Digital Asset Information
Project: Alaska Mental Health Trust History
Date of Interview: May 31, 2006
Narrator(s): George Rogers
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Section 1: Making land selections and re-constituting the Mental Health Trust lands.
Section 2: Selecting and valuing lands for inclusion in the new Trust lands.
Section 3: Re-construction of the Mental Health Trust lands after the State had sold off and mis-used the original appropriation.
Section 4: Working with the bureaucracy and administrators in the State Department of Natural Resources to get land valued, selected and reconstituted into the Trust lands.
Section 5: The original case of the State misusing the Mental Health Trust lands, the lawsuit that required the State to reconstitute the lands, the difficulties in getting the State to respond, and boards and commissions he served on to help settle all this.
Section 6: His volunteer work with different mental health groups working to settle the Trust lands issue.
Section 7: Confusion and corruption in the use of land and lack of State oversight.
Section 8: The personal toll the whole process took, why he pulled out before it was all settled, and how the State managed the land and income for the Trust.
Section 9: Disapproval of the legislature’s recommendation for finally settling the Trust lands and suspicion of official meeting minutes being edited to eliminate opposing arguments.
Section 10: Nasty period of secrecy and conflict over the identification, valuation and selection of lands for settling the Trust lands case, and having allies in the legislature and the Department of Natural Resources, but still fighting a losing battle against the government.
Section 11: The State government working to suppress the truth about the Trust lands.
Section 12: Studying the behavior of bureaucracies, using Southeast Alaska as a case study.
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Section 1 KAREN BREWSTER: One of the things I did want to ask you about before we keep going too far into it GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: is I know that part of the process of reconstituting the trust and the lands and the money and all that, you said first was finding the lands, and there was no record. GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum.
KAREN BREWSTER: But wasn't there also, from an economics side, the question about value? GEORGE ROGERS: Yes. Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: And how did you -- what was that controversy?
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, what happened there, I wanted originally to use the original selections that were made. Those were identified. And what Phil Holdsworth had done, he, of course, was a geologist, he had selected lands that had very high potential for development for geological reasons. He also selected lands as he -- he was the one who spearheaded this selection that were -- could be made accessible by short hops from the existing transportation systems. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
GEORGE ROGERS: So for example, you didn't -- he didn't put the Prudhoe Bay in this selection, but he did put it in the Statehood selection. This is before this. KAREN BREWSTER: Uhhum. Right. GEORGE ROGERS: He told me he had trouble convincing Egan that he should select the lands up there. He finally convinced them that it was important because this was one of the -- perhaps one of the biggest provinces on the North American continent that hasn't yet been touched. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
GEORGE ROGERS: And it was. KAREN BREWSTER: Now, he did the land selection? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. His committee did. KAREN BREWSTER: Originally back in the '50s. GEORGE ROGERS: Yes. Yeah, in the '50s, for the Mental Health Trust. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. Okay. GEORGE ROGERS: See, these were --
KAREN BREWSTER: I thought he did the ones in -- GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- in the '80s and '90s. GEORGE ROGERS: No. Those are coming there. We're getting to those. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
GEORGE ROGERS: But what I wanted them to do was to just take those land selections on the Department of Natural Resources. They said, no, we can't do that, because things have changed a lot since those selections were made. Well, they hadn't changed that much. And I should have -- that was one mistake I should have made, I should have insisted that we use them.
Section 2: So what we were then were doing was making selections -- for example, in the Fairbanks area, they had one huge land mass was one selection. It embraced -- it embraced minerals, recreational facilities. Like there were -- there were isolated recreational sites that people bought, they flew into, but they were along the highway. They were potential recreation sites, people could buy and build a cabin on. Those were locked into this one big selection.
They refused to break that down. They said, we have to make surveys. I said, you don't have to make surveys. You can just define them on the map. Well, I -- that was a battle I lost because they insisted that we had to wait until they had made on-the-ground surveys.
Well, that was just a delay tactic. So that when you set that up, if you -- if you're bidding on those lands, you had to bid for the whole -- whole pie, not for the piece of the pie you wanted. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
GEORGE ROGERS: So that handicapped us terribly. The other thing they did is that they refused to use comparable sales. No, not comparable sales. They just insisted that you only -- there are -- there are four different types of ways you can put value on land. One is looking for a comparable sale.
Now, this works on small tracts of land where there's a land -- quite a rapid turnover, like real estate in the urban area or suburban areas. It's perfect. KAREN BREWSTER: So you -- so you base the price of your land, at least, by how much the house next door sold. GEORGE ROGERS: That's exactly. That sort of thing, yeah. They refused. The other way, you would base it on the -- base it on the projected income to be earned from these lands, just kind of to a present value. They refused to do that.
We had lands that they -- that the people who wanted them had made an estimate on what they considered the value of the resource to be worth, and were making their bids on that basis. So there was a basis for using that methodology. But they -- they ruled out all other forms of putting values on that except comparable sales. That's the only thing they would consider. KAREN BREWSTER: Hum.
GEORGE ROGERS: And for example, when it came to looking at these -- these land areas up north, they put a zero value on high mineral lands. I said, why did you put a zero value on lands? They said, because we couldn't find a comparable sale. I said, of course you couldn't, because on mineral lands, they don't buy the land, they lease the land. I said, we own Prudhoe Bay. The oil companies don't own it. They lease it from us to produce the oil.
They said, no, we can't do that. Why can't you do that? Well, they said, you have to have comparable sale. You have to sell the land. KAREN BREWSTER: So who is the "they"? GEORGE ROGERS: "They," the Natural Resources Department. KAREN BREWSTER: With the state.
GEORGE ROGERS: And I couldn't break that barrier. It was just like beating my head against a brick wall. I said, in other words, you're telling me that our holdings in Prudhoe Bay were -- had no value. They said, oh, no, that's not what we're telling you. I said, yes, you are. Because it's -- it's -- those lands are supporting our state right now. KAREN BREWSTER: Uhhum.
GEORGE ROGERS: And -- but there's no sale there. Therefore, to use your rationale, there's no value there. I could never get through that. And it was one of those stupid things that I just finally had to throw my hands up in disgust. I couldn't -- so we ended up by having this -- we never came to an agreement. I went out of office without this thing ever being settled.
What they then did was set up a -- made some selections of lands at random. These were lands that were left over that nobody else wanted. Well, some of them turned out to be valuable, which was not surprising, because when you're dealing with great areas like this, it's like having a punch board. There's some winners in there, but you don't know where they are.
And but they then set up a commission to -- of trustees to manage these lands. And the salaries that they received were comparable to the heads of departments of state. Now, I absolutely refused to even go beyond this because I just said, I'm washing my hands totally of this whole thing. Well, what's happened now is that we are getting money from those lands, in spite of what I predicted would happen.
Section 3: And -- but I say the only value I could see that this whole exercise was that it educated the public. You don't have to fight with the public about the need for mental -- mental health programs any longer. The idea of the programs is -- has survived this -- this trauma.
And so that's -- in a sense, we've made some gains here. But to me, the tragedy is that we did not carry through with what the Federal Government intended us to do with those lands. We gave them away, or sold them, and the money went into the general fund. Now, the university lands is the same way. They -- they dropped the university lands into the same pot too. The university has succeeded in getting some of those back, but theirs is a little bit different proposition. They didn't have to fight through the -- the ignorance of mental health and things of -- everybody's -- at least give lip service to education.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's true. I mean, for me as a regular Alaskan, I've heard of Mental Health Trust lands, and I knew there was this big battle over it and controversy, but I never knew anything about it until I started working on this project. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So you're right. People have heard of Mental Health Trust and -- and all of that, but they don't know very much about it. GEORGE ROGERS: That's right. KAREN BREWSTER: And what it's meant for people with mental illness.
GEORGE ROGERS: That's right. One of our great allies was a professor of geology up at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I can't think of his name now. But what he did, he had us hire an international expert on land valuations. He was from the London School of Economics, and he came up here and he -- he came right behind everything I said. But they wouldn't listen to him either. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. What I don't understand is so in the '80s, when you had to go back and reconstruct this trust GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum.
KAREN BREWSTER: these lands, the state had sold off or used up the -- the original, what was it, a million acres? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, right. What they had done, they had sold, disposed of outright, they had put some into parks. You know, that was fine. We could just say those are parks. Okay. But then we're going to ask you to give us a fair market rental value for those park lands. They are -- they have been paying that. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. So -- GEORGE ROGERS: So. KAREN BREWSTER: So that rental value, those monies are going into the trust fund? GEORGE ROGERS: The trust fund, that's right. Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
GEORGE ROGERS: There's some. KAREN BREWSTER: So how do you go back -- and you were saying that what you were recommending at the beginning was to get the original lands back. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: If the state sold off the lands, how were you supposed to go get those back? GEORGE ROGERS: Well, what we did, we -- we got the titles, the descriptions of those lands. We didn't actually get the lands back. But we then tracked what they were worth today. And then we figured they were -- we were going to do that.
And we figured what they could have produced if we still owned them. Because those lands were valuable, that's why -- that's why they were transferred to private ownership. But we could then get from that transaction what the value should have been. But we never got that far. So what we have now is a patchwork -- as I say, in the long run, it is -- people are not -- they don't balk at -- at making appropriations for mental illness now -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
GEORGE ROGERS: -- like the way they used to. They say they do it for the handicapped and for the alcoholics, but not for the mentally ill. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So you couldn't get that original land back, but you got money that was the value of those lands? GEORGE ROGERS: That -- that's what we were supposed to get was -- KAREN BREWSTER: From the state? GEORGE ROGERS: From the -- from the state, yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: And that didn't happen? GEORGE ROGERS: That didn't happen, no. KAREN BREWSTER: So -- GEORGE ROGERS: Well -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- they had some money -- they so they selected new lands?
GEORGE ROGERS: They selected, yeah. As I say, those were leftover lands. To me, they were not the best lands we had -- we had mapped out. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. GEORGE ROGERS: If they had taken the lands that Phil Holdsworth's group had selected, those were the really high-value lands. KAREN BREWSTER: So they had to pick from what was left after -- GEORGE ROGERS: That's right, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- Native claims and GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And ANILCA --
GEORGE ROGERS: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: -- and Statehood. GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: Were there any lands left over from the original million that the state -- GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, there was some left over. KAREN BREWSTER: -- hadn't gotten rid of? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. There were a few of those. They were fairly minor.
Section 4: Again, I had in my final reports, I had mapped out exactly what -- what happened to the land, what lands were -- were replaced by proxies. So it was not really the lands, but it was a proxy for the land that had been -- that had escaped. I had all those calculations done in my reports, which I don't have any longer. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And they rejected -- the state rejected that plan?
GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. Uhhum. So that was -- but as I say, this was a -- that just about brought my whole career to an end because I was -- I was so exhausted at the end of those four years fighting this thing, battling against these odds. I even had trouble with the people who were working with me, for them to understand. And Esther Wunnicke was a -- was a -- was the head of the Bureau of Land Management, and then she became the Natural Resources Commissioner. And she was wonderful because she understood.
And the people in her second level I worked with, they were all wiped out when Steve Cowper became governor. He appointed -- now, I can't think of the young woman's name, but she was someone that -- that -- oh, God, I get this -- be sure I get this thing straight. But -- oh, that name's escaped me. But anyway.
Steve owed a debt to the Republicans for his winning the election, or the nomination to become Governor. And it was a payoff, a political payoff that she was -- that Esther was kicked out just when I needed her. Because she worked with me on this. So there was no problem with her understanding or her top level.
When you're dealing with the mid -- what we were dealing with was the midlevel bureaucracy, and in any bureaucracy, they are the ones that are always the ones that can throw a monkey wrench into anything that you're doing, because the top level moves out and moves in again, but they are looking at their jobs. Their retention.
Section 5: KAREN BREWSTER: So Esther was commissioner under which Governor, Sheffield? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, I think it was Sheffield. KAREN BREWSTER: Wasn't he the one before Cowper? GEORGE ROGERS: Oh, God, this is again -- I should have the -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Because it wasn't Hammond. GEORGE ROGERS: No, Hammond wasn't it.
KAREN BREWSTER: It must have been Bill Sheffield. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, I think it must have been, yeah. But -- KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah, you said that -- so was the Hammond administration that misused the Mental Health Trust GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: things? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. That's -- that sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it, but --
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That's why I'm wondering. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, that's right. Well, it was the Commissioner of Natural Resources and the Attorney General that decided it between them that we can do this. Nobody's going to protest this. The --
KAREN BREWSTER: But it's interesting that what you're saying that once this lawsuit and the Supreme Court decided, okay, we've got to reinstate Mental Health Trust, it was up to the state to do that, that sounds like they fought it the whole way. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, they did. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And why?
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, because they didn't want to give the lands back. They -- they made some money right away. They needed money, and that was one way they made money. I'm trying to think of several things in here that I'm probably leaving out that we'll have to add later on when my memory clears a bit more. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I'm trying to help -- GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- by asking questions, and see if that helps with the progression of events and how things happened. You would think if the Supreme Court says you've got to do something -- GEORGE ROGERS: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: -- you would do it.
GEORGE ROGERS: But they didn't specify how you do it. So we had to come up with the how you do it. And how do you do it when you have difficulty of identifying what it was you lost out of what the Holdsworth committee had set up as the trust. KAREN BREWSTER: So the interim commission you were talking about --
GEORGE ROGERS: That was the one that was trying to -- KAREN BREWSTER: Your job was to figure out how to do it. GEORGE ROGERS: That's right. The other committees I was on was the -- the Alaska Mental Health Board, that I was dealing with daytoday operations; and the Alliance For the Mentally Ill, that was the political arm. I was a board member of that between 1988 and 1990. Alaska Mental Health Board, I was a member of that between 1987 and 1992.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what does the Alaska Mental Health Board do? What did they do? GEORGE ROGERS: I'm trying to think of what we did. KAREN BREWSTER: You know, you said the Alliance For the Mentally Ill, you were the political. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: You guys lobbied and pressured probably. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. And that was not -- that was a -- that was a private group. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
GEORGE ROGERS: The Interim Mental Health Trust Commission was one that was created by the legislature to manage the trust until we set up a permanent commission. KAREN BREWSTER: And the -- the permanent commission is now what's called the Mental Health Trust Authority? GEORGE ROGERS: That's right. Yeah. Uhhum. Again, if you find that, my two transfer cases --
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I know that the -- the library -- yesterday I was up there, there were three cardboard boxes -- GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, that's right. KAREN BREWSTER: -- of material. Is that what you're talking about? GEORGE ROGERS: That's right. Now, are they still at the university?
KAREN BREWSTER: No, they are at the State Library. GEORGE ROGERS: Okay. That's it. Those are the ones. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. GEORGE ROGERS: They are at the State Library, not at the archives. KAREN BREWSTER: No, they are, it's the archives of the State Library. GEORGE ROGERS: Okay. Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: It's the state. GEORGE ROGERS: Well, I'll bet they are -- they're there. Well, I think --
Section 6: KAREN BREWSTER: So we can talk about some of that. I was just looking -- I was looking at some of it yesterday and I took some notes. I was going to see if I wrote anything about the Mental Health Board. GEORGE ROGERS: God, I'm trying to think of...
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, the -- the Mental Health Board had a lands committee. GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: The Mental Health Trust -- the Alaska Mental Health Board, lands committee. GEORGE ROGERS: That's -- that's -- yeah, I was on that. KAREN BREWSTER: 1991?
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, let's see. Well, I have it down here July of 1987 to February 1990, it says Alaska Mental Health Board. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
GEORGE ROGERS: I was a member of that. The Interim Mental Health Trust Commission, I was chairman of that. The Alaska Alliance for the Mentally Ill, I was a member of that board. KAREN BREWSTER: You were a board member, yeah. GEORGE ROGERS: These all overlapped.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. m GEORGE ROGERS: I was always -- in other words, I was more than full time doing mental -- mental health. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah. So were -- all of this, was this all volunteer?
GEORGE ROGERS: This was all volunteer stuff, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: In addition to your work at the university? GEORGE ROGERS: Right. Well, I was already retired from the university, so this was taken out of my retirement period. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
GEORGE ROGERS: See, I officially retired from the university on -- hmm. July 1st, 1983. And then I was a -- and then I was an adjunct professor between -- well, that's right, that was 1983. Yeah. The last part I was an adjunct professor. So that's when I stopped being a professor at the university.
So I was a full time professor up until March of 1977, and then I was an adjunct professor. And there I was just paid whenever I did some work for the university. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
Section 7: GEORGE ROGERS: And -- KAREN BREWSTER: So I have here a note about DNR Commissioner Gustafson? GEORGE ROGERS: Oh, yeah. Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: That's not the one you were thinking of? GEORGE ROGERS: No. Huhuh.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. The other thing in some of the stuff I was looking at yesterday, it talked about how the Department of Revenue was doing its accounting. GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: Now, is that something as an economist you got involved with, or that was -- GEORGE ROGERS: I did get in some there. Oh, dear, I'm sorry.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's okay. It's the nature of the mic. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: It's very touchy. GEORGE ROGERS: The...
KAREN BREWSTER: Because I didn't know if that was all just the state economists going back and forth on how they were going to keep track of all this new income and investments and things. GEORGE ROGERS: No. Well, I -- I used the Department of Revenue, for example, one thing I -- I was having a -- the state was going to put a value on lands.
For example, gravel was the -- sand and gravel were a big item in the construction of roads and other major capital developments. And they -- for example, one person got a -- when they were building the highway here, got a mining permit out by the hospital where that big pit is there. KAREN BREWSTER: Uhhum.
GEORGE ROGERS: And you didn't have to pay anything for that, you -- he worked on that. He cut the timber off it and sold it, and then he -- and then he provided gravel to the road construction here. He got paid for that. Then when the road was finished, he said, well, I guess there's no gold here, turned the land back to the state.
That was an example of how they operated. The -- he -- he got rich on the basis of that gravel pit, which the state already owned, the state was building the highway. KAREN BREWSTER: Hmm.
GEORGE ROGERS: But there are things like that going on all the time. It just drove me crazy. The people were not paying attention to what they were doing when they -- when they issued these permits or these grants and so on. And so you had schiesters that would actually come in and rob the state blind.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. It's a little bit like the standard practice in the history of Alaska. GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: It happened all over.
GEORGE ROGERS: But hey, he stopped taking out gravel when it got down to the same level as the other land, and then he said, well, I guess there's no gold here after all. There should have been. Then he turned the land back to the state, but the road had already been constructed. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
GEORGE ROGERS: That's a footnote which you probably don't want. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, no, it all relates to -- GEORGE ROGERS: But that also is -- that also is Mental Health Trust land too. KAREN BREWSTER: How so?
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, we had -- Phil Holdsworth had selected that land there because it had commercial timber, it had gravel. Also, it was located at a spot where there was a potential development going on there, which there has been. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
GEORGE ROGERS: All our health facilities are there. KAREN BREWSTER: The hospital has expanded immensely down here. GEORGE ROGERS: And then across the highway down there, there's the -- the radio facilities. Then there's the -- the barge facilities. They are all right there in that one spot. KAREN BREWSTER: Uhhum.
GEORGE ROGERS: And that's what he was looking at when he selected those lands. They hadn't all come together yet, but they were there in the future planning and so he selected those lands. Well, those lands were exploited by a private developer who -- I call him a developer -- well, he did prepare the land for use now, for our purposes. But that was his plan, not to go below the level. Maybe there was gold down, way down there.
Section 8: KAREN BREWSTER: So you said something about, you know, this was an exhausting process and you stopped being involved GEORGE ROGERS: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: about 1990. So you pulled out before they finished resolving the whole issue?
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, I did, because I was beaten, so severely beaten, I couldn't stand up anymore. I appeared before the legislature, Sharon Gapin (phonetic) Sharon -- Sharon -- oh, not Gapin. KAREN BREWSTER: Lobaugh?
GEORGE ROGERS: Lobaugh, yeah. -- and I were the two survivors. We stood up and she said, George, what do we do now? They had gone behind my back. I was dealing with the legislature and made a deal with the -- with the Department of Natural Resources, they just -- I said, well, we just stand up there and say we do not approve of this, and we both did. And we just -- that was our last act was to say that.
We had a responsibility, we were carrying -- we still have not been able to carry out our responsibility. And that was the -- but as I say, at the end of that, I just -- it took me a long time. In fact, I've never fully recovered from it.
But what was so devastating was they then tried to defame my character because I was looking out for special interests. Well, of course, I was. But I was not -- not to the detriment of the state. I was trying to hold the state responsible for the -- what they -- what was their responsibility as trustees.
They claimed because then the Federal grant, it said that they could sell the land, but I said, if you look at the -- the record, the transcript of the background material, you'll see that that way -- that land would be sold, but the money would not be -- the money would go into the trust. It would not -- it would be in the exchanging of a wasting resource for a renewable resource.
Well, this was the -- this was the basis for the -- the Permanent Fund Dividend selection. The natural resource economists always look at if you have a resource that's wasting, you should always in your accounting consider the income you get from selling that resource not as income, but as a change in the -- this is if you're a government. If you're a private enterprise, it is income.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. GEORGE ROGERS: But as a government, you should consider that as a change into a resource that you can now invest. And then you can -- that becomes your income. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And so what the state did is it took that income and put it in the general fund GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: instead of into the trust. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: So what would be -- no longer was renewable. GEORGE ROGERS: That's right. But there was -- there was some question on that too, because I was dealing as an economist rather than as a lawyer.
And the lawyer who represented the state on this one was arguing this was not a true trust because it allows you to dispose of parts of the trust by sale. But that was the reason they allowed that so that you could then make it perpetual. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Who was the lawyer for the state? Do you remember his name?
GEORGE ROGERS: Oh, it was -- oh, God. You had -- KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, Charlie Cole? GEORGE ROGERS: It wasn't Charlie. KAREN BREWSTER: He was the Attorney General.
GEORGE ROGERS: His name was right on the tip of my tongue. God, why can't I think of his name? He's still active here. KAREN BREWSTER: I know who the lawyer for you guys was.
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, we had a couple of lawyers there, but we had -- oh, God, now what was his name again? Well, he got -- actually, he made quite a bit of money on that because he got paid for his -- by the -- by the -- the government, I guess. He retired from Alaska. He divorced his wife. He went off on his motorcycle. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, maybe I'll find it in the papers. GEORGE ROGERS: Yes, I think you will.
Section 9: KAREN BREWSTER: I have David Walker was the lead counsel for -- GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, that's right. KAREN BREWSTER: -- the Alliance for the Mentally Ill -- GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum. Yeah, that's right. KAREN BREWSTER: and the Weiss family. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. Uhhum.
KAREN BREWSTER: And Cliff Davidson was the House Resources Committee chair, at some point was involved. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. Uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: What was this deal you said that the legislature made with the Department of Natural Resources?
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, I don't know if they exactly made a deal with it. They were getting tired of it, by the way, at this point because we were arguing all the time. KAREN BREWSTER: This was in the -- by 1990?
GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, about 1990. Yeah. And they had decided to just get rid of it, go on to other things, because it was taking up a lot of their time too. And -- KAREN BREWSTER: So the -- the legislature is the one who made the final decision?
GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, uhhum. Have you talked to Sharon Lobaugh yet? KAREN BREWSTER: No. GEORGE ROGERS: She's very volatile in this thing too. But she -- she may remember it. Remind her that she and I stood up, we held hands, and said no, we don't approve of this.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember what it was you were not approving? GEORGE ROGERS: We were not approving of the settlement that they had worked out. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember the -- what those details were --
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, it was -- it was one the creation of this -- this trust -- this trust -- what's the -- what was the name you gave it now? KAREN BREWSTER: The Mental Health Authority? GEORGE ROGERS: Authority, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
GEORGE ROGERS: That the -- that it did not -- it did not do what the Supreme Court asked us to do was to recreate the original trust. KAREN BREWSTER: The legislature passed it anyway?
GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, uhhum. I said everybody was sick and tired of it by that time. At first, we had a lot of support on our side from the legislature. Because it was an all-out attack upon the administration. But then they got tired of hearing us. KAREN BREWSTER: You mentioned before about your -- the things in those boxes of yours GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: that are in the archives. You've mentioned something about that being different than if someone were to go look at the official state records GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: that are in the State Library. GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. What I had in there, I had the -- the tapes of our meetings transcribed and put in there as the minutes, not the ones that they had edited. Because they -- they most -- you know, I was so overwhelmed with reading that, I didn't bother reading the minutes. And most of the board members didn't either. And it was just one of those things you just do as a matter of course.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. GEORGE ROGERS: Okay. Approve the minutes. And we were given copies of them. We could have read them, but they were -- but when I did read them, I realized they had edited out the things that we had said in our arguments. So that it appeared that we had no -- no basis for arguing what we -- what we were advocating. My final report to the legislature is one of the things you should find in there because I -- I think I summed up all this stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
GEORGE ROGERS: And I'm sorry that I -- that I don't -- KAREN BREWSTER: And that was your final report from this interim commission? GEORGE ROGERS: Yes, uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
GEORGE ROGERS: And I may even have it listed here. KAREN BREWSTER: And that's what -- when you say the meeting minutes, it's the meetings of that interim commission? GEORGE ROGERS: Yes. I was trying to think, as we met, they kept -- they taped them, and then had the minutes. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. And so why do you think they were altering your --
GEORGE ROGERS: Well, to -- to eliminate any argument we put up against what they wanted to do, and they left out entirely the -- that side of it. Well -- KAREN BREWSTER: The official -- that's interesting that the official minutes -- so you had the tapes transcribed separately; is that what you're saying? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay. So the official minutes in the --
GEORGE ROGERS: Heads of areas, 1989 was the -- this is the approved procedure for determining the fair market value of Alaska's Mental Health Trust lands, final report of the Interim Mental Health Trust Commission, December 20th, 1986. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
GEORGE ROGERS: It's only 38 pages long so it's not a great big thing. KAREN BREWSTER: So those -- those kinds of documents get filed in the State Library? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, they are -- they are probably in the library.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. I just never -- I've never researched official state documents, so I don't know where that stuff goes. But that the official minutes in the state records are one way, and then you had the transcripts done again in a different way? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, uhhum. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
GEORGE ROGERS: Because I felt that they were a true reflection, but they were so voluminous. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. GEORGE ROGERS: But I -- I... KAREN BREWSTER: And do you know what happened to these original tapes?
GEORGE ROGERS: They probably were destroyed because they had possession of them. KAREN BREWSTER: Yes. GEORGE ROGERS: I had transcripts made from them. KAREN BREWSTER: Before they were destroyed? GEORGE ROGERS: Uhhum.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Now, I find that kind of intrigue and controversy very interesting. GEORGE ROGERS: Well, it was -- it was very nasty, and I felt that I was being stabbed in the back at all times on this.
Section 10: And for example, they told us we didn't have any money to do any more research, but they hired a firm in New Mexico to come up and do a study. And one of the -- the people of the Department of Natural Resources told me about it. They said, George, you should know about this. I found out that the person they had -- they had to work with me when I was -- when I was working for the Patelman Memorial Institute.
So I called him up, and he said, they didn't tell me anything about there being a lawsuit. He said, if they had, I would not have taken this job.
But he then looked at his report, he said on the basis of the analysis that our experts had done, he said that they had not used the best available economic natural resource data. What they used was the data that was provided to them. I knew it wasn't the best. So what they had done, they had took the geology and looked at the Rocky Mountain states and did a, sort of an analogy of those two things.
And I knew I was -- I was working with my hands tied by the stuff they provided me. And so when I called him, I called him also, he said, again, he said, when he was hired, he was not told about the lawsuit. He was just told that they wanted him to review the work that had been done.
And he said, you have to do this all over from the ground up. The -- the Department of Natural Resources did not provide the material that they had available, they could have provided. And so I told them what had happened, and he invited me to come down and talk to his -- his classes about the differences, the problems you run into. But he -- he wrote the definitive text on the determination of land values where there are no comparable sales.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what was his name, do you remember? GEORGE ROGERS: No, you know, I can't remember his name, darn it. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. That's okay. GEORGE ROGERS: But it was at the tip -- it's not even at the tip of my tongue now. KAREN BREWSTER: That's okay. GEORGE ROGERS: But --
KAREN BREWSTER: So -- GEORGE ROGERS: -- I had a lot of allies on this, but they weren't here. And I was told we didn't have any further money for bringing in any outside experts. KAREN BREWSTER: But they brought them in. GEORGE ROGERS: They brought them in anyhow.
KAREN BREWSTER: So who were your allies here in Alaska? GEORGE ROGERS: Well, there were people in the legislature that -- and you can always get people in the legislature if they are questioning the -- the executive branch. But I'm trying to think.
What did I have. Well, I had -- of course, I had all the people who were -- had an interest in it because of their affiliation for the Alliances for the Mentally Ill.
And I did have allies in -- within the Department of Natural Resources who were -- who were the ones that told me that we -- we were told not to give you this information, but here it is. This is, sort of like whistle blowers behind the scenes. It was a very nasty period.
Section 11: KAREN BREWSTER: How do you feel about talking about some of the opposition people and who they were and what they did against you? GEORGE ROGERS: Well, the opposition people were -- determined, was they, first of all, had the attitude that Bill Ray said when he said we're not going to spend taxpayer's money putting people on couches for psychiatrists. I said to Bill, that's not what we do.
And Bill was -- like I say, he actually had tears in his eyes when I got through telling him about my daughter. And he said, George, I had no idea. I said, most people don't. And he then became a strong ally of our cause too, in the legislature.
KAREN BREWSTER: But once they had that commission and there was all that fighting back and forth in the commission GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: and in the state and DNR, are there people you can talk about who were involved in that?
GEORGE ROGERS: I have trouble now. The -- when you're dealing with the -- the state, you're dealing with a monolith of people. You had people within that who didn't -- who were providing you with some -- some -- some insight of what was going on, like telling me that even though they said they had no more research money, they hired this fellow from Outside, who happened to be somebody I knew and had worked with.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. GEORGE ROGERS: I got in touch with him. And I got the full story there. Which I used then in exposing it that -- and I quoted from his report, which they suppressed too, that the data that we provided was not adequate to do the sort of things that he was -- would have been able.
He also told me he put a dollar sign on how much it would cost if they provided him with that data to do this thing, but then they realized that if they did that, he would come out with something that was close to what I was advocating, so they decided not to take him up on that offer.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, yeah. And I was wondering if there were individual people who you think were responsible or was it a conspiracy or it's just the way bureaucracy works?
GEORGE ROGERS: It was in part the way bureaucracy works. One of the things I did when I was doing my -- my -- using Alaska as my case study, the first thing I'd said is that bureaucratic behavior has an unrecognized impact upon economic decisions and economic trends.
Section 12: And I -- so my first book after my -- getting my Ph.D. was the study of the economy of Southeast Alaska. It was a very peculiar interesting thing because you had practically all the land resources were under one bureaucracy, the Forest Service. There was some lands under the Bureau of Land Management, there were the mineral resources for the -- under the Interior Department management.
Fisheries were under the commercial fisheries, which when I was, over its history was -- was batted back and forth between the Department of Interior and the Department of Commerce, depending upon who -- the Republicans favored the Department of Commerce; the Democrats, the Department of Interior. So you were managing resources, you were managing the -- the commercial exploitation of the fisheries.
Then you had the -- at that time the Native population was a minority but it was a substantial minority. It was not like -- I was going to tell you it was about like 40 -- 30 percent of the population were Natives. They were totally under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
GEORGE ROGERS: So that their lifestyle and everything was very much dominated by the decisions made by the bureaucracy. Each one was structured differently. The department and the Forest Service had almost a military structure in the hierarchy, and the field people and so on, they all wear Smoky the Bear uniforms and funny hats. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
GEORGE ROGERS: And they -- they also had these -- these -- these established principles of sustained yield and so on. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. GEORGE ROGERS: All those things were -- were cast in stone. But you did have the -- the regional people made the decisions, not the national people, within the structure of the bureaucracy.
The fisheries was the reverse. Everything -- all the decisions were made at the national level. The -- the regional people had some input, but the determination was always done at the national level at the advice and consent of the -- the canned salmon industry and other industry representatives. It was the strangest thing.
So the field-level people were delighted when we -- we said we would work with you on the research because they had been advocating that sort of research for decades and were getting no place.
And same thing is true with the enforcement people. Clarence Rhode, for example, became a very good friend of mine when I was working on this thing, on the field committee, because he was very, very, very strongly in favor of the scientific management of the fishery resources. KAREN BREWSTER: What was -- what was his name? GEORGE ROGERS: Clarence Rhode. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, I've heard of that name.
GEORGE ROGERS: There's a mountain range named after him. He -- he was lost -- KAREN BREWSTER: R-H-O-D-E? GEORGE ROGERS: Yeah, uhhum. Clarence. He was one of my heroes. He was -- he was a bush pilot who became one of the regular pilots down here, and then became, for a while, a head of the fisheries program in the Southeast Alaska.
He was the one who finally got the -- the enforcement agents to have wings because they would come -- come chug, chug, chugging in a big boat, a white superstructure, by the time you would see them miles away, and by the time they got there, they got their nets out of the river and put them out where they were supposed to be, and things like that.