Editorial: Mental health center on ballot

July 20, 2018. Lawrence Journal-World.

Douglas County commissioners are right to support a ballot initiative asking voters to approve funding for a behavioral health campus and expanded mental health programming.

The issue, which still must be finalized, will be on the ballot in November. The move follows voters’ rejection in May of a half-cent sales tax proposal that would have funded both an expanded Douglas County Jail as well as the behavioral health campus.

That contentious vote failed in large part due to organized opposition from groups like Justice Matters that supported the mental health campus but were staunchly opposed to the expanded jail. The vote was 53 percent against the ballot issue and 47 percent for it.

At forum, public demands separate ballot question for behavioral health campus, services

May 30, 2018. Lawrence Journal-World.

At a public forum Wednesday, voters asked county leaders to end any plans to expand the county jail, as well as to pose a new ballot question that would only fund mental health and substance abuse needs.

The forum drew about 500 people Wednesday evening to Building 21 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. County commissioners scheduled it earlier this month after voters defeated Proposition 1, which, if it had passed, would have authorized a countywide half-cent sales tax to fund a $44 million jail expansion, an $11 million behavioral health campus and $5.1 million in additional behavioral health services.

Proposition 1 foes will urge county to move forward with behavioral health campus, hire consultant to review criminal justice system

May 23, 2018. Lawrence Journal-World.

A week after county voters rejected Proposition 1, two key groups in the fight against the referendum said they’ll push the county to move ahead with the ballot question’s behavioral health components while bringing in outside expertise to review the county’s criminal justice system.

The demands from the faith-based activist group Justice Matters and the social justice advocacy organization Kansas Appleseed are not new. The Jail No coalition, which consisted of those two groups, the Douglas County chapter of the NAACP and the taxpayer watchdog group Lawrence Sunset Alliance, made similar demands while it campaigned against Proposition 1.

Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz pledges support for social justice group’s homeless-family initiative

March 14, 2018. The Lakeland Ledger.

LAKELAND – Fourteen hundred church congregants cheered when Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz said he would meet their demands to develop housing for homeless children and families in Polk County.

Mutz was the only government official who attended the Polk Ecumenical Action Council for Empowerment’s 18th annual event Monday night. The social justice group was seeking commitments from eight officials on three goals: housing for homeless children, funding for two mental health teams to serve seriously ill children and adults, and continued diversion of children from the court system.

The Nehemiah Action night was held at Resurrection Catholic Church and involved members of 18 churches from Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow and Lake Wales.

Activist groups kick off their campaign against jail expansion

March 3, 2018. The Lawrence Journal-World.

Representatives of four activist groups crowded the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse Saturday to kick off their joint campaign against a proposed expansion of the county jail and a referendum on a sales tax that would fund it.

“We are planning a comprehensive campaign with many partners right up to that mail-in ballot,” said Ted Mosher, co-chairman of the Lawrence faith-based activist group Justice Matters.

Justice Matters is one of the four groups behind the campaign, which the activists are calling “Jail No.” The other partners — the Lawrence chapter of the NAACP, the social justice advocacy group Kansas Appleseed and the taxpayer watchdog group Lawrence Sunset Alliance — also turned out Saturday to speak against the jail expansion and the half-cent sales tax.