On December 10th all across California people with developmental disabilities will be in the streets and in the public meeting spaces along with their families, friends, and those who serve them. This date was circled long ago for rallies to bring greater public attention to the plight of nearly 300,000 of California's most vulnerable citizens.
Their message is that their homes, their training and support programs that help them live and work in the community are disappearing. One residential program and one service organization at time, the community safety net for the developmentally disabled is collapsing. These are the community-based services that have allowed California to close its inhumane and insanely expensive institutions in favor of community based services that assist people to become productive, contributing and valued community members. Their message is that the Legislature must act immediately to save remaining services and to begin restoring the capacity of California's safety net to protect and assist them.
But San Bernardino happened on December 2nd, 2015. It happened at the Inland Regional Center, a vital member of our developmental disabilities community. Among the precious lives lost was Daniel Kaufman, a gentle man dedicated to helping others as a Job Coach for people with disabilities. Those of us in Los Angles and surrounding counties who belong to the developmental disabilities community feel this tragedy deeply and we believe that the coming days should be devoted to messages and actions expressing our sympathies and solidarity with all of the people who were directly affected by those awful events.
Consequently, the Los Angeles community will not be staging a public rally as a part of the statewide day of action. Because over 100,000 people with developmental disabilities, their families and tens of thousands of their support workers reside in this area, Los Angeles will be conspicuous by it's absence on this date.
The intention of this public statement is to say that all of us in Los Angles and throughout this State stand as one. While we will spend the coming days healing and helping locally, we are fully committed to the statewide fight to preserve and protect our community-based safety net.
While the Governor makes his home in Sacramento, most of the leaders in our Legislature represent constituencies here in the Los Angeles area. We promise to be strong, vocal and persistent advocates in each of their offices until they understand the critical condition of services and act to save them.
Jeffrey L. Strully