delivery of services to over 350,000 individuals who have cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, autism, epilepsy, and related conditions through a network of 21 regional centers and state-operated facilities” individual localities across the State are responsible for ADA compliance.  Most ADA departments and programs however are severely defunded and remain underfunded departments across our great State. This lack of financial support makes the true progress and success incompatible despite apparent public need and benefit.  I believe we must create a State ADA office and increase State funding to ensure full ADA compliance and ADA program initiatives of all CA localities can be achieved;
    • Ensure all State ADA & #OurCalifornia disability initiatives hire and are run by Californians with disabilities;
  • Ending the Homelessness crisis for disabled individuals through #OurCalifornia’s Universal Housing for All program & the Whole Person Care Program expansion to ensure support services are provided to meet the range of needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they can live independent and normal lives as is their right;
  • Construct all future State public housing that is fully ADA-accessible and compliant and sustainable:
    • Expansion of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:
      • Instead of 5%, mandate 35% of all dwelling units are fully ADA-compliant and, including for hearing and visually impaired
    • Expansion of The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA)
      • All ground floor and additional units will be ADA-compliant and adaptable
    • Working with State ADA to build and expand dedicated residential and community care service solutions in close proximity of all new State public housing to meet the range of needs of#OurCalifornia’s Disabled and/or their families in this State;
  • Healthcare is a human right. Guaranteeing #MediCALforAllCalifornians means health care that meets the need of all abilities and disabilities within #OurCalifornia. This means, without waitlists, asset or income restrictions, we will provide:
    • Respectful and quality client-centered care that recognizes your distinct individual needs and functional independence;
    • Physical and mental health care;
    • Mindful construction of systems that implement disability inclusion strategies;
    • Ensuring full treatment regimens, necessary therapies and mobility aids are available;
    • Residential- and community-based support services;
  • Transform our healthcare system, products, service and care received for #OurCalifornia.
    • The development of these techniques and their practical applications must involve disability activists, advocates and organizations that place disability rights at the forefront;
    • Policies that ensure the protection and expansion of disability rights and healthcare services – including accessibility, employment,
    • These 5 major shifting techniques are proven and will significantly improve population health, client care,  and ensure cost-avoidant practices for the State:
      • Enable proactive, preventive & predictive care over the reactive “sick” care system based on the episodic, acute care model most currently receive;
      • Promote personalized care instead of one-size fits all approaches, ensure healthcare services are client-centered;
      • Decentralize healthcare locations and instead of our current institution-centered focus;
      • Empower patient involvement in their health and health journeys with agency, input, and empathy rather than paternalistic, dismissive or shaming experiences often had;
      • Promote value-based care for clients over volume-based care of clients;
    • State reporting/enforcement mechanisms from the State’s ADA, DDS & Office of the Attorney General that hold institutions and individuals accountable for violating civil, constitutional and human rights of any disabled individual within our State;
  • Creating an Disability Interagency Services Committee to:
    • Audit California’s processes and implement State and Locality best practices for State ADA, Disability Services, Labor, Healthcare & Housing;
    • Reduce bureaucratic red tape and paperwork by allowing forms to be shared between agencies – reducing cost, time, stress & work from persons with disabilities & representatives working on their behalf;
    • Establish a clear standard for the delivery of premium services;
  • In EPIC fashion, #OurCalifornia will fund disability initiatives that supplement expansion of both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs so recipients are 50% above federal poverty level;
  • Call for federal garnishment reform on Social Security benefits which can be garnished for student
  • Challenge the constitutionality of the SSI asset test and marriage penalty through legislation which are measures implemented to specifically police and further disenfranchise the Poor;
  • Since this program is not available in all counties, ultimately not all children with disabilities in the State of California can receive the benefits of the California Children’s Services Whole-Child program.  I will fully fund the California Children’s Services Whole-Child Model Program so that it is available to children in all 58 counties across this State;
  • Work with State ADA, disability rights organizations, students with disabilities & workers from our education & labor movements to:
    • Ensure we address and reduce inherent ableist structures/systems within education, and provide critical support with intention in and out of the classroom;
      • Expand alternative diploma pathways for students with disabilities;
      • Expand funding for Regional Disability Centers that address pre-K and high school graduates
        • Review the prospect of creating another facility or system that works better than RDCs if they aren’t meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities;
      • Expand necessary funding for Resource and Special Education teachers, along with Educational Support Specialists to ensure quality, individualized & equitable education and services are provided to all in need;
    • Incorporate policy recommendations into all Project Learning Based models within the State for public schools and/or academic institution at every academic level (K-Postsecondary);
  • Increase State government funding for our students with disabilities and special needs:
    • Increase State funding to 40% specifically for serving students with disabilities and special needs;
    • Increase State funding to 40% of the additional costs of serving students with disabilities in the general education classroom above the cost of average per pupil expenditures;
  • Collaborate with grassroots youth activists, advocates and impactful organizations on the forefront of movements for safe, affirming and bias-free schools to ensure our disabled youth, in all their intersectionalities, are welcome and able to thrive. Create the State and locality-specific new framework that affirms Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action within all educational environments and the Project Based Learning settings;
    • State Legislation which implements, expands and fully funds:
      • K-12 Literacy-based anti-bias curriculum & critical practices
      • Peer-mentor networks;
      • Mental health specialists (counselors & psychologists) trained in culturally responsive de-escalation, working with individuals with disabilities, restorative justice, and more – responding to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis;
      • School climate specialists—trained in culturally responsive de-escalation, working with students with disabilities, restorative justice, and more—who can intervene in emotionally or physically volatile situations and act with the best interests for all students involved;
      • Education Support Professionals (ESPs) promote student achievement, ensure student safety, and help establish a healthier school climate.
      • Anti-bullying and emotional intelligence series;
      • Student-Led Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Clubs;
      • Any additional initiatives that activists, advocates, and disabled youth need/would like to see in their educational settings to encourage their holistic growth and success;
      • Fund State and locality-specific equity audits;
    • In Solidarity with students, families, and communities across this country, I support the following federal legislation:
  • Create legislation which expands Pregnancy Disability Employment Protections & General Rights under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law;
  • Create legislation which expands California State Family/Maternity Leave/Care rights and protections;
  • Create legislation which expands Reasonable Accommodation Leave protections for pregnancy-related disabilities;
  • According to a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement. Because of this prevalence, reducing encounters between on-duty law enforcement and individuals with the intellectual and developmental disabilities may represent the single most immediate, practical strategy for reducing fatal police shootings in the United States.
    • Create an effective mental health and psychiatric care system under #MediCALForAllCalifornians so that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not left to deteriorate until their actions provoke a police response;
    • Create a publicly accessible database, LEO Public Conduct Database, of all law enforcement officer complaints (formally lodged and community-based) in the State of California for complete transparency, employment sanctions and finally end loopholes that allow law enforcement to be rehired in other localities after previous termination;
      • In funding this reliable State tracking and reporting of all complaints and incidents there will be specific data and review available on excessive use of force, and use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, whether lethal or not; and
    •  Assure that the role of mental illness in fatal police shootings is identified and reported in government data collection;
  • As 4(+) out of 10 incarcerated peoples in California have been found to have a disability, it is imperative that the State transform our carceral state and the way in which our State treats the disabled within our systems from:
    • Drastically expand critical community services, quality public health and community-based organizations that effectively address the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across #OurCalifornia:
      • Enforce and uphold the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, including applications for individuals with mental illness, in both public and private
      • Educational programs and training that empower individuals with intellectual abilities to protect their rights, as a victim/survivor or suspect, when interacting with the justice system and the general community. Enable cross-training for all community leaders, members and government offices/departments – we cannot continue to fail the disabled and #OurCalifornia;
    • Begin abolition of the prison industrial complex;
    • Transform ableist courts, including predatory and punitive measures which have proven to penalize disabled populations;
    • Ban the cruel and inhumane practices of solitary confinement current State variations;
    • Offender Bifurcation:
      • Using a personalized justice plan, offer alternatives to incarceration by identifying community support and programs to treat and sanction disabled offenders without further entrance into the prison industrial complex;
  • In collaboration with human & disability rights organizations and the Office of the Attorney General, audit all conservatorships, cases, and decisions authorized by the State of California to ensure that the most restrictive form of “protection” available in the United States is:
    • Necessary (probate, LPS, or otherwise);
    • Honoring supportive decision-making & ensuring it is afforded to all individual conservatees regardless of their disability to ensure the protection of their human rights;
    • Not weaponizing courts or laws to further abuse the Disabled;
  • Reform State of California Conservatorship in accordance to the findings of audits, and construct new policies written with, for & by the Disabled;
  • Hold the government and for-profit managed care organizations for both the disabled and elders accountable for systemic financial, physical & emotional abuses; lobbying and government corruption;
  • Investigate and prosecute pharmaceutical companies, medical professions and institutions found responsible for prescription abuse and MediCAL fraud which data shows drastically diminishes quality of life.  It’s critical that we completely transform our healthcare system, especially for Elders, the Disabled & all other high-risk patient populations, that are overprescribed by enabling proactive, preventative, predictive & quality care;
    • Create legislation that bans and financially disincentivizes medical practitioners from big pharmaceutical tactics of:
      • Prescribing harmful, unnecessary medication to all Californians; additional sanctions applied when conduct occurs with Elders, the Disabled, Women and Childbirth and all other high-risk populations;
      • Misdiagnosing & prescribing for MediCAL & Medicaid billing purposes; additional sanctions applied when conduct occurs with Elders, the Disabled, Women and Childbirth and all other high-risk populations;
  • Addressing labor abuses and illegal practices regularly experienced by individuals with disabilities from employment discrimination, sub-minimum wage compensation, retaliation et. al. by holding employers accountable.
    • Completing the backlog of labor complaints and incomplete investigations through interagency support of both State ADA, Disabilities Services, Labor & federal EEOC support (if necessary) impacting all disabled working populations in the State;
  • Ensuring the Disabled within our State are given safer and healthier workspaces, respecting labor with liveable wages under the State Jobs Guarantee program;
    • Work with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to ensure all SJG employment positions and training are Title I ADA compliant for all state and local government employers.