Supervisor Keith Carson’s Personal, Expletive-Filled Plea For Mental Health

Supervisor Keith Carson

ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | No other elected official in the East Bay comports himself in the manner of a statesman than Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. He is pensive listener who typically responds with measured, sometimes lengthy silloloquys. Yet, during an uncommonly passionate Board of Supervisors meeting Tueday, Carson’s personal struggles with a mentally ill member of his immediate family was the launching pad for one of the most surprising and visceral moments ever seen during a local government meeting.

Ironically, Carson’s passionate outburst may have been triggered by the board’s most infamous bad boy, Supervisor Nate Miley. With typical bravado, Miley told the audience he was ready to vote on a long-discussed plan to create a five-patient pilot program for court-ordered treatment of the chronically mentally ill in Alameda County. In his view, there was little need to support Carson’s motion to send the plan back to the drawing board for another three months. The issue had been fully discussed and vetted, Miley argued. “The house is divided. So, as an elected official, I have to make the call. And my job is to balance equities and do what I think is in the best interest of society, our community, of all of us and not just one side or the other.”

“By not moving ahead with this pilot program, we are saying, we are afraid to consider this as a model.” The pilot program can be tweaked later or dumped, he added. “We take lessons learned.”

“The consequence of not doing stuff is that we continue to delay and as we continue to delay other people might continue to suffer as a result of that.” Miley, though, unlike Carson and Superivsor Wilma Chan, who described various experiences with mentally ill family members, said he had no such personal experience.

“I respect some people come to conclusions quicker than others,” said Carson in initially calm tones before he referenced an immediate family diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and witnessing the chaos that results from a call to law enforcement.

“I have personally seen that person restrained. I have personally seen that person force-fed medication. I personally continue to live with that person’s disability and so this is not something I have read about, this is something I’ve fucking experienced every fucking day. So I understand the pain a lot of people are going through on both sides because I’ve lived it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen it. Trying to figure out how to make a family member to take their medicine. How to get them back into society. How to get them outside of their house. That’s not something I read about. That’s something I experienced. It’s not six months, it’s 35 fucking years.

“I asked if we could have three additional months to bring all the key stakeholders to the table to see if anything else can be fleshed out. That was for more than just the people in this room. That’s for all the other people who don’t have the advocacy. They don’t have the people that can help them. To see if we can put forth an even better measure.”

6 thoughts on “Supervisor Keith Carson’s Personal, Expletive-Filled Plea For Mental Health

  1. The BOS vote was devided on passing of the pilot of AB1421. So Sup Carson, Valle and Haggerty motioned for an additional 2 months and for stakeholders to come together to bring back a more compassionate proposal that will target the same population of people that AB1421 does. Mental Health Director hired an outside facilitator and there will be 4 meetings with 4 consumers, 4 family memebers and approx 30 others in the mental health system.

    Problem is , AB1421 is a law, the only law we currently have that offers a compassionate and supportive plan to help those in our community that are not able to recognize they are ill and therefore do not seek voluntary programs. The proposal that Alex Briscoe gave to our BOS was compassionate and unique to Alameda County; it offered 9 additional voluntary programs that would be used first to reach this population of people with AB1421 as # 10 if the others were not able to help.

    The BOS will hold the next meeting sometime in late May or early June. Anyone that cares about help for our most seriously mentally ill and the many that currently end up living on our streets, in jail or losing any quality of life by isolating in back rooms unable from the severe psychosis they live with, MUST reach out to our BOS to ask for this change. The way we currently leave our most ill without help is inhumane and shameful .


  2. They brainwash the low income citizens and pad their pocket along with the local scum politicians on local boards to make them self look outstanding. I'm not impressed.


  3. By MW:

    Actually, the most surprising thing about this is that Nate Miley and Keith Carson openly, AND EXTREMELY PUBLICLY, disagreed.

    Most of the time those two clowns and fine upstanding public servants circle the wagons, close ranks together, like good little robots, stooges, and drones support each other, stick together, and pretend to believe in each others' lies, garbage, and nonsense.


  4. Having a family member with mental health issues is no laughing matter. It is also not an easy fix. Mentally ill folks have a right to life as do all other citizens of this country, but in an increasingly stressful society as here in Northern California, there is a growing lack of understanding for someone who has a mental health issue of any kind or seriousness. There is also a growing intolerance. Do the extra research the man is requesting. Like he said, he has lived it and he knows that more has to go into the decision than just fast tracking it to get it off the agenda like Miley suggests. If Nate Miley had a family member with a mental health issue he would just get them a job at the county and that would be the end of it.

    By the way…there is no reporting on how this turned out.


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