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Sharron Lobaugh

Sharron Lobaugh was interviewed by Bill Schneider on September 24, 2010 at her home overlooking Fritz Cove in Juneau, Alaska. Sharron is the parent of a son with mental illness and a longtime mental health advocate. In this interview, she talks about how she became involved in mental health issues, establishing the Alaska Alliance for Mental Illness, her role in the mental health trust lawsuit and settlement, and the evolution of mental health services in Alaska.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2006-15-25

Project: Alaska Mental Health Trust History
Date of Interview: Sep 24, 2010
Narrator(s): Sharron Lobaugh
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Transcriber: Carol McCue
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
Alternate Transcripts
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There is no slideshow for this person.

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Section 1: Her personal background, coming to Alaska, and what she did before her involvement with mental health issues.

Section 2: Her son’s diagnosis of schizophrenia leading to her getting involved with Alaska mental health issues, and helping to organize the Alaska Alliance for Mental Illness (AK AMI).

Section 3: Goals of the Alaska Chapter of the Alliance for Mental Illness and how their efforts fit into the national scene at the time regarding research on and treatment of mental illness.

Section 4: Trends in delivery of mental health services moving from family assistance to consumers of the services being empowered to be in charge of themselves.

Section 5: Getting involved with the Mental Health Trust lawsuit and legislation.

Section 6: The Mental Health Trust lawsuit, effect of expanding the beneficiaries, and the State of Alaska’s opposition to the lawsuit and legislation to try to resolve the problem.

Section 7: The State of Alaska’s opposition to the Mental Health Trust settlement, and fighting over land claims and management.

Section 8: Role of the Mental Health Commission and resolution of land claims.

Section 9: Disappointment with a lack of settlement of the Mental Health Trust case in Governor Cowper’s administration, the lack of change in delivery of mental health services, and an increase in user population sharing the same amount of resources.

Section 10: Discusses the role of the Mental Health Trust Authority and the State of Alaska in delivery of mental health services, identifies key players in the history of the mental health trust issue, and discusses the continued need for improved community services for the mentally ill.

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Section 1: BILL SCHNEIDER: Today is September 24th, 2010, I'm Bill Schneider. We have the pleasure today of doing an interview with Sharron Lobaugh. So thank you for taking the time to do this. And we're here at your home in Juneau on Fritz Cove Road, and beautiful, beautiful Juneau day, with a little bit of gray. So thank you for taking time to do this.

And let's start with some of your personal background. And then bring us up to the issues that got you involved in the ‑‑ in the trust.
BILL SCHNEIDER: So tell us a little bit about your personal life.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: Well, just briefly, I was born and raised in Pullman, Washington, and went to the university there, where I met my husband, Cliff, who was a veterinary student at the time. And in 1962, we came to Alaska to make things short there. I studied art while I was there, and also some education, as well. Then after moving to Juneau, I was pretty much a full‑time mom raising four children, boys, all of them, here in Juneau, who are still in Juneau.

And then became very interested and active in the arts. And I served as well on the Arts Council and a number of boards and commissions in the early '60s and '70s, including a lot of work in the conservation area.
My husband and I are both activists in environmental area, and worked very hard on Admiralty Island selection for wilderness, as well as other D2 lands and lobbying in Washington, D.C. and a number of very interesting active things.

In 1967, I was chair of the Centennial Art Exhibit, which went to 22 places in Alaska, as well as Seattle. And it was a juried show. And it was a very interesting experience, taking me as far as Gamble and St. Lawrence Island. And so that was what I did prior to mental health.

Section 2: And then, I guess, the life‑changing event was my son Tim, who was learning disabled in elementary school, went through many, many tests to try to determine what kinds of learning disability he had;

and it wasn't until high school where he started acting as if he didn't want to attend school at all, and was very frightened, and I remember saying at one time, my goodness, you act like you're paranoid, you're afraid to go to school, that's just kind of really odd, and used to have to take him to school.

And with some help with the counselors at the time, we were referred to a psychologist here who referred us then to child studies centers in Seattle, and he was determined to have schizophrenia. And for a long time the only assistance he had was we met with doctor ‑‑ a doctor at the Public Health Center for a while, and then doctor ‑‑ after a little bit of activist, we were able to persuade the City and Bureau of Juneau to start some mental health services.

At that time they didn't even have any mental health services in Juneau except to go see the state psychiatrist. And we got pills once a month, when I didn't understand at all what the pills once a month had to do with this illness.
So it wasn't until the start of the Mental Health Center here in Juneau that I became conscious of what being a ‑‑ having schizophrenia meant.

One psychiatrist recommended I read, hmm, let's see, something like I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which actually turns out to be about a girl who had a different type of illness, so we were pretty much blind to what it meant for about 10 years.

And then I ‑‑ one of the psychiatrists in Juneau who happened to be married to a friend of mine recommended that I get in touch with a couple of other women in the state who had been in touch with him about organizing a group of ‑‑ of parents who had family members with mental illness. And that's when I was able to touch base with Lola Reed and Ann DeNardo of Fairbanks. Ann DeNardo of Fairbanks and Lola Reed of Anchorage.

This person said, you know, I happen to have some public education money that's left over, and I'd like you to just arrange a conference on mental illness, and I'll be able to ‑‑ I'll be able to fund it before the end of the year because he was ‑‑ you know, it was the end of the year budget sort of thing. If you form this organization.

So we met by teleconference for a few months, and organized the first conference for persons who had family members with mental illness. And that was held in Fairbanks.
And then we formed the chapter of the Alaska Alliance For Mental Illness.

And we called ourselves AMI at the time, AK AMI, I believe. And affiliated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was then only about a ten ‑‑ maybe five or six years old, it was less than ten years, and went to their national conference, and the whole world changed for me then when I realized that much more is needed than a pill a month, you know, a prescription a month to keep people healthy who have a mental illness.

Section 3: BILL SCHNEIDER: Who was the psychiatrist that ‑‑
SHARRON LOBAUGH: It was Dr. Phil Shapiro, Dr. Shapiro at the time.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: And his wife is Whitney, and she was a close friend, even before she lived in Juneau, she lived here way early on, I got to meet her then. So anyway, he was the one that said look I think it's time you organized or helped organize something. And then we did organize the NAMI.

I had a job at the time working for the northwest coast ‑‑ Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory out of Portland. And my job required me to travel to the ‑‑ all kinds of education ‑‑ all of the educational institutions in the state and train in race and sex equity. So I held workshops, which were required for teachers to take race and sex equity. And so I was able to go to a number of communities that would ‑‑ would otherwise not be able to travel to.

And when I held those workshops, they usually lasted for a couple of hours for the teachers, and then I would have half days off where I could contact the mental health centers in these different communities and meet parents and family members.
And so, in a quick couple of years, we organized 12 groups that were affiliated with the National Alliance with the Mentally Ill.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: It was very lucky that I had that opportunity to meet people person to person.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, it sure was. And you were quite active, too.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Yes, I was, for a number of years. I was vice‑president to Ann DeNardo, but she had a stroke in the first year of office, and so I became president and I was president for about five years.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: And that's when we catalyzed the stand and formed these connections that were so critical in the lobbying effort that we had to do for the Mental Health Trust.
And at that time, it ‑‑ it was also the time when nationally things were happening. Mrs. Carter was very influential in organize ‑‑ in doing research on what kinds of things are necessary to ‑‑ to improve mental health of persons who have mental illness.

And she instituted studies that were done to try to find out what people needed because if you recall, back at the time of deinstitutionalization, which was about 10 years or more before her term, or her ‑‑ as first lady, they let mentally ill people out of all of the institutions in the United States.

And that was because it was considered inhumane to keep people in institutions against their will for long periods of time.
Often, there was no medication that would be effective for people with mental illness at ‑‑ during the ‑‑ between the 1900 and 1950.

So the only kind of medication that was used was Thorazine, which is a ‑‑ results in a serious tranquilization, and there's lots of drooling and side effects like jerking or often a permanent muscular issues that ‑‑ that would result from use of Thorazine.

So it wasn't until after her influence that money became appropriated nationally to the national alliance ‑‑ no, to the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH, to fund grants in order for people to do ‑‑ for researchers to do work on trying to find new and different medications. And so it was ‑‑ it was at that period of time when she was able to initiate conferences and seminars on community mental health.

Up until that time, a lot of the mental health centers focused on ‑‑ and I'm sorry for the term, but we called them the “worried well.” They were people who had issues like divorces or financial troubles or other family concerns, you know, personal concerns, homosexuality was one of them, and that type of thing where they were receiving counseling for this kind of disorder, but for people who had serious mental illness, they were not able to help them in the mental health centers.

So we looked at the word deinstitutionalization, and we thought, what does an institution provide. An institution not only provides a place to live, but they provide meals, they provide places for ‑‑ for patients to work, like on the grounds or in the kitchens and things like that. They provide support. You know, there was ‑‑ there was counselors or the gatekeepers, if you will, who helped them in and out of institutions.

And of course, the psychiatry, the medical information, all these things constitute an institution. They are within the walls. So the idea is community mental health centers need to provide community support services so that these people can survive effectively in their ‑‑ in their homes.

And so that was the goal that we were looking toward as ‑‑ in the Alliance is to try to broaden the services that are available in the community to ‑‑ to provide housing, to provide jobs, to provide places for them to meet and socialize, and those are the goals that we worked for as an alliance.

Section 4: BILL SCHNEIDER: And it seems that that grassroots effort was really so important. So many of the people we've talked to say that there was ‑‑ there was very little support and that people had to organize themselves in terms of getting mental health services.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: Yes. The ‑‑ as far as I know, the most successful people at the time when they had ‑‑ before they had a community support services, most of the people who were successful lived with an active family member who took charge and became their caseworker, if you will, and in fact, that's still kind of the way it is today.

Most people really do need active people behind them to ‑‑ to help them through these troubled times, although there is a new movement that's happened within the past 10 years for the consumers themselves to become empowered, and they are their own advocates.

So I think that there are even some groups who don't really want or prefer not to even involve their family members in these ‑‑ in their ‑‑ in their program. Because they really want to do it themselves.

But there is a body of ‑‑ of people who are not really able to do that. So one of the things, the most progressive things we have today are like the Polaris House in Juneau, which is aimed at encouraging consumers themselves to ‑‑ to learn and to help them help each other to succeed in society.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Say more about the Polaris House.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: Okay. Well, the Polaris House is founded on a program similar to Fountain House in New York. One of the benefits of being involved in the alliance is that we were able to go to a great number of national conferences and regional conferences.

And so I recall once in Boston, and then again in ‑‑ I guess it was New York being able to go to and visit a Fountain House program. And of course, in a big city like that, the Fountain House has many resources.

When ‑‑ when we visited, we first of all, meet the receptionist who is a consumer and able to call on another leader to come and ‑‑ and provide a tour of the house to the visitors, and they have many, many people, they have a large building with four different floors, and you know, the first floor might be more social activities, a second could be things like cafe and barber shops and ‑‑ and different services that are offered, and then there might be an administrative unit and so forth.

So Fountain House is a very effective model in a big city.
So we wrote a grant and it was funded by the Mental Health Trust in about the year 2001, I believe, to provide this type of smaller program here in Juneau.

So that ‑‑ that's what the Fountain House model is, and I think recently, they were accepted as a Fountain House organization. You have to meet certain criteria, so I believe they were successful in doing that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Hmm. That's interesting.

Section 5: BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, you also became politically active in fighting for restoration of the trust.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Yes. That happened kind of ‑‑ when we were a new alliance, we were trying to find out what kinds of things were ‑‑ were being done in the state, and we heard about the fact that in ‑‑ I guess her name is Green, and she was from Oregon,

she was a Representative, and it was before statehood and we learned that she had some concerns because a lot of Alaskans were impacting the mental health services in Oregon by having them travel down to the state from out ‑‑ from Alaska, so they were taking in some of the mental health patients in their institution there in Oregon.

And she thought, well, they should be funding their own program. So she had a bill passed in Congress that allowed the mental health ‑‑ allowed the State of Alaska to choose lands for purposes of dedication towards the support of the ‑‑ of persons who had mental illness in Alaska.

So we heard about this, and learned that there was a lawsuit that had been filed, and contacted Steve Cowper, who was formally a legislator here in Juneau, and I talked to him about the lawsuit that I guess Vern Weiss had initiated through him, and he was in charge of the case.

So after a year or so, just trying to keep abreast of what was happening, he was having a great deal of difficulty getting movement on that litigation. And actually contacted me and wanted to see if I would know of anyone who might be interested in taking over the case because he was going to run for governor.

So I recommended a friend, David Walker, as someone who was a bright, young lawyer and could possibly be interested, and Dave did take over the case from him.

And then, the big push was to try to get some legislation to resolve this because it had been 25 years before, you know, and already the issue is quite old at that point and there wasn't any resolution. So I worked a great deal with Jim Duncan, our senator, Senator Duncan was a very important player in this, as well as a number of senators and representatives on the other side of the aisle, some representatives, as well, I'll think of that in a moment.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: But anyway, we crafted a bill, and we had weekly meetings with a lot of the people who were involved, you know, especially the alliance, the national ‑‑ state alliance members, and tried to keep them involved in development of the legislation and its progress through the House and Senate. And it did ‑‑ it was a quite a wide‑ranging bill, I think fairly treated the issue because a million acres ‑‑ was it a million acres? Wait a minute.

BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, the Mental Health Trust lands.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Yeah. It was a million acres? No. It wasn't that long.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Doesn't matter.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Yes, it does. Yeah. There are 365 million acres in Alaska. Yeah, a million acres of Alaska lands is a lot of land.

And apparently during the previous administration, when this bill was passed, Phil Holdsworth, I believe, was the Commissioner of Natural Resources, and he ‑‑ there were no lands at that time other than federal lands, there were no lands for the state.

So he took the opportunity to ‑‑ because he was a mining engineer by profession, to select some very high prime land for the Mental Health Trust land. And so his work included quite a bit of acreage that was minerally rich, as well as areas around state ‑‑ around municipalities that would possibly grow.

For example, the bench lands around Juneau were part of it, and some really quite valuable lands in his ‑‑ in his initial selection. But they were still short. They didn't have quite enough lands identified at the time.
But anyway, at the time of our work on the bill with Jim Duncan, we knew that there ‑‑ that it was going to be a really hot issue because the state itself had already ‑‑ statehood had happened, and they had a goal of trying to acquire the best lands, as well.

So although we had a bargaining chip, we didn't have any ‑‑ any real authority to ‑‑ to move this forward until legislation, you know, was accomplished.
So after two years, I believe that the political climate changed, and Wally Hickel became elected again, and he ‑‑ his ideas were totally different about mental health.

So he had his Attorney General at the time, and I'm sorry, I don't remember his name, but anyway, moved quite quickly to change the entire scope of mental illness ‑‑ of mental health.

Section 6: One of the things that was in the original legislation ‑‑ excuse me, the federal legislation was that the ‑‑ they were to build an institution and they were also to provide services for persons that had mental illness and similar conditions.

So a number of other groups joined in the lawsuit and became the developmentally disabled and then that group expanded to persons who may have developmental disabilities, such as children that have more ‑‑ are likely to become mentally ill; in other words, they are at risk for becoming mentally ill. So the definition broadened. Then it became persons that had alcohol problems.

So the ‑‑ because I know for a fact that the mentally ill had almost no services before this all began; by the time the pie got bigger and bigger and bigger, the chance of really building a community support program for just the mentally ill is ‑‑ is decreased.

And then another thing happened at the time because not only was the group getting larger, but the ‑‑ the administration at the time believed that they could change the intent so that they could say that, well, we have been providing mental health services, we've had a ‑‑

we've had the Department of Health and Social Services and we've had a Commissioner of Mental Health for a long time, so we've been doing quite well, and we don't really feel that it's fair to say that there should be cut out a certain amount of acreage to provide for ‑‑ for these services.

They should be able to count all these years of service, you know, against the ‑‑ the mental health, and we don't believe that it's right to ‑‑ to set up a separate pool of money, which is what the Duncan bill would have done.

The Duncan bill would have actually put a separate, so almost a ‑‑ almost like a Permanent Fund, only not quite, but because there is a federal ‑‑ I mean, there is a state law against dedicated funds, there was a feeling that the setting ‑‑ setting out that million acres for the mentally ill would be similarly dedicating those monies.

So that's why the scope, and it's one of the reasons why the scope changed, but I think personally the reason it changed was those mental health lands were very valuable. They’re very, very valuable.

And so by the time that the Native corporations and the cities and all the people who had overlaid claims on the mental health land and mining companies and oil companies, the amount of land that was remaining for unappropriated or un ‑‑ unaffiliated or unclaimed diminished quite ‑‑ quite severely. (Recording paused momentarily.)

Section 7: BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. We're back on and we're talking about changes that occurred in the state.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Okay. Well, at the ‑‑ we were not able to be successful with the mental health bill that Jim Duncan had worked so hard on, and the term ended, you know, before the resolution happened.

And at that time, Governor Hickel was ‑‑ was reelected to a second term. And he ‑‑ his Attorney General looked at the bill and believed that there was no need for a separate fund to be set up for mental health for the ‑‑ and because they felt that the ‑‑ that there had been mental health services provided all along.

There had been developmentally disabled programs. There are programs, there was Harborview, and there was Alaska Psychiatric Institute they had been managing, and then the community ‑‑ community mental health. So he said there was lots of state money already, and we need to count that against the settlement.

And the original intent of the settlement was that these lands be managed solely for the purpose of providing services. So the intent changed because ‑‑ I think really politically changed, but not ‑‑ but the message they were delivering was, well, you know, there are these lands ‑‑ I mean, these monies have been spent by the state in the large sums to provide services already, and that needs to be counted against the settlement, is what they were saying.

So I think the real intent, though, the reason for the change, is not so much that some services had been provided, but because there was a lot of pressure from ‑‑ from organizations like the city and borough of different communities that lands around belonged to or should ‑‑ they had been double claimed. You know, the city wanted some and the Native corporations wanted theirs, and the mining and oil companies wanted to continue their claims, and so these overlaid mental health lands.

And there were, I think, a lot of political pressure saying, no, wait a minute, you can't let these people manage these lands and get all that money because these ‑‑ these lands really should be used for other purposes.

So that being said, the new bill provided that there ‑‑ that the claims that are validated from the different sources are ‑‑ proceed, and that the lands transfer to those entities, and that the remaining part, the remaining lands, which had not been claimed for other purposes, can be managed by the Mental Health Trust Authority, which is what they later created.

Section 8: Well, I forgot one of the most important steps that was an outcome of the effort that the ‑‑ we had initiated, and that is up until the ‑‑ until there was ‑‑ the litigation had moved forward, there really wasn't a lot of knowledge about what lands we were talking about, other than the fact that some of them were mineral lands and around cities.

So there was a commission established, George Rogers was the chair, Lidia Selkirk Craig was on it, while I was an alternate, and K. J. Metcalf who was a forester, and then we had staff that was assigned to us that ‑‑ to help identify the lands. And that took a two‑year process to try to work through that.

And then when that ‑‑ those lands were identified, we were able ‑‑ then the political pressure began to build up because we recognized that ‑‑ I mean, that there was a lot of city and borough land, there was university land, there was land for mining claims and oil claims and Native corporations, so there was almost two‑thirds of all of the million acres were already pretty much committed.

But they hadn't real clear title because there was this Mental Health Trust overlay on ‑‑ on those lands. So that created the political climate that I was talking about a little earlier, put a lot of pressure on the administration to try to find a way to give clear title to those entities.

So that's the ‑‑ one of the pressures that created the resolution that we now have, which was that, you know, a certain proportion, I don't recall exactly the number of acres, be managed for mental health. And the Mental Health Trust Authority was established, and that's the outcome that we are with today.

Section 9: BILL SCHNEIDER: One question I've always wondered about is why wasn't there a settlement during the Cowper administration?
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Well, that's one thing I've been wondering, as well, because that was kind of a little bit of an expectation on my part, for sure, because he did say, oh, you know, I've got this litigation, I need to ‑‑ it needs to be moved forward, and we ‑‑ but I'm going to run for governor.

And so we ‑‑ we did put some ‑‑ some pressure on ‑‑ on that, but at the same time, I guess it ‑‑ he just was not a mover in that area. He didn't feel apparently that committed because nothing happened.

And then it was after his term that we began to realize that we had to find another advocate, and that's why, in the next term, we began to work with some of the other legislators and senators at that time.
It was a very big disappointment, to be honest with you. We tried to get ‑‑ we got some additional services through, but still, you know, not very much happened.

In fact, one of the things that we did get a bill through that would provide parody of some sort for mental illness, in other words, insurance that would cover mental health problems, we got a bill, a parody passed from the House and Senate, and that was amazing that we got that bill passed. And I never really even realized the insurance company got to him and he vetoed it.

So it was pretty clear that his ‑‑ he didn't have the commitment that we expected, and it was a false expectation on our part. You get all the way threw up to the Governor's office, and then he vetoes it, you know. So ‑‑

SHARRON LOBAUGH: Anyway, maybe ‑‑ I ‑‑ I don't know. I just ‑‑ I think there were a lot of mysteries during his administration that didn't ‑‑ things that didn't move forward.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Well, so, we do have a trust settlement.
BILL SCHNEIDER: And how has it worked out?

SHARRON LOBAUGH: Well, we do. And we ‑‑ I continue to hear the same problems from persons that have ‑‑ whose families have mental illness and consumers that there is no ‑‑ still not enough service.

The ‑‑ it's true that to have a full complement of community mental health services for mentally ill, for example, in centers like Bethel or Ketchikan or you know, places where our service centers, you know, some of that was initiated, but the mental health budget itself has just been devastated.

In Juneau is a good example. We do not have enough money to even have active case managers anymore. It's very disappointing. It's ‑‑ it's really wrong. And what happened was that the state says, now, we're going to continue to sustain the kind of service we always have had because we've been doing a really good job.

And the Mental Health Trust Authority has some money, but they have been using it to start a new initiative, you know, and they've been doing a lot of new initiatives. You know, things that would enhance programs, but the mental ‑‑ but the state has a commitment to maintain the programs.

But there was never an inventory done at the time of the settlement ‑‑ or the legislation that passed. You see, they really needed to say, okay, here's our baseline, we have these kinds of services going on right now, and we will continue those services as long as there's money in the state because we are committed to settlement. We are committed to this purpose. And that's what we have agreed to as a state.

I think there's a lawsuit there. I really do. I think we can go back ‑‑ I mean, I'm not certainly going to take it on, but I think we can go back and determine, now, I forget the year, but whatever year it was that the settlement was done and say, these things were in place, we should continue and we will continue to provide that base level of care because it's not being done. It's definitely not being done.

So as the ‑‑ the increase in population naturally occurs, a certain percentage more should be added to mental health services. And I now am talking about all of the beneficiaries because it became pretty clear that the state was ‑‑ would be able to make new populations added to the ‑‑ to the base.

In other words, for example, persons with physical disabilities, like amputees or people that are bedridden, you know, could be added as beneficiaries. Because at the time of the initial 25 years ago, there were a lot of different types of people other than mentally ill people that went to Morningside in Oregon.

You know, people with serious alcohol disabilities, or seizure disorders, or, you know, things that were not necessarily considered normal ailments here in Alaska, and cause problems of ‑‑ of basically a social nature in their community, they were sent to Morningside.

So it ‑‑ it's easy for the state to make a claim that, well, we'll just add this population and then we'll add that population, and then it looks like we're funding a lot of people.

We're funding a lot of people with disabilities, see, so they've taken the age way down to practically at birth, you know, anybody that's born with a defect of some sort could be added, and they have expanded the base, but divided ‑‑ it's like multiplying the number of people and dividing the resources and/or ‑‑ and so every time you do that, it subtracts from some population some services. So I think that's what happened.

Section 10: BILL SCHNEIDER: So when you think about the trust, we've talked about the state and what they are doing. How effective is the trust?
SHARRON LOBAUGH: I believe the Trust Authority is well intentioned, and they report annually to the state at the legislature, and so forth, and they have promoted some new projects, you know, in their way.

Particularly, I think, helped to encourage, like, bring the children home, that was one of their ‑‑ one of their successful efforts, they've done some push in terms of the housing shortages; but in the long run, it's my opinion that they are more of a thorn in the side of the state to try to promote and pursue changes, but I don't see that they have been really effective in ‑‑ in promoting and encouraging the state to do their obligation.

I think that requires a stealth, you know, a real effort to, you know, put their nose where their mouth is and get on it because, you know, I just hear way too many reports from all of the beneficiaries that the progress has ‑‑ has not been made. The funding is not there on the state's part. They are not funding the programs that they ‑‑ they should be funding.

And I don't think ‑‑ I'm not sure that the Trust Authority makes that much difference in what the state does. So I think it's an impasse. It's possibly even a ‑‑ another lawsuit waiting to happen, but it ‑‑ it might happen because I don't ‑‑ I think they are not holding up their obligations that they agreed to in the final legislation.

SHARRON LOBAUGH: The state is not holding up their obligations, and I think the Trust Authority is pretty powerless to impact that.
BILL SCHNEIDER: When you think back about the history of your involvement and other people's involvement, who are some of the people you think we ought to recognize for their ‑‑ the role that they played, whether they were contributors or detractors?

SHARRON LOBAUGH: Well, certainly everyone recognizes Jim Gottstein's contribution. He really was very persistent in his pursuing the settlement. We ‑‑ we parted ways on certain issues, we didn't necessarily agree, but at the same time, I think that he's really the strongest advocate.

And of course, people recognize that John Malone and Vicky Malone were helpful, and other ‑‑ other leaders in an alliance effort have been pretty steadily advocating, like, the efforts that were started in Anchorage, I mentioned Lola Reed, she still was involved for 20 years or more. And others.

And of course, recognizing the contributions that George Rogers made was quite considerable. And then there were others, you know, Pat Clasby was active for a long time. And I can't ‑‑ I'm sorry, I'm probably leaving people out.
BILL SCHNEIDER: That's all right. Oh, sure.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: But, of course, there's a lot. Of course, John Pugh was a very good advocate for a number of years.

BILL SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Okay. What sort of things are we missing that we ought to pick up on?
SHARRON LOBAUGH: I ‑‑ I guess I just need to put out a plea for persons with mental illness.

I really still believe that it's a very serious stigma that goes on, and with good care and good community support, you know, there's no reason why a person with mental illness can't be a productive member of our society. But it really does take help from the community.

And I really ‑‑ I'm not quite certain that we have made it there yet. They are still among the most frequently homeless, they are the most frequently involved in alcohol abuse, or alcohol, you know, they very commonly have a dual diagnosis there.

And Polaris House being an exception, and there's a few other kinds of centers in larger communities, but for the most part, I really think we've missed the ball on really providing them the full amount of services that they need in the state. So I just want to put that plug in.
BILL SCHNEIDER: Okay. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview today.
SHARRON LOBAUGH: Oh, you're welcome.