MOYEN: All right, uh, when we left last time, we were talking aboutlegislative independence and powerful Governors, or, or different gubernatorial leadership styles, I guess you could say, and we had been talking about John Y. Brown and his, I think as you phrased it, his "Oh shucks" attitude, "Can't we all get along." And, and, a question I wanted to ask you, when you held your, the pre-legislative conference and you became majority caucus chair, did you know exactly what, uh, what that position entailed? And, and as the years went on, what did you find that the responsibilities were?
KAREM: Um, well, on paper, on paper you knew what the responsibilitieswere in the sense that having attended caucuses, obviously , um, you, the caucus chairman literally convened the meeting and conducted it and 1:00in the, in the sort of sense of, you know, "Okay, let's talk one at a time, guys. Give me a break." You know, I mean that so you--
MOYEN: --okay, um-hm--
KAREM: --you'd, you knew that. But I think one of the things that you,that you, that you didn't know was what the new role was gonna to be because leadership had been so gubernatorial-driven that there really wasn't a whole lot to do. I mean, in a, in the caucuses in the past, uh, the leadership was as much a voice for the Governor, as they were for, uh, your own membership. And so the role was of, of the caucus chairman and floor leader and whip, um, was, was, um, pretty, pretty 2:00minimal, in the sense of, you were simply there to carry out the, uh, plan of the Governor. So when you got in, so when I got into it I knew on paper, you know, you were supposed to conduct the meetings because I've seen those obviously but you didn't have any idea how it was going to unfold when you took over because you had to really develop, you had to dev-, there were(??) all of leadership had to develop this whole new role. So, it was more at, in the first few years experimental--
KAREM: --in the sense of, where're we taking this thing?
KAREM: And, of course, um, the, the floor leader, uh, was the one whowas really driving it. That's the person who really spoke for the caucus and, and really drove much more than the whip or the--I mean, we were partners, but if you will, whoever is the floor leader is the sort of senior partner.
MOYEN: Okay, okay. And you mentioned, whereas previously those3:00positions helped carry out the, the Governor's agenda, did, did John Y. Brown express an agenda to you all? I mean, I know that the relationship had changed, but were there things that he said, "Here's what I'm interested in doing. Here are some of the things I want to accomplish," um?
KAREM: Yes, absolutely. and, and even though there's been, I mean,I think it's important to say that even though there has been this legislative independence that has unfolded and taken root and become pretty permanent, that didn't mean that you didn't work with the Governor. I mean, you, all the Governors had their agendas, and the leadership, uh, always felt an allegiance because what we're talking about now is Democratic leadership in a Democratically-controlled, uh, Senate, and a Democratically-controlled House and a Democratic Governor. There is always a sense of some allegiance to try to help the Governor get his, his programs done. Uh, the , uh, the, the 4:00difference being though that the Governor had to come to leadership and sell leadership on particular pieces of whatever the program was. And, um, there was for the first time the capacity to, uh, leadership to say, "No, that, that, that piece isn't gonna to work. We're not going there. Or yes, that piece, you know, yeah, we can take that one up." I mean, it(??) required a lot more outreach on the part of the Governors to try to get people to do things but there was always this mind set you want to try to help him. and I think there'd be, I mean, I don't--I think right going today, 2004, there's so much animosity going on right now between the various people you don't--but my view of leadership has always been that even if you had a Republican Governor, uh, you have a, you have an obligation to sit down with that person 5:00at, if you're a Democratic leadership in the House or the Senate, uh, whether you're majority or minority, you have an obligation to sit down with whoever the Governor is and see if they can sell you on the plan, but that doesn't mean you have to go along with it. But John Y. B--going back to your question on John Y. Brown absolutely had agendas. And, um, he sat down with legislative leaders on a regular basis and would try to sell, get you to sell his things, and, you know, we would, most of the stuff you don't really have an argument with. Most of the time you try, you try to help him.
MOYEN: Do you recall what types of things he was most interested in?
KAREM: Uh, John Y.'s big pitch was always to run government like abusiness, as , um, you know, we've, um, I think he, he ran into a buzz saw with that whole concept but because it isn't, it isn't a business in the sense of, you know, we're, we're, government is not a for-profit , uh, entity that's run by, you know, a chairman of the board who 6:00doesn't really have to answer to anybody but stockholders and a, and a, financial bottom-line. State government's very different than that, but John Y. was very into, um, "I'm gonna to do some modification to, uh, to the tax structure. I want to run government like a business." Uh, it got to be kind of funny because he was, I think, from a history point of view, he probably, he probably signed more reorganizations, uh, than any other Governor before or after him trying to reconfigure somehow, uh, the state government structure so that it was perceived to be a business. That was kind of his big agenda.
MOYEN: Were there ways in which that you could tell, as a member of theSenate, that say that other Senate leaders--for example, Joe Prather, and the way he presided over the Senate, did, did the way he acted--did 7:00it change because of the different, uh, leadership styles of the, of the Governor, say the, the contrast between Julian Carroll and John Y. Brown? Or did it remain relatively similar?
KAREM: I guess I, I don't understand the question. I mean, um, speakingabout Joe Prather , Joe Prather, uh, was not one of the people--I, I think the change of Joe Prather, if you want to talk about the change of Joe Prather, Joe Prather was a kind of a survivor, if you will. Um, he was a, uh, he, he was not part of the, of the Black Sheep Squadron. He was not part of what you would call initially the progressive group of people who wanted, um, who wanted to gain legislative independence. 8:00Uh, he was a, he was much more of a traditionalist who, uh, who was part of the role of working with the Governor and, um, being, uh, a direct ally of the Governor. Um, when it, to, to Joe's enormous credit, when, um, he began to see the handwriting on the wall, uh, he wasn't at all, he was never--when he began to see the Black Sheep Squadron was going to take over, that, you know, John Berry was going to be the floor leader, Lowell Hughes was going to be the, the, um, whip and Karem was going to be the caucus chairman, he became, um, very willing to become a participant in legislative independence and, uh, had great flexibility about that, um, and never had a problem. And I'd, I don't want to say--it makes it sound like never had a problem switching allegiance, but that sounds, that's not really the right, 9:00switching allegiance is not the right term, because it was not that he wasn't--I mean, he obviously had affection for the Senate and its and its position. Um, I guess is just he a cap-, he had a capacity to understand the need to, uh, to move with the times and he, he got a lot of credit in my mind for, for, for the ability to do that.
MOYEN: Um-hm, okay.
KAREM: But his , the, the changes in, um, the changes in--your, yourquestion about the changes and how people reacted because of the shifts, that was really not isolated to a Joe Prather; it was a universal change.
MOYEN: Um-hm. Okay.
KAREM: I mean the universal change was, now we've got to start, youknow, figuring out who we are. We've got to start having agendas. We've got to start, uh, you know, we have to start thinking about, uh, 10:00what our, what our policy position is going to be, what's our attitude going to be towards things. And so you, everybody, everybody changed in that regard. And of course, the outgrowth of that was that a Joe Prather became actually a much more powerful individual. And, uh, the Senate president of the whole concept of somebody being the president pro temp or ultimately the Senate president, um, it changed the image of that person completely. That person had much more authority just as the speaker did once they got in-, independence over in the House. So, there wasn't, once people sort of tasted, I guess, you could say once somebody who had been more traditionally aligned with the Governor, once they tasted the, the, uh, the amount of, of power that they were gonna to get out of this deal, they were, uh, people were pretty happy to move into it.
MOYEN: Sure. I, would I be correct in assuming that this created a11:00quite a bit more work for senators? Or, or not ----------(??).
KAREM: Absolutely! I mean it was just , um, you know the, to be fairthe , uh, the caucus chairman and, and, uh, well all the leadership positions were pretty , uh, you pretty much shot down when the session was over. Uh, there were, there were some, there were meetings called the LRC meetings that took place in , uh, in the interim, but the work was , uh, basically nonexistent and I don't--the, the director of the Legislative Research Commission and that staff really did all the work. You came to the LRC meetings and the LRC meetings used to last anywhere from three to eleven minutes. I mean, they were kind of, it got to be, it got to be kind of a, of a, um, in-house joke to see how 12:00fast you could get an LRC meeting over and people would leave each one of them saying, "Well, that's a record today!" You know, he would, "We did that one in four-and-a-half minutes," or something but you. Um, tons more work and in fact the, from the time I became caucus chairman, at first there wasn't a lot more work because we were still just feeling around, but , uh, I'd say over a period of three to five years, it just changed totally. I mean, you, you're much, much more involved in it, much more interaction with, at every level. More interaction with your own members because you had to--it, it was less of a, of a popularity contest and more of a situation where you were trying to develop real relationships with other members of the Senate. making sure you were trying to do stuff that make them happy, keep them on board, sell them on programs, try to , um, a lot more work in working 13:00with the administration and even agencies, and then of course as you be--as the legislature, everybody's working the legislature, when you got legislative independence accelerated significantly. And as that accelerated significantly, the leadership, uh, work grew exponentially.
KAREM: So, it, it went from sort of a minor amount of your time to,you know, almost on, in, in certain periods of time, full, literally full-time.
MOYEN: Okay. You, you had mentioned John Y. Brown trying to streamlinegovernment, run it like a business, and yet although this was after his tenure, in 1984 with the budget, it was what Mike Moloney and Joe Clarke would call the, the Bare Bones Budget and, and although they were--it was very difficult to find a quote of Mike Moloney when he was real positive about the budget, um, throughout his tenure, this, 14:00there really were serious cuts going on in the 1984 budget. And at the same time, nationally things seemed to be, at, at least in terms of the economy, starting to rev up again and, and beginnings of, of boom times for a lot of different states. Why do you think Kentucky wasn't there yet? Do you have any, any opinions on that, as to why Kentucky seemed to still be struggling while these other states seemed to be getting their first surpluses and, you know?
KAREM: That gets into--
MOYEN: --at the time(??)--
KAREM: --that gets into a whole, you know, completely different topicabout economics, none of which I am really, uh, an authority on by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the feeling has always been, uh, that, that what your question is a good news/bad news story about 15:00Kentucky and, uh, actually a guy like Dr. Tom Clark would have a lot better feel for it than some, uh, poor little punk state senator like me has. But, um, actually I've had some conversations with, uh, Tom Clark about that issue from time to time. Uh, the good news/bad news is, is that Kentucky does seem to move more slowly when there is the boom period, but also because of the kind of economy we have, sometimes when the downturns come, uh, we don't seem to be hit quite as bad in some of the downturns. Now, you know, of course, we are not a rich state. So there's never really, there're very few big boom times for Kentucky. But, um, there is, I can, you know, over the, over my years in legislature, I can remember times where you'd, where you talk about in the mid-eighties, this ---------(??) is coming, I can remember times 16:00in my, you know, when other states were having huge problems, ten times worse. I mean you, you hear people talking about some of the horror stories going on in at Texas or Tennessee or some of those places, or even the state of Ohio. And, uh, it doesn't seem to have hit us as hard. So I guess, uh, we just are, we're just a slower-to-move kind of, uh, uh, economy but that's, while that's worked negatively on occasions, it's also worked positively. And I don't have any, um, some people say that, um, um, one of the things that's helped us is that we've, is that we've still had a, a fairly decent agricultural community in this state. Uh, a lot more, uh, family farms than a lot of other states have, we still have a fairly decent number of manufacturing, uh, jobs in Kentucky. Uh, so that when you get, uh, a boom to an economy 17:00when it's , um, when, when its service jobs are high tech, some of the higher tech kinds of things that really cause big booms in areas, we don't get that. But by the same token, uh, when those things collapse some place, or there's a terrible downturn, you know, we're still churning out, um, you know, Ford Motors been here for years, General Electric Appliance Park is in Kentucky. Uh, now Toyota. We still have a lot of manu--we still have a lot of serious manufacturing that seems to keep us reasonably stable. Um, I, so I think it's just the nature of, I think it's the nature of Kentucky and, and the way the, the way our economy has been, has, has just sort of evolved.
KAREM: But again, I'm no expert on economics like that. That can beyour next thesis. You hear states saying they're going have to, I mean there's, there're states I can remember where they, where they 18:00said, "We're gonna have to let the students out ten days early for on the--we're gonna to cut the calendar ten days early, so that now, you know, our teachers don't get paid what they should get paid." But we haven't had that situation where somebody said, "Okay, we just don't have enough money, so ten days of the school year is going to get chopped off." And, uh, so, it is, it is a good news/bad news situation. But what are, there's, there's some funny expressions about, "If you want to know"--what, what do people say over the years? There's some expressions about Kentucky where if you want, you know--that, that's a positive and, you know, and we are always five years behind but, uh, you know, at least, we, you know, we don't have the collapse when it comes--
KAREM: --but there's been some different, I can't remember theexpressions about it but some of them are kind of funny about it. Talking about our, maybe people in Kentucky are, you know, maybe, 19:00maybe our economy will never die because we're just so slow to move that the grim reaper can never find us or something, I don't.
MOYEN: (laughs) Let me ask you about--well, I had mentioned the '84budget--in, in the 1983 Governor's race, did you--particularly in the primary, or obviously in the primary--did you support either, uh, Harvey Sloane or Grady Stumbo over Martha, or instead of Martha Layne Collins. Or, or did you withhold support ----------(??)?
KAREM: --who did I? Um, I can't, you know, Lord have mercy, I can'tremember who I. I know I was not for--I, my recollection was that I was for Martha Layne Collins. And it irked a lot of people because Harvey, you know, was from here, but I'm, my recollection was Martha Layne and I developed a pretty decent relationship while she was Lieutenant Governor. And, um, I think I was supported Martha Layne Collins. 20:00
MOYEN: Um-hm. Most accounts of her first session--
MOYEN: Goes something like disastrous or, or tense relationship with thelegislature, or, you know, off to a bad start but she finished strong. What was disastrous and why was that so, in your opinion?
KAREM: Um, she had a, uh, uh, she had--I don't think there's anypolitical observer who wouldn't agree that her first two years, or, and it doesn't make any difference whether it's eighteen months or twenty-eight months, whatever, the first period of time was terrible. She had, uh, a bad relationship with legislators. Uh, she, uh, had a terrible relationship with, uh, media. She just, she had a real 21:00problem dealing with the media. She didn't--excuse me--she couldn't, she couldn't talk to them. She got, um, very abrupt with people in the media. She just, uh, it was a, just an, an, you know, uh, may have been, uh, people that she surrounded herself with. It may have been just bad advice, whatever. But it was a terrible, terrible time for her. I, um, she didn't outreach a lot to legislators. And I think she, there were some of the people who were around her who sort of had that, we-can-move-back kind of an attitude. We, you know, we can, uh, we can return to this sort of omnipotent Governor who doesn't really have to deal with the legislators and that just wasn't gonna happen. Um, that, my recollection of that time is, is, uh--and it may be different than anybody else's--my recollection was that there were 22:00a lot of us in Senate leadership, and, or, or in leadership positions who wanted, who liked her. Who wanted her--as, as a person liked her--that wanted her to, to do well. And that there was sort of this kind of quiet effort began to emerge where legislators were saying, "You know, Governor, we're not the enemy. We want to, you know, we, we'd like to figure out ways to help you. We'd like to." And she went through this sort of, um, catharsis or whatever you want to call it where she changed her mind set and decided, uh, partnering with people was a really good idea. Uh, one of the things that she was extremely successful about obviously was economic development. Uh, and she decided in her economic development mindset that she would, uh, start involving legislators. And so when she went on some of these economic 23:00development trips, she would take members of the legislature. She invited me to go on one of them. I went with her on a trip to , um, uh, we went to England and Germany and Switzerland, uh, on an economic development mission and her pitch was when she went to these places was that--which was very smart, whether somebody told her to do this, or whatever, but she did it anyway--she would then go to--it's like we met with some folks in, in, uh, in Switzerland, as an example, uh, that were an alum-, there was an aluminum company. And, uh, her pitch to those people would be, "I'm the Governor, the chief executive. I've got people from the economic development cabinet with me. I have a member or members of the General Assembly with me. And I've brought 24:00this group together to let you know that we come as partners to, so that we make this economic development pitch. Uh, we can tell you, we'll have followed through on it." So, um, she, she had a turnaround. Lord knows how it all came about other than I think there was a huge amount of quiet effort on legislators saying we , you know, she is a nice human being. We want her to be successful. But she, certainly the first few years were, the first eighteen months were a nightmare.
MOYEN: So, so the first part that, that you're describing is, is verytense or difficult. Did that include the '85 special session that dealt with education?
KAREM: Where we did our, actually we worked, we worked reasonably wellwith her on some of that. That was when we did, '85, I think it was this, when we did the red, what they call the Red Book. And, uh, some legislators had gotten together and put together, Harry Moberly was very involved in it. I had involvement and a bunch of us in the education 25:00committee and we worked with her on some stuff. that was when we were trying to do, what, we had in what was called in those days, power equalization, which was a, at least an effort by the legislature to try--and the executive, to try to come up with a better distribution and some reforms on class size and things of that sort, that were part of that. But we worked reasonably well with her on those.
MOYEN: I've not heard of the, the Red Book. What?
KAREM: The Red, the legislators decided to, maybe there were, maybe it,maybe it came, maybe the Red Book came as a spinoff of that, but it was around the same time. The legislators decided that needed to continue, I guess Martha Layne--let me see if I can remember this in sequence. We, we had the '85 special session to try to, um, make significant 26:00improvements in education and one of the big issues, obviously, were, were the rural school districts that had so few resources. Uh, the '85 session, uh, was designed to try to deal with some of those issues, uh, and to get some additional revenue, all be it that it was fairly modest, into the system. At the same time, the legislators, uh, were beginning to, because of part of this whole independence situation, were beginning to get very much more involved in actual policymaking. And the education, the interim education committee, either at the same time or shortly after that special session, started becoming much more aggressive. And there was actually a, a, a plan that was developed that got dubbed the Red Book simply because it was, uh, bound in a, it was 27:00a little red folder thing. and it was, it was really the first--in, in many ways, the Red Book, I think if you, when you look into it, you'll, the Red Book was a big precursor to the '90 session on, uh, education reform, the KERA piece. And it was a, uh, it really grew with the '85, or as a part, or, or as a spinoff of the '85 where the legislature started getting really into policy on education. I think the Red Book was one of the foundations frankly that gave the legislature the, um, when the court decision--this is jumping ahead of your question--but when the court decision came down in '89 and we had to do something about it, the fact that the legislature had already done some things like the Red Book, gave everybody a high, a fairly high comfort level that we really did have the capacity to do education reform.
MOYEN: Um-hm, okay.28:00
KAREM: So, in a lot of ways, that '85 special session and the Red Book,I have always thought, were major precursors to Kentucky Education Reform Act. I think that had we not done the '85 special session, had we not developed the Red Book, and out of the blue had come the court decision, the Rose decision; we would've been in a much more difficult position to deal with this issue.
MOYEN: Okay. That makes sense. I'm--
KAREM: --go ahead. (Moyen laughs) I think.
MOYEN: Let me switch gears here just a little bit. I, I found anarticle where at an LRC meeting, you were encouraging individuals from Lexington and Louisville to, to, "Quit dumping on one another." And to kind of encourage your, this, um, mutual benefit, or, at, one town was praised for something to go ahead and praise them, not say 29:00something else. Did you ever feel like this tension between Louisville and Lexington, or the regional tension between, say Western Kentucky, Eastern or Northern Kentucky, damaged legislation or the state being able to do certain things that you hoped it would do? Do, do you feel like that, this antagonistic(??)--
KAREM: --do you have--
MOYEN: -- ----------(??)----------- --
KAREM: --do you have five hours? (Moyen laughs) Uh, this, this is a,this little question you've asked is really a universal topic that has been going on, uh, in the legislature from the, probably, if you're a historian or have some interest in history, you, you'll fine as you go back to the creation of the state of Kentucky, this fight. I mean, people talk about the fight of where the State Capitol was going to be, is, is, is, you know, back way back, is one of the examples of where this, you know, was it going to be in Lexington, was it going 30:00to be in Louisville? Uh, why the hell did it end up in Frankfort? You know, what, you know, was it, what caused all that? I mean, I don't know that you know this or not, but the, the Ken-, the courthouse in Jefferson County, Kentucky, at the time that it was built was built at a much larger scale than it ever should of ever been built because it was designed to be, the builders thought it was going to be the State Capitol building. It was, uh, if you would go over and look at it and, and realize that it was built in the 1700s and you would say--was it 1700s early, to seventeen--I think it was seventeen, late 1700s or something--you would say what in the hell were they doing building? Well, they had, that, it was designed to have a, uh, Senate chamber, a House chamber. It was designed to have a Court of Appeals because that was the highest court at that point. It was designed to have a, a Governor's office in it. And they thought it was going 31:00to be the State Capitol at, at one point. So that argument has been going on, uh, since the founding of Kentucky, but, um, there certainly has been during my tenure in the legislature, a, an enormous amount of, um, energy spent on trying to deal with this issue. Um, the good news is, I think that, uh, just in the period that I've been in the legislature, the improvement has been light-years. I mean, people had started to say to one another, um, what's good for Jefferson County, Kentucky, what's good for Louisville, what's good for Northern Kentucky, what's good for Paducah, Owensboro, Ashland, wherever, uh, is terribly critical to the health of the whole state. And those kind of barriers that you're that really existed when I went up there in 1972 have broken down enormously. You get, um, actually it's now more of 32:00a, um, of a, um, a point of myth that some people try to, to perpetuate just because they want to keep talking about it and they got nothing else better to talk about. Or it's, uh, or it's a piece of folk humor at some level in the state of Kentucky, but, um, you do not find any legislators who realistically now have any serious resentment to one area of the state over another, and there used to be that. I mean when I first went up there people, you know, Jefferson County wanted to-- people always kept talking about, Jefferson County just needs to secede. I mean, we ought to be the free state of Jefferson, and then you had other people saying, uh, "Jefferson County should secede. We wish(??) to get rid of them. They're, you know, they're not like us!" Um, the, um, and you had legislators trade on that for their own personal--I 33:00mean you know, uh, one of the guys who was up there for such a long, for a long period of time was a fellow named Benny Ray Bailey. And Benny Ray Bailey, who is a very bright, very educated person, used to always make these speeches about the Kentucky Center for the Arts and how, you know, he really didn't want anything with those places where people danced on their tiptoes and tutus or something. He would make these jokes about, uh, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and, and it was for consumption back home. You know, that we're, we're the real people back home and those people are the elitists up there in, in Louisville. but, uh, that, so now what has, what was real has evaporated into, and I think, uh, now you do get, you still get people, and actually a lot of them are from Jefferson County saying, the different argument now is not so much that we don't like one another, the different argument that you now have is that everybody, a lot of people in Jefferson County say, "We're, we're exporting so 34:00much money out into the state that we are, we need to get our fair share back and we are not getting our fair share back." Um, um, there's still is some tension by that kind of an attitude. Uh, Jefferson County, the wealthier pieces of the state are never gonna to get back dollar-for-dollar what they put in. You, if you did that, you couldn't have a system of common schools in the state of Kentucky. you can't, there are counties clearly that do not have, uh, enough tax base at any level--sales tax, property tax, any kind of tax--that could support a system of common schools for the people, so you're gonna always, Lexington's going to export, Northern Kentucky's going to export, Owensboro, Louisville, some of those different cities, Bowling Green, they're gonna to always be exporters because there's, that's just the way the nature and that's the nature of any state in the nation. I mean that's, you know, they're, you know, that's, that's true in 35:00Tennessee, it's true in Ohio, true in Indiana, true in Texas, anywhere you go, the, uh, populated areas with the economic base are going to export tax revenue into the, into the more rural areas. But, um, huge barriers have been broken down. I, I, some of the things that I think have changed that, are the under--first of all what has happened in Northern Kentucky is of significance. Um, I went to first, I went to the legislature and Northern Kentucky would, you would describe in 1972 as a fairly quiet sleepy area, somewhere south of Cincinnati.
KAREM: You, I mean, it's a giant now. I mean, but it's huge! One of thefastest growing places in the nation. Um, Cincinnati--and this maybe more information that you're interested in-- but Cincinnati, Cincinnati did one of the stupidest thing that anybody has ever done. They 36:00decided they didn't want an airport in their area, so they decided we'll just dump that airport over on those poor, ignorant people in Kentucky who don't know what they're getting. Well, it was the best thing obviously that ever happened in Northern Kentucky. I mean it's a huge. I mean it's one of the busiest airports in the country now. And it's, uh, it's been an enormous engine for Northern Kentucky. And, uh, that area has grown. And, and, and with that huge growth in some other areas where there's the, um, Bowling Green, uh, to some degree, because of the proximity of, of, uh, Nashville, and, uh, and it's just its own location. Probably Western Kentucky University, etc cetera, has really grown, uh, enormously and, and has become a big engine. What has sort of happened is those, you know, people are starting to, people look around, and you start finding out that from an economic development point of view, there is commonality between folks in, in, 37:00in Bowling Green, Louisville, Lexington, Northern Kentucky, etc cetera, etc cetera, so on. Some of those kinds of issues, it breaks down barriers. And then you got people, you begin to get people in some of the rings(??) of things. I mean, you would go to legislators from Hardin County, or from legislators from Oldham County, or legislators from, uh, Shelby County, and then they all began to start saying, "Wait a minute," you know, "what, what, what's helping in Louis-, you know, we got people leaving our community to go work at UPS. We got people leaving our community to go work at, um, uh, Brown Forman Distilleries. We got people leaving our community to go work at General Electric, you know, Ford Motor Truck Plant," blah-blah-blah. Um, people in, in the surrounding areas of Lexington, you know, counties where people are going to work at Lexmark. All of the sudden those legislators say, 38:00"Well, you know, I, I, I can't be dumping on that." (both laugh) "Those communities, those communities are providing jobs for our people." And , uh, and so there's, I think there's been a huge erasing of this kind of hostility, and it really is--this is just repeating myself--but it really is perpetuated more, almost as in one of the, what people call an urban myth. And it's, people really are trying to work together much better.
KAREM: But that's, uh, I mean, that, that is a subject for somebody's450 page dissertation quite literally. I mean, the whole, from the historic perspective onto current times, I mean the changes that have taken place in fifteen or twenty years are staggering about that kind of attitude. And, um, there got to be, there was a period of time where the term in, in this discussion, the term the Golden Triangle needs to be introduced into, into the discussion. Um, Northern 39:00Kentucky, Lexington, Louisville got called the Golden Triangle. Where, I don't know who coined the phrase ever but, uh, it may be the Silver Triangle when you really consider the economy as opposed to the Golden Triangle. But it's, it's a nice, it's a nice name. (both laugh) Uh, again, I don't think Kentucky is ever wealthy enough, maybe it's the Plastic Triangle, I don't know what it is. (both laugh) Silver, bronze, copper! The Copper Triangle, bronze, so it's Olympic because gold, silver, okay, the Bronze Triangle. We might have the Bronze Triangle, but it certainly isn't any gold triangle, but that got to be a thing where, and they were, uh, you know, there were some people who would come up and, and, uh, make smart remarks about the Golden Triangle and you people think you're better than everybody else, but when you got down to it, most of them understand so that when--I can remember when Jerry Abramson, as, when he was mayor of the city of 40:00Louisville and we were going through the airport expansion. Um, he came to Frankfort and did an enormous amount of lobbying for assistance to make that project happen, and found very little resistance to, to, uh, from folks, even in the rural areas, who understood that an expanded airport, I mean I don't think they even had, I don't think they had a concept how significant it could be because I don't think--I mean UPS was big, but didn't, they didn't understand how huge UPS could be. and I don't think any of us even understood how big it was, but, you know, legislators from, from, um, Breckinridge County and, you know, Hardin County, Breckin--all of them and, and Lexington legislators, and all of them understood what a big deal that was going to be. They understood what a big deal a new convention center in Louisville was going to be and, uh, so you had people, people seemed 41:00to get a sense that it was important to support these different things that were going to be economic engines and I think that's, I think that's a really positive step in the General Assembly. some of them, some steps have not always been that positive, but that's one were, while you still get people talking about it, to be honest with you, most people want to be supportive of what will help the economy in the state and there's a realization, even though you might get people talking about dancing on your tutus, or you might get people talking about the Golden Triangle, or you might get people saying, all you all are better, think you're better than us, the truth is 90 percent of the legislators want-- even from the most rural areas--want Kentucky to do well and they understand that if Louisville, Lexington, and some of these engines are not doing well, then they're not going to do well.
MOYEN: Um-hm. That, that's a good lead into this, my next question,which deals with Toyota. Uh, at what point, or in what ways were you involved in any way with either studying or legislation, or, or, um, 42:00with Toyota. Were you involved in that?
MOYEN: In anyway?
KAREM: Um, um, there were, first, you got, when you're talking aboutToyota, somebody needs to just say, here and now, that could be, uh, that could be the single, most significant economic development thing that has happened, uh, in fifty years in the state of Kentucky.
KAREM: And, um, the, um, there's just, the significance of it isstaggering. And I don't think that anybody going into thing ever understood how significant it was going to be. Um, it has, it, in my opinion, has changed the face of the state of Kentucky, second only to education reform, in my period of time. Um, legislators were very much involved in it. Um, I was in leadership at the time. Martha Layne understood that, um, there were going to have to be a lot of, 43:00um, tax and, and, uh, incentive packages put together to make it happen. Legislators, she was smart enough to have us involved from very early on. Uh, I can remember, uh, receptions and dinners at the Governor's mansion where she was courting, where she courted and the state courted people. Legislators were always, legislative leadership was always involved in those things. Uh, there were formal meetings, informal meetings. There were at, a huge level we were involved in it, and there was an interesting, there was an interesting sidebar to this whole thing that, um, that, that caused, that caused legislative leaders to have to, to energize on a topic. Um, remember we're talking about, uh, the eighties.
KAREM: Uh, we're talking about dealing a Japanese company. I have to44:00tell you there were some people who were very resistant, there were still some World War II , um, you know, I hate to say it. But, you know, why should we do anything to help the Japanese, but the term Japanese would be milder than what was--(laughs)-- than what was being used and, um, and so there was a, there was a , there was an undercurrent of resistance to that. Um, it, it, it bubbled to the surface in some, maybe some articles, or there may been some comments about it at some level. But, uh, it never, uh, I think it was my--the point I want to make, it was much more serious than was ever really, um, than was ever really reported. And it may be because for a variety 45:00of reasons. It may be because the reporters didn't, the reporting didn't want to, uh, screw the deal up so that it couldn't happen, um, by making too big a deal out of it, but it, it required a lot of us who were in leadership to sit down with other members, and, and in caucuses, and in private meetings, and in one-on-ones, and so forth, and say you know, this is a terribly important thing and we cannot, uh, we cannot let prejudice or we cannot let, you know, happenings that--
[Pause in recording.]
MOYEN: --like the importance of in these meetings saying, "We're notgonna to, we're not gonna to mess this up."
KAREM: I mean, I, there were some people who flat out didn't want Toyotahere. I mean they were flat out. They didn't want them. "That's Japanese Company. We don't them over here. Uh, we still have very hard feelings about, uh, World War II. There's not a reason in the 46:00world to give these people an incentive to have them here." "We don't, we don't them here," was one group, "we don't want them here if they paid their own way! We just don't want them here!" Um, then you had, "Well, we don't want them here, and especially don't want them here, if we have to give them, you know, why should we have to help them and give them incentives to come over here." You know, uh, so there was a lot of resistance to those, to that. And I making, making the point again, I, it was, it was larger than ever surfaced. I think it was a, it was an occasion where it did, where I would if I can brag a little bit about the legislative leadership, I mean, legislative leaders understood the significance of what, at some level. I don't think any of us understood, as I said earlier, how significant but, um, we understood that it was important, uh, for a variety of reasons. Not just for the jobs. But some of us, and I specifically feel that if 47:00you're going to, if Kentucky is going to move into the world economy, uh, this was going to be a big step. I mean, yes, it was wonderful that we had, um, Ford Motor with a long history back to the early part of the, of, of the last century, um, in, in Louisville. And yes, it was important to GE and, you know, and to right after World War II located an, an appliance park in Louisville. but, if, if we're gonna to go global, if Kentucky's going to be put, uh, you know, on the map as an international player, uh, Toyota was a huge, huge message. and , um, I, a lot of us felt we had to put a huge amount of our , uh, commitment to the Governor behind that and to our positions in leadership to, to make it, uh, saleable and to sort of, you know, quiet 48:00down some people who would--I, you know, I can remember when the d , when the package, when, when we voted, I can remember being, some of us literally sort of crossing our fingers and saying, "God, when we talk about this thing, please, God, don't let me have the speeches on the floor where somebody starts talking about World War II." And, you know, it, it, if you got to vote against this thing, or, you know, vote against it, but shut up and please let's not, I mean, we were in, you know, a lot of this is, now that you asked the question is coming back, and I can remember some real fear , uh, that we were going to embarrass ourselves by people saying some things that--instead of getting on the map in the New York Times that we have taken on--and let me just say it, I'll say it out loud: I mean, instead of taking on the appearance of a state progressive enough to lure Toyota there, that what was going 49:00to hit the New York Times, or, or, or the, or the Washington Post, or, or NBC, ABC, CBS, is this, that so-and-so state representative in, or state senator in Kentucky called the Japanese the "yellow peril," and, you know, we were gonna to get put on the map, not for progressiveness, not for, but who started, you know--
MOYEN: --right, um-hm--
KAREM: --wanting to say words that were gonna make us lookextraordinarily backward and make us and, and maybe set us back literally years, and maybe affect the Japanese to the point where they'd say, "We're not." I mean there was a, there was literal fear that, uh, we, we would have people say things that would so upset the Japanese that they would never consider the state of Kentucky. And that would, and, and they would take their, um, whole operation someplace else. I mean, that was a, it was a very, it was a very scary time and it was one where I think legislative leaders did a very good job about, uh, and the Governor did an excellent job about trying to say, "We got to 50:00think, uh, we have to, we have to think ahead. We've got to think to the future. We have to figure out what, you know, and start looking what this is going to do for." And I, you know, now, you would probably have a hard time finding anybody who served in the legislature at the time who would ever say, "Oh, I think that was a bad idea." Or I, you know, they all now, "Oh, it's the greatest thing we ever did. Oh, it's wonderful." You know, sure, I was ----------(??), super!
MOYEN: (laughs) Did you ever at any point, uh, think to yourself, I hopethis works out. You know, I'm for this but this is a big incentives package. I mean, that, it was rolling the dice at all or, or were you pretty well convinced that it was.
KAREM: I never feared that at all. I have never, not one, uh; I think wehad been so brought on board, or were so involved in the development of 51:00the incentive package and so, uh, aware of what could be the potential, even though, again, you know, none of us expected what has come out.
KAREM: But, uh, I, no, I thought from day one it was a, uh, the rightthing to do. I was never fearful the incentive package was too big. I mean there's been discussion in the legislature over incentive packages and, uh, there's still discussion over, you know, the states competing with one another and, and, uh, you know, that's, that's a discussion goes on all the time about, you know, do we do too much, are we selling our, you know, are we promising too much, or we, you know, these bidding wars are a nightmare. I mean you even get the Governor's, you, the National Governor's Conference. That's a big topic with them on why are we, you know, screwing each other, blah-blah-blah. But on the Toyota deal, I just, I guess, um, it just was so big and so much 52:00potential that, that, that, that I never thought there was any question but that it would be successful and it wasn't too much. It was not too much to offer them and that the payback was going to be, uh, significant enough to make it, uh, now ever, everybody didn't feel that way. Uh, even people who were supportive of bringing the, even people who had no prejudice about them coming, there were people who hadn't, who would like for them to be there, had no prejudice about them coming but who thought the package was too rich, too big, and so you, you did get some of that, but I, we've been brought on board enough that, uh, I just didn't have any problem with it from day one. I thought it was a legitimate thing to do.
MOYEN: Have you followed at all or paid any attention to the, the plantthat Kentucky lost in, in Elizabethtown to Hyundai?
KAREM: During the Patton administration.
MOYEN: Right. Did--
KAREM: --where they were, one guy tried to gouge the state of Kentucky.53:00(laughs)
KAREM: The largest farmland price in captivity. (both laugh) No, Idon't know anything about that one--(both laugh)
MOYEN: Um, has that in anyway seemed like that fiasco, does it seemmaybe a blessing in disguise because I think Alabama or wherever they chose to go is having a hard time. That the package that they gave was too big in some respects, and they are having trouble making, making the money back, and they're not sure it was a real boon to the economy.
KAREM: Probably the, the, the response to that question is that it's,it's very, it's very tied into the Toy-, into the Toyota deal in this sense: the Toyota deal was so big and brought so many spinoffs. I mean, they can identify, if you've listened to the economic development people, you know, a 110 separate whatever.
KAREM: It maybe more than that. Two-hundred-and-seven, I don't know.
KAREM: There's a big number of spinoffs that came in because of that.
KAREM: Um, the, the Hyundai thing never reached the, the, the fever ofthe Toyota deal because, uh, there was never the, I mean, some of those spinoffs were already there, and so the belief was that you weren't gonna to get that many additional spinoffs. I mean, you already, you know, somebody who's making rubber tires or whatever--
KAREM: --if they are already here.
KAREM: It was not as convincing a deal that there were going to be thatmany spinoffs.
KAREM: But yeah, we were, Patton, I was in leadership during that, thatperiod of time, too. --------(??) and the Governor kept us very in-, you know, informed about it, but it never had the kind of, um, romance, or fever, or whatever you want to call it, that the Toyota deal had.
MOYEN: What do you recall from the 1987 Special Session dealing with--55:00
MOYEN: --to change the topic. (laughs)
KAREM: Just like a reporter, I'm, I'm innocent ---------(??) I denynothing. (laughs)
MOYEN: From the 1987 special session on workers' comp, do you recallmuch about that?
KAREM: I know we had a--(both laugh)--special session on workers' compand I remember that I, I, I know that workers' comp has, um, always been a big topic in the state of Kentucky and that the, you know, but I, unless you had a specific question, worker, I've never, I've never been on committees that have dealt particularly with workers' comp. I'm, I've, my stuff's been focuses on education, urban problems--
MOYEN: --right, um-hm--
KAREM: --health care and some different things of that sort. I've,workers' comp is not a topic that I'm terribly familiar with other than, uh, there's been this consistent cry that, you know, Kentucky's packages has always been too rich. And, uh, we did have the session, I guess, during Patton's administration where we modified the workers' 56:00comp significantly and that seemed to help, uh, a lot of the folks in the business community. But, uh, the '87, I know you, I know what you're talking about but I don't have any specific recollection of workers' comp is--
KAREM: Not a(??).
MOYEN: It does show some of the--I mean, so did anyone like Kelsey Friendcome and say that, "Here's the deal. Here's what we need to do," or.
KAREM: Kelsey Friend always, I mean, Kelsey Friend always, uh, you know,if you're going to ask a specific thing about Kelsey Friend. Obviously Kelsey Friend was at the other end of the spectrum on workers' comp from the a David Karem.
KAREM: I mean I understand it's important; I'm not trying to diminishthe topic--
KAREM: --but it's just one. You have so much, you have so much you canget your arms around and just was never a topic that I had the, uh, capacity to get because I was working in so many areas. But Kelsey was, you know, always the godfather's workers, of workers' comp. and the, the recollection about Kelsey Friend and workers' comp were, were that, that anybody who was serving in the legislature at that time 57:00would have, were more--were less substantive and more show because they would always, I mean, Kelsey was the absolutely could be the most dramatic human being on workers' comp. I mean he could work himself up into trembling in tears on the floor and you just. And, and it, and, and a part of you, a, a little part of you wanted to take him seriously and sort of be moved by his emotional speeches and, and so there was like 15 percent that was kind of intrigued and moved; the other 85 percent was sitting there saying, "Bite the inside of your mouth, so you don't break out, you know, laughing." (Moyen laughs) And because you have this image of Kelsey Friend making millions of dollars off workers' comp. You have this image of Kelsey Friend, it, it was, 58:00Kelsey Friend was known for being in a group of people--and I hope this doesn't hurt anybody's feelings, and Kelsey probably wouldn't--rest his soul--care that I said it--but here the image of Kelsey Friend is , um, he and a group of people played poker many nights in Frankfort. And, and reportedly, it was not unusual for five, ten thousand dollars to change hands. Um, when you used to, as caucus chairman you would go, uh, we would all put in money for, uh, like the flower fund from our caucus, or we would put in money for , uh, snacks in the--and, and, and, and when you went to, to David Karem and said, you know, "You need to put in twenty dollars for the," he'd pull out his wallet, his wallet and he'd throw a twenty dollar bill out. Kelsey Friend, I can sit--because I was caucus chairman collecting ---------(??), Kelsey Friend would pull out this thing that would absolutely choke an elephant. And it would, on the, and he would roll through hundred 59:00dollar bills to get back to a twenty that was in there. And give you the twenty that he collected and stuffed this thing back in his pocket. So you had this image of Kelsey Friend who chewed tobacco and spit in, uh, in a brass spittoon by the side of his, of, of his desk, chocking on a wad of huge bills that was in his pocket, arguing for these poor little guys and the workers' comp thing with tears rolling down his eyes, and his literally voice trembling and shaking. And, and just in this most impassioned speech in the world and that you just, some little bit of you wanted to take it seriously but it was almost, uh, it was theater of the absurd because you'd, very few people believed it. I mean they--(laughs)--it was, you know, it was hard to, to, to have a lot of, you want to have emotion for the people but it was hard when to have a whole lot of emotional sympathy for Kelsey Friend who was a multi-millionaire of workers' comp at a time when, and, when most of 60:00the things that he did, while they helped workers, they also enhanced his, his, uh, own capacity to make more and more money.
KAREM: So it was, Kelsey was theater, pure and simple. And very goodtheater. It's, it's no secret that there, that there were, you know, there aren't, there are not many secrets in Frankfort. So it was no secret in Frankfort that thousands of dollars changed hands. It is, it is, I mean in, it got to be almost this kind of thing where you hoped nobody'd ever come up and ask you to play poker, I mean because, I mean, I am a guy like, if I, if I would lose, honestly, if I would play poker and lose fifty dollars I would be devastated. (both laugh) I, I go to the race track once a year or something and I take eighty 61:00dollars with me. And if I lose all eighty, it's okay because that's what I planned on doing. If I come back with sixty of the eighty, I'm like, I'm ahead, man! Even though I've lost on most of the races, hey! (laughs) There, I mean, you can't, the pictures of Kelsey rolling this wad of bills. I mean having to search deep into the wad to get a twenty, is just totally accurate. I'm not, I mean, there's not, you know, they weren't ones, he was going through; they were one hundreds, he was going through. (laughs)
MOYEN: Um-hm. When the workman's comp special session took place,Wallace Wilkinson had already been elected Governor. He was interested in trying to have a say in what was going on. Um, do you recall if you supported him and very few people did because he kind of came out of nowhere at, at the end of the election.
KAREM: Supported him for--
MOYEN: --in his Governor's ----------(??)--
KAREM: --Governor? Oh, I recall very clearly. Not one Democrat in theKentucky Senate at that time supported Wallace Wilkinson. There was 62:00not one Democrat who was for him.
KAREM: There were, in, in the primary there was not zero, nada, nadaona, was for him. Uh, he did not have one and that, of course, started our relationship out quite nicely.
MOYEN: Yeah. (laughs) So, what was the trick? How did he, how did hepull it off?
KAREM: Well, I mean, I don't think there's any trick. I think, um, oncesomebody's elected, um--
MOYEN: --no, I'm saying how, how did he get elected?
KAREM: Oh, how did he get--oh, he--
MOYEN: --with, with no support.
KAREM: Oh, he got elected, there's(??) any question about how he gotelected. He got elected on the, on the, uh, lottery. I mean that was, he was, you know, I'm, the salvation of no, not, no taxes were never gonna to happen again. Manna was going to rain from heaven in the form of the lottery. I don't think there is any question about how, I mean, I don't know anybody who doesn't think that was how he got elected. Were you just asking me to validate you? 63:00
MOYEN: Or others, who I've asked. (laughs)
KAREM: I'm just having fun with ----------(??).
KAREM: No, I mean it was, I don't think there's any question about that.I mean, oh ----------(??) I mean, there's a, there was an appeal to him of this little, you know, I'm this little humble guy who, um, started selling books door-to-door, and you know, and I've never had anything to do with that evil empire called government. And I'm a little fellow from down in Casey County and humble roots and made it good. And if I can do it, you know, it's the American dream, and then the lottery will be the salvation. I mean, I mean, he had a good pitch.
MOYEN: Um-hm. When did you realize things were going to be relativelycontentious with or contentious by any stretch?
KAREM: Um, the first time we ever met with him. Or maybe even before wemet with him. He, um, he particularly surrounded himself by a couple 64:00of individuals who, who probably didn't whisper but who screamed in his ear, uh, you can defeat legislative independence. You can take this thing back over. They don't have the intestinal fortitude to, to stand up against you. You can, you can bust their balls, if I, if I am allowed to say bust their balls on that machine. You can bust their balls. And, and, um, you'll get it back. And you will, you will be, you will return to the days of, um, Julian Carroll and the days of Wendell Ford where the Governor is all powerful. And they, they absolutely told him that. And that of course, that stupid advice and, uh, is, is what cost him to have the problems that he had because, 65:00legislators, legislative leadership specifically has him, I mean, you know, had, had Ernie F--coming into today, if Ernie Fletcher had sat down with legislative leadership, both Democrat and Republican from the very first day, I mean, and literally really involved them, and really said, "I want your assistance and help." They, they were be an effort to try to help on some areas of common interest and. Um, but Wallace and you know, who was a strong-willed anyway, I mean he was a self-made businessman. He was, uh, he was, uh, he had a little bit of, uh, of the, I hate to say, what people refer to as a Napoleonic complex. He had it, he had a, a lot of, um, he had, he had, he had(??) a lot of chip-on-his-shoulder attitude because he didn't finish college or he 66:00wasn't as sophisticated as some of the people. And, uh, you know, he's, so his, his sort of little tyrant attitude just didn't sell well with, with legislators. It just wasn't gonna to work and by this time independence had, had become rooted too deeply and, and legislators had seen, you know it's not, it, it's, it's important not to miss that, gee, Martha Layne ended up with a good administration, and the reason that she ended up with a good administration was there did become this partnership and there, and, and Martha Layne caught on at some point, whether it was, uh, whether, you know, a light switch went on or whatever it was, but a, a, at some point she said, "These people are 67:00not the enemy. I can, they can help me."
KAREM: Whatever convinced her to do that caused the success of theToyota deal caused the success at the end of her administration. And, you know, people who have asked me over the years that I've been in the legislature, uh, you know, who, who or, you know, who's the best Governor, or whatever, I'm, you know, that's an impossible question to answer. But I tell you what; hers is a, hers a, her administration is a, is one that is, that is--has never received the important accolades that it ought to receive. Her, she grew an enormous amount of the job. She really created great, her legislators and she created together a good relationship. And so having said all of that, here comes Wallace who thinks he's gonna turn the clock back and, and you know, legislators are like, what, what are you talking about? I mean, what the hell are you, you're crazy. And he, and he, you know, he surrounds 68:00himself by, by Jim Carville who at, who, at the time was, you know, emerging as, for certainly a different icon today than he was then. He was a, he was a little out-of-state thug to a lot of the legislators. you know, who the hell does he think he is coming in here and telling people and he is a smart-mouth you know, out-of-state that, we're not gonna be bowled over by him and a bunch of the, and, um, and a bunch of the people that Wallace surrounded himself by were people who were just absolutely convinced the legislature could be dismissed and that they could do whatever they wanted to do. And it, legislators were gonna to go like, what the hell are you talking about? Who are these people? Telling us and, and, and why would these people be whispering this stuff in, um, in, um, Wallace Wilkinson's ear. I mean, it's just crazy.
KAREM: The, one of the great Wallace Wilkinson things was, uh--the69:00good thing about Wallace Wilkinson was there was, he, he was, he was so colorful that I, I can probably remember more stories about him. (both laugh) I mean, there were more humorous or bizarre stories about him than any of the, of the rest of them just because it was just the Senate, one of the things that, I was caucus chairman during his time and one of the things that, um, the, that the Senate did a lot of was confirming certain appointments. And appointments to the workers' comp.
KAREM: Like these, uh, what are they? Administrative law judges,the ALJs, or something like this. I can remember some different appointments where, um, Wallace, uh, would make an appointment and our caucus would sit down and start talking about it and we, we would, we would agree that we would, uh, confirm, you know, nine out of ten but 70:00there was, you know, there were some appointments we just were not gonna to confirm. They were either--whatever the reasons were. And so my got, my job got to be, uh, the, the, I was the fun individual who got to go down and tell the Governor that he, that his, that his- -(laughs)--that his appointment was not gonna be confirmed. It didn't go, the floor leader didn't go down, or the whip didn't go down. They said, I can remember once they were say, because we really hadn't, we had not confirmed that I can recall very much and any other thing or something, but they were several of them in Wilkinson's time and I can remember one of the caucuses or something, somebody said, "Well, somebody's got to go down and tell him and people started to saying, 'Well, the caucus chairman, you speak for.'" (both laugh) Okay, you know, I'd get to go down and tell him. And those were always very interesting conversations when you sent down in his office and said, uh, "I just have to, uh, tell you, respectfully, Governor, we're not going to confirm, so-and-so." And, uh, I tried to, uh, pretend like 71:00I wasn't nervous. (both laugh) And that it was just kind of a matter of fact. The funniest one was, um, there was, uh, oh, there were two or three that were really kind of amazing. One was a guy from up in Northern Kentucky. I cannot even remember what the position was, but he was not going to be confirmed. And the person who really didn't want him confirmed was a senator from Northern Kentucky whose name is Joe Meyer. And Joe's not in the Senate anymore but Joe Meyer was, uh, in the Senate and, and this was a person who was a political opponent of Joe's or an enemy or something.
KAREM: And Joe convinced the caucus not to confirm this person andso I got to go down and tell Wallace. And, and Joe said, "Well, you 72:00shouldn't have had to go down there by yourself. That's, that's not fair. I'm the impediment here. I'll go with you." I said, "Fine with me; I'll take all the company I can get." (Moyen laughs) And, uh, when you went into the Governor's office, most of the time we came in through like a side door.
KAREM: And, uh, we went in and Joe and I just, there was just Joe andI and the Governor. And, um, we sat down and I said, um, "We want to come down and talk to you about John Doe, and just to let you know, uh, we respect your right to appoint him, but, you know, it's just not going to happen. The caucus has talked about it, and we just, we can't see our way clear to confirm that individual. And I'm here to give you that message, again." And so--(laughs)--"or yet again." And, um, he was extremely polite. And he said, "Well, you know, I understand 73:00that what advise and consent is. And it's a, uh, you know, I'm not going to have, um, these things are not gonna always, um, you know, I'm disappointed but," you know, blah-blah-blah. It was very cordial and everything. We got up to leave and we were going to the side door and he got up and he shook my hand. And, uh, he shook Joe's hand. and as we got to the door, I started out through the door first and Wallace grabbed Joe by the arm, upper arm and with one hand, and pushed the door close with me leaving it by the other hand, and started pulling Joe back in the-- and I, and I heard him, "All right, god damn, you, mother fucker, get in here and now tell me what the fuck is going on, you, son-of-the-bitch, god dam you." And they just, they got into this screaming match. I was standing on the other side of the door and 74:00there was a trooper out there, part of the security thing, and the two us were looking at one another like, what is? And this went on for, I mean, I just kind of stood there. And this went on for like five minutes with these, I mean, and, and--(both laugh)--Joe finally emerges out of that side door, and I had waited. and the trooper was kind of, didn't know whether we gonna have to go in and break something up but Joe Meyer came out, and it was the most amazing, he came out, and he was as white as a piece of white paper. And, and we just kind of sailed out of there. And the, with the trooper looking like, okay, nobody got killed! It was, I mean he just let loose with a string of cussing like you've never heard in your life. Just he was so furious at Joe Meyer over that thing. They just, he, he, they, he hated his guts over that. There was another one that he, on a school board thing, there was a guy that for the state board of education, there was 75:00a guy in the Senate at the time, Dr. Nick Kafoglis from Bowling Green. And, and, uh, he had appointed, um, a guy to the school board from down in Dr. Kafoglis's area who did, Dr. Kafoglis did not want him appointed, and the Senate sort of took the position, not unlike what they're do in, to some level in D C. If a person's from your area and you have a problem with him, we tend to, we would tend in those days to honor that person and Nick Kafoglis, who was a really sensitive, a very gentle man, for some reason didn't like this guy at all, and never did understand fully why it was, but he didn't want us to confirm him. And, um, I got to go down and tell Wallace that we weren't gonna to confirm him. And, um, at that point, Wallace and I had actually had a relatively decent relationship, and I said, "Do you know, Wallace, I'd be happy to go, talk to this guy and say 'Why don't you, let's not 76:00make a, a big deal out of this. Let's, I'll sit down and say to the guy, you probably ought to withdraw your name, so you don't have this embarrassment of not being," uh. And, and Wallace actually seemed pretty pleased with the offer and I'm not sure exactly how it came up, but I in any event, I went to this guy and sat down with him and said, "You're just really, you're not--and it's not gonna to get confirmed, you really, it's in your best interest, you know, I'm trying to help here." Um, um, you know, "if, if this one legislator didn't have a problem with you, you'd probably be confirmed but the way the system works," I mean I tried to go through the whole thing with the guy. And, uh, Wallace understood. This guy just decided he wasn't going to understand and he let his name be considered. And so we went through to a vote on the Senate floor, the guy sits up in the, in the gallery, and, and watches the vote, and, uh, every single Democrat on the Senate 77:00floor, uh, voted against the guy, and he didn't get confirmed. And why he let himself go through I, I don't have any idea. (Moyen laughs) Actually Wallace seemed to understand that one better than he did. But this guy just was gonna, he wanted to see why people were going to vote against him, or something.
MOYEN: Um-hm. Let me take a step back and ask you about, um, theleadership change in the Senate when Joe Prather decides not to run. Did you consider becoming president pro temp at the time--
MOYEN: --I guess you(??) would now be, president? Um.
KAREM: The only time I ever decided to, uh, I, I can't remember, it maybe have been right around that same time. I was, I was caucus chairman, uh, and thought about running for and I think at this point, at this point Joe Wright was maybe--at one point we still had the Lieutenant 78:00Governor was still president of the Senate. And we had a position called the president pro temp and the assistant president pro temp.
KAREM: And I'm thinking that Joe Wright was the assistant presidentpro temp; I could be wrong about that. Uh, and that at, at some point I started talking, I started thinking about the idea of running for, um, floor leader. I never had any, I never had any, uh, designs on president and president pro temp in the Senate. And, um, Joe and I actually had a meeting, uh, where the two of us sat down and we just, we kind of worked it out. And, uh, Joe seemed to want to be the floor 79:00leader more than I did and we ended up agreeing that I would support him for floor leader and I'd stay as caucus chairman, but I never, at no time, then or subsequently, did I ever have a design on being president of, uh, president pro temp or president in the Senate. There were, there were subsequent occasions where some people asked me, "Why in the world don't you do, why don't you run for that? Why aren't you? You know, I just, it's a, I never cared for the job. Actually the best job in the legislature, uh, if you're gonna to talk about the best possible job in the legislature, it is to be the majority floor leader of either chamber. That is a better job than the president; it's a better job than the speaker. You, you actually during the legislative session have much more control over what's gonna to happen, with regard to legislation, and you take less heat for it. I mean it's just a, the, the president or the speaker is much more visible. Uh, they got 80:00to answer him, you know, and they got to do minutia paperwork. I mean, the, you have to have to prove travel, and they got to do, do this all kind of carrying on and sort of paperwork crap. The, the floor leader is just a wonderful position. If you really want to stop bad legislation, uh, it's the best possible position to be in. I mean, it's a great position to be in.
MOYEN: So, when, uh, Eck Rose and, and Benny Ray Bailey ran against eachother for that , position, when Joe Prather was stepping down, did, do you recall whether you , specifically told one or the other, yes, I am going to support you--
KAREM: --yeah, I was for Eck Rose--
MOYEN: --or no, I'm not at--okay. Any reasons for that?
KAREM: Yes, um, um. They, uh, I, I, I think that, uh, uh, by this81:00point, Benny Ray Bailey had, um, um--(laughs)--Benny Ray Bailey is, is, is almost, uh, in fact it's interesting; I, we're talking about this yesterday, because I was talking to David Hawpe who's editor of the Courier-Journal yesterday about Benny Ray Bailey, because Benny Ray Bailey, who's been involved, his cousin or nephew or something was running against Johnny Ray Turner, who had beat him four years ago.
KAREM: Anyway, uh, Benny Ray Bailey is kind of, one of those uniquepeople, almost a Shakespearian, in my opinion, tragedy. The guy is extremely bright. The guy is, the guy could have had this most incredible legislative career, but, um, he, he, he thwarted himself at every--I mean, he was successful and make no mistake about that, but he, but at the same time he thwarted himself every time. And it, and 82:00the problem was a lot of the members of the General Assembly loved to talk to him, loved to pal around with him, liked to hear his stories. He was as, he was a easy to get along with as there, but he was also perceived of as very manipulative. He was perceived of as, uh, to, to some degree, you know, watch your back around Benny Ray Bailey. Uh, hold on to your wallet about, about Benny Ray Bailey. Uh, there were some episodes over the years where, um, people had accepted some things that he had said, uh, and found out later on to their detriment that maybe they had been led down the garden path on some things.
KAREM: And , uh, so he kind of had this reputation that, uh, whileloveable, like him, fun, colorful, good speaker, you know, blah-blah- blah , um, you just kind of watch yourself and I think there were so 83:00many people who had that sort of an impression of Benny Ray that, that people thought Eck was much more straightforward. They knew what they were going to get with Eck. And that, um, um, that they just weren't gonna to support Benny Ray. Subsequently, when I ran for floor leader Benny Ray ran against me.
KAREM: Or we ran against one another and he did not, uh, he didn't winthat one either.
MOYEN: Um-hm. So, my, my best understanding just from reading newspapersis that Eck Rose is, is elected to his post as kind of a quiet, behind- the-scenes guy. And then when Wallace Wilkinson is elected, a very different persona or view of, of Eck Rose shows up in the papers. You know this confrontation between people who have either big egos or are 84:00really powerful. Would it, would you think it'd be correct to say that in many ways Wallace Wilkinson made Eck Rose more powerful by trying to gain back this, uh, Governor's power? And Eck Rose just by virtue of his position in having to say, "No, we are not going to give that to you," kind of, that made him powerful, and I, I don't--
KAREM: --but(??) no, I think I, I hear exactly what you're sayingand what you're saying is very accurate. Um, made not only Eck more powerful, made Joe Wright more powerful. Um, and there is no question about that.
KAREM: Eck, um, Eck absolutely, uh, in, in fact there was a period oftime where I think the commentators, political commentators--and if you researched any of this you probably know what I'm talking about--would say at a certain window of time, whether it was two years, three years, 85:00four, I don't know what the window is exactly, uh, Eck Rose is the most powerful elected official in the state of Kentucky. More so than the Governor even. I don't think there's any--
MOYEN: --yeah, so that's what I'm getting at.
MOYEN: Why, why is that?
KAREM: Well, um, I think that it's, you know, there's never one reason.
KAREM: Um, the, but there're multiple reasons for things like that.Wallace's, uh, attitude, uh, none of us had supported Wallace in the Senate. Wallace was obsessed with the idea of gubernatorial succession and gubernatorial succession for himself, and again, his, his friends who surrounded him said that, uh, "You can get it, they'll cave in, 86:00they'll give it to you. Uh, you know, you'll get it! Got it in the House!" Comes to the Senate and he runs into the immovable wall that just not going to be there. I mean, we're, and we, we're not gonna to do it for him.
KAREM: Uh, don't, I think, I, I, I think--now, of course, people'd arguewith me about it--but I think originally the Senate didn't want to do it because we didn't think it was right to do, I think they thought gubernatorial succession was right but we didn't think it was right for, um, we didn't think it was right for the incumbent, so at some level it was a, at some level it was a high-minded thing. At another level, it, it became just, uh, at, at another level it was just dirt fighting politics. I mean, at another level it's just, we, you know, we're not going to let that son-of-a-bitch get what he wants under 87:00any set of circumstances. He's, he's tried to run over the top of us. This is going to be the, we ain't going to live with another four years with that guy. Uh, he'll get it, and if he gets it he'll get elected and then our life is hell for four more years. What are gonna get him that for? He's never tried to, reach out to us. He's always, uh, you know, pardon the expression, he is always pissed all over the Senate. Why should we give him? so it got down to just somebody might say being, us being hateful, or us being smart because we were trying to survive the next four years, or whatever it was. We just weren't going to give it to him.
KAREM: And, um, uh, and that obviously increased the power of Eck Roseand ----------(??) increased the power of anybody in leadership at that point. Um, the, uh, really the defining moment on that one was, uh, did I tell you about the breakfast thing?
KAREM: That was the, that was, I mean that Joe Wright, that was JoeWright just sat there and said in a meeting that took all of two 88:00minutes or thirty sec-, or thirty second, whichever, I don't recall exactly. -----------(??)---------- Can, I can see today, looking across the table at Joe Wright, Wallace Wilkinson's not even sitting down, he's standing and holding on to the chair where he would of sat. and I can close my eyes and see Joe Wright kind of cock his head to one side and kind of, not grit his teeth but get that sort of pursed expression on his face and said, "Not gonna happen, Governor." And shoo! That was it! (both laugh) That was the end of that! You know, basically people just started evaporating out of the sides(??) of the meeting room. It was the most, but Joe was the one who took, I mean, but, but that obviously helped Eck and all of, I mean, you know, everybody. Everybody's authority got, got enhanced because, um, of that, because, Eck was an interesting character. I, I, I never saw, 89:00there were a lot of people who built up a negative attitude toward Eck. And he was a, he was a, he was an odd character. Uh, had a lot of admiration for him and a lot of affection for Eck. Uh, and we'd always worked together and I never, there were a lot of people who thought he was extraordinarily heavy-handed. I never, I guess I was too close to be honest to ,as a person of leadership to, um, see some of that. I, I just never did see, because he always seemed to me to be very inclusive. I can remember caucus meetings where people on the surface always seemed to defer enormously to Eck. and I, I thought Eck, um, just was as in touch with the members as anybody could be, but there 90:00were some people who were really building up some, some resentment for him that I never quite caught on to.
KAREM: I, I don't know, I'd, and I guess I was just, I was in the mixso heavily that I, it just, he never seemed heavy handed to me the way they--but people said the same thing about Joe. There were some people who said that some of the House members just did not like Joe Wright at all and thought he was way too heavy-handed. And, you know, I, I guess when you're in the room with these people and you're in, you're in partnership with him, you just don't see. I didn't see that. That, that maybe a flaw on my part of not being able to see. Uh, I had some very strange experiences with Eck Rose later on in our mutual leadership positions, but, uh, they came when I got to be floor leader, but as, caucus chairman I never, he seemed to be genuinely in touch 91:00with the members and, and inclusive of people. And, but boy, the, the whole thing about Larry Saunders and Benny Ray Bailey and all that really grew up out of the, out of the Eck Rose situation and I just, I don't know what caused all that.
[Pause in recording.]
MOYEN: All right, the, the next, uh, monumental that, not only for,uh, during Wallace Wilkinson's term but in probably the history of the Kentucky legislature is the, the educational reform act. I, I found somewhere where you were quoted as saying, I think you did the, a local show in Lexington on TV and the Herald-Leader reported you as saying, "What we need to do,"--this is a quote--"What we need to do is put it all on the table. Develop a comprehensive program and attack it that way." Now this was five months before the ruling. Had you been in 92:00contact with either justices or other politicians who, who realized that they were going to rule this whole thing unconstitutional or that the potential for that was there. I mean, it, it sounds like you saw this coming as opposed to--
KAREM: --that's just because I'm a psychic. (both laugh) I, uh, I was,um, looking at that crystal ball and burning the candles in the room, and it all came to me.
MOYEN: (laughs) All came.
KAREM: It all came to me. (Moyen laughs) No, I think it's a, uh, youknow, it's again, it's a situation where it's one of those things that there's no single answer to it. But, um, we were speaking earlier about the '85 reform.
KAREM: we were speaking about the Red Book. Uh, the General Assemblyhad been very involved in trying to start looking at education, certainly no thought whatsoever that, uh, it was going to be as big 93:00a deal as it was but, but, but expecting that there were going to be, um, expecting that the legislature, forget the court case even further, was going to be more and more involved in, in trying to make the system fair and trying to fund it equitably and trying to fund it adequately. And, um, the, the word when the lawsuit got started, the word, uh, there was, I don't think there was ever any words specifically saying that they were going to declare the whole thing, but there were sure enough conversation from the circuit court level, and from, you know, just discussions that were swirling around. You had, um, uh, Governor Combs handling the lawsuit for the districts that were challenging it. Uh, that , uh, anybody who was attentive--I certainly don't think 94:00that I'm some fabulous expert--but anybody who was attentive could see that what was gonna to happen , uh, was something significant and that around the country there were other things going on. I mean there were, uh, I'd been very involved in, um, a group called the Southern Regional Education Board. Uh, the Southern Regional Education Board, um, had, had done some work in the eighties, uh, a, a big piece on education reform and things that states needed to do and comprehensively needed to do it. In fact there, the piece that the Kentucky, that the Southern Regional Educational Board did--and I can't recall the name, the title of it--but they did a piece really that was a precursor to some of the stuff that Reagan's administration did, uh, on--or whatever and again I can't recall what they call it. It wasn't "No Child Left Behind," but they had a piece on education. Um, and so, just a lot of stuff was going on around the country about 95:00that and local, and in, and in the state of Kentucky and the lawsuit and the financing and, you know, everybody was talking about it, and it just seemed to me, when you remind me of that remark, that you, you know, unless you were brain dead, you knew something was gonna need to happen, and it would probably needed to do it in a comprehensive way. And as you looked at some of the pieces of the, you know, some, there were some good stuff in '85. There was good stuff in the Red Book, but, uh, you know, the, the legislature had never done a really full blown holistic look at trying to deal with something. And I, that's just was where I thought we needed to be going.
MOYEN: Um-hm. When the decision came down and, and the whole systemwas ruled unconstitutional, what was the first step of the legislature of the Senate? I mean, how, how did you get to governance, finance, and curriculum, and, and dividing the different things up and, and 96:00attacking that, attacking the policy issue?
KAREM: Well there were a number, there were a number of, of, um, thingsand I, I'm certainly not going to sit here and tell you that I can tell in the, in the perfect sequence of how they--
KAREM: --of how they worked out. But, uh, I can, you know, there were,I can remember specific, I can remember very specific flashes of how this thing was gonna, what, what we were going to do and how , uh, there were some leadership meetings. Uh, one of the first things that I can remember was a, was a leadership meeting of the Kentucky, uh, House leadership and the Senate leadership. Uh, at this point, Joe Wright's the floor leader, uh, I'm caucus chairman, uh, Don Blandford is speaker of the House, etc cetera. And the first things were, what 97:00was going to be our reaction to this thing? I mean, what, what're we going to do? And, uh, there were some serious discussions. I don't know if Don Blandford would, would acknowledge it, but I can remember being in a meeting and, and, uh, Don Blandford, one of us(??) said, "You know, well the people, uh, the son-of-bitches on the court that decided this thing, let them to fix it." I mean, you know, "We're gonna, why should we take the political heat of getting in there and, uh, passing a bunch of taxes that we, you know, going to kill all of us," and, you know, "If they made this, they made the mess, let them, you know, they made their bed, let them sleep in it. Let them take the." Um, clearly , uh, and when I say that I don't mean that Don took that as a hard position, but that was, uh, thought put out there. There were other thoughts put out there. Uh, other people saying, "No," you know, "this is, here's an opportunity for the Kentucky 98:00legislature to do the right thing." And, um, I certainly was a person who argued very strongly that we needed to jump in. Joe Wright was a person that argued we needed to jump in and do it right. And sort of what happened is the mindset of the legislative leadership was, um, unless we want to look like a bunch of fools, we need to do the right thing here. and how the cosmic forces ever came together to get us to, to the mindset to do that because it would've been very, it would have been very easy to fall into the, to the trap or the mode, whatever you want to call it, of just saying, "We're not going to do anything, you all." Uh, but once the legislature decided to do that, leadership came up with the idea that we should, um, uh, start looking at this thing and then, and then an approach was, you know, the approach was developed among staff at LRC and among legislative leaders that we 99:00would , uh, create a, uh, that that would be created a task force and that we needed to have people in the Governor's office on the task force, but we needed to have--I think probably the biggest thing that made this thing work and most people will say the biggest thing that made it work was that we decided that the task force on education reform would have legislative leadership in it, so that all the people who were in leadership were in it. People from the Governor's office were in it. so it wasn't, it was not necessarily the education committee or people like that, it was legislative leadership, and once you got the legislative leadership involved in it, and you had buy- in(??), that came at a huge amount of impetus to get the thing pass. Out of it, uh, this came the concept from, uh, staffing perspective that , uh, breaking it down into these three steps separate comp-, components and creating , uh, these committees that would deal with 100:00governance, finance, and curriculum was just a way to, to approach it. My role in it was kind, kind of got to be, uh, not by my design, got to be very pivotal in the whole thing, not, not because I wanted it to be. At the time all this passed, there was a huge, uh, concern by many of the richer--there is no such thing as a rich school district--many of the richer school districts and I what was gonna to happen was we were going to rob Peter to pay Paul. The only, nobody could foresee that there was going to be any, uh, opportunity to raise a bunch of revenue to make people ----------(??) what was gonna. So, you had Jefferson County, um, deeply concerned that they were going to lose revenue. Lexington thought they were going to lose revenue. Uh, so you, you had, of at the time the, the, uh, guy who was superintendent of Jefferson County school systems was a guy named Don Ingreson(??), 101:00uh, at meetings, uh, uh, I was the guy from Jefferson County in the Senate who was in Senate majority leadership and Don Ingreson(??) would go to meetings and say, point his finger and say that, "You, you're the guy from Jefferson County. You, your responsibility's to make sure we don't lose money." And, uh, you know, you, I mean he would, he got pretty aggressive and I don't, you know, I don't blame him. I think he was fearful millions of dollars leaving. and , um, so, in one of the funniest phone, one of the funniest pieces of the whole thing was, uh, a staff guy named Harris Hopkins(??), um, was working for the leadership, and he calls me up, and he says, um, "Joe Wright wants you to be on the, the , uh, uh, curriculum committee." And, uh, 102:00I said, "I'm not going to be on the curriculum committee; I'm going to be on the finance committee. I've never pulled rank since I've been here, but I've got enough rank and tenure, Harris, I'm just not, I'm, you don't understand the kind of heat I'm getting back home. I'm just getting, I'm going out and this guy is publicly kicking my ass, and I'm not gonna, I am not going to be on any curriculum and dealing with some--I'm gonna save my butt. This is political." He says, "Well, you know, I, Joe, Joe understands, that's what your position is going to be and these, you know, I'll, I'll explain it to him." And I said, "Well, you just, you know, he can call me, whatever you want, I'm NOT going to be on the curriculum committee. And you put me on the finance committee, and I don't want to be in the leadership position on the finance committee. I just want to be on there, but I'm going to do everything I can to protect Jefferson County, so we don't get screwed." "Okay, okay!" Hangs the phone up and wasn't twenty minutes later the phone rings and it's Joe Wright on the phone. And after we had a 103:00bout of forty-five minute conversation, um, um, I determined that I didn't want to be on the finance committee. (both laugh) That I really wanted to be on the curriculum committee. And what, and I, I guess Joe would say this, Joe had, uh, an enormous amount of respect for me and believe, we're, we're, um, I admire him deeply.
I think, I hope and I believe he admires me. Uh, I think he thoughtthat, um, I had the, um, the intensity, or the commitment, or whatever it was, to really try to make this thing work because of some of the kind of remarks that I had made and, and because of my attention to the education committee, which I had been on ever since I'd been in. So, not only did I understand I didn't want to be on the, the finance committee, I wanted to be on the curriculum committee, and I wanted to chair it, so. I made a deal with him in that phone conversation that I would go on the curriculum committee, and I would chair the curriculum 104:00committee if I got a commitment from him that we tried to do, he would support. that I wasn't gonna to get ----------(??) you know, you're not going to get me out here on the limb, where I put in a lot of faith and effort in this thing, and then have you saw it out from under me. And, or, or let it be sawn out from under me. And I got a absolute commitment from him that we were, that if I did this thing, um, he would support it. And then he'd, he, he honored that and never wavered from that. And I think, uh, we got an enormous amount of stuff through the curriculum committee that we'd have never gotten if it hadn't been for that phone call and that relationship where Joe committed to do it.
MOYEN: Serving as chair or co-chair of, of that committee, how did yougo about re-vamping the curriculum? Who did you bring into--
KAREM: --the first thing we did--
KAREM: --the first thing we did was, um, um, I'm going to say this andjust don't mean to pick on anybody, but my co-chair at the time was 105:00Jody Richards. and, uh, I think if you observed the minutes of the meetings or you ask anybody that was an observer, God love him, Jody, really didn't want to be very active as a co-chair.
KAREM: I would say 90 percent of the entire time that we met I presided.Uh, Jody didn't, uh, want to take some of the tough votes that we, uh- -and, and it worked out actually sort of, in a way, other than some very minor meetings that he chaired, I basically chaired the whole thing, which actually worked out well because, um, I, I didn't, he, he, he, I did not have to--he was not an impediment.
KAREM: but it sort of gave me a free hand.
KAREM: And so, um, the first thing we did was to say we needed to hire106:00we had money, we had some money that we could spend, and we said we could hire, we could hire a, uh, a staff person to, outside, some national expert, whatever. And, um, the staff got the names together. LRC got some names together. We did some interviews. The guy that I ended up basically selecting was a guy named David Hornbeck, um, who, um, I still think is one of the great thinkers in education in this country. Um, he came in and we did interviews with some different people. And, uh, he was the only person who came in, uh, and talked from the, everything that he talked about was about the kids. It 107:00was everything with the word "kids" was in it. you know, "What we got to do some for the," and, and, and the rest of the people that you interviewed were liked talked about like delivery mechanisms and systems of delivery and all this garble-gobbledygook kind of stuff and how you're gone, you know, blah-blah-blah. A lot of them not ever mentioning at any point either somebody we're doing this for. And so, we, uh, jumped on Hornbeck brought him on board, and, um, sat down and said, "Okay, David, uh, we got nothing. It's a blank slate. How are you going to do it? What do you want to do this?" And he said, "Well, I think what we need to do," and I spent endless amounts of time and this is, I think I worked harder on this thing than anything I ever did in the legislature. I clearly worked hard on this. Uh, the first thing we agreed on what we would do would be to, we would develop a set of 108:00principles. And, uh, David and I sort of developed this, uh, concept of what we would do would be to, do it--with, with staff people from LSC we would do a layered-system. So, what was gonna happen was there were going to be a system of, of basically, uh, the principles that were going to guide the curriculum piece and they would be the skeletal structure and then what we would do would be to, the next step was going to be to create a, uh, white paper that would, uh, help us figure out how to get, to put meat on those bones, and then finally that, the third step would be to actually translate that into legislation. We spent, uh, I don't remember whether it was eighteen or twenty-one but there was a, uh, there's, uh, we adopted a statement of principles. It was a very hard fought piece, uh, to get those. Uh, one of the things 109:00that, that I did sh-- that the task force on educational reform broke into these three things: finance, curriculum, and governance. Um, finance, uh, sat on the side for quite a bit of the early part of it because there wasn't anything for them to do.
KAREM: Governance began doing some things at a kind of slow pace.Curriculum jumped in because we were going to be the engine really that drove the thing. And , um, at the same time we were doing, we were starting to do this at the task force level, some of the folks in the education committee were getting, uh, kind of pissed off that they weren't included. and so LRC--and I can't remember exactly when this occurred--but LRC decided that, uh, fairly quickly in the process what we need to do was, was to take the members of the House and Senate education committee and assign them as, um, nonvoting members of the 110:00, um, committee. And so everybody who was on the education committee, whether it was House or Senate, was assigned to one of these three things as nonvoting members. I said, in, in, in our committee on curriculum, "if you're gonna," when they assigned these people to us, I said, "If we want these people to come to these meetings, we're going to treat them as voting members. I don't really care what LRC says; they can just over rule me. If they don't like it, it's too bad, but if you come to the meeting and you're member of the education committee, I'm gonna to honor your vote in this committee. So you, you, you come ahead and instead of whatever the number was, seven members or ten members, you know, there's going to be eighteen." And so, uh, actually ended up being very helpful. The funny thing about that was that it ended up David Williams, who's now president in the Senate, and who is a Republican was one of the people assigned to my committee and he ended up voting for education reform. and on the floor, in the speech, 111:00he said, "The reason I'm voting for this is because of the chairman of the committee, the senator from Jefferson Thirty-Five was, uh, honorable enough to say that if I came to these meetings I'd have a, I'd be a full pledged member, and I could vote, and he," and he said, "and I had an opportunity to do that. I had an opportunity to vote, I added, uh, I subtracted, I participated," etc cetera. Uh, so I wasn't going to let those people come to the thing and I think that was a piece that helped buy into the curric-, in, into, into the passage of the stuff because I think if you bring people there and you tell them, they're just going to be observers, it's bullshit.
KAREM: So, um, they, I ran the committee as if they were full-fledgedmembers. We started what we, literally did was we started with a set of principles that David primarily fashioned with input from, from the chair and the staff. and I don't remember again the number but then we would, we, we went through those things, and we said, you know, one of 112:00them, just for example, was all children can learn and most can learn at high levels. Did you accept it or you didn't accept it? Believe or not, you had people arguing be vehemently against that principle. Um, so when you went through all these set of things, what we, the way I ran the meeting we would go to a prin-, and if, and if there was an agreement on the principle, we would accept it. "Okay, is everybody, are you all happy with that? We got that one. The ---------(??), you know, the principle is going to be the sun is going to come up tomorrow. And okay, everybody bought into it. So, that one was signed off, checked off. But we're not going back there, you bought it." Uh, came to the next one, started arguing about it. Didn't get it, stop. Let's sit that one aside a minute. And we will come back to it after an hour of debate, we didn't get anywhere. And so we went through until we actually kept, I kept the process driven to the point where we would get people to buy off on these principles and then you 113:00got to the situation where what actually sort of occurred is, as you adopted whatever the number was, some of them began to explain the other principles, and so when you came back to those that you had had an argument with, we ended up making progress on those. So we ended up adopting initially this thing, and then David Hornbeck and staff were charged after we went through. And it was a tedious process. This was two or three meetings to get the principles adopted.
KAREM: Then we started going through the mechanisms on how you're, DavidHornbeck starting putting together paper how, this is how you're going to accomplish this. Had a lot of other people come in and testify. Have a lot of experts testify on, how to, how you were going to make this thing, uh, you know, the work and blah-blah-blah. And , um, layer after layer until you got that white paper and then after the white paper was, you know, fully adopted, then we started actually developing legislation that would, uh, you know, that would and--this is all in a 114:00pretty time-compressed thing cause the, uh, we had to have this ready for the next full session of the legislature, so it was, it was, we did all the stuff we did I think in a period of nine or ten months or--I don't remember but it was not, it was a pretty compacted period of time. And we got it through that way. And then, uh, finance guy got the jump in and figure out how to pay for it, and, blah-blah-blah.
MOYEN: Um-hm. Once it all came together, um, did you, was there,obviously it's easy to go figure out who voted or against there. In your Senate district was, was there much pressure one way or the other to really support, or oppose, or?
KAREM: Support. BIG support for it. In, uh, in, uh, by this time alsoa lot of the corporate communities come on board. Uh, there's a lot of the business, uh, and corporate communities saying, "You know, Kentucky is going to move forward." Big editorial support, a lot of the-- excuse 115:00me--a lot of the companies had come in, even some of the unions had jumped in and said we need to do, you know, we need to do this. and so and it got, it got a pretty good build(??) of support and when we ended up in the Senate, um, passing it thirty, out of the thirty-eight people, thirty people ended up voting for it; only eight voted against it. It was very bipartisan in this, in, in the voting on it. And, um, there, there, there didn't get to be much political fallout. I mean, everybody expected because of the massive amount of tax increases and things that there were going to be a lot of political fallout to it. I, I think if you even ask a guy like Al Cross, he'd probably say really only in the entire 138 members of the legislature, only 3 or 4 , maybe 5, paid any kind of political price for voting for the thing. It really had very little, uh, it had very little political fallout. 116:00
MOYEN: Um-hm, um-hm, and by the time it was put together thesuperintendent, who you mentioned earlier who was saying, you know, "Are, we're going to lose money." They were all on board. They realized this was going to be ----------(??)--
KAREM: --by the time, by the time it came up, we had adopted somethings. We had adopted --the, the whole task force, not the curriculum, the whole task force had adopted some positions that no district could, uh, lose in this situation. I mean, one of the things that gave some people, you know, that started calming some people down , um, was that we said nobody could lose money in this thing. We couldn't pass something that was going to cause one district to be taken away from for the benefit of another district. That was a position we took relatively early, as I recall. Um, so it, the money aspect of this, believe it or not, from the point of view of--I don't 117:00want to d , I mean I, I, I don't want to diminish it but the money, the money issue wasn't--somebody probably argue with my words here, I suppose--but the money issue wasn't really a big point of contention in the sense that there was much more focus on things like , uh, there's much more con-, contention over things like the nepotism pieces or some of the components of this thing that, that were going to be implemented. In fact, one of the funniest things about the whole education reform thing that a group of the, some of the school systems that had participated in the lawsuit start writing letters to us saying, "Wait a minute. This isn't what we really wanted. Your guys are going way beyond! We just wanted money! We just wanted to make the, you know, what are you all doing up there," kind of thing. We're like, 118:00"Excuse me; you made this bed now you're going to sleep in it. The court said it's all unconstitutional. We're starting all over again." And you know that would that was, there were out somewhere I saved a couple of the letters that was in there(??) probably in a box someplace ----------(??) it's so funny though that there were some of these people writing saying, "You've going too far! What are you all doing?" That was kind of cool.
MOYEN: Although you were involved in that, you had already, um, beeninvolved with higher ed in some respects, hadn't you, in terms of your concerns about , uh, attempts to change appointments in the way people were appointed to the boards at different universities, as well as the, the Council on Higher Education, is that correct?
KAREM: Yeah, that was through really the same thing I was mentioningor I'd been, since Julian Carroll's administration, he appointed me to something called the Southern Regional Education Board. The Southern 119:00Regional Education Board which I'm still a member of is actually a coordinating agency that's based in Atlanta, that's purpose, is to coordinate higher education throughout the southern states. And they are, they, they are uh, a multi-leveled organization. They are a brokerage organization. for example Kentucky get a certain number of spots at, because of that at Auburn, at the Alb-, the Auburn Veterinary school we have thirty-plus spots a year at Auburn, uh, Auburn because we're part of that consortium. They also do a huge amount of coordinating higher education programs and research, and things of that sort. So higher ed and just education, higher education has always been the thing I've been the most interested in. Since I have been in the legislature.
MOYEN: Okay. How, how as higher ed changed over the, the course of yourthirty-plus years, in terms of its governance or in, in Kentucky, its 120:00own ability to deal with overlapping programs, or--
KAREM: --well, I guess it's--
MOYEN: --to ------------(??)------------.
KAREM: --I guess, I guess if you got four weeks, I can go through thatwith, I mean, that's so, that is such an encompassing question. I mean, night and day, I mean it's just, it's, the changes are light years from the ----------(??), first of all, when I go into the Kentucky General Assembly, uh, the University of Louisville is still a municipal institution. It is not yet in the state system. It is coming in at almost exactly the same time I'm coming into the legislature, the U of L is coming into the state system. Huge, uh, impact on the state budget, huge impact on, uh, their budget, I mean a big change!
KAREM: So, um, there's, so that, there's that piece very early on.121:00there's still, there is, there is, I guess, some of this still exists in some places, but there's, um, probably you're, you're way too young to remember this but there is, there is, I'm coming in to the legislature at the time when there's still a lot of suspicion just from that, that at these universities are hot beds of communism. I mean, that there's still literally people thinking the University of Louisville and UK are part of the Red Conspiracy. I mean, there's really, there's really this sort of anti-, uh, intellectualism. Uh, there is this, there is , uh, you know, the idea that, uh, that universities are anything but places for some elite people to go and study is still, in a number of places, invested in people's mind. Um, you know, so the changes are staggering and, and the causes for the 122:00changes, and whatever it is, are, you know, they are, are terribly complex and, and, you know, everything from people realizing that , uh, you know, there's high school degree no longer means what it did in the forties. And I mean, you know, 1972, when I go to the legislature is not very far away from World War II. I mean, really, and , uh, even, you know, we were talking about Toyota, yet a decade or more later, there's still some of that mind-set, and I think doesn't exist much anymore now, but, uh, there's so many other things that transpired. But, but the changes in education people are understanding if you're going to get ahead, uh, you've got to, there has to, higher education, college degree now is beginning to really emerge as something you have to have.
KAREM: Uh, uh, high school diploma is minor in comparison. You,123:00everybody's got to get a college degree. Kentucky has a terrible, uh, rate of people going to college, so people are really starting to talk about that. Um, the, uh, the fact that, um, the University of Louisville comes into the state system, uh, right or wrong, focus a lot of new attention on higher education because of the budgetary impact of that. Uh, there're also got to, started to be, uh, the university started seeming to me to realize they were not, they could not exist in isolation. That they had, um, things that they needed, and this was going on, I was hearing this at the Southern Regional Education Board's meetings. They, they had an obligation to participate in, uh, economic development. They had an obligation to be outreaches to the community that, and could be, and, and, you know, they were NOT an little isolated environment for good thinking and that was sort of it. They needed to be out in the community. They needed to be helping with the 124:00economic growth. They needed to be participating in community events. They needed to be, you know, a much broader range agency than people had thought in the past, if they were going to get funding and if they were going to try to, uh, get more and more folks interested in, you know, in our higher education. So the changes just have been light years. And then of course you come along, you know, way later down the pike to where you get a Paul Patton who really wants to transform, you know, and he sees that, uh, Wallace Wilkinson and to some degree Brereton Jones have, have, um, sort of had a lot of signature on Kentucky education reform. That's beginning to be in place, so Paul Patton says, "What's my hook? And my hook is," Um, now Wallace had had, Wallace Wilkinson had had some interesting higher education but his was more, almost more of a negative. His was more of a, uh, like I'm gonna look at what they're doing over there. They're, you know, they're out 125:00of control was kind of the--
MOYEN: --and appoint himself to the board.
KAREM: And, and, you know, I'm, I'm gonna sort of--his look at, atit was, was much more of a negative kind of thing. They, they, you know, they've been freewheeling and we're gonna to find out what the hell they're doing over there. Uh, Patton's was a completely different attitude. Patton saw, um, I think, when people who credit his administration with anything, they will certainly say his area, his stuff in higher education is what it is really been the signature piece of his, you know, the idea of bucks for brains, the idea that these places were going to be serious research institutes. I mean, the idea that you could, that Kentucky could realistically attract national figures to the University of Kentucky, to the University of Louisville in, in various areas. Uh, he wanted to put Kentucky on the map in that regard, so, uh, the changes have been unbelievable. Uh, I'd say KERA 126:00and the changes to higher education probably during my tenure maybe the two most significant things that have taken place. I mean, who'd have thought that, you know, twenty years ago the University of Louisville and some of the areas where this, where that bucks for brain, and that they could raise the kind of money to match it and be that they got state money for that kind of stuff and see they could bring the kind of faculty there and researchers, nobody would've believed it. It was pretty amazing.
MOYEN: Um-hm, um-hm. All right. Let me ask you about your decision,um, to seek the Senate majority leader position after Joe Wright stepped down. Did you know, you, you mentioned earlier that you had had a conversation, did you know that you were going to do that right off?
KAREM: When Joe said he wasn't running for real, but then Joe said hewasn't going to run for reelection, uh, yes, it, I, you know, he, I was 127:00one of the first, may have been the first, but if not the first, one of the first two or three people he told he wasn't running for reelection. And I decided at the point he told me that. I mean, certainly entered the minute he said, "I'm not running for reelection," I, I, you know, I, I, first reaction was, "I wish you wouldn't do that. You should run for reelection," and I meant it. He's a huge loss to the state of Kentucky, if you ask me. Uh, but then shortly after that, you know, "Well, if you're not going to do it, I'm going to run for the floor leader."
MOYEN: Um-hm. Can you explain what, what running for a leadershipposition is like in the Senate, in terms of when you go to get elected, it's a completely different ball game though obviously than running back home in your district because you're dealing with a bunch of people who all probably had aspirations to be there. What's involved in that process?
KAREM: Well, once you, I mean, just on the surface of it once it,128:00once you've made the decision you're gonna to run for that position, and this is very different than the situation when I ran for caucus chairman because I didn't run for caucus chairman,. That was a bizarre! I think I told you that story. That was weird. I mean, I was sort of told, "You're going to be the candidate." Um, um, once you decide to run for it, I mean, the simple answer to the question is, I call up, um, my most likely ally and I say, "I'm, I'm running for that. I want you to be for me. Can I, can I mark you down as a person who is, um, for me?" And, you know, you, you start with the obvious people, the thing guy you think is your best buddy.
KAREM: Or three or four best buddies and then when you, and, and the129:00way that process works is the, so it didn't, the number's not important but, but so you get four or five people who are for you. you're at the same time saying to them, if you're talking to other people, talk up my, you know, talk up my candidacy and make it, help me make it believable that I could get elected. And, and, uh, then, you, you know, you, you continue to branch out, even until you get to the people who are, you don't suspect would, you know, likely before you. Ask every one of them.
KAREM: Uh, that's the, that is in, in the simple terms. Um, in thisparticular situation, one of the things that I think, um, was most interesting to me was, um, I was up there one day, shortly after everybody knew Joe was not gonna and it, and it was clear that I'd been talking to some people. and a guy who was a very respected lobbyist 130:00whom is a, who, who is a friend, and I, I'm still very, he's not there anymore but I'm still very fond of him, uh, asked me if he could talk to me. And I, and I one day when I was just up there and I said, "Sure." And he, we went into a, to my office, my caucus chairman's office and closed the door and sat down and he said, "You know, I'm your, your friend." And I said, "Absolutely." And he said, "I got to tell you. Um, you can't get elected floor leader. Um, you're too, uh, I'm hearing too much feedback. I don't, I, I, really do like you and respect you." And I don't believe this person for a minute was being anything but honest with me. I don't think he was a shell(??) for the other person. Uh, Benny Ray Bailey was ultimately the guy that I ran against. Um, he would not have been an, an ally of Benny Ray Bailey's in any, I think the guy was trying to help me because 131:00he believed I was going to get embarrassed. He believed that nobody from Jefferson County could be floor leader. There hadn't been one. Nobody, uh, I was too liberal. Um, uh, all of the above: I mean, I'm too urban, I'm too liberal, I'm too from Jefferson County; none of that's going to work. You can't get elected. don't, let yourself, you're, you're secure as caucus chairman, you can stay it at as long as you want; nobody's going to run against you, that's the Jefferson County position. I think told you when I got elected caucus chairman the reason I got elected was that was the Jefferson County. You know, we, we got to have somebody there's a lot of you from Jefferson County, one has to be given position for Jefferson County. and that really kind of , uh, I appreciated that it was coming from this guy's heart to tell me that, but it also was an inspiration to me to say, uh, you know, "I'm gonna get in it. I'm just hard-headed enough, you know, if I get my ass kicked, I'll get my ass kicked. But I'm going to do it. And I am gonna to run for it." And, um, you know, to make a long story 132:00short, I, I, um, my best recollection was trounced(??), um, Benny Ray Bailey. Now, is, was it, was it all David Karem? Probably not. Uh, you know, I think people, I think people liked me, uh, up there. Um, some of them who wouldn't be for me necessarily still liked me. I think I've, you know, I've, when I went up there, to be really honest with you, I always decided that my, I needed not to be seen as the guy who just hangs around with Jefferson County people. I really need to make friends out in the state. Uh and when I was in the House my best friends were actually people from out in the state. And I've always tried to sort of make sure that was kind of an attitude I had. Um, I, um, Benny Ray Bailey as the opponent may have actually helped me. 133:00There were, he, he did have some of the things, the problems that we talked about earlier. Um, I don't know if there'd been another person in the race if it might have been different, whatever.
KAREM: Um, I guess it was in '93 that I, I can't, it was in '93 I gotelected? Whatever but, um, you know, I just decided well, I'm, you know, I'm gonna be hard-headed and see if I can get it, and I went into the caucus, the one we elected, got elected, and I knew I had the votes.
MOYEN: Okay. To get a grip on the date, were, were you Senate majorityleader when everything broke with BOPTROT and all that? Had that?
KAREM: BOPTROT's before.
MOYEN: Did that occur before?
KAREM: BOPTROT is before--
MOYEN: --[nineteen] ninety-two, and then--
KAREM: --BOPTROT is before I got elected floor leader.
KAREM: BOPTROT, I was at the time caucus chairman. And chairman of thelegislative ethics committee at the time, and we actually had our own 134:00ethics committee at the time. I had just gotten, there must've been, that was, right or wrong and I hope for the right, I always had an image of being one of the guys that was clean up there, whatever that word means. And so, uh, they, there was some brewing around that we needed, you know, we needed to start cleaning our House up a little bit. And so it got, the Legislative Research Commission, we had an ethics committee. It was pretty inactive. Uh, a bunch of them, the guys in leadership came to me and said, "Would you, we need to get you to chair this. It'll help elevate the image of the thing if you're, if you chair it. You got, you know, you're thought of as a clean guy." Um, so, I agreed to do that. But by, at BOPTROT time I was chairman of the ethics committee.
MOYEN: Okay. When, when that broke, did you have any idea that stuff'sgoing on, I mean, or suspicion that stuff like that could've gone one like Mike Moloney was one person who said in an article last summer 135:00in Herald-Leader. "I suspected all this stuff but I didn't know about it," but or, or, or were you very surprised, or what were, what was your initial reaction?
KAREM: My initial reaction, I, I, my initial reaction was a surprise.Um, I think you, I think you know when you're there, there's some isolated instances and things. I mean, it isn't a perfect world. You know, there's some people that are, um, doing things they shouldn't be doing. Um, but, the, you know, I think that the surprise to me was the, it was how far reaching it was. And, uh, how many people were involved in it. And also in a kind of strange way, how pretty the stuff they were doing was. I mean, you know, this wasn't people 136:00stealing, you know, fifteen or twenty-thousand bucks a piece, the whole damn thing was not a lot of money.
KAREM: Um, in fact, if you would--(laughs)--in fact, if you would talkto this guy who is the, is the president of the Southern Regional Education Board, he will tell you one of the funniest experiences that he ever had, it was he, we were at a meeting and he was, there was a huge, um, brouhaha in South Carolina where a bunch of legislators got in trouble, and we were talking and I said, "We were talking," and I said, "he was saying what was going on," I say "Well, what was?" And he said, "Well, it was a big deal. There were a bunch of, you know, far-reaching, they're bunch of legislators that were getting fifteen and twenty thousand dollars from lobbyists and, you know, each, and stuff," and blah, blah, blah. And I was laughing and said, "You know you could," I said, "Mark, you could"--his name was Mark Musick--I said, "Mark, you could buy the whole, if you're going to in Kentucky, you can buy the whole damn legislature for fifteen thousand dollars," just kind of one of those smartass remarks that you make, and here 137:00comes like two years later, or whatever it was, and he calls me up one day on the phone after this thing has become very clear what it is. And he said, "Well, damn, you were right!" (Moyen laughs) "Hey, David, they bought the whole place!" And it was even less than that? I mean, it was just, I think people were, I was surprised by the pettiness, if that's the right term of the, of what people were, and by the number of people who were involved in it. But, you know, I'm, I'm sometimes amaze myself of how naive I am. I mean, I'm one of these people who, when I find out, I'm the last guy in the legislature who knows so-and-so's sleeping around. I mean, I'm like, "What? You can't be; he's really happily married." And they're like, "Yeah right, you know." Okay, you're so naive, or dumb, or stupid. So, I mean, it was, uh, surprised me. And then, and I also thought it was a surprise that the 138:00government, uh, cared so much about something so petty. I mean, I, I, I guess it was an important thing for the change for, for the catharsis in the legislature. I don't diminish that it had a significant impact. I don't diminish that it helped clean up the process. At the same time, it seemed in a lot of way like some gagging at a gnat over some of the stuff. I mean, I, I'm not saying I wish there--
KAREM: --would've been a bigger problem, but it was, I mean, one ortwo of the people, um, they never had anything on them other than they lied to the FBI guy at first. And one, on there is a wonderful guy, a Republican; good friend of mine who'd apparently really didn't do anything at all other than initially--
[Pause in recording]
KAREM: --was I, and I was chairman, they're--I don't know if youwant to hear this, but there were two or three amazing stories about BOPTROT--there, I, I was chairman of the ethics committee. And so, 139:00word got out, uh, that they were sweeping through the capitol building with all these subpoenas. And every ----------(??) never entered my mind, at the time--and this is very hard for anybody to understand this story unless you, unless you were there--I had a woman working for me who is a, just a, a, is a, a very dear friend of mine named Marie Abrams on. And Marie, um, Marie is worth a whole study but that's a, a, a legislature, it's a, she's a woman who didn't need to work; her husband is well to do. She's a, uh, um, very interested in politics. We struck up a relationship and she started working for me and I guess for twenty-some odd years when I was caucus chairman and floor leader, she always worked for me. And, um, she is a fun, crazy person. She's 140:00just, we're off the wall, our office was known for being off the wall. We were also known for, uh, uh, she is a, she loves young people. And we, if anybody who was young came in the office and needed some help, we always tried to help out and blah-blah-blah. And we would always kid people that came in and tease unmercifully people and, but always tried to help people. So, in comes David Karem from the Senate floor. Excuse me, just a second.
KAREM: I was on the Senate floor and came into the office in the Capitolbuilding where the Senate leadership office is in the Capitol building. And sitting in the office was this very nice-looking young man. 141:00Couldn't have been twenty-eight or thirty years old. Um, very crisp and quite buff. And just as cute as he could be, and very athletic- looking. I walk in and Marie says, "There's this gentleman here that, uh, wants to see you." And I looked at him and said, "Oh, another one of your boy-toys. Marie, I'm not gonna to, you know, what is it, what is, what is, what?" "No, no, I really think you want to, you, you're gonna to need to want to talk to this gentleman." And I said, "Marie, you know, we've taken care of enough young guys this session for you." (both laugh) "No-No, senator,"--which she would never normally say-- "Senator, I believe you're really gonna want to talk to this gentleman." 142:00And there was about four or five exchange like this and he never changes his expression once. He is sitting there like ramrod, never flinches, never changes his expression. Looking like your, the image of what you'd expect the perfect Secret Service, unflappable. She finally said, "Here's his card! I think you want to talk to this gentleman." It's like FBI. And I thought, oh, shit. What, you know, at that point I think, oh shit! All he wanted was, he, he, he wants to deliver a subpoena to me. And the subpoena is not for me as an individual, but the subpoena's chairman, "I have to service a subpoena on you as chairman of the legislative ethics committee to deliver the records of the legislative ethics committee." I'm now chairman of the legislative ethics committee for a month or something and we had no meetings or anything. I had to call up the director of LRC and say, I said, "Well, 143:00sir, wait just a minute here." And I called; I said, "There's a guy"-- (laughs)--who's got a subpoena for the records. He's an FBI guy, he got a subpoena for the records of the, of the legislative ethics committee. Do we have records?" I mean, I--(both laugh)--I have no idea what he's talking about. The guy says, "Yeah, up on the, in the attic, on the fourth floor of the Capitol building there's a file cabinet that's got, send him on down here. We'll take him up and let him go through the, look through the records." Then about this time, I'm ----------(??) relieved(??) because you know, at first, I, I'm laughing; a second, I'm thinking I'm going to lose bladder control; third, I'm relieved that it's all, just this thing and then. And it turns out, that there's one file drawer on the fourth floor of the Capitol building that has some records in there about as thin as the ----------(??), there's nothing in those that was of any use to anybody. The other thing that was really funny about that was, there was a, uh, Marie and I had 144:00actually, another one of these, there was a young reporter working for the Lexington paper who had, who was a cute young guy that Marie had already and I had sort of adopted and, uh, gotten a good relationship with this kid. And unbeknownst to me, the Lexington Herald-Leader runs, uh, newspaper story and it has pictures of the legislators and says, uh, "Summons," or, or "subpoenaed, these are the legislators who were subpoenaed." So, it's got Don Blandford's picture, David Karem's picture. And this kid, who was a reporter at the time, this wa-, they, they do a first run that goes out into the state before they do the final edition, which is the--he sees this thing and, calls the 145:00editor. And I ----------(??) to his eternal credit says to the editor, "David Karem never got a summons. The way you're running this, he got a summons as chairman of the legislative ethics committee. This is a terrible thing to do to somebody like that. Has nothing to do with him in any way, shape or form." And on the addition, the big addition they, uh, took that off and changed it. And there were only maybe a thousand or fifteen hundred of these that were ever run. And so I, I mean I, you know, the next time I see him I hug the guy, complete with tongue, if necessary. (Moyen laughs) I'm so excited. Oh, I'm, I'm not allowed to say that on that machine. But I mean, I'm, I'm thrilled to death with the guy. Doing, saving my butt for that, but, but then I said, "I got to get a copy of that." I had to save that. So I did have, I got a, I think it's still in my office in Frankfort or someplace. I have 146:00a copy of it, so if it weren't for him, he had to scramble to find him, because there were only a few thousand of these things printed or ever a thousand or so, and he scrambled and found me a copy which I saved. So it never really got out the.
MOYEN: All right, so, what role did that, uh, the ethics commission thatyou chaired or committee play after--
MOYEN: After, okay.
KAREM: None. There was no, it was all in court. We didn't do anything;we had nothing to do with anything.
MOYEN: But, but with the ensuing legislation that occurred, you.
KAREM: The, no, I mean it was going to be very clear, we needed to,it was very clear we needed to have an independent ethics committee. And, uh, I was the first one who said we can't be, you know, policing ourselves. And you know, remove this veil of tears from me, please.
MOYEN: Um-hm, right.
KAREM: I mean the last thing in the world I, you know.
KAREM: So, no, uh, we didn't, uh, there, we never did anything. I don'tthink I, from the very short period I was appointed until the time this 147:00thing broke and then this cha, legislation, I don't think the ethics, legislative ethics committee ever met. I mean, there wasn't anything to, there was nothing to do. No file, no record, nothing to do.
MOYEN: Did, um, did you feel at the time or, or now that the ethicslegislation that did come about after this, was either had, like so many people said, gone too far you know, the no cup of coffee or that it was in some respects ineffectual? That, it, it allowed loopholes for, you know, I guess campaign financing, stuff like that, or did, did you feel like it was pretty worthwhile?
KAREM: Uh, I thought that the--
MOYEN: -- ----------(??)--
KAREM: --I thought that the legislative ethics changes were worth,were very worthwhile. Um, is it Alan Rosenthal who does the, who's the, there's a, we've, we've had this guy who does, um, who's a big, 148:00um, political, runs, um, an institute in Washington who's constantly said ours is some of the strongest in the country? Some of the ethics legislation, some of it initially did go too far. Um, you know, I mean, it got, you know, some of it got to, to the point of absurdity. But there were problems that, you know, there were, there were situations that existed that needed to be corrected. There, and you know, I'm, I'm not ---------(??)---------- I'm, I'm make it sound like you're trying to be a saint about this stuff, but you know, I can remember going to, uh, Shelbyville to Science Hill to eat with my family one time for their Sunday brunch, I believe it was. Uh, which is, uh, and, and, uh, my wife and our two sons were there for Sunday 149:00brunch. This was some years ago. And before the, uh, I guess the BOPTROT stuff or whatever and, um. We saw a lobbyist there that I visited and said hello to and then we went over and sat down and ate and they got up and left. And, um, when the, um, the guy came over and, uh, I said, "We're ready for a check." And he said, "Well, there isn't any check. Uh, so-and-so took care of that." I mean, I just didn't think that was appropriate. I, I made the guy tell me how much the check was and what he had left for a gratuity. And I said "I just, I can't you're going to have to tell me, I understand, I'm not going to repay you, but you're gonna have to tell me how much this cost and what the tip was and I'm going have to mail him, I can't do that. I don't 150:00want my children to think I take something like that." So I mailed the son-of-a-bitch a check, you know.
KAREM: And, uh, I didn't want to have somebody think I did that kind ofthing. and there were, there used to be a place in Frankfort called Pete Flynn's and it was sort of where you, where you went to dinner at Pete Flynn's, legislators frequently never picked up, never paid for anything. And I'd, you know, that kind of stuff is absurd. Uh, but there were also things that, uh, I, I kidded with, um, I kidded with some people after--we were talking about how to deal, you know, with some of these ethics situations. At the time, right up the street from us lived a guy who was the paid lobbyist for UPS. And they always had like, uh, a Christmas party or something that we would, you know, we were always invited to. And I can remember going up to the Christmas party and I told Anne that when I was there wasn't going to eat or 151:00drink anything in their house. I was gonna to socialize and cause some of these rules made it look like I couldn't even have a drink at a neighbor's house because he happened to be a registered lobbyist. So I literally went to the party and then when I came back after I remember having some discussion with people, well, is it still, you know, I'm afraid(??) is it still an infraction because this was at Christmas time, so the, the house was warm and the, the lobbyist was paying for the heat. They had music, they had a group playing some music there and he'd paid for the music. And I was enjoying the music. so, I mean was that , and since I was taking advantage of something that he had paid for, was that, I mean, you know, you got into some of those kind of absurd discussions on some of this stuff. So, I Anne(??)--there was a group of people who were trying to get some legislation passed and one of the people call, when I was, uh, and one of people, I'm, I'm made me in leadership and one of the people called the house and got real ugly with my wife over the phone. And, uh, not, yeah, pretty 152:00threatening or hateful, blah-blah-blah. And so, I called the, said, "You know," to, to the, head of whatever their association was it doesn't make any difference, and I said, "You know, that didn't, you, you're not gaining anything when you do that to my wife. If you all want to call up and, um, harass the hell out of me or whatever that's fine, but leave my family alone." And the guy was like, "I, geese, you know, I'm sorry. That's somebody, that's, that's, uh, I know, who you're talking about. He's kind of emotional and apparently was acting somewhat as an independent operator," blah-blah-blah. "I'm sorry," you know, you know.
KAREM: So, um, "that'll never happen again," and the next day, um, I'm,I'm driving home from Frankfort and I walk up the stairs and sitting on the porch is this big flower arrangement. And I'm look at that and I walked in the house and I said, "What in the world is that sitting on the porch for? Did they not ring the doorbell?" And she said, "No, they rung the doorbell. It came from that group yesterday that, 153:00uh, had talked to me so ugly on the phone. I'm not accepting those flowers. Uh, I'm not gonna to have, have somebody think that we're taking unethical violation for something. ----------(??) story." So I said, "Leave the flowers out there; you're exactly right." The next day, I go back to Frankfort, I take the flowers and put them on the floor in the front seat of my car. I go in to the legislative ethics committee, which is by this point, the, the new ethics committee, has been. And I walked in and put them on the counter of their office, and I said, "These people delivered it to my house. I don't know whether I am entitled to have these or not. So, you all can enjoy it, if it's not an ethical violation." (both laugh) They just laughed at me and, "Okay." I left, I left them there. So, I mean that's the kind of you got into some of that kind of silly stuff over ----------(??), but by and large I think it has been very important. Uh, I think it's changed legislators' mindsets. Uh, I think it's, uh, ninety, it's an A. I mean, there's just no way around it any other way. It's, it's changed the culture. People just, who, who, even good people who were just too 154:00lax. I mean, that, you know, that--just, so yeah, it's been important.
MOYEN: Um-hm. In, in 1994, you sponsored Senate Bill 313, which was anattempt to establish this Kentucky News Council--
MOYEN: Did any of that come out of different, during different sessionswith either representatives or senators, people that said that the press in particular the Lexington paper had been pretty brutal and unfair in the wake of a lot of the, uh--
KAREM: Did it come out of BOPTROT?
KAREM: Not at all.
KAREM: No, it actually that came about, a friend of mine, uh, DavidHawpe, who's the editor of the Courier-Journal, uh, and I've been friends for a long time. And David thinks that the, uh, that the, uh, and there's another state that has this; I can't remember which state had it, but there's another state that has the news council. And he 155:00actually came to me at one point and said, "You, Kentucky needs to do this. And it's, um, we ought to police our own industry. And, and but we don't as well as we should and there ought to be a mechanism, not that it necessarily fines people or not that it necessarily does anything, but it, it gives somebody an opportunity," and I think we fashioned it in such a way it went through the University of Kentucky and, what you could do would be if you were aggrieved you would file with them, and they'd have an hearing and they would whatever and then basically sort of say, um, you know, "David Karem was treated improperly." It was, it was an overreaching story and it was not in, in, so that it gave, uh, somebody some vindication for. But it really was, it, it was not any kind of a direct growth out of the BOPTROT at all.
KAREM: Not in my recollection. It came from David, and then it wasinteresting was that obviously--I think we passed it in the Senate, and 156:00then it got to the House and got killed.
MOYEN: I think that's right.
KAREM: And then the next, I, I was talking about it and then therewere some changes at the newspaper, and the Lexington paper came out vehemently against it. Um, couple the, other, some, a couple of the TV stations came out against it. Um, and the Kentucky Press Association came out against it. And, um, but then later on, I asked him if he wanted me to try to do it again, but by this time Ed Manasseh has come on as the publisher of the Courier-Journal. And, um, he is not for it. He, he doesn't like it at all. So, it never, so that was the end of that. One.
KAREM: It didn't surface again.
MOYEN: Okay. All of this stuff we're, we're talking about happenedwhile Brereton Jones was Governor. What did you think of his leadership style after Wallace Wilkinson? Did, did he have--I mean I 157:00think obviously he had a better relationship than, than Wilkinson had had, but what did you think of his leadership style, the initiative that he was interested in and his relationship with the legislature?
KAREM: Brereton Jones, as you say, had a much better relationship. Uh,one, um, he had presided, he was, he had still presided in the, um, Senate as, um, Lieutenant Governor. Had known a lot of us, uh, by that point. And so had made friends with us. Um, a bunch of legislators. Um, a bunch of senators were for him when he ran. Um, so he started out on a better footing. He himself is not in any way vaguely as 158:00confrontational as Wallace Wilkinson was. Um, he, um, people were crazy about his wife, Libby, is, um, was very popular. Um, Martha Wilkinson was not, uh, she is very different character than, than, than Libby, and because there had been talk about her running and stuff, you know, that was not popular with the legislators. so, Libby was, in fact it got to be sort of a, kind of a joke during Brereton's administration that Libby should've been the one who was Governor because she was that popular. Um, he did not have a, uh, near as rocky a relationship but there were still problems with the legislature, 159:00uh, during, uh. He, he had a pr-, a couple of people in particular he didn't get along with, for some reason, and I never fully understood all the reasons for it, but, uh, he was very interested obviously in health care. Um, uh, he was, I mean, I'm, I'm not sure that Brereton was as effective as he could've been. I mean, I, you know, uh, his, his was, his was an, an administration very hard for me to evaluate. I mean, I had very strong feelings about, um, the end of Martha Layne. I had very strong feelings about Paul Patton. Strong and clear feelings. Um, um, you know, all the--oh, I guess of the different ones that 160:00I've served with, the hardest one for me to define, and I don't mean it critically, but I would Brereton Jones's administration would be the very hardest one for me to, to define. If somebody said, tell me, define what the hell you think about Paul Patton, define what you think about Wallace Wilkinson, what did you think about, um, Martha Layne, or what'd you think about Wendell Ford, or what'd you think about, uh, you know, John Y., or Julian Carroll, I have a pretty clear picture, the, uh, until you get to Brereton's, and Brereton's was a hard one to , um--he, he was easy going to get along on sort of a social basis. I felt like his instincts were always good. I mean, he, he, he, um, you know, he, he seemed to want to do the right kinds of things. Um, I think he, he didn't have some of the political skills, uh, in, in 161:00working with the legislative body that he probably needed to have. Um, he, his would, his was a really hard for me to define administration. I have, I'd, I would have trouble, I mean if somebody'd say write me four pages about some of the other ones, I could do that easily, but ----------(??) Brereton would be a hard one for me to write about.
MOYEN: In what ways were you involved with the, with his health careinitiatives, in terms of studying that, implementing any legislation, or, or pushing for a vote on that, because that is one of the areas where, at least what I found, were specially at the, at the end of that legislative journey, he, he was calling the legislature and, and ---- ------(??)--------- I think that was the quote that he used to describe it. It was like ---------(??)---------- and all these different things that, could you tell me some about, about the health care developments? 162:00
KAREM: Um, you know, it was an issue that he was, that he was veryinterested in. he, uh, he wanted to, you know, where, uh, where Martha Layne had, you know, I guess these people come into office and then try to figure out a niche, where, you know, where, where Wallace's--you know, even if you're gonna pick on Wallace, you got to say that Wallace was important to passing the, the education reform piece. Uh, had, had it not been for him, I'm not sure some of the tax stuff wouldn't of, would of gotten through. So he, he is entitled to and legitimately deserves some serious credit for that. Paul Patton on higher ed, Martha Layne on Toyota, so what's his, so, Brereton wanted to be seen 163:00as the guy who was going to do health care reform, and wanted to, and, and wanted to do some things where, you know, people didn't lose coverage when they went from one place to another, or somebody, uh, you know, just he wanted, he thought that, uh, his signature piece for his administration was going to be health care reform. And, um, all of us who were in legislative leadership were involved in it, in the sense that there were numerous meetings. Uh, and, uh, lots, I believe, we had an enormous number of special sessions even over the, I mean, it's, it's almost so, it's almost, again a blur trying to figure out what was going on, and what was, I mean, where, you know, but we worked very hard on them. I mean, I can remember putting them, you know, a lot of hours in on some of these different pieces about, you know, 164:00what did it mean to do affordability of coverage, and, you know, what did it mean to do this, and what did it mean to that, and, you know, meetings with, uh, lot of the different insurance carriers, and you know, ya-ti-ya-ti-ya-ya-ta(??), and a lot of misinformation. A lot of misinformation, purposeful misinformation by opponents, purposeful, purposeful misinformation by some of the, uh, some of the insurance companies. I mean, one of the, one of the things that, uh, one of the insurance companies actually had written a letter to all of its people saying they were going to get out of the health care business, the health care insurance before this was even discussed. And then started attacking health care reforms saying, and making public statements that we're pulled out of the, we're pulling out because of the health care reform and people had, some people came forward with the letters. And, um, you know, beat up finally on that particular company for flat out 165:00lying about the thing, so there was a, that was a really weird time.
KAREM: It was a very weird time. I mean, there were, you know, to, togive Brereton Jones's credit, um, you know, he really did, uh, try to work with some of the insurance companies. And I, I brought him to the table. I mean I can remember being in meetings with him where, and, and where you'd think you would get consensus with people and you'd, you know, you -- I think why we ended up, I guess why we ended up passing the damn stuff was that I think there were a lot of people finally in leadership and then otherwise, and committees and stuff, kind of frustrated that, you'd think with some of these people you had a deal and that they had bought into it and then you'd go, you'd leave the room and you'd start progressing down that path, and then they'd smack you in the newspaper and next, or send out some barrage of 166:00mailings saying what horrible people you, you know, you bastards are, after they sat there, I mean, it, it was a, it was a really odd time.
MOYEN: Um-hm. What did, what did your, what are your thoughts on theend-product, or what were they then and now?
KAREM: The end product was, um, the end product was a, was a progressivepiece of legislation that was, that ironically the federal government came in and subsequently, enacted a bunch of the same sort of, uh, thing, so that, um, you know, trying to protect people that, um, on so, you know, real protection on some things like preexisting conditions, real protections on affordability of coverage, I mean some things that just, that I think make common sense. Um, it, it's, it's gotten beat up on very unfairly and it's becoming, it, it has become the whipping, 167:00uh. a whipping boy for, uh, people who just want to talk about legislative failures, and how we ran all these insurance companies out of business and out of the state, and now there's not competition, and, you know, blah-blah-blah. And even after we came back in and made a bunch of modifications that some of these people wanted, they still didn't come back in. And, you know, it's, uh, and then you had a lot of criticism saying, "Well, two problem for Kentucky was they're too small a state to do this. Um, they can't be, they're not big enough. California did this it could drive things, but Kentucky can't drive things because it's so small, so you just get people out of the marketplace. And, um, you know, who knows, but a lot of the reforms ended up becoming, a lot of the Kentucky reforms ended up becoming, from my information, uh, not, uh, not a big problem because they would, 168:00they ended up being enacted at the federal level.
KAREM: And so they were, you know, so we were ahead of the curve, andthen, you know, instead of being praised for being ahead of the curve, you get criticized for being ahead of the curve. It's one of those things.
MOYEN: Um-hm, right. You keep talking about how difficult it is todefine this time and how--
KAREM: --yes, I do; you're correct--
MOYEN: --what it was? How, how did that change with Paul Patton'selection? How, did, did that began to clear things up where as you think back on that, how, how's that different?
KAREM: Well, I think it's, Paul Patton is, is a, just a, a differentperson. Paul Patton's, is an engineer and has kind of an engineer's mindset. And, um, um, Paul Patton sort of sees things, uh, you know, sees, you know, there's a problem and there must be a logical, uh, if, 169:00if, if enough energy is put to it, you can solve that problem. And, and, and , uh, he, he is, was able to devi-, he was able to, he and his administration were able to define things that they needed clearly and they were able to , uh, they were able to communicate more easily. I mean it's just, uh, it was a, uh, a lot of it is very different personalities. I mean and not that anyone of them, not that Brereton is better than Paul, or Paul better than Brereton, or whatever, but , um, he, he just got a, he's, he just got a different kind of mindset. Uh, Paul Patton never, uh, we had, we had fights with Paul Patton; I'm not going to say that it was, you know, this was a rose garden. But, um, I got into my share of fights with Paul Patton. In fact, 170:00two or three of them got pretty ugly but, um, he seemed to understand by this point, I think more clearly than anybody that the legislature was there to stay. And you and there was no gain to do anything but partner with these people, and to work with them, and, you know, could sell you on , um, you know, could sell you on--I, I , I was not a Paul Patton's supporter for Governor; I supported Eck Rose. And, um, you would of thought that would of made it hard for us to deal with one another but it didn't at all. Quite the contrary, Paul Patton was , um, one of the funniest experiences with Paul Patton was that he called up one day and said, actually, he had a staff person call up one day 171:00and say, "The Governor's going to be in town, in Louisville"--this was right after he'd took office in December--"the Governor's going to be in town and , um, wants to have, to know if you'd go out and have dinner with him." "Sure." "But he'd like to meet you at four o'clock and just sit and talk for a while. He wants to pick your brain and find out, you know, what, you know," blah-blah-blah, "get to know who you are, get to know the -----------(??)." If, uh, and then, uh, that's Skipper Martin who was, was sort of political guru. And so, um, he, they said "We will be at four o'clock and then at six o'clock we will go to dinner," and. "Absolutely!" Paul Patton walks into this office, four o'clock. We walk downstairs to the boardroom on the second floor and we sit down there and start talking. There's about a minute or two of what you would call the civilities. Like were I'd ask you about 172:00your children, and you know, you've given me up. There was a very short period of that. Paul Patton picks up a notepad and by the end of the two straight hours of quizzing me he has made about twenty pages of notes. I mean, he's just, just go(??), I mean, you know. total, just, I mean just absorbing every , like a sponge stuff that you would, you know, advice, where people would come from different personalities, where, you know, trying to figure out where he thought some of the, uh, you know, some of the skeletons were in the closets, etc cetera, etc cetera. Then we went, we adjourned and went over to lun-, to dinner and, uh, I thought, Okay, well, at least we can have a relaxing dinner. We got over there. We had about five minutes of, uh, and then he takes the pad, damn pad out again, and starts again on me. We ended up talking for another hour and a half at dinner. so I had about , I had three and a half hours of Paul Patton just taking notes, taking notes, taking notes, taking notes. What, similar to some of the kind of questions literally that you're asking. What, you know, why was 173:00Brereton Jones this thing, I mean, what, what, what, you know, what was Martha Layne, you know, what, you know, blah-blah-blah, I mean what.
KAREM: Who, who are the personalities? What's, you know, what's so-and-so like? What, you know, you know, from your perception can I ever work with, blah-blah-blah. I mean, you know.
KAREM: All that kind, Republican, Democrat, down the line, where can I,there's just, you know, that kind of engineering mindset. Exhausting is what I call it.
KAREM: In fact, we were at a meeting. He was chaired of the, of theSouthern--I keep talking about the Southern Regional Education Board. Uh, the Southern Regional Education Board is actually chaired on an annual basis by a governor. And one of the meetings that we have was at, uh, Chapel Hill. And, uh, we're over there at this meeting at Chapel Hill. And, um, we ended up at the, the dinner; it was a dinner meeting with a speaker and stuff. And at the end of that meeting, Paul 174:00Patton stops me and says, "Let's go to the bar." I gue-, I said, Chapel Hill has, is like an inn there or something that they actually--
MOYEN: --the, the Carolina Inn?
KAREM: The Carolina Inn. So we're, we're at the Carolina Inn, and hesays, "Let's go at the bar and over and get a drink and relax." I look at him, I said, "I'm not going to the bar with you!" And he, he says, "What?" I said, "You're absolutely not going to go over there and have a drink with me and relax. You, you don't do that ever. Uh, you know, I'll be happy to go over and have a drink with you, but you're going to start on your questions again and grilling me and I'm, I'm tired! I'm not going to listen to that." (Moyen laughs) I mean, at this point, I've gotten, I'm twenty-five years or something in the legislature or whatever, and I'm like not going, not, I'm, I'm not trying to be a smart ass--
KAREM: --"I'm just not going! You're no fun!" And he says, "No, nocome, no, I won't do that Karem, come on." "Okay!" We go over the damn bar, and lo and behold we're there for two or three minutes, and he 175:00starts on this stuff again and we're fifteen or twenty minutes in the conversation and Joe Barrows, who is the state representative, who's on the SREB, legislative advisory council, and is attending this meeting, walks in. And I said, "Joe, come here a minute." and I said, "He's yours! I ain't talking to him anymore. He's crazy! Son-of-a-bitch(??) let me any minute's peace." And I got up and said good bye to him and walked out of the room. And Joe said they, the next day, I said something, "How long did that go on?" and he said, "Oh, we went about forty-five minutes with me," or something. (both laugh) And it wasn't how's the family, here's a movie, here's a book I read, or you know.
KAREM: He's a trip!
MOYEN: Hm. How did , um, well, once again I guess did, do you have thesame, I guess similar views on the workman's comp that he did with the workman's comp before that that's really not my cup of tea, and? 176:00
KAREM: No, we were into it a bit. I was into it a bit more by thatpoint because, um, by that point, um, he's perceived of as a guy who's had a lot of union support. Uh, more information's come to the surface that it, that worker's comp situation is punitive to some of the local businesses. We're getting a lot of heat from businesses in this community saying something's got to be fixed. So I had a bit more information about it. Um, still not , um, still not something that I was , uh, I mean , I could define what occurred better if you, if somebody were to press me and say what, you know, what took place that, uh, I could probably define it better than, than before, because it did seem to have more of an impact at this point on a lot of my constituency and stuff like that but it's, and, and, and it went much further to 177:00make the business community happy and cost Paul Patton a lot of , uh, his union and, you know, support and so forth, and a lot of the, with the, uh, coal workers and different people, I mean, he took a lot of heat for that thing. so I, I understand that component of it but I'm still not a person who's, you know, conversant with the details of it, about whether eighteen weeks of this, or that, or permanent/partial, or what you get when you chop a finger off, or you know.
MOYEN: Um-hm. What, what are their points of contention or, orcooperation you'd had mentioned you'd had some heated discussions with him, do you recall what the issues were?
KAREM: (pause) There was one where we got--what was that? It was a hoot.We were into something with him and it was, we were, we, I was floor 178:00leader and we went down to, he called us down to his office. And we got into a dis-, and we were sitting in the Governor's office itself and we were in, in the two, I had a staff person there, and, uh, the, uh, caucus chairman and the whip were with me. And, um, God, what was--I'll remember it as soon as you leave here, I'll remember it. But we were in there and he was, there was something had, he was doing it, just really irritated the dickens out of me and I thought he was, uh, I thought it, it, uh, he was to some degree betraying. And I cannot, I don't even remember what the topic was, and he got up to--we got into a, we were getting into a fairly heated exchange about something. 179:00Somebody called him, he had to take a phone call in the other room, and, and, um, Skipper Martin was in there and stayed in the room. And I got madder and madder, the more I was, I finally got up and said, "You know, this is just a bunch of crap," or maybe stronger words than that. "I'm," you know, "I'm leaving." And I walked out of the office and then got about forty five steps out of the thing and thought to myself, I'm not letting the rest of those people sit in there. and I, I went back into the Governor's office and just off with, and the woman, the, the, by this point the receptionist's, her eyes are like this, and I'm, I walk back into the I open the door to the office, and before, and it was before he had come back in and I looked at, uh, the, uh, whip and the caucus chairman, and I said, "AND YOU'RE LEAVING TOO! GET OUT!" And we, they, we all got up and walked out of the room. And Skipper was like, and then the Governor came back, we had already left. And I cannot for the life of me remember what it 180:00was about. And, then there was one other time, what was it? I was mad as the and then there was one other time where he was really, he was angry, the Governor was terribly angry over something. I think this had to do with the , uh, probably was with , uh, UK, when the, when we were taking the community college system away from them, we were pretty support--and for, he was very angry with Senator Ernesto Scorsese over something. And, um, we said we needed to talk to him and we went down to, I can't remember what it was but for so, it was something, it was different but it was during that period of time. And we, and, but it was something that interested Ernesto, and Ernesto said he wanted to go with us. So, the, the three people of leadership and Ernesto went downstairs, uh, and he came, and it was in not his office, it was in 181:00this little room that he used sometimes to meet with people. It's off to the side and he, and he was like a, he actually threw himself out of his own office at that point. Um, he came in and for some reason when he saw Ernesto he got, was trying to say something and he saw Ernesto he's just got furious. And, uh, we were starting to talk to him about it, and he said, "You," and he said, "You got your nerve bringing him down here," something to that about. And, and he said, "I'm, I'm not talking to you all. I'm leaving!" Or something. And I literally went over and stood in front of the door and said, "Now, come on, Paul, we need to sit down and try to." "I'm, I'm, I'm getting out of here!" And it was the voices got really high and the trooper was out, uh, another fun trooper thing, the trooper was, I talked to him later on, and he said, "I was wondering if I was going to have to break into that little room and see what was going on." But he actually threw himself out of that office. (both laugh) So, you, but I, but, what was, I'd have to call, Skipper would remember immediately what, what were we angry 182:00about, but it was something where--it wasn't, was it, may have been redistricting. I think it must have been redistricting. It was where, it was redistricting. It was, um, this; the, the thing where we were sitting in his office was over redistricting. And I thought that, uh, he had made a commitment to us to, to never flinch on redistricting, even to the point where he would veto something if it screwed the Senate in any way. And, um, it was apparent that the House was caving in at this point. This is exactly what it was. And we went down and started talking to him about the redistricting piece. And we're making the point that he had made a commitment to us. And, and he started out on this, um, stuff about, well, you know, if the House is going along with it. Well, we, the House is going to go along with it, that, that, that didn't mean you need to go along with it. You need to veto it. Well, if they've come, you know blah-blah-blah. It's like a wiffle- 183:00waffle(??) in it. Then he had to get this phone call and left the room and I was just sitting there thinking, you know, I got madder and madder and madder at the guy. And, you know, I was, I used probably some bad words to Skipper and said, "If this is the kind of loyalty you people, you know, have for us, you all can." That's when I got up and left and then came back and got the other ones and said, "You all are leaving too."
MOYEN: Okay, okay.
KAREM: It was over and clearly it was over redistricting.
KAREM: And it was, it was a, and I felt that he had been, uh, that hehad abandoned us. And in fact, the House and the Governor did, to be perfectly candid.
KAREM: And sold the Senate down the river on redistricting and, uh, Ithink they're paying the price for it right now. And, you know, what can I say?
[Pause in recording.]
MOYEN: That redistricting is probably one of the toughest thing to dealwith because somehow you're gonna burn someone along the way.
KAREM: Um, what, what--184:00
MOYEN: --and, and often times even from your own party? Sorry.
KAREM: No, no, redistricting is difficult. Because you, um, it, it, in,I've had a lot of experience with redistricting. Um, in nineteen of the, the, uh, I, I came in '72 and, uh, I guess we passed redistricting or whatever in '72 and I didn't have too much to do with it. But in '80, when the '80 census came along, by that point I'm in the Senate leadership. And, uh, the Senate leadership said with regards redistricting, in Jefferson County we're going to defer to you. And so basically I did the redistricting in '80, at, after the '80 census and again in '90 did the redistricting. And it is not easy because, um, you, you, we, and one of those we lost some ground, and in other places 185:00you, uh, you have to make significant adjustments. One of the, one of the, I guess it was the, it was the '80 redistricting. it was the '80 redistricting where, uh, we had Georgia Powers who is a black state senator whose district had , uh, lost an enormous amount of population and the only way that she could, that she could move was to grow and grow significantly eastward. I mean, significantly. And so you're, you want to try to accommodate somebody like Georgia because she is the only African-American in the Senate. She is a woman in the Senate. And you want to try to preserve, uh, an African-American district as much as you possibly can. And it's, it's very hard to draw lines and manipulate in such a way, and manipulate not in a bad word but manipulate in such a way that you can accomplish some of those things. 186:00And it's not an easy task.
KAREM: And it's not ever fun. People get comfortable with theirdistrict. They're running it for, you know, the, the redistricting goes every ten years or so. By you, so you've run two or three times and you're happy with your, you know, you've gotten accustomed to it, and so you come in and have to start making big changes, it's not pleasant.
MOYEN: Um-hm. Something else that, that I think you're gonna to sayalso has had ill effects on the Democratic Party, no question, is the, I, I guess to be fair to call it a coup(??) with Larry Saunders and his election as Sen-, Senate president and, um, and Walter Blevins, uh, as well. You managed to retain your post during that, and at the same time were, you were a staunch supporter of Eck, is that correct?
MOYEN: Can you at, uh, tell me how that developed, tell me about the,the promises that were made to Republicans and, and the walk out that 187:00took place at the caucus meeting and, and expand on some of that?
KAREM: Well, I mean obviously it's a topic about which I have somefairly strong feelings. I, I believe that it, uh, uh, I'm, I'm, I am not naive enough to say that the Republicans were not already making some gains. Kentucky is a conservative state. Uh, there is no question about that. Uh, some of the, uh, the, the gains that were going to be made were going to be made no matter what happen. On, on the other hand I think, um, this, uh, precipitated the changes much more quickly, uh, and may have laid the groundwork, uh, that, that will cause generations of problems for the Democratic Party. The engineer behind the whole thing is actually was Benny Ray Bailey. 188:00For whatever reason, whether he felt that he was slighted by Eck Rose, because Eck Rose beat him, or whether he felt he was slighted by David Karem, because David Karem beat him. Whatever the reason was, uh, he was always a disgruntled partner in the situation, even though, interestingly enough, people respected his talents enough to make him , uh, you know, uh, a, a com-, in committee chairs and , uh, you know, listen to him, give him, he just was a disgruntled. And so, they were gonna, they were gonna to find a way to, uh, to get rid of Eck Rose come hell or high water. Um, there, uh, was a lot of, uh, you know--(pause)--lying that, you know, that went on. I, it, uh, before the session started there was rumbling that this was going to go on. I, there is no question that I went over to Larry Saunders's 189:00office and I sat down in his office and I said, "Larry, um, there's rumblings going on that people are going to try to pull a coup. Or even, you know, make some allegiances with Republicans." Um, um, Larry Saunders, you know, sat in his own office and looked at me, square in the eye, and said, "I am not going to be, I am not, nor would I ever be, part of anything where I lined up with Republicans to take away, uh, control of the Senate from the Democrats. Or, I would never ever cooperate with Republicans on that kind of an issue." Um, so, I left and with some degree of comfort that and a number of other people had obviously been working on the issue and having conversations. And, 190:00um, it, it can be characterized as no, no other way but the people just lied out right. I don't know how else to say it. I mean, I don't, I hate that word lie, but , uh, I don't know whether, I don't know whether Larry would deny that he said it, but he certainly, I said I went to the trouble going to his office, so he was on his own turf. So he said he would not be part of that. Um, so I was a little surprised that somebody so boldly lied to me. Uh, because I then went and said, "We don't really have a lot to worry about, I mean, things are going to be all right. Larry's not going to do that," blah-blah-blah. Um, but he did, so. The rest is, I mean, from that perspective the rest is history. But his whole, um, you know, the irony of the whole thing was that it was all built on a house of cards. I mean, it was 191:00just, it was the most intriguing time politically. While he, while he got himself elected president of the, um, Senate, uh, he's, he, I, from my perspective, miscalculated enormously. Um, he, he, he got elected in that organizational session. but then when it came to a regular session of the legislature , um, and as you say, I retained my position, I retained my position because I'm elected by the caucus, and so the caucus was, was , uh, fifteen out of the twenty people were not supportive of what he did. And so, they were supportive of, of my position being reelected. and then when we got into the next regular 192:00session in the legislation, um, he ended up really never accomplishing anything because , um, he actually , um, irritated a, a, a section of the Republicans badly who, who , um, , uh, particularly irritated Dan Kelly, who was the minority floor leader at the time. and Dan Kelly, I think, I'm, I can't speak for him but I think Dan Kelly thought that he was , uh, had that he was , um, not, uh, that he was an embarrassment. That he was not, um, not an honorable individual. Um, and they never even contr-, that, that was his one shot at controlling the budget. Um, Dan Kelly came to me and said, at some point, "I, I, I no longer can be a participant in this; I can't work with him." Um, 193:00the, u, he said, "I'm not going to go into a budget session. We need to talk!" And, and to the appropriation, and to, and when you do the conference(??) committee on the budget, and I said, "Well, you know, Dan, together we can do what we want to do on that because I've got the three people in the Democratic leadership that will vote how I want. He has two people that will vote how he wants; Larry and the, and one other person. And the, the president pro temp," and I said, "If you, if the three Republicans agree, that are in your leadership team agree, he can't appoint anybody to anything." And he said, um, "Well, if you'll let, if you'll, if you'll let me appoint who I want, um, we'll go along with you. And, um, we'll name the conference 194:00committee and he will not, um, he will not, um, we won't let him name the people he wants to name." So, I got wind that he had, so we, we reached that accord. And the committee on committees is who appoints the conference committee on the budget. And so, I got wind that he, that, that Larry had already told two members of the Senate that they were going to be on the conference committee on the budget. and , um, I went up to him and said, um, while we were in, we were on the floor of the Senate, while we're on the Senate--I did it on purpose--while we were in session. I just walked up to the speaker's, to the president's desk at one point, and I said, um, "Hi Mark, I understand you're saying you're going to appoint so-and-so, and so-and-so to the , and you're 195:00going to exclude, uh, Fred Bradley who is, he is the whip and Dr. Nick Kafoglis who at this point is the, uh, caucus chairman. Uh, you, you can't do that to people who are, uh, members of leadership." And, and he said, "Well, I'm, I'm already told so-and-so, and so they're going to be." He said, "But you, you know, I'm going to appoint you. You're the floor leader. But I'm," and so I said, "You need to, you need to go tell those two people that you told that are going to be, on the pre conference committee on the budget they're not going to be on there. When we're going to the committee on committees, I've got the votes. Dan Kelly and the two Republicans are going to vote with me. And we're going to name who I want on the committee." And he turned several shades of white and was quite nervous. And he said, "Well, I can't go 196:00back and tell people. You're just gonna, you're going to have to go along with what I want." I said, "It's not going to happen, Larry. Um, you, you don't believe me, you can go quietly ask Dan Kelly but we're going to the meeting, this is what's going to happen." And, uh, he was not a happy camper. And we ended up going to, he, and Kelly wouldn't talk to him. I mean, wouldn't, he would say, "I'm not, there's no reason for us to talk." We went into the, into this committee on committees and we appointed the committee that, that, uh, Kelly and I had agreed on. And, uh, so, this little house of cards just never worked. And then, two of the people who, um, were his allies, Larry Saunders's allies, namely Benny Ray Bailey and Glenn Freeman run for reelection the next time and the Democrats who are, uh, file the 197:00primary beat the two of them, and they beat them on the issue of the betrayal to the Democratic Party. And Johnny Ray Turner is the guy who beats, um, uh, who beats, uh, Benny Ray Bailey. And Mongiardo beats, um, Glenn Freeman. And lo and behold, Johnny Ray Turner's opponent this time is, uh, nephew of Benny Ray Bailey, who's tried to continue to try to get even. So even from the, and came damn close apparently; Johnny Ray only wins by thirty or forty votes. And so, but he wins. And so, Benny Ray has still not disappeared off the face of politics of the absurd. So it's a very interesting time. Larry, I, I, I think Larry created a disaster. I, I, I mean, I hate to say it on this tape 198:00for somebody to hear, but, uh, I, you know, it's just a true statement. I'm, I'm sorry he chose to do what he did. Uh, if you would ask him today he would still tell you he did the right thing. He belie-, he, he somehow believes that it's helped the Democratic Party. I, I, how that comes about and how he's talked himself into that I have no idea. Um, but he do-, he'd, he'd say that. Now whether he's just, you know, worked himself into that position or not I have no idea, but.
MOYEN: Um-hm. The, the two defections that come in '99 with Dan Seumand Bob Leeper, I guess, this is ----------(??)----------- --
KAREM: --directly attributable to Larry Saunders, there's no otherway around that. Uh, Seum hates, uh, Saunders, Saunders hates Seum. Seum's going to do whatever he can to , uh, and you know, I, I sat, I sat as floor leader right across from Danny Seum and Danny Seum and I 199:00always up to that time got along reasonably well. I mean, we were not the greatest friends in the world. And we had disagreed on a couple of things. But, uh, uh, our, our disagreement actually were almost, uh, kind of, he was obsessed with this helmet law. Get rid of the helmet law. I, as floor leader, stopped it on two, two different times, and at one point in the, he, he called me, uh, a, he said, "You're just a shit-ass for stopping this all the time." And I said, "Yeah, but, you know you like me; I'm your shit-ass." And we kind of had a joke about that. I mean, it kind of almost we had a little bit of undercurrent of affection to him. And he would stand over there and we would have these conversations where he would just shred Mitch McConnell up one side and down the other. I mean, he would talk about Mitch McConnell like he was the most common person you'd ever, "Mitch McConnell doesn't care about the little guy, all, Mitch McConnell wants, does is want to aggrandize himself up in DC." I mean, I have had endless conversations about that and the irony of that whole thing is that when he switches 200:00party there, he is standing up there with his arm around Mitch McConnell, or vice versa, like that they were the greatest buddies in the world, not having a thing; this is just hysterical. The, um, defection of Bob Leeper was a very, very different thing. Uh, one, again, that I think it is a 100 percent, I don't know whether Bob would say this or not, but I think it was 100 percent and this is a very complicated situation, but it's 100 percent attributable to, to Larry, uh, in my opinion. Uh, Seum changes. The word gets out that, uh, that Leeper is thinking about it. Uh, we do everything that we can to talk to him to try to make sure that he doesn't. Um, uh, at the same time Leeper is talking about this, we're now tied in numbers. And so, word 201:00starts going out that Larry is yet again talking to the Republicans about how, as a tied group, we're going to manage the place. And Larry says, "Well, I'm the president of the Senate, elected for a term, but if we're tied there is no reason why you, as the, you all the Republicans couldn't, um, have the, the floor leader's position. I mean, maybe one of the accommodations is the floor leader's position." Well, of course, if you do that, that's, you're screwing David Karem, which is okay. I mean, I've been screwed before. Um, but the word starts getting around that he's talking about that. So, we ended up having this, all this 202:00stuff comes to, okay, comes together at, at a caucus meeting in, uh, where there're nineteen of us sitting down trying to , uh, tell Bob Leeper how much we love him and to organize for the session, what we're gonna do, blah-blah-blah. So, um, we go into that and, and as when we get up there, Larry calls me and says "When we go into, to this caucus to ask me to come in and sit down in his office," which I do, he said, "We go into this caucus," he said, "we don't need to be bringing up how we're going to run the session of the legislature. Um, we just need to talk about making sure that we tell Bob Leeper how much we want to stay," or some carrying on like this and "because there's a lot of our 203:00members, the majority of them who think we have to cooperate with the Republicans on this thing. And so, I don't think we need to bring up the issue of how we are going to manage this session. Don't bring that up, because we just need to be able to work with the Republicans and try to manage this thing." And I said, you know, "I'm a team player; if that's what the members feel, that's fine with me. I don't, nobody has a, uh, nobody has a life lock on any of these positions." So, we go into the caucus and, and one of the first things that starts out is Ernesto Scorsone says, "I've done a lot of research on this thing and I've thought a lot about how we ought to do this thing." and he said, "There's no reason to give the Republicans anything, because Larry, you're elected for a term, and the only way they could remove you would be by trying to have a vote. And those votes would always end in a dead tie, so they couldn't do anything, tie, tie loses. Uh, the same 204:00thing goes for our leadership. There is no reason," this is Ernesto says, "there's no reason for Karem to give up being floor leader because the only way they could, we've already, that's been selected during the organizational session, and the only way they could do that would be to try to get a vote. They'll lose on every tie vote." And, um, you started seeing around the room, people nodding their head. That makes a lot of sense! Why give up anything to these people. And so, Larry says, "Well, you know, that's an interesting point but we've got to, um, you know, we're have to work with them and we'll, we need to, we, we just need the flexibility to talk with them in the future about," blah-blah-blah. So, um, no, and then he says, "Now don't you," you know, he point, Larry looks at me and says, "Don't you agree?" And I said, you know, "I, whatever the caucus wants to do, Larry, I'll, if that's what you all feeling is," which was of course not, I mean, what 205:00he wanted to hear, but when I said "Whatever the caucus wanted to do." So, then Ernesto comes back around and says, "Well, I want to press the point. I think we need to take a position right now on whether or not we're going to capitulate to the Republicans. If we know we can control it, guys, why do we want to give up anything?" At that point, uh, Paul Herron, God love him, who's a, just a elderly curmudgeon from down in west Kentucky says, "Ernesto's right! Why would we give them anything?" He says, "Karem can preside and the rest of the people in leadership can, you know, I mean, not preside but be the floor, why would we want to give it up to anybody?" He says, "Let's just vote on it right now! Let's vote on it. So who's gonna, who's gonna, um, um, who doesn't agree with that?" Uh, and Ernesto says, "Yeah, let's vote on it. I think we ought to vote on the position that we're not going to give up the floor leader's position, whoever it is. We're just, 206:00I want a up and down vote on it, and so, okay!" So, everybody raises their hand, including, of course, Larry Saunders because he's looking around the room and so you got nineteen hands that are up, exactly. I mean, nine-, nineteen hands are up including Bob Leeper's. And so, we think we've made the, we've made that decision, and then, um, we go on and do a love fest for Leeper and, or, or the love fest, you know, and tell him how much we want him, blah-blah-blah. and I think it, this has always been my, I don't know if Bob would ever admit it, but here's what I thing then, not, we were not--and, of course, there are no secrets in Frankfort, but we, we leave that meeting and we were not out of that meeting where everybody's in lock, you know, we're lock step, we know how we're going to go into the session. We're not at that meeting, um, fifteen minutes, when Larry Saunders has not called 207:00five or six Republicans and said to them, "You're going to hear that the caucus is taking this position that we're not gonna negotiate on how we manage this session," but he said, "uh, but don't worry about that. Uh, that was just, uh, that was just sort of a feel good thing. We're gonna, we're gonna, um, we know we have to work with you guys, and there, there's still a lot of room to negotiate," and, you know, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. Well, ironically, what the effect of that was, was exactly the opposite of what Larry Saunders wanted to get. What the affect of that was, was that they lost, it just spread through everywhere that you couldn't trust the guy. that the guy comes into a meeting and a couple of the people that he talked to were just infuriated that it , uh, and , uh, Republicans, because it just sort of said, "Here, you know, you, you, there's no honor among thieves 208:00at all with you, buddy!" And, um, I think the word got back to Leeper about what had happened and he'd sat in there, just set in, I think he, he finally said, "This is a disreputable bunch of crap!" And, uh, we were good to go until Saunders said, "My opinion(??)," whether Leeper would say he'd already made the decision or whatever, I don't know but, um, I think that that was one of the things that broke the, the straw that broke the camel's back. And then ultimately, the guy who lost in that situation was , um, you know, my caucus kept me on as floor leader, and he loses his position as president of the Senate, which he didn't have to do. I mean, he didn't, you know, he should've been making sure Leeper never switched. And making sure that we held tight as we possibly could. And accommodating Bobby in whatever way it was. 209:00What, what do you, what was it, what philosophical position, what do we need to do, Bobby, to make you stay on board. Uh, because Bob's, we put a, we raised a boatload of money for Bobby Leeper to, and he had a very ugly, he had a very ugly general election where the woman who ran against him--is a Republican, called him everything but skank --- ------(??). I mean, it got really hateful and we put a bunch of money into his race. So, he had good reasons to stay a Democrat, but that's all history.
MOYEN: So, once the number's in their favor, then, can you just keepgoing? Tell me your sad stories.
KAREM: Well, I mean I think once, uh, whether it was(??) the sad storiesor not, you know, I mean, it became clear that , uh, even though, initially Larry tried to take the position that he was elected for a 210:00term and somehow he even for, for a short window of time, uh, I think that he somehow believed that they were going to let him remain because he was a, he, he took the position and even, and it even got out that, um, he was, he was gonna to go to court because he was elected in the organizational session for a two-year term as president of the Senate. and, uh, you know, I'm gonna to go to co-, but, you know, but it's, because it's the language says, I'm, you know, you have an organizational session, it doesn't say for two, two-year term, but it says, in the organizational session you will elect leadership or something. And so he, you know, that's good until the next session. You know, "I'll go to court if I have," and all kind of carrying on like what is going on here. And it became very clear that, that was not going to happen. That come hell or high water, they, if they, if they were gonna to elect their own president in the Senate and finally, 211:00real, faced with reality he realized that he was going to have to , um, resign and, which he, which he did. And David Williams was, uh, and thus the ascendancy of David Williams as president of the Senate.
MOYEN: How would you describe your relationship with Senator Williamsbefore and after?
KAREM: I'd always had a good relationship with David Williams. Davidis the one I was telling you about during education reform, uh, said on the Senate floor because of the way I had run the committee and the fairness that he had voted for it. I had always had a good relationship with him. Once it became clear that he was going to be the president of the Senate, um, um, once it became clear he was going to be the president of the Senate and I was going to remain as the Democratic floor leader, he called me and said, "Could I come up and 212:00sit down and talk with you?" I went up and talked to him. We had, uh, we had an excellent meeting. It was very shortly before the session started. He said, uh, "You know, look: the numbers of this thing are so close, 20 to 18." He said, "and with these defections and with I know that didn't win this at the ballot box, uh, we need to accommodate one another in some ways. Um, we need to have some, um; I think one of the ways to deal with this would be to give you guys, uh, the, the chairmanships of several, maybe two or three of the committees. I still think that the education committee should be co-chaired by, uh, Tim Shaughnessy and Lindy Casebier. Um, I, I, you know, we ought to be able to work together. You and I've always gotten along and been, you know, been friends," and blah-blah-blah. And I, you know, I said, "I'll carry the message back. You know, we don't want to be, uh, you all didn't win it at the ballot box, and you know who knows what 213:00happens the next time. And, uh, there's no reason for us not to try to work together." And, um, it was a very good meeting. Uh, last day our thinking that we were going to try to develop some sort of good relationship. Um, uh, started getting wind of something right as we get, right literally up for the session that, uh, and I, I, that things were not gonna go that way or something, and I called up David and said, "What's, uh, going on?" And he said, "Well, I, I really thought we did have some kind of an understanding, but I took it to, back to the caucus, and they don't want anybody to be a chair of a committee who's, they don't want to share a committee. Uh, they don't," you know, blah-blah-blah. So, it's, we, from that point on, it was a, we had a very rocky relationship. I mean, he, I felt that he had made a commitment. Uh, he, um, backed up on the commitment. So there was, 214:00um, you know, we didn't, we didn't get along from then.
KAREM: I mean, got along I, get along politically on the floor. Imean, I, uh, then they started doing some stuff which I, you know, and I guess it's because they were at that point, the minority, they were the minority party who was in the maj-, the minority in the states but the majority in that body, and so they were going to flex their muscle, and I thought that they handled things in a very heavy-handed way. And I mean, you don't have to ask me the questions, they were written up in the paper for, you know, for the, the entire time David's been president of the Senate about how heavy-handed they are. I mean, that's, you know(??), no big secret.
MOYEN: Um-hm. Can you tell me about your learning that you'd beenremoved from the Sen-, Senate education committee?
KAREM: Oh, that was, uh, that was a hoot. That was just, um, theycalled a committee on committee's meeting up at the front desk. And went up there and, that was another intriguing experience. And I 215:00did, I do care about the education committee, and I, I, um, obviously, we went up there and they said we were going to make some changes in committees because some people wanted some different structures. And then, um, it was clearly they were, you know, going to go up and punish some people. I mean, this was pure punishment time. And so, I went up there and I wasn't paying all that much attention to it, and I looked at this list and I said, "Well, you know, kind of my name's not on the edu-, what is this?" You know kind of what's going on? And they, you know, called the meeting ----------(??) you know, blah-blah-blah. And I think, I think Ernesto got kicked off education, Shaughnessy probably got kicked. I mean, it was a big change and the ----------(??) what the hell's going on? And I, you know, obviously protested but to, to no avail. but , then went back, I mean the funniest thing about that was, I went back to--I'd, I'd had been having these really interesting 216:00conversations with Charlie Borders who was in Republican leadership, who has, who , um, and I had always gotten along and thought I had had an honorable relationship with. And I, I went over to, uh, to, um, because he has, he'd had these things say, where he kept saying, "We, we need not be punitive. It's just not right; we need to," you know, blah-blah-blah. We need to, and I went over to him and said, "Charlie, now you know we've always had a good relationship and been very forthright with one another. Uh, what the hell is this about? That you would, you know, not even have the courtesy to come and tell me." And, and he, and he's like a little sheep, like he's like, "David, I've got to tell you the truth: they didn't check that out with us in anyway. That was, uh, just David Williams handed that out, and I, we did not, there was no meeting with the rest of the leadership on that. And, uh, I, I don't know where that's coming from. And, you know, and 217:00I don't think it's right at all." -----------(??) it change, he didn't say that but you knew that was ----------(??). So, I went over to Elizabeth Tori and I said, "Elizabeth, you and I have always had a"--so I was going to check myself ----------(??) what these stories were. So I went over to Elizabeth Tori and said, um, "What's this about? Why would you do that? I've never been unfair to you. And I was forward with you, you've always come up and said--I had never been anything but fair to you. Why would you do that?" "You know, David, I, I have never seen that list before. They had not given or shared that list with us in any way." What, so I thought, Okay, I'll go one more. I'll go to Dick Roeding and ask Dick Roeding the same question; I got the same answer. Uh, uh, they, "We never saw that list. Don't know why they did that," blah-blah-blah. So, and then got, they got some grief about it and came back and changed it, you know, again out of sort of clear blue. And I go, but I don't, I don't underst-, I never understood what 218:00they, what the purpose of that was. I think they got, I think that was something that they probably got more heat about even I then, I mean, I, I think there were some people in the business community and some people who said things like, you know, "What, what is," "This is just beyond petty," you know, having some people beat up on them(??) enough that they came back and undid that one later on. I don't.
MOYEN: So, there are some defections in the Senate and then in, in thelast gubernatorial race, first Republican in, in your entire tenure there, uh, wins the election. In your own mind, how do you describe what's going on with, with both the, the Democratic Party in Kentucky in recent years and, and the rise of the Republican Party in Kentucky?
KAREM: Oh geese! Um, well, I think, one of the, I think one of the219:00problems with the Democratic Party is that, um, in Kentucky, is that, um, they somehow, there, there is this perception correctly that the country has become more conservative and Kentucky has become more conservative. I don't think there's any argument about that. I think where the, where the mistake the Democrats make, in my opinion, is that somehow there is this perception that we can become them and win. And, uh, I have argued with my colleagues, sometimes without success, uh, sometimes with success, I have one particular person who is a total conv-, convert to my way of thinking that I never thought I'd ever convert. But, um, I've constantly argued when we get into these discussions you cannot get further to the right of the Republicans. There's nothing you can do. You cannot get further to 220:00the right of them. If you go 200 steps to the right, they go 210! I mean, just can't get more to the right than that they and they've, and so what the Democrats, I think, if, when, from my perception is that they've worried about being perceived as right wing as these people and lost vision on some of the bread and butter kind of issues that are, like jobs, and the economy and, um, getting people to work, and helping the middle-class people out. And I am not trying to create class warfare by any stretch of the imagination, but it's clear that the Republican agenda is to help the highest, uh, income people. I mean, Ernie Fletcher's program, his tax reform actually lowers the tax burden on the wealthiest people in the state on income tax. And why the Democrats don't seize on that but want to spend the entire session 221:00talking about same sex marriage escapes me. Um, I mean, we have, we lose the message. We can't get further to the right than they do. So, I think that's been a big problem for the Democrats. and , uh, you know, I don't, I think until we design our message , uh, in such way that nationally and it's a big, it's a, it's a national problem, not just a, uh, a Kentucky problem. Until we design our message in such a way that we hit your pocketbook and explain to you that the breaks that are coming down at the federal level, the breaks that are coming down at the state level are all about, uh, helping out corporations, helping out big business, you know, blah-blah-blah. Helping out the wealthiest people, you know, you, you just don't have a message. We don't have a message and the Democrats have lost the message terribly 222:00in the state. And , um, the Republicans have picked up , uh, the Republicans have picked up the message in the sense that they have very clever sound bites, uh, you know, one of the things that , uh, had, we had , we had, we had, had a very progressive piece of legislation on the campaign finance reform. I mean, the gubernatorial public funding of, of the, of the Governor's race. We got John McCain writing a letter to the State of Kentucky saying, "Don't repeal this; it's the most progressive thing in the entire nation." And the Republicans coin the phrase, "Welfare for Politicians," and it catches on. And you, and there's no answer to that; you can't, you know, if I could explain it to you, if I had an opportunity to sit down with everybody one-on-one and say, "Let me, look me in the eye and give me fifteen minutes, I can 223:00explain it to you," but there's no answer for the sound bite, "Welfare for Politicians." So they've made a masterful job of coming up with sound bites, wrap themselves in the flag, and the Democrats don't, you know, it's a, the message is more complicated. The tent is bigger for the Democratic Party, so you have to accommodate things that are, you know, we had, we'd, we have gay people in the Democratic Party, we have people who are pro-life in the Democratic Party, we have people who are pro-choice in the Democratic Party. The tent is big. It's a hard message to herd--what, what is it, they--it's like herding kittens, is that what they say? I mean, it's, uh, you know, you can't, the, the Republican mindset is, is, is much narrower of government and obviously this sounds partisan but that's what, that's what I, I am a partisan without apology. The Republican mindset is, is that government is 224:00bad, uh, Christianity is the mindset, abortion is bad, gays are bad, Bible reading is good, the flag is good, the Ten Commandments should be posted everywhere. And when you, when you start to think about that, you can't find very many people in the Republican Party who differ with that. I mean, it's just, uh, uh, the tent is filled with people who agree with that. There's, there's not a lot, I mean, you, you, if you're in the Republican Party and you, you believe you're pro-choice, you're repudiated for that. I mean, the Northern Kentucky Right-to- 225:00Life won't endorse Jim Bunning because he associated with Rudy Giuliani who was pro-choice, so they endorsed Barry Metcalf who's got no shot at winning, but that's, that's the mindset. I mean, you, so now some of the Republicans can't even get far enough to the right to make some of the Republicans happy. So, when you, when the, when your ideology is totally the same, you don't have to herd kittens. When you got us, we're just a different group of people. I mean, we have, you know, and I think it's very hard to figure out what the Democ-, you know, that's why the Democrats to get back to the message of , uh, the economy, jobs, uh, middle-class America. Uh, and until we figure out how to do that, we're going to have problems.
MOYEN: Anything gonna to happen on the budget this year? Looking into226:00your--
KAREM: --what they--
MOYEN: --crys-, crystal ball?
KAREM: Well, what they, again, they keep saying they're making someprogress on that, um, uh, whether , uh, you know, one of the big things was what's gonna to happen in the primary and once that got over are they're gonna to really re-energize and get the , uh, you know, the impetus would be to get it done. And the impetus would be to get it done before July the first, so in the next twenty days, you're gonna have to have some kind of movement, one way or another, or there doesn't seem to be a lot of, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of reason to go. I mean, if you're not going to do it before July first, then, you know, I guess you're going to do it in the next session--
KAREM: --like we did last time.
MOYEN: Um-hm. So, stepping back from the different things that we'vebeen talking about in the, the partisan change in the Senate, what are your general thoughts on, on the way the legislature as a whole, or the Senate, in particular, has evolved during your thirty plus years? 227:00
KAREM: Um, , you know, I've, ninety--even, even with some of whatI've, going on with what I don't care for in the Senate right now , um, I think that what's happened generally has been extraordinarily positive. I mean, from the time when the legislature was somewhat a rubber stamp to where it's a meaningful branch of government. Whether you agree with everything about the way things are run, uh, it's, it's what it should be. With all its warts, with all its problems, with some of the concerns about lack of civility to one another, whatever you want to call it, uh, it, it is the right thing that the Kentucky General Assembly should, um, should emerge as an independent branch of government. Um, they're gonna to take knocks, yes. Uh, are we gonna 228:00have more warts, yes. Um, are there going to be embarrassments, are there going to be things we wish we wouldn't happen, are there going to be some more lack of civility, absolutely. Um, but , uh, I don't think there is a way you'll ever the roll the clock back and make it, uh, uh, and make the General Assembly not a full partner. Um, the Rose decision is an extraordinary piece of legislation that says the entire system of common schools is the responsibility of the Kentucky General Assembly. Every part and parcel is required to be, uh, Ken-, is to require to be created, monitored, etc cetera. It's an, it is a passing on of power to the General Assembly unparalleled probably in the, the history of the state. Uh, where the actual attitude of the court had been to diminish the General Assembly and some of the situations like the Brown decision here comes the Rose decision, which just completely 229:00empowers the legislature. And I, it's, it's a, it's there to stay. There're, they have to be a full partner and it's, it's a good thing.
[Pause in recording.]
MOYEN: So, what, what things are you going to miss most about serving inthe legislature?
KAREM: Um, I think the things you miss, from my perspective, reallyare going to be , um, not so much the day-to-day operations of the committees or something, you know, those things. I think you get, uh, to a mindset that, um, look I wanted to, I wanted to leave on my own terms. I didn't, uh, I, I didn't want to ever feel like, uh, the voters rejected me and sent me back to the bench. Uh, so it's, uh, it's a very positive thing to say that, you know, I made the decision 230:00on my own. And, um, people've been extraordinarily kind about my service. So that's a, uh, that's a treasure to me, uh, that people think I've contributed positively. Um, the, the things that I, I will miss, uh, will be people that I've gotten to know. I mean, I think I've, I've made some really good friends. Uh, I've gotten to , uh, I've gotten to see and do things that I would've never in my lifetime possibly imagined that I could have ever done. I mean, and it mostly, I'm, I think of myself as a very people-person. It's mostly about the people I've got to meet. I mean, I had an opportunity one time to when Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas at a Southern Regional Education Board meeting to sit down in the lobby of the hotel, uh, Jody Richards and I sat down and talked to him for forty-five minutes, 231:00and, about his aspirations to be President of the Unites States. I mean, who would've ever thought some kid from Louisville, Kentucky, would, uh, get to do that. I've gotten to meet Presidents, I've gotten to, to, um, meet Governors. I've gotten to meet people, uh, like Tom Clark who is just a treasure. Just some of the people that you, that I would of otherwise never ever had an opportunity to meet, and to, you know, set down lots of times with Ed Pritchard and got to listen to him. and just the fun fascinating people, uh, people I've, you know, John Berry is a treasure to the state, Joe Wright, um, different people like that, getting to know those people over the years, it really is about getting to know the people. And, and, uh, getting to know a, a lot of people in the media that people would think. Gosh, legislators don't, you know, have any particular, um, affection for the media, couldn't be anything further from the truth with me. I've gotten to 232:00know some wonderful people in the media. I've made friends that will be there forever. I mean, and so to me that's the thing, I won't say, I won't, I won't miss that because I've done that. But so I guess in a way there's nothing that I'll miss. Um, I won't miss it. I got to do it the way I wanted to do it. I got to meet people that, you know, maybe I, there'll be some, some more people that I could of met or something. But, um, yeah, that's, I did my thirty, you know, I did my thirty-three years when it's, this coming December, and leave on my own terms. And, uh, it was a good ride. Somebody in my(??), I guess one of the ways that I think, well, I remember my, a good friend of mine came when my mother passed away, who was a, a very intriguing person, an early woman lawyer, very much ahead of her time. And, uh, she, uh, 233:00died when she was in her nineties. And somebody at the who I've liked a lot came to the funeral home and said, looked at me and said, "Well, you know, she had a good ride!" And I thought that was one of this most wonderful, I mean, you can say probably my problem is I talk too much, but that was just a wonderful capsule. You had a good ride. and so, when somebody was asking me about , uh, you know, early on when I made the decision I wasn't gonna to run again, I really did, have this flash of this individual saying you, that my mom had a good ride, and I think, you know, I had a good ride. Hey, that's as good a way to put it as anyway.
MOYEN: Um-hm. Anything else you'd like to add that I've missed?
KAREM: Oh God, I mean you could go on for--
KAREM: --forever--(laughs)--until you, until you turn to grey-headedlike I am! (Moyen laughs) I, no, um, you, you, you want to, you want to believe when you've served that you have left some legacies. Um, 234:00you, you get an enormous amount of reward when you literally are walking down the street of your neighborhood, or you're in the grocery store, or you're at church, or wherever it is, and somebody comes up to you and says, um, "You contributed." I mean, that's, um, it's a, it's an extraordinarily powerful to, to have people who you don't even know come up to you, and say, "You, you made a difference!" I mean, that's, that's very helpful. Um, there are little things that you'd, that never get into the mix that are rewarding. Somebody, a constituent has a problem. Um, the, and, and you're able to, I can 235:00think of bunches of situations where, um, you're able to go to an agency or you're able to go to the Governor, you're able to go to other people in the legislature and you can try to assist somebody in some small way. You've made a difference in somebody's life that never gets the headlines. Never gets recorded. Don't need to be; don't want it to be. You made a difference in somebody's life positively, and they smile at you, and they, uh, write you a note, or they put their arm around you and say, "You, you know, my son is, uh, you've done something for my son that really helped." And those are just, those are wonderful things. I mean, I, and then there's the other things where you realize, um, um, they're very humbling situations that come from your own family. One of the most wonderful stories about my family is your children are, your children are, your children 236:00are, are so important in, in letting you understand. I can, one of my favorite episodes about my children was that my wife and I and my sons were sitting in the television room one day. It may have been the six o'clock news in the evening or something, and there was a, uh, they were playing a game or something together, doing something. And there was, came onto the TV and, uh, the story where I was being quoted and, and my picture was on, I was being, they were doing an interview, and it was a pretty good size piece or something. And Anne looked over at the guy, the boys, and says, "Hey guys, Pop's on TV." And they both almost in unison, looked up at the TV, and went, "Yeah," and looked right back down. And--(laughs)--continued on with what they were doing. and it just was one of those kind of perfectly wonderful moments that let you know, you know that, they're a hell of a lot more 237:00important , uh--and they see it, they, they, they, they gave me a very important humbling experience when they do that.
KAREM: You need not to take yourself too seriously in the, in the, inthat whole place. I mean, they're not, somebody would say "What's, what's your advice for somebody that goes up there?" Um, and I guess this is a good way to conclude it as any, is to say, um, you have no birthright to it. Losing can be very powerful. I lost the first time I ran; it's quite helpful. Uh, don't take yourself too seriously because there're some people up there who do way too much of that, um, remember why you're sent up there and go up there to do things to try to help people, even if it's just an inch at a time, you can make, you 238:00can make a difference in people's lives. And I'd, I don't know whether there is, I don't know whether there is an, an afterlife or not. Um, that's a terrible thing I wrestle with in my own mind a great deal on whether there's some reward or something but, I can, I can kind of grasp it at this level that I think, if I can positively affect somebody's life through what I do here at the waterfront, or what I do as a parent, or what I do up in the General Assembly and without trying to be too philosophical about it, if I can do that, then the positive things that I helped somebody do lives in little pieces: me as now transferred into them. They can't, they don't even know it. But they can never get away from that. And then when they do something that helps somebody else, I'm carried on again. And so, sort of, I, 239:00I want to take comfort that if there, that if there's an immortality in some way, it's that I tried desperately to affect somebody's life in a positive way. And then it, that, and they transfer it. And they transfer it, and they transfer it, and it's my parent, my parents, I'm part of their immortality, if you understand what I mean. So, I had a good time. I loved it. Glad I'm living. (laughs)
MOYEN: Been a good ride, right?
KAREM: Been a good ride.
MOYEN: Thanks for your time.
KAREM: You're welcome.
[End of interview.]