MOYEN: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mr. Ed Ford. Mr. Ford served the 30th Senate district in the Kentucky General Assembly. He's currently the Cabinet Secretary for Governor Paul Patton. The interview was conducted for the Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project as part of the University of Kentucky Oral History Program. The interview was conducted by Eric Moyen on September 5, 2003 in Frankfort, Kentucky. It is the first in a series of two interviews. [Pause in tape]--with Ed Ford who served as a Senator for District 30 1:00from 1978 to 1994.

FORD: Through 1994.

MOYEN: Through 1994. And is currently cabinet secretary for Governor Paul Patton. Thanks for meeting with me today.

FORD: Thank you.

MOYEN: I appreciate it. Why don't we just start out by having you tell me a little bit about your family background, where you're from, even where your parents are from.

FORD: Okay, I'm actually a native of Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and have a degree, have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. And my parents, my mother is a native of Alabama, my father was a native of Maryland. But they married in Alabama, and all of our family was raised there. I'm one of a family of four: three boys and one girl. My sister is the oldest. She's two years older than I am, 2:00and she is a teacher, a retired teacher now. My next brother is a Methodist minister, now retired, seems like they all figured out how to retire, I haven't done that (Moyen laughs). And he's living in Powder Springs, Georgia. He's a graduate of Troy State University and Emory University, and was working on his, working on his doctorate in California. And my youngest brother, who's ten years my junior is a urologist, graduate of the University of Alabama, and he is practicing urology in Decatur, Alabama.

MOYEN: Okay. And where in Alabama did you grow up?

FORD: Montgomery County. I was born in Montgomery, but the Depression wasn't very good to my family, and I was born in 1930, January 1, 1930, and we left Montgomery, my parents lost their home in post-Depression. 3:00And we moved to Montgomery County, out in the county to a place called Ramer, R-A-M-E-R, in south Montgomery County, Alabama, and that's where Montgomery County High School was located, of which I'm a graduate. And I believe we moved there in maybe '36, 1936, and needless to say I got the most of my education, I believe that I was, I started the second grade at Ramer Elementary school and attended the first grade in Montgomery, Alabama.

MOYEN: That school that you attended, was it a one room or was it a consolidated? Or what type of--

FORD: It was a, it was a big county high school. There were two high schools, two public high schools in Montgomery County at that time: Sydney Lanier in Montgomery and then Montgomery County High School. Of course, it was segregated.


MOYEN: Right.

FORD: But actually it had a campus complex, I mean, there were twelve grades there, but they were separated in buildings. The first six grades was an elementary school, and then there was a cafeteria. This campus was probably sitting on maybe thirty, thrity acres or so. Very upscale for its time, and a cafeteria in between the two buildings, and then the high school was seventh through twelfth, junior high and high school. It was built, it was brick, and had a courtyard, actually had a courtyard. It was an upscale school for its time back in the 30's.

MOYEN: Um-hm. A couple of questions. First, let me ask you, do you remember moving in 1936 and your parents losing--

FORD: Yes I do. I very much do remember that. It was a, because we had 5:00to wait from the time we left Montgomery until our home was built at Ramer, so we went to my mother's home place, which was in Pike County, Kentucky, that was just in the summer, they arranged to do it where I wouldn't miss any school. And we lived on, with her brother, and his two children for three months while our house was being completed in Ramer, Alabama. And I remember very distinctly, and all, all very pleasant memories.

MOYEN: So, you did like Pike County, or Kentucky, or what were your thoughts?

FORD: Well, yeah, Pike County, Alabama is strictly rural, the county seat is Troy, Troy State University is there now, it was Troy State Teacher's College back then, and it's a small town, but it was strictly agriculture. My family background, my daddy was at Georgia Tech, my 6:00mother was a pianist, and I believe attended a year at the conservatory in Cincinnati, and her two brothers, her three brothers, one was an engineer, and actually retired from the Core of Engineers, Army Core of Engineers, and the other two were attorneys. So, you know, for those times we were a pretty educated bunch of folks.

MOYEN: Sure. Definitely. You mentioned that the schools were segregated. Is there anything about Jim Crow Alabama that specifically sticks out in your mind? Any examples of that that you, either today you think, "Well, that never crossed my mind, it's just the way it was," or a time when you said, "Oh, this is, this is problematic."

FORD: Well, it, you know, the thing that impacted me as much as anything is one of my best friends happened to be an Afro-American, and we could only cultivate our friendship on a, where he, his father was a 7:00tenant on a farm, and this particular farm happened to be owned by my vocational agriculture teacher, who was a very influential person in my life, that's the way I got in veterinary medicine, and I worked for him out on the farm also. And so the tenant's son and I were about the same age, he was going to, I forget the name of the black school, which was also a very, a brick school, it was a modern building but it was totally segregated it, and it kind of bothered me that the only way we could have a relationship was on the farm, you know, come to town we went different directions.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And I remember that very distinctly. And I did not think, you know, too much about the segregation, because that's just kind of the way it was, that's the way I grew up.

MOYEN: Sure. Sure. You just mentioned, (coughs) excuse me, a teacher 8:00of yours that influenced you. Could you tell me a little bit more about maybe that teacher, or other teachers who influenced you?

FORD: Well, yes--

MOYEN: Or adults in general?

FORD: Well, yeah. This particular teacher was named Earl M. Flemming. He was a, uh, a vocational agriculture teacher, had a very, he lived a block up the street from me, and we had a good relationship, and he was very influential in my life. Also, another person that was very influential in my life was G. L. Harris who taught me physics and chemistry, and had a great impact on my life. I distinctly remember my math teacher for all four years of high school, Louise Kelly, and my sister, as I said, was two years older, and if I made a B, she had made an A, and I got reminded of it, "Well, you can do better because your sister did." And that followed me all the way through school. Of 9:00course, I was a little more active, extra-curricular than my sister, she committed herself to making A's, and I committed myself to playing football and doing other things, and having a big time, but I got by anyway.

MOYEN: Uh-huh.

FORD: But those were the three teachers that had the greatest impact on my life.

MOYEN: Okay. When, we're talking about impact, are you just talking about learning, or maybe even is there anyone that impacted your political philosophy, or your vocational field which you chose to do?

FORD: Yeah, you know, I think because of my, the teachers I had in math, science, and agriculture were, certainly were influential in my being successful in veterinary medicine. You know, veterinary medicine is one of the toughest professions to get into. People that get turned down in veterinary medicine go to med school (laughs).

MOYEN: Uh-huh.

FORD: And so I, you know, I was very fortunate in that direction, but no 10:00one had any effect on my political life. It was a, my political life is almost an accident.

MOYEN: Okay. Let me ask you this. What about religion, church, was there any of that in your childhood? FORD: Oh yeah. Yeah. As I said, my brother's a Methodist minister, and of course I'm a Methodist, and that's one thing that was automatic in our family, you went to church. You went to Sunday School, you went to Church. We had, at my house, we sat down to Sunday dinner, we called it Sunday dinner, that was at the lunch hour, and everybody stayed at the table until everyone was completed. A kid didn't get up and run off like they do now. We had a very good family relationship. My father was a brilliant man, and required that we, if we had a question, he would point to the Encyclopedia Britannica and say, "The answer is easy there and it's right over there." And I remember we sat around and listened to the radio together back in those days. Such things as "The $64 Dollar 11:00Question," and we would be challenged and while the candidate, or the people were struggling for the answer, we would try to come up with the answers too, and it was a family event, it was a, although we weren't a warm, cozy family, we were a very close family too. I mean, my father is not one who is going to hug and kiss you all the time, but he expected you to respect him, and society, and to behave yourself and do right. So you know, it was good.

MOYEN: At that time you're talking about church, and then Sunday dinner after church. Would you consider those, I mean obviously religious gatherings, but was there any social aspect about that, that maybe this was the time for everyone to come see each other? Or--

FORD: No, not, not really, because we always, every meal was a family 12:00meal. I mean, the whole family sat down together, but I remember Sunday was more formal. Of course, we had a breakfast room, and that's where the rest of the meals were eaten, but on Sunday we'd go in the dining room with a white tablecloth, and we all sat there, and we, you had to be dressed, and that was just the way it was.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And believe me, I think it's pretty good training. I really do. I wish that there was more of that today.

MOYEN: All right, why don't you tell me about going to Auburn, or at the time was it Alabama Polytech?

FORD: It was Alabama Polytechnic Institute. I, between high school and Auburn, I, uh, went in the Navy, I spent four years in the Navy, and of course graduated from high school in 1948, joined the Navy December 13, 1948. I cannot tell you why. I knew I was going to college, but I wasn't ready, I needed to mature, and I joined the Navy for a three 13:00year hitch, and the Korean War started, and I got extended a year. So, I spent four years in the Navy. I thought I was going to be a pilot, but my eyes let me down. I'm colorblind. I probably could pa--, could have passed two years before, two years after, but in 1949, I didn't, because we were between wars, and I did not have a college education. They were taking no cadets without a college education. Although I had kind of a commitment to go, to be a cadet, they had to find a way to get rid of me.

MOYEN: Um-hm (laughs).

FORD: So, that's okay, but I wound up getting my pilot's license anyway. But I went to Class A Radar school at Treasure Island, just out at San Francisco. Treasure Island was built for the World's Fair back in the 30's, I believe, it's an artificial island and the Navy had a 14:00base there. And we had a couple, three, what we call Class A school there, mine was a radar, and I spent nine months there, great training, and that's where, again, my physics and my math paid off. But then we, the Korean War started, and after I left the radar school, I was assigned to the amphibious forces, and assigned to an attack transport, which it was a ship that carried troops and had landing craft that they would, you know, storm the beaches. And so, you know, it didn't make any difference to me, and I remember when I, well, after I left radar school, my next assignment was CIC school down at Point Loma, San Diego, California, and that was Combat Information Center. And when I left CIC school, I caught the USS Henrico on its way to Hawaii, 15:00I mean, I actually, they took me and my C bag and a boat, and we went out and went up the gang plank, the ship was leaving the harbor. I barely made it. But it, you know, everything went fine, and then the Korean War started, and we were very much a part of that, and I, we were shorthanded, all the military was when the Korean War started, I think there were only 30,000 Marines, and we were an assault attack transport, and so therefore our job was to get the troops ashore. As I say, we were shorthanded, so I volunteered, they say you should never volunteer for anything, I volunteered to be a voice radio operator in the, you know, in the landing craft. And so I went into Inch'on, Korea in the fourth wave, and well, we got to Korea I believe in July, maybe 16:00it was late July, and at Pusan, we were really getting kicked around by the North Koreans then, and I saw my first combat death there. And then we hit the beaches, it wasn't the beach, we invaded Inch'on, Korea on September 15, 1950, and we were very successful, the US forces were, and we took all of Korea back within just a matter of almost weeks and drove the North Koreans all the way up to the Yalu River, at the border of Manchuria. But then the Chinese intervened, and it was a different ballgame. So, my next really experience was evacuating all of our troops from the Chosin Reservoir on the Yalu River, and at Hungnam on, 17:00and I left Hungnam, I once again, was a voice radio operator for the beach master, and I think there was fifteen of us, and we were the last folks to leave there, and our job was to coordinate the withdraw, and this that and the other. And I believe it was Christmas Eve, 1950 when we left there, and so the entire war had turned around from September when we started kicking butt until November, I mean December, well, in November they started kicking tail, and we actually made a strategic withdraw as we called it, retreat, from Hungnam on Christmas Eve 1950, and there was a lot of frostbite, I believe we brought every American dead and alive, we got them all out, and then, you know, when I went back, came back to the states, and then went back again for the second 18:00tour, but fighting had really slowed down by then. Then got discharged in November, I believe of 1952, and enrolled in Auburn in the Spring quarter, they were on the quarter system, in January of 1953, and very fortunate, got all my pre-med and professional school done in five years and three months.

MOYEN: Wow (laughs).

FORD: Yeah.

MOYEN: That's impressive. Let me ask you a couple of questions about your time in the military and in Korea. What was it like for someone who had grown up in the Depression-era South to go out to California in the late 40's in that time? What were, what were your thoughts? FORD: Well, it was a, it was very eye-opening for me. I had been to New Orleans, Atlanta, a few places like that, but never that far away 19:00from home. I went with a classmate, we joined the Navy together, went through boot camp together, and as fate would have it, he was assigned to Treasure Island as a, to work in the post office, and I just happened to be there going to school, so we were still together. That helped. It helped a lot, because I got very lonesome. Now you're talking, I said something about joining the service to mature, you're talking about maturing, my maturity began when I got to Korea. I mean I grew up in a hurry, I mean a real hurry, and most of us do that, you know, are subjected to things like that, and, but the military was very good for me, I mean, it was good for me. I needed it. And so I, you know, looking back, I think it was the best move I could have made in my life. I think if I had gone to Auburn right out of high school, I may not have been successful. I'm not sure, because I was pretty successful in radar school, but I just, I wasn't comfortable. I wasn't 20:00ready to go.

MOYEN: Could you tell me a little more about your first, you mentioned your first combat casualty that you witnessed, could you tell me a little more about your combat experiences? FORD: Well, my combat experience is not all that great. Of course, we pulled in Pusan, Korea, and we held a five mile perimeter, and they had just about pushed us in the ocean, and we were bringing in reinforcements, and of course we were, I was standing on the, we were pulled up to a pier, this big ship I was on, and we were unloading ammunition and grenades and all that stuff, and, you know, with cranes, and they had commandeered a bunch of South Koreans to help unload this stuff and get it off the docks into various sundry places, and this one guy broke out of line with a case of grenades on his back, and they just shot him.


FORD: Didn't, I mean, told him to halt, he didn't, so they killed him. 21:00And I'll tell you, the next day I was a different person.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: Wasn't pretty. And then in, up at Inch'on, you know, I got shot at, but I didn't get hit, and I found out that the first and second waves don't get shot at, because you've laid down all this bombardment, and the enemy's dug in, but by the time the first and second and third waves get on, when we went in, it'd been eight minutes, the waves hit at about two minutes apart, and by gosh, they'd come out of the holes and started shooting. And I was hearing on the radio, "No resistance, no resistance," and hell, we were all laughing, carrying on, all of the sudden it looked like somebody was dropping rocks out of the side of this boat as we were barreling in, and all of the sudden you'd hear rat-a-tat-tat and then we figured out real quick (both laugh). It was, it was not, not fun.

MOYEN: Is there any way to describe the emotions or anxiety that you're feeling at that point?

FORD: Yeah. I felt sorry for the other guys, you know, I remember we 22:00were in the board room with the, we made this invasion, it started at 5:30 in the afternoon, we were in the board room about noon, and we had this Don Winslow-type, he's a comic, Don Winslow was a comic book character in the Navy, was a Naval officer, and he was a, "Look to your left, look to your right, one of you son of a bitches won't be here tomorrow." I felt sorry for both those guys (both laugh). So I, I mean, I'm serious, I, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't survive, and I think most people think that, you know.

MOYEN: Uh-huh.

FORD: But, we didn't suffer very many casualties. It was not, those guys didn't put up much of a fight. It's the Chinese who kicked butt.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: The North Koreans were not very good soldiers.

MOYEN: Can you tell me a little bit about that change in attitude or morale when you mentioned, okay, we're doing really well, and then the 23:00Chinese come and kick butt, how does that change the temperament, or the attitude? FORD: It made us, we thought we were just super people, I mean it made, it brought us back to reality. I know it did me, and you know, and I wondered, "Boy, where are we going? I mean, how's this thing going to end? What's going to happen?" And of course, you're praying you wouldn't have to use that big bomb again, and it, but it was an eye-opening experience, because we had been, just had it our away, you know, from September until November, September, October, and of course winter set in, and it was fierce, and Chinese were much better prepared for the winter than we were because that was their country. But it was just an eye opening experience to all of the sudden say, "Hey, we're vulnerable, you know, we can be whipped."

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And, but, of course, we were still fresh out of World War II where 24:00we had been kicked around and had come back, and so we always thought we could, but it was an eye opening experience.

MOYEN: Was there a point there where you realized that the tide might be turning?

FORD: You mean the second time around? MOYEN: Um-hm. Anything that--

FORD: Well, you know, when I left Hungnam, I believe we took R&R down at Hong Kong, and then left there, went back to Japan, I don't think I went back to Korea until I had come back to the states, and you know, we would hear and read about it, but I can't identify when we turned it around again. I just don't remember, because I wasn't involved.

MOYEN: Right. Right. What did you think when you heard about the strategic withdraw that you were talking about? What were your thoughts?

FORD: Well, I was very concerned about it, because I knew what my role 25:00was going to be, and I, I'm a boy from South Alabama. Hell, we had twenty below zero up there not counting the wind factor (laughs), wind chill. So I was, you know, and I didn't know how long I was going to have to be on, whether I was going to be there four hours, four days, or four weeks. I think it was more like four weeks on the shore, I don't remember exactly how long we were there, I know I got a little frostbite on my feet, and you know, I saw a lot of, lot of folks, and I guess the most emotional thing that affected me there is we had to pile up all the ammunition and all the jeeps, and trucks and everything on this pier, and we're going and have them detonated so we could destroy them so the enemy could not take advantage of that, and we had all of these civilians, North Korean civilians, they were afraid of the Chinese too, and they were wanting to go with us, we took over 26:00100,000 out on merchant ships or one thing or another, but there was just no more room. And we could not communicate with these people, or they ignored us, telling them what was going to happen, and I know they didn't get off that pier, and we blew that craft up. I still think about that. That was bad. But that's war, people get hurt, but we could not take, we actually had, I think it was fifteen of us and the beach master, and we actually had, at gunpoint get in our boat, the landing craft, to evacuate, hell, every, a hundred of them would have got in there with us if we'd have let them and would have sunk the damn thing. And we had communicated with them through interpreters that we were going to blow their craft up, and that they had to clear that area, and they would not do it. And so somebody pressed the detonator.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Is there anything else that, that--


FORD: The reason I know all this, we just went through the 50th anniversary of Korea.

MOYEN: Okay.

FORD: And we did it in 2000, and then we did it again in 2003, the armistice was signed, you know, in July of '53, and that's the reason all this is so real to me, because I've been back through it, and we had a big deal here in Frankfort.

MOYEN: And it's great to hear your story, that's good. Why don't you tell me about your return home, you, did, how, go ahead.

FORD: Okay, I got discharged, and came from Honolulu in to San Diego, and was discharged, came straight home, got there in November, went to work for J. C. Penny and Company as a salesman over the Christmas holidays, and got married on December 21, 1953. And then of course 28:00enrolled in Auburn in January, and I had the GI bill. I took a job in the research lab, seventy-five cents an hour. My wife was a laboratory technician, and she went to work for the university.

MOYEN: How did you meet her?

FORD: Oh, in high school. You know, she was not from my high school, our fathers knew each other, and she lived in another little town, and she was two years younger than me. And unfortunately the marriage didn't work, we have three children, and, but it didn't work. But we, so we got married and went to college, and she was very instrumental in my life, including helped putting me through school, and she consented for me to take, I came to Kentucky to intern when I left Auburn, to intern with Dr. D. L. Proctor, one of the world renowned equine 29:00surgeons, and he offered me an opportunity to work with him after I completed the internship. And I took the job, and she agreed to it at that time, and--

MOYEN: Was that in Lexington?

FORD: In Lexington, and then we moved, I worked for Proctor for a year-- [telephone rings]--that's all right. I worked for Proctor for [telephone rings]--well, that's my private line. [Pause in tape]. And so--

MOYEN: Go ahead.

FORD: Is it on? MOYEN: It's on.

FORD: Okay, so I wanted to, to start a practice, and I had a classmate from Cynthiana who also wanted to go into practice, and he decided that about the worst thing a fellow could do is try to open a practice in his own small hometown, because he would always be little Jack Porter, and so he encouraged me to go there, and he went to Lancaster and 30:00opened a practice, or purchased a practice, and I went in and opened a brand new practice, and for nine years I was the sole practitioner, and it was tough, because you're on 24-7 when you're, in veterinary medicine it seems like everything's an emergency, you know.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And so we practiced over there, and after I got pretty well established, my wife became very lonesome and homesick for Alabama again, and wanted me to leave. I couldn't, this was my career, and she had consented to it. She left me two or three times with the children. We had three children, a girl and two boys, and she would, we would have a disagreement and she would get in the car and take the three kids and run to Alabama, and then a week later be back. And once they ever do that once, it's never the same, and unfortunately we finally got a divorce. And she remarried twice. First marriage was a real 31:00disaster, and her second marriage was very good, this fellow was very good with my kids, he's a retired Air Force fellow, and, but he died of lung cancer. And we still have a very good relationship, she and I, we never, wasn't a bitter divorce, it was just a, things just wasn't working. I think I was divorced four years, and maybe five, and then I remarried a lady with two sons, and as I say, my so--, first wife, second marriage didn't work out, it was a disaster, and so my daughter, she asked me could my daughter come and live with me, and I said yes. And my present wife had a son the same age as my daughter, they were both twelve. And then a little later she, my youngest son wanted to 32:00come and live with us and go to school up here, and he did, and so we actually wound up raising the children because her marriage was just totally unsuccessful, but then after she married Chief, as we call him, this fellow was a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force, well he was very good to my children, of course they would visit in the summer, and he was very good. My current wife is a couple years older than I am, and she worked very hard to make me successful, and if there was any political influence, it came from her.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: My political career, as such, is really weird. I was a busy practitioner, had more on my plate than I could handle, but we were active. I was in the Rotary Club and various and sundry other things, things you do when you're trying to establish a practice, you get, try 33:00to be as visible as you can, but back in those days it was unethical to advertise; not so today (laughs). Every profession advertises today. But we were, we have a fairly good school system in Harrison County, I believe it's in the top twenty of the one hundred twenty-six school districts as far as the testing and one thing or another goes, but it was in an expansion mode at that time, and there was a huge renovation being done to the high school, and a huge 1,500 seat auditorium in our little town, county of 15,000 people. So we were at a Christmas party, and the superintendent of schools was there, and so I started quizzing him the necessity to spend all his money on this, on this auditorium, and we had a discussion for a few minutes, and he had had a pop or two, and so he said, "You know, you've got an awful lot of damn questions," 34:00said, "why don't you just run for the school board, and then maybe you can find out a few things?" I didn't think much about it, and lo and behold the next year, the fellow that had the school board seat in my district chose not to run, and so I filed, and of course got elected, and so I got real active. I loved it.

MOYEN: Around what year was this? FORD: Nineteen seventy.

MOYEN: Okay.

FORD: I loved it. And the second year they elected me chairman, and I stayed chairman until I went into the Senate. Got elected to the Senate in 1977 and I stayed in, on the school board until I was sworn into the Senate. And I got real active in the state association, school board association, and the national association, and I felt like I was making a difference

MOYEN: Um-hm.


FORD: And so not knowing, never having had an opponent, and so the 30th Senatorial District had been, Harrison County had had that for twelve years, Wilson Palmer had served three terms and then he got beat by Tom Ward from Versailles. And Tom Ward was a young, aggressive, young politician, and Tom won and beat Wilson Palmer by several hundred votes, or maybe a thousand, I don't know, but he got this idea that he was invincible and wanted to run for lieutenant governor. And that got him in a lot of trouble, money wise and this, that, and the other. And anyway, he was arrested for DUI, and a very great embarrassment to him. He was kind of a lay minister, and I don't know why, but he confessed 36:00that he was an alcoholic, and he resigned from the Senate. So all of the sudden, here was another open seat, and so I knew Tom, and I got interested, and Wilson Palmer, well, I remember, the rumor got out that I was going to run for this Senate seat, and Governor Carroll asked that I come over and talk to him. And so I did, and we came over and had a little chat, and he said, "I understand you need a job." I said, "No, I don't need a job. Got more than I can do right now." "Well, I understand you're interested in this Senate thing," and I said, "yeah, I am, Governor, very interested," and he says, "Well, I don't believe that you need to do that." He says, "I've got another fellow I want to be the Senator." And I said, "Who is that?" He said, "I want Wilson Palmer," I said, "Governor, he's a loser, he's already been beaten once." And he said, "Well, he's going to be elected this time, because I'm going to get behind him," this, that, and the other. And, "What I 37:00would like to do is form this task force on education, and I'd like for you to chair that, and it'll pay $35,000 a year." I said, "Governor, I told you once before that I wasn't looking for a job." And he says, "So, you're determined to run." And I said, "Yes sir, I am." He says, "Well, I'm determined to elect Wilson Palmer." And I said, "Well, Governor, you better bring your lunch, because it's going to take you all day to do that." And we laughed and shook hands and left, I didn't see him again. So, I campaigned hard, I didn't know very much about campaigning, but this, I decided to run a year before the election, and--

MOYEN: So, the election was in '77.

FORD: Uh, was in '77, right.

MOYEN: And you decided in '76?

FORD: Yeah, in '76 that I was going to run. And for some reason, of course, they were having, back then, you know, we just had the, the biennial sessions didn't have--


MOYEN: Um-hm. Right.

FORD: or annual sessions, and so for some reason, Governor Carroll did not call for a special election to fill that seat, so it remained open. And so I ran in the primary against Wilson Palmer. Didn't have any general election, I think I've got, I got fifty-five percent of the vote, and he got forty-five, which was significant, you know, ten percentage points.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Sure.

FORD: And he ran a good hard race, but he ran it the old fashioned way, he had every courthouse for him, they were all against me. I just had ordinary people, but I had also had ever school board was for me in my district, and because I had been active in the school board association, every veterinarian was for me, and of course I had practiced in Scott County, and Harrison County, and Nicholas County and Bourbon County, where I had a farm, and my wife was a native of Bourbon County. So you know, we had a little base to start with. Wilson did it the old fashioned way, counting on the other politicians to get 39:00him elected. We went out and worked our tails off, went door to door, and I think I spent, I think that election might have cost me seven or eight thousand dollars, I think three thousand of it was my own money. But we were successful, and immediately after getting elected, well Governor Carroll put me on--oh, the night of the election, we were having a party down at the old Harrison Hotel, and victory party, and it was noisy, and loud, and this, that, and the other, so the phone, somebody came and said, "Got a phone call for you," said, "the governor's on the phone." I said, "Yeah." And so I got on the phone and I said, "Hello." He said, "Ed? This is Julian." I recognized his voice, it was him. I said, "Yes sir, Governor, what can I do for you?" He said, "Well, I just wanted to congratulate you," said, "you did exactly what you said." I said, "What'd I say?" He said, "You said you was going to kick my butt and you did" (laughs). But he said, "I want 40:00you to know, you're my senator now." I said, "Yes sir." And we remain good friends today, and he was very, very good to me when I came to Frankfort, and involved me a lot as a freshman, especially with the budget, because he thought that I understood the Minimum Foundation Program, because he made a remark many times, says, "There's not but two people that understand Minimum Foundation funding program," that's the way we funded education, "that's me and you." Well, he did, I didn't. But, I never did tell him I didn't. And so he would involve me, as a matter of fact, I had breakfast my freshman year several times over at the mansion because he was involving me in the budget process, and at that time, elementary, secondary education was fifty percent of the general funded budget. So I got off to a pretty good start, and back in those days, the governor controlled the legislature, but he saw to it that I got on the Education Committee, where I served my entire 41:00time. So it was a great experience, really. It really was. But, that's the way I got into politics, almost by accident. And as I tell people many times, if I had known then, what I know now, I would have never run for the Senate, because there was no way I could get elected. I mean, there's just no way that you can get elected with the governor against you. But I was dumb, and didn't know much, so I did it anyway and got lucky again (Moyen laughs).

[End of Tape #1, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #1, Side #2]

FORD: Governor Patton is on the board, and I'm his proxy, and so he can't make the meeting on the 26th, and so I'm going down there for him.

MOYEN: This would be in Chapel Hill?

FORD: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah, it's on the campus. I mean, it's a, it's a very, Governor Hunt, if you know him, I mean, whatever he touches, 42:00it works.

MOYEN: (Laughs), uh-huh.

FORD: And so I'll be going down there on the 25th.

MOYEN: Let me back up and ask you a few questions. What year was it that you came to Kentucky from Alabama?

FORD: Nineteen fifty-eight.

MOYEN: Nineteen fifty-eight.

FORD: March 1958 to do a preceptorship as they, we call it an internship now, they called it a preceptorship.

MOYEN: Okay.

FORD: And did that with Proctor. Went back and picked up my degree in June, May or June from API, and that's, I said five years and three months, and I did not count my preceptorship--

MOYEN: Sure.

FORD: I left Auburn five years and three months after I enrolled, and so, very successful, you know, things just worked out real well for me, to be able to get all my classes, and especially in pre-med, once you get in vet school, that's going to take four years. Supposed to take you a minimum of two to get in, and I got lucky.

MOYEN: Now, some of my history is a little fuzzy here. Even if you 43:00weren't planning on running for governor, were you taking note of things in Alabama at the time, and particularly the rise of George Wallace, and that--

FORD: Yeah, I was, and I never was a Wallace fan, and Alabama politics is like all politics, and I remember a fellow named Henderson that was running for governor one time, and my dad said he's the best man, but he'll never win. And I said, "Why is this?" "Because he's the best man, and he's too damn honest." And that, you know, and Wallace, Governor Wallace, I didn't really approve of him. There was another governor named, I saw his son, who has been governor of Alabama, a month ago over in Indiana, "Big Jim" Folsom, James E. Folsom, and he was a, you know, they, all ----------(??) to me. I had a different 44:00perspective after I had been out of Alabama for four years in the Navy, and I came back, and it, you know, and some of the things that George Wallace would say and some of the things big Jim Folsom would do, and all that kind of stuff, but--

MOYEN: Can you think of anything in particular that you just thought this is just silly.

FORD: I'm trying to think of what Jim Folsom said, it was about graft: "Too many hogs at the trough, but I'm the biggest hog," or something ridiculous like that. I mean, you know, and that, that puts Alabama in a bad light for those kind of statements to get out, and of course George Wallace, you know, standing in the schoolhouse door, and then trying, running Lurleen, his wife, you know, because he couldn't succeed himself again or something. It was kind of making a mockery of politics, but I never associated that when I got to Kentucky, with what was happening in my life. But when I was growing up, I mean, it was not a, it was not an honorable profession in my opinion.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: But I had a, once I become one of them, I guess I (both laugh), I ran as an outsider, you know, and you know, brand new face to Frankfort, a new philosophy, and not the old politician, not the old courthouse. And I remember when I decided not to run, I made this statement in jest, I said, "You know, I got up one morning and looked in the mirror and I had become the enemy," you know, I had become one of them, I'd been here so damned long. But I, I say that in jest, but I do believe you need new faces in politics. I don't think that you should stay around forever, and I voluntarily left. It was just time to go. And you do need to bring in fresh blood every once in a while.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: I think if everybody stayed, it would become very corrupt.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: Very corrupt.

MOYEN: You had mentioned that you and a classmate decided that you were going to open up, or purchase these practices, as he did. At that time, and you said he was from Cynthiana?

FORD: Um-hm.

MOYEN: Did UK and Auburn have that program that they have?

FORD: Oh yeah. Right. Yeah, he had been in my class at Auburn as a University of Kentucky student, and came down there.

MOYEN: I know that that program exists, but do you know anything, I don't know much more than that, about how it works, or why it developed that way?

FORD: Oh yeah. Well, yeah, I happened to be on the Southern Regional Education Board, and that program is funded through the SREB, and what happens, back when I went to Auburn, we had a relationship with Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Florida. Four states. They each had ten slots, and then the rest was Alabamians. So I guess we had 47:00thirty. I think there was about seventy something in my class, and when I started I think sixty-two of us graduated. But what it is is a regional approach where Kentucky pays so much per student, I think it's about, gosh, I don't remember, but several million dollars a year now, and then the Kentucky student enrolls at Auburn as an in-state resident, doesn't have to pay out-of-state tuition, and the state of Kentucky makes up the difference. And the theory being that we don't need a veterinary school in every state. We also, through the SREB, we co-op with some optometrists, podiatry, dentistry, and medicine 48:00with several of the, fifteen of the Southern Regional States, and it's all funded through the SREB, Southern Regional Educational Board. And so now Kentucky has thirty-four slots per year. So we have a hundred and maybe sixty-eight, so we have one hundred thirty, ever how many students at Auburn, it's costing Kentucky several million dollars a year, but yet it's the best money we can spend, because it would cost a hundred, 150 million dollars to build a vet school, and then you could not staff it with the quality staff you need. You'll have to raid other campuses. And so it seems that Kentucky should have a vet school, but it makes more sense not to, it really does.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, when you decided to come to Kentucky, did you, tell me a little bit about that decision to come here, and you said you have 49:00to stay with--

FORD: Okay, my plan was to open a practice with another practitioner, who was a small animal practitioner in Montgomery, Alabama, and I was going to do the equine, large animal, and some small animal, and, but we were going to be in some kind of partnership arrangement. His name was Jim Chamberlain. And I had every intent of coming back to Alabama, but I did not feel like that I was as well schooled and skilled at equine practice as I needed to be, because that's where I saw a great potential in Montgomery, Alabama, because the equine industry was flourishing down there. So I came to Kentucky really to learn how to be an equine practitioner, and I selected the best that I could find, and he took me. And I had every intention of going back, and 50:00my wife did not come up here with me when I did my preceptorship, but she consented for me to accept this job, and we came, she came up with me. And we stayed there a year and then moved to Cynthiana in 1959, and bought a home, and you know, she helped me start a very successful practice, but then it just kind of fell apart.

MOYEN: Now, how quickly did you get involved with the school board?

FORD: Well, that was, I went there in 1959, and so eleven years before I ran for the school board. And you know, I had children in school, and I was very interested, so forth and so on. Didn't mean to be an antagonist, of course the superintendent and I ended up being, and still are today, the very best of friends, but he thought I was running to get rid of him, but I wasn't. He just told me I'd get more information if I was on the inside, so I got inside (both laugh). And it was a great experience.


MOYEN: What issues did you find most frustrating, or most important, to deal with with the schools once you began to really look closely?

FORD: Well, you know, dropouts have always been a real challenge, you know, too many kids don't finish school, and curriculum is important, and sometimes, and I'm an athletic, was an athletic nut, but too much emphasis is sometimes put on, on athletics. You need them, I mean, they're good. Kids need to be involved in extracurricular stuff. I know many examples of kids that would not have finished high school if it had not been for football, or if they had not gotten in the band, you know. If you just look around, the kids that drop out of school are usually the loners, you know, they stand around and lean up against the wall, they don't have a peer group, and so people, kids 52:00need to be involved in extracurricular activities, and so I encourage that. But I also was very, not very enamored with taking football coaches when they couldn't coach anymore and start losing, make them principal of a damn elementary school. And that was the old way it was done, and I resented that very much. I know I got a policy adopted in Harrison County where a husband and wife could not teach in the same building, and, because I don't think that's good, especially if I'm the principal and my wife's a teacher. My wife can never be another teacher. I mean, when she would walk into the teacher's lounge, I'm sure everything would stop right there. And so I got a policy adopted on the local level to prohibit that, and you know, I think I made a difference, and did some pretty innovative stuff, and--

MOYEN: What type of opposition did you face with that policy or with others? Or was there much opposition?


FORD: There wasn't a whole lot, there was opposition from the teachers that had to move, you know, to be reassigned, but we had four elementary schools and a high school, and fortunately the high school principal didn't, his wife was not employed in his building. And a middle school the same, was there, but we had some elementary people that had been moved around, but that was easy because we had four elementary schools in Harrison County. I received no resistance from the board, the board was very cooperative, and I believe that I brought some degree of leadership there that they respected, and I tried to think through things before I brought it to the board--[telephone rings]. She'll get that. And could, tried to do something not a knee- jerk reaction, and so therefore, you know, had some degree of success.

MOYEN: Uh-huh. And as you became more and more involved, tell me about 54:00your decision--[Pause in tape]. All right, you touched on this briefly a little bit earlier, but maybe I can get a little more detailed explanation of your decision to run. Can you explain some of what was going on with other people? How did you come to decide that this was something that you were up for--

FORD: Well, believe it or not, this is crazy, my wife's ex-husband was a political junkie, and he had worked in the "Happy" Chandler administration over here in Frankfort in one thing or another, and he's the one that decided that this would be a good thing for me to do (laughs). And the more I thought about it, you know, the more it appealed to me, and I didn't ever dream that Wilson would run for the seat again, and he did, and fortunately, you know, I did get elected. 55:00But that, I mean, he planted a seed in my mind, and my wife first said, "Oh, you don't want to get involved in politics, politics is ugly," because you know, it was ugly for him. He was never an elected official, he, you know, just hung around and was on "Happy" Chandler's staff, and that kind of stuff, and she didn't like it. They lived over here, she had a very bad experience, and that led to their divorce, and uhm so, but then the more she thought about it, she thought, "Well, maybe you can do some good," you know, and so we got into it, and once we made up my mind, we made up my mind (laughs) that we were going to run, she went to work, and I'm telling you, there's not a better politician in the country. She's a meeter and greeter, and had connections in every county and worked her rear end off for me. And she enjoyed it; I worked my rear end off, and I didn't enjoy it. I'm 56:00not a good campaigner. I mean, I'm just really not. I, some people love to run and hate to serve. I hated to run and loved to serve. I mean it, I enjoyed it. But she was totally responsible for me getting elected the first time.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: I mean, she brought that much to the table, I do believe.

MOYEN: Uh-huh. In campaigning, what would you do, or what would you say when you went door to door? What types of things did you speak at? Or--

FORD: Well, of course 1970 we were in pretty good financial shape, and my, I ran with one objective, and that was to remove the sales tax from residential utilities. I said that residential utilities were just as important to our way of life as food and medicine. We had to have it. And I ran on that platform, and it stuck. And if my, if Wilson 57:00Palmer, looking at things in retrospect, when I first sprung that on him the first time we were together, if he had said, "That sounds like a good idea, maybe I ought to take a look at that after I'm elected," but he didn't, he said you cannot do that. He said, "Wherever you cut taxes you have to cut spending." And I said, "Well, Wilson, we have a surplus, a huge surplus," and it was $270 million. And he said, "Doesn't make any difference, whenever you cut taxes, you've got to cut spending, and so he took me on, but if he had said, you know, that doesn't sound like a bad idea, I believe I'd have lost.

MOYEN: Uh-huh.

FORD: But, so he made a political boo boo right there, and so I just wore it out from there no.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And then the second time I ran I was able to get that done, and everybody thought it was a great idea. And so my particular bill didn't pass, because it got to the House and they held it, and sent 58:00the House bill over, and we passed the House bill over. I didn't care about claiming authorship, that was my camp--, I fulfilled my campaign promise. The second time I ran, and was, "He Kept His Word," I mean, that was a campaign theme. And the third time I ran was, "If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It."

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And Tommy Preston, with Preston Associates in Lexington, was my political advisor through all my campaigns, and he was very instrumental in me getting elected too, and he, he was a personal friend.

MOYEN: Uhm, um-hm. During your first campaign, what would you say when you start pounding the pavement, when you go out and ring doorbells? Do you just talk about this one issue, or what--

FORD: No. No, I'd say, you know, "I'm Ed Ford, I'm running for the state Senate," I had a little brochure I'd hand people, and they'd 59:00said, "Well that's good." I'd say, "You know, I just believe we need new faces in Frankfort," and so forth and so on, stuff like that, and they said, "Well, what are you going to do different?" Well then I'd talk about the sales tax. And of course, it's a big district. I mean, I had the north part of Fayette County, all of Bourbon, all of Harrison, all of Nicholas, all of Woodford, and all of Scott, so I couldn't do door-to-door.

MOYEN: Sure.

FORD: I would do some door-to-door and be visible, just so I could be visible, but I did, we had a lot of meetings and would, I would appear at events and stuff like that to see a lot of people. But, and I had a great supporting staff, I mean, didn't have any paid staff, but I mean, I had a lot of other people who worked for me that drove throughout these counties and passed out my brochures and all that kind of stuff, 60:00you know. It was a, it was a team effort.

MOYEN: Either when you first started running for office, or during your tenure, how did you deal with the diversity of your constituency? Having that northern part of Fayette County all the way up into, I guess Robertson County.

FORD: Yeah, that's right.

MOYEN: And that's just very different--

FORD: It's very different. Of course, Robert--, you know, I think that's one of my strengths, if I have any, is that I can mix with anybody, you know, and I can mix with governors or I can mix with janitors, it doesn't matter. It's just, that's just the way I am. And of course the rural counties were easy because they could identify with me, me being a veterinarian. And the part of Lexington that I represented is a horse country, you know, and so they could relate to me pretty good. I didn't find, you know, that never really became 61:00a real problem. My opponent used, or tried to use, that I was not a native of Kentucky against me too, which was pretty weak, because--

MOYEN: Was this Palmer?

FORD: Yeah, Wilson Palmer, and he said, "Well, he's not even one of us" (Moyen laughs). And so you know, we got through that first year pretty successfully. I was voted the outstanding freshman of my class in 1978, and you know, got some legislation passed. I just tinkered around with some stuff, and believe might've changed the word from non-certified, when we're talking the statutes, non-certified, got that changed to classified. In other words, I felt that a little demeaning 62:00to say, "You're a certified teacher, I'm non-certified because I drive a bus." So now we have certified people and classified people, and so I think that, and that was easy to get done, just--

MOYEN: Uh-huh. And that was during your first term?

FORD: Yeah, I believe it was during the first term, and that was pretty easy to get done. And you know, everything was pretty routine. I was very successful, or wouldn't have been elected outstanding freshman senator, and I remember in 1980 the Herald-Leader, at the end of 1980, wrote that I was a person to watch. And then the bad stuff started happening in 1981, no, let's see, '78, '79, '80, I served through '81, I guess it was, yeah, the election was in '81. I guess we may have been over here for a special session, I don't remember, but anyway, I got sighted for a DUI, and it just about destroyed my life, and my 63:00daughter, just about killed them. And so a fellow who had been the floor leader in the House had served ten years or so and was Wendell Ford's floor leader in the House, named John Swinford, prominent name in Kentucky politics, his father was Judge Max Swinford, he was a federal judge. He decided that I was vulnerable because I got that DUI, and so he took me on in 1981, and I, you know, there'd always be somebody in the audience that says, "Hey, I understand you got, uh, picked up a drunk driving. What do you got to say about that?" I said, "Well, I got to say I must have been guilty. I blew a .1," and I said, "but, let me tell you what I did." I said, "I went to the drunk school and finished valedictorian of my class." And that shut 'em up. And that's the only way to handle it, just face it. And of course 64:00Swinford never said a word, but he had plants that would do this stuff. And of course I whipped him pretty good, and I remember he, I don't think he ever conceded. We're very good friends today, but he called me up that, maybe the night after the election, not victory night but the next night, and he said, "You know," he said, "I understand that you won." He said, "You know the thing that hurts me the most?" Says, "You beat me in my home county." I said, "John, I won my home county." I said, "this is both of our counties." And he said it again, said, "Yeah, but you're not from here." And he said, that's what killed him, and he's told me today that that still just bothers him that I could whip him in his own county. And I said, "Well John, you know, you've got to have a reason to put somebody out of office," and I said, "and, on my record I don't think, you know, the public thought I deserved to be removed." And he said, "well, you may be right." Of course, I know 65:00why he ran, he thought I was vulnerable with a DUI, and boy it taught me a lesson, I'll tell you that. There were fourteen of us in the General Assembly that got DUIs that year. Fourteen. And so I think we all learned how to behave ourselves a little better.

MOYEN: Was that pretty coincidental? Or do you feel like someone said, "Hey, we're going to--"

FORD: It was during the John Y. administration, I think he turned up the heat on the legislature, and he never did have much respect for us. Never did. I don't know whether he deliberately did it, or some of his cabinet people did it, justice secretary did it, or police commissioner, but there's no question about it, they, they were watching all the local watering holes pretty close, and when legislators would leave, they would nail them.

MOYEN: Um-hm. Let's go back just a little bit to your first term, and you talked about governor Carroll, and his phone call to you, and then 66:00that you had an amicable relationship with him. What was his leadership style like, not only with you, but with the General Assembly?

FORD: Well, if you remember, in 1980, well, his relationship with the General Assembly was very good because he had been one, and nobody understood the process any better than he did, I don't believe. I mean, he knew the budget inside and out, and he knew the, knew how to get things done, and he controlled the leadership both in the House and the Senate, and this was in 1978. And then in 1979, if you remember, the so-called Black Sheep Squadron, do you remember hearing about that?

MOYEN: Um-hm. Joe Wright.

FORD: Yeah, Joe Wright, John Berry, Lowell Hughes, and me, David Karem and others, and so we finally had enough muscle that we wrested the control away from the governor and elected our own leadership. And in 67:001979, I believe, it was the end of 1978 that Carroll left the state, and back then when the governor's out of the state, the lieutenant governor became the governor, and Thelma Stovall called a special session. And of course we had a major flood here in Frankfort, simultaneous with going in the special session, so we had to adjourn, and Julian agreed that if we would adjourn, he would call us back in '79, and he did in the Spring of '79. And that's when we opened up the budget, and we, the Senate sat as a Committee of the Whole, and we put Julian Carroll on the stand for six hours talking about the budget. And that's, was the, that was the beginning of the end of the governor controlling the General Assembly. So then John Y. Brown succeeded 68:00him, and we got enough votes, election that year, enough new senators elected that year to put us over the hump to where we could, uh, control the leadership, elect our own leadership, and we did. And John Y. Brown says he gave us our independence; he didn't, we took it away from him, that's just all there was to it. But he still makes that statement says, "I gave you all your independence." It just happened to be on his watch, that's all, he didn't give us a damn thing, and he had no respect for us. But that's when we, and I think that was an evolution in Kentucky politics is when the General, when the Senate became independent, and then the House became independent also with Bill Kenton as a Speaker of the House at that time, I believe.

MOYEN: Let me ask you about the Black Sheep Squadron.

FORD: Okay.

MOYEN: How did that, well, one, where did the name come from? And two, when did you all start meeting as a group, or realizing that you were 69:00moving towards the same goal? FORD: In 1978. When I got elected in 1977, the first, second phone call I got after I talked to Julian Carroll was John Berry, who I'd never heard of, and he was a senator from Henry County, and he wound up as our first floor leader, and then Joe Wright succeeded him. But he wanted to have dinner, and so I did, and we did, and he, we had a mutual friend who set this up, and so the mutual friend, was named Bell, and his wife, and Carroll and John and Dorothy and I, we met at Cliff Hagan's over here, I believe, in Frankfort, and he was telling me what they were trying to do and so forth and so on. And he said, "Of course, you ran against the establishment, and you're a natural for--." And so I made up my mind right then I was going to be one of them. And I think Julian sensed that, and that's the reason he was so damn good to me, he was trying to get me not to be one of them. So, I don't know, we struggled through 70:00it. And then, of course, as I say, John Y. got elected, and back in those days, in December, you had this pre-legislative meeting of the new, down at Kentucky Dam Village, I'm sure you've heard of those meetings. Well, I remember that John Berry and I had a cabin together, and he had the votes, you know, we, we worked hard, and we had the votes to elect him as the floor leader. And Joe Prather, we were going to let him remain as, he had become one of us, but he was president pro-tem of the Senate, and so we were going to leave him there, because he was pretty neutral really, and he knew how to run the damn place, and then we were going to, you know, elect committee chairs, and this, that, and the other. And I remember John Y. coming by our cabin about eleven o'clock at night. He walked in, didn't have much to say, he 71:00and John Berry were law school classmates, and so he said, "John, they tell me you've got the votes. Have you got them?" He said, "Yes sir." He said, "How many do you have to spare?" He says, "I don't have any to spare, but I've got three more than I need." And so he said, "Well, I don't think I'm going to get in your all's way." And he walked out. And that was the end. I mean, that was the revelation, the revolution in the Kentucky General Assembly, happened right there at Kentucky Dam Village when he walked in, and he believed John, and John did have them, and that was the beginning of the end of the gubernatorial strangle hold on the legislature.

MOYEN: So, you really feel like John Y. Brown knew that it was a lost cause, so he--

FORD: Yeah, he gave us our independence (laughs) because, he didn't 72:00have the votes. That's exactly the way it happened. And I can tell you about the conversation, but I can't on tape, before we got around to talking about the votes, he and Berry (laughs) carried on this conversation, got kind of vulgar, but I won't repeat it on the tape (both laugh). But John Y's a, he's a fun guy to be around. He really is. And he was, I guess he, you know, had a decent administration, he had some good people, some good people around, but it was, hell, he'd come to work at three o'clock in the afternoon, you know, and he might still be here at one o'clock in the morning, and all the sudden he'd think, "Hell, I need to ask Ed something." Hell, he'd call you. one o'clock in the damn morning. It was different.

MOYEN: Uh-huh. Now, when you first came to the legislature, what really surprised you? Was there anything that surprised you?

FORD: Yes. Yes. Number one, let's say through my first term, I mean, 73:00my first session, I found out the lobbyists were an integral part of the process. They were not people that stood around with trench coats with their collars turned up with bags full of money, that they were experts in their field. And you find out real quick who you can trust and who you can't. Now, there's some real sleazebag lobbyists, but there's some very important lobbyists. In other words, if I'm going to tamper with insurance, I need somebody I can go to who will tell me the truth, even though it might hurt their company, they would tell me the truth. And I found out those people are very, very crucial to the legislative process. I also found out that the press was not as ethical as I thought they were, and you know, I had held the press in very high esteem, and you quickly find out those you can and those 74:00you can't. I mean, there's not anything on this earth that I wouldn't tell Richard Wilson, he used to be a reporter for the Courier-Journal, and if I said, "Dick, this is off the record," it was off the record. Not every reporter you could do that with. You soon find out who the good ones are and who the bad ones are. And those were the two eye-opening things to me, that you could not be totally candid with the press all the time and, because they would not always print the entire conversation, only bits and pieces, and I found out that the, that lobbyists, even though there were some very unethical lobbyists, that the good lobbyists were a really important part of the process.

MOYEN: Are there any specific examples where you could say you realized that this lobbyist was really important for information you needed on an issue? Or, like you said, is there an instance where you became disillusioned with, either the press in general, or a reporter where 75:00you thought, "I said this, and now it looks this way in the paper."

FORD: Yeah, you know, I can't just pinpoint back now, it's been so long ago, but you know, the press is more interested in reporting negative than they are positive, and that's disturbing to someone who's trying to work their tail off and get good stuff happening, then you stump your toe and they write about it, and never write about all the good stuff you do. And I think the press has been kinder to me than they have a lot of other legislators. I've seen, you know, they really haven't mistreated me too bad, personally. But as an institution I just found out they were not exactly what I thought they were when I was a civilian on the outside. And I guess the lobbyists were the biggest thing, and like if I needed to, wanted to do something for the 76:00horse industry, and you know, the Keeneland lobbyist was an ethical person, you could rely on him. And yet there might be somebody else up here that was lobbying for another part of the horse industry that was totally a sleazebag, and so, but, you soon, it doesn't take you long to figure them out.

MOYEN: Right.

FORD: And then the education, of course I depended on school board lobbyists very strongly, and they were always very supportive, and great resource people, you know, sources for materials and data and statistics, and they could deliver quick. And the LRC staff, when I first came in, was not as big and, as it is now, and so we were not, right now, today, I mean, they've got a staff over there that can run the country, but back in our days it was pretty thin.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: We had, only thing, when I came to the legislature, we had a desk 77:00up on the fourth floor, and then we had a lounge over in the basement of the, of the annex. That was it. And then, might have been '82 that we finally had the cubicles over there, and that was good. It was a little six-by-six foot cubicle with a desk and a telephone. Didn't have any computers back in those days, but there was a lot of camaraderie built, because the House and Senate wasn't necessarily separated, and so you knew each other, and you, we all were in that cubicle, those cubicles down, and we still had the lounge, and we interacted. Today, I think that's something that's missing from the General Assembly, is, I mean, you know, the Republicans down here, the Democrats over here, and the Senate's on this floor, and the House is on the other, they were literally, never get to know each other, and that, the same thing has happened in Washington, and that happened the year that Newt Gingrich was elected speaker, when the, the freshmen 78:00split, and the Democrats went this way and the Republican, well, it was the Republicans who were in control, and they did not want, and that camaraderie is lost in Congress now. And it's not good, but, you know, that's beyond my control.

MOYEN: And you feel like some of that has, at least in Frankfort, has to do with the development of annex and moving--

FORD: Yeah. Bigger and bigger and bigger. As a matter of fact, they're requesting us right now to move sixty-five people off the first floor of that annex and give it, and they passed legislation, I mean, it's the law, they control the annex, but yet we have no place to put the people, we have no money to move them, and they want it now. And they also put language in the budget bill prohibiting us from leasing the space. So you know, we're not going to be able to accommodate them, but yeah, they're getting too, the pendulum is swung, swinging too 79:00far. These are supposed to be equal branches of government, and it all started, if we go back to 1980, the Senate took control, and then the House took control, and the pendulum swung too far the other way with Speaker Blandford and others, so forth and so on, the legislature began to flaunt its power and muscle a little bit, and so BOPTROT happened, you know. And that was not good, and it tarnished the legislature. But now they're expanding again, and really filling their clout, and these tough times when we're so short of money, they rolled over an $18 million surplus on June the 30th, and didn't, didn't bat an eye. And of course we, you know, came up millions and millions short over here starting the fiscal year, if we hadn't had the fiscal relief in 80:00the federal government we'd be in a hell of a shape right now. And so they're, you know, they're feeling their muscle like they're a separate part of government, and their infringing on the executive, and I told Patton the other day that I'm glad we're going out of office and not coming in, because the next governor's going to have a tough, tough time with that bunch. I mean, they're really feeling their muscles right now, and they're infringing, and there will be a lawsuit during the next administration on, similar to Brown versus LRC, where the LRC was trying to prohibit the governor from enacting administrative regulations. And of course Brown won that case.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: But they're infringing, again, and we haven't been in a position in the last year to do a whole lot since the revelation of the government's problems. It's really weakened our power over here, and 81:00made my job pretty tough if you want to know the truth, makes it really tough. But we have to go on.

MOYEN: Right. Let me get back to your beginnings in the legislature. You mentioned that you got on the Education Committee.

FORD: Education, Counties and Special Districts, I believe, and Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

MOYEN: How was that done in 1978? Did the governor tell you? Did you get to shop around? Did you request--

FORD: I put my request down, and apparently he sent word to Tom, Senator Garrett, who was running the Senate, actually. Even though Joe Prather was president pro-tem, Tom Garrett was the floor leader, and he was the one that called the shots. Apparently Julian sent him a note and said, "Give him what he wants." I don't know any other reason why it would--

MOYEN: Uh-huh.

FORD: So I, you know, I focused my attention, even though I was, wound up chair, in 1980 of the Counties and Special Districts--wait a minute, 82:00no, the first year was Banking and Insurance, Agriculture, Natural Resource, and Education. And then I left banking and insurance to become chair of the County Special District in 1980. But I focused my attention, during my entire career on education and environmental issues, and I'm not environmentalist to, but environmental issues, solid waste, garbage, clean water, but I'm, you know, I'm not one who wants to make it so clean it can't exist. But being a veterinarian and a farmer, you can appreciate the environment a little bit more, I think. And so I, you know, I chair the interim Committee on Environmental Issues, "Maxey" Flats was a big problem, you know, that's our nuclear waste dump down in Fleming County, was a big problem, and 83:00I became very involved in that. And actually authored the Interstate Compact Commission for Low-Level Radioactive Waste between Illinois and Kentucky, and I'm now chair of the commission over in Springfield, Illinois. And just been interested in those kinds of issues, and of course education on all levels, that's where I focused all my attention.

MOYEN: Right. Once you had this conversation with John Y. Brown, and he gave you quote, unquote, "your legislative independence--"

FORD: The conversation was with John Berry and John Brown, and I'm a witness. It was whoever was in the room (laughs).

MOYEN: Right. How, when you came back to Frankfort for the legislative session, how had things changed? What was different about the atmosphere or--

FORD: Well, the old guard accepted it, of course, Tom Garrett, 84:00unfortunately, passed away, and Kelsey Friend, and Pat McCuiston, and those guys had pretty much run things, but they accepted that the new guard was now in power, and they, they did okay with it, and we felt very good. And of course we put people, qualified people as chair of various committees, and back then, I mean Woodrow Stamper, chair of Appropriations and Revenue, why he couldn't balance a checkbook. Well, I don't mean that, he was probably a successful businessman, but he never knew, I mean, he didn't run that committee, you know, Tom Garrett was running that committee. And so we, you know, we ch--, we made those kinds of changes, put Mike Moloney as chair of A&R, and he understood it, and ran it, and we knew what was going on. Prior 85:00to that, you know, you just voted. You didn't know, really, what was going on, you didn't get great information. As I say, the LRC staff wasn't as competent then as it is now, not because we had incompetent people, just didn't have people. There were, the ones we had were very competent, but they didn't have access to any information they have today, through technology we can access information so much faster today.

MOYEN: Right, right.

FORD: But it was a, we felt very good, it was a great atmosphere, and we enjoyed, and we met every night over at Joe Wright's house. We'd meet just about every night after the session, and we'd try to figure out what we were going to do tomorrow. And that was Benny Ray Bailey, and Danny Meyer, and Ed O'Daniel, myself, Lowell Hughes, Joe Wright, John Berry, you know, we were the core group, David Karem. Of course, David never met with us at night, because he's always commuted back and forth to Louisville, and so we really bonded, you know, we became a very 86:00close group.

MOYEN: Were there any important actions or legislation that you think, obviously things were decided there, but had it not been for that cohesive group there, making that wouldn't have happened, that stick out in your mind?

FORD: No, not really, I know Joe Wright and I differed on some issues in education occasionally, and Nelson Allen was also chair of the Education Committee, and he was part of our group. And you know, we didn't expect everybody to stay in line. I mean, if it was right, you should vote for it, if it was wrong you didn't. And I think we were more or less just, uh, we weren't trying to dictate, it never was that way, and the Black Sheep didn't always vote together on every issue. Worker's comp is the one that we might have split on, you know, 87:00because we had some lawyers in our group, and they would see it one way and the rest of us would see it another way. But that's good, you know, it would have been bad if we had become the real enemy, just like they were. And we weren't, you know. There wasn't any control; John Berry didn't control it; Joe Wright didn't control it. I think they showed leadership, real leadership, and led us in the right direction, didn't drive us.

MOYEN: Was there any specific legislation, in your first couple of terms in '78 or in '80 that was tough for you to vote a certain way that you knew--

FORD: Yeah, interstate, inter-county banking were the hot issues back in those days. When I first came to the legislature, if the Farmers National Bank was in Cynthiana, Kentucky, we could not have a branch in Bourbon County, and that was always a tough issue. And I know that 88:00I opposed cross-county banking, and of course I'm now a banker (both laugh), I'm on the Bank Corporation Board and a bank board, and we've got branches everywhere (both laugh). So, you know, but times have changed. Back in those days we thought it would be the end of the small banks--

[End of Tape #1, Side #2]

[Begin Tape #2, Side #1]

MOYEN: for a minute.

FORD: What was I saying?

MOYEN: We were talking about banking.

FORD: Oh yeah, and that was always a tough issue. You know, there's two sides to every story, and of course the thing that I could see was the big bank in New York taking over the banks in Kentucky and all that, and of course some of it's happened, you know, it's, some degree of it, 89:00and it's not bad. But yet there's a, always going to be a place for the hometown bank, I think.

MOYEN: Uh-huh.

FORD: I know we've been very successful the last several years. We have banks in Harrison County and we've got, I think, five branches, and then we own a bank in Carlisle, two--

MOYEN: What bank is this?

FORD: In Carlisle? MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: The, uh, hell, it's not the First National, it's the other one, oh Lord--of course, the Farmers National Bank Corp. owns them both.

MOYEN: Okay.

FORD: It's the, the other bank, not the Whitaker Bank over there. I can't, I've just drawn a blank. Hmm.

MOYEN: We'll come back. It's not--

FORD: Yeah, and of course our bank is Farmers National Bank in Cynthiana. We're building a branch in Paris right now, it's under construction, and so, you know, times have changed, and of course Fifth, another Kentucky bank, which is the old Bourbon Agricultural Bank, has got 90:00a branch sitting right across the street from one of our branches in Cynthiana. So, we're all getting into each other's territory. But that was, was always a tough vote, and you know, I don't remember a whole lot of tough votes because to me it was either right or wrong, and I never did have a problem voting, I voted my conscience on every bill. The only piece of legislation, and when I cast a vote I knew it was a bad vote, was during that special session in 1979, you being a political, well you're not a political science major though, are you?


FORD: But anyway, this all started in California with Proposition 13, had to do with property tax. They froze the property tax. A fellow by the name of Jarvis from, you know, California is a state that is governed by referendum, everything is by referendum, and so it started 91:00a, like a tidal wave coming across the country to freeze the property tax, and that was House Bill 44, that was in 1979 or 1980. And I know I got up on the floor and said, "This is going to be the worst vote I'll ever cast, and I'll vote aye." I voted for it knowing that it was a, but I, you know, I think that if you had voted against that one, that could have ended your career, and I knew it was going to pass also. It passed almost unanimously, and it's almost become sacred in Kentucky. But to show you how irresponsible it was, the per capita property tax in California at that time was over $200, and per capita tax in Kentucky, property tax was $35. So, it was a very irresponsible vote, and it has hampered school districts, it's hurt the state, the state, the rate will go lower because the way the legislation was 92:00worded, you can't have any more dollars from property tax than you had the preceding year. Now in, that's for the state. Now for the county, school districts, in county, they can raise up to four percent without being subject to recall, any raise beyond that is subject to recall. And it was a very, very bad vote, and it's something that needs to be fixed, and it's, but, as I say, it's almost become sacred. But it's not helping education in this state at all, not helping the government at all. And my, I still think that my tax on residential utilities was the right thing to do, but it cost $40 million in 1978 and today it'd probably costs $200 million. But yet I still think it was the right thing to do.

MOYEN: All right, you, when you had to go out and campaign again, which 93:00we talked about a little bit, did you feel a little more confident in what you were doing? Did you like it anymore, or did you still not like it, but were more confident, or what?

FORD: I was more confident that I was going to win. Now, my wife wasn't, because she, you know, we had the DUI. And this was John Swinford, who was a very prominent name in Kentucky politics, running against me. I was very confident, because I knew I'd done a good job, and I faced up to my indiscretion, and didn't try to lie my way out of it. I felt like people would send me back to Frankfort. She didn't. But it was a lot, I was a little more comfortable campaigning that time than I had been the first time. I knew a little bit more about what I was talking about then. The first time I didn't know what the hell I was talking about. But I also found out that for an incumbent, you can't just say anything. I mean, you've got to be responsible. 94:00And when you're an outsider running against somebody, you can say anything, because you're dumb, you don't know, and, but it was not, and I won by almost the same margin the second time. And then the next time I think I had Republican opposition but no primary opposition. And then when I ran the first time in '77, I failed to mention that there was a third person in the race.

MOYEN: Right. And this was in the primaries?

FORD: In the primary. And, but he, he got then, less than ten percent of the vote, and his name slips me at this moment, but he made it interesting. He had a twin brother, and they looked exactly alike, and they would campaign in two places at the same time (both laugh). And I remember some, he made the statement that he could not understand why he only got less than ten percent of the vote. He said, "Hell, 95:00I think I saw ninety percent of the people," and they said, "Well, that's the reason you got the ten percent. They didn't see you (both laugh), they didn't know you." We, you know, made a joke out of it. It was a, it was fun. But yeah I, you know, I was very confident the third time running against a Republican who filed, or lady attorney, and she really did not know what she was doing, and, but she made it interesting. I didn't campaign quite as hard that time because I had won two successful races. She had never run for anything,. Democrats out, I think we had, I don't know, five or six to one.

MOYEN: Right.

FORD: I didn't get too excited about it, but I also found out that it's going to be thirty percent of the people to vote against any incumbent.

MOYEN: Um-hm.


FORD: Because "Eck" Rose had a Republican opponent at that same time, and I think she paid $20 to file and never left the house, and got thirty percent of the vote (Moyen laughs), and Betsy Davenport who ran against me, she worked her rear end off, and she got thirty percent of the vote.

MOYEN: Uh-huh. Now, you had mentioned with your DUI that that was tough on your family, was it just the instance or was it things that you had to face with the paper, or your opponent, or all the above?

FORD: Yeah, I think it was a great embarrassment to my wife and daughter, and they knew I wasn't a drunk and an alcoholic, but yet this was such a great embarrassment because I almost had a lily white image up until then, and I guess that kind of humanized me a little bit. But up until then, I think they had me on a pedestal where I didn't belong, probably.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: But it was, it was devastating. I mean, my wife lost maybe ten 97:00or fifteen pounds during that campaign, just worrying herself sick, and I remember very distinctly that, of course, we had people reporting immediately from the polls when they counted, calling in and we knew we were over the hump and had the thing won, and I told my wife, I said, "Honey, you ain't got nothing to worry about, we've already won this thing," you know, "we're so many thousand votes ahead." And she said, "But you haven't heard from Stamping Ground" (laughs). As if I could lose the race, you know, where maybe six hundred votes came. She never did believe we was going to win. It was tough on her, man it was tough. And I'll tell you then, a politician living in a fishbowl is tough on families, it's really tough on the folks' family. Just think how tough it must be for Chelsea Clinton, you know, with her daddy behaving like he does, and of course I've seen it here. You 98:00know, again, it's tough on the families. It's very tough. And the DUI, you know, was insignificant, or should have been, although it's a bad thing, I mean, to take a drink and get behind the wheel of a car, it's a bad thing, but it's not a capital offense, but as far as my wife was concerned, my daughter, it was a capital offense, that I had really just about gone out and murdered somebody. But we get over it.

MOYEN: Right. Now, once you had won that election, we're still in John Y. Brown's administration, were there any other pieces of legislation during his term that you really fought for, or really, really opposed vehemently?

FORD: No, you know, I really can't say that I did. I had a very good relationship with some of his cabinet folks, and we got along very well, and I don't remember any monumental legislators moving 99:00legislation that I passed, although I had a very good, solid record, and, but I wasn't out there trying to change the world. And as, once again, as I say, I never was one to, pride in authorship doesn't bother me. I know I sponsored the legislation to set up this Personal Service Contract Review Subcommittee, and Bob Jones over in the House submitted the identical legislation, and of course, mine passed the Senate, his passed the House. They sent his bill to us, we sent my bill to the House and they buried it, you know, and, but, that kind of stuff doesn't bother me. So, you know, that was a very good thing we did, it was, and I became a member of that committee, a charter member, "Eck" Rose and I did, and I think back in those days, I mean, they talk about personal service contracts now like they're something bad. Point in 100:00personal service contracts are is you are outsourcing, you know, rather than to keep somebody on staff that you don't need twelve months out of the year, you have a personal service contract. Well, back in those days it was a, they were being used as political pawns, and what our committee did was exposed it and brought them to light. And I think we're a lot better today than we were in 1978, all of government's operating better, more open, I think.

MOYEN: All right. I think that I read somewhere that you helped co- chair Martha Layne Collins' campaign.

FORD: I was her, I was her, my wife was her co-chair, statewide co-chairman for both lieutenant governor and governor, and I was her statewide organizational chairman for the general election.

MOYEN: Okay.

FORD: J. R. Miller from Owensboro was her organizational chairman 101:00through the primary and they, something happened.

MOYEN: Okay.

FORD: And so they let him go home and asked me to do it. And so I ran her campaign, and traveled with her.

MOYEN: What did you do in that, I mean, what does running a campaign consist of?

FORD: Okay, well, we had the state divided up, I believe into six, six or seven segments, and I hired a person to work out of headquarters for each, let's say western Kentucky, the purchase area or something, and it was their responsibility to stay in touch with those folks and to organize, and this, that, and the other. And mainly what I did in her campaign, other than go with her, was to put out fires, and I guess the biggest fires I had to put out was in Madison County where the Democratic Party was pretty split down there, they were always fighting amongst themselves, go down and be a peacemaker. I guess I had quite a few problems in Daviess County, and so basically that's what I did, but 102:00I, we organized the, we called ourselves "Democrats Together, '83." Ran as a slate, the entire slate ran together, Steve Beshear was the vice, was, uh, lieutenant governor, and we all ran out of headquarters. And I didn't have to raise any money; I wasn't into any of that. I just, was strictly organizational, and got, we had to stay organized. And of course my good friend Jim Bunning was running against us, and we were both in the Senate, and he has a short fuse, and we, we would light it every time we met. It was fun (both laugh).

MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, you talked about putting out fires in Madison County or, or in Owensboro. What types of things would come up?

FORD: Oh, it's where this side would get mad because Jim Jones was doing this, and if you don't let him do that, by God, we just won't be for 103:00anybody, and you have to go down there and be a referee, and I was pretty good, pretty good negotiator. And we kept, kept the peace. I know the Combs's in Madison County are a very influential family, very tight with Martha Layne Collins, very opposed to the Mayor of Berea, who was also on our team, and I mean, "If you don't get rid of him, by God, we're not going to be for you," and this, that, and the other, and it was just a mess. But that's part of it. I enjoyed it.

MOYEN: Within the Democratic Party, as Republicans have gained more and more influence in the state, has that lessened, I guess what I'm asking, do you think some of the divisions developed essentially as a creature of dominance? FORD: You know, I'm not sure, but I know that Collins was very involved in the Democratic Party, and I know we left 104:00the Democratic Party in very good shape. When we left, John Y. Brown completely divorced himself from the Democratic Party. Didn't have a damn thing to do with them. Wallace Wilkinson was the same way. Brereton Jones, same way. And I think that's what, I think that's what has weakened the Democratic Party is the inattention the governors have given. I think Paul Patton tried to pull it back together, but, because he's a foreman chair under, under Brown for a short period of time, and, but they just didn't put any, the governors didn't pay any attention. And so you go through three governors ignoring the Democratic Party, and not feeling any great obligation to the party, I just think it just fell apart.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: I don't know what's happened. That's the only thing I can put my finger on. And young Democrats used to be very active and influential in Kentucky; you barely hear of them today. And that has to begin with the Democrat headquarters to form young Democrats.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: So, I think it's inattention by the leadership of the, of the st- -, because the governor is the de facto head of the Democratic Party, and so I think it's just been inattention, and it's weakened us. And then I think the revolution actually started with, in, on the national scene, with the Republicans taking over. I think they can spin their stuff better than we do. Some way they have made liberal and Democrat all synonymous, and liberal being a dirty word, and of course what liberal means to me is you care, and you're compassionate, and you care about people. And, but they made liberal a dirty word, and I think they just spin their message better than we do. We just don't do it very well, and then you've got the right wing radio network, talk shows, just awful, just awful stuff, and, but that's the way we go.


MOYEN: Um-hm. Getting back to the Martha Layne Collins campaign.

FORD: Um-hm.

MOYEN: Once she was elected, how was, did that seem, or what was said amongst insiders about that being a big deal that a woman is governor in a Southern state in the '80's? FORD: You know, I guess I was so close to that election that it never occurred to me that she was a, that significant really, I mean, we had, after I got elected in 1978, she was Clerk of the Court of Appeals, I believe, last elected Clerk of the Court of Appeals, and she came over to my house and asked my wife to be her state co-chairman for lieutenant governor. And so we became very close, and I just never did see her as any, any significant other 107:00than just being a great campaigner. And my wife and she traveled this state with, didn't have any money, just the two of them, and they'd find Bill Sullivan's in Henderson, they'd stay at his house tonight, and then somebody else's house the next night, and, but we became pretty close, and I just didn't see her as being that significant, but I guess it really, really was.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: Unfortunately, I think in her election that some promises might have been made by others other than she for certain positions, and I don't think she had the best, strongest cabinet in the country, and you know, I think she was a great governor. And, uh, you know, there were some scandals, as a result of, in her election, as a matter of fact, her husband, I think, uh, did a little time.


MOYEN: Um-hm.

FORD: And her, a person, I won't say it was hers, but I'll say the Finance Secretary Mack Thompson wound up testifying against her husband, and of course, he, her husband was totally, directly responsible for Mack Thompson being secretary of finance, and you know, Floyd Poore, the doctor, was a transportation secretary who'd raised a lot of money, and of course he had to leave too, you know. She got rid of him. But I think she was a good governor. I think if she'd have had total control, she'd have been an even better governor.

MOYEN: Um-hm.

[End of interview]

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