John Malone was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on March 11, 2008 in Anchorage, Alaska, at his home. In this interview, he talked about his long-time and varied involvement with mental health services in Alaska. John served as an Alaska State Trooper in rural Alaska where he had first-hand experience with mental health cases and came to see the need for locally-based services. He helped establish Bethel Community Services, and later served as the statewide president of the Alaska Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and was a Trustee of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board from its founding in 1995 until 2007. John passed away May 6, 2008.
John was also interviewed by Bill Schneider and Karen Perdue with videography by Deborah Lawton and Michael Letzring on April 16, 2008.
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Section 1: His upbringing in New Jersey, moving to Alaska with the Army, becoming an Alaska State Trooper and his first contact with mental health issues.
Section 2: Meeting Francis Baumann, superintendent of Alaska Psychiatric Institute, and first learning about residential care of the mentally ill.
Section 3: As an Alaska State Trooper, having to deal with patients from Morningside Hospital in Oregon being returned home to villages.
Section 4: The influence of Dr. Carl Koutsky, superintendent at Alaska Pyschiatric Institute (API), and teacher in the University of Alaska Anchorage psychology program.
Section 5: Being transferred to Bethel with the Alaska State Police for a temporary assignment and how he ended up staying on there.
Section 6: Caring for children in Bethel who needed a place to stay by putting them up in the courthouse, which led to establishing the Bethel Receiving Home and later Bethel Community Services.
Section 7: Establishing a summer camp for children at the abandoned mine at Nyac to screen and evaluate children for mental health issues and determine their need for services.
Section 8: Switching jobs from being an Alaska State Trooper to working as Executive Director for the Bethel Community Services, and leaving Bethel to go to school in Anchorage to study behavioral health and business.
Section 9: Establishing and helping to operate Bushmaster Air Alaska company in Bethel.
Section 10: The role of Bethel Community Services in establishing a day care center, a new receiving home, and the Bautista House residential facility in Bethel.
Section 11: Continuation of the role of Bethel Community Services in providing mental health related services in Bethel and the transfer of programs to other entities, and connection between Morningside patients and care in Bethel.
Section 12: Overview of the history of how people with mental illness were handled and treated in the Territory of Alaska, and why people were sent to Morningside Hospital in Portland, Oregon.
Section 13: Meeting former Alaska governor, Steve Cowper, learning about the Mental Health Enabling Act, and hiring of staff at Bethel Community Services.
Section 14: The background of the Weiss legal case, and Steve Cowper's role in it.
Section 15: The struggles and hard work of the Interim Mental Health Commission to determine land valuation and make recommendations for the mental health trust settlement.
Section 16: The creation of the Mental Health Board, and the role of the State of Alaska in development and management of a statewide mental health plan.
Section 17: The frustrations and difficulties faced by the Interim Mental Health Commission in recommending a land valuation system as part of the settlement process that was then rejected by the State Commissioner of Natural Resources.
Section 18: A discussion of "The Lands Committee Report on DNR Value Determination to Mental Health Trust Funds" authored by John Malone and its role in the land valuation and mental health trust settlement process.
Section 19: The State’s reluctance to step in and take responsibility for mismanagment of the Mental Health Trust, and how hypothecated lands were proposed as one settlement method.
Section 20: Serving as co-chair of the plaintiff's committee in the final settlement.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So today is March 11th, 2008. I'm Bill Schneider.
I have the pleasure today of doing an interview with John Malone. And Karen Brewster is here with us. And we're at John's house here in Anchorage.
And this, we hope, will be the first of maybe a couple of interviews. And so thank you for taking time to do this.
JOHN MALONE: Sure. BILL SCHNEIDER: Great. Let's -- let's start by going back to your early years, where you were brought up and who your folks were.
JOHN MALONE: I was born and raised on the East Coast, New Jersey. I came to Alaska, like a lot of folks, by the Army. I had been a competitive shooter in the Army for several years, and I was assigned to the mark -- advanced marksmanship unit here, and got discharged here. My first job, about two months after discharge, was with the new, then I believe it was the Division of Corrections. The Federal Bureau of Prisons had just turned over their system or were turning over their system to the state, right after the earthquake, 1964.
And so they were recruiting for correctional officers. And I applied for the job and was hired, and stayed there probably about nine months. We were trained by the Federal Bureau. They did a very good job of training us. Then I was recruited there by a couple of troopers to make an application to the State Troopers, the then State Police. And I was accepted and hired by them. Went through my first academy in April of '65.
In those years, you had two academies when you were hired. One, when you were first brought in, and then you had your year of probation, and then at the end of your probation you had a second academy, and then you were, I guess, commissioned or accepted. Spent a very -- a brief period of time in investigation. And that's probably the first contact I had formally with mental health. I think I conducted the first investigation of API [Alaska Pyschiatric Institute].
There had been several complaints by people living in the proximity of API -- and you'd have to read the original or early literature of that hospital to understand how this came about. It was considered the -- the most advanced state hospital of its time. One of the -- one of meanings in that was nothing was secure. And so patients could basically walk in and out.
And it was also at a period of time when patients basically had nightgowns, they didn't have street clothes. So finding them walking down the street, as a state policemen, I can remember stopping and picking them up.
And then people started to call in because a lot of times they would end up in people's backyards, and they couldn't get out of their backyards, so we would have to go pick them up. Section 2:
Some citizen or a group of citizens wrote a complaint to the Third Judicial District grand jury complaining about this -- these folks running around, wandering around the streets, I guess. And being the youngest investigator who was in investigation, I used to get those types of complaints all the time, and they would send me over there.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. JOHN MALONE: So I went to API and met the first superintendent, who was Francis Baumann. My remembrance of him is a brilliant fellow. He was a retired practicing psychiatrist who was a psychoanalyst. How he was chosen, I can't remember, but I had a fascinating time interviewing him and learning about basically hospital, hospitalization, mentally ill people. Remember, that was the only residential setting we had in the state at that time. Under the 1956 Enabling Act, the feds provided the money to build that hospital, fund the program for 10 years, and then also the selection of the 1 million acre trust over 10 years.
And it was a Hill-Burton Hospital, so it had an operating amphitheater, it had a morgue, it had everything basically that a general hospital had in it. But I learned an awful -- an awful lot about serious mental illness and what was being done for it in those days.
Anyway, that -- that concluded that investigation, if you will. Section 3:
And then went on roving patrol. In those days before they sent you out to an outpost, one of the real remote outposts, they usually tested you out by sending you out on roving patrol. And I did Iliamna and Lake Clark first, and then I did the Aleutians. And I think I was on my second -- my second trip to the Aleutians, and it used to take about ten days to two weeks to do the Aleutians. I was in Sand Point. And I think it was Wakefield superintendent, the one who was running Wakefield's Cannery at the time, wanted me to go check out these two gentlemen who had arrived on the airplane and were living under an overturned boat on the shore. And so I did. And they had been our very recent -- recent, well, inmates, clients, patients from Morningside that had been returned to the state. And the state had returned them to their last known address.
One of their -- and one family had -- the mom and dad apparently was reportedly deceased, and the other family had returned to Seattle, or Anacortes, that area.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. JOHN MALONE: So they were there by themselves.
But the most unusual thing about them, I thought, at the time, was that they both were carrying the same letters, written the same way, saying that -- I called them the Dear Mommy, Dear Daddy letters, here I am -- explaining who they were, where they had been, and they had medications with them, and if they complied with the medications, they were going to be just well young men. Well, they weren't so young. One was -- one had been taking his medications, apparently, and was in compliance, but one had not, and he was really decompensated.
So anyway, in those days, of course, we, the State Police, exercised a lot more jurisdiction over a lot more people than we do today, and of course, that would have been one of those situations.
And so I brought them back to Anchorage. And one of them turned out to be a veteran, so he got to go to Elmendorf [Air Force Base]. But I was quite curious about this letter system. And I had not -- I don't think in my interviews with Dr. Baumann the issue of Morningside Hospital outside had come up. In fact, I didn't really learn the history of Morningside and what had gone on in Morningside and how long the contract at Morningside would last until we got into the actual settlement. But anyway, the one patient, the one who had been so decomp -- appeared so decompensated, was transferred out to Elmendorf. And the other one was admitted to API. Section 4:
And Dr. Baumann had since left API, and Dr. Carl Koutsky, probably one of the most influential physicians, I think he was a great teacher, I attended many of his courses a couple years later when I was back in here going to school, had just taken over the job as hospital administrator. I think he come up from the University of Michigan or Minnesota. He had been the hospital administrator on campus there at the medical school. And he did, he did many, many significant things, including bringing the WAMI program into Alaska, and opening up the teaching of the classroom experience for the WAMI students to the university, so people in the university could enroll, and we all did. Anybody who was in the psychology program did. And he stayed probably six years, if I remember. And also helped in opening the first residential facility we had in the state, which was in Spenard. Pretty controversial in its time. Typical NIMB, not in my backyard kind of controversy.
But again, he was a great teacher and became later a very close friend. Section 5:
I was transferred out to Bethel. Actually, I was asked to go out to Bethel to do an audit on the city jail.
In those days, the State Police contracted to several cities to be -- to do their city policing, and Bethel was one of them. Bethel also happened to be probably the worst one because it had a community liquor sales, it was selling liquor, it was selling liquor to the region. Almost a million dollars a year business. And a lot of not so good things were happening there: drownings, homicide, suicide. And part of the policing duties that the troopers had was also administering the jail.
The problem was, of course, in our academy training, they trained us for a lot of things, but administering a jail wasn't one of them. And it was some real problems with the billing system. And so anyway, I went through and I did this audit. And the city had slightly overbilled the State, but the contract that had been drafted, I assume by then by the city, and signed by the State, really left the city a lot of latitude as to how they were going to bill. So anyway, that kind of -- my recommendation, I believe, to the commissioner at the time was that, you know, this is not something recoverable. It is something correctable, but not recoverable. And so that's what they did.
Well, I was getting ready to turn around and come back because I had come off the Aleutians after two and a half years, and they were giving me a summer sabbatical at Alaska Methodist University for school. In fact, I was driving the Upward Bound bus, and about half the students on the Upward Bound bus were kids that I later met when I went out to Bethel, they come up the Yukon and Kuskokwim.
But the trooper who was supposed to take over that -- there were actually two troopers in that post, but the first one was being reassigned, his wife was killed in an automobile accident up in Fairbanks, when I was there, so they asked if I would hang around until they could, you know, fill -- fill in with someone permanently. Well, three and a half years later, about as permanent as it got. And after that first year, the -- the new Commissioner of Public Safety had written to all the cities that had contracts, and I can't remember how many we had at the time, it wasn't very many of them, that they were -- they were getting quite a deal. I think they paid $12,000 a year for both of us, including our housing, vehicle, and everything else. And the cost associated with a trooper was just a bit higher than that, like $21,000 a year. And so the commissioner's position was that, you know, State Police belonged to the citizens of the -- of the state, and if you wanted to have them exclusively in your jurisdiction, you were going to have to pay whatever the cost was, and here is the cost here in Bethel, $21,000.
Anyway, the city whined -- whined quite a bit, made two trips to see the Governor, they didn't get anywhere. So the contract lapsed at the end of my year. That was the longest year I had ever spent, I think.
So I agreed to stay on without the contract. And we agreed to basically solicit for them and train for them a new chief and police officers. Section 6:
There was a lot of issues with mental illness. There had never been -- the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] at that time was the principal provider both of education and social services.
There really had not been a survey in the region of particularly mentally ill and developmentally disabled; the developmentally disabled in the school system, there hasn't been either. During that time, one of the unfortunate things that was happening in the city, of course, is that there was a lot of alcoholism, parents getting drunk and kids not being able to come home, or go home.
So I was continuously confronted with this little gaggle of kids every night. And I used to put them -- the National Guard loaned me a bunch of sleeping bags, GI sleeping bags. And I had them -- I stacked them in the courtroom. And in those days the courthouse and my office and the jail were all combined in an old what used to be the marshal's facility, U.S. Marshal's facility. The judge and court was up front, I was in the middle, and the jail was in the back. So that's where I used to bunk them out. And then when the meals came over to feed the prisoners, we always fed the kids, too. Until one morning when the judge came in, it was a Sunday morning for arraignments, because we had arraignments seven days a week, she was obviously not in a good mood, and didn't like that because I hadn't got all the kids up yet. There were several of them still sleeping. She told me to do something about it. That was her classic response to problems, do something about this. Actually, she's the one who did something about it. She called the BIA, she said, we need a building, we need a facility, we need some kind of concept, which are social workers, to put these kids to bed and oversee them, and all this kind of stuff.
And the superintendent of the BIA at that time -- well, her husband was working for the BIA. That's the largest BIA, by the way, in the nation, the Bethel headquarters. They donated some space to us, an apartment space to us, and in very short order, we organized this little corporation called the Bethel Receiving Home, which later became Bethel Community Services, and went on for, God, I don't know, 30 years.
Became the mental health provider for the region, developmentally disabled provider for the region, brought the MDTA, the Manpower training facility down, brought the Adult Basic Education down for the community for a long while. Did the substance abuse program over the years. It wasn't until about two years ago, three years ago, that with the past commissioner's decision to move state contracts into the 638 providers, that Bethel Community Services basically didn't have any contracts to service. They all wanted the health corporation.
Yeah. So it -- it went on, like I said, it went on for over 35 years.
Maybe 37 years. And pretty successful.
Where am I with that? Section 7:
BILL SCHNEIDER: And so the BIA stepped up at that time.
JOHN MALONE: The BIA stepped up, and the BIA has stepped up in several occasions. The BIA did a wonderful job in helping us in the beginning. They eventually gave us a whole building. We ran a -- we ran a summer diagnostics and evaluation clinic that the BIA paid for, up at a mine, a gold mine northeast of us, about 60 miles, called Nyac. And it had been abandoned for 10 years. But it had very nice homes in it, houses.
And so we opened up the summer camp, and the first cadre of kids that came through, there were groups of 20, were basically kids that the teachers had referred and thought should be evaluated. They didn't know what for but they thought they should be evaluated.
So they -- they hired a -- I don't know if it was a psychologist, there was a psychiatrist, there was a nutritionist, I believe there were two or three social workers, made up a team, and processed these kids, if you will, through an evaluation process. It was the first time kids had ever been evaluated in that region. We've had a lot of bad results from kids who should have been evaluated and should have been treated. Meningitis was -- was one of the big ones. The Lower Yukon had tragic episodes of meningitis. And those kids, of course, the global brain damaging, most of those kids ended up -- well, not most, all of them end up in Harborview. We ended up bringing several of them back over the years, but... Yeah. So that's -- that was the first screening that's ever been done. We did it two years in a row. The BIA, again, paid for the whole -- paid for the airplane charters, the -- paid for the food.
Even flew a big swimming pool up there in the second year that they had -- that, like the superintendent said, I'm getting tired of looking at that thing, nobody wants to put it together, so I'm going to fly it up there.
It was a big one, like 30 some odd feet. That was pretty successful. BILL SCHNEIDER: Were these for all kids that were screened?
JOHN MALONE: Yeah. This was for all kids. Yeah. All kids in primary, up through 8th grade. Because that's all the BIA supported at that time of up to the 8th grade. After you went to high school -- or to junior high, I'm sorry, you went down to Edgecumbe.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. So did they approach parents or how did that work? JOHN MALONE: Yeah. Oh, definitely approached parents. Yes. It was through the parents first, that -- yeah, the child -- the release was signed and the child was authorized, if you will, to go to camp.
Yeah, again, that was the first -- that was the first actual evaluation of kids on a large scale basis in the region that went -- and it was very eye opening, the amount of disabilities that we -- that were uncovered. Also, tragically, incidences of neglect, unreported neglect. But anyway. Section 8:
BILL SCHNEIDER: You were still operating in a trooper capacity at that time?
JOHN MALONE: I was operating in a trooper capacity when we formed BCS. When I left the troopers -- I left the troopers, they made me the first executive director of that corporation, Bethel Community Services, and I did that for about a year. And I -- and I wanted to return to school. Well, I had two reasons to return to school. One, my GI bill was running out in the year 8, and the year 8 was approaching, so I did. I came back in here and spent two winters, two winters and one summer, I believe, going back to school.
And then a good friend of mine who had been in the flying business out there wanted a partner, and asked me to come back out to Bethel and go in the flying business with him, which I did. And did that for another five years. BILL SCHNEIDER: Tell us a little bit about your schooling before we get to the flying.
JOHN MALONE: Well, I was interested in two -- primarily two subjects, one was business and the other was behavioral health, which was psychology in that day.
I was very fortunate having met Dr. Koutsky and known Dr. Koutsky earlier on. He allowed me to, basically -- I wouldn't say attend a residency, but attend trainings at the hospital like a resident for a year. And, well, let me see, how can I say this gently. He wasn't overly impressed with the curriculum at the university.
BILL SCHNEIDER: This would be UAA?
JOHN MALONE: Yes.
BILL SCHNEIDER: What became UAA?
JOHN MALONE: Yes. He had -- but, however, he had hired one, I thought, exceptional person, a psychometrist was Linda Bilsabick (phonetic). I don't know if you remember her from -- she was one of the first candidates when I opened up the doctoral program on psychology up at the -- on the Fairbanks campus. There was seven of them, I believe, that were accepted. They all ended up arriving, and then the university shut it down and didn't put it on, so they made some pretty -- pretty unhappy people. And she was one of them.
But anyway, Dr. Koutsky hired her as a psychometrist to do testing, and she was there for several years, and then returned to the campus in Anchorage and was teaching in the graduate program. She was an exceptional lady. Yeah, and that was about it. I -- I guess, I don't know, I guess my -- my curriculum was probably split 50/50, between business courses. Most of them were in psych, though. Most of them were in psych. Anthropology. I've got 15 hours in anthropology. Section 9:
Yeah. So anyway, then I said, my friend in this flying business, got into this flying business and wanted a partner.
KAREN BREWSTER: I just had a quick question on the year, what year you left the troopers in --
JOHN MALONE: That would have been '70, 1970, the end of 19 -- I think it was December 1970, it was almost '71. I was going in -- I was in my sixth year. And, yeah, then came -- then came in here.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. JOHN MALONE: And I think I was here five semesters. I think five semesters. I haven't looked at that in a long time.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So then you had this business opportunity.
JOHN MALONE: Had the business opportunity, went out there, yeah, and we got in and started with a -- operated on, in those days, of course, the Alaska Transportation Commission was in place, and you had state certificates, all operators had state certificates, and they were supposed to be based on need, which was kind of a joke, but -- so we ended up leasing, basically, a certificate from another operator who was not operating, and formed a corporation called Bushmaster Air Alaska. And flew that and operated that for five years.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Were you interested in flying? JOHN MALONE: You know, it was kind of interesting. I had been a pilot, I learned to fly down in Kodiak when I was on the Aleutians. I probably did less flying when I was in the business. The only thing I flew was paper, flew a lot of paper, than I did when I was just a private -- private person. I did most of the business, business sides of it. Section 10:
And then the next thing I got involved with was, again, we stayed or I stayed when I came back, stayed with Bethel Community Services on the board of directors, I think I was on the board of directors like 12 years on and off, different. And then they -- they -- we got some capital money from the legislature to build some buildings. Some of the projects we had opened up there were getting on in time, and the facilities were getting pretty run down, like the day care center. We opened the day care center there 1969. And it was a little log building the city donated to us, and had gone on for 8 or 9 years, and it was getting pretty run down. So we built a new receiving home. The one I told you about earlier, the BIA building, we built a new permanent building for that. And we built a new day care center. It was pretty large. It was licensed for 114 children. And we got into mental health services, residential. In fact, we built the first actual residential mental health facility that was designed to support the living for the mentally ill. In other words, it wasn't somebody's renovated house or renovated building, it was actually designed for that purpose, called the Bautista House, and it's still there today, being operated by YKHC [Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation] today.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And was that the first in the state, do you think? JOHN MALONE: It was the first one designed in the state they built that way. No, Dr. Koutsky had opened up or helped open up in Spenard the first supported living facility for the mentally ill. And I can't remember the lady's name who was actually running it. We ended up -- interesting, I guess it is kind of an interesting tale, we ended up -- Bethel Community Services ended up providing services to the mentally ill, that level of service, residential service, because the woman who had been doing this, API had discovered that she would accept these folks, and the only income she made from them or got from them was the Social Security. It wasn't very much money. And she ran a restaurant, had her own restaurant for many years. So she had a -- she had a meal food source, I guess would be a better way of saying it. But she got very ill. She became very ill. In fact, it ended up -- the patients that she was taking care of ended up taking care of her until she died. She died in the facility.
And it was pretty primitive. It was an Army quonset hut. There were lots of old Army buildings that the Army Air Corps had across the river when they had an air base there during the Second World War. Slid across on the ice in the wintertime and brought to Bethel, this was one of them, big quonset hut.
But didn't have any running water, only had honey buckets, and there was 12 -- 12 patients in there. And about two-thirds of them had been original Morningside patients.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Wow.
JOHN MALONE: One of the things you really noticed about those folks was their under-socialization. Had very few social skills. And they were getting -- BILL SCHNEIDER: You mean face-to-face interactions and things?
JOHN MALONE: Interaction, appropriateness, taking care of themselves, hygiene. Yeah. Just about all of it.
So anyway, she passed away, and there was these 12 or 13 patients in this quonset hut that no one seemed to want.
So we had an emergency board meeting, to make a long story short, and we decided that we should probably, if no one else was going to do this, we thought somebody ought to step in and do this, and we were probably the only ones capable of doing it. So we did. Actually, it was Judge Guinn who made lots of decisions for us that way, kind of going back to do something about this thing. So we did.
And then at that time, the state fire marshal, who was a pretty close acquaintance of mine, Andre Shaw, I called him and I said, well, I've got this -- I've got this little difficult problem here, I've got these people living in a pretty substandard hut, but however, we've been told that we're going to get -- and it was then Representative Holman, I believe, I don't think he was in the Senate yet, that got the funding for us, we are going to build a new facility, and we have the land, which we did. And so we did. We built what's now referred to as the Bautista House, which was named after this woman who had passed away, Helen Bautista.
BILL SCHNEIDER: What's her name again?
JOHN MALONE: Helen --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Helen.
JOHN MALONE: -- Bautista.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum.
JOHN MALONE: And it was dedicated in 19 -- 1980. 1980.
Again, like I said, it's still operating. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation operates it under their behavioral health program. They have three facilities now for mentally ill, residential facilities.
But I don't know, where does that -- where does that leave us? We are in the 1980s, I guess.
(Interview paused.) Section 11:
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- at the Bautista House, and providing the services in -- in that way, and you said that there were two other houses.
And Karen, are you back on?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yes.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, okay. Good. So then there were two other houses set up, I think you said, to deal with the mentally ill in --
JOHN MALONE: Developmentally disabled.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Mentally disabled, yeah.
JOHN MALONE: Yeah. Developmentally disabled, we called them.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Developmentally disabled. JOHN MALONE: But again, this was kind of, Bethel Community Services brought an awful lot of services into that community that later entities that had responsibility for them, like the State, like the University, who would take them over. The Adult Basic Education program was one of them. Substance abuse, which really the substance abuse program, when it was originally designed by the legislature was it was designed for, quote, for a community to operate it. They just didn't have the capacity in the communities to hire, train, and do things like that.
So BCS [Bethel Community Services] ended up doing a lot of these things initially, and then turning them over to -- like the substance abuse program was eventually turned over to the city. And the Adult Basic Education went to the community college when it arrived. And Manpower training portion that we had from the university, when that was a federal grant, went to the community college also.
Yeah, we did a lot of those things. We had nine -- 1969, 1970 as far as leaving, I think we had nine programs operating.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Wow. Yeah. And your comments were very interesting about the returning of the Morningside people. JOHN MALONE: Yeah. I had, again, knew so little about Morningside. And Dr. Koutsky probably was the only one who filled me in, but he had never been there physically. He just knew from the history.
As you go through this process of interviewing us that's been involved in it, I noticed you interviewed Thelma Langdon, but I understood that a lot of the records before the patients were transferred back to Alaska had been destroyed, there was a fire, and apparently all these records were destroyed, because we ended up with several patients that had undergone surgery out there, and we couldn't find any records of the surgery that happened. Back surgery was two of them that I remember.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh. JOHN MALONE: And went through -- back through API and the BIA -- or the Public Health Service, and there was no record of these things. And was later to discover that, yes, it had happened, and it happened while they were there at Morningside, and that was part of the record system that they lost.
Turned out that I don't think we had any continuing records from Morningside to the patients that we ended up having at the Bautista House.
And a lot of these people, of course, what happened to them, the trip to Morningside -- you have to back up. I don't know if this is going back too far.
BILL SCHNEIDER: No, we're interested in that earlier period, as well. Section 12:
JOHN MALONE: Well, you have to go back to the -- basically to the Organic Act, 1912, or even before that, the Federal Government's decision that the Territory of Alaska was not going to have the authority or the probably didn't have the capacity, so it wasn't going to have the authority when it became an organic territory, the Organic Act was passed, to carry out services effectively for these type of people. Mentally ill. They were all mentally ill then. So they entered into a contract with the sanatorium company in 1903 outside of Portland for space at Morningside Hospital. And in 1904, the first Alaskan arrived.
And then in 1912, of course, the Organic Act was passed, and the -- we were prohibited, the territory was the only territorial possession of the United States that was prohibited from both administrating, administrating and legislating a mental health program for its citizens. The Federal Government took over that total responsibility. The tragedy that was never corrected through 53 years until the Enabling Act was passed in 1956 was the standard for being admitted to Morningside was a -- basically, a criminal standard. An insane person at large.
And children, of course, were in the same boat. If you were an adult parent and you had children that needed hospitalization services, basically, you had to go to the court, and that's the way they were petitioned. They were insane -- insane people at large. In fact, the last two -- last two juveniles who went to Morningside, which was a year after the Enabling Act was passed, 1957, were two brothers who were juveniles, and they went under an order remanding them to the United States Marshal, as insane persons at large. Why we -- why Congress would never address, if you will, a more humane way of addressing -- they certainly began to understand because there had been -- there had been studies or there had been surveys done at Morningside, we certainly had learned a lot in those 53 years about these illnesses, but they never changed the standard of what was the standard to get to Morningside. And that was really a tragedy because what it turned out to be, after we went throuogh lists of folks that had been committed was it was a one-way street, pretty much a one-way street. It wasn't until the Enabling Act passed that they started returning them because they were required to. Section 13:
And, well, anyway, we got through the -- that period there. And of course, the Enabling Act created both the legislative authority, it appropriated money to build what became API, and that was completed in 1962. And it also, because Congress understood that the new territory probably was not going to have sufficient revenues to administer a program, it had agreed to provide funding for 10 years, and the selection of what later became the Mental Health Trust, a million acres for the purpose of supporting the mental health program of the territory. Well, I guess that's probably the time to get to Steve Cowper. Like when I was a trooper still in Bethel, it was not uncommon in those days for Bush troopers, we didn't have district attorneys, and so we did a lot of the functions of what a district attorney would do for you now, or an assistant district attorney.
We had to try our own misdemeanor cases, we had to handle our own arraignments, type our own complaints, handle our own preliminary hearings. And because of the volume of work that I had in Bethel, I got pretty cranky about that with the district attorney, who was then Jerry Van Hoomisen up in Fairbanks. He had been U.S. Attorney here, and that's where I first met him, and then he became district -- state district attorney.
So anyway, to make a long story short, he calls me up one day, he said, I'm tired of hearing you complain about this, I have this young attorney that's arriving in the state and he definitely needs some TDY time. And that was Steve Cowper. BILL SCHNEIDER: TDY?
JOHN MALONE: Temporary duty. Because you get a little extra money.
So he sent him down, and that's how we got to know each other, and became pretty much fast friends since then. We still stay -- stay in contact, but... So when the Weiss case -- when he filed the Weiss case, we got in a discussion about, basically, mentally ill folks and developmentally disabled folks. And of course, he was briefing me on the history of what the -- the Enabling Act was. I had no idea what the Enabling Act was in those days at that time.
And he had little idea of the, if you will, the illnesses. They all -- what constituted developmentally disabled, what constitutes serious mental illness, and what the differences were. I also had the good fortune at that time, we had a very difficult time finding a psychiatrist who was willing to contract services to us out there in Bethel. So my good friend, good acquaintance, Dr. Koutsky, had since left the state, retired, left API and the state, and gone to Klamath Falls, Oregon.
And I called him up and told him what my problem was. And of course, about every patient we had in there he was familiar with. So he, on a voluntary basis -- we paid, of course, his expenses and everything -- came up and became our consulting psychiatrist for these people for, I don't know, two and a half, three years. He got a little tired of that, and he went and recruited us a psychiatrist, a very young psychiatrist. He said, I recommended this guy for his residency, psychiatric residency. And he just completed it. And he kind of implied on the telephone, he said, I'm not going to give him any choice, he's going to be your contract psychiatrist. And he was. It was Dr. John Rigg (phonetic), a wonderful, wonderful practitioner, for nine years. I think he's the longest psychiatrist that ever was under contract in those days.
And he also took over the WAMI program in the state. So we had a WAMI student. We also had money that would allow him to travel with a WAMI student, which was very helpful. Section 14:
Getting back to Dr. Koutsky and Steve Cowper, I referred Steve to Dr. Koutsky as far as, you know, getting, if you will, tuned up on the expertise, more clinical knowledge of these folks. And I don't know whether Steve ever did or not. I know they -- I know they met and I know they talked, but I never heard much -- much beyond that. But anyway, when the trial case, when the trial case was decided, and was that 1982, 1983? I think it was '83. '82 we filed, and I think '83 the trial judge, Judge Taylor, made the decision up there.
And then the State decided to appeal, and then, of course, 1985 was the famous Weiss Supreme Court decision. And that required the State to -- mandated the State to reconstitute with the -- with the setoff. BILL SCHNEIDER: Let me ask you a naive question. Why do you think Cowper took that case?
JOHN MALONE: You know, I don't think we ever shared that together. When he -- I read -- I read Vern Weiss' version of how they got together, and I don't remember -- I guess I don't remember anything, us ever talking about that. I think it was the Mental Health Association who was aware that these are trust lands and the State was abusing or breaching their responsibility as trustees. And I think it was them, if I remember, who brought Vern Weiss, or the family, the issue of that family, the son Carl, to Steve. And he was doing most of his work at the time, he just left the DA's office, and he was quite a well-known trial attorney, because of his experiences in the DA's office, so he was working for other law firms who needed cases tried, and that's what he was doing. He was in a very small -- 551 and One-Half Second Avenue was his office. Interesting. So anyway, this was kind of a really interesting case for him to take on.
After he -- after the appeal, though, when the appeal was filed, and responding to the appeal, we had lots of discussions about that, because I, like most people, had very little understanding of public trusts and how they worked and how they should work and how this one wasn't working. And he was -- and I still remember his comments about the State. He said, the State still had -- still doesn't understand this issue. They can't win this the way they are going about. They breached the trust. It's been breached.
And sure enough. I don't know if you ever read the actual Weiss decision, but it's a very, very brief decision. Basically, it said that, yes, Congress created a trust, it was a real trust. What's common among trusts is that you have to have a corpus, every trust has to have a corpus, and you've breached the trust by dissolving the corpus; in other words, selling the land or re-designating the land. And so you basically dissolved the trust; you didn't have the authority to do this. Again, I'm taking this out of the back of my head, but it was very -- I was -- I guess I've always been amazed at how brief the decision was, the original Weiss decision.
And of course, they included in that that the State was entitled to a setoff involving the amount of monies, funds that they had expended on supporting these that would later become the beneficiary class. And which became a big concern throughout the whole settlement process. And I think Judge Greene touched on that very -- yeah. A little bit. Section 15:
BILL SCHNEIDER: But it sounds like you might have been instrumental in helping to define those classifications.
JOHN MALONE: Well, what happened, sometimes you get -- sometimes there was a little ugliness involved in some of this. The -- and I have a great deal of empathy for Dr. Rogers. He just worked his fingers to the bone and he was not treated very well by the State, unfortunately, when he was going through this process. He chaired the Interim Mental Health Trust Commission, which the legislature had charged to eval -- to bring in the values. And Dr. Lidia Selkregg was his other member. And there was a member from -- it was actually the division director from DNR who was the third member. And again, he -- he tired me out just listening to him. It was really a -- really a lot of work. And you needed a -- my sense of it, I had been a real estate appraiser much later on in life, in the 1970s and '80s, not that type of real estate, not minerals and things like that. But just the amount of knowledge you had to glean to understand what -- you know, what the proper process and appropriate process was. It was quite a bit. And again, he worked as -- just worked, worked, worked, worked, worked, worked. And he was no young fellow.
But we came -- finally came down that the commission, as you're probably well aware, finally came down with a determination, or a value, an opinion value, and the State rejected that, literally rejected it out of hand, and which sent everybody back to the drawing board.
And said, well, it was quite obvious that the State couldn't write a check for that amount of money. It was something up around $2 billion. And I don't think the plaintiffs really expected that to happen. That was not. But we were sent back to the drawing board.
At that time, Steve Cowper had become our Governor, so he couldn't even say yea or nay in the case, anything about the case. Section 16:
And then we proceeded on to Chapter 48, and I think Judge Greene covered Chapter -- I mean, the -- the legislative attempts to settle that came along later, Chapter 48 being the first.
Probably the most significant contribution, I think, in Chapter 48, aside from the Interim Mental Health Trust Commission, was the Mental Health Board. They were given kind of the similar authority that now the Mental Health Trust Authority has, particularly in a budgeting process, which was extremely helpful, and a planning process. My constituency, when I became state president of the Alaska Alliance for the Mentally Ill, my constituency, one of its biggest concerns and things that upset most family members was that there was so little in the state plan that addressed either consumers or families. In fact, I don't think the word "consumer" was even used in state land up until that time, 1990. And it became a bone of contention as we went on through the final settlement, too. The Alliance wanted the plan removed from the State, taken out of the hands of the State, the commissioner's office, and placed in the trust. I didn't agree with that. So we had to come up with some kind of a compromise that would satisfy my folks and -- and keep some leverage, basically, on the plan through the Trust Authority. And that happened -- actually, Phil Volland, our lead attorney in the final settlement, is the one that came up with the language that allowed the -- the plan was now to be developed by the state, by the commissioner, in conjunction with the Mental Health Trust Authority. And I still remember this. He called me on a Saturday morning and talked this over because it was becoming an issue with my -- my folks, a real issue. He said "in conjunction with" has no legal definition, so you can work that out any way you want to.
And I said, well, that's a good -- that's a good one. Because we didn't know how we were going to work it out. We didn't know -- we didn't have a formal relationship between, again, the plaintiffs and the department and the plaintiffs and the commissioner. In fact, Margaret Lowe was the commissioner then. And it seemed to work out when -- and both sides understood what the Alliance of the Mentally Ill's concern was about the plan. Basically, the families and consumers had been excluded from the planning process, weren't even mentioned in the planning process for years and years and years, and that was okay with them. And they wanted them brought back in, or wrapped into the plan.
(Interview paused.) Section 17:
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- resources, and the Cowper administration, and what was their relationship to the Interim Mental Health Trust?
JOHN MALONE: Well, they had a member, I believe he was the Division of Lands director --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum.
JOHN MALONE: -- on the commission with Dr. Selkregg and Dr. Rogers. And the three of them basically made up the commission, as I remember. And their job, of course, was to produce a valuation report, which they did, and it was supposed to be approved by the commissioner then of Natural Resources. When the report got produced, she -- she would not approve it.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And that would have been Judy Brady at that time? JOHN MALONE: Yes. And I can't remember exactly the language she chose and why she did not approve it. It pretty much upset all of us. It really did.
Aside from the fact that we were -- it was -- there was someplace in the vicinity of $2 billion. I think we were all familiar -- I mean, all realized that this was not an issue of the State writing a check for this. But it was important, just from the Supreme Court language in Weiss, that the determination of the value had been made, and most of the pro -- I think all the processes we had gone through had been agreed to by both sides.
That's how we got into dealing with the process. It wasn't a unilateral decision on the commission side or the department side. It was agreed to. And I think that's, again, a point that really upset a lot of us because it had been an agreed-to process.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure. Sure. JOHN MALONE: Dr. Rogers, I'm sure -- Dr. Rogers, I'm sure, was very much upset over that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. And an awkward position for the Cowper administration, too.
JOHN MALONE: Yeah. Very awkward for Dr. Rogers who had to orally make his presentation before the legislature.
I wasn't there when he did this, but I can certainly appreciate, he was very much restrained -- is -- I'm sure what his personal opinion was of the process. Because he had been at it -- I wouldn't say two years, but we were going on two years. This was a pretty involved -- pretty involved thing. And the land surface estate was all -- had been appealed, and went through an appeal process on that, which Dr. Rogers chaired all the appeals. And again, it was a pretty extensive -- pretty extensive process. Again, it wasn't unilateral. Section 18:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. Well, and that brings us up to, I think, the report that you authored, isn't it?
JOHN MALONE: Did I author one?
BILL SCHNEIDER: The Lands Committee Report on DNR Value Determination to Mental Health Trust Funds.
JOHN MALONE: Oh, I was on the -- gee, I had forgotten about that. Yes, I was on the -- well, no --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Karen will help me.
JOHN MALONE: -- I was on the Mental Health Board at that time.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. JOHN MALONE: And of course, the Mental Health Board was really, really very much interested in an outcome for this.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
JOHN MALONE: We were trying to do -- I say "we" -- the whole board was trying to do anything in its power to facilitate a resolution, an equitable resolution. And I was the -- let me see.
I chaired -- I guess I chaired for many years the Program and Planning Committee for the board. And, well, I can't remember, I think Thelma Langdon was our chairperson on the board at that time. She nominated me to this committee, for this committee to evaluate what the land determination was from the commissioner, what I thought of it. In other words, make a report to the Mental Health Board on this evaluation. And yes, I guess I did write that report. And interesting, I had forgotten about that report.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But we -- had you had formal training in land evaluation at that point? JOHN MALONE: Surface estate. I did real estate appraising out there in Western Alaska for probably 12 years. Surface estate, housing, residential, some commercial, some BIA, allotments, that type of stuff. Nothing to the extent of this. Some commercial, small commercial in the community, but nothing to this extent.
I certainly had no experience -- well, very limited experience. I had some friends that were in the mining business, platinum for one.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum. JOHN MALONE: But I certainly had no background in evaluating a mineral estate. In fact, most of what I had learned was from Paul Mett (phonetic), listening to him -- listening to him quite a bit.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh-hum.
JOHN MALONE: And then later on meeting Dickson, but that was still a pretty brief experience, and then their report, of course. But I was -- we were -- we were getting a sense that as the values started to come out of the commission process, that -- and the State, I guess, became a little more testy about that process, particularly in the surface appeals. The surface estate was being appealed by the State, and had to bring in another appraiser and go over these things. We had kind of a sense that the State was looking for ways to, I don't know, "renege on the deal" is probably too strong a language, but the value was probably, they thought, was getting out of hand. But again, Dr. Rogers would probably be the better one to -- again, he's the one that had to write the final report. And -- and I think isn't -- I think the report that I wrote for the Mental Health Board was a critique on Dr. Rogers' final report to the legislature. I think that's what it -- that's what it was. Because a lot of people in the periphery, a lot of people who are in the periphery who were beneficiaries, who later became beneficiaries were pretty upset about the commission decision because it basically trashed the -- the settlement, Chapter 48. Well, that's not totally true because at the eleventh hour, the legislature, Governor Cowper sent Myra Munson, who was then his Commissioner of Health and Social Services, in front of the legislature, like the last 24 hours, and encouraged them to pass Chapter 48 with a -- I forget what the caveat was. It certainly wasn't the values that the commission had come back with, there was some caveats in it, but they turned it down. The legislature didn't accept it. But we're talking about eleventh hour, we are talking about the last night of the session. Surprised us all. Section 19:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So that was a real tragedy, at that point.
JOHN MALONE: Well, it was a real letdown to all of us because, I don't know, I was getting to the -- I was getting into the mode of -- well, I guess, what you don't learn, you're not familiar with when you get into one of these huge cases dealing with your government, and trying to come up with a resolution for your government around a policy position that they should be -- they should have accepted a long time ago, like these became -- these were your beneficiaries. You had a responsibility to care for them. You had a responsibility to do whatever. And the State's reluctance to step up to this role, if you will.
Because at that time, if the State would have come forward with any reasonable solution for value in the trust, like later came on the next settlement, which was called hypothecated land -- I don't know, did you get into hypothecated land with Judge Greene? BILL SCHNEIDER: I'm not sure.
JOHN MALONE: She mentioned it once in her transcript, and I read it, and I was wondering if you guys -- she didn't explain what that was, but the next settlement involved, quote, hypothecated land.
And hypothecated land is basically lands that are selected and held aside for a purpose, and that purpose was they would pay rent on them, the State would pay rent on them to the trust, and this was the income to the trust, versus I think the 1976 re-designation, re-designating the land and paid nothing, wouldn't pay a nickel. So anyway, the -- of course, the next settlement came up was called -- the center, the centerpiece of it was this selection of hypothecated lands, lands that would be set aside and held in reserve, but weren't transferred in title to the trust for the purpose of a trust, and paid on a lease basis to the trust. Section 20:
JOHN MALONE: Oh, I think it's an important -- I think it's an important piece.
I -- several times I've reduced -- in fact, in one -- on one -- on one occasion, I ended up with a copy of Governor Hickel's final bill, and had it framed, and I wrote a one-pager covering the whole -- everything we've talked about in one page. Then I wrote an article for a journal, and I can't remember the journal because I just found the article the other day. Went into a little more, of course, expanded on it quite a bit more. But I guess I was totally amazed when I read that article, the level of complexity that was involved in this.
Of course, when you're that close to it -- I co-chaired the plaintiff's committee in the final settlement. Art -- Art -- Art -- what was his name. He had been the business manager at API. I'm brain dead. He was a member of the Alaskan -- of the Mental Health Association, then became the president of the Association, then he became the Association's representative before the plaintiffs committee. And he asked me to join him in this because we were having a hell of a time getting a consensus.
And Mr. Gottstein had offended many oil companies because he wanted to expand the mineral resources through oil and gas. So he brought in a whole bunch of folks we had never seen before from Marathon Oil, and this oil company and that oil company, who had no idea what this was really all about. They just were there to represent their companies.
So anyway, at that time -- at that juncture he asked me to join him, and so I became co-chair of the plaintiff's committee, we called it the plaintiff's committee. We met at API every week, up in the API classroom.
Thelma Langdon was interviewed by Bill Schneider on May 24, 2007, at her home in Anchorage, Alaska. She is the wife of Dr. J. Ray Langdon, who was a former medical director at Morningside Mental Hospital in Portland, Oregon and director of mental health services in Alaska just after statehood. She describes their involvement with treating Alaska's mentally ill and broader mental health services. She describes living and working conditions at Morningside Hospital, her husband's approach to treating patients, and she is critical of a federal investigation that occurred at the hospital. Thelma discusses her husband's dissatisfaction with Alaska's approach to mental health services, his firing by Governor Egan, and establishment of the Langdon Clinic to deliver services to patients statewide. Thelma was the first chair person of the Alaska Mental Health Board (1988-1990), and started the first statewide effort to serve people with dementia. Thelma demonstrates a deep connection with and compassion for the mentally ill and feels that not enough has been done to address their needs.
Click to section:
Section 1: Personal background and employment history prior to coming to Alaska, and meeting and marrying her husband and their first years of marriage.
Section 2: Living in different places around the country because of her husband's psychiatry training and military service.
Section 3: Her husband becoming the medical director at Morningside Hospital in Portland, Oregon where Alaskan patients were sent, the 1957 congressional investigation of the hospital, and memories of escorting patients from Alaska to Morningside.
Section 4: Describes living on the hospital grounds at Morningside, patients visiting her home and playing with her children, and the experience of the 1957 congressional investigation of the hospital.
Section 5: Moving to Anchorage in 1958 when her husband was hired by Alaska's new division of mental health, and her assessment of the state's plan for mental health services.
Section 6: The innovative treatment programs her husband initiated at Morningside Hospital and her view of the quality of patient care provided.
Section 7: The establishment of a mental health program and facility in Valdez and her husband's disapproval of this effort.
Section 8: Her husband's resignation from Alaska's mental health services program because of disagreement over the direction of the program, their staying in Alaska instead of returning to Morningside Hospital, and his continued contact with and care of mental health patients.
Section 9: Describes her husband's outspoken personality.
Section 10: Her husband's continued involvement with mental health issues in the State after his resignation and establishment of his own Langdon Clinic.
Section 11: Personal involvement in the mental health field.
Section 12: Continued involvement with mental health issues, service on the Mental Health Board, and seeing herself as an advocate.
Section 13: Key issues that existed while she was on the Mental Health Board.
Section 14: Compares the old Alaska Psychiatric Institute building with and the new one that was being planned when she was on the Mental Health Board.
Section 15: The impact of the Molly Hootch case that required schools to be built in every community in Alaska, and her thoughts and observations on the outcome.
Section 16: Assessment of Alaska's mental health programs and compares with knowledge of services in New Zealand.
Section 17: Her role in starting an Alzheimer's support group in Anchorage that later expanded and developed into the statewide Alzheimer's Resource Agency.
Section 18: People involved in mental health issues.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Today, we determined is May 24th, 2007, I'm Bill Schneider and I had the pleasure today of talking with Thelma Langdon. And I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. We're in your home here in Anchorage. And we're going to talk about the history of mental health delivery. And in particular, we're going to talk about your background and involvement and your husband's background and involvement in the mental health issues as they've emerged. So let me hook you up and we'll -- we'll begin. Let's start with your personal background, where you were born, and who your parents were, and some of your early childhood influences. THELMA LANGDON: I was born in Pueblo, Colorado, on May 1925, to Helen and Tony Perse, and last name is spelled P-E-R-S-E. And I was one of two daughters. My sister was three years younger than I. We grew up in Southern Colorado, both Walsenberg and Pueblo. I went to school in both -- in both towns, and to parochial school, and the names in both towns was St. Mary's.
And I graduated from high school in 1942. There were 42 in our graduating class and I graduated in '42. I was too young to go into nurses training, so I stayed out a year and I worked as a cashier with the J.C. Penney company. In 1943, I went into nurses training at a hospital in Pueblo, Colorado. It was a hospital that was run by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation, which was a steel mill for the people who worked there, as well as their families. And I graduated from there in 1946. As I entered the nurses training, I also became a Cadet Nurse Corps -- a member of the Cadet Nurse Corps, which started during the war in order to provide nursing care for people in -- in the hospitals because so many of the registered nurses and nurses who were available had gone off to World War II. So the Cadet Nurse Corps was started to fill that gap. We had our education paid for and there was $10 a month was a stipend we got until we were seniors, and then we got $15 a month.
I met my husband, J. Ray Langdon, when he was a patient at the -- Corwin Hospital. That was the name of the -- of the hospital. And he had been burned, badly burned in an accident at the steel mill. So I was -- I was finishing my last six months of nursing when I met him. And he had -- had to have many, many skin grafts and I just had -- had taken care of him for quite awhile, so I got to know him quite well. And then one of the interns suggested I take him to mass with me on Sunday. And I said, okay, I'll do that. Well, it was about a threeblock walk to the church, and I was just so scared that he was going to pass out on me and then I didn't know what I would do, but that didn't happen. Well, we were married in August of 1947. He was going back into his second year of medical school at St. Louis University, so we moved to St. Louis, then, in August or September of 1947. And he finished medical school in 1950. While we were in St. Louis, I worked as the operating room supervisor in a small hospital, a private hospital in St. Louis, and our first child was born. Steve was born in Colorado while my husband was still in St. Louis finishing -- or in medical school, so then I returned to St. Louis and finished -- oh, finished our -- his medical school in -- when was that -- 1950.
Then we went back to that same hospital where he was a patient and I had my nurses training for an internship for one year. Then he decided to go into psychiatry. So we went -- moved to Indianapolis to a private hospital there for his start in his residency program. Section 2:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. So we were talking about your husband's psychiatric training at -- what was the name of it?
THELMA LANGDON: It was in Indianapolis at a small private hospital called Norway. And he was there for two years. And while we were there, we had a letter from the draft board in Pueblo, Colorado, saying if you don't enlist in one of the services, you will be drafted. So he wanted to go back into the Navy where he had been during World War II, but they didn't have any openings, so he chose the Air Force. We moved to San Antonio to Lackland Air Force Base, in 1953, and we were down there from 1953 to 1955. By that time, I had two -- two sons. One was born in Colorado when Jay was in medical school at St. Louis, one was born in Indianapolis, and then we had our first daughter when we were in San Antonio in 1954, I guess it was. Then after San Antonio, we went back to Medfield, Massachusetts, I think there was about 9 or 10 months that he needed to qualify to take the -- to be certified in psychiatry with the American Psychiatric Institute. So we were there from the summer of '55 until February of '56 when we moved to Portland, Oregon. Section 3:
Jerry had been hired to be the medical director at Morningside Hospital there. So in February, we took our three kids and flew back to Portland, Oregon, on a very, very long flight. Of course, this was before the jets, so it was twice as long as it would be -- would have been five years later. And that became a very interesting period in our life. We lived on the hospital grounds of Morningside. And things were going along pretty good. And then we started hearing rumblings about a congressional investigation that was to be held at Morningside Hospital. There was a -- I think she was a representative, and her name was Edith Green. And she was not too happy with the way the Coe's operated, so I guess she created enough of a fuss there in the house of representatives that one of the committees decided they should go out to Morningside and have some kind of an investigation. So that happened in September of 1957. It was a very traumatic experience, to say the least.
Then, of course, Morningside was where patients from Alaska were sent. Psychiatric patients also developed -- developed mentally disabled patients were sent there. It also served as kind of a stopover place for other people who were coming down to Portland for medical treatment.
On one trip from Anchorage to Portland, my husband and I were escorting patients down. He was escorting a man who was in a -- who was bedridden, and they were sending him to Morningside Hospital. He must have been -- he must have been demented. I can't remember that exactly, but it seems to me. And they rigged up on the airplane kind of a hammock where they had him, the patient, and I was -- I had as a patient going down there, an infant who had cleft -- a hair lip and cleft palate. So that was a real experience. Another time I escorted a woman patient who was going down for psychiatric treatment. And it was just when the jets had come in. And so that was my first experience riding on a jet. Of course, the time was cut in half from the old prop planes to the jet planes, so that was a real step forward. Really liked that. Anyway, it was interesting because the woman that I took down about, oh, 10 years later, maybe a little bit more than that, I was on the Office of Child Advocacy, which was under the auspices of the Governor, and I was on the board and the staff person for the Office of Child Advocacy was this woman that I had taken down --
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's okay. THELMA LANGDON: that I had taken down as a patient. So it was one -- it was a wonderful success story, I thought. I don't think she remembered me, but I remembered her. But of course, never, ever said anything to her about that experience.
So let's see, now, we're in Anchorage. BILL SCHNEIDER: You were moving patients down to Morningside?
THELMA LANGDON: Uhhum. Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: You would escort them down?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. Oh, there were a lot more than that that went down.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure.
THELMA LANGDON: But those were the three that -- you know, that -- Section 4:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Can you give us a description of the grounds at Morningside.
THELMA LANGDON: The campus was lovely. They had I don't know how many acres. 90, 92 acres. I think it's somewhere in that report. It was a lot bigger than I had remembered how big it was. We lived in a small corner. We had a really nice home and nice yard, right next to our house was an apple orchard. And then out the back, out our backyard and across the way was where the children's cottage was. Then there was another home on the grounds where another doctor who was the night doctor lived, he and his family lived. They had pigs and they had cows and I think they had a small garden. I know the two boys, their big thrill was to go -- to go with their dad down to look at the pigs. And then my oldest son, you would go down and watch him play baseball, softball. And then patients would come over and play with the boys. They played cowboys and Indians or pirates or whatever kids at that time were playing. So they interacted very closely with a lot of the men patients. BILL SCHNEIDER: Let's talk about that investigation. You said that was very disturbing when the Representative Green came?
THELMA LANGDON: Well, she didn't come. She -- she stirred up enough of a interest in -- in Morningside Hospital that this committee came and there were -- I don't think there were any women that came with this committee. I think they were all men at the time. There was some women on this committee on government operations, but I don't think that any woman -- women came. But it seemed like they weren't as interested in what was going on right there at that time, say, within the last two or three years. They were pretty interested at what went on during World War II when there weren't very many docs around for them to have on the staff there. That seemed to be the period that disturbed them the most. But -- well, I just thought it was silly, this whole thing was silly. And then they terminated the -- they were going along with all their testimony by people and then all of a sudden they said the meeting is adjourned, this hearing is adjourned, and no leadup to the -- to the end of the hearing, no comments, no nothing. Just boom. That's it. And it was -- and I felt that they were very arrogant. They were all Democrats, and so we switched parties immediately from Democrat to Republican. And then a few years later we decided that wasn't working, so we became Independents. So now I am no party. But that's -- that was that period of time. Section 5:
Then J. Ray was coming back and forth to Alaska, meeting with the child study group and doing various things in Alaska while he was medical director there. So when they -- when Alaska got the million acres of land and 6 and a half million for a hospital, he was approached by the state to come -- this was before Statehood -- to come up and work in their division of mental health. And so he brought this topic up to me, that we -- he had been asked to move up. Well, I wasn't all that hot on the idea. So he brought home a plan that Alaska had put together of how they would go about setting up the mental health treatment of -- of the -- of the people of Alaska. And I read it very carefully. And it was just, I thought, just a great plan. Really, really cutting edge kind of, you know, great look into the future and all. So I was really excited about the possibility of being in on that step of the -- along the way. So I said -- I said, okay, we'll move to Alaska. So then we came up to just have a look around in February of '56. Was that '56? No, '58. February of '58 we came up to have a look around, and then we moved up in April. This was before Statehood, and then that summer is when they were having the bonfires, and then it was the next January when we became a state. So we got here in territorial days. We did not want to live in Juneau. We wanted to live in Anchorage. So that -- that was negotiated when -- when J. Ray was negotiating to come up here. So that the main office, of course, was down in Juneau, and they hired a director there. So trying to follow that plan and -- and get things moving in that direction was just not in the cards. I don't know whatever happened to that written plan, but I would be willing to bet that there's not one thing in that written plan that has come to fruition. So that's been a very, very great disappointment. BILL SCHNEIDER: You're doing great. You're doing great. When you stop and think about the -- the plan, what are some of the aspects of that plan that you thought were so great? THELMA LANGDON: They had set up within the state in various communities, not just the big communities, but the smaller communities, smaller communities, not the smallest, but smaller communities, access to mental health services all around the state. And they had the plan outlined how this -- how this would work, and it sounded very possible. But, of course, that didn't happen. Section 6:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Hmm. Before we get into why it didn't happen, I want to go back to your discussion of Morningside. And you were saying that you were -- I got the impression that you were pleased the way it was being run at the time that you were there. THELMA LANGDON: Well, it was -- I think -- I think if you read a lot of the written stuff, especially in this report on the investigation and some of the other things, and that report that was done on Morningside, my husband made a lot of changes there.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh. THELMA LANGDON: He was one -- he believed in what was called -- and I don't know if the term is still in use or not -- a therapeutic community. And the two nurses, Helen -- Helen Nye and Lanette McCoy and my husband all had the same philosophy of what a mental health treatment program should look like. And they worked together so beautifully. And they just started a lot of things that had never been done before. One of the things that I've always been impressed with was the medications of the patients. They would make the rounds, however often they did that, maybe once or twice a week, maybe more often, I'm not sure, but they would never put a patient -- say, a patient was getting three drugs, they would never add another drug to make it four drugs. They would take away one of the drugs and then add the new one, so they never, ever wanted to highly medicate people. They were very, very cautious about that. I thought that was -- that was a pretty -- pretty big step. And then some of the other innovations that they started, I tried not to be too involved with it because my husband used to say, well, then you'll just find fault, so -- so I stayed -- I stayed a little bit away from it. But I had a pretty good idea of what kinds of things were going on in the big picture. BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. I know there have been complaints that in the early days, people might be shipped out of Alaska for any number of reasons to Morningside other than mental illness. And was -- was that going on at the time in which you were there or had that changed by then? THELMA LANGDON: I never heard that thing. I never heard any kind of comment like that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: There was criticism that in the early days that if you were living out in some rural area and you showed any sort of unorthodox behavior that your neighbors might go to a judge and get you shipped out. THELMA LANGDON: That might have happened. I can't remember ever hearing of any -- you know, any specific cases of that happening. I think in that report that was done in 1957, they give a pretty good view of how many patients they had, how many new admissions, how many discharges, and things of that sort, and I think maybe from that, you could get some idea on, you know, what might be going on. Section 7:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So what was the main reason for moving medical -- mental health services to Alaska? THELMA LANGDON: Well, the people felt that -- that it was too far away. Portland was too far away. And that -- that Alaska should have -- have their own mental health program. Because the problems here were, you know, a lot different than elsewhere. The Bush communities and also, you know, the distance for the big three hours to get down to Seattle and Portland, at one time, six hours prior to the jets coming in to be. So they just felt that they were entitled to it and should have it. BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. So we've got you up in the story line here now, we've got you up to Anchorage, and there's a disagreement that occurs. THELMA LANGDON: Yes. Yes. Big disagreement between the gentleman running the -- the director, mental health director in Juneau, and my husband. And I don't know what direction he was trying to go in, but certainly wasn't the direction my husband wanted to go in. So there was a bit of a rub there. And then when they -- they came up with the idea of moving patients to Valdez. And that's when my -- really, when my husband got very, very upset about that. Valdez was in a depressed area then. I don't know that their hospital was adequate at the time. I think they -- I'm not even sure they had one doc down there at one point in time there. And then there were these apartments that had been built, and never been occupied. And a couple of these gentlemen in Valdez owned these apartments, so they were successful in selling them to the state. And then the state, between 1960 and '64 moved the developmentally disabled patients over to Valdez, and I'm not sure when the first API was opened. So maybe they kept those who were, quote, mentally ill down in Portland until API was ready. But they had moved the developmentally disabled people into Valdez. Well, these apartments in the Valdez townsite at that time were not in a very good spot. So when the 1964 Earthquake came, all the damage in Valdez and the damage to the apartments where the developmentally disabled were being housed necessitated the move of those patients up to Anchorage. And I think they went into API. I just -- that's very fuzzy to me. I don't know why I can't remember that particular scenario.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's okay. THELMA LANGDON: I was dealing with my own problems here, with my own house, that's probably why. So then, of course, they decided that they did not want to rebuild the town of Valdez in that same site. So they moved it around to the other side of the bay, where it was a lot safer. And now it -- if you go down and try to find the old townsite, there's nothing there. Everything's gone. They really cleaned it up very well. Then the state, as a result of the earthquake, got a -- a grant to rebuild something in Valdez. Well, there was some talk of not putting any kind of a -- a facility down there for mental -- mentally ill or the developmentally disabled, but maybe using it someplace else. Well, that was not permissible. They had to build something in Valdez. So they built Harborview, that did have the developmentally disabled program there. And the two nurses that had worked at Morningside with my husband -- with my husband moved up to Valdez and they ran that facility for a few years. And we made several trips down there and they -- they were doing a fabulous job. Section 8:
BILL SCHNEIDER: But let's get back to your husband's dispute with the state --
THELMA LANGDON: Okay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- at that time.
THELMA LANGDON: He was not happy with that. And then -- there was something else, some other thing. I can't -- I mentioned it earlier and I can't remember what it was. The -- take -- putting the patients in Valdez. That was one of the big ones. There were a couple of other things that he just had a hard time --
BILL SCHNEIDER: I think in one of the -- one of the newspaper articles there was something about him speaking out publicly. THELMA LANGDON: Oh, yes. Yeah. That was part of it. That he went to the press. They didn't like that, that he went to the press. And that he was saying bad things about the -- the way the government was being run, and things of that sort, and he just -- he just couldn't -- he could not go along with the direction that was being set in Juneau. So that's when he decided that he just had to -- had to -- had to resign.
And it was funny. He sent the letter of resignation in, and then Governor Egan fired him. And so that -- that was the way that happened. And then he and Governor Egan got to be real good friends later on. They were good friends. But that was kind of interesting to watch. This Henry Coe who was the owner of Morningside wanted -- wanted us to come back to Portland. So he came up here to try to convince me that we should move back to Portland, back to Morningside. And then my husband said, well, the final decision is up to -- to me. So I said, no, we're not going. So that's why we stayed in Alaska. BILL SCHNEIDER: Why did you say that?
THELMA LANGDON: Because I felt that Henry, the guy that was in charge of running the hospital, was -- was not very understanding of a lot of the changes that J. Ray had made, and I didn't think that he was very -- you know, worked very well with it. You know, there was disagreements from time to time. And I thought, you know, I don't know, he says -- he says that J. Ray can have free reign, but Henry was always trying to micromanage the medical side of it. And -- and it was -- I mean, it was inevitable that they were going to have to close that hospital because they were moving the patients and moving -- moving them up to Anchorage. So -- or into Alaska. So what's the point of going back there when you know the hospital is going to close. It just didn't make much sense to me.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. THELMA LANGDON: So that's why we -- I decided we better stay here. And my kids are very happy that we decided to stay here.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And I guess at that point you were starting the Langdon Clinics? THELMA LANGDON: Oh, we started the Langdon Clinic about two -- two or three months after he left the state. But you know, he stayed in taking care of a lot of those patients -- patients that were back up here. There was a place called The Lodge on Spenard somewhere, and it had a lot of the developmentally disabled men who had been patients down at Morningside, living there. And they were all on medication and so he would go to see them and give them their medication. I remember he got me to go there once with him. My training as an RN came in handy then, so I went with him a couple of times.
Then I had -- oh, several of the patients that came back here would call here from time to time just to chat. Section 9:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Tell us about your husband's personality.
THELMA LANGDON: Well, some people called him curmudgeon. He was very outspoken. He had very high ideals. He was very controversial. I think he was one of these people which you either liked or you didn't like. He had a lot of friends, but he had a lot of enemies, too. He was -- his father had died before he was born, so he had to learn how to be a dad because he hadn't had that experience in his own life. He had uncles and a grandfather, but it's not like having a dad. So he had to -- he had to learn that. And he played a lot with the -- with the boys. He was interested in everything they were doing, academically and sportswise.
What else do I need to say? BILL SCHNEIDER: Why was he controversial?
THELMA LANGDON: Well, I think his expectations of people was very, very high. And when people didn't perform the way he thought they should because he felt they had the responsibility to do certain things, he was very outspoken about that, you know. He criticized his fellows -- his fellow MDs quite a bit because he felt that they weren't as involved as -- as they should be in the social issues, nor were they willing to give of themselves to make things better for the community or for the people. I think he just got really discouraged because he thought that we could be doing a lot better than we were, and it was possible to do a lot better. It wasn't a question of there isn't the money or there isn't -- you know, there aren't the resources, it was the fact that if people were more involved, then these things would come about, you know. I think that was his -- his philosophy. But people were not and still aren't eager to be involved in a lot of these issues. I know he used to get very upset when my kids -- the kids didn't learn a lot of things that he knew. I could never get him to understand that how do you expect them to know these things if they are not being taught these things?
He never got that connection. His own -- he had three or four aunts that were school teachers, and he was exposed to a lot of the things that my kids weren't because, you know, we were up here all by ourselves. So he he got very concerned about what they were teaching in the schools.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But he wasn't afraid to speak out. THELMA LANGDON: No. He was not afraid to speak out. It probably would have been to his benefit had he been -- had he been afraid to say some things, or used the good judgment to not say some things. But, no, he had to say what he thought. Section 10:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Before we get onto discussing the Langdon Clinic, talk a little bit about how his relationship with Egan changed and re-emerged as something positive.
THELMA LANGDON: I don't know how that happened. BILL SCHNEIDER: Was there any particular event or occasion where --
THELMA LANGDON: Not that I can recall. Not that I can recall. Maybe it was just kind of interesting that that did come about. And he still -- he stayed involved with the state for years. He was -- he worked with vocational rehabilitation. He was their -- their consultant here for years and years and years. And then he was on the Medicaid -- the Medicaid advisory commission with the state. And so he stayed involved in -- you know, in a lot of these things.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Let's talk about the Langdon Clinic. THELMA LANGDON: Oh, he started the Langdon Clinic, as I said, two or three months after he left the state, and I'm trying to remember. Let's see. He started -- he got a secretary. And then he hired a social worker. And then a couple years later he hired the psychologist that had been at Morningside with him, Allan Parker. He brought him up here. And so that was the -- the nucleus. His -- his idea was to have a multidisciplinary service, psychiatric service with the social worker and the psychologist. And also, Troy Sullivan who was a reading therapist was also on the staff of the Langdon Clinic for a number of years, I think until he was killed, until he died. And so that was his -- his idea was to have the kinds of help people needed, not just medically, but in their personal lives. And so that was the kind of a clinic he envisioned when he started. BILL SCHNEIDER: That's neat, yeah. Is Allan Parker still living?
THELMA LANGDON: No. Allan died about three or four years ago. Section 11:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, let's get into your role in the mental health field. You weren't just sitting on the sidelines through all this.
THELMA LANGDON: No, I was not. I was involved with my kids in the -- in school and PTA, and I was involved with the Medical Auxiliary, the docs' wives. And I was involved with Providence Hospital Auxiliary. And I started out being concerned about health issues. We had the polio vaccine, or I don't know whether it was -- if it was the shots or the oral vaccine that we did for the kids. And eventually, my interest in health issues kind of spilled over into education issues. So I was PTA president and I was the president of the State PTA for four years. And then Governor Hammond appointed me to the Alaska Board -- State Board of Education. And I served on the State Board of Education for eight years. And then I -- I was involved with, still with these other things, Medical Auxiliary, and by that time I had gotten so involved with other things I was no longer with the Providence auxiliary. So let's see what happened then.
Then the -- oh, the lands issue. We never talked about that. Section 12:
BILL SCHNEIDER: The Mental Health Trust lands?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. When Hammond was Governor, Mike Bird, who is still living, Dr. Mike, Dr. Mike Bird believes that the land should belong to the people. And so he thought that the Mental Health Trust lands, I think it was -- I don't know whether he was involved in that particular issue, but anyway, he still believes that the lands belong to the people. But someone in the administration thought that the university lands, the school lands, and the Mental Health Trust lands should not remain as designated to these specific areas. So they took all those lands and put them into the general pool of lands. The university immediately took it to court. And it was years before -- gosh, I don't know how many years before the Mental Health Trust Lands, Jim Gottstein got involved when his mother was running the mental -- Alaska Mental Health Association. Jim got interested in that, and so -- and so that's when that litigation started and went on for I don't know how many years, five or six years maybe. And then they -- then they finally came around to setting up the Mental Health Trust Authority. But when that -- before that, prior to that, about three or four years, they set up a Mental Health Board. And I was appointed by -- I forgot what governor, or asked to serve on that one. So I accepted.
By that time, my husband was dead. He died in 1981. And so I said, okay, I'll do that. So we got started on that. And I was president of that board for a couple of years. And I stayed on that board, I don't know how many, four or five years, I guess. And then -- and then it was settled and the Mental Health Trust Authority was set up. I was out of the picture by that time.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Why do you think you were chosen for the Mental Health Board? THELMA LANGDON: That's a good question. I don't know. Somebody must have suggested my name.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Had you been -- continued to be active in mental health issues? THELMA LANGDON: Uhhum. Yeah. Kind of on the sidelines. I was with the Mental Health Association and I knew some of the people who were also appointed to that, to the Mental Health Board to start with. So maybe one of those folks suggested it and so they decided to ask me to serve. BILL SCHNEIDER: So you had stayed active in mental health issues?
THELMA LANGDON: Uhhum. Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Why was that?
THELMA LANGDON: Once an advocate, always an advocate. That's what my friend who is a child advocate told me years ago. So that's why. Even now, I see that as my role. Those people can't -- don't have anybody to speak for them, really.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum.
THELMA LANGDON: I mean, they've got some of the organizations, but lay people to come out and speak on their behalf, there aren't many of them. Section 13:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What were some of the key issues when you were on the Mental Health Board?
THELMA LANGDON: Oh, that's a good question.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Do you want me to shut this off and have a minute to think about it?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. That would be good. BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. We're back on and we're -- we're talking about some of the things that took place when you were chairing the Mental Health Trust Board. THELMA LANGDON: One of the things that we worked on for years was try to decide what the size of the hospital that was being anticipated, the new hospital was going to be. This must have gone on for three or four years, meeting after meeting after meeting, trying to come up with a decision. And so, you know, ideas would change and it seemed like even philosophies would change and I was just -- it was just a really difficult time. Because I felt a lot of money was being spent needlessly in doing all these meetings and all. Then I remember meeting with the architects, too, several occasions. And I think when the hospital was finally built, the one that's now in operation, I don't think they used any of those ideas that came out over the period of these years. BILL SCHNEIDER: Which hospital was this?
THELMA LANGDON: API (Alaska Psychiatric Institute).
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, API?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. Yeah. So that's -- that was one of the things that really took up a lot of our time. And then we had special committees on that, too. And trying to oversee what was going on in the community mental health centers, the ones that are nonprofits, about funding them, how much state money they should get, that kind of -- that kind of thing took up a lot of time. And then with the four groups, the four that were entitled to some of the resources from the mental health lands, the developmentally disabled and mentally ill, the Alzheimer's, what do they call them, people with psychosis -- I don't think they called it Alzheimer's -- the senior population, and then the alcoholics with psychosis, that was -- that was always -- we dealt with that, too. The individual groups, and then they would come to us and tell us what the needs are.
And so we would try to get together and take a big look, a look at the big picture on the four groups and what they should get and what direction they should go. And so it was -- it was time consuming. It took a lot of energy. Took a lot of patience. Section 14:
BILL SCHNEIDER: But there were certain things that you wanted in the architecture at API?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. Yes. Yes. There were. Yeah. We wanted it to be -- well, keeping up with what's going on now as far as building psychiatric hospitals, that it should be not into the -- not the kind of an institution that the old API was. And that old API was another story. That hospital had to be built like a general hospital because they were getting federal funds. Halliburton -- no, there was a name for it. Certain funds that they were giving out to build hospitals. So it had to have an operating room, which they never used. It had to have some kind of facilities for OB, and all those things were costly and -- and of no use in that -- in that institution. Then as time went on and the asbestos thing became a real issue, I can remember putting on all those suits that you put on to go to look to see how the asbestos is deteriorating. I remember going into the innards on the old API to see how bad it was. So that hospital, it's a good thing it's gone. BILL SCHNEIDER: But the new API, there are things you would have liked different there?
THELMA LANGDON: I've not been in the new one, so I don't know what they ended up with.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. THELMA LANGDON: I think they wanted it, you know, so that patients would not feel so confined, they could get out into the yard and be more of a homelike situation than an institutional situation.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. Uhhum. THELMA LANGDON: So I think -- I think that was the -- the goal of the architects that I know that were working on it, that was -- that was their vision.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Good.
THELMA LANGDON: So, but I -- I guess I should go out there just out of curiosity to see what the new one's like. Section 15:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Before we talk about the Molly Hootch situation, how do you think the trust is doing today? Do you think it has challenges?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. It has challenges. BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. Okay. Okay. We're back on. Let's talk about Molly Hootch.
THELMA LANGDON: Yes. That --
BILL SCHNEIDER: When you were on the State Board of Education, I guess. THELMA LANGDON: Yes. Yes. Well, that went on for several years, too. Trying to decide what to do and how to do it. So we -- there was a group of lawyers, either was Harvard or Yale, I think Harvard, that were really interested in it. So, you know, we would work with them. And the final thing that happened was we had to make the decision whether we were going to have the courts tell us how the education program in Alaska out in the Bush area would go, or whether we as a state would make that decision. And that is what made us come to the decision that we thought it should be with the state and -- and not have the Feds involved at all. So that was the decision that was made.
Well, now, hear a lot of -- a lot of criticism about the Molly Hootch case and how it was settled. But if you think of the alternative, I think -- I think the right decision was made. I think that after it was made, maybe there was some mistakes made. I had my own vision of -- of how it could happen. But I imagine there was many visions as there were people thinking about it of how it should happen.
I always thought that the schools should be more than just schools and small communities that could serve as community centers, they could have -- maybe take care of the nurses passing through, they could have it as a medical and as a clinic, and I just felt that there were a lot -- a lot of uses that could be made of the schools.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. THELMA LANGDON: But that -- I think in some -- in some communities it's probably better than in others. And another thing that happened with the schools is they didn't have anybody on site to really keep -- keep an eye on the construction of the schools. I thought that was -- that was pretty -- pretty critical. And there are some of them that didn't happen, so now they're having all kinds of problems -- or they, immediately afterwards, were having all kinds of problems. But I still think that probably was the best decision. Section 16:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, let's finish this interview up here. We've been going for quite awhile.
Any final thoughts on the Mental Health Trust that we should talk about? Any thoughts about mental health delivery of services, some of the dreams that you had and that your husband had and things you'd like to see happen? THELMA LANGDON: Well, one of the things I think I -- I don't know, and I really would like to find out is how -- for example, how does Fairbanks -- what's Fairbanks' philosophy about mental health services for the citizens of Fairbanks? What kind of a system do they have in place for mental health treatment? And I still really need to do a little bit more research on what is going on in Anchorage right now. My daughter works at the Langdon Psychiatric Clinic and she spent five years in New Zealand working in psychiatry -- psychiatric services. And she says that we are so deficient in some of the areas that -- components that are needed in the good -- good psychiatric or good mental health program. We just don't have a lot of the things that she had available to her when she was working down in Auckland in New Zealand. So I think there -- I don't know that -- how to figure out just what all or where all we're deficit and what to do about it. I don't know if anybody knows that. I guess I could talk to her and see what her suggestions are, but we don't really talk about that all that often.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure.
THELMA LANGDON: So... Section 17:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. We're back -- we're back on, and we want to talk a little bit about the Alzheimer's support group and how that got started and your personal involvement in that. THELMA LANGDON: Okay. In 1981, the year that my husband died, and that's the year that my sister and I were responsible for taking care of our father who was suffering from dementia. So my dad came and lived with me for a few weeks, and then he went back to live with my sister for a year, then he came back to Anchorage to live with me. And we got him in the day -- day break -- day care program. And he was the first man in that program. There were several women in the program, I think there was another man, or another one or two men, and the -- one of the women had two daughters. Becky Clemmen (phonetic) and Beverly Tallman (phonetic). And then Darlene Sutherland had, I think it was I think -- I don't remember whether it was her mother or father in that program. And we started a -- a family support group. So we met maybe once a month, the four of us. And then it grew, oh, maybe three or four more people, and I cannot remember their names. But the four of us stuck together. And then Becky is really a gogetter so she decided we should become a nonprofit organization. So then we became a nonprofit organization, wrote the bylaws, and got our -- got our paperwork into the state and got squared away on that. And then it just kind of grew out of that to what it is today, the Alzheimer's Resource, I think it's -- Alzheimer's Resource Agency. And they had services through -- throughout the state. I know they've got staff -- a staff person up in Fairbanks, and then they have people in the Valley, and then somebody down in Homer. And I'm not sure where else they may have branched out to. But that's one of the things that I'm very proud that I was on the ground floor as an advocate for, for these folks. That's... And I think they -- they receive money from the -- from the Trust Authority. I'm -- I know they do, but I don't know to what degree they -- they receive money, but I'm sure they do because they are one of the four -- they represent one of the four groups that are entitled to receive resources or money or whatever from them.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's good. I'm glad we -- glad we got that down. Section 18:
BILL SCHNEIDER: You had mentioned some of the people that had been involved over the years with mental health issues, and I wanted you to maybe just mention them again. You mentioned Pat Claskey (phonetic)?
THELMA LANGDON: Pat Clasby (phonetic). BILL SCHNEIDER: Clasby.
THELMA LANGDON: Yes. Her mother was Irene Ryan. And Irene Ryan was, I think she was -- she was in the first legislature. I -- I don't know if she was a representative or a Senator. Anyway, when we got Statehood, she was involved in -- in that whole setting up the mechanisms for the state. Pat is a psychologist, and she worked down in Seward for a while. She currently lives down in Juneau. And she stayed in the field as a psychologist, and then she's retired now, but she was a lobbyist for one of the advocacy organizations. I can't -- I can't bring the name to mind. But she and I were very interested and talked a good deal about doing a history of mental health -- mental health services and the mental health systems in Alaska, but never got around to it. George Rogers was on the Mental Health Trust Board, or Mental Health Board with us, too. Oh, what a great guy he is. I really enjoyed having him on that board. He had so much background information and such good insight. And that was good. John Malone was on the Mental Health Trust Authority now, was also on the Mental Health Board. Evelyn Tucker was on there. Alicia Iden (phonetic), who was Lidia Selkregg's daughter, was on the board. She died a couple of years ago. Mike Graff from Fairbanks was on that board. And the last three of them had served as chair -- as chairman of the Mental Health Board over the years. Kay Burrows in Anchorage was also very active in the mental health field. Janet McGilvary ran the Mental Health Association for a number of years, it's no longer active or functioning. I know there are some more that I'm --
BILL SCHNEIDER: No, that's fine.
THELMA LANGDON: that I can't bring to mind. BILL SCHNEIDER: No. You've done well. Lidia Selkregg is somebody who would be important to talk to.
THELMA LANGDON: No. She's -- she's gone, too.
BILL SCHNEIDER: She's gone?
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah. And then her -- her husband Fred was also active with the Mental Health Association, but he's no longer here. You know, I mentioned that there are a lot of people that I can think of that I'd like to touch base with and try to verify my own memories, but they are not around anymore. BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Okay. Well, this has been great. I appreciate the time you've put into this.
THELMA LANGDON: Oh, you're very welcome.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And I'll leave and you'll remember lots of other things, but we will have to get together again. Thank you.
THELMA LANGDON: Yeah.
Judge Mary Greene was interviewed in her office in the Butrovich Building on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on February 1, 2007 in Fairbanks, Alaska. She was General Counsel for the University of Alaska until her retirement in mid-2007. She was a State Appellate Court Judge in Fairbanks from 1985 to 2002 and during her tenure was responsible for some of the legal decisions regarding the Mental Health Trust lawsuit. Judge Greene is careful and professional in her discussion of the lawsuit, the sensitive nature of the material, and the long and complicated road toward settlement. She talks about the details of the legal and legislative process of the Mental Health Trust case, and what her role was. She also reflects on the personal impact of a ten years case and offers her assessment of the outcomes. As with the other players in the lawsuit and settlement, Judge Greene expresses how she was trying to do the best for those in Alaska in need of mental health services.
Click to section:
Section 1: Personal and educational background.
Section 2: Becoming involved with the Mental Health Trust lawsuit and what her role was as a judge in the Fairbanks Superior Court.
Section 3: Including other groups in the original class-action lawsuit and making a legal determination of who could be considered beneficiaries of the Alaska Mental Health Trust.
Section 4: Deciding who could be considered beneficiaries of the Alaska Mental Health Trust, and the effect adding more groups had on the final settlement.
Section 5: Legal issues of land ownership and sale while it is tied up in litigation, and the effect of this lengthy litigation on the public and on returning land to the Trust.
Section 6: Settling the Mental Health Trust lawsuit with a combination of cash and replacement land, and her role as judge in the settlement process.
Section 7: Different types of settlements that were proposed before the final one was agreed upon.
Section 8: Getting the settlement approved.
Section 9: Complexity and length of the case and the difficulty of making a decision on it.
Section 10: Comparison of other cases with the Mental Health Trust case, especially the University Trust lands case.
Section 11: Choosing land for the Mental Health Trust.
Section 12: Mismanagement of the original Mental Health Trust lands.
Section 13: Assessment of the effects of the settlement of the Mental Health Trust case.
Section 14: Reasons the settlement took so long.
Section 15: Disapproval with the manner in which the Department of Natural Resources was managing the Trust lands during the settlement process.
Section 16: Difficulties of working with the Department of Natural Resources on management of Trust lands and working out a settlement..
Section 17: Differences in how land and resources were valued for consideration as replacement lands.
Section 18: Other key people involved in the Mental Health Trust case and settlement.
Section 19: Observations about the importance of the settlement for Alaska.
Section 20: Effect on her personally from being involved with the Mental Health Trust settlement for ten years.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Today is February 1st, 2007. I'm Bill Schneider; Karen Brewster's here with me too, doing the recording.
And we have the pleasure today of doing a recording with Judge Mary Greene. And this is part of the Mental Health Trust research that we're doing for Karen Purdue. So thank you very much for taking the time -- MARY GREENE: Certainly.
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- to do this.
Well, let's -- let's start with your -- with your personal background. MARY GREENE: Okay. I grew up in -- in a small town in Wyoming. Went to -- did my undergraduate work at the University of Wyoming and went to law school at Harvard Law School. And the Supreme Court of Alaska had an active recruiting program for clerks at Harvard, and I was one of the people that was chosen to be a Supreme Court law clerk, and that brought me to Alaska in the fall of 1976. I clerked for Justice Rabinowitz, and then I've gone to a number of jobs.
I was appointed to the bench in 1985, and retired from there, 18 years ago, after a long career. So --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. What made you get into law? MARY GREENE: The fact I did -- I realized that I wasn't going to be a great mathematician. But I didn't realize that until I had done a little bit of graduate school, and so, you know, I needed something else to go into, law is one of those things that you can go into if you don't have an undergraduate background. So that -- that landed me in law school. BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. And you had a chance to work with Judge Rabinowitz, so that must have been quite an inspiration.
MARY GREENE: It was. Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Who were some of your mentors, as you will? MARY GREENE: Well, certainly Jay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He was a giant. Section 2:
Well, okay. What brought you to do Mental Health Trust suit?
MARY GREENE: I was assigned to it. The -- the way things work in the Fairbanks courts are there are rotational assignments. And I replaced Judge Taylor on the bench after his retirement, and he was the judge who originally started the Weiss case with the mental health lands case. By the time I got the case, it had already been to the Supreme Court one time. And the Supreme Court had made the decision that the state had violated the trust when it reclassified the lands that were trust lands as general state lands so that they could do anything they wanted with them. So the Supreme Court had already ruled on that, and -- and by the time I got the case, the question was, how do you reconstitute the trust. It had been several years, it had been, by that point, I think, seven or eight years, but since the time of the reclassification. By the time the Supreme Court issued their decision, there was a very -- I think only 35 percent of the original trust lands were not conveyed to someone else or in another kind of -- of classification. 350,000 of the acres had been classified as -- as state parks, recreation sites, forests, et cetera, and so they were in a different classification. A lot of the land had been sold, or mostly conveyed to municipalities. So when I came on the bench, that was where it stood, and -- and the task that we had at that point was to reconstitute the trust in accordance with what the Supreme Court had told us to do. And so a lot of water had already gone under the bridge by the time I got there, but it took another 10 years to get to the end. KAREN BREWSTER: So what year did you get onto it? When was that?
MARY GREENE: 1985. The Supreme Court opinion in the case came out, I think, in October of '85, and as soon as it was remanded to the Superior Court, I got it. And we had -- as soon as I got it, we had some motion practice, and it continued for the next 10 years. But --
BILL SCHNEIDER: You said you had what after you got an assignment?
MARY GREENE: Motions. BILL SCHNEIDER: Motions.
MARY GREENE: There -- the first thing that came up was the Alaska Mental Health Association had not been allowed to intervene, become a party in the lawsuit when it was before Judge Taylor. The Supreme Court had reversed that and, you know, not in a published opinion, but just in an order, and said it's okay, it's no longer untimely, they had -- they had tried to come into the case late. It's no longer untimely since, you know, we're giving it back to the Superior Court anyway, let them in now. And so because their order wasn't very specific, it was an open question about how much they could do in the case, whether they could go back to the very beginning and -- and add new claims in the complaint, or whether they just came in to argue about how to reconstitute the trust. And so that was the first motion that came before me. Followed by many, many more. Section 3:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What were some of the others?
MARY GREENE: Oh, heavens. There were later -- later folks. Once it looked like there was going to be a lot of money involved, there were other intervenors who wanted to come in as party's plaintiffs, along with Weiss and the Alaska Mental Health Association. A group representing development -- developmentally disabled wanted to become part of the -- the class, which was granted. Chronic alcoholics in need of hospitalization became another part of the class. And one of the -- one of the first major decisions was what this class was going to look like. It was a class action, it had started out with Weiss filing on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, but there were different points of view to be argued. And the question about whether or not these folks were beneficiaries was actually a very difficult question. When the Congress had created the trust, they did so because Alaska had incredibly bad, poor, and substandard treatment for the mentally ill, and -- and others. And we looked at all of the legislative history of the act that created the trust in Congress, and what Congress had to look at, you know, the most important things were -- were a report from Morningside Hospital. You probably know the inside, outside, Morningside stories, or if you've lived here, you may have -- may remember those. But Congress had investigated Morningside probably at the request of the territory, but I'm not that sure about that, to see whether or not it was fulfilling its function. It was the place where anyone who needed hospitalization for mental illness or a number of other things was sent. And so we had -- I had a -- a -- an interesting sort of background about what was going on and what was in Congress's mind about who should be included as beneficiaries of the trust. And so it was really fascinating reading. Just fascinating reading. And so that was one of the big decisions that -- that was made in the beginning of the case, as far as I was -- after I -- after I came on board. Section 4:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So you really had to be involved in defining severe mental illness --
MARY GREENE: Well, I didn't do that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- from a legal standpoint.
MARY GREENE: No. What I really defined is who was going to be a part of the class, were the developmentally disabled part of the class, were chronic alcoholics going to be part of the class. BILL SCHNEIDER: "Class" meaning people that could sue?
MARY GREENE: People who were -- people -- yeah, people who were beneficiaries for the trust, people for whom the trust was created.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uhhum. MARY GREENE: And the basis of my decision was really to go back to those reports. Who was in Morningside, since that was the problem that was -- that was being addressed.
And although there was certainly a lot of people in Morningside that had no business being in Morningside, for a number of reasons, including the fact that -- that in the territorial days, the way that one was committed for mental illness was by a jury trial. And, you know, we only had one psychiatrist in the entire state. People, especially from villages, who were just ill, some people who had only tuberculosis were committed and held in Morningside. And they never got out. There were a number of problems that were outlined in this report about people who -- whose only problem was that they didn't speak English. And so they get -- somebody thinks, boy, this person's really weird, they have a jury trial, the jury sees they are really weird because they don't speak, they can't defend themselves, and they ended up in Morningside. But there were people for whom the trust was really intended that were properly in Morningside. And it was clear from the record in the -- the -- the Congressional report that those people included people with developmental disabilities, certainly the severely mentally ill, no one questioned those. And chronic alcoholics and inebriates. And those people were part of -- of what Morningside was made up of legitimately.
And therefore, my conclusion was Congress intended this trust that was created to provide resources to fund the mental health programs of Alaska was intended for these people. And so I allowed in all of those people as parts of the class.
As time went on, by the time it was ultimately over, they had disagreements about what the proper -- proper solution was, what the proper settlement was. And so they -- they -- they also -- I mean, they were advocating for their groups, but they had different ideas about what was important, as well. And so it was -- it was good that we had everyone, but it certainly caused a lot of problems, in terms of more litigation. But -- but it was an interesting task. Section 5:
The second big thing that I decided had to do with -- with the recording of lis pendens. And lis pendens are notices put in the -- the land recording system that there's litigation going on that could affect the title of the land. When Judge Taylor had the case and had decided -- made his decision, he removed all of the lis pendens that had been placed by -- by plaintiffs. Said you can't file those anymore. After the Supreme Court reversed this decision, and it came back to me, reversed it in part, and it came back to me, the question was, can we go out and try to protect that 35 percent of the lands that were part of the trust that haven't been sold or otherwise, you know, nothing has happened to. And in fact, can we put them on other pieces of property that were originally part of the trust that had been sold. And after research and other matters, I ended up allowing the plaintiffs to put lis pendens or anything that had originally been in the trust. The reason that that's important is that there's a provision in law that says that if you take land, let's say it's even been stolen and you buy this land, but you have no knowledge that it was stolen, and you paid good value for it, then it's going to be yours, even if it was stolen. And so that's -- that's called a bona fide purchaser for value. And the way that -- the only way that the trust could make sure that no more BFPs came into the -- into existence was to provide notice in the land records that this is part of a -- this land was part of the trust, there's litigation going on now, and it's possible we may get this land back. And so basically, that was -- that was a big fight throughout.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Just a clarification on that. So that was -- was that retrospect, the land that had already been disposed of to other parties? MARY GREENE: Including those, yeah. It was not at all clear whether any of that land should go back into the trust. The Supreme Court had left that undecided in its opinion, and so it was an open question.
Since it was an open question, people needed to have notice. But it was -- it was a very, very large hardship on people who had bought the land. I had friends who, you know, were always telling me, when are you going to get rid of this, you know.
And -- and the legislatures -- legislators got a lot of pressure from people who had purchased lands. The -- they were called in the litigation the mom and pops, you know. The poor souls out there who, by no fault of their own, had ended up being affected by this litigation and this incredibly lengthy litigation. And so there was a lot of sympathy for those folks, understandably, but the law was on the side of the plaintiffs to make it of record to make sure that people knew that it -- it was possible that the land was -- was going to go back. It made it very difficult for those people to sell their lands. Very difficult. And that was one of the tragedies of the lawsuit. Section 6:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So when it was settled, then was that restriction on that land lifted?
MARY GREENE: It was. But -- but it wasn't settled for a long time.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And -- and -- and how was it settled? Were those lands returned or was there a cash settlement? MARY GREENE: They were not returned. There was a cash settlement plus some replacement lands in the ultimate settlement.
There were several settlements, attempted settlements along the way. I think that -- that everyone had some understanding that the best way to resolve this lawsuit was a settlement that had to be approved by the Legislature in some way because it was going to involve the conveyance of land, and under the Alaska Constitution, the sole -- the sole entity that's responsible for state lands is -- is the Legislature.
Now, they've delegated some of that to the -- to the Department of Natural Resources, but nonetheless, a settlement was going to have to come from the Legislature. BILL SCHNEIDER: But how could that -- oh. So you -- so you set the conditions for the settlement, and then -- no.
MARY GREENE: No. No. No. The parties went out and settled and were negotiating a little bit with the Legislature, a little bit with each other, and a little bit with the state, with the executive part. But I couldn't dictate the terms of a settlement. A judge can't do that. So the judge's role is once they come in a class action, is once -- once the people come to -- to a resolution, a proposed settlement, then they have to present it to the Court for approval. And the Court looks beyond just the people that it's got in front of it, it looks to the entire class, which, in this case, was all of the people in Alaska who were -- who were potential beneficiaries or were beneficiaries, which is all people who had mental illness, developmental disabilities, you know, longterm alcoholic -- alcohol problems that could result in institutionalization, you know, all of those people, or people that might become one of those beneficiaries. So I mean, it was -- it was huge. Section 7:
When -- when there were settlements that got past the first stage and were into notice to the class, the parties agreed, and I agreed with them, that we had to send notice to every Alaskan of -- of the pending resolution of the suit. And have comments back from every person who chose to comment. So that was a massive effort.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. MARY GREENE: Yeah. It was a big class.
So that was sort of the initial stages. They -- the parties, the attorneys for all of the sides made many efforts to get a settlement. And there were a couple of things that the Legislature did that didn't ultimately get approved. The first one was the Legislature decided that they could -- they could reconstitute the trust without participation of the other side. A unilateral settlement. And the first thing that they proposed was they would put in the trust only lands that would never be developed that were, you know, glaciers and parks, basically. And -- but they would pay the trust rental for those lands. So it would be an entirely cash settlement; in fact, that there would be a, quote, unquote, reconstituted trust of basically valueless lands.
That -- that settlement may have been, in retrospect, the best deal that the plaintiffs could have gotten, but they did not like that deal and rejected it. And I -- I told the state I wasn't going to, you know, hear a unilateral settlement because I didn't think that you should be able to do that in the class action.
So they went forward. They had two more settlements, one of which took and one of which didn't. The earlier one was a process settlement, and what that entailed was there was -- if I can get all of this right, it's been awhile -- there was a list of what was called hypothecated lands, which were lands from which the -- the -- the beneficiaries could choose, the plaintiff class could choose to reconstitute the trust. And the -- I don't remember that there was any cash settlement. I think it was all lands in that settlement. And they would give up on reconstituting the trust with any of the lands that were -- you know, had been sold to other people. Those were gone. And so then they -- but they only had a process by which they could agree or not agree on certain lands. And if push came to shove, the lands would have to come out of the hypothecated land list. At that point, because the hypothecated land list included a lot of environmentally sensitive lands, there were a number of people jointly called the -- the environmental or -- or public interest intervenors. A -- groups of people decided they wanted to have a say in what -- what was going to be happening with a lot of lands in Alaska. And so they were permitted to intervene, and they challenged that lawsuit, or challenged that settlement in the lawsuit saying, you know, you can't approve that. I ended up agreeing with them on one of their points, which was a problem because this hypothecated land list was an honest-toGod list of lands, but the Legislature had never seen it, although they said they had. You know. It -- I don't think it even existed when they passed the bill. It was in the closing minutes of the Legislature that year. And I think the parties were still in the process of writing it up.
But one of the advantages to that, of just saying this is -- it's the hypothecated land list is it wasn't goring anybody's -- anybody's pet bull. You know. The -- if they knew it was on the land list, the legislators will normally try to protect what's in their district. But since they didn't, they -- there wasn't an honest legislative process on it.
And for constitutional reasons, I decided you couldn't do that and rejected that settlement. So they're back to the settlement board, then, about what they -- what they are going to do. Section 8:
The state was getting incredibly tired of this lawsuit and, you know, I think that -- that a number of people were getting a lot of pressure from the -- the poor folks out there who had lis pendens on their -- on their lands. And ultimately, the Legislature passed a settlement. They had a proviso that said if plaintiffs, if you don't accept this, you're going -- we're just going to do something. And that's going to stick. And it wasn't going to be good. We didn't know -- I think we knew what it was going to be, but it wasn't going to be good. And so this -- this settlement is basically forced on the plaintiff class. But some of these various groups of intervening plaintiffs and the original plaintiffs agreed with them. Some did not and some did. So we had a split class on whether or not the settlement should be accepted. I should -- in the process of approving class settlements, you first do a preliminary review to see whether or not this could pass muster. Then you give notice to all members of the class, and hear their comments on whether or not you should accept it, and then make a final determination. And so we -- it passed the first step, there was notice to every Alaskan. And we received hundreds of responses back about whether or not this was -- this was something that should happen.
And, you know, both the -- both the state and my office recorded all of those and classified them, and -- and paid attention to what the comments were said. We also held a number of hearings in various places who allow people to come in and -- and speak in person.
We held two hearings in Anchorage, one at the courthouse and one at API. We held one in Fairbanks, and I think there was one more, although I can't remember where it was. And there may have only been those three. But a number of people came and -- and talked and indicated what they thought about whether or not they -- the -- the settlement should be approved.
So that was kind of the history of the thing. I ended up approving that settlement.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So you took all those comments and -- MARY GREENE: All into account. And -- yeah. Considered those, considered the people who -- who wrote, the people who talked in person, and decided whether or not this was a reasonable settlement. I ended up approving it, and several people appealed from that. The Supreme Court affirmed it in May of 1997, which was the end of the litigation. So that's sort of the broad history of the history of the litigation.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Section 9:
MARY GREENE: But it was -- it was a very interesting and very complex case. It took an incredible amount of time. The attorneys were -- were excellent, and fought hard for everything that they thought would benefit their portion of the class, and were very good at it. The state's attorney was very good at it. You know, Tom Koester was the state's attorney, and he lived this case for a number of years, as well.
The -- the fact that everyone was good was helpful in many ways. You knew that -- I knew that -- that they had given -- they had given me most everything I needed to know to make the decision. But it -- it was also very difficult decisions. They were -- they were not -- they were always close cases.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And did you make the decision yourself?
MARY GREENE: Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Is that how that works
MARY GREENE: Yeah. BILL SCHNEIDER: usually?
MARY GREENE: Yeah. Yeah. Superior Court judges get to make their own decisions, Supreme Court has to collaborate. There are five of them who have to make a decision. But as a Superior Court judge, you get to make -- do your own stuff. So... Section 10:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So how does this case fit in with anything else that you dealt with or other judges have dealt with?
MARY GREENE: Well, it has --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Does it have precedent?
MARY GREENE: Very little. There -- there were three cases that were somewhat similar, two cases that were somewhat similar, and then this one. One was Lawson versus Arizona, which ended up in the United States Supreme Court, and that was actions taken by Arizona about school trust lands.
The other one was -- was in Alaska. And when the Legislature, in 1978, said that the mental health lands were just general state lands, you could do anything you want with them, they did the same thing to university trust lands. And so the university case had gone through to Alaska Supreme Court before this one.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, it was before?
MARY GREENE: It was filed before, and by the time that Judge Taylor made his decision, that decision was already out. He based his decision on that decision. On the university lands case. So, you know, there was some precedent, but largely, there hasn't been much like this go on.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And how similar was the university situation? MARY GREENE: Judge Taylor thought it was real similar, and the Supreme Court said, ah, not that similar. They decided that the Mental Health Trust stood in different shoes than the university did. In the university case, the Supreme Court had said that it was okay to do this as long as you paid the trust the -- the -- the value of the lands. In the Mental Health Trust case, they said that wasn't really quite good enough. And I think part of the reason that they did that, although it's not explicit in their decision, is that the -- the trust was created by the Federal Government, by Congress, said that, you know, the funds were to be expended for mental -- for mental health in the first place, but the state could spend them for other things if they exhausted that. The other thing that was a major difference between the -- the university case and the mental health case is that the state argued that nothing should go to the Mental Health Trust because the state had expended more on -- on mental health treatments and -- and expenses than they had received from the trust. And so they said you don't get anything. That was their initial position in the Supreme Court. And I think before Judge Taylor. They -- they modified that later on, but that was their initial position. And you know, they had spent more than -- than the trust was worth, even the lands that they gave away. And so that made it particularly important for the plaintiffs to try to get all the lands that they could back into the trust because if the state again argued that, we've -- we've maxed out the money, they were not going to get a money settlement, and all those lands would be lost. And that was the reason I believe that the plaintiffs were trying so hard to reach the -- the lands that had been sold to other people because those would be lost to them forever if not, if they weren't able to get them back and put them back in the trust. And there would be no money coming to the trust as a result of that. In the university lands case, everything that got sold had to be -- they had -- the Legislature had to give that money to the state -- or I'm sorry, had to give that money to the -- to the trust for the university lands. And so it wasn't quite as -- as hard in that case to say, okay, money's just fine. I think that's -- that is really the difference of why the -- the Supreme Court came out differently in those two cases. And I'm pretty sure that that's why the plaintiffs were fighting so hard to reconstitute the trust with lands. Section 11:
BILL SCHNEIDER: I know in the George Rogers interview that he was very concerned about lands that could produce money.
MARY GREENE: Oh, yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: You know, as opposed to --
MARY GREENE: Right.
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- just lands as property. MARY GREENE: Yeah. The -- and in fact, when the -- the -- the Mental Health Trust Act was enacted by Congress before Statehood in 1956, and when the people who chose the lands for that -- for that -- for that trust chose lands that would be valuable, either that they would produce minerals and mineral wealth, and they were primarily looking at -- at coal, which was, you know, what -- what everybody thought that Alaska had and -- and was the most valuable mineral asset. Nobody realized it was a bunch of oil on the North Slope.
So they chose those lands, and they chose lands right around the -- the municipalities. And that's really what ended up being -- being the problem for the trust is that everybody else wanted those lands, and they wanted -- they wanted them now. DNR was not actively managing the trust lands, they were, in essence, treating them just like -- just like other state lands except they weren't giving them away. And so the lands weren't producing any money. If the state had managed them actively and had sold lands, or -- or, you know, given them to municipalities, which is what they did with a lot of lands, then the trust would have been compensated and we probably wouldn't have been in this problem in the first place. But they hadn't actively managed them. They were -- they were inactive managers. And so around the same time as 1978 when the reclassification happened, the Legislature had created municipal land entitlements, and so the municipalities were looking around at -- at their properties and they go, we want those. And those were mental health lands, and in some cases, university lands. So they were the most valuable in terms of making money. But the trust lost them, and the -- the -- the acreage that was left, the 35 percent that was left, was pretty much useless land. You know, it was land that nobody else wanted.
KAREN BREWSTER: Useless in terms of it wouldn't produce --
MARY GREENE: Money.
KAREN BREWSTER: revenue, and then that money would then get used for mental health services and things --
MARY GREENE: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: is that the idea of this land trust?
MARY GREENE: Right. Yeah. Congress created it because it -- it knew that the territory didn't have the money to fund a good mental health program. And they created the land trust, they gave a million -- a million acres, they say, okay, a million acres should be enough to get enough money that you can run a good program in the territory -- I mean, the territory had very little money. And so the whole purpose of the trust was -- was to create money to support the mental health -- the mental health programs. Section 12:
BILL SCHNEIDER: What was it at -- at the time in which these lands were misused, misallocated, what was going on? I know that this was a time in which land was being opened to people for different purposes. MARY GREENE: Well, I think that -- that the primary thing that was going on were the municipal entitlements, and that was a relatively new thing then, and the best land for them to get was this land. And they, in turn, brought pressure on the Legislature to say, okay, free this up, let us have this land, and they did. Both in terms of the university's land and -- and the Mental Health Trust lands. There was also a lot of -- of Mental Health Trust lands and university lands that were suitable for parks. And I don't think that was really part of the -- the political scene at the time, although I've sort of reconstructed it because I don't remember it. I don't remember this -- I was never connected with what was going on in 1978 here about the mental health lands or the university lands, but I -- I don't think that was an important consideration in the Legislature's decision, but it may have been. Certainly -- they wanted the lands that -- that had not been conveyed, for example, was the lands where the eagle observation areas down in Chilkat, outside of Haines, that they wanted to make into a state park and did make into a state park, but that was Mental Health Trust lands. Section 13:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So how do you -- how do you feel this has worked out, as you look back at this, so many years later? MARY GREENE: Well, I think that -- I think that the best thing for the beneficiaries that came out of this was the mental health -- the Mental Health Board. You know. And certainly the -- the authority that was created has done -- has funded a lot of very wonderful programs and innovative stuff. And fortunately, the state is still picking up for -- picking up the buck for the regular sort of mental health programs. You know, so that -- that worked well.
It will be -- it will depend on whether or not you hit some valuable minerals on some of the replacement lands that they got in -- in exchange, whether or not this is ever going to be a big pot of money. It started out as a million dollars, but if they got -- if the trust gets very lucky, they could be very wealthy at some point. But they are going to have to be very lucky because it's hard rock minerals that are -- that these lands possibly contain. So I think that the programmatic changes were -- that came out of the trust, out of the settlement, were very good for the -- for the people who need mental health services. As far as reconstituting the trust, it didn't work very well. Yeah. They didn't get much out of that. They got the big pot of money and they've got some lands that may or may not be valuable, but you know, in the -- as -- as the politics changed over those years, they got the best deal they could at the end. There were times earlier when they could have got a better deal. BILL SCHNEIDER: Why do you say that?
MARY GREENE: Because they were offered a better deal. The makeup of the Legislature changed over those years. They became much more -- much less sympathetic to the needs of the mentally ill, as time went on. And they became much more irritated by this lawsuit. So I think that -- that earlier, if it would have gone less time, maybe if they would have even accepted the first legislative change, it might have been better for them in terms of the money.
I don't think -- they didn't ever get, except in this final lawsuit, any programmatic changes. And I think those probably have the best chance of doing honest-to-God help for people who need it, you know, that need mental health services in Alaska. I thought the programmatic changes were the best part of that settlement. So... Section 14:
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you have a sense about why they didn't accept some of those earlier settlements --
MARY GREENE: The -- the first early one.
KAREN BREWSTER: Why it takes so -- just in general, why did it take so long? You know, why didn't they just settle? MARY GREENE: Well, they weren't offered much. I mean, the first one, they -- they were very close to accepting. But I think that it was so hard to accept what the Legislature just gave you, you know, well, certainly if we honestly do negotiations, we're going to get more. And it turned out they didn't. At least I don't think they did. At least not in the next settlement, they didn't. And they were -- they were trying, as they should, to get the most that they could for the beneficiaries.
I -- part of the reason that it went on so long, and -- and I've given a lot of thought to that, is that because it had to have a legislative backing to the settlement, there were really short windows of opportunity every year when they could reach a settlement. So it was only when the Legislature was in session and listening that they could actually get a settlement approved.
And so -- or get a settlement out of the Legislature, as well as the Attorney General. And so given those very small blocks of time, you know, that -- that -- that 10 or 12 years turned into a much shorter time. They didn't have a lot of time where they could continually negotiate. And the other thing with -- that tends to be true with most lawyers is that if it's not pressing, you don't get it done. You know. And so even though they were -- they were frequently doing motions in my court, I don't know how -- how much they were working on settlement during some of those years. The other thing of why it took so long is because I didn't push it harder. I thought that it really needed a legislative result. And the -- I could have made them file motions that would have resolved some of the issues along the way. I didn't do that. You know. In retrospect, I probably should have, but you know, I was -- I was pretty much convinced that the Legislature just had to do it. But... Section 15:
BILL SCHNEIDER: How honest do you think all the parties were in terms of their recognition of the problem and desire to resolve it in a meaningful way for -- for people that were mentally in need?
MARY GREENE: Yeah, I never questioned any -- anybody's sincerity. I thought -- everyone was good advocates for their position. BILL SCHNEIDER: And you thought that the -- the members of the state was -- was operating in good faith?
MARY GREENE: Depends on what part of the state we're talking about.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Well, the Department of Natural Resources.
MARY GREENE: Well, I -- I've yelled quite a bit at the Department of Natural Resources, on the record. BILL SCHNEIDER: On the record?
MARY GREENE: On the record. The Department of Natural Resources was not -- was doing what they always do. They were not trying to protect the lands even despite the -- the Supreme Court's opinion that the trust had to be reconstituted. And they weren't making decision -- they were making decisions like they always do, and DNR, because of the -- the kind of organization it is, has a lot of different things that it considers in -- in managing lands. You know, the best interests of the state, you know, which doesn't necessarily include getting the most money. In fact, they are quite cheap on a lot of things that they sell or that they get royalties on, or any number of things. The trust had one -- one goal in mind -- one goal and one goal only, and that was to make money. And so DNR never made that switch during the time of the lawsuit. They -- they had to make the switch after the settlement. But they never looked at these lands as anything different from general grant lands. They were -- were consistently doing things, making decisions that were not in the best interests of the beneficiaries, even on trusts -- on lands that were supposed to go back to the trust, and it was clear were supposed to go back to the
BILL SCHNEIDER: So did you have to take legal action against them on that? MARY GREENE: Well, I -- I didn't take legal action against DNR. What I ended up doing was taking over a lot of the decisionmaking.
There was a preliminary injunction that I issued that DNR could not do land -- take actions on lands without my approval. They could make a decision but it had to have Court approval on the lands that we knew were going back into the trust before it took effect. And that was a very unpopular decision at DNR. BILL SCHNEIDER: Were you driven to that decision or was that something you normally would have done?
MARY GREENE: Well, I would have expected DNR to recognize the Supreme Court's authority and start managing these lands in a different way, but they didn't do that. It was -- it was not until the hearings on the final settlement that -- the settlement that lasted, that I ever heard anybody in DNR acknowledge that they had a different responsibility toward these lands. And I told them then I was very happy to finally hear it, you know. Section 16:
BILL SCHNEIDER: But how did -- how did you deal with -- with these land issues? Did you have a land person working with you, or --
MARY GREENE: No. No. The -- the people -- the attorneys would bring me information, basically. Both sides. And I'd look at whether or not this was the best money deal for the -- whether or not it was a reasonable money deal for the -- for the trust. BILL SCHNEIDER: And did -- pardon me for asking this, did -- did you have the background to do that?
MARY GREENE: Well, I can look at two deals and see whether or not -- which is -- which is more reasonable. If it was making the original decision, no, I didn't. You know. No. And it was -- it was very problematical. I would have much rather have DNR making the decisions, considering their trust responsibilities, but they weren't going to do that. There was one in particular where I ended up turning down something that was probably good for the state, but it wasn't good for the -- the beneficiaries. You know. And I can't remember, it was some sort of mineral -- mineral development, I can't remember where or what, but you know, it probably nixed that deal. And the trust lands were a fairly small part of the lands that were going to be leased. Most of it was state land. But they were going to get nothing for the lands that were trust lands because they -- they agreed -- they decided that they -- the way to get out of this problem with the Mental Health Trust was to just put all of the -- the associated buildings and infrastructure on those lands, and then all you have -- you don't have to pay mineral value, you just pay value of the rental of the lands, and since it's in God knows where, you know, you don't have to pay much. But there was nothing to say that those lands under that had any less minerals than the lands over here. And so the trust wasn't getting its-- its fair share. And I said no. So. You know. No, it wasn't a task I -- I wanted, let me tell you.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. MARY GREENE: And -- but I would get -- the attorneys would provide me information from land experts on all those -- on those decisions. Not many of those decisions actually came to me. Thank heavens. But -- but yeah. It was -- it was very difficult.
The State Attorney General's Office was dealing in good faith. BILL SCHNEIDER: It was acting in good faith?
MARY GREENE: Yeah. I think they were -- they were in perfectly good faith throughout the whole process. But DNR, yeah, was a little hardheaded about the whole thing.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Section 17:
KAREN BREWSTER: I've heard that there was controversy in terms of how to value the land, in coming to a decision about that
MARY GREENE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: as well.
MARY GREENE: Sure. That was -- yeah, that was -- that was a major problem in terms of what was going to be a satisfactory replacement lands. And especially if you were looking at lands that are not known to have mineral content, for example, or lands that are big chunks of land that you don't have ordinary sales for, it's very difficult to value those. In the -- in the settlement hearings that we held on the last -- the last settlement, that was one of the big issues was whether or not the -- the trust was getting valuable lands and replacement lands. And there were all sorts of people who testified that are, you know, experts in the field of mineral valuation. The argument -- and this one very large chunk of land that was potentially mineral -- mineral deposits, I had values running -- running from zero to millions of dollars on value, you know, from different experts. And you know, you do what judges do all the time and you evaluate who is more likely right. KAREN BREWSTER: So did you have to get involved in making decisions about those valuations --
MARY GREENE: Not individually. Not individually on most of them. And it came to me as a package.
And so I was looking at is this fair value for the lands that are gone, and so I could look at the entire part. You know, some of it was clear. Some of the valuations were clear and weren't even contested much. But the big one was this large chunk of a potential mineral lands. And that was the one that was hardest fought. Section 18:
BILL SCHNEIDER: I just have two other questions. Are there some people that you think we ought to be talking to on this project?
MARY GREENE: I think it would be certainly useful to talk with -- with Jeff Jessee, who I assume you are talking with. The other plaintiffs' attorneys, Phil Volland was one. Let's see if I can remember the names. Actually, I might have them -- I might have them here. KAREN BREWSTER: Wasn't Gottstein one of them?
MARY GREENE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And he was a very active participant in all of this. And David Walker was the primary -- was the chief plaintiffs' counsel. Let's see. Yeah. Jim Gottstein. Most of the time the -- the -- the state was represented by Tom Koester.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Is he still -- MARY GREENE: Did I mention Phil Volland? Tom Koester?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
MARY GREENE: To the best of my knowledge. I think he is still an attorney in Juneau. He doesn't work for the state anymore, but -- did I mention Phil Volland?
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yes. MARY GREENE: Yeah. Okay. I think those were the main ones.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So -- and then for the Attorney General, who was -- was it Av Gross (ph)?
MARY GREENE: No -- well, it was -- it may have been at the beginning, but by the end, it was Charlie --
KAREN BREWSTER: Cole.
MARY GREENE: Cole, yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And so he was -- MARY GREENE: And Charlie was -- was very actively involved in the settlement, the end -- the last settlement. So he would certainly be somebody good to talk to.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And then at DNR, I know Esther Wunnicke was involved in the beginning.
MARY GREENE: Uhhum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: But then who took -- took over for her?
MARY GREENE: I don't remember.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. I think I might -- must have that. My -- my other question, give me just a minute. Pardon me just a second while I -- MARY GREENE: Sure, no problem.
BILL SCHNEIDER: -- while I check. Judith Brady, I think.
MARY GREENE: She actually --
BILL SCHNEIDER: Was over in the -- under the Cowper administration maybe.
MARY GREENE: Right. She would have been. And during that time, she was probably the one in the -- in the Legislature that was making most of the decisions on this case, since Steve Cowper, Governor Cowper at that time, was Vern Weiss' initial attorney. He's the one who filed the lawsuit.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh. MARY GREENE: And so Governor Cowper decided as Governor that he couldn't have anything to do with the trust and the settlement litigation, because it was, you know, a conflict from his original -- he would have been in conflict with his original position with his client. So there was -- there was sort of a lack of leadership in the state on the -- on the trust because of that, on the -- the settlement litigation. Because, yeah, there was no gubernatorial presence there. So and he couldn't push his -- his commissioners into doing things either because he sort of totally took himself out of the -- out of the system.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's pretty interesting. KAREN BREWSTER: What about from the legislative angle?
MARY GREENE: Who to talk to?
KAREN BREWSTER: Who do I talk -- yeah.
MARY GREENE: Yeah. I don't -- you might talk to Brian Rogers during the early part. I think that Brian had some significant involvement in the early -- early days of this litigation. And I don't know who -- the -- the attorneys can tell you much better about that. I never had any dealings with the Legislature, of course. So -- but the attorneys could tell you where to go. Section 19:
BILL SCHNEIDER: One final question that I have, maybe Karen has another one, what are -- what are -- what are we missing that we should be asking you? Is there anything that comes to your mind?
MARY GREENE: Not that I can think of. You know. It's -- it's a pretty good coverage of -- of the litigation itself. At least from the Court's view.
BILL SCHNEIDER: All right. MARY GREENE: Yeah. It was huge and complex.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, thank you very much.
MARY GREENE: You're welcome.
KAREN BREWSTER: I have just two quick questions. One, that leads me to ask about what does this whole thing mean for the State of Alaska in the future, what has come out of all this? MARY GREENE: The programmatic changes, certainly, have come out of it. And those are very positive for the people of the state of Alaska, and particularly the people who are beneficiaries of the trust.
The processees have some input from professionals that they never had before. The the -- the basic decisionmaking is better. Having the Mental Health Board as the kind of institution that it is, is really good. One of the other things that they gain, that the beneficiaries gain is that their budget has to be considered separately from the other budget, the general budget, so it gets individual attention. That turns out to not be as -- quite as important as I hoped it was going to be because they do it in the same day, but -- but at least it was -- it was
The trust authority has a lot of influence, I think, and certainly can in the future. I think that the projects that the authority sponsors allow them and the state to have innovative ideas in these areas, you know, that the money's generally not there for. And that could be a huge thing for the state. So.
I'm not sure it's worth all of the expense, but -- but that's -- and, you know, depending on whether or not the lands turn out to be valuable, part of the basic funding of -- of the mental -- for mental health services could eventually come out of the trust, and therefore, save the rest of the state budget for other things. I think that's unlikely, but it's -- it's a possibility. Section 20:
KAREN BREWSTER: And then what has all this meant for you? I mean, you were immersed in it for 10 years.
MARY GREENE: Actually, yeah, I was. It probably contributed to a few of my gray hairs. You know. It was -- it was a lot of work but it was very interesting. And it -- it took up an incredible amount of my time, but it was for a good cause. KAREN BREWSTER: I don't know if we want to get into this, but the Mental Health Commission that George Rogers was involved in, that was a state commission; is that correct?
MARY GREENE: I think so.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you don't have -- you didn't it didn't intersect with any of your --
MARY GREENE: No, I think it came after --
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. MARY GREENE: the end of the case, but I'm not real sure about that.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's it.
BILL SCHNEIDER: All right.
MARY GREENE: Okay.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Thanks.
MARY GREENE: Sure.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Very good.
Jim Gottstein was interviewed by Bill Schneider at his office on April 5, 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska. He was not expecting a recorded interview, but graciously agreed to spare the time, even though it was late in the day. The interview took place in the conference room of his law office. Jim outlines in detail the land issues related to the Mental Health Trust, and it is clear how his interest and experience with land issues for Native Corporations prepared him to address the Trust Case. Jim had personal experience with the mental health delivery system and its inadequacies and, like many others associated with the lawsuit, he is passionate about addressing the rights of the mentally ill and the responsibilities of the state to meet their needs.
Click to section:
Section 1: Early days in Anchorage and his family background in the grocery business.
Section 2: His educational and business background.
Section 3: Experiences working with lawyer Robert Goldberg on a lawsuit between Ahtna Inc. and Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
Section 4 : The Ahtna Inc. settlement and the ensuing arbitration hearings.
Section 5: Working with Robert Goldberg, Al Olsen and Herb Smelzer on land appraisal.
Section 6: Leaving Robert Goldberg's firm to set up his own and his experiences with mental health problems.
Section 7: Based on his own experience, gives insightful opinions and comments on the mental health care system in Alaska.
Section 8: His recovery and working as in-house council with Carr Gottstein, and his return to the Mental Health Trust lawsuit.
Section 9: Getting treatment for his sleeping problems and mental health issues, quitting Carr Gottstein, and starting his own law office in 1995 to work on the Mental Health Trust case.
Section 10: Establishment of the Interim Mental Health Commission in 1986 in order to make recommendations for land to be valued, and set up a trust administration for the money to pay for state mental health programs.
Section 11: Land management and funding options for state mental health services.
Section 12: The selection of land throughout Alaska for the creation of trust lands. |
Section 13: Effort to reconstitute the mental health trust lands and conflict amongst interest groups and the state over the plan.
Section 14: Acquiring subsurface lands, coal bed methane, gas and oil reserves.
Section 15: The creation of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
Section 16: The role and responsibilities of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
Section 17: Positive influence of the Mental Health Trust Authority, and the effect of various State administrations related to support for and funding of mental health services.
Section 18: The damaging result for an increased reliance on the use of drugs for mental illness treatment, and his creation of projects and programs that provide and support alternatives.
Section 19: His mother's interest in and involvement with mental health issues in Alaska.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Today is April 5th, 2007. I'm Bill Schneider, and I have the pleasure today of talking with Jim Gottstein. And I really appreciate you taking the time, Jim. And we're going to talk about your personal background and a little bit about how you got into the Mental Health Trust litigation and some of those issues. And we'll go as far as you want today, and maybe pick it up later, if you want to do that.
JIM GOTTSTEIN: Yeah. BILL SCHNEIDER: So thanks, Jim.
JIM GOTTSTEIN: You bet. My pleasure.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Let me make sure I'm hearing everything okay. Okay. Why don't we -- why don't we start by your talking a little bit about the -- your personal background. And talk about your parents and -- and your heritage here, and then we'll bring you up to your childhood. JIM GOTTSTEIN: Well, I grew up here. I was born in 1953. My grandfather came up in 1915, and came to Anchorage when it was called Tent City, the year that Anchorage was founded. As a young man, he had made his fortune selling tobacco and confections to the railroads, the last of the great railroad building in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Wow. JIM GOTTSTEIN: And made his fortune and retired to Europe to live like royalty. And went through his money in a few years and came back, he was from Seattle, and found out they were building a railroad in Alaska. And came up here and founded J. B. Gottstein and Company Wholesale Groceries. And my father grew up here, he was actually born in Des Moines, Iowa. And he grew up here. He was born in 1926, I think, so Anchorage had maybe, I think, 1500 people. He -- he talks about Fox Farms that were on 15th Avenue, and the dairy that was in Ship Creek, or wherever it was, and all those things. And he met my mother at the University of Washington, they got married, and they moved up here and had some kids, five kids. Two sets of twins -- actually, three sets of twins, but one didn't make it. And so I grew -- I was born in -- like I said, in 1953. Grew up here. Anchorage, I think, had under 50,000 people at that time. Went to grade school here, Chugach Elementary School, which was kind of a temporary building for World War II. And Central Junior High and West High School, graduated in 1971. And went to University of Oregon where I got a Bachelors Degree in Business Finance. I had -- of course, my father had built -- my grandfather and my father had built up the wholesale grocery business, and he then joined with Larry Carr and start -- first started doing real estate together. Aurora Village was the first -- first real estate. And then they eventually -- they merged and became Carr Gottstein, the Carr's Food Centers, and J. B. Gottstein Wholesale Groceries, and then the real estate. Section 2:
It was always kind of assumed that I would go to, you know, get a business degree and come back and work in the business. And one of the required courses for college was business law, and I took it, and I didn't miss a question for the whole class. And I thought, hmm. So I took the advanced business law, and I did miss a question, but I realized that that was something that I, you know, really had a -- I think, an aptitude for. I went through the University of Oregon in 3 years, averaging 21 hours a term, not going through summer school, which I think helped me get into Harvard Law School; that, plus being a sky diver. And so then I went to law school, and I took a year off between 1977 and 1978 -- well, actually, '76, '77, I think it was, that was to -- for various reasons, but that was right as the pipeline was finished being built. And there was a -- a lot of people don't remember this, but there was a little bit of a recession because there was the construction boom, and then when all of that construction finished, there was a little bit of a recession before all the, you know, oil money started flowing. And I came back to help my dad with -- you know, the business with that part.
And I -- that experience basically made me think that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to go in the business. It was crowded with the Carr kids and our kids, and all that, and then, you know, I realized that my dad wasn't really ready to -- to give -- you know, give up control and stuff. Section 3:
When I graduated from law school, I went to work for Bob Goldberg, Robert M. Goldberg, who was Justice Arthur Goldberg's -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg's son. And we called the Justice the ultimate senior partner. And I -- I didn't have that much interaction with him, but I -- I did have some conversations with him. I met him a couple times, talked to him on the phone. And you know, I cherish that. He was quite a guy. Bob -- Bob himself, of course, is quite a guy. And I think, it's fair to say, he kind of had to get to the way other end of the country in order to really establish himself. And with Bob, I worked a lot with Ahtna, Inc., the smallest of the 12 regional corporations, and that's where I first met Lidia Selkregg and Dean Olsen who is a Professor of Business at UAA. And they were terrific advisors to Ahtna. And for a long time, Ahtna, as a result of their help, was the only Native corporation to have never suffered a loss. And I credit Bob, the team of Bob, Lidia, and Dean Olsen for, you know, helping them set that up. We had a big case against Alyeska Pipeline where Bob, who was just really brilliant, Ahtna was the only Native corporation that owned pipeline right-of-way land, it owned 55 miles of pipeline right-of-way land. In fact, I think that was holding up the construction of the pipeline.
And Bob negotiated a contract that we called the Omnibus Agreement where -- which provided for payment for use of the land, and then contracting and employment opportunities for Ahtna shareholders. And they had a contractor there.
And so there were really two disputes that -- that happened with Alyeska. One was over payment of the land. And that was really kind of a mini Mental Health Trust thing where there were a number of parcels, and I actually used an Apple 2 Plus. Section 4:
BILL SCHNEIDER: So we're talking about the Ahtna settlement.
JIM GOTTSTEIN: Yeah, so what -- there were two things that happened. One was this contracting opportunity, and the other was the payment for the -- the use of their lands. And the Omnibus Agreement provided for both.
And it said that with respect to the contracting, that Ahtna would -- had an absolute right to do contracting it was capable of -- this is -- I believe this is accurate -- on the 55 miles of its right-of-way, and could bid on other contracts and would get it as long as it's, quote, reasonably competitive. And they had -- they -- they formed a joint venture with, I think, Meridian Contracting, and it was a union contractor, and I think at some -- this is what -- kind of what I heard later -- is that they wanted to get rid of the unions, and they had a -- Ahtna had a catering -- I think catering for sure and maybe security contract for the pipeline and then they lost it. And that, Ahtna arbitrated. There was an arbitration clause in that. And I remember vividly we had this arbitration hearing -- and I did a lot of work on it arbitration hearing at APU, it was APU, UAA. And it was a beautiful spring day and you could see the Alpenglow on the Chugach Mountains, and we had this hearing between the -- in front of the arbitrator, Michael Heyman, I think his name was. And Alyeska was putting up their figures on how they calculated the contract. And Dean Olsen and I looked at each other and thought, well, this doesn't seem right, and we went back after it and -- and looked at it and they had made a mathematical error. And -- so that they had Ahtna's costs being much higher than it was really supposed to. And that's what knocked it out.
And -- and there was some reason why we could tell -- we had some documents that we could tell they knew about that. And Bob did an absolutely brilliant cross examination of their witness. And and I came -- and we wrote the -- and led this guy -- what was his name, Stoltz or something, and led him down -- you know, down the primrose path, and then just chopped him off at the knees when he came to that. And I remember the lawyers for Alyeska getting up and saying, oh, we didn't know anything about it, dah, dah, dah, dah. Well, needless to say, they settled shortly thereafter. And we -- I came up with -- with our post hearing brief before they caved is we put in the brief the phrase "falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus," which is an old evidence term meaning that it's -- if someone testifies falsely on one thing, then you assume they can't be trusted to testify truthfully in other things. Section 5:
So that was one of the two major things that I did with Bob. And the other was this land valuation. And this was another place where Bob was brilliant because he had set up another arbitration where Alyeska would appraise it and Ahtna would appraise it, and then the final appraise I don't know if there was a third appraisal or not. I forget about that. But the final determination was an averaging, which is fairly unusual. And so I worked on that appraisal. In fact, I kind of -- we got Al Olsen to appraise certain parcels, and then I put together these appraise -- you know, these books for the rest of them, and Herb Smelcer was their land manager at the time. And we put those together. And I put together this spreadsheet with -- with Apple 2 Plus that required piecing together, oh, I think at least four different spreadsheets, you know. Kind of pasted them together and then blew them up. It was this big, long spreadsheet.
And -- and then we put this book together and gave it to Alyeska, and I think their -- their appraisal was something like a half a million and ours was four and a half million or something like that. And then we said -- we put this book together, we had these overlays, and then we said -- well, we didn't even talk about the value of the loss of access to subsistence. And then we ended up settling for about, I think, a million and a half, which was our target number all along. And that was part of what Bob called total client service.
And -- well, actually, that -- that was for not really just the legal stuff, but -- but other you know, other ways of working with the corporation. Section 6:
And I got -- he got a -- he, I think, was on a contingency. This was in 1982. And I got a chunk of that, and I left the law firm at that time, I -- this was from '78 to '82. And during this time, fairly recently before my mother became the exec -- and my parents had divorced by now -- became the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association, Alaska Mental Health Association. And Lidia Selkregg was a good friend of hers and knew about the state, basically, not managing the Mental Health Trust lands properly, and in 1978, essentially, formally stealing it when they passed a law basically saying, well, this is state land and pretending to promise to pay for it. And they had gone down to Juneau to tell the legislature they couldn't do that. And they passed that law in 1978. And they tried to get them to change it for a few years, and were finally told, I think, by Senator Jay Kertulla, well, we don't care if it's illegal, sue us. And I -- and that was right when I had left Bob Goldberg's firm. I was then setting up my own law firm. And I had started running for the legislature, and I took a trip to Europe right at the end. This was right about May and early June. Came back jet lagged out, way behind on doing the campaign, and my mother asked me to draft a complaint for the Mental Health Trust litigation. And I was working on that.
But I came back and I was jet lagged out, I had all these things to do, and I had never really experienced a situation in where I couldn't do what I was really trying to do. I had gone through college in three years by, you know, really having a very heavy load.
And I didn't get sleep for days, and became psychotic, which basically is a fancy word for crazy, and I went over to my dad's house to -- to try and get some sleep. Because anybody who doesn't sleep for long enough will become psychotic. You know, it's one of the things they used to do in the Korean War to brainwash you is sleep deprive people. Anyway, anybody will become psychotic if they don't sleep for long enough. Some people tolerate lack of sleep better than others; I don't tolerate it that well. And I had just laid down and just barely closed my eyes and I heard someone. And I was in my dad's bedroom on the second floor and I heard someone coming down the hall, and I thought the devil was after me. And I went over to the window and I looked down, remember looking down, and there was a -- the lawn there and there was a sidewalk that I figured, well -- and I'm in my underwear, by the way, and it's like 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning or something like that. And I thought, well, I know how to do a parachute landing fall, and so if I can just miss that sidewalk and hit the lawn, I'll probably be all right. And I did. I executed a perfect parachute landing fall and ran across the street into the parking lot at Central Junior High School, whereupon I was basically captured by -- I'm not sure who, but I was hauled off to API, to Alaska Psychiatric Institute, in a straitjacket. And I was -- I think I would kind of describe it as a Whirling Dervish at that point. Section 7:
And they gave me some injection, which maybe I hadn't even thought about it, but in retrospect, may have been Haldol. I don't know what it was. But it put me to sleep. And I remember waking up and in the bed, and there was a -- you know, some kind of nurse or something, a man, at the end of the bed in a chair with a clipboard as soon as I opened my eyes, and he asked me, what day is it? And I asked him, how long have I been asleep?
And he wrote down, doesn't know what day it is. And that's kind of the way it is in the hospital. And so that meant I wasn't oriented to, you know, date because I didn't know what date it was, which is a sign of, you know, mental illness. And I used to do -- I used to -- at that time, I used to have this joke that I would say fairly frequently that I thought it was ridiculous to tie a rope around your neck every day, referring to a tie, and of course, they wrote down that a tie -- that I think a tie is for committing suicide. Those that believed I was a lawyer said -- told me I would never do that again. And I was resistant, I was in denial about that, which I think ultimately is a good thing because if you accept that, then -- then you really don't have any hope. And I think that's one of the real problems with the mental health system is that they think their main job is to convince people they will never get better, and that's just exactly the wrong thing to do. But I didn't accept that. I was there about a month. I -- they gave me -- I could go into this more, but I won't. They said, well, we want to give you medication.
I said, oh, I don't want Thorazine. They said, no, this isn't Thorazine, this is Mellaril. Well, Mellaril is just exactly like Thorazine, it's just another manufacturer.
They said, if you don't sign in voluntarily, we'll get a court order against you. And I did have -- you know, they committed me involuntarily, and I actually had enough presence of mind to say, well, I don't really want -- you know, decided I don't really want this on my record. So I signed in, but it was hardly voluntarily. But I was only there for a month.
And, you know, my family had a lot of resources but they didn't really know what to do. And even my mother, being the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association, it's different when that happens to your family. And so I was actually sent to psychiatrists in New Rochelle, New York, which is where, you know, Dick and Laura Petrie lived on the Dick Van Dyke show. I don't -- anyway, just as an aside. Very nice guy, Harrison Peck -- or Harris Peck. And he diag -- I was let out of API with a diagnosis of atypical psychosis, and Harris Peck gave me a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
I came back and I went into pretty serious depression at that point. And couldn't get off the couch for months kind of thing. And dah, dah, dah. Section 8:
My dad arranged for me to work for the law firm that he -- you know, did a lot of work for his company, which -- you know, which is great. And I worked with a terrific lawyer by the name of Stan Reitman, who I only really ended up being there for nine months, but it's had a lasting impression just in the way that he insisted on certain quality of work and a way of clarity of writing and those things. And I don't think I really meet his, you know, standards that much, but I -- I -- it really has had a lasting impression on me, even though I didn't work there that long. So dah, dah, dah, dah. It turns out that there was some reorganization, and the -- and it became obvious that I really would be better off if I worked for the company. So I ended up going in house -- well, let me back up a little bit.
When I, you know, had my episode, I had to give up the Mental Health Trust case. BILL SCHNEIDER: Oh, I didn't realize that.
JIM GOTTSTEIN: I was working on the complaint for the Mental Health Trust case at the time.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That your mother had asked you? JIM GOTTSTEIN: Yeah. And I was actually drafting that complaint when -- and I was a pretty rookie lawyer at that point. I mean, I had only been out for four years. And -- but when I had that episode or breakdown, I had to give that up. And that -- and that's when Steve Cowper was recruited to represent the Mental Health Association. He had been in the legislature, and then he was subsequently to become Governor. But in between, he represented the Alaska Mental Health Association. And I -- but he named Vern Weiss and Carl Hilliker as his clients.
So where was I? So
BILL SCHNEIDER: Go ahead. JIM GOTTSTEIN: So I was -- so jumping back, this was now 1984, I think. '83, '84. And I -- I worked in -- as in house counsel at Carr Gottstein and did stuff, but one of my deals with -- I had a by that time, I had already gotten back in the Mental Health Trust case.
There -- there had become a disagreement between Steve Cowper and the Mental Health Association over whether or not the -- the plaintiffs in the Mental Health Trust litigation should release their claim to lands that were also claimed by Salamatof Native Corporation. And Steve was going to do it and the Mental Health Association said not to, and then he said, you're not my client, Vern Weiss is. And so then the Mental Health Association decided it want -- you know, it wanted to intervene. And I was actually back working with them at that point. So then I moved to -- for the Mental Health Association to intervene, and I was the attorney at that point for them. And my deal with my dad, working in the company, was that I took a reduced salary and was able to work on that case.
Well, things kind of got out of control and -- on the case and stuff. Section 9:
Well, I really ought to back up a little bit. During that process, I had gone through a couple of psychiatrists, and I didn't really like any of them, but then I -- I got -- and it was my mother who hooked me up with Robert Albert, who said, look at, you just got sleep deprived, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to fully recover from this and go on. And then he gave me some medication really to get me to sleep when I needed to. And what happens with me is if I'm working on a project or projects and I'm on a deadline and I have a lot to figure out, I just can't stop thinking about it, I'm working on this problem, and I just can't go to sleep. And if I do that for long enough, then -- then that's bad. I have this saying that, you know, being half manic ain't all bad, but being all manic is not good.
So -- anyway, so I got into a situation, I -- I was actually in front of the Supreme Court in our intervention where -- and I was in Juneau. In fact, I think that's probably where I met George Rogers at this meeting when there was kind of settlement negotiations going on.
It was after Steve Cowper had won the first Weiss decision, and we were fighting to get in the intervention, and then there was this -- these kind of negotiations going on. Bill Sheffield was Governor at the time. And I had -- I had got into this sleep deprived point again, and had a second psychotic, you know, manic episode. But this time, I had Dr. Albert, and I went to Providence instead of API, got straightened out, really, within a couple of weeks. And my father, at that point, said, you have to give up the Mental Health Trust case or quit quit working for Carr Gottstein. So I set up my own law office in 1995 and started -- and he gave me some work, and I did -- continued with the Mental Health Trust case. But also, the bulk of my practice at that time was really business and commercial type of work, real estate, commercial transactions, that kind of thing. I've always represented at least one Native corporation. Tanacross, up by Tok, is the one I've been representing the longest from, really, those days until now -- until -- well, no, I didn't start representing them until later. I actually have the -- the best real estate deal I ever did was for Tanacross. And I -- I represented MTNT for a while, which is the merger of McGrath, Takotna, Nikolai, and Telida. Anyway, so after that, the Supreme Court let us back into the Mental Health Trust case, and that was really, I think, in January of 1986. And that's, really, I think, I don't know, when -- do you just want me to keep going?
BILL SCHNEIDER: You're doing great. Section 10:
JIM GOTTSTEIN: Okay. So the Supreme Court decided -- I forget exactly when, it was in 1985, I think -- the Supreme Court decided the first Weiss case and remanded it. And then in 1986, we all got together with -- you know, with the state and -- and we agreed that the Interim Mental Health Trust Commission should be established to make a recommendation of how to resolve it. And that law was passed in -- was that in 1986? Yes. And George Rogers, Dr. George Rogers, a brilliant Juneau economist, was appointed. The plaintiffs -- the original plaintiffs got to appoint one, and we were called the intervenors at that point, got to nom -- you know, nominate or appoint one. And at this time, David Walker had taken over for Steve Cowper. And then the state had a representative -- and they -- they came up with a recommendation for a process for the land to be valued, and -- and then the state would basically pay for it. Set up -- actually set up a real trust administration and pay for it.
And, I mean, I don't want to -- do you want me to talk about the Mental Health Trust land? BILL SCHNEIDER: I -- in terms of your involvement.
JIM GOTTSTEIN: Well, okay. So in any event, the Interim Mental Health Trust Commission made a recommendation for the land to be valued, and then the state basically set up a real trust administration of the money. And the trust was -- under the Federal law was to be used, first, for the necessary expenses of the mental health program. And the idea was then that money would be available for that, and the idea of the original trust was for the land to make money for the program. And so this would just really be -- was seen as a clear way of doing that.
Well, we worked on that. And that was passed in 1987. And we worked on that a lot. I mean, we were valuing a million acres of land and it really involved a lot. We set up some computer systems and things like that. And it -- it really was quite -- quite a deal. In fact, I have now given the original maps and stuff that we had for doing that to the archivist at the University of Alaska. Section 11:
But what ended up happening is that the state balked at the final number, which was about $1.1 and a half billion dollars. And just said, we're not going to do it. And they -- this was in 1990. And they passed this law that said we're just -- we'll just devote 5 percent of the state's general fund to the Mental Health Trust, and what -- you know, if the -- oh, I think, yes. The original bill was that you value the land and then the state would pay 8 percent that value. And the concern -- a year. And I think it was probably inflation proofed and all that. And that the concern was that this -- you know, it might end up being more than the state could pay. And I think that was a reasonable concern. And so they passed this law that said we will pay 5 percent of the general fund for -- you know, instead. And I remember telling people that they would be, you know, nuts not to take it. And -- but there was this real -- this outrage, including by Dr. Rogers, at the way that they had been treated by the state. And it was rejected. And so in the litigation, we filed for -- well, to back up a little bit, the interim Mental Health Trust Commission had been authorized, empowered to make decisions about interim management of trust lands, and they had to approve stuff. And they were regularly approving proposed land transactions based on the assumption that the state, in good faith, would complete what was called Chapter 48, that was the name of the legislation. And when the state refused to accept the valuation, they said no more land transactions. And the state said, well, we're not going to pay any attention to you, and we went into court and got an injunction stopping any land transactions. Section 12:
And -- and so at that point, that created a pretty big problem for the state. And because there were a lot -- this was the -- the -- in -- in a lot of ways, the most valuable land in the state, you could qualify that a little bit, it was selected between 1956 and 1966, and so it was before statehood, and people didn't know if Alaska would become a state. And they -- if so, they didn't know how much land the state would get. And so they really did a good job, Phil Holdsworth, of selecting the land. And they selected urban lands, they selected resource lands, such as timber, oil and gas, coal, minerals, and they did a very good job. And so even by 1956, for example, most of Anchorage had already been taken up by other land, but there was 4,000 acres in Anchorage, which is, you know, a lot of land. And what tended to happen in Southeast was that there would be the core -- core area that was taken already in 1956, and then the trust would select around it, so there was kind of this doughnut effect in Southeast. And then land was selected in the Interior around Fairbanks, and resource lands, such as the whole -- a big chunk of the Beluga coal fields, oil and gas lands on the Kenai, a lot of lands in the Susitna Valley, Mat Su Valley. Timber lands in Southeast. Most of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, and is it the Tongass State Forest? That's -- I don't think it's called the Tongass, for the state forest. But anyway, the state forest, and then the preserve. Most of that was trust land. Section 13:
So anyway, we got an injunction against that, and that really put a lot of pressure to settle the lawsuit. And in 1991, we negotiated a second settlement, which was called Chapter 66, which this was during the Hickel administration, and Charlie Cole, the Attorney General, and Harold Heinz, the Commissioner of Natural Resources, we negotiated it. And it provided, basically, for the reconstitution of a land trust, where we would figure out what land could come into the trust, what land wasn't going to come into the trust, and then figure out, you know, replacement land to put in the trust on a -- on an equal value basis. And that took a pretty long time to put together, and opposition built -- built to that over time. And -- and not all the plaintiffs really wanted to be in the land business, they wanted -- you know, they wanted just the money. And so -- and so -- so the plaintiffs were divided on that ultimately, and the environmentalists and the developers actually got together to oppose this because environmentalists didn't -- you know, didn't like land going into development status, and the developers didn't like the idea of having to pay, you know, fair market value for the use of land. And they basically killed that deal. And Charlie Cole really -- and Harold Heinz, you know, the last year of Hickel's administration, lost their jobs, I mean, over this. I mean, they -- I think they -- they weren't fired, they quit over it. Well, what happened is Harold Heinz left and Glenn Olds became commissioner, for a while, of natural resources, and then Harry Noah was appointed, and he basically overruled Charlie Cole, who then quit. And so then they pushed through the current -- the settlement that ultimately worked, which was to put back, you know, as much land, basically, as -- as was -- could be agreed to. And the basic rule was any land that was objected to didn't go in, and then $200 million in cash to compensate for the land that didn't go in. And there was original land and replacement land, some of which was subsurface only. Section 14:
And as an aside, I mean, I ended up opposing that, David Walker and I, for various reasons. But I think everybody agrees that through our opposition, we actually bettered the settlement. And I can -- one of example is that a lot of the municipal entitlement, what they called municipal entitlement lands in Kenai and the Mat Su Borough were Mental Health Trust lands. But the municipalities only got the surface estate of that. And I said -- and when they proposed a settlement to the Court, we really objected to lots of aspects of it. But one of them was there's absolutely no reason why the trust shouldn't get the subsurface of these lands that the state still has a subsurface of. These were original trust lands.
And so the lands in the Kenai underneath municipal lands are the subsurface, or mineral estate, is in the trust, and we said the same thing for the -- they wouldn't give us back the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. And the reason for that, really, I think, was that the State Division of Agriculture was unwilling to acknowledge at that point that was a failed project, and they -- they really needed to write off all those loans that they -- they had made. And if they -- if we had gotten it back, they would have had to really recognize that.
And so we didn't get that land back, but we got the subsurface of that. And the Susitna Game Flats Reserve is right next to that, to the west, so we got the subsurface to that. And that's all good coal land there, especially coal bed methane. And in fact, I've been trying to suggest to the trust land office for years that that's a place where you could really -- you really ought to look at coal bed methane because you don't have the you know, all the people there to complain about it. I mean, it's really pretty much wide open land.
And actually, I think -- and I've suggested that maybe they could use the land under the farms to get gas to provide, you know, cheap heat and really do some greenhouse stuff there that -- that would work. But anyway, no one's done that. And we got a big chunk of the Beluga coal field. And I'm convinced that there's oil and gas, oil and/or gas under some of these lands, and that at some point, that the trust really will -- will kind of strike it rich with that. Section 15:
So the other key feature of the settlement was the creation of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. I prob -- I skipped over this -- this area where -- or this process where three other groups were recognized as beneficiaries of the trust. The case was started for what would normally be considered, classically, people that were diagnosed with mental illness, and then lawyers, Jeff Jessee, representing what's now called the developmentally disabled came in to say that they should be part of the -- the trust. Because to back up even further, the reason why the land, the Mental Health Trust lands was given to the state was that Alaska was prohibited from -- the territory of Alaska from enacting any laws on mental health. And it was a Federal issue. And if someone was, you know, acting crazy and creating problems, they would be charged with a crime of being an insane person at large, and if convicted of that crime, they were hauled to what's called -- a hospital called Morningside in Portland, Oregon, where basically they were left forever -- you know, forever. And that was really upsetting to people in Alaska. And so there became -- it was a big issue at that time. And there became a big effort to give Alaska the authority to enact laws for -- you know, for its own mental health laws. And then the trust land was granted in order to help pay for that. So it was a package deal. Okay. So when Jeff Jessee representing the people -- and there was another guy, Cooper Garrity, who really was involved at that time, too, but it really ended up being Jeff, they came in and said, hey, you know, they -- people with developmental disabilities, which they were called mentally retarded or mentally defective at the time, they were taken to Morningside Hospital, too, so we should be part of this trust. The same, then, there was people representing chronic alcoholics with psychosis, Nugen's Ranch, which serves that group of people, filed to say, well, our people were the same type of people were sent to Morningside, too, and then also elderly people, senile people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia also.
And the Court ultimately decided, yes, all four groups should be in. Section 16:
I skipped over the whole mental health board thing. Anyway
BILL SCHNEIDER: Authority. JIM GOTTSTEIN: Huh? Well, no, the Mental Health Board is before that. In 1987, when the first settlement was proposed -- no, I think it was 19 -- anyway, it was either then or 1990 when the 6 percent -- or 5 percent was kind of proposed. The Alaska Mental Health Board was given the authority to recommend what -- you know, how -- what the mental health program should be like. And so it really kind of was a pretty powerful body, an important body. But in the settlement that happened in 1994, the mental -- the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority was created, and the land was actually to be managed by the -- by DNR. And that was actually a bone of contention with us. And -- but the trust was given the authority to spend the income from the earning -- you know, from the trust, without the legislature having to appropriate it. And in addition, the trust formally makes recommendations to the legislature and the Governor about what the mental health program should be, what the state should pay for, what -- and then, of course, what part of it the trust should pay for. And the Governor has to explain in a report why it's -- why the Governor is not following the trust recommendations, and the legislature has to do the same thing. And so that's a very powerful tool. And the trust, I think, since then, has actually been very brilliant at leveraging the relatively small amount that it's had available into being very influential and being an agent for change far beyond the amount of -- you know, positive change far beyond the amount of money that it -- that it has available. And the trust sees itself as an agent for positive change. Section 17:
And it really has developed a, you know, kind of culture, a corporate culture, if you would, of being concerned about its beneficiaries and their lives, whereas -- so they are concerned with is what we are doing helping our beneficiaries. You know, are they -- you know, is their health good, are they getting jobs, you know, are they happy, that kind of thing. Whereas the normal bureaucracy looks at it a little bit different. I mean, that's what they are trying to do, but they look at it more of, you know, are we providing this service, are we providing that service, which is really a different thing. And so they get -- you get measured by, you know, how many people you serve, you know, what kind of services you're providing, rather than how the -- you know, the people are actually doing. And that really is a -- is a fundamental difference, and the trust being focused on that is hugely important, I think, and hugely beneficial to the mental health program in Alaska. And they've been willing to go out and try new things and -- and they have this philosophy that they can't really fund normal -- you know, they -- what they don't want to do is just replace state funding because right now, I think they have about $20 million a year, and probably the mental health program is, I don't know what, 150 million, 200 million. So if they put money into regular mental health services, then the state just reduces it by that amount, and so that -- they don't see that as a benefit. And so their idea is that they will only provide kind of startup money. And they call it -- that people need to get -- have an exit strategy where they will have ongoing revenue. And I think when the Hickel administration put the -- put the trust -- you know, put this settlement together, but the Knowles administration really came in right -- right at the start of that. I mean, this happened in 1994, and Knowles came in, in December of '94. I think that's right. And so the first eight years of the trust was under the Knowles administration, which was very supportive of social service funding, generally, and mental -- mental health funding, and particularly, of course, Karen Purdue was a big part of that. And -- and so the trust really had a partner with the administration in saying if the trust said the general fund should add this amount, the trust will put this amount, and the general fund should add this amount, the Knowles administration, you know, they wouldn't just automatically go along with it, but they were basically supportive of that. And of course, the legislature was the other party, and didn't necessarily support it. But basically, the idea of moving people from trust funds to general funds kind of worked. And then the Murkowski administration came in, and not only was adding anything off the table, they -- they really cut things. And so the idea that any program could really transition to the general fund during that period really didn't work that well. And of course,now we have a new era with the Palin administration, and we have yet to -- yet to see that.
So that's -- that's kind of the trust thing. Section 18:
And I do think -- and I want to talk a little bit about one other thing, which is it's -- since 1955, when Thorazine, the miracle drug Thorazine first came on the market as, you know, kind of the radically improved treatment for mental illness, especially schizophrenia, the disability rate for mental illness in the country has gone up sixfold. That's on a per capita basis. And what's happened is that the use of medication has so permeated and taken over mental health treatment that it's excluded everything else. And these drugs actually -- you know, I know people who find them helpful, but -- and they should have access to them, but they are not for everybody, and in fact, there's pretty good evidence that these drugs are doubling the number of people who don't get better. And that -- and that there are other drugs that cause people to become psychotic. For example, especially the newer antidepressants that are called the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. There's a pretty substantial percentage, close to 10 percent, that will become manic and psychotic as a result of taking this -- these antidepressants. And then they get diagnosed as being bipolar, then they get put on the bipolar drugs, and then they end up -- and those cause psychosis so they end up, basically, becoming permanently disabled as mentally ill when it was really the drugs that started them all along. And so what I've been doing since about 2002, when I read this book called Mad in America, which put this whole -- all the -- the evidence together in terms of the research, that put this story together, is really trying to get other approaches as being possible, as being funded by the -- by the state. And as a lawyer, I founded a law project for psychiatric rights whose mission is to mount a strategic litigation campaign against forced drugging. And the idea there is that people should have choices other than drugging because we know that it's doubling the number of people who don't get better. And I also started this program called Soteria Alaska, which is based on a non-drug program, or one that doesn't make everybody take the drugs, I should say, that really was proven effective in the '70s, and then basically got squashed by the pharmaceutical juggernaut. And the trust that -- we've been working with the trust for years on that, and they support it and they -- they've looked at it and they said we're going to support it. But we need to get the legislature and, you know, the state to make it as part of its program. And so right now we're in the legislature trying to get funding to get that program going. Section 19:
BILL SCHNEIDER: Let me ask you just one question. And then I'll let you go. You've been great, Jim. What -- what got your mom interested in this? JIM GOTTSTEIN: Well, she's -- she was just a wonderful person, very caring. You know, believed in justice. And Lidia -- she needed a job, basically, when she came -- after the divorce finally got finalized, and it took years and years and years, and she came back to Anchorage. She had gone down to San Francisco to be with her elderly parents, and then her father passed away, and she came up with her -- moved back up with her -- with her mother, my grandmother. And she needed a -- she needed a job. And so Lidia, who had been involved with the Mental Health Association -- Joyce Munson was the Executive Director, and she was just leaving, and -- and so Lidia said, well, why don't you become executive director of the Mental Health Association. And it became -- really became her passion. And she was an indefatigable advocate for, you know, the mental health program as long as she was there.