Vol. 50 TEXAS, MARCH 14, 1959 Observer We will serve no group or ,party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right at we see it. Th e T,, ra” b .;\(‘ 0 Jent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. THOREAU 10c per copy No. 49 Canvas Blank At Mid-Point RUSK The eight doctors at Rusk State Hospital work sixty to ninety hours a week and even so do well to give 15 minutes a week to each of the 2,044 mental patients locked up here. “That’s right! That’s right!” exclaimed Dr. Charles Castner, superintendent, during the Observer’s inspection of the East Texas state hospital. “They ain’t any use in lyin’ about it. The doctor goes and talks to himone time! It may take two weeks before he can get back to him! “Fifteen minutes a patient? We do well to do that. I don’t believe you can spare 15 minutes a patient a week. That’s the average. Some of them we just say hello Bill and go on. They ain’t no use to tell you a story about itthat’s just the way it is.” Castner has been working in the state hospital system since 1915. when he started out at the Terrell asylum. Attendants in those days couldn’t read or write as aften as not and usually beat patients in their care, Castner remembered. Things are better now. But while about three fourths of the patients are cleared out of the hospital every year, the rate ought to be 85 percent, Castner says; and the treatment often does not go deep enough to prevent frequent returns to the hospital. Castner was held prisoner five and a half hours during a wild riot among criminally insane Negro patients in 1955. Nine people were injured, an attendant so seriously he has not worked a day since. Castner escaped harm only after National Guardsmen surrounded the compound and a Ranger outwitted the riot leader. Today four of the leaders are still in prison-like cells, but the same number of attendants were on duty in the riot ward during the Observer’s visit as during the 1955 melee, although the overall at tendant-patient ratio for the criminally insane, is much better. Since that time, it is true, the emotional demeanor of mental institutions has been altered radically by the use of tranquilizer drugs on all patients whose conduct is loud or untoward. Passing through many of the forty wards at the hospital, a reporter did not observe any of the patients talking to each other; subduedness is the spirit of the place, the patients sit around silent and dazed; yet the hospital officials believe this is better than the ranting and fighting in the zoo-like wards of just a few years ago. Rusk has a three-story intensive treatment and medical building equipped with respectable quarters, six beds to a partitioned-off section, where patients stay just before they are released. Otherwise, however, the wards are mainly rooms-ful of beds. Castner is the only certified psychiatrist in the hospital. Four of the doctors are qualified to do psychiatric work but have not had enough experience for certification. “We need seven more doctors to do what we want to do,” Castner said. He believes the hospital has enough social workers. He doubles as superintendent and clinical director: he hopes for relief from this, but the $11,500 budgeted for a clinical director is not enough to get one, he expects. Doctor Ratios As of November, 1958, there were 178 patients for each physician at Rusk, while the American Psychiatric Assn. recommends a ratio’ of about 50 to one, he said. Only two hospitals in the state systemTerrell and Austinare approved by the A.P.A. Castner said even if the money were appropriated for the doctors he needs he would also have to have authority to build some homes for them on nearby state land \(the cost to be amortized by house in town” for them. “A lot of patients can be helped if you have time to sit down and talk to them,” he said, “but you can’t do it on 15 minutes a week. Youti’ve got too high a case load for all your physicians.” With enough doctors, he said, “You might get ’em out quicker. I think you would, and you’d treat them better. That’s what they tell us out of the East, and they’ve had more experience than we have.” Castner said his budget request would bring the doctor-patient ratio down to about 85 to one. “A sick person ought to have a doctorhe ought to have a nurse when he pushes the bell, and it’s the same thing with these people who are mentally sick, it’s no different than patients with tuberculosis,” Castner said. “Overcrowdingtoo many peopleis. the worst enemy we’ve got,” he said. “We believe if we had more doctors and larger facilities for intensive treatment we could do a better job.” Doctors who work all week and then ‘draw weekend duty serve 90 hours in such weeks, Castner said. “The man who is on duty 44 hours per week, regular, is also on duty one night, extra, making him a sixty hour man.” \(The state hospital system is the only state agency-system in which employees are required to work a 44-hour week; the 40-hour week A Close One Castner recalled, under considerable prodding \(“I seldom ever repeat thatjust want to forget the custody of “72 murderers in one ward” who were armed with hammers, icepicks, clubs, and other weapons and were breaking glass so wildly the fragments were half an inch deep on the floor of the ward. As Castner tells the story, only \(Continued on AUSTIN All the paints were poured onto the pallette for the portrait of the 56th legislature as the session passed its halfway mark Friday, but except for a few abstract fingerdaubs, the canvas has not been touched. Rep. Frates Seeligson introduced his 1.5 percent sales tax; Reps. Malcolm McGregor and Alonzo Jamison introduced a personal income tax-style “equalization tax” from which all state and local taxes now paid could be deducted; Reps. R. L. Strickland and Wesley Roberts introduced an omnibus tax plan heavy on sales taxes which was construed as an option favored by some House conservatives; and Rep. Bob Eckhardt dropped in his “Texas Public Depletion Allowance,” a 27.5 percent tax on natural gas graduated according to the value of dedicated contracts. With Gov. Daniel’s natural gas tax and’ selective sales tax programs, Rep. Johnston’s company profits tax, Eckhardt’s graduated oil profits tax, and many singleshot tax programs also pending, the House paused while anticipating the appropriations committee reports expected in a week or ten days. Talk on the floor indicated dissension within that important committee over some acute economy tendencies. As the session faded into its second half what did members of the tax-originating House think about accomplishments so far? Nothing Done “Well, pretty good, I guess,” said Rep. Max Smith, the conservative from San Marcos. “We haven’t done anything. Haven’t hurt anybody yet!” “I’m not disappointed or disgusted about it,” said Rep. Joe Burkett, the nosedout candidate for speaker. The tax committee has heard testimony on practically all the tax bills, the House is approaching the problems of the session “in a more or less statesmanlike manner,” and “we’re probably in pretty good ‘shape,” he said. The play, countered Rep. Zeke Zbranek, Daisetta, is to stop the Governor’s deficit retiring and revenue programs, let the money needed attain a nice round sum, and then roll in “the old cureall, the sales tax.” Noting Seeligson tied his sales tax to education, Zbranek said he’d drop his coauthorship of the Hale-Aikin bills rather than vote for a sales tax: “I don’t care if they have an appropriation for me tied to a sales tax, I’m gonna vote against it. I think the school teachers ought not to let themselves fall into that kind of trap.” Rep. Bob Hughes, Dallas, said, as did all others interviewed, that it looks like a special session. Another Dallas conservative, Bob Johnson, said, “It looks like they are stalling the program that’s been introduced.” “It may be the fault of the House,” Johnson said, “but we’ve got such a diversity of programs being slapped at the revenue and tax committee. I feel sorry for those idiots.” Rep. Charles Hughes, liberal leader from Sherman, labeled as “baloney” talk that the deficit can’t be met without a sales tax. “Their whole strategy,’ he said of the conservatives, “is to make the deficit so big that you can’t meet it except with a general sales tax. The revenue and tax committee has not yet reported out anything. The lobby has conducted a filibuster before the committeelobbyist after lobbyist, manufacturer after manufacturer talking away,” he told the Observer. The latest poll of House members on the general sales tax question, conducted by Rep. Ronald Bridges of Corpus Christi, showed 77 committed against, 13 in favor, and 53 uncommitted. As long as A Mental Patient Locked Up at Rusk May See a Doctor 15 Minutes a Week 2,044 Patients, 8 Doctors ‘Possibly Could Rep. Seeligson, the sales tax sponsor, said some speed-up is called for, because “you know, they don’t filibuster exactly, but you can slow down to an absolute halt by debating endlessly on side bills that come up.” What about Gov. Daniel’s urgent request Tuesday for action to retire the deficit, spurned Wednesday by a 15-2 revenue and tax committee vote against reporting* ou”; his franchise tax increase? Seeligson said, “The Governor’s idea of trying to cure the deficit is a good one, but not at the risk of imposing unfair taxes.” He believes the abandoned bank accounts bill \(which Atty. Gen. Wilson this week said is constitutional and is actually “commanded … to be enacted” by the constitukeeping bill as revised should pass; but it has been apparent that he is not in any hurry as vice-chairman of revenue and tax and will not be unhappy to see the deficit and spending totals pile up until the House is ready to turn to his plan, which, he says, “very possibly they’ could.” The chairman of revenue and Panola County, summed up his position a week ago: “I’m trying not to have any tax ideas. My job is to give them a fair hearing …” Rep. Dean Johnston, Houston liberal, expecting a special session, remarked on “the filibuster” in revenue and tax: “Some of the special interests a r e availing themselves of the right of petition in a very efficient manner.” Rep. Eckhardt said, “It doesn’t look like we’re much of anyplace.” Gov. Daniel, he said, has not made much of an effort to get things going by calling members into his office and talking to them. Eckhardt does not believe the sales tax can pass but believes the danger that it might grows the longer nothing is done. If the House passed a sales tax the Senate would be delighted, he said, but presented a House program of a gas tax and some small special taxes, “the Senate would not dare alter it much because it would be too politically dangerous.”
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