This is a continuation of the interview with Dr. Jerry Schrader by Bill Schneider and Karen Brewster on April 19, 2010 at his home in Salem, Oregon.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Alaska Mental Health Trust History
Date of Interview: Apr 19, 2010
Narrator(s): Dr. Jerry Schrader
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Section 1: Returning to Alaska and working as a psychiatrist at the Langdon Clinic in Anchorage.
Section 2: Working with the Alaska Mental Health Association to promote suing the State of Alaska over mismanagement of the mental health trust lands.
Section 3: Beginnings of the mental health trust lawsuit.
Section 4: Expansion of the mental health trust lawsuit, and legislative involvement with the final settlement.
Section 5: Determining the cost of mental health services in Alaska, working with the Alaska Mental Health Association, and working for the Langdon Clinic.
Section 6: The mental health trust settlement and the State’s resistance to it.
Section 7: Mental health services for the developmentally disabled.
Section 8: Treatment for alcoholics and early stages of mental health trust lawsuit.
Section 9: Role in the mental health trust lawsuit, and his work with mental health services in California in the 1980s.
Section 10: Assessment of mental health services in California in the 1980s.
Section 11: Types and quality of mental health services in California in the 1980s.
Section 12: Effect of the mental health trust settlement on delivery of mental health services in Alaska
Section 13: His commitment to resolving the mental health trust issue, and his assessment of the current mental health system in Alaska.
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
Section 1: BILL SCHNEIDER: So in 1980, you returned to Alaska?
JERRY SCHRADER: Yes. And I returned ‑‑ let me think. I fished in the summer, and then I settled, actually, in Anchorage.
And I actually went to work for the Langdon Clinic. That's sort of an interesting aspect of history there.
When I came to Alaska, the ‑‑ the private psychiatrists were not particularly happy with the idea that we were going to have a lot of government mental health treatment.
I remember ‑‑ and it was funny because I was sort of told by some of my staff that J. Ray Langdon was Mr. Mental Health, Mr. Psychiatry of Alaska, and that I should ‑‑ whenever I went to Anchorage, I should see him.
And I explained to them that J. Ray Langdon had a nice little operation, and if you think in terms of boats, he had a yacht.
And he was anchored up in this little bay. And now we've come into the bay, we're a 700‑foot long cruiser. And if ‑‑ if the wind comes up and we swing on our anchor, we'll just wipe his boat out. You know. So there was a huge imbalance here in authority and power.
I did meet with him once, and I ‑‑ he wanted to know what we were doing. And, see, one of the things that had never been done in Alaska was to write a mental health plan. Well, because we received Federal money, the state was actually obligated to write an annual mental health plan. So we started doing that. And he sort of suggested that was kind of communistic. Three‑year plan? Five‑year plan? You know. Just like those Russians.
Anyway, so one of the groups that ‑‑ that hassled me a lot was the ‑‑ the Langdon Clinic. But you know, it's like you have to meet with these people and you have to air these things. And the ‑‑ it's ‑‑ it's the nature of things we do in government, you're not going to please everybody.
And so I guess I had ‑‑ by the time I came back to Alaska, I had acquired enough credibility with the psychiatrists that they would make me a member of their clinic. And actually gave me a lot of flexibility, so that was good.
And it's, like, well, while we didn't agree on a lot of things, we, nevertheless, respected each other. And so I ‑‑ I worked for them and I think I did some part‑time work at the ‑‑ at a mental health clinic in Fairbanks, and I did some part‑time work at a mental health clinic in Anchorage.
Section 2: But what I did was I took my paperwork and I went to the Mental Health Association and basically told them that we were going to have to sue if we expected anything to come of the mental health lands. And so they made me the president of the Mental Health Association.
And by then, Joyce, you know, had moved out of being executive director, and Natalie Gottstein was now the executive director. And we ‑‑ you know, the division was no longer putting out annual reports. We started putting out annual reports. And I think one of which I sent to you.
And the ‑‑ one of the things that I ‑‑ I came to realize working with Natalie who was divorced from Barney Gottstein, the Carr‑Gottstein group ‑‑
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Yeah.
JERRY SCHRADER: ‑‑ was that he was a Democrat.
And I'm really ‑‑ I don't know that ‑‑ well, I know that we were ‑‑ after we had made the decision to file a lawsuit, we needed an attorney. And most of the large firms were already working stealing our land. They were already on the other side in many of these things. And ‑‑ but Cowper was available.
And if I think about it, it's, like, Gottstein was an important man in the democratic world, and so one of the things I did was to pay my respects and I went and visited him at his house. And he was ‑‑ he was very congenial and he thought, you know, suing the state over the mental health lands was a good thing to do.
And ‑‑ and about that time, somebody came out of the back of the house and it's, like, oh, Mike, come over here, I want you to meet Dr. Schrader. So that's the one and only time I met Mike Gravel. What was he doing, you know. So it must have been ‑‑ there must have been some sort of democratic tie there, I thought.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Why would Gottstein be interested?
JERRY SCHRADER: Well, he's a land developer. I mean, I ‑‑ you know, I sort of had in my mind that, if we were going to invade this territory, we should at least be polite about it.
And I would ‑‑ I don't know this, but I suspect that ‑‑ that it was through him that we got Steve Cowper to be our lawyer, who said up front that part of his reason for ‑‑ for doing this was that he wanted to keep his name, you know, in the public eye. I think he was at a stage where he had done very well in the primary, but he hadn't, you know, been nominated to be Governor.
And so ‑‑ and see, it was like ‑‑ like when the ‑‑ the situation at the airport came up, we wanted to have a public hearing about the commitment law, so Natalie found a legislator, a state senator who would sponsor that, so we had a public hearing in Anchorage.
And I talked about, you know, the problem with the commitment statute and what we needed to do, change this one section about imminent danger and so forth. And then when that played on TV on the news, the background was the airport. And I thought, God, you know, I mean, that wasn't my idea.
Section 3: So, you know, it was, like, through no fault of my own, I somehow fell in with people who could actually have an influence. You know, if ‑‑ if Natalie Gottstein wanted to have a meeting with somebody, they wanted to have a meeting with her. Especially if they were democrat.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And for the ‑‑ for the record, tell us why Natalie was interested in mental health.
JERRY SCHRADER: The ‑‑ I was ‑‑ I talked to Joyce Munson last night. I haven't talked to her since God knows when. She ‑‑ when I told her who I was, she said, oh, heavens.
Anyway, she was telling me that after Natalie and her husband split up, Natalie was kind of ‑‑ you know, needed to have something to get her teeth into.
And ‑‑ and I ‑‑ according to Joyce, she went to work with Joyce in the Mental Health Association. And then in '79 when Joyce left to be a legislator, Natalie took over. And that's really kind of as much as I know about that.
She ‑‑ I ‑‑ I'm not sure of this, but I think it's possible that part of her interests about mental problems may have originated with the fact that her son was having some difficulties.
And so initially when we talked about the lawsuit, she actually wanted her son, Jim, to be the lawyer. But that didn't seem like a good idea just because of some emotional instability that he had.
And you know, it's like, I mean, it was interesting. I've read a number of the ‑‑ especially the people I knew, and you know, like, when I read Steve Cowper's statements about there was this psychologist or something who came to talk to him, that was me.
And I ‑‑ actually, a friend of mine did some legal research about land grants, and that's part of what we provided for him. Scoop Jackson said this was a land grant like all the rest of the land grants we've made in the West for schools and other public purposes. So anyway.
The ‑‑ when I read Jim's, Gottstein's interview, he talked about his parents had brought somebody out to the house, and that's when he jumped out the window and ran off. And, now, that was ‑‑ that was me.
I didn't talk with him that night because, you know, I guess I was the one that he was trying to avoid. Not that he knew me from Adam at that time, and I don't know that I knew him from Adam at that time.
But you know, when you run off down the street, and I think it was in the winter, with nothing but your pajama bottoms on, and neither of your parents are fleet‑footed enough to catch you, what do you do? You have to call the police. So they did.
Section 4: But I ‑‑ I think having Steve Cowper as our lawyer was very good. And having, in a sense, the kind of backup, you know, that we had, sort of socioculturally speaking, you know, from the Gottstein influence and so forth helped. And, you know, I mean, it's like Natalie knew people on the Supreme Court.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Say ‑‑ say that again?
JERRY SCHRADER: Natalie knew people on the Supreme Court. You know. Oh, I'm sure, you know, I forget who it was, you know. And so ‑‑ and that's part of why the decision was made to do it in the state because ‑‑ and the Supreme Court in Alaska, at least at that time, had a reputation for being pretty progressive and pretty liberal. I thought.
Maybe a legal scholar would disagree, but that was my impression. And so that's how we embarked on that path.
And ‑‑ and then later, you know, it was, like, it ‑‑ it seemed like the Mental Health Land suit started out with, like, me, the Lone Ranger, and by the time the whole thing came to pass, it was, like, I could barely get in the room there were so many lawyers.
And Jim Gottstein, I think, did an Amicus brief. Again, his mother was trying to get, you know, something going on in his life, for the chronically mentally ill. And so he was representing a different person or group of people than Vern T. Weiss.
And then, of course, the alcohol and drug people got involved and the thing sort of moved on. And it was, like, you know, my ability to control all of that was greatly reduced. You know. I mean, my influence, you know, it's like it sort of took on a life of its own with all of these different people.
And the ‑‑ but, you know, it was, like, that was fine, as far as I was concerned.
I ‑‑ the ‑‑ I think at some point ‑‑ well, it amazes me to think that the thing drug on from 1985, when the Supreme Court said they had to reconstitute the Trust, until 1999.
I mean, I left Alaska in 1990 and came back here. But the ‑‑ and all of the different sort of permutations and agreements and disagreements and so forth, it's, like, was amazing.
I ‑‑ you know, after the initial ‑‑ well, let's see. When was it. I'm trying to remember when Cowper became Governor.
There was ‑‑ there was some sort of ‑‑ well, there was an interim committee of the legislation ‑‑ of the Legislature, and I was on that committee.
And that led to an agreement about a certain amount of money was going to be put in the Mental Health Trust, except nobody ever did that.
And I got a chuckle out of this. One time Jim Gottstein and I were being interviewed on TV, and they asked us what we would do ‑‑ if we had a contingency plan if the government didn't put the money into the Trust. And I didn't know. Jim Gottstein said, oh, yes, we do have.
And they said, well, what is it? And he said, well, that's for the state to worry about.
So when we walked out of there, out on the sidewalk, I asked him, what ‑‑ what was the plan. And he said, well, we're going to take this yellow tape and go down and tie up the entire Federal ‑‑ or I mean the entire Marine Highway fleet.
And I thought, that had ‑‑ that sort of had an appeal to me. I'm sure it would have been an attention getter, you know. But that never happened. Even though they didn't put any money in the plan.
KAREN BREWSTER: So is this the Interim Mental Health Commission?
JERRY SCHRADER: Hmm?
KAREN BREWSTER: Is that called the Interim Mental Health Commission? Is that what you're talking about?
JERRY SCHRADER: Interim Legislative Committee on Mental Health Lands. That was in 1986.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. Because there was a Mental Health Commission.
JERRY SCHRADER: At some point.
KAREN BREWSTER: At some point. That George Rogers was involved with.
JERRY SCHRADER: Which was I presume later.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
Section 5: JERRY SCHRADER: And then in '87, they created an Alaska Mental Health Board, and I was the chairman pro tem.
KAREN BREWSTER: So what did that board do?
JERRY SCHRADER: Well, part of it ‑‑ part ‑‑ our function at that point was that the ‑‑ the thing had moved along to a point where they wanted an entity that would tell the Legislature what the necessary expenses for the mental health program were.
Because that's basically what the law ‑‑ the law said, that this land shall be managed as a public trust. And the income and proceeds will first be used to pay the necessary expenses of the mental health program.
So at one point, I actually told at the House and Senate Finance, and I think maybe there was some other committee involved from both the House and the Senate, what the necessary expenses were, you know, what needed to be done.
And ‑‑ see, it was, like, my ‑‑ I was no longer the Director of Mental Health at that point, you know. I mean, I was just involved with the Mental Health Association. And I ‑‑ you know ‑‑ I noticed that I had an Outstanding Service Award from the Mental Health Association in 1978, '86, and '88.
So that gives you an indication of how much I was involved, I guess, with the Mental Health Land issue.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you were still in private practice this whole time when you were involved with the association?
JERRY SCHRADER: Yeah. Yeah. And actually, I came back ‑‑ I came back to Anchorage and went to work at Langdon Clinic, in, like, what, '80 or '81, and I moved to Juneau in '85.
For one thing, my boat was in Juneau.
And, you know, the ‑‑ I didn't think that the Langdon Clinic was very well run, really. It was ‑‑ it was sort of like a lawyer's sweat shop, you know, the new guys do all the work.
And, I mean, I actually said in one meeting that I understood that, you know, one of the people who had been there a long time may only want to work, you know, part‑time, but we ought to pay them part‑time, too. You know.
I don't think that probably added to my popularity at that point.
But one of the sort of phenomenons was that when I went to Alaska in '73, there was one really private psychiatric clinic. By the time I left, there were five.
And it was the new people who, after a year or two at Langdon Clinic, decided they wanted to do something else, they would go start their own clinic. So these were all sort of offshoots.
Section 6: But when I was at the stage of being the first chairman of the Mental Health Board, it seemed like we had some kind of an agreement with the state, or at least the beginnings of an agreement. And ‑‑ but obviously, that didn't turn out to be the case.
And I was looking through some of my stuff and later I wrote a lot about that. It didn't get published, it was just notes of mine, but it was like I had ‑‑ I had a hard time understanding what the state's resistance was to behaving, you know, as trustees for the mental health lands.
And it's ‑‑ it was just hard to figure out. I mean ‑‑ I mean, one of the things I thought is, well, are they just being stubborn? I mean, it's, like ‑‑
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well they had a lot to lose economically.
JERRY SCHRADER: Well, I think they did have a lot to lose. They had more to lose than I was aware of at that time in terms of what they would have to do to restore the Trust. It was pretty big. But, you know, it was, like, by then, Alaska had a lot of income. They could afford a couple billion dollars. You know. I think. That's what I think personally.
But I think it was ‑‑ you know, when I ‑‑ when I think back on this, I wonder. I mean, it's ‑‑ I was impressed over the years working in the corridors of power that it was possible to get things done. But I've also been impressed that sometimes the things that get done aren't quite what they seem.
You know, there is a certain disingenuousness about legislative and congressional bodies and how they act. And I've wondered if ‑‑ you know, because I did a little research about lands that had been granted for mental health purposes and other charitable purposes in other states.
And I didn't ‑‑ I haven't really pursued that or followed it up, but my suspicion is that Alaska may not have done all that differently than many other states did.
And maybe it's occurred to me that from the point of view of the Senate, maybe this was just another way of giving a state some extra land. You know.
Obviously, I mean, the ‑‑ the land ‑‑ the state that has the least federal land is Texas. I mean, aside from the Alamo, there is very little federal land in Texas.
And there used to be a psychologist who worked at Eagle Creek, and his family had some wealth and they lived in Texas and he grew up there, and he talked about his family had owned a piece of ‑‑ huge piece of land out in West Texas for something like three generations. He was the first person from the family to ever set foot on that land. You know.
And I wondered how much of that sort of thing went on in Texas. You know. It was, like ‑‑ but I ‑‑
BILL SCHNEIDER: Let's stop for just a second.
JERRY SCHRADER: Yeah.
Section 7: KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. My question has to do with the lawsuit, the initial lawsuit, and you mentioned the Mental Health Trust ‑‑ the Mental Health Association was filing a lawsuit. But Vern Weiss' name is on that lawsuit.
JERRY SCHRADER: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: And how is it that you got him involved and he was chosen to be the plaintiff?
JERRY SCHRADER: Uh‑hum. The ‑‑ I remember thinking about this, you know, when we were first considering a lawsuit, and the notion of the mental health lands. Well, the statute in Alaska provided for services for both mentally ill and the mentally retarded.
And one of the bone of contentions when I went to Alaska from the citizens for the mentally retarded was that they just felt like, you know, the ‑‑ the institutional approach and the Valdez thing and so forth was just all wrong.
And ‑‑ and shortly after I became the Director of Mental Health, I inherited the Office of Developmental Disabilities organizationally.
And that sort of had an interesting ‑‑ there's an interesting story there.
Someone had ‑‑ someone had held that office, and I think it was ‑‑ it was somewhere in the Department of Health and Social Services. And had testified before a committee and had referred to what we called crib cases.
People generally are not aware of the fact that some people at birth are so developmentally disabled that they spend their whole life in a crib. They never learn to walk, they don't have speech, you know.
And ‑‑ and it's, like, historically, it's sort of the old bughousers, as we used to call people who worked in mental institutions, refer to these kids, or ‑‑ and some of them were into their twenties, as crib case ‑‑ or as bridge cases, the implication being that you should just toss them off the bridge.
Well, he made this remark in this committee hearing and referred to the crib cases as bridge cases. And within an hour, the Governor's telephone was ringing off the hook from angry parents.
And this is one of my favorite Governor Egan stories.
He called the Commissioner of Health and Social Services and he said, I want that man fired. He told him what he'd done, and he said, I want him fired. And the commissioner said he'd take care of it. And the Governor said, I'll hold. And the commissioner told me this story.
And so he walked down the hall and said, you're done, and walked back and said, it's taken care of. And I thought, you know, Egan understood bureaucracy in government, you know, a lot better than the average person.
So one of the things that ‑‑ that we did in the ‑‑ in the Division of Mental Health was we changed the name to the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Because we already had a lot of the institutionalized retarded people, and we'd had others that didn't need to be in the institution, could be elsewhere. And now we had the Office of Developmental Disabilities, and so it was all sort of together.
And I ‑‑ I always thought that because of the way the statute was written, mental health, the mental health lands always included the mentally retarded. And as far as I was concerned, broadening that to the developmentally disabled was not ‑‑ you know, was in my ‑‑ in my thinking, it was sort of a nicer way of talking about the mentally retarded, in a sense.
Although I know that there are people who are developmentally disabled who are not, in fact, handicapped mentally, you know. But ‑‑ so that sort of was not troublesome to me.
Section 8: And there was a ‑‑ a sort of long‑standing issue about those people with alcohol and drug problems. The Office of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse was separate from the Division of Mental Health. And in many states, it was part of the Division of Mental Health or the Department of Mental Health.
But it ‑‑ you know, and ‑‑ and early on, NIMH paid for somebody to do a consultation to see whether or not it made sense to integrate these programs in Alaska, and there was a lot of resistance from the alcohol and drug people to do that sort of thing.
And I think it came down to they didn't want anybody committed for treatment. Now, it's different if the ‑‑ if the judge makes a condition of your sentencing that you get treatment, you know. That's viewed differently by the alcohol and drug world.
But ‑‑ so, you know, it's like I ‑‑ I was not particularly motivated to try to build a bigger and ‑‑ you know, department. I was more interested in doing a good job with what we, you know, had to do.
But the ‑‑ I think that the way Vern Weiss got involved was this grew out of some connection between Steve Cowper and Vern Weiss' father, that may not have had anything to do with mental health or mental health lands or what have you.
I think he ‑‑ his father was a client of some ‑‑ some connection with Steve Cowper.
And I ‑‑ I didn't know that Vern Weiss' basic problem was developmental disability. I mean, I think that's what it was. I never met him, I never really knew anything about him.
And I wasn't really involved in the selection of, you know, who ‑‑ I mean, I didn't ‑‑ not being a lawyer, I didn't think in terms of we need a name, we need a person, you know, what have you. I just saw it as a sort of a public interest lawsuit. So ‑‑
BILL SCHNEIDER: So Weiss didn't come to you?
JERRY SCHRADER: No. Huh‑uh.
BILL SCHNEIDER: I see.
JERRY SCHRADER: Now, did he go to Natalie? Not that I know of, but I ‑‑ I don't know how that decision came about.
And I do think that, you know, once it began to look like there was a pot of money, then the alcohol and drug people got a lawyer who want to be ‑‑ and he wanted them to be part of their beneficiaries, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And now I don't know. I've ‑‑ some people think you have to beat the bushes to find somebody who isn't a beneficiary, but I don't know that. Because I haven't kept up with it.
Section 9: You know, it's ‑‑ one of the things that I've given some thought to is whether or not what has evolved from the lawsuit is really something that I could feel good about, and I, of course, know people, I have friends who have, you know, worked in Alaska and mental health and so forth for a long time, and they all seem to feel that the mental health system has just gone by the wayside.
And you know, I know people who, like, worked at the Anchorage Community Mental Health Clinic who have left. And I've had people say, well, I mean, the mentally ill just hang out on Fourth Street, they don't have any programs, they don't have anything to do.
And it's ‑‑ the ‑‑ it reminds me of my experience when I went to California in '78. They had just survived Ronald Reagan's governorship. And Ronald Reagan felt that the state was spending too much money, so he cut the budget at the state hospitals, he cut the budget at the Department of Mental Health, he cut the budgets, you know, everywhere he could.
You know, it ‑‑ the ‑‑ the budget at the State Hospital was trimmed to such a point that I believe it was in '70 ‑‑ 1979, the doctors filed a lawsuit, the psychiatrists at the State Hospital, alleging that their rights were being violated because they were unable to do their job because the hospital didn't have the necessary medicines, it didn't have alternative, you know, various programs for people to do, they didn't have enough nurses, you know, it's like they couldn't treat people in that environment.
And interestingly enough, you know, it was, like, the lawsuit didn't go on because the state found some more money to fund the hospitals more appropriately.
Section 10: A lot of the ‑‑ the counties, you know, once they sort of scaled down the Department of Mental Health, then the counties were operating without any real management oversight from the state.
They were getting money from the state, but they weren't having any direction, they weren't having any oversight, there was no program reviews, et cetera. And ‑‑ and they did ‑‑ they sort of drifted off in a lot of areas, in a lot of ways from local pressures.
And one of the things that was kind of intriguing was that when we would discuss ‑‑ I mean, I had to sign off on the budgets for five counties, San Francisco, Contra Costa, and whatever, San Mateo. And so when we were discussing the money and the budgeting of these places, we had these various categories of money.
And we had one category called one‑time money. Now, that was money you could start a program with. Then we had another category called one‑time one‑time money. And that was like you could do a study, you know, or something, but you couldn't really start a program with it.
And ‑‑ but what was happening was that, you know, like, San Francisco had Willie Brown and he was like Santy Claus; when San Francisco wanted something, and they would just get more money.
And they were ‑‑ the director of the mental health program in San Francisco was highly critical of the Department of Mental Health.
And we were pretty tired of that, and so the ‑‑ we did a program review of the services in San Francisco, and we had ‑‑ I mean, I ran it, and I ‑‑ I was free to draw on staff, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists from all over the city to put together a team. And I think we had about 40 people. And we did this in three days.
And at the end of it, the man who was the director of ‑‑ of the Mental Health Services in San Francisco had two or three things to say. One was he criticized us because we didn't have enough gay people. And he didn't seem to realize that I'm not supposed to know how many gay people I had.
I'm supposed to be blind. It so happened I did know that we had some gay people.
And the other thing was he ‑‑ he ‑‑ you know, he sort of complimented us on our overall work, but he failed to realize that the administrative review opened with these lines:
This is a program that is apparently expecting an influx of new money. That's a nice way of saying it's overspending its budget. And Dianne Feinstein, I think, was the mayor. And he got fired.
Section 11: So ‑‑ but we found programs, I mean, we ‑‑ we reviewed programs that were just extraordinary, and extraordinarily inefficient and ineffective.
My favorite one was the Union Halfway House and Day Treatment Program.
And over a period of a year, one person had stayed there one night. There were about two or three people who came for lunch about three times a week. That was the total number of people that they had served.
They had a huge Victorian house. They had full‑time secretary, a full‑time social worker, a full‑time psychologist, a consulting psychoanalyst, Union analyst, you know, it was like...
And then, you know, another program that I was reviewing, it was a day treatment program for behaviorally troubled kids. And so I'm looking at the charts, and I open this chart and there's just all these blank pages. And it says, call Bill Smith, and a telephone number. That was all. That was the whole chart. You know. I ‑‑ I didn't call Bill Smith, but you know, so it was, like, record-keeping was just kind of bizarre.
And one time we were looking for a mental health clinic, and this was ‑‑ San Francisco had five districts and we were looking for the main mental health clinic in this one district. And it was kind of odd because here was this brick wall that just went on endlessly. There were no windows on the first floor, there were windows on the second floor, and there was a doorway.
So we go to the doorway and look and there's a card in the corner that was card of the director of the mental health clinic. That was the only thing that clued you into the fact that this was a mental health clinic. And then when we tried to open the door, it was locked. We had to push this buzzer, you know, and it went baa ah, and you could go in the door and go in. We rated them real low on accessibility.
So you know, it was like one of the lessons it taught me is that if you're going to put money out in the community, you need to monitor what it's used for, and you need to have an information system that can tell you, you know, whether or not you're serving people.
I mean, another classic was Contra Costa County had an inpatient facility, and the average daily census was something like 28. And the capacity was 20. So every night certain patients would be selected to go over and sleep in the general hospital if there were beds over there. You know.
And every day they would call the State Hospital to see if they could send somebody to the State Hospital. And ‑‑ and so here was this sort of not very satisfactory situation.
Some poor woman was strapped down, you know, because she was ‑‑ had sort of violent tendencies, and somebody had discovered that someone had gone in there, she wasn't ‑‑ she doesn't have an attendant around, someone had gone in there and she had been raped while she was in leather straps in this bed. So that caused a big furor.
But the other thing that was bizarre was there was another building, there were another 15 beds, but this had been turned over to a psychologist from the community college and he was only admitting people who were having a first episode of mental illness, schizophrenia, and so this was a research project.
And so if they had been using their beds for what they need needed to use them for, and funding a research project wasn't a very sensible use of that public money, they would have had enough beds, probably. You know. So you just ‑‑ you know, it was like ‑‑ when you have these local sort of grant funding mechanisms, then you get what local pressures bring to bear.
Section 12: And I ‑‑ I'm afraid now that with, you know, essentially Alaska has two mental health authorities, the state is a mental health authority and the Mental Health Trust Land Authority is an authority. And I ‑‑ I am skeptical that these things are tied together in a way that is constructive.
And I'm skeptical that there's anything like a chain of command. I think you have a chain of agreements maybe, but whether or not they are lived up to, I don't ‑‑ I don't think anybody knows. That's my suspicion.
And, you know, I ‑‑ they ‑‑ I'm told by people that ‑‑ and I guess there's some evidence for that, that as soon as ‑‑ as soon as this money and the settlement in '90 ‑‑ 1999 came through, the state mental health commitment to mental illness then went down so that they started cutting budgets.
And part of what I realize is that one of the reasons that, when I went there in 1973 and was developing a mental health program, one of the reasons that there was receptivity to that, I think, in retrospect was that their defense was always going to be, well, we've always taken care of the mentally ill, what's the complaint? You know.
So what if we use the land for other purposes. You know. We ‑‑ everything Dr. Schrader said we had to do, we did. You know. And so I can't help but think, gee, maybe winning the lawsuit was the worst thing we could have done.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's an interesting thought.
JERRY SCHRADER: We took away the incentive, you know ‑‑
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah.
JERRY SCHRADER: ‑‑ to actually do something constructive about the mental health program.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, the final question I have is you know, we look at this period of time coming up to the lawsuit itself.
JERRY SCHRADER: Yeah.
BILL SCHNEIDER: You know, and I ‑‑ I pressed Steve Cowper a bit as to whether he could have done more ‑‑
JERRY SCHRADER: Uh‑hum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: ‑‑ in his capacity. And so I guess I have to ask the same question of you. Is ‑‑ in retrospect, do you think you could have done more to bring the state to terms in ‑‑
JERRY SCHRADER: Without the lawsuit or ‑‑
BILL SCHNEIDER: Without the law ‑‑ well, without the lawsuit, or ‑‑
JERRY SCHRADER: Even after the lawsuit.
BILL SCHNEIDER: ‑‑ in prompting ‑‑ prompting it. Yeah.
JERRY SCHRADER: You know, it wasn't for want of trying.
I mean, to give you an example, I can't exactly guess the time frame, but I suspect ‑‑ let me think. Where was I.
I was in Anchorage at that point. So sometime after '80, between '80 and '82 maybe before ‑‑ I think around that time frame, there was a bill which was designed to bring about a more ‑‑ a business‑like way of managing the mental health lands.
And it might have been introduced by Joyce Munson. I know she did introduce a bill and it never went anywhere. Got tied up in committee.
And I had a friend who was the president of the Alaska Federal Savings and Loan at that time, I think he was still there.
And I was telling him about this, and he said that he had talked to a lobbyist he knew. And the report came back that it would cost 85,000 to get the bill out of the committee. And I liked that because it was such a nice, crisp number, you know.
And I didn't ask, but I wanted to ask, could I see the budget? You know. Like do you get all the money, or does George get some and Ralph and, you know, how much? We didn't have $85,000. You know.
And I ‑‑ I think that part of it is that the people on the other side, there was money involved, you know. A developer could buy Mental Health Land on the cheap and build houses on it and sell it, you know, at going rates, could make a lot of money.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. I see.
JERRY SCHRADER: And ‑‑ so I think that's part of why it went on. And you know, it's like ‑‑ I think that ‑‑ that in '85, when the Supreme Court basically ruled in our favor and ordered the state to reconstitute the Trust, I think that we felt that it would then be done.
I mean, I ‑‑ and so that it evolved into this 14‑year struggle was amazing to me. I thought Supreme Court judges had a lot of power.
And you know, I never really thought that the legal arguments and the legal questions that the state rose were compelling. It's just that, I mean, we did realize that once we had the ruling, then a ‑‑ you know, a settlement would probably be something that would grow out of the political arena as much as anything.
And so the Mental Health Association, for ‑‑ for example, encouraged the development of the National Alliance For the Mentally Ill groups that grew up in Fairbanks and Juneau and other places. And because we knew that we had to have people involved.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Sure.
Section 13: JERRY SCHRADER: And but you know, it's like I had spent, you know, overall something like 10 or 15 years trying to get something done about the mental health lands, and I was ready to do something else with my life.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So in 1990, did you ‑‑ when you ‑‑ did you retire then?
JERRY SCHRADER: No, I came ‑‑ I came back to Oregon and rejoined some people I'd been in private practice with before.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Uh‑hum. Uh‑hum.
JERRY SCHRADER: And frankly, by that time in my life, I had to think more seriously about making money. I ‑‑ you know, it was, like, my ‑‑ my needs are not that great, but I knew that at some point, I would need to retire, and the only ‑‑ you know, I wasn't going to have a retirement from the State of Alaska or any other job I've been, you know, at.
I had to do it through private practice. And so that really became more of a focus for me. And that started while I was still in Juneau but it continued on when I came down here.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And how long did you practice then?
JERRY SCHRADER: Here? Well, let's see. I retired about 10 years ago. So I was ‑‑ I think I retired before I was 65.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Hmm.
JERRY SCHRADER: So I came down here in '90, and I retired after about 10 years.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. All right.
JERRY SCHRADER: I was ‑‑ you know, it's like people complain endlessly about the IRS. The IRS is your greatest friend if you're self‑employed and you make, you know, 150,000 a year or something. There are so many wonderful ways to avoid paying taxes, it just, you know, boggles the mind.
KAREN BREWSTER: We just have 5 minutes left on this tape, so I just want to interrupt with a quick question to tie all this together on the ‑‑
JERRY SCHRADER: Good.
KAREN BREWSTER: ‑‑ the settlement. And I know you haven't been in Alaska and practicing, but your sense of how the mental health services has changed since when you were there ‑‑
JERRY SCHRADER: Uh‑hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: ‑‑ and if the settlement has made any differences, good and bad.
JERRY SCHRADER: Could what?
KAREN BREWSTER: Good and bad differences, or changes.
JERRY SCHRADER: Well, one of the things that I think the Mental Health Land Trust should do is to pay for a team of people to really come up and review the program.
And make recommendations about ‑‑ I mean, an assessment of how well it's functioning, and what needs to be done to have it function. I think that would be a genuinely very constructive use of Mental Health Land money.
And because, you know, it's like I just don't think there's the oversight of the program, as far as I'm able to tell from talking to people, that there needs to be. And I ‑‑ you know, the people that I have talked to who were involved in this years ago have uniformly been disgusted with the program.
And some of them have family members who are involved, you know, as chronically mentally ill people.
And Dr. Mander and his wife who were psychologists in Juneau for a long time have left, I mean, he's still ‑‑ he still works as a consultant for the sex offenders programs for the Department of Corrections.
But he's on a contract and they live in Seattle, and you know, they have a house in Juneau, but it's like they ‑‑ they all describe, you know, a deterioration in services to the seriously mentally ill.
So I ‑‑ I think that unless someone goes and really looks at this, you know, I mean, from where I sit, I could see that there's ‑‑ this is a setup for dis‑coordination, you know, and the creation of a lot of deficiencies in a network of services, just because of the way it's structured. So...
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Thank you very much.
JERRY SCHRADER: Uh‑hum.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay.
JERRY SCHRADER: Fun to tell all my old stories.