BOHL: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former StateRepresentative William I. "Bill" Donnermeyer, who represented Campbell County in the Sixty-Eighth District from 1970 to 1994. The interview was conducted by Christy Bohl for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on Tuesday, July 18, 2006, in the home of Bill Donnermeyer in Bellevue, Kentucky, at 10:30 AM.
[Pause in recording.]
BOHL: This morning I'm talking with Bill Donnermeyer. Mr. Donnermeyer,could you please tell me where and when you were born?
DONNERMEYER: Oh, I was born in, uh, Dayton, Kentucky. Nineteen twenty-four.
BOHL: Okay, and did you grow up there?1:00
DONNERMEYER: Well, I spent my first two months there, I was told. Andthen we moved to another part of Dayton--we're still in Dayton--we were at, uh, uh, the, uh, eastern end. We moved down to, between, uh, just about into Bellevue, the last street before you go to Bellevue. And I stay, we stayed there until I was about, uh, after the 1937, about 1938, '39. Uh, and then due to, to, to the, uh, uh, oh, not, not just the flood, the big flood of '37--
DONNERMEYER: --which incidentally was two feet, three feet on ourfirst floor. Uh, because of the Depression. My dad was a, a foreman at, uh, ----------(??) Shoe Company, which is eventually the US Shoe Corporation. And because of the Depression they moved to Madison, Indiana, and he lost his job because he said, "I can't take all my family down there." So, the next thing you know, he tried and tried, but there weren't many wo-, much work, so he lost the house. They took 2:00it back. So we had to start renting then, and then we moved back into Dayton a little further up. And that's where we were when World War II started. Uh, and I never moved to Bellevue until after I was married again. So, that's where I was born. And raised in Bellevue, in Dayton mostly, and then Bellevue now just as much as Dayton.
BOHL: Okay, can you tell me a little bit about your parents? Youmentioned that your dad worked for the shoe company.
DONNERMEYER: Well, he was a, um, uh, my dad was a foreman at the ---------(??) Shoe Company and my mom was a, I'd say(??), a homemaker. Uh, eight or nine children, my, we lost one of them, just a couple of them I didn't know, because it was way before my time. Uh, I had, uh, one, two, three, I had, uh, three sisters and, and four brothers, and a total of eight with myself. And I'm the last one left; everybody else is gone. Uh, but, uh, we always were a close-knit, big family. And, 3:00um, uh, every Christmas, or whatever, we all got together and my mom would always--she was a great cook--make, uh, soup, and things like that. And in fact, in them days, you know, people came to visit un-, unexpectedly and it was the old story, it was, uh, put a little more water in with the soup, or FHB, "Family Hold Back," when we had company coming. You were supposed to wait until near the end and let them eat first. (both laugh) Those kinds of things. So, we were always a close family. And, and, uh, uh, my mom, uh, finally, uh, she passed away from, uh, pernicious anemia. And my dad finally had, uh, ended up with cancer. And passed away, but he died in 1962, I believe, I'm not sure of the dates, but, my mother died earlier than my dad. And I had one brother that was a policeman and he was, uh, a bachelor. And the other two were, um, uh, well, one next to me was in the service. Uh, and he died from cancer. And my other brother had colon cancer. So one had lung cancer, smoked a lot. And so far, I knock on the wood. 4:00(both laugh)
BOHL: Okay, what about your grandparents? Did you have any contact withthem?
DONNERMEYER: Uh, yes, I, I knew my mom's, uh, side of the family, thatwas Schlereth, S-c-h-l-e-r-e-t-h. And, um, I guess our only claim to fame there was, uh, her brother, uh, one of the, one of the sons of my, my grand--I didn't know my grandpa, but I knew my--because they were gone before I was born. I knew my grandma; she lived in Price Hill. But, uh, uh, her brother was, uh, Uncle George, George Schlereth, and he was the vice president of H. H. Morris Packing Company. And, uh, the reason, uh, I think part of the reason that he became vice president is that he had all the recipes of the sausage and everything from, from Germany. All the family comes from Germany. And, uh, the best of my recollection, my mom always used to say, she is low Dutch, my dad's high Dutch. That's me(??), like being in southern Kentucky and northern Kentucky. And, uh, the food, yeah, they made their food a 5:00little bit different. My dad was a good cook, too. And, uh, actually he was really a, in his younger days, kind of a butcher. And then, uh, uh, I have no idea how he got into the shoe business, but he started working for this, uh, ------------(??) Shoe Company. And then worked his way up to where he was in charge of all the shipping. And, uh, I, I remember there's place called Rifkin(??) Shoe Store in Dayton, Kentucky, and that's where we'd take all our, the four or five of us off to get our shoes and, and he always took good care of us because my dad would, worked for the same company they were buying their shoes from. And, uh, they treated him real well. A Jewish family and sometimes you hear people say that they, uh, they--well, they, they talk about everybody, I guess, but they were very nice to my dad. They treated him real well. And they really wanted him to come with them, but he just said, "There's no way I can make, take my whole family and move there. This won't work." So, and, uh, my mom was just a really good homemaker. She was a good cook. And she's a little hard of 6:00hearing. Uh, I don't know what that was from but she would, uh, uh, she really worried about her family, that's for sure.
BOHL: Uh, did you have a radio when you were growing up?
DONNERMEYER: Yes, that's all we had. (laughs) Yeah, the old radios,we had the little ones, the little round ones, and then we had the big one. And we had, uh, what we called, I used to call that Bictrola, but it was a Victrola. The old Victrola, you know?
DONNERMEYER: And play the, the, uh, records on. And, uh, yeah, and theradio was the big thing. Uh, not just as I was growing up, even when I's first married. I remember, uh, uh, the Green Hornet, and, uh, different shows like that that you, that was just as good as TV. Maybe even better. (laughs) Jack Benny, and, uh, all the different shows on the radio. Sure do, yeah. Uh, in fact, when I was in the service, uh, they had that, uh, Lucky Strikes show that was on, uh, radio. And 7:00I ended up getting on the darn thing when I was in, in New York City, when I was in the Navy. So, yeah, we sure did have the rad-, that's why I first, I remember when, every Sunday it was religious that my dad would listen to Father Coughlin from out of Detroit. I don't know if you've ever heard of him--
DONNERMEYER: --or not--yes. And he used to have these fiery speechesand mo-, mostly about people should be treated decently and things like that, and, and that you should, they, you know, they'd have to work, but they should be given a decent wage, that type of thing. And I remember falling asleep on the living room floor because back then your main meal was your, your noon meal. Excuse me. And on a Sunday, you would, uh, you'd go to church in the morning, come home and the noon meal be ready and then you'd, the afternoon and evening, you had just sandwiches but you'd be tired. So you'd go to sleep. Excuse me. And I remember laying on the floor and hearing, uh, they interrupted and said, uh, Japan had, uh, bombed Pearl Harbor. That was 1941. And, uh, 8:00that was the beginning of a lot of changes. A lot of changes. I was a sophomore in high school. And I remember very well that, uh, uh, our, our whole family was Catholic, and so you always had to go to Catholic school, whether you'd afforded or not, they made a way that you could get to go. I was going to, uh, Newport Catholic at that time. And they didn't have football. I loved to play sports. And the only thing they had was intramural; they didn't have any playing against each other. So I wanted to go to Dayton High School. And I had to really talk my mom and dad into that, and I did after my second year. And that was just about 1940 and '40 and '41. And so I transferred, after talking them into it, to Dayton High School. And so I could play football. And I had, uh, put in, uh, just about a year--oh, I had a year in there, just going on my second year. And that's when World War II started and I wanted to go in the service real bad. And in 9:001942, I turned eighteen, in September of the nineteenth. And I talked my mom and dad in letting me go in the service. So, uh, uh, December 11, 1942 is when I joined the Navy and, uh, over at Fountain Square in Cincinnati. And I was in until 1946. And what, uh, what we did, I was a, uh, radioman. Uh, I went to Great Lakes for my boot training, boot camp. Then, uh, after the boot camp, three months, uh, I came home for a short leave and I will never forget my dad saying, "I don't, what do you, what do you doing? And I, I don't understand this but the FBI is checking your background." Uh, they talked to the chief of police, they come and talked to my family, and I said, "Oh, I don't know either." So when I got back, I found out they, they sent me, when I, uh, they sent me to radio school, and, and I graduated from radio school, and this was right after that. I went to Northwestern University for three 10:00months, three to six months, I'm not sure which it was, and becam-, and became a, uh, petty officer third class. I graduated as a radioman. And that's when they started investigating, and then they sent me to, uh, uh, Maine, uh, out in the, out in the, uh, off of, uh, it was Casco Bay, Maine. It's out in the, is an island out off of Portland, Maine. And we had to learn the German code, the U-boat code, besides knowing them, the regular code. And it's a little different than, than the regular code; it's a b is a dot-dit-dit, and then German is a Dot-dit- dit-dit-dit, there is an extra dit on it, but we had to learn how they operated the U-boats and everything. And we didn't know how they were going to use it, found out real fast. It was high frequency direction finder. So, when I got sent, uh, to be on board a ship, there was three of us all together. And whenever we'd go out with a convoys, we took all these convoys, and we made about twenty-four crossings before the invasion, with, uh, oh, you name it. A lot of oil. Uh, they, they 11:00used every inch of a, of a ship. The oil tankers would have airplanes strapped down on the top of them, fighter planes, so that they would be able to bring anything they could over, we kept taking them over, we went all over, to up, uh, uh, through the Atlantic, up north Atlantic, all the way down the south. And, uh, uh, that, that was the idea was that we would be in our division with a, a convoy, and if we would get a, a fix with our direction finder on the U-boat, we would listen to them, and we knew that, what they, exactly what they did. They were a sticklers, the Germans were sticklers for--they had to come up at a certain time and get their batteries recharged and go to what they called the mother cow; that would be a big U-boat that has, uh, the batteries and supplies. And then when they would, when the convoy would come, they would lay down underneath them and send signals to other U-boats to converge on it. And a lot of times, the, the reason they would play havoc, they would come up on the middle of the convoy. 12:00And we couldn't get to them because we're outside and we can't run into our little, those ships go slow anyway, these old tankers. And we couldn't get to them and they'd torpedo them and they'd go down to the bottom and we'd try to catch them. And the idea was you get a fix on them. And, uh, a lot of people don't realize the first part of the war, it was really so bad that ships couldn't leave New, uh, New York Harbor and they'd get torpedoed. It was that close, you know, it was really bad for a while.
DONNERMEYER: But we finally get more and more involved and more peopleand more ships. And, and, uh, the biggest time of the war I ever remember was going through the Strait of Gibraltar. And it was right before the invasion. We, it took us three days to go around the ships while the convoy went through the Strait because they could only go one at a time, going in. And there was a Portuguese vessel, which they don't have, uh, they didn't have radar. They weren't in the war, so they were neutral. They were coming up and the convoy was so big that they, the lower part told them to stay away from it, warned them. And 13:00when they got up near us, about six o'clock in the morning, we went to port, uh, to, uh, general quarters. And we were up at them, and the CIC, and you can write it, uh, where they, where you navigate the ship and you can see everything. And here's this vessel all lit up coming into us, and we're trying to get it to go out, they don't understand us. So the last second, we're trying to turn the shoot at, over them, and not shoot into our convoy. And when we turned, they turned and we just sliced them like a piece of pie.
DONNERMEYER: And good-, thank goodness it went into the fish hole. Andyou could see the last light at the very top of the mast when it went under, and there's about six of them, they jumped on our bow and then the worse about it was that they had to take them and spray them off because they all had lice. (laughs) And we had a big hole in our bow and we did get to see a lot of the Strait of Gibraltar, or the Rock of Gibraltar because we had to come in real close to it, put them on a little jon boat we had and send them in, and we could see all of the, it was amazing to see what they, the British had these armament on 14:00the Rock of Gibraltar, all on wheels. You, you'd look at it and you don't see anything, and all of the sudden, it open up, there's a big gun there. And, and they're all the way across, like a mountainous type thing. And, uh, that was one thing in World War II I don't forget that. And then I ended up, after the war ended there, uh, they sent me out to the, to, uh, I went to what we called Forge Navy. That was a, I wanted to be a technician besides a radioman. And I lasted six weeks. I didn't feel bad because I washed out, but because there's guys coming right out of college and they were, they weren't even lasting than six weeks. (laughs) And you had a, you know, you had a, just like in a, a college ---------(??), there you had to have, be able to, uh, have the math and everything. And I didn't have the complete background and I had to take a test to go there, but I washed out. So then they sent me to, to California, and then back, all the way to Connecticut, and we were going to be the, the fifth wave on Tokyo. That was what was coming. To fight the Japanese. And they took all 15:00our Navy stuff away and they gave us carbines and but we were going to be the only communications. See, they always had problems when they landed, the marines have communications, the Navy have communications, the Army had it. And it really would get kind of jumbled. So now they decided we're gonna have one group doing that; that was us. While we were practicing landing on, uh, Connecticut shores, up there, when the war ended, and we were close enough, within an hour we were in Times Square. And boy, what a, what a thing that was!
DONNERMEYER: You, it was just humongous. The people, it was awesome tosee all these people, and if you weren't going that way, you're gonna go that way because that's the way it was, back and forth on Times Square. People are coming up, taking your neckerchief off of you and trying to steal your hat, and. (laughs) So that was something. And then and, after that, I was still in there yet, and ended up going back out to California, and then they sent me to, uh, Pearl Harbor was there for shortly, and then went to, uh, Okinawa, and then we ended 16:00up six months in Japan doing, uh, uh, just, you know, like in a, in a, what they call port director. And then I got out in 1946. And then, since I had, by that time I was a first class radioman that was like a master sergeant in the army and I thought, There's going to be a war with Russia. That's what we were, a lot of us were talking about and I didn't want to lose my rate. So I joined the Navy Reserve. You have to join for four years. But it was inactive. And, uh, I was active for six months and then I said, "No, I don't want to do this anymore." Uh, in the meantime, I became a pipefitter apprentice. I'd been going to college. And I, oh, I finished my high school. I came back--(coughs)--excuse me--finished my high school. And, uh, I went, went back to Dayton and said to them, you know, "What, what can I do to get my high school education?" And they said, "Well, you know, you, uh, you'd learned how to type, because you, you, you were a radioman." 17:00And they give you so much for going to the different schools in the Navy that you did. So I needed two credits. And I started when I got out in February and they say, "If you can do this by May, you can graduate with that class." So I just spent my time there, doing all my typing and everything, getting straight A's. You know, you were, you were motivated then. There was no problem. And I did graduate. I graduated with a, in nineteen forty--let's see, 1946. I got out, I graduated that year. And that's where I met my first wife. She was a, uh, uh, there at, at the school. And, uh, but anyway, um, let's see, after that, after I was in the, active reserve for six months, I decided it was too much, they put an army up and it was regular navy. I thought, No, I don't worry about what little pay they gave you. I'm just gonna become inactive. So I still had three and a half years to go, and then, we got married, my, my, uh, sweetheart, and, uh, from 18:00the, uh, from high school, and we had, uh, my first son, our first son. And don't you know, I was, I only had like three months more to go, when Truman says, "We want you." And I had a first class rate, within four days I'm on board a ship already. Now, I didn't like it because of the guys that were getting paid didn't get called. We got called.
DONNERMEYER: We weren't ----------(??) to it, you know. So I was therea year again. And then I got out. And, uh, so I never joined again. (both laugh) But, uh, my, uh, that was, that was the end of my navy duty, as far as that was concerned. Uh, but it was interesting and well worth it. And, and, uh, and we had two more children. And then we had another one on the way, and that's when we found out she had cancer, and she passed away. She was thirty-nine. And, uh, uh, it was May the twenty-second. Uh, she was, uh, we were married nineteen years. And then, I had the three boys. And Mary and I, I met Mary 19:00after about two years later. I was--oh, I, in the meantime I, I got on the city council in Bellevue. We moved to Bellevue, my family and, and, uh, got on city council, and I was there as my, going my sixth year when I decided I wanted to run for the legislature. Uh, I kept, I, I wasn't mad at the guy that was there, but it was just the idea that we, ev-, we'd, we'd write, you had to write letters back. And you write letters and we get no answers. And I thought, Something, this ain't right. So I decided I'm going to try it. So I ran for it. And that's when I first met Mary. And, uh, it was in 1969, that, uh, I was running for the legislature, and we got engaged, and we're hand-in- hand, we were campaigning and, and, uh, that was after the primary, and then, uh, we, I won, and then we got married in '70. And our daughter came along in '71. So, that was the beginning of the legislature under Louie Nunn, it's the first governor I served under. 20:00
BOHL: Um-hm. Okay. Uh, when you were growing up, was politicssomething that your family discussed?
DONNERMEYER: Uh, my dad was very much a, uh, uh, he just thought thatPresident Roosevelt was the best. And we were, we knew what he had done because of the Depression and things like that and, and, and starting a, Social Security and, and, uh, and those types of, of programs, and how he had, I guess, you, you'd, we were the little people. (both laugh) It was, you, they stood up to those people and he seemed like he was, he was somebody for the, the people and, and, uh, not, not as much as you would think, but it was, my dad was strong about, uh, people being treated fairly. And, uh, we've had different, various discussions before I really got involved, but it was always that way, like that's how come I ran for council. We lived on this big street and these guys had come there and, and, and drag race, side by 21:00side, and we had, kids living up and down the street. And we'd tell them, get the police to try to do something, they wouldn't do anything. And, and so, uh, we lived down by the river all the time. And we always say that, uh, it's like the other side of the railroad tracts, it was pretty well like that. They do things rough there but not down here. So we went to council a couple of times and then some of these people says, "Well, -----------(??), we want you to run for council." So I did and that was the beginning of it, but in the family, it was more, more of a, nobody ran but, uh, you know, we did a little, there was a lot of talk about it. In fact, you know, that's something that television is great, but that's something you miss, you don't hear of all these discussions you used to have, because that's, radio was the only other thing you listened to, except you would discuss things with each other. It wasn't these sound bites like you see on TV. You get, you get to know somebody, you know. And you can respect them and I think that's one of our problems today, we hear all these sound bites, and nobody knows whether they're true or not true. It, they can say anything they want to say to a certain extent. And that's, that's 22:00unfortunate. You know, it's, it's just that you need to know--I, I always felt like, if you don't like what I do as a legislator, you should let me know that, and let me explain to you why I did something, or didn't do it, and then if you still feel that way, that's, that's your right and I'll respect that. But at least know why, not just say, "Well, you did this!" or without knowing why you did it, or what was the ramifications with it, and, and course we're getting ahead of that but that's one of the big things that I see today that they blame somebody without knowing why they did anything.
BOHL: Hm. Okay, you mentioned how important it was for your family for,uh, you and your brothers and sisters to go to Catholic school.
BOHL: How big of a role did Catholicism play in your lives? Were you analtar boy?
DONNERMEYER: Oh very shortly. Uh, I, I'm, I'm more so now than then.(both laugh) Since, uh, uh, it's, it's a long story where they had to, due to economics they had to put all the schools together and, and that the older boys are now--and girls, altar girls now--are down 23:00in Newport, so whenever they have funerals, it's hard for them to bring them up to here and then, and then, and then take them out of the school. So me and two or three other fellows at, uh, are at St. Vincent's, we serve most of the funerals. And it's kind of ironic. We're, we are--(laughs)--kinda old, we're serving the funerals now. But we love(??), we enjoy it. But, uh, I, I don't know that it was just that. I, I think it was more or less the, the type of education you got. Uh, and, and I am not down in public education because there's darn good teachers; I had both. Uh, but that's changed a lot. When I was in, uh, Dayton High School, the teachers were dedicated. And, and this is public school. Uh, that's changed tremendously. I'm not saying some of them are, but there is so much politics involved. There is so many rules down there and, and it's hard to do anything about them that, uh, you wonder why in the world would they have something like this? Why do you have to go through all these things just--see that education is done properly? Uh, and the same thing(??), 24:00way with Catholic education. It's changed tremen-, and never like it used to be, because nuns are not teaching anymore. And they didn't get paid anything when they did, but most all of them had, uh, were very learned. They had, uh, they had a lot of degrees. And, and, uh, but they're not there no more. That's not to say sometimes they didn't, I've known some, you know, back then we're, they might ridicule somebody, which they shouldn't have done that, but they still were darn good teachers. And, uh, you learned a lot. And the main thing was you learned to respect people and you learned discipline. And you talked to people my age or, within at least ten years of my age, and they'll tell you that, hey, if you got in trouble at school, you came home and told them. You, you got it from your dad or mom. You know, "You're wrong. You listen to what them teachers tell you. You respect them." And you know, that's not necessarily completely the right way to do it, but at least, uh, it's better than what's going on today: no respect whatsoever. Sometime, some of them ask for it. I don't like the idea 25:00that, uh, a lot of the, uh, the nuns and I have tremendous respect for them, do not have their habits on. I think that took a lot away from some of them. I mean they dedicated their self to, to, to being a nun and the same way with the priest. And I think that's, that respect is gone when they kind of want to do, have your cake and eat it too. Be, uh, other than a nun and, you know, and be a regular, even though they're human, we realize that. But yeah, this has, it had a lot to do with it. I, uh, but I can't say it was superior. I think most of all, I don't think there's any dumb children; I think it's just the idea there's a, there is always a reason if a child has a problem. They may not be able to see. I'm not, they might not be able to hear right. And when they're young nobody knows that.
DONNERMEYER: And, uh, that's, I work with the Lions and we do a lotof that both early testing of them because sometime you'll find out, "Oh, my child was having problems." Here they find out when they got glasses, "Hey, I can see!" And, and you, you know, we don't realize 26:00that, they, how did they know they weren't supposed to s, they were supposed to see or hear something? So that was a, yeah, it's, but yes, it was, it did play a big part in our life. And it still today. My, our daughter has, uh, and or granddaughter when she, our daughter went to all Catholic schools and our granddaughter is. But, uh, you know, afterwards, go to college. And get, uh, you're, you're, uh, it's not, there's not that many Catholic colleges around, or there are, but, uh, not around here--
DONNERMEYER: --that close. Villa Madonna is the only one, Thomas More.
DONNERMEYER: That's something(??) interesting, when, when, after WorldWar II, that was a, uh, uh, a ladies only college. And we were the first group of veterans to came back, went over there for, and, and that was became coed. That lasted two years. And the reason I really quit, after two years of college was, uh, uh, I was working in the summer and my brother-in-law was a pipefitter and he say, "I'll get 27:00you a job during the summer." And back then it paid $2.12 and $2.12 1/2 cents an hour. Heavy work, you know. And he said, "The only one thing now, you either have to go back to college or become a pipefitter apprentice." You have to serve five years. So when I got through in September, uh, it came through me. You put in for, to become an apprentice. And I, I got that. So I had to make the decision and I decided to be a pipefitter. (laughs) So I mean(??), so that's how I came a, a pipefitter.
BOHL: And did you join the union as a pipefitter?
DONNERMEYER: Well, you, yes, you did. Yes, yes, I, I am a union man.I've been there, I guess you call a lifer; I've been there, um, sixty years, I guess. Started in 1946 as an apprentice. And, uh, and I believe in them, and I know there's good and bad in everything, but I think it, uh, it, it evens the plain field. You, you, you have, uh, you, you read all kinds of things. People say, "Well, they made me do 28:00this or that," but if you look down into it, you'll find out that, at least in our, in, in building constructions, we, we didn't, they say, "Well, a lot of people get to drinking and all," not on our watch you don't, You don't do that, that's because you hurt somebody else and they're the ones usually got hurt, not the person that was drinking. And not, that doesn't say that some of it don't happen but, uh, I think that's one of the problems today. You got such a problem with, uh, uh, more rich and, and the, the, uh, the middle class people are starting to become not middle class any-, anymore. And they say the economy is so great but we still got a lot of people that aren't making anything. And a lot of the reason is you don't have unions here. Uh, did they, some of them say like, "Well, look how bad health care got of out." It didn't get that bad. It, because there's, whenever with the union you had a bargaining thing. Two sides signed an agreement; they knew what they were signing. And, uh, I, I, I guess my philosophy always has been, uh, even in the General Assembly, was that I always 29:00say, there's a round wheel and that round wheel has got everybody in it, and if you have, if they work you got to get a, you get to do a decent day's work at a decent day's pay. And when something goes wrong, it goes clop, clop, clop, instead of round, going right. So, if, and, and if you don't have people making any kind of reasonable salaries for their families, they're in business, creating a, uh, a good element for their families, and education. And if you don't have that, who's going to buy that stuff, where, where're they gone to get the money? And that's what's happening right now. We're getting to that point. And unfortunately there's too much credit card stuff, I mean it's so easy. Uh, you can talk to different people and they'll say, "Well, I," when I needed a, when we first got married, when we needed a washer, we did without until we could afford to pay for it. The best you could get was ninety-day cash. You know, you could buy it and, uh, Tillman's(??) over in Covington, you could buy a dryer or a washer and bring it home and then you had ninety days to pay it off without getting any kind of, uh, interest payments. But nowadays, 30:00it's just take that thing and just, in fact I was, I was listening to a radio in my car, and they said that people are putting, uh, students, putting their, uh, students loans on their credit cards. And I'm thinking, Boy, that interest is tremendous! They just don't think. They don't think. Maybe, maybe the answer, Christy, would be, I've, I've always, I've talked to other people similar to my age, within ten years, they felt the same way that, when, when you get out of high school, maybe there ought to be at least some, uh, some type of one-year training in something in either the service or of some kind, whether it be, uh, in the navy, the army, or the military, or other kind of service, but everybody break them apron strings, and, and say, "Here's life. Here's the real life away from your family that loves 31:00you and sheltered you. And now you're in the real world." And then they might look back at things and say, "Hey, a different attitude as opposed as one big, one big song, you know, one big nothing, having a good time and forget it!" Maybe I'm too cynical. (both laugh) Oh.
BOHL: Okay, you mentioned that you went up and other veterans went toVilla Madonna. Were you using the G.I. Bill?
DONNERMEYER: Yes, yes. Yes and a lot of people did that; that was areally nice thing. That really work-, worked out that a lot of people got to(??) college that couldn't have gone to college. And, you know, and that's the kind of the thing that, that didn't pay for everything, but it paid for most of it, and I think that's the whole thing of it. You, you, you'd say, well, people don't like to say, they say welfare is no good. Well, it isn't if you give them everything. Because they depend on it, but if you, if you'd help people that want to help themselves, and then if you don't want to do it right, then you're cut off of it. That's the kind of thing I think we need more of. I see it 32:00tremendously. We, we are very active with, uh, St. Vincent de Paul. And we go out and, and help people that need help. And it's, you are not supposed, first, you are not supposed to look at them and judge them. That's not what it is. You're supposed to say, "Okay, everybody is, was made by God. And we are all, we are all God's children. So you, you, and then some people have rough times and we are not to judge why but help them whenever we can." Sometimes it gets awful hard, because you'll see they'll be smoking and they got all kinds of things there and you think, Why here, we're gonna have to help them with food and stuff like that, and some of them aren't even trying. But then, you'd find somebody really has tried, and you think, Well, and, and who knows if don't, if you are not in their position, why they have the problems they have. But, unfortunately right now what I see most of is young girls of, that, uh, uh, a family for whatever reason, they, they, they, uh, might've been married and the guy walks 33:00out on them and leaves them. And there is no making them have to pay their responsibility. I mean, some of them they get but some they don't; they fall through the cracks. And then, then we got Section Eight and that, that was intended to be a good thing, but it got out of hand, Section Eight housing. And, uh, those things are all, it's just like everything else, you can't drink too much. Drinking's okay, moderation. Anything, even smoking, even though(??) that's really bad, but that's up to the person, if they want to do it, as long as they do it and don't have do it when I am around. I, I, years ago I used to smoke, but I realize it's not good for you. So, uh, I'm getting off on a tantrum. (both laugh)
BOHL: Okay, I know that after you were done in the service you wentinto, uh, pipe fitting, but what was your first job?
DONNERMEYER: Oh, before I went in the service, yeah, I worked, uh, firstjob I've ever had, I worked for the, uh, uh, Kentucky Post Office. I 34:00was what they call a, uh, copyboy. And, uh, there was good memories of that because--I'm, I'm glad you asked me that because, uh, uh, I don't know if you've ever heard of the two-incline(??) in Cincinnati?
DONNERMEYER: And the street cars and all that. Well, see, back in themdays, uh, order copy per, uh, a boy, they called copyboy. I don't know why girls didn't do it, but that was you called copyboy. Uh, they would, uh, get the, uh, advertisement even then, that, that, that was a, the lifeblood of the, of the papers, the advertisement. So they would have these advertisements like Sears, uh, all different groups and then they would, uh, we'd have to go out on a Monday, and pick their copy up, and they had designers of their own. Sears is the one of the main was I'm thinking of. They used to be out on Redding Road. And they would say like, they're gonna to sell this, they have a sale in this, then we'd bring it to the paper, and then they would put it in a, in a form, and then about Wednesday, or Thursday, we'd have to take it back out to get their okay, and then bring it back, and there might 35:00be changes and might not, and then it would be for the weekend papers. That was the big sellers, Friday and Saturday. Well, you, you used the streetcars. And that's what I did for, I guess, a year-and-a-half, two years. And we'd go from one to town to the other on street cards. I had a pass, we can go up that incline into Mount Adams, and on out to Sears, and any other places, and then come back in and go down over to Price Hill, and up that one and go down that way. And, uh, only, and what we used to remember was on Sundays you'd get, they had open air cars, no roofs on them. And you could get a pass real cheap, and ride all day on anyone you wanted, East End, Lynnwood, that went all, out to, uh, by the airport, all the way down to Adamsville(??) and, uh, all over. I think it was like twenty cents, you could ride all day on it. And that was, that was something that a lot of guys and gals would do, they ride them to the doggone street car. (laughs) But, uh, that was my first job. And, uh, then I wanted to become 36:00a, actually I wanted to become a printer, my one brother-in-law was a printer. And, uh, but he didn't work at the Post; he worked at a private place. And I would, I worked at night as a cut-boy, and what you did there, they had the line-a-type machines, and then you would take these different cuts they had and bring them to the printers, and you worked around them, and the idea was you're gonna, you were gonna become an apprentice. Well, it didn't take me long to realize that if I didn't have a, a dad or an uncle that was a printer, I wasn't gonna get in there. So I thought, Well, I'm not going to stay here because I, I'm not gonna be able to get in. So I ended up going to multi-color type company, which was out in the East End and then they made, uh, labels, Campbell Soup labels and Lucky Strikes labels. During the war, they, they had the Lucky Strike used to have this gold on it then, and I remember on the radio, "Lucky Strike Went to War." They took the gold off of them and put different thing on. I worked there, uh, that's right before I went in the service. And, and my dad, I got him a job 37:00out there. And he was, because there was no work!
DONNERMEYER: It was just, you know, that was the beginning of the war;he was too old for anything else. So, I got him a job there and he worked there until he retired. But I left there and that's when I went in the service, and then when I come back I became a pipefitter, but that was my first couple of jobs. Oh I'd, I sold papers, you know, I had a paper route, and things like that. And I would cut grass. And that was the, uh, get a little money to go--put coal in; that was a real hard job! People all used coal. And, uh, you'd get fifty cents a ton and put them in a wa-, wagon, or wheel well(??), wheel in for people. And you go to Coney Island, see. (laughs) Oh and that's, that was one thing I want to mention to you, my, my, uh, uh, the Meyer, the H. H. Meyer Packing Company always had a big day at Coney--back then Coney Island was the thing, you know, the Island Queen and everything. And, uh, they had a big day there, and that would be for the whole company, they'd have a picnic. Well, my Uncle George's wife was, 38:00uh, she was a big, heavy-set lady, but a wonderful person, really wonderful. And we used to think, Boy, what, what money they got. They'd have us over at least once a year, and he'd back that truck in there, and they'd get all these sausages and everything, but when it came to Coney Island Day, we'd, Aunt Stella was her name, she would, we would get up to Coney Island, we'd take the Island Queen. My mom, and, and, uh, of course my dad was working, and my two, couple of brothers that were the age at the time, and we'd go up, we always did get to the boat and get up on the topside, looking at Kentucky, my mom always like to set in the rockers. And we'd get to the park up there and we'd get some table, put our stuff on, and Aunt Kate and Aunt Stella would come over, and, "Come on boys!" And she'd tickets. Oh, she just ever. And we, we couldn't, we, we use, was exhausted at night. I tell you what; we went on every ride as many times as you wanted. So that was always a big thing for us in the summertime. And we didn't have a whole lot. We were, we were kinda poor. But, uh, we were rich because we had each other, really. Uh, and we lived a, that's something you don't 39:00see now, there was like, uh, uh, we had three in one bedroom. Three fellows sleep, you know, in one bedroom, not in one bed, but a couple of beds. But nowadays, everybody's got to have their own little room. I think they miss a lot. (laughs) They miss the fights. (both laugh) But, uh, and living on the river, that was fun too. I was born on the river. We was always down there. Of course, it was only eleven- and-a-half foot; you could swim in the river. Uh, I remember walking across it when it froze. Ice-skating on it. And we used to get these barge ropes off of it, they're about that big around, and we would hang them up in the tree, and we'd put a big knot on them, and use them for swings. And, and so, it was a lot of fun when we were kids. Didn't have a whole lot. We used to, what was it, what did they say, always say, uh, "Pepsi Cola," uh, "Nickel for a Pepsi Cola, Twice as much for a Nickel, too, Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you." (both laugh) And that, 40:00that was a treat if you had enough to buy a Pepsi. Or a ice ball(??). Yup.
BOHL: How would you get over to Coney, it was before the interstate?
DONNERMEYER: Well, you used to take the, the streetcar. And it would goover to, to the, uh, uh, Broadway. And you'd get off and walk down to the boat ramp. Same way coming back. And, uh, you'd always had a, you know, used public transportation, that was, that was it. Yeah, cause we had streetcars for a long time. What they, what they should have done is kept the, they, they went from streetcars to the buses that were electric.
DONNERMEYER: And they were just like a, like a bus only they hadelectric instead of gas or, or oil or anything, diesel. And, uh, those were the, they should of, some places over in Europe they still have them, they should have them here yet, that would be wonderful. They were great, didn't have any problem with them. And they sure didn't pollute. You know, and, uh, the only thing is, when we were kids, we 41:00used to -----------(??) night used to pull the trolley down on them conductors would get mad (both laugh) But that was, nobody got hurt, you didn't, you didn't hurt nobody, you just pulled it down, that, they'd stop it and they had to come out and put it up. And. (laughs) They always had one in the front and one in the back. And, uh, for a while they, they, I, like it just right now, they're try to save so they only had one man, one to the thing? Well, that was easy because he might be running the thing but we're pulling the trolley, so then they started putting two people back on. So a guy be back there watching you. (both laugh)
BOHL: You mentioned hauling coal.
BOHL: Uh, did you know people who had old fashioned ice boxes?
DONNERMEYER: Oh absolutely, we had them.
DONNERMEYER: Oh yeah, yeah, we said, that's why they call it an icebox,and instead of a refrigerator you'd put ice in there. We used to do that, and I worked for that too, hauling the ice and, and you'd, uh, you'd buy a thing of ice and put it in the refrigerator, then you had a pan, and boy, you better not leave that pan overnight, you got to empty 42:00it, or you'd have water all over the floor, you know. Yeah, we had an icebox, and then in the wintertime, we had what was known as a, a window box, uh, because it was cold outside, you put this box out, just like they do the air conditioners now.
DONNERMEYER: And it opened inside, you know, you put your window, uh,uh, up and open it and take the stuff out, and put stuff back in, and put the window down, and that would keep it cold, just like the refrigerator. In fact, colder, because, you know, outside a lot of times it got really cold, and how much the refrigerator is about forty degrees, and you can imagine, if it goes down passed freezing. But yeah, we had, uh, window units. And, uh, another thing I remember while I was we, we always made homemade, uh, root beer. And they made it with, uh, yeast. And my dad used to make homebrew once in a while, and as you, as you grew up, you, you got certain jobs. Like, uh, I would have, I had to wash the bottles. You know, they had their own(??) home brewed bottles, and they made their own--you, you, this was all legal, 43:00you could buy the hops you know, and, and my dad had make us the, the brew he liked, and then you'd put it in a great big vat. They got rid of all of them, we should have kept those big crocks, you know, let it set. And then, I, we had a thing you put on your, uh, your faucet, and when you pushed the bottle on it, it would shoot the water into it, see, and that's what you cleaned them out real good and let them dry. And then my ol-, my oldest brother, once you got to a certain age, you would, had a little siphoned. And you sopht-it(??), and then he just filled each, you got it started, you could fill each bottle out of the crock. And then the other one would, would put the cap on. We had a caper. And put the cap on each of them. And we did with root beer, too. A lot of times at night, you'd hear a POW! A root beer blowup in your refrigerator. (both laugh) Well, it wasn't a refrigerator; it was a, the icebox. Yeah, yeah, I sure do remember that. Boy, it was good root beer. I've got the recipe, I haven't tried to make it in a long time but I still got the recipe. (laughs) You know, people don't use 44:00yeast anymore. But that, that's what was, caused the problem.
BOHL: Okay. When did you get a television?
DONNERMEYER: Oh golly. My dad was the first one to get one. Uh,that would've been right around 1950, right in that area. Because I remember, whenever they had, uh, wrestling on, that was fun. And then they had, uh, Milton Berle, a couple of big shows. Uh, we would all come to my dad's house. Bring popcorn and potato chips and beer. And, and everybody drank a lot of beer back then, you know, it was great. And we'd all come there and watch the show at my dad and my mom. Well, my mom was actually gone then. But, uh, not, not right away, but right after that, then dad was, you know, he lived, he lived by himself but he was close by; we'd always be there. And, and, uh, then 45:00right after that that's when I got my first TV. And they would, uh, usually black and white. Yeah, now we got two of them. (both laugh)
BOHL: Okay, you mentioned that, uh, right around the end of the war, yougot married to your first wife and you started having a family pretty shortly.
DONNERMEYER: That was, that was, I got married to her in, in 1948,actually.
DONNERMEYER: Yeah, see, I met her at school. I went back to schoolin '46, and met her in nineteen-, and got married in 1948, June the twenty-sixth. And, uh, oh, my first son was born in '49, and the next one was born when I was, uh, come back from the, uh, when I was in the Vietnam War--I mean, the, the Korean War. And, uh, 1952, I believe 46:00it was. And the last son was born in '53. But see, the one son was born in January 29, 1952, and the other son was born in August of '53, so there is about a year-and-a-half in it. And then she died in nineteen-, uh, what did I say, nineteen-, I'm doing awful. May 22, 1967, yeah. And, uh, we had a little baby on the way, I remember that. And they found out she had this, and back then when they had cancer of the cervix, it was, they didn't have no way to take care of that. The radium was awful, in fact you couldn't stand behind the, uh, the, the edge of the bed. You had to be on the side because of the radium. And, uh, but then, let's see, it was about two--
[Pause in recording.]
DONNERMEYER: And that's when, uh, uh, I decided to, to, to take a sh-,a shot at running for it and I got a lot of help. I went door-to- 47:00door, and my sons all helped me, as, as a councilman and then after councilman when I'd, uh, well, they didn't help so much in the council, but they did when I ran for state rep. Uh, first time I ran nineteen, uh, sixty-nine. We went door-to-door, my one son helped design my brochure. And, uh, at the time, I knew different people in politics, but not that much. I just more-or-less Bellevue. And, uh, uh, we, we, in Fort Thomas, which was really, I was a Democrat, it was big Republican, I went door-to-door out there and I, I enlisted them to go with me. And they even got some of their, uh, my son was going to Thomas More at the time, got some of his friends there to come, and they went. And we'd go out and campaign all day and then, then when we'd get done, I'd bring them back, and I'd buy chicken and bring chicken and soft drinks, and some, couple times I'd stop and get them malts, and things like that, but they really went door-to-door with me, and very polite. And the irony of it was in Fort Thomas, when 48:00you went there, uh, most of them people were registered Republicans, and they'd listen to you. And, and say, "You, we think you're really nice young men, we respect you, but we got to be honest with you, we're Republicans." And I think if the good Lord came down and was a Democrat, they wouldn't vote him either. (both laugh) It took me, oh, I guess, through my whole political life, up to the last, uh, it's two-year terms, up to the last three or four, uh, it was, I used to, I used to think, Well, if I could keep, I was getting beat three-to-one in Fort Thomas. But I knew that, I knew that I had a, still had to go there, because I'd always end up winning out with the other part of my district. And it, it, near the end there, gosh, I was doing great in Fort Thomas even. So, I guess after you're there--(laughs)--a long time, they finally got to know who you were. (both laugh) But, uh, my sons were very, very active with me. And, but the irony is none 49:00of them went into politics. (laughs) That is, you know, as far as out running, they're, they're involved, they, they, at least the two of them are very, uh, kinda politically astute.
DONNERMEYER: You know, they, they're involved that way, but they've neverdecided to run for anything. They keep saying, "Oh, I think I'll run," but they never do it. (laughs) And I never tried to push them out that well. If you really want to do it, it's up to you. I'll be there.
BOHL: Okay, so for a time there, you were balancing, being a pipefitter,working on city council, and being a single dad.
BOHL: How did you make arrangements to keep all those balls going?
DONNERMEYER: Well, it wasn't easy, but, you know, we--(laughs)--I guess,uh, like, uh, uh, I can remember when, when, uh, the two boys were in high school, the other boy was just coming out of high school, just graduating when my wife died, and, uh, uh, we just, we, I, I finally found some lady that would come in and cook some meals for me, uh, a 50:00couple of days a week. She'd cook them ahead of time, and then when I'd come home, they'd be ready. Before that, I just did do it myself, and some of the family helped out. You know, the, the sisters and that, they'd help you with some of the things. And, uh, uh, but after, once we finally got situated and had this lady coming in, that's seemed to, to kinda help things quite a bit, because, uh, uh, but one thing I insisted on, uh, it was like being in the Navy, every, every Saturday, that was work day in the Navy, it was always a work day. And I'd make them get up and now we got to do something today, wash the walls, anything, but you had a job to do. (laughs) And it was interesting, when, when they were growing up, you didn't have a dishwasher. In fact, see the irony of the thing is, we lived down by the river all the time and went through so many floods that, this house became for sale, and I thought, I'm never can afford a house up there. And I rem-, and I looked at it, but let it go at that. And my sister looked at it. And I thought it was sold, and she came to me one day and said, uh, 51:00"That house is back on the market. These people that lived there were older, and they moved out. And the people that, that tried to buy it couldn't get their loan. So it's back in the market." And she wasn't interested anymore because they'd decided they're gonna to build a house. So, I'd, I, she said, "Why don't you go and talk to them?" So I went and talked to the realtor and looked at it again and, and I said, "I, I, I just can't afford this house, the way they were asking, what they were asking for." And I said, "It needs a lot of work. I can do that; I can paint, I can do plumbing, and things like that." And, uh, he said, "Well, you might be surprised. They want to sell the house. Put a bid in. You got a decent down payment?" I said, "Yes, I do have that, we saved money and," so I did and we got the house. I will never forget that one, I'd come home one day and I bring in the groceries home, my wife come out crying and saying, "We got the house!" (laughs) So we were moving up and we were really happy, and we decided we're gonna do everything before we move in, which was the proper way, you know, the way they do it, paint it, and the kitchen, we were taking 52:00out the cabinets, putting new cabinets in. And I, my brothers were gonna help me, different, and other people that I've--what we used to do back then, being a pipefitter, there was a bunch of us that they were in construction, the ---------(??) family put boilers, and needed something, they'd help me, we put sidewalks in, I put boilers in for them, uh, things like that, but we worked together. And so, we were doing stuff like that, and that's when, uh, we found out she, she had this problem. And we had to stop everything. And I had tore out the whole kitchen, had the cabinets laying in the living and dining room, no furniture because those people moved out, we weren't about to move in.
DONNERMEYER: And we were just doing the painting and it got as hot asit is now. The wall, you could hardly paint, it was so hot. But when we, before we got the kitchen done, she, we were living, actually we're living in the basement, we put our stove and everything down there that we tore out.
DONNERMEYER: And we were using the basement as our kitchen, had our53:00table and everything down there. And we moved up because we, we just, she wanted to get in the house. She knew that, we didn't think it was gonna work, that she could make it. So I said, "Okay," we move to another house. But we lived that way, we lived an, this was working on it, living in the kitchen, downstairs. Uh, everything messed up there, had our bedroom, the kids had their bedrooms, but it was still messed up. And, uh, and then it, she passed away and I was just slowly worked on it until, and I had a couple of people help me with the cabinets and moved in, but, uh, we didn't get to move in before she passed away. So that was really something that I wished we would've been able to because we did live here, but that was about it. But yeah, we went through flood at, when I, before I was married, and after I was married. You see(??), when I married my, my wife, she lived in the lower part of Dayton. And you got flooded even if the city didn't get flooded; the water came up into the basement. They lived down on Second Street in Dayton. I don't know if you ever, it's down there, 54:00always got flooded. In fact that's why they got the flood walls there now. And, uh, so we, our first, when we first got married, we lived with them in one room. You only made sixty cents an hour, that was, that wasn't very much. (laughs) Until we finally got a family going and you keep plodding away at it. The first house I bought was down at 103 Ward Avenue, and I thought, I'll never pay this off, $5500. Never pay that off. And got it done and ended up renting that one out for a while, and then hit some problems with the people that rented it. So my oldest son was gonna get married, so I said to him, "You move in there." And, uh, and I, after, uh, Mary and I got married I kept saying, "Why don't you just, between the three sons, you got the house, do whatever you want with it, split it up, buy somebody out? " So that's, he bought the other two out, then he had it, and, and I just gave it to them. So, and we've just been here, ever since. Well, 55:00we've been here since 1966. Of course, Mary and I are here since; I was surprised she wanted to move in. I didn't think she wanted to move here, in 1970, but she said, "No, you got a nice house. Why do we, why should we go someplace else?" I said, "Well, it's up to you, you know, you, you're taking on a load, you got three boys here!" (both laugh) And that, that was, that was kind of a ticklish thing, too, because you had three boys that their mother babied them. (laughs) And then she's gonna to come in and take care of them she did a wonderful job. I thank God for her. Yeah, and, uh, we've been married now, uh, thirty-six years; nineteen with my first wife and thirty-six with her. In fact, we celebrated, I insisted, when we, we hit thirty-five years in, I said, "We're gonna make this like fifty, because we ain't gonna make fifty." (both laugh) So we did, the kids, all they, they, they had a big shindig. And, uh, and it's been great. 56:00
BOHL: So, what were your initial expectations about the statelegislature?
DONNERMEYER: Well, I always felt like that we, one of the main reasonsI ran was because this, we, as a city, and as a city councilman, we didn't get the answers or the help that we thought we needed from our state government. That was my feeling. And, and I'd, I'd hoped to try to change that. And, and, uh, and, you know, because that's what that's all about, city government, as a county government, as a state government, and then works both ways. And, and we should all be helping each other. And, uh, that was one of the main reasons I, I got involved in it, to, uh, to, to be more of a work, work it so that you could help the cities and that(??). And, uh, uh, that was one of the main reasons. And, you know, you, you, it was really kind of 57:00overwhelming what I wanted. -----------(??), well, I'm not a lawyer but, and they're gonna make laws, and how do we do this, you know. And it didn't take long and you find ways to, how it works, and, and that was the main thing. Uh, finding how it works down there, and one, uh, one, the fellow was kinda my mentor was Jim Murphy, he was a, a commissioner in Newport. And Jim was there, I didn't know him before. I knew the name, but I didn't know him. And when I first went down there, he kinda, uh, oh, he didn't push me or nothing and, and, and I kept kinda ask him different things and the next thing you know, we, we would go, uh, uh, I started being more friendly, and I learned a lot from him. He was the chairman of the committee. And, and, uh, one thing I really learned from him that I've always done since that time is, you treat the staff like human beings. They are your backbone and you respect them. And I've always done that, I always felt like 58:00when, uh, these people that were down there that were the Legislative Research Commission people, they, they were the ones that, that took care of, uh, all, make sure that the laws were all made up and, and you, you can get a lot more out of somebody by being, just being the way you should be; being nice to them and working with them and not thinking some--I've seen a lot of our people down there in, in the House and the Senate think, Oh, that they, I'm big shot, they're underneath me. I never felt that way, I've always called them by name. And go to see, if I'd go down there, I'd see them walking their loft and say, "Hi, how're you doing?" And, and, uh, now just being like you ought to be; respecting them. And, uh, I've always felt that was, that was, uh, uh, very helpful. They go a little bit further to help you when they know that you treat them like human beings, you know. And respect them. And, uh, uh, we need them so much, that's why, this thing that's going on with the merit system really bugs me that, uh, that shouldn't 59:00have happened. And, uh, it shouldn't have got as bad as it is now. And, I, I just wished that, uh, the governor would've, when he came back from Japan that time would've said, "Look, we got off on the wrong foot, we made a mistake, we are not gonna do this." He would, if he didn't want to, why didn't he say, "We made a mistake. That look, we just, for whatever reason, we got off on the wrong foot, we're gonna, we, we are gonna straighten this out and go on with it." People would respect that, and, and now, it's just, you're fighting the attorney general, and, and, and then people say it looks like it's political. Well, it sure it might look that way, but turn it around the other way, we all took an oath to uphold the constitution and that no matter who it would've been, if they'd brought that -----------(??) didn't do it, what would they do then(??). And this, the other day they said it didn't happen before, it did happen before. Louie Nunn did it when he first went in and it cost a lot of money at the time because they sued. And, and they won because it, it is the law. And then, of all people, 60:00John Y. Brown did the same thing. And we lost some money there because people sued, rightfully so. And, and I don't have a problem with them replacing people that are not merit, but I, I strongly believe that, that, uh, that's our back bone, those people that have been there, and that's why we, that's why we don't pay them as big a salaries we, we'd like to, but we do give them good benefits. The idea is to keep them there and keep that, that experience and everything there. And I think that, it's, uh, a lot of people don't want to understand that, they say, "Oh, the Democrats did it." Well, like the, like a lot of these law professors said, uh, it was in the paper the other day, they said, "Well, even if they did, two wrongs won't make a right. Doesn't mean you can, you can do it because they did it." You know what, oh, I, that subject and what really bugs me is how in the world any governor, and I, I don't know what the exact wording is in the constitution, but how they can say, "We're gonna pardon you before you even did anything." 61:00To me that is so wrong, because you can say, "Come on down, do anything you want because I already pardoned you." I don't, I don't understand that. And, and our court, of all things, has gotten political, is involved in that. Uh, our chief justice is really, I think, went passed the, the line in some of the things that he's been saying and doing. And, uh, oh, it's just like in, well--(laughs)--in Washington, how can you sign a bill and then say, "I don't to live by this." I'm thinking, wait a minute, I don't care what side of the fence you're on, that's not the way it is. But anyway. (both laugh)
BOHL: Did you have any kind of orientation when you started?
DONNERMEYER: They, there wasn't anything back then like that. The onlyorientation is, you're a legislator now and that's it, and in fact, when we started, we didn't have a, we didn't even have, all we had was the, they, they thought, Wow, this is great, and it was from what they didn't have. Uh, you didn't have a place to put anything. And we created in the basement of the Capitol one of the rooms down there. 62:00They got rid of the rats. (laughs) There was rats in there, believe me, there were. And they put in some, uh, file cabinets. And we would come in there and go in the basement, you could hang your coat up, and you each had a file cabinet, and that was it. And when you went on the floor, all the, all the paperwork that came was on your desk, on the floor, every place there. You didn't have nothing, not at all. There was no orientation like there is now, nothing. We've come a long way. And, and when I first started, uh, the committees they had, the system was nothing like it is at all now, and in fact it wasn't very Democratic. Uh, it wasn't very, uh, public oriented. It was just -----------(??). When they had a bill, uh, there was no notifying people that there's gonna be a meeting. There was no agenda ahead of time. Uh, you can just realize that, uh, if we had a bill that 63:00would affect so many people, the chairman would just call it whenever he wanted to. And it would just pass and that's it, and then people didn't know nothing about it. And when they, they, they couldn't come down like they do now, and subsequently, and bring your people there, and, and have their chance to say why they do or don't like the bill or like some changes. It was that's it! It was just done! And then they had another committee that, uh, it really didn't meet. And all the bills that nobody wanted, which were a lot of them, they just went to that committee, and they went in the, they were filed into the garbage can. That they had a lot of them. And I was shocked when I seen some of that. And, uh, I know I am gonna sound political but Wendell Ford and Julian Carroll were the beginning of changing that. And, uh, a fellow by the name of Norbert Blume, he was part of it. Terry McBrayer, uh, they started creating more of the committee system. And, uh, uh, that was when I first was down there and we started having, uh, 64:00more committees and, and more responsibilities, and it kept building and building. And, uh, a lot of people won't believe that but it's a lot better than it ever was. I mean, yeah, you have, you have your committees and, and we started, uh, up until Brown, the governor was, had a lot to do with leadership. First time I got leadership, I was anointed. In other words, the governor would ask you, "Do you want to be in my leadership?" Why sure, hey, heck yeah! (Bohl laughs) That's great! And that's the way it was. When the governor picked you, you were gonna be elected, elected, yeah. (Bohl laughs) Uh, and then we kept slowly hitting at it, saying, "No, we don't, we don't think, you ought to let us have our own meeting and have our caucus elect us." And even that's the way it was supposed to been done but that wasn't the way it was done. Well, Brown said he was going to leave us alone and he did and we did that. And unfortunately, I think we went too 65:00far now. I think it's got, the pendulum has swung, and, and I was, I don't know if I was the only one but I kept, for some time I kept saying, when I was still in leadership that we have got to be very, very careful, we're on the brink of getting to the point where we, we're eliminating the governor. And what I mean by that is, uh, the constitution says the governor has to present a budget by such-and-such a time after you start. It should be earlier than that, but he could do it but it's hard sometimes to do that, especially back in them days to get everything together, especially a new governor.
DONNERMEYER: And then we used to, whatever happened the governorcontrolled it. You used to get that thing after so long, it'd be about that thick and say, "Pass it." Pass it, that's a, boast, you know, even, even though there was only Governor Nunn at the time, they did the same thing. And, uh, and I think they meant well. I don't think they were trying to, that was the way things were done. But then, then, when we became so-called independent, then it got to be 66:00where we were, uh, the governor put his budget in, and then we would take it and tear it apart in the House, and then the Senate, and then we'd get together, and now they eliminate the governor. Have been for some time, because, uh, you have the, uh, House and Senate, each creates a bill. And you know it's gonna go to a free conference and there's something I've always harped about: free conference. Uh, I believe, you know, if I got a bill, I want to take my bill through the committee, and I want to get it okayed at the committee, through the rules committee, and then out on the floor, and pass it, and go to the Senate, and do the same thing. Well, that's all great until you get all done with all these bills, and then when they come, when(??) you got a problem with them, they come back and a lot of people don't even understand this, it's so important that you get up and say, uh, "We got this bill and the Senate sent it over here and there's an amendment on it. And it could even be the budget. And it's got to go; it'll have to go back to the Senate." Well, when you have a conference committee, you can only consider the bill as it is. And the amendment, you can't 67:00do anything with it. It's just that, that's it; either you agree or disagree. If you disagree it goes back, and they say they disagree, we disagree, and it's forgotten. But then you got the free conference committee and that's the really the thing that, that, that's, that's people don't understand. The free conference committee means once each house would, uh, you'd meet as this group. And as a conference committee. And you got to realize that the leadership in the House, leadership in the Senate would, uh, the Senate would put these people on that committee that would control it, because that's the way it is, they control everything. And they would, they would meet and say, "Well, we agree to disagree. And we agree to go back to our respective houses and ask to go into a free conference committee." Well, you walk in there and we give that report when the time comes and the speaker or the Senate president says, "Without objection." There's no talking about it, there's no vote. The vote is: "without objection." Whether 68:00somebody objected or not unless they objected loud enough, then the vote would just be a voice vote, probably, and that would be it. Instead of real, real argument about whether you want to do that or not, because in a free conference committee, you can take that bill and take everything out of it. I don't know if you realize this or not. You could take that bill, if you had a bill that had to do with, uh, uh, anything, no matter what the subject matter was, you can throw that all out! Put in anything you wanted to. Can you imagine what that involves? I mean, that's why you have in the, the--and it's similar in Washington. That's why you're having these budgets and you're seeing people putting things in the budget saying, "Well, I want to spend so much for this school, I want so much for landscapes," or whatever it is. And it's really gotten out of hand. And, and that's really what bothers me that, the governor don't, he has nothing, he or she has nothing to say about that budget once it's given to the House and Senate. The only thing they can do is hope that they got some people 69:00there that'll give them something, you know, because they don't have any vote. The only thing they can do be to veto it. And then the way the House always did it, and the Senate, we set it up--this is the first time they haven't done it this last session--we would set it up that you got there sixty days. And we would set our schedule up so that we got done, so that we left enough time for the, the ten days to go by to where the governor by, by constitution, you know, the governor can only ve-, he can only veto, sign into law, or let it become law without a signature. Once it passed them(??), ten days have passed, then we can, you know, it's, he's out of it now and we can over ride a veto, if he does veto it. Well, this time they didn't do that, they went ahead and said, "Well, we're, it's gonna work out." And they didn't leave enough days, so the governor did veto some stuff and they couldn't do nothing about that. So they got to wait two years or at least a year now, because you got that little session in between, which 70:00to me was the wrong thing to do in the first place. They should've just said that, that ought to been just a budget session, alone. Period. Nothing else. And then if you get the budget out of the way, then when you meet on the regular session, because almost all the bills you had had, if they had any money in, it went to the A & R, most of the time they were forgotten, because there was too many bills! I was on A & R for a long time. You couldn't, there's no way you had enough time to consider all the bills that was there if you wanted to. So, uh, before I forget it, there is one thing that always bugged me--
DONNERMEYER: --and I still think it had a lot of things to do with,with the, the way some of the things happen down here. Uh, are you aware that at one time, you know, we never had office space; you was talking about office space. And so what we kept doing is the best we could do with what we had, money-wise and so forth. So we ended up and, and you know that the House and Senate leadership makes up the Legislative Research Commission's, more or less, executive committee, and that's who controls LRC and everything in it, and the budget and 71:00everything else, and creates how the Senate and the House rules, and they recommend the rules to their caucus, and they usually they pass, and that's how your, they set up the, the, both houses, how they're gonna run and everything. And that, that's so much power there. Being in, you know, being in one of the leadership post. And, uh, so we had, we had created what I called the, uh, the mazes down in the basement of the Capitol, we had these cubbyholes. And some of the guys would say, "Well, we, we, we go to some of these conferences, and we see what some of these other states have, and we ought to have our own private places." And I fought that for years. And the reason is I thought it was too expensive, we're part time. And I got to know it, about it because being in leadership for the ten years I had my office over in the Capitol, and when I'm not there this office sat there. And, you know, and I'm thinking, What a waste! What a waste! And as an aside, 72:00just do it, they were doing a bust on Julian Carroll. And, uh, I found out, somebody said to me, uh, "Representative, they called up from the off , the governor's office said, 'Before you come down for your meetings, uh, don't be up-, upset if the, your office is all messed up.'" They found out that the light was just right for the sculptor to use my office and they needed so, put, put this bust in there, so that was kinda funny. I thought, Yeah, that's fine! Julian was a great governor. Anyway, uh, getting back to it, what they did, we had these, these offices down there. And what I thought was good, we had separate space, that if you came down with the group or individual we wanted to meet, we can go into a room and meet, you didn't have to come to my cubbyhole and if somebody right behind me, you know, but there was a lot of togetherness with that, especially at night. Especially at night. When you got done with things you had to do, there was all kinds of groups, not, not wrongly, I mean because they didn't have that 73:00kind of money involved in it. You might go to, to, they might have a, uh, we started making by having the, uh, ethics have a, a, uh, meeting for everybody, more or less a, a cocktail pa-, whatever you want to call it. And they, this, this group be there, and they're putting it on, and we, we'd go out of protocol, and show respect, and go to it. Then you go back and, and after about eight, or eight-thirty, nine o'clock, usually, that's when you can get your phone calls done and get your work done. Well, you could see a legislator right there. We were all right there. Except maybe a few of them that went home which would be Louisville people. But most of the time, there were, especially near the end of the session, everybody was there. You could talk to somebody. "Hey, my bill is coming up. Uh, let's work this out. You got a problem with it?" But now they all got offices. And they don't use them, except when they're there. I mean what a waste, and I fought that and fought that, went to(??) all them(??) other people, "Look at the expense." Yeah, and they're free(??), these are friends of mine that I fought. Joe Meyer and, uh, Pete Worthington, and different people 74:00that keep pushing that, but they finally won out, and Joe Clarke who was one tremendous legislator, uh, you know, he finally did himself in, which was unfortunate. I don't know what his problems were, but Joe was a tremendous guy, really a nice legislator. We fought it together, and I'll never forget it, he finally came to me and he said, "Billy, I can't do it anymore." He, he became speaker then. Now, you know when you got everybody involved, he said, "I got so many people pushing me. I can't be against it anymore." And we stopped it for a long time. They couldn't, they couldn't get it done. We just kept making sure that, sure, they brought the plans, and we'd look at them, and, and we were in, you know, we were in the leadership, but we made sure it, it didn't get done, but they finally did it. And I think that's a waste. Uh, you go down there now and you walk in and it's nice to see that big office, and, and I admit they got, uh, like one secretary and maybe taking care of the calls and, and a couple of other people, but what 75:00a waste of space, and time, and the togetherness is not there. They might not even see anybody until they get to the floor. And we used to see each other at night. In fact, it used to be so funny, uh, who was it, my, my nephew is a lawyer, and he is working for Greenebaum now, he finally got his law degree and everything. He, he met Lawson Walker.
DONNERMEYER: And he sat right behind me and we became good friends, infact he ----------(??) a Republican and me a Democrat, he said to me one time, "You know," he said, just how you can talk, "You know Bill," he said, "we are not too far off," he said, "I'm, I'm already in it as far as -----------(??) unions are concerned." He said, "I'm not a 100 percent," but he said, "I've been here." He said, "I took the liberty of looking at our records." He said, "I think we voted, uh, we voted differently twice out of the whole session." He said, "Can you believe that?" I said, "Yeah, I think so, I can believe that." And you would, you know, you were that close. And somebody would be on the phone and talking to their wife and say, "Goodnight, honey," and "GOODNIGHT, HONEY," everybody holler the same thing. (both laugh) And then, uh, 76:00he told my nephew, he said, "Yeah, we used to kid each other," they'd take their shoes off, you know, and be setting there, be on the phone, and they'd get ready to go home, "Where's my shoes?" I used to hide his shoes on him. (both laugh) And Callahan was another one I did that to. (laughs) He would go see the, come up to him about something, and then when he didn't know it, he'd turn around the other way, and take his shoes, and walk away with them. (laughs) But that, that, that you miss that. And there was a certain camaraderie to that, to where you really got to know each other and respect each other. And you got things done. And they don't do that now. They don't see each other hardly. And, you know, it's just, I don't know, I, that was always one of my pet peeves. That and, and the idea that, uh, that they, and what they've done with the budgets, and, and the free conferences, I think, I don't think you had to do away with the free conference committee, but I think you ought to have absent(??), up and down vote that's registered, not just without objection. That's to me is a big 77:00thing. Uh, you probably understand it. You know when you get into leadership, and a lot of times I'll go to schools they ask me and talk to them, still do. Uh, try to bring them things about a bill becomes law and goes through stuff, and explain to them that do you know when you go in leadership that you name every committee person. And you name, uh, every chairman. When the bills come, you're the committee on committees. And you control every bit of it. And, and then the, the, uh, especially the rules committee. So, you know, leadership, and five, there's five votes and I always say three beats by five, uh, two every time. And I will never forget when Don Blandford was speaker and we first--well, I think it was Don--we first started doing that, this free conference committee. At first we used to have the chairman of the, of A & R, then maybe one of his sub-chairman, uh, and then a couple of the committee members would be on it. And then, then we 78:00would sometimes, they'd send you into this, I was on, see, leadership, you, you served on A&R and state government. And we, there was two of us that did that out of the leadership, the whip and the caucus chairman, uh, and the speaker, and the speaker pro temp, uh, he didn't do that. And, uh, let's see, the whip, the caucus, chairman and the pro temp, we served on these committees, so, you know, you had control. So there was always control there. And, and the three, three of us. So, when it, we met before, we'd always meet ahead of time before the sessions to go over things, which you should. And I'll never forget, I think it was Kenny Rapier walked in and said, uh, "I'd like, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to be on the conference committee for the, you know, for the budget." And he said, "Okay," because that was the way they did it, you know, if you wanted, you're on the leadership, you want to be on, that's it, you're on it. And I'm setting there listening and here comes Pete Worthington and he was pro temp and he said, "I want to be 79:00on the conference committee." Said, "Okay." Hm. "Hey, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to be on there too." He said, "One minute now, that's three of you!" He said, "What do we do about the rest of this committee?" And they, ---------(??) passed over, amongst ourselves, and I, finally I said, "You know what? Why don't we do that, and then have this, have the chairman"--which it was Joe Clarke at the time--"have the chairman definitely be there. And then take all the sub-committee chairs and have them come in with them when it came time to do their part, like the judges when they're on their, anything for the judicial, anything for their, that chairman of the sub-committee which had the hearings, he'd come in with us." I said, "Think of what we got now: now we got our leadership doing it." And it worked fine for quite a while, when Joe Prather was president of the Senate because he did the same thing in the Senate, and it worked out, to where(??) we worked things out, that's why we never had a problem with, with, uh, not getting the budget.
DONNERMEYER: You know, we knew we had to have a budget one way or the80:00other, and we didn't do as much as they're doing now. They're getting so far away from the way it used to be done. It got to be bad enough as putting stuff in. I mean, I could put a lot of things in, I just didn't think it was right. I don't think you should spend money the way we're doing it now. And, uh, and people think, Oh that's great; they're bringing that back, but I always tell them, "Hey, that's your money! I didn't do that. That's your money!" And then, if it was really a worthwhile thing, yes, we'd, we'd bring it up and use it, but not just every little thing going on. I mean, we're doing these landscapes, we are doing city buildings, and some of my best friends are involved in this but I still think it's wrong.
DONNERMEYER: Uh, I mean, that's state government is state government;we're not supposed to be the answer to everything. And so, but I got off again. (laughs)
BOHL: That's okay. Uh, you mentioned how much camaraderie there wasamong the legislature, legislators during your time. What did people do, uh, during their leisure time in Frankfort? Was there somewhere 81:00that you tended to hang out, or?
DONNERMEYER: Well, you mean like in the evenings when there weren'tthings going?
DONNERMEYER: Well, yeah, a lot of times, you'd, you'd end up goingto dinner together. Uh, and I can remember, uh, there was a, see, Frankfort didn't have a whole lot of things when I first was down there and they kept getting more and more. I wished I'd a little money can have bought some of these places--(both laugh)--ahead of time or some of the land or something. But, uh, there, there was a pizza place up on the hill. I will never forget this, and, and, uh, some of the people, we'd meet up there for pizzas. This was always in the wintertime and you could get pitchers of beer if you wanted it. And, uh, Gerta Bendl from Louisville, she was a chairman. And, uh, just other legislators, we'd meet there and have a sing-along. We used to really, that was our little relief, you know, sat there, we didn't talk about politics; we eat some pizza and drink a few beers and sing! And then, that's basically, that was it. And, and, and the other thing we 82:00used to do before they had a lot of the places that they have now, uh, we'd have different legislators would, like when they roomed together or something, they put a party on for their committee, and then they'd invite different ones to come to their, their place, because there was no, uh, the Holiday Inn was the only place I know of was at all that was a, a place that any kind of a, uh, decent little , uh, not just a restaurant but a little bar. Other than that, there was only two or three for a long time. And there wasn't that much to do, really, you know. So, yes, that's the only way we did it, we'd, that would be it. But then it got to where it is now, and then you had more and more people coming down and having these different things for you. I mean, it got so bad that the LRC s , started making a list of everything, so people would keep up with , uh, all these different things that were being put on by whatever group it was, you know. And some of them got quite big, quite big. And, uh, they, you know, and the automobile dealers would have a big thing. And, and one of the new hotel down 83:00there, that they started having stuff down there. Uh, but, but we, we had more fun before all that. (both laugh)
BOHL: Uh, did you, uh, spend much time at Flynn's?
DONNERMEYER: At what?
DONNERMEYER: Oh, not really that much. That wasn't as bad as someof them thought it was. That used to be a knights table, that used to be a, uh, a, uh, what did they call them? Well, you'd come in pay one price and, you know, you eat all you want. And, uh, I don't know whether Flynn had a restaurant someplace else? I think he, he had a, I think he did have a little bar or someplace downtown old Frankfort, what we call Old Frankfort down below the, down the, you know, down below, on the other side of the river there, where all the, uh, historical places buildings were the older buildings. And then he took that over and, and, uh, uh, thought having that there and then he had a good restaurant! He really had really good food and a nice, 84:00uh, salad bar and everything. And it was a nice place to come in, and if you, you had, uh, family in town, or anything, that was really a nice place to go. Uh, and I, I, I wouldn't spend a lot of time there because really you didn't have much time. time you got done doing your stuff down at the office, it's, it's ten thirty or eleven o'clock, you had to go home and go to bed, to get up because we'd start early in the morning. Uh, under Julian Carroll, you had to be in the mansion almost every morning for a, a little breakfast and he, and he'd get, he met, but and the worst part was in leadership with him, you had to be there every night. He was a, he was a hard-working, uh, governor; he really pushed you. So, uh, there wasn't much time for anything else with him. But, uh, uh, I don't know as, what it is now, but yes, as, as things went on, uh, a lot of times you tried to get yourself an apartment if you could. I'd, I hated to stay in a motel. Some of 85:00them stayed in motels. If it's a special session you would do that, but when you had your ninety-days here, it got to like Terry Mann and I started, we would rent an apartment together. And, you know, you each had your own bedroom and that would, made it cheaper on you, and you had a nice place to stay, and, and then it kept getting more and more and then, uh, Jim Callahan, myself, and, uh, we'd get some other legislator to stay, we would rent a House if we could. See, when we first started down there, uh, Terry took Jim Murphy's place because he be-, he retired and was going to become a judge. And, uh, his wife was calling around trying to find a place for us to stay. And everything would be fine until they'd say now what is your husband doing? They'd say legisl-, "Oh no, we don't rent to legislators." They wouldn't rent to legislators. Evidently before we-, for some years they were pretty rowdy, I gather. (both laugh) And we had a bad name and it took quite a while to overcome that. And, uh, but we did, and people really started to respect you, and, you know, you wasn't going to tear their place out, but evidently they, they had a little problem with some of 86:00these guys. There was a lot of, there was drinking on the floor when I first went down there. It was bad. Guns on the floor. Yeah, it was, it was not, uh, and, and it wasn't a lot of it, but it was enough that it, it scared you, and things changed quite a bit. Uh, I'll never forget, I had, uh, a bill about, uh, I think, I, it had to do with the whiskey, it had something to do with, uh, like the dry area were pretty adamant about staying dry.
DONNERMEYER: And what, the, the irony of it was so that whenever any kindof a bill or a vote would come up, the ministers would get money from the wet or bar owners and, or, uh, retail owners that were right on the border to fight it, because they didn't want it to go wet. They, they were making a lot of money these people coming to their place and go taking it back. And I had this bill and this guy, Randolph Smith, he 87:00had a problem. He drank a lot. and , uh, John Swinford was the floor leader and I always would tried to find out where my votes were, not on the committee, but on the floor before I'd bring the bill up because it's kinda stupid to run a bill if you don't think you're gonna--
DONNERMEYER: --have a chance to pass it. So, sometimes I'd leave thebill sit on the calendar for a while. Of course you were in leadership now, you got to understand that. And I'd leave, get it out there, and get it up on the counter, and let it sit there. Some people say, "Well, the longer you sit, the more they see(??) it." Well, if there's some, that did bother me, if I didn't have the votes on it--(laughs)- -it's, it's gone anyway, so what's the difference. So, I'm waiting for the right time. usually the best time to pass that kind of a bill that was very controversial was on a Friday morning, because Thursday, uh, a lot of the, some, there were some of them that they'd get ready to go, they're going to go home and they won't stay sometimes if they're far away because they had to get, it took them a long time. Or they were in a hurry. They might've stayed but they're in a hurry, they ain't gonna argue a whole lot. So that was a good time to pass real 88:00controversial bills. And, uh, wait til, when you first start the session, the first month or two, they, they put dots on the i's and cross the t's, and they want to argue about everything, especially since we got TV. So I just leave them bills alone. Let--(laughs)- -don't worry about it. Wait until later on. So I had this bill and it had to do with liquor and he kept coming back, "When are you going to run your bill today?" "Well, I'm not ready yet, John." "Okay." And that's the way they would do it. You, you had the protocols when you wanted to call your bill. Of course don't wait too long. But I had this bill and this guy, he got bad, and they wanted to get him off the floor because he was, didn't belong on the floor, he must have been out real late the night before. And, and they, he, they, before he would leave(??), they brought him over, and he came to me, and he said, "Donnermeyer, you're not gonna(??) Pass that bill," knocked me over, his breath was so bad that liked to knock me over. (laughs) And, and I thought, I had all I could do to keep and said, "Why don't you get out of here," you know, he, he's going to vote against my bill- 89:00-(laughs)--when he's this way. (coughs)--excuse me--we used to laugh about when they had these different functions, they'd want to take pictures to put in, you know, for their people back home. They wanted to show the different legislators. Well they'd come the, the ones from northern Kentucky, "Let me take your picture!" Well, if we had a glass of beer, standing with a glass of beer ------------(??)--(Bohl laughs). And they drank whiskey like we drank beer, but that's, that was the way some of them were. But I, I found most of the people there very, very good, solid people. Uh, but I do remember one time, when we were doing that, when Norb Blume was speaker, and Wendell Ford was governor, and we were, and this was when we first came up with the coal severance tax. And they were deciding how, how they were gonna have, have the committee, and how they were gonna do this. So, we always would say, like when you're gonna have a committee from the House and 90:00the Senate, you'd put so many Democrats, and so, so many Republicans. and the Democrats would, would be, have control, and they do that now, now it's the Republicans do the same thing; they would have more Republicans than Democrats on it, but you always put at least one on there, or two, according to how many you're gonna put. And, uh, Norb was getting ready to take care of the House's side, which that was his job as speaker. And this fellow sat behind me, he seemed like a nice guy; he's from up in the mountains, in the coal area and he wanted to get on that committee. And he said to me, "Donnermeyer, I want to tell Norb Blume to put me on the committee!" I said, "Look, I can, I'll put, I'll tell him you want on it. Well, I can't make him do it, ------------(??), you understand." He said, "Okay, fair enough." And, uh, we were there late, you know, this is when you went late at night. And, uh, Art Schmidt come running back to me and said, "Bill, you know that guy behind you"--see, Art was Republican, too--he says, "You know, he's upset and he's had a few drinks and he is gonna, he wants to be 91:00on that committee, or he is going to raise hell with Norb, he's gonna do something about it. And he's got a gun that's big," I said, "What?" He said, "I'm telling you, if he gets up, duck!" And sure enough, this guy wanted Norb -----------(??) took him out, named who he's gonna have and it wasn't him. And he gets up and he's got that gun. (both laugh) Boy, I went down underneath my chair, I can tell you that. (both laugh) But they got him out of there. And, uh, and, but he, he was a nice guy though, but he, they, they, some of these guys were, the story goes that, uh, uh, they had some problems at his house. They sent the state police out. And, uh, he just shot the lights out of the police cruiser. (laughs) Told them, "Get out of here!" I don't know how they got away with that, but, you know, they were in the mountains, I guess, they knew the, the, the, uh, whomever there, the judge or whatever cause. (laughs) Hey, some of them were pretty mean, some of them were kinda rough, you know. But. (laughs) I, we, when I first went down--I 92:00think you need to know this and maybe you've heard about and haven't- -but, uh, they used to stop the clock at midnight. You never heard of that? Oh yeah, yeah. See, your legislative days, as we were talking about before, you had so many days. Well then, they didn't do like we did later on where you set so many of them and held so many, they got to the last day and there's a big clock in the back of the house, sets up there, and I never could figure out how they turned it off. But Murphy took me under his wing and he told me they, coming down during the end of the session, and you'd start meeting and you go from, uh, one o'clock or two o'clock in the afternoon, you'd go to next day. And we did that a couple of times, all night. They're all night long. And how they would do it, especially at the end, they'd get down to where it's the last day, and they'd be about seven minutes to midnight and that clock had stopped. Magically. Well, you'd go on through the whole night, that's still one day, it ain't over yet! Until that clock 93:00would be ticking again, see. And so, that's how they'd preserve their days. And we did that for about three sessions. And different ones of us had got up and leave kept saying, "Yeah, that's not right." And the papers were getting after it too, which they should have. And so we finally got to where, uh, Bill Kenton was speaker. And, uh, uh, we had, we'd stopped the clock--incidentally, I found out how they did it. (laughs) They had a state trooper, some way or another, had, there was a switch they could, they could turn off. And, uh, then they once they got to a certain point, they'd have him turn it back on, and you'd, you'd adjourn the House, you know. And, uh, Bill Kenton was speaker and we, we went, uh, we went all night--
[Pause in recording.]
DONNERMEYER: Well, what they were, we're talking about going all nightwith a session. And, uh, uh, we did it a couple of times like that. and then about the, the third time they were gonna do it, uh, we, you also had to realize that, see, when, back then they had to print these 94:00bills, even though you'd get them enrolled and everything, you still had to be in session until they were printed and introduced, brought in. And, uh, the, the Frankfort, uh, paper were the ones that would print the bills downtown. So they had literally to take them down there and getting them printed and bring them back up. And it took time, you know, to get them and enroll them and everything. And a lot of people with the legislature would be done, and some of that was because they'd be gone and that would be, take care of some of that time. But the, we, we, uh, we just said, "We ain't gonna to do this anymore. Uh, we're not gonna stop that clock." So lo and behold, we're there and we're getting down near the end, and that's what happened. We, we're ready to go at, that, pretty well done all our business, but it was getting to midnight and they're not printed, they're not ready to come back. About twenty minutes to twelve, I get a hold of the, the fellow that was the speaker pro temp, I said, "We got a problem." I said, "I just checked with the, with the clerk and these bills ain't 95:00back, and they're not gonna be back. And if we don't do something, we're not, these, everything that's passed is going to be null and void." "What are we going to do now?" I said, "We got to stop that clock!" "We can't do that; the press will, oh, they'll get all over us." So I said, "We got to go see the speaker." So we go in--(laughs)- -going to see old Boom-Boom--that's a, that's his nickname because he had a booming voice--and--(laughs)--said, uh, "Bill, we got to stop the clock." "We can't do that!" Said, "Look, if we don't, we're going to lose all these bills, the House and Senate. They're not going to be enrolled, they're not done!" "Well, I can't believe that!" "Look," we kept arguing with him, I finally said, "Look," Bobby Richardson was the floor leader says, "Why don't we get the floor leader to go out there and, and just be open about it."
DONNERMEYER: "Be honest, and say, 'We got a problem.' Convene theHouse like you normally would. Say, "We got a problem and here's the problem: we can't get these printed in time, they're being done, but they will not be done." So, you make some motion to the effect 96:00that there'll be no more business done on the House floor, except the business of enrolling the bills. And pass that and that takes care of it. And then explain to them, 'We're going to have to stop the clock and then we'll start it up and finish the session, but there'll be no more business, as far as bills, amendments, anything other than enrolling bills.'" "Okay." And then questions -----------(??) "Can people go home?" "Yes, you got to have so many people stay there." Well that became the Norb then, when it got to a certain point, that's what we would do. You'd keep so much of the leadership there to, to, to legally make the motion adjourned and so forth. Uh, and then you would come back for the, uh, the final ----------(??) when you're all done. But this was back then we had to do it that way, we just say we'd stop everything and then, until it was all enrolled and then take care of it, but before that that ain't where it was; you did business, you had bills on the floor, you had amendments on them, uh, guys getting up 97:00taking everything out, that's what piggy-backing.
DONNERMEYER: Start doing piggy-backing and, and we changed all ofthat to where you could, you could only piggy-back, uh, if it was a germane and that was, uh, the usual thing then, "Mr. Speaker, is this germane?" And that speaker would have to get his advisors up there and get some leadership up and say, "Well, it was," they'd argue back and forth whether it is or not. And, but that, that's part of the process, see, but that was, that was an interesting that you would go the--a lot of people don't realize that we did do that for at least three different sessions that I am aware of, that I was at, that we went all night. And after that, we went to maybe one or two o'clock in the morning, but it was more legal than anything. And the press accepted that, once you were honest with them. The other thing I remember that, that's interesting is, see, the press used to be, if you know the layout of the Capitol, uh, on the House side, down at that end where the elevator is coming up on that, that, uh, side of the, and, and those things used to be the press was in there all, that was their offices. The press were there. So under Norb Blume, we finally said, 98:00"Look we're not trying to be nasty but you got to vacate. You, you're here, using those rooms, and we need them." Well, it didn't sit well at first but then finally they were very nice about it. Said, "Yeah, you're right; we don't belong here and we got to go." So they started getting their own places outside around there close, instead of having, and, and being in the, the Capitol. What, you know, that's another thing always bugged me, we, well, I understand the press has got to be there, but whenever you had a committee meeting that was really a, an interesting vote going on, they're all, they'd sit and watching, they're all laying around in front of the committee, people taking pictures, and I think that's so distracting to have all that. Now, how you do it, I, I don't know. Uh, we, we did KET; I thought that was a big thing when we did that. I was all for that, that, you know, we knew we're gonna have problems with people wanting to grandstand, get up. Normally they wouldn't get up, but the cameras are on! (both laugh) They're gonna get up. (laughs) And the other big thing was the 99:00Kentucky Horse Park. And I want to bring it up because you know we're gonna have that, uh, that big thing, that equestrian thing there.
DONNERMEYER: When that first came up, a lot of the press and a lot ofthe people wouldn't, Kenton, that was Bill Kenton's baby so-to-speak. They didn't think that was good; they wanted to keep taking it out of the budget and we wouldn't let it happen. And look what it is today. And I guess the other big thing I've, I one, one of the really big things I remember was, uh, uh, the thing with Toyota.
DONNERMEYER: I, well, you know, I don't know if you realize or not, seea lot of us were in World War II.
DONNERMEYER: There were a lot of veterans yet. And it was kind of hardto accept that we're going to do something for Japan. (laughs) You know, we had some memories. and they were smart enough, they being the Japanese, that when they decided that they wanted to come here, before they would sign anything, they had Martha Layne, who did a tremendous job with that, uh, she had to get the leadership of the House and Senate to sign that they would go along with what we had agreed to with 100:00them, you know, as far as the training, the extra training we was gonna give them, to get them to come there. And we met, uh, we met jointly at a, uh, I don't know where the place outside of Frankfort. Wendell Ford set it up. And Martha Layne was there, and I don't know who all else was there, but then the House and Senate leadership was there. and that was all brought up and we agreed to yes, that we did want to do that, we'd be willing to sign, and that's how it came that, that when we, then we went back to Frankfort and it came to pass it, that everybody was on board, that yes, we're gonna go ahead and do that, because see, if they'd, said that we were gonna do that, then somebody like could fight, said, "Hey, I was in World War II and there ain't no way I am gonna sign that thing. Uh, I'm not gonna agree to it." Well, it would've upset the whole apple cart. So, uh, and that's been a, that's been a really good thing too. I'm thinking they just had some kind of a big thing like at, they had, uh, we went down for the ground breaking, they had a big tent, and the Japanese people were there, and 101:00they had a big, uh, they took us out on a bus from downtown Frank--uh, Lexington and then back to the, the, for a big dinner and everything. And that was nice, they had a nice thing down there. In fact I got a ruler they gave us. Uh, it's a memento. It's, uh, it shows a car on the one end of it, it's like a ruler with a, you can, and it's also a, uh, magnifying glass, so.
BOHL: Okay. Uh, the group of legislators who came in with you washistorically large. Do you think that that helped, in terms of changing the way things had been done, or do you think it was actually harmful because there were so many of you trying to figure things out at the same time?
DONNERMEYER: Oh, you mean from up here?
BOHL: Um, I believe it was just the group of legislators who came in, in1970, that there were a whole bunch more first timers than--
DONNERMEYER: --oh, you was talking about first timers!
DONNERMEYER: Definitely! Yeah, I think it, it helped because, uh, uh,102:00we, we were, we were more conducive to wanting to do things, but I still have to go back and say that I, I give Wendell, and, and Julian credit. And, and, and, uh, Norb, because these people had been there before. And Art, Art Schmidt, he had been there a long time. Uh, he had been, uh, I'm the, I don't know if he was in leadership back then, but he had been a legislator, but they seen how these things were, were going there. And they, the newer group was, was more conducive at saying, "Yeah, yeah, we, we got to have, uh, this type of thing, we got to set up the committees," which we did. And, and, and open the committees, and then we kept progressing with that. We're, uh, like for instance in the house, it used to be that the committee chairman would call the meeting and, and then, then we decided, you know, you got to notify everybody. then we came up with , uh, so that get away from the idea that you only did Democrat bills and not Republican- 103:00-because that's the way it was, Democrats were in control--we set up that the committee chairman would have a paper that if you want your bill heard, you sign that paper and give it to the, your, the chairman. Well, his staff really, and then he would have that and know that you wanted that bill because it got to be an argument. "Well, you didn't call my bill." "Well, you didn't ask me. You know, you got to ask, we got agendas." And, and, you know, it got more and more bills too. So, that worked out real good because, uh, I, I believed in that. I liked, I, we all always used that, I would tell all my Republican friends, "You know, if you want your bill heard, put, put, put the request in, so I've got it, because if I don't have the bill request, I, I'm not gonna do that, because you'll think I'm doing it for them and not for you, so you put your request in," and I would call their bills. Have them come up. And what I liked to do too was there was sometimes there would be, uh, bills the same spot--by sometimes by because it was a good thing up to, say if you were Republican you had a really good bill, we've seen it, sometimes the Democrats would grab it, and vice versa. Well, uh, you, sometimes you'd see a bill that was pretty close 104:00to each other. And the Republicans would say, "Well, I know you, I put in to get my bill read, you ain't going to call." They'd come and toss it. And I say, "Well, look why don't you do this? Why don't you get with so-and-so and talk to them, maybe you can put the bill together." And they'd say, "Well, will they do it?" I said, "Well, I'll meet with you, if you want." And, and, uh, it wasn't, you didn't have to most of the time. They'd go talk to the guy and say, "Look, I got my bill similar to yours. Only these differences. Why can't we jointly?" Because see, the idea is you got to look good back home--
DONNERMEYER: --so if you're sponsoring that bill, what's wrong if youboth sponsored it? So you both can say, "Hey, we sponsored this bill together." So they'd say, "That's fine, that's a good idea, you're both going to get your bill heard." And the bill would get passed better too. And there's no doubt about it that, you know, where the Democrats would push the Democrats and Republicans, but not as much as you would think. It was, it was more respect. Uh, you mentioned Art, Kenton, uh, they were very, Lawson Walker, uh, Louis DeFalaise, and, 105:00and Bill Schmadecke(??) these were all, when I first was a chairman, they were on my committee. We had northern Kentucky on that, business organizations and profession committee, and we had nine solid votes. They're all from northern Kentucky. But we didn't do anything wrong, we did it, what we thought was right. And, and, uh, Bill Schmadecke(??) was a, uh, he was a, uh, he ends up being a--well, he's retired now--a judge, but, and he, he helped instigate the juvenile court system. Uh, but, uh, he was very sharp and it didn't take me long to realize as a chairman that, back then, when you did amendments, you did them right in the committee. And I, I said, "You're gonna be my lawyer." When somebody come up with a, a proposed amendment in the, in the committee, I'd say "Bill, write it up." He'd write it up and we'd do it right away. And, and back then when we, we didn't have enough rooms and people would come in, and when we first started letting them come in for the hearings, and notify them that there would 106:00be hearings, that was a big change. They never did notify people out there. You would put out an agenda ahead of time. Uh, We, we set up when the committees would meet, what days and that went out to the general public that each committee met on certain days. And especially if you had controversial bills, you know, you'd call them and say, "Get your people there." And they used to have it where they would say, uh, they'd bring them all in there and they'd all be in the one room. Well, we, they'd stand around behind you--(laughs)--because they didn't have any, any space was up in, in the Capitol and up on the top of the third floor of the Capitol. And it was really kinda hectic. I, what I would try to do with my committee would say, when the bill came up, I'd have the people that were for the bill in, because you didn't have enough room, and then have them, have and have, take their time, then say, "Okay, now you brought me those people who are against them. Let them get in and say why they were opposed to it." And then we had an unwritten rule that, uh, when they would leave then we would vote on 107:00the bill. And that's, that's really the way we did it. And a lot of times it might be a legislator's bill. And we'd make them leave too. (laughs) Before the vote, so they couldn't look at you and say, "Well, you didn't vote for my bill." So, that worked for a while, but then we changed that too. But, uh, there's been a lot of changes that I saw, like the ethics committee, Art Schmidt and I started that together. That was the original beginning of the ethics committees.
DONNERMEYER: And, uh, that's one bill I really, that was something,but, uh, the, uh, open meetings, open records, that was, uh, one of my claims to fame, if you--(laughs)--want to call it that. Lot of leaders did a lot of stuff, legislative leadership didn't want that.
DONNERMEYER: And, uh, it, it failed the first time out. And I remembergoing in there talking to Eck Rose, was, uh, speaker pro temp, or pres-, uh, president pro temp of the Senate, "Well, we just can't have that." So I went, what I did then was get the second next best was, was would be a sub-committee. And then we had a whole year of it. And we 108:00finally come up with what I think is a really good bill.
BOHL: Um-hm. Um, you've mentioned a few times about how geography playeda role in terms of the way people were voting: the Louisville people--
DONNERMEYER: --and the mountain people and the northern Kentucky people.
BOHL: How important were those divisions in the General Assembly?
DONNERMEYER: Well, quite, quite important. We started, at least I liketo say we did, we started what's known as the caucuses. And, uh, uh, when I first was in leadership, why, it got to the point where they would say, uh, uh, "You do this, you take, you talk to the governor, because you're in leadership." And that's, I understood that, that's fine, but I kept telling our people, Jim Murphy, and, uh, Don Johnson was a tremendous legislator; he was in the Senate. Uh, they didn't like it too well, but I kept pushing, say, "We need to, we need to get together. And we need to have a caucus. And we need, didn't have the northern Kentucky caucus, Campbell, Kent, and Boone, if we come down 109:00there, and we're fighting with each other, we're not gonna get, we're having problems. The governor, they're gonna to say, 'Hey,' which they would say, they did say, 'Hey, you know, you guys can't get together, how am I supposed to get together? I am not Solomon.'" So we started that, the next thing you know, Louisville's got a caucus. Then, they got a caucus up in eastern Kentucky, and then central Kentucky, and then western Kentucky, which really wasn't all bad. You know, and because, uh, also being for, for leadership, see, you had to, had, depend on your peers to elect you. It seems for some reason that we got along real well with eastern Kentucky, and northern Kentucky was ---------- -(??) and definitely we got along with Louisville. And that was great, because, you know, they had so many votes and Louisville did too. At that time, uh, we did too up there, that, that was democratically, I mean, it was more Democrat than anything. And, uh, that worked out real good. And, you know, back then they used to, when they had the, the, uh, pre-legislative conferences, did you ever hear about those?
BOHL: I heard about them from Harper yesterday, but that was the firsttime--
DONNERMEYER: --did he tell you about how they used to go down to the110:00Land Between the Lakes down to, uh, Gilbertsville(??), it that area? He didn't tell you about that?
DONNERMEYER: Oh boy! (laughs) That was, that was a, a rude awakening forme. I was, I was surprised, they, what they would do, they would go down to, uh, was it Lake Barkley down there, where the, uh, far west Kentucky, by Paducah?
BOHL: I think so.
DONNERMEYER: Yeah, where the big state park is there? Take that over.And, uh, first couple ones I went to, I mean my eyes, whoa! You go down there and what they would do you, you'd, you'd go there, and they would give you, you know, you had like, either you stayed in the , uh, if you were in leadership, you had a, you had like one of those executive cottages, but if you weren't, and if you might've been, that there was enough you might have go, as a chairman, a big chairman of appropriation you were, you got, you got a, a, a, maybe not as big as a leadership, but one of them, other than that you stayed in the motel part of the park. But we took the park over. Completely. Nobody else was there. The state police was our cabs. Seriously! We would, you'd 111:00go there, and you'd be there for the--how was it? Four or five days. And, uh, uh, when you would, they'd have different ones would be the, the leadership was elected there, and they'd have little groups come in to each one of these places and they might have, uh, uh, beer and pretzels and food and things like that. And they were trying to woo you to vote for whoever they want running in your leadership in the House and the Senate. Well, and this would go on early in the morning, sometimes, card games, things like that. Well, the state troopers, you'd call up, you, you, you didn't take your car, your car sat there, you just parked it. Just call up, they had a central command, so he send the, send somebody over, "I need to go to such and such." They'd send a state trooper over to pick you up and take you there. You know, you were in this, that's where you were at. And then they, then at one time they had lobbyists would come down, and they had one part of it where they would have different open houses, and you'd walk around to them, it was like, almost like a, a going to the, uh, uh, over in 112:00Cincinnati, and Over-the-Rhine, or over in Covington, and, you know, just walking around to the different places. (laughs) But that went on for, it got so bad that finally we just said, you know, "This can't keep going. It's gotten bad. We got to stop it." So we just quit doing it and we started having it in Frankfort. And, uh, that worked a lot better. Uh, and there was nothing, I, I don't say there was anything wrong with it; it's just that, if you think about this, why should the state police be hauling us around. (laughs) I mean, it, that's just not the way it ought to be. But that's the way they had it back then. And, uh, I think I had three of those I might've attended before they did away with them. I don't know whether Ken(??) was there yet, see, he was in state government. Kenton's claim to fame, which is, was very good; he was, you know, he was very respected. He was, uh, uh, he was, uh, uh, constitutional officer under Governor Nunn. And, uh, then he became a legislator after that. So, but he, he might 113:00not have gone to them, maybe that's why he didn't think about them. (both laugh) I guess, we, that was, Art, Art could tell you, if you are going to talk to Art Schmidt, he'll tell you about them. (both laugh) That was something; he was there before I was.
BOHL: Um-hm. Actually he--
DONNERMEYER: --the, the guy that I remember the most he was, was, uh,uh, oh, what the hell, what's his name now? Darn it. Um, he was there before Art even.
DONNERMEYER: And he still there. Uh, I think he's gonna retire thisyear. And he's been in, uh, chairman of the banking forever. I'll think of his name -- BRUCE! John, uh--
BOHL: --Jimmy Bruce--
DONNERMEYER: --Jimmy Bruce, yeah, he's always been, uh, he'd alwayssay, "I'm going, I'm with you, Bill" See that, yeah, that's how you got elected. I'd have to come to you, like if you want; you wanted to be on the committee. And see, we'd, we started this in the House too. We would let you redline a committee. And what we meant by that, we, at, everybody had to serve on three committees, the general legislators. And if you served in that committee, uh, last year of the year bef-, 114:00the last session or the session before, we'd let you redline one to where we couldn't take it away. See, before that, the leadership still had the power, we could do anything. If we didn't like the way you had acted, you didn't get that committee, I don't care how long you'd been on it, chairman or not. So we said, "That ain't right." And we, and we, so we're gonna let you have one committee that you can redline and nobody can take it away from you. And usually that's the way it was, something like you might've been in education. So, you would want to be on the education committee, banking, whatever it would've been. So we'd, we did that. Then you'd pick the other two, and we'd ask you, we'd sent forms out to you through the LRC saying, "Put in order, one, two, three, four." So that when we get ready to do this, it was tremendous task to do, trying to pick people and get them on committees. and literally you, we used to have these, we'd go on to the speaker's office and we'd have these things up on a wall, trying to come down, leadership trying to get committees set up, and the chairman, we took care of them. That wasn't that big of a deal, 115:00because, uh, now, you know, they, they would help get your votes like from Louisville, Jefferson County, they would have so many, they'd get so many the next time, and eastern Kentucky, or whatever. Uh, but I also believed in, in, uh, even though I'm illiterate in, in, uh, computers, that's something I found out early when I was in leadership that it was almost similar to, the reason I got in the General Assembly when we would write letters and didn't get answers. Here we are, with appropriations and revenue and all them, the, the important committees trying to get information, and, and, you're in Frankfort, you had to write back and forth to each other. So, why can't we use computers? Well, they don't, they got them but they're not compatible. Oh, where does that make good sense? So I remember bringing it up to the LRC, the, the, you know, the governing body and saying, you know, "We need to, to do something about getting computers and making them compatible with the, the state, with our executive, and with the legislative, and with the judicial finally, because they're, they should have them too." 116:00And so they said, "Well, fine, you're the chairman." So they gave me, uh, Art, they, they let me pick a couple of them. Art, I had Art, I had, uh, a fellow from down in, uh, oh, he, he was the majority, the minority leader for a while. What the heck was his name? But, uh, and all he wanted to do was have the computers to find out who was on welfare. And I said, "That ain't what we're all about. We want to get this so that we can compete with each other." So, he didn't stay on too long; he was only on a couple of years with us. And, and it was a, a that, that was a daunting task because you, you wouldn't get any place, you tried to, we started talking about it, then we'd start having meetings, we found out it was going to cost seven million dollars. And, and these governor, ain't nobody got seven million dollars, they ain't going to able to do that. Then we found out you got to have security, and that was expensive. And, but I had Hank Hancock and Art and myself, and we, they kept hanging in there with me, and then 117:00the guy from Louisville, uh, he was all for it, but he just, whatever you want to do, that was fine with him. And we had, uh, a fellow from Owensboro, he was okay with them. So we kept going on and on, we kept pushing and pushing them, and finally, Martha Layne didn't want nothing to do with them. And in fact, that's where the, uh, that's where the, uh, uh, guy in charge of the state libraries got in trouble. He was all for them. And, and when they seen we were sincere about it, they would come to our committee. And she finally told them they, to get off it, she was going to take their budget away--(laughs)--from them. But we kept pushing it, and pushing it, and pushing it. And then there's different ones that came and ----------(??) say they were computer wise to a certain extent, they were all for it. And what I kept trying to say, "Look, it, this is, this is, this, this has got no ends to it. We, we'd, the, the, uh, uh, federal government was doing it. Your, uh, local people were doing it with the, with the, you know, like for school buses, everything. You know, it could be tremendous and we kept pushing that. So we finally got passed Martha 118:00Layne, got into other governors. Brown wanted to do it, but he put us backaways because he tried to bring in his people and throw out everybody in state government, and the way we had had it before that , uh, labor might have a, their computers, and that guy, all he did, or her, would be set things up for labor. Well, he decided that wasn't the way it should be. So, by executive order he put them all in a pool. And if you needed somebody you just called and get somebody. Well, they might not had expertise in what you needed, so they had to learn everything about your thing, a waste of time. And we didn't like that, so we finally got away from that. We, uh, as an aside, I got to tell you, when, when he became governor, he was a good, he was a good guy, he really was. But you had to really talk to him. And he got us together, House and Senate leadership, and he tells us that, uh, "I'm gonna run this like a business. And I, the Kentucky Fried Chicken, I've been quite successful. And that's the way we're gonna do it." And he says, "I envision this that, uh, I'm gonna have my department 119:00heads, and you guys in leadership," he said, "and that they'll give you what I think I need to get done. And then I'm gonna leave and go on vacation and come back and you'll have it done!" (laughs) And we sat there and looked at him and we said, "Governor, you got to understand something: this isn't a business. We don't provide a business; we provide services. That isn't what this is all about." And it took us a while to make him understand that. I'd say six to eight months before he finally understood that, "Look, we want to work with you. We're all Democrats too at the time. But you can't do it that way. It ain't gonna work." And, uh, then he finally, he got some people in there with him that, that were, some of them were former legislators, and Buddy Ro-, Buddy, uh, I think his name was Rogers from western Kentucky. And, and, uh, there was two or three of them, and they really opened things up to where he started realizing that. And I think that's one of the problems with, uh, with Ernie, some of the people he had there 120:00were not in state government before. And, and it isn't that you work differently; it's just that it's a different type of thing. You just don't, you are not arrogant, that's one of the things I found out there was the arrogance is awful. And his was at the time too, a little bit, you know, "We're in business, we know." Well, they found out, no, it don't work that way. And it started turning around. They did some good things, economic development, uh, they created that, there were some really good things that they got done, after about the first six months or so. Uh, but the one thing I remember with him, is Phyllis George, you know, his wife, beautiful woman. And, uh, he had us all over to the, uh, I don't know if you have ever been in the Capitol when they had the big dining room, and oh, it's, it's gorgeous. Really, it's really the thing, you know. And we're having a big steak dinner there, just the House and the Senate. And its steaks and they're serving you, they had the, they always had prisoners serving you there. See, they were people that weren't, uh, felonious but they, that they, and that was nice for them because that was good duty. They, 121:00they worked as, in the, in the, uh, governor's mansion. And we are there, and we are having it in that big room, and this great big door is at the one end, and great big table, and everything is elaborate. We're having this dinner, and the governor said, uh, "Phyllis is coming back sometime this evening." So, uh, you know, we want to get done here, and all of the sudden these two doors open up, and here's Phyllis. He jumps up and says, "Phyllis!" She says, "John!" They run to each other. Camelot, they give each other a big hug and we're all setting there going. (both laugh) Oh! But he, he was something else. He was something else. He, he got to be a halfway decent governor, really did. Well, not halfway, he was, he was pretty good after, his first year, I think he really learned fast and, and, uh, we got a lot of things done. He called me up one night at 10:30, I'm sitting here. The phone rings, I pick it up, and says, "Billy, how you doing?" I say, "I'm doing fine! What's going on?" "I want to call you." I said, 122:00"Well, who is this?" (laughs) And I told him, said, "Who is this?" And he got this drawl, you know, he says, "This is Johnny!" "Johnny, Johnny who?" "Governor Brown!" "Oh, Governor, why didn't you say so, what do you doing calling me at 10:30 at night?" "Oh, I got that bill that you had, I'm gonna veto it." I said, "You can't do that Governor," I said, "That's not for me, that's for everybody, you know." And he said, "Well, I, I don't know. I got a lot of pressure." And he was one that if you got to him last, you pretty well convince him. And I said, "Just give me five minutes." "I ain't got that much time! Phyllis is coming in. She's coming in the airplane, I, she's been gone for six weeks." I said, "Well," uh, I started explaining to him, he said, "Look, why don't you tell Buddy about it, and if Buddy says it's okay," he said, "we won't do it." I said, "Okay, that's fair enough." So I get off the phone and I start calling these people here that were involved, it was a, it was a, uh, beer distributors, and we got a, we got some people calling down there, and I called and talked to Buddy, and he didn't veto the bill, but he at least called me and says, "I have to do 123:00that." I thought that was pretty good.
UNKNOWN: Can I get you something to drink?
BOHL: No, thank you.
DONNERMEYER: I'll have a glass of water, dear, while you're at it.
UNKNOWN: Okay. Man, it's in the hundred out there.
DONNERMEYER: Yeah, I believe you.
UNKNOWN: That it is(??).
BOHL: Okay, you had mentioned--I'll just pause this for a--
[Pause in recording.]
BOHL: Okay, you had mentioned a few times, uh, lobbyists throwing thingsand being involved in things. How prominent were lobbyists during your time?
DONNERMEYER: Um, actually, it, it, finally it's gotten, it got out ofhand to where we had to change some, but I always felt that lobbyists, uh, uh, uh, a, a good lobbyist was, was, you needed. Uh, one that comes to my mind is, uh, Jim Poston who, he's a friend of mine and he also was a, a, an attorney, and he was one of the chief attorneys for Cynthiana Gas and Electric Company in Cincinnati. And he lobbied at Frankfort. and there was a , a fellow from Cincinnati Bell, the same 124:00way, and, and a couple of their predecessors, uh, that you could, you could go to them, and when a bill would come up, and ask them about it, and get information that you would not get, get their side of it. And, and Jim was one that he was very honest with you that way. He would let you know, like if a bill came up and, and they were pushing for it, and he'd say, "Well, I'm, I got a little problem with that." He'd come and talk to you and explain to you, but he wouldn't, wouldn't push you that you had to do this because, you know, nobody says you have to. Now some of them got out of hand there and that's why they had their problems and, and they got really bad. And, but, I found for the most part, most lobbyists were, were helpful. Um, and it's just like anything else, it, it just got, as it moved and moved, sometimes it got more bold with things. Uh, like when you had, during the legislature you would have these, uh, uh, Southern Legislative Conferences, then you'd have national conferences. And they even now they're gonna have one in Louisville. And they send out and say, 125:00"Well, we want X number of dollars to help put the conference." Well, that creates problems sometime because they're going to put money in it. And in fact I lobbied for a little while on a small basis after I got out. We created a situation where for the House and the Senate that you couldn't take jobs like they do in Washington now until like two years after you got out, which would get away from the, the, uh, ethics thing of it(??), which it should be that way. And, uh, uh, you weren't allowed to lobby until it, a certain length of time. And the only reason I did it is, the reason I retired is, uh, newer people were coming in, didn't know some of them, and you know, some of your, the ones that you'd always been with there, and you're getting tired, you know. You've been there a long time. And, and you think, Oh, I think it's about time for me to, to--and I didn't like the idea of how much money you had to raise to get elected. That really bothered me, that, that cost that kind of money. And unfortunately, if you didn't do it, it gave somebody else a leg up on you all the time. And, uh, so I, I finally decided I was gonna, you know, retire, but one of the 126:00reasons was, was because things kept getting to a point where, uh, it just seemed like it was getting out of hand. And then we created the, the, uh, legislative ethics and for the, the, the, uh, legislators and for the, uh, executive. Actually, they went a little bit too far with it. It got to the point that you couldn't even buy you a cup of coffee. They couldn't even, if you were at some function, and you, your ride had left and you wanted a ride, you wouldn't be allowed to ride me back to the Capitol. You know, it was, got to a silly point, and that wasn't what the intent was at all. but, uh, the answer to your question, I thought most of the lobbyists back in them days, the Kentucky Housing Authority, I mean, the Kentucky Housing Comp-, uh, uh, Group, uh, they, they were helpful; they didn't push you. Then it started getting the other way where they were pushy and then they would donate money to campaigns, and it, it got out of hand. It really got bad. And that's, that's something I thought was not good at all. 127:00And most people did too. And, uh, but, see, it seems like a, these things steamrolled. Uh, you could see it on the federal level, and the state level, even today. Uh, you have to, we made everybody, it cost two-hundred and fifty dollars to become a lobbyist, just to sign up. Either you or whoever you're gonna lobby for would pay that. And then you got to send in your reports all the time, which is good. There's no problem with that, show them what you did, you wasn't allowed to have, uh, expend so much money on, individually. And you could do things as a group though. And, uh, I just did it because my good friend was, had this business. And, uh, they were doing it but it wasn't actually covered into law. and, uh, what, what it was, was, uh, uh, this, uh, oh, for non-felonious people where the state--a lot of people didn't realize this either--felonious people they have somebody to follow up if they were, if they were, uh, probated. And not enough, 128:00but they had some people follow up, but on the non-felonious, like the first time drug or drinking, nobody follow. Well, the judges would put them on probation because they weren't really bad, they goofed, and they'd hope they'd straighten out. And they'd say, "Well, you got to go take the, uh, well, the written test with the highway department or the transportation on licensing and drinking, and so forth. Or you got to do certain things." Well nobody knew if they did it. Well, my friend started this business where he started doing that. And, uh, they also had those bracelets that they're put on their legs. And they started to come up with steering things. And, uh, they, the one judge, uh, Stephens(??), of the state supreme court said it was okay for them to do that, as long as they did it where other companies could do it, and, and that nobody mandated, you took them, they were there, if you wanted to use them. Well, most of the local judges started using this because it was to their advantage. They would know, they would maint-, they would, whatever he ordered them to do they would see 129:00that they did it. And the cost would come from them. And if they were indigent they would take care of that. Well, it wasn't in a law. And then some of these, some, I don't know who it was, started questioning it and started saying, "Well, they ain't legal and all of that." So finally, he said, "I got to do something." He said, "Why don't you go down and lobby for me?" So I did that only one time and that was it. But I, the reason I'm mentioning this to you is, I haven't lobbied now for him, uh, the last session , uh, I registered, but I didn't, didn't have, nothing came up so I didn't do, I didn't go down, I didn't want to go down. I said, "If I'm gonna down there, I wouldn't have quit--(laughs)--I'd have stayed there." (both laugh) But, uh, uh, most lobbyists do go down there and, and they're, they're, uh, you know, they use their computers and they, they're all through the whole time. And I didn't want to get involved in that. So, but they, they're gonna have this legislative thing in Louisville. And I'm, I haven't registered at all but for the last session. I've not been a lobbyist, yet I keep getting the mail from them, they want me to donate money to them. (both laugh) I have to laugh about it. In fact, I still get 130:00things from Ohio and different places; they still think I am in the legislature. They still got you on their list.
DONNERMEYER: Send you information about this, or come to that, or, uh,whatever it might be, some, uh, uh, advocacy group. And, uh, a couple of times I got stuff, I, for Kathy Stein would come to me. And like to, that was when she was still in the House, I'd to say, call up and say, "Here, I got something that, that I'm not longer involved in this. And this is what it is if you're interested," and I'd send it to her, or whatever. Of course, she's a senator now and now we got, split it up the two districts. That's something that's interesting, is redistricting. Did you see what the Supreme Court said that, you can re-district all you want?
DONNERMEYER: We didn't do that; we religiously went by 5 percent orless in this state. And we did it every, uh, uh, like every what, ten years--actually it'd be twelve because the census, the census would be ten, and then it'd take two years to get everything up to date. and, uh, we tried to be, uh, decent about it because you wasn't suppose 131:00to, uh, uh, gerrymander, but did they do it in Texas. I don't know how, I don't know how they could say what they did, that it was okay to do that, because it was obvious why it was done, which is wrong. Nobody, either side, they shouldn't do that. But, and we tried to do it right. Uh, Art Schmidt, uh, Jim Murphy, the first time I ever did it, he said, "We got to do this." I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "We got to do redistricting." I said, "Why do we have to do it?" He says, "Because that, the leadership would take each area and say whoever, like he was a chairman, you take care of that area." And I said, "Well, how do we do this?" He said, "Well, get the maps on them, and we look at the thing, and we set up what's already there now, we just go over it, and come out with what we think is the right thing." I said, "What about Art?" He said, "Well, we'll do it and then we'll call him in." I said, "Oh, okay, but you know, why don't we call him now?" "Well," he said, "we ain't going to anything to him. We'll, we ain't going to change that much." And we didn't throughout the years. And, and he used to laugh about it, because he knew exactly what was 132:00going on. And we'd look at it, there was that many changes and say, "Art, we're ready, come on, we're gonna meet now." And so, we'd meet two or three different times and we never had a problem. Uh, and the only thing even close to a problem was, I wanted the city of Crestview and the only reason I wanted it, my brother lived there. And Art had it all that time and he didn't want to give it up, so when we first met, then he said, "You, you want to take that seat away from me." I said, "I really don't want to do that." I said, "The only reason I want it is my brother lives there." I said, "You know, I give you whatever else you want to make it whatever trade." Art said, "Your brother Bob lives there?" I said, "Yeah! That's where he is at." "Oh, that ain't no problem; go ahead and take it." I mean, so that's how we worked things out. You know, you were honest with people. So, we never had any problems.
BOHL: Okay. Another really big issue during your time in thelegislature was education reform. Uh, what do you remember about the debate over education reform?
DONNERMEYER: Steamroll it! (laughs) We used to, kid, we always used to133:00kid about, uh, when that train comes down the track, uh, either you lay down, get run over, or you get out of the way. (laughs) And, uh, I felt like they steamrolled it. Uh, I think, the way I did--well, I, I actually voted against it. In the House, I think(??), I know there were two votes against it; one was me and one was Bill McBee. I don't know who else did. A lot of arm-twisting. And, uh, I remember Don Blandford and I were really close. We were close friends because he was a meat cutter at Kroger, I don't know if you knew a union meat product. And he and I'm a pipefitter. And, and, uh, we were pretty well on the same side all the time, and Don was there a long time. And he was there about maybe two or three terms before me, and I never could figure why he just was always just there! Then all of the sudden he became involved. And, uh, was a good speaker. And unfortunately the things that happened, I don't--well, I don't know 134:00that he did everything they said he did, but that's beside the point. He still was a darned good speaker. And because he was just a, a common-sense type person. And he alw-, and he believed in being fair, and I think that had a lot to do with it. But, uh, uh, when this came up, he was, he really truly believed we needed to do it. And so did, uh, uh, another good friend of mine who was in leadership, was Kenny Rapier and mostly at the leadership. And I had a real problem with it. And my problem was that if we, we were just, when I got up and I explained my no vote, I, I just real succinctly and to the point and I said, "Too much, too fast, too soon." That's it. And that was the way I felt about the whole thing. They, I talked to, uh, some of the various superintendents, and there was a lot of darned good things in there. But I felt like it, it was such a, a big change. Now, why, 135:00why, why couldn't we have stepped back, and said, "Okay, we're gonna pick maybe one in each one of the four big regions of the state and do it there. And then bring it back and then use the good things and the bad things and, and make a better bill, instead of just doing it." And the reason I said that is because of the teachers that were there. And my, our daughter wasn't even a teacher at that time; she's a teacher now. But back then she wasn't and just, just going to college, I didn't know she was gonna be one. But I just felt that, that was so important; teaching is, is really a very important job. And that they were getting thrown into something that they were in turmoil, you talked to them--and I did; I talked to a lot of them--and they were scared. They just didn't know what to expect. And I don't think some of us knew, some of the legislators knew how it was going to pan out. And that's why I was hoping that we could--and I don't believe you should, you should committee something to death either, but I thought like this was so important why didn't we just have four, six, and then 136:00try them, and then use those experiences to come out with something the way it was. Instead of doing it and then trying to fine tune it, because no matter what you do down there, you're gonna find, you can't solve everything, so you got to keep changing for the better. So the same thing could happen here and this was such a big move, and that was the real reason. I wasn't against the idea of trying to, to change some of that, but I was doing too fast like that, and you know, with they, there were so many things that kept coming up, we're going to have, we're going to have these things for the teachers, we're going to hold them accountable. If that, if Johnnie or Suzie didn't pass, it's their fault. Well, well, you know, there's a lot of things involved in different areas that maybe us kids, mothers, and dads don't even, especially mothers, usually end up taking care just, couldn't care less what they did. They that was like a babysitter going to school and these poor kids didn't have anybody that loved them but the teacher. 137:00And, and then, then they're say that they had to pass. And like I told you before, I don't think there is any dumb kids; I think it's just sometimes the environment has a lot to do with, you know, what they have, how they make out because of what their, their background, what they have or not, how they go to school, and they don't have the decent clothes and they feel like they're not worthy. There's a lot of things like that, and that's why I felt like this was so important that they should've had four or six of them and then seen how they worked. And then workout the, the bugs that was in there. And, and, you know, we have had nothing but turmoil over that since. The, the people that, that you, you'll hear the paper say, "Oh, it's been great!" Well, yes and no. I mean, there's been some darn good things, but there's not, there's been some things where goofy things that we shouldn't have done. One of the, that's one of the biggest bureaucracies down there's the Department of Education. You wonder how they, how they do things. I mean, I, I, you just wonder how things get done. It blows my mind 138:00sometimes that, that happens but, uh, look how big busing has become. You live within two miles, you got to bus somebody. We used to walk to school! And I realize it's dangerous and all that(??), I understand that, but I mean, there had to be some better way and that's one of the biggest cost of education right now. So, but that was one of the reasons I, I, it was a, it was a big thing and, and, uh, I'm not sorry, really, quite frankly, because I think that if you sincerely feel that way, you should that's what you're there for. You see what is, what it would do to your, your people in your area and be that way. I had more people tell me, "You did the right thing," than told me I did the wrong thing. I can tell you that, to this day. And the funny thing about it though is like I said, Don and I were close, and I was in leadership before he was and helped him get elected to it. He was speaker pro temp for a while, you know. And, and, uh, , uh, when, when this 139:00leadership came about, Bobby Richardson went from speaker pro temp to speaker, and he'd, I always got beat in, when, when they was there. I was, I was three-beats too, I was one of the two--(both laugh)--most of the time. But, you know, I kept staying there, plowing along, trying to be decent about everything, and get my two-cents worth in. And, uh, we were friends, and we disagreed on some things, but when it come down to where he had, went from, uh, uh, became speaker, when he went from, uh, floor leader to speaker, then we, we got a little bit closer, remember when this came about, he kept saying, you know, and he'd come into my office, and closed the doors, and said--his was right next to mine--and said, "I got to talk to you, Donny, am I in trouble?" And I said, "Yeah Bobby, you are! You're in trouble. There, there's, you can see that," because I was caucus chairman, and you talked to people. He said, "Well, we, we ought should be together!" I said "Bobby, you always told me that, you know, you, you're gonna to run"-- 140:00
[Pause in recording.]
BOHL: Okay, you were just saying that you didn't--
BOHL: --have any opposition--
DONNERMEYER: --yeah, and he, he kept, he come in and says, "You know whydon't we, why don't we run as a team?" I said, "Bobby, you always told me, you know, you run, everybody, we -- oh, I'd, I asked that when we first were, was running for election, why don't we run as a team? We felt that we'd done a pretty decent job completely around, trying to be fair and everything. Oh no, no, no, you run and we'll all run and everybody run separately." Well, for a while, there he wasn't having opposition and I was and I, I was winning. So, this time it was the other way around. He had opposition. So did the floor leader. And I didn't. (both laugh) I said, "I'm sorry, I, I'm not, I'm not gonna go out and get, get on anybody's bandwagon. I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm unopposed; I'm going to stay that way." And, uh, no, he got beat. That's a big step down when you get beat like that. But he was a good, he was a good, he was a good, solid floor leader and speaker, even though, you know, some things we disagreed on, but he was, he was a good speaker. 141:00And, uh, but that's, uh, that's very important to, to have people that are sincere, that are involved in leadership. And, and we've, now we've, we have people that are more worried about themselves than they are the whole total package. And that doesn't help. And you know, you're not going to get away from that completely, we're all human beings, but there comes a time when you got to say, "Well, you know, we just got to do it this way and that's it."
BOHL: Hm. Were there times that you, uh, had a conflict with what yourconstituents were saying they wanted and what you personally thought was best on an issue?
DONNERMEYER: Oh, well, I, I say yes, but then you'd have to kindapredicate that on the fact that you, you're bound to have so many people on one side and so many on the other. Uh, like when we, when we tried 142:00to do, uh, uh, the, create a TANK. Well, you know, a lot of people that didn't have, where -----------(??) they have a car and all that depended on that, they wanted it really bad. Other people didn't want it; don't, don't tax me, tax the other guy. And, and that was part of the problem. But again I would always try to be honest and say, "Look, there's, there's two sides of this; there's not just what you want and what they want, or what I would--I, you, you got to come to the happy medium(??). We need bus service. If you don't have bus service, it, it hurts everything." And I think that, that was more now because your Chamber realized that, your, your, your, your, uh, anybody that was involved in, in governments realized that, including your unions, they all realized that, and they got behind it. And, and that's why you end up getting it. But, uh, then, then trying to make it work, that was always the hard part. you know, coming up with how you're going to do it, because I remember, uh, reading with some of my own friends again, when we were trying to get it straightened out, of course, you would 143:00have pretty well the final say because you was still in leadership, and--(laughs)--I had met with our group from up here, and couple of them were attorneys, they said, "Don't, don't do that to us. We, we're not,"--said, "Hey, everybody's got to pay their fair share!" You know, you just can't eliminate you and just put it on everybody else. So, that's the way it still is to this day on, on TANK.
DONNERMEYER: And, you know, and it, it, sometimes it's hard to takebecause I, we eat at Frisch's down here and the TANK comes in there all the time. You see a bunch of empty buses. But when the time comes when you need them, then they, then they're got passengers on it. And what's, you could get some of us, all of us, that they start riding a TANK again, if it, it might be help us a little bit--(laughs)--with the gas and everything. Maybe that'll happen before long, I don't know. But, uh, yeah, there were times, there were other times. Uh, taxes on cigarettes, that was one of the first things that, uh, Jack Morning was, uh, uh, principal at the time at Dayton when I first met him, and that was one of the things they pushed. I will never forget this. I was, when I first ran, I was running for reelection. And, uh, I met 144:00with a, with, uh, him and a couple of other teachers and they said, "Would you, would you meet with a couple or more of us teachers to talk about the education thing?" "I'll be glad to." So we were going to meet and they said, "We're gonna meet at this church up in Dayton." And I had my son coming with me, we had a recorder with us, and it was supposed to be like, uh, eight or ten of them to, to, to discuss various things in education. and, and I, I believe in that, get it from them, I'm not an educator, as far as, uh, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm a pipefitter. So, I want to find out what, what they do from their experiences. Guess what, we got there and there must've been a hundred and fifty people in the room. (laughs) They brought everybody! Said, "Okay, fine, let's hear it." They all kept saying, "You got to put a tax on cigarettes. More money for teachers, tax on cigarettes." So, I told them, "Look, I'll put it in. I'm telling you that it ain't gonna, it's gonna be a hard sell because we are a tobacco state." Even though I, I think we should've, long before this we should've done it, 145:00we were the second lowest in the whole United States for years. And that's, you know, everybody has got to pay their fair share. But, uh, that would be one of the things that, one of them would want one(??). But I found if you were honest with them and told them up front, you know, I, I think most people would still respect you even though you might not agree with them. Uh, I, I, at least I found that, in talking to people. Just saying that, "Well, you know, we might not agree on everything but I'm still trying," ----------(??)---------- and at least you were always honest with us and let us know what was going on. And, and that was another big thing I always tried to go was to let them know what was going on. Now some of them carried it even further, but I guess I'm tight. (laughs) I don't believe in sending everything out to everybody. Because it, that would be, that's their tax money too. At the same time, I mean, uh, we got to let them know what's happening. we used to do that through the Legislative Research Commission but what I tried to do with the, with the various councils was that I couldn't aff-, I couldn't go to the council meeting because of just the time involved. Every meeting they had because you're, you have other 146:00things you did too, besides your family things. and so I would always tell them that, "Look, here's my number, here's how you can get a hold of me, anything comes up you want me to be involved then let me know, and I'll come meet with you on that particular thing or things. And just so know, I am always available. Send me copies of your minutes." And I would have to go over them. And see, when I first started out in leadership, I only had staff when, when we were in session. I didn't go to the extreme--right now, I think, well, they got all kinds of staff. Uh, majority caucus chairman, gosh, it would've been like being in heaven, if I'd been down there. They got a, they have a, they have, uh, let's see, even throughout the interim, they've got a one assistant that's with them all the time. Big money. They've got, they got two or three in the office at all times. My, my idea, though, originally was that the, uh, caucus chairman, since you're in charge 147:00of all that particular party, Democrats or Republican, they should be the main office. Well, naturally the speaker or the speaker pro temp, they didn't want that because you're taking something away from them. And what I always felt like, the legislators, my office should be their office. And we should be the bigger part of it. And, and not only because that would filter down through your constituents, we would help them with anything they needed. Well, they didn't want you to get that big. (laughs) But I never had, uh, just during the session, would I have anybody working for me directly, and usually just be somebody answering the phone, and one other person, not as an assistant, but would, uh, kinda help run the office with that person, and set up things for me, and I could contact, I had them contact them. Like if you were my assistant, put that, for, for the session only. But see, that cost money. It's a, lot involved now. And there's a lot of money involved in it. I guess I'm just too tight, I don't know. Like I told 148:00you, I don't think they should each have individual offices, you know, at full time. And I had a problem with full time; I might as well tell you that. The reason is I always looked at Ohio. They're close and they're full time and they always have been. And I don't know what their pay is now but they get X number of dollars. but, but I noticed that what they would do, they might've been full time but they'd go in, they, they, and they do meet like more than we did. We were only meet some at ninety days. They'd meet and then they'd recess. Duh, they're part time too. I mean, give me a break. That's, they had it made! Or as we were, we were part time, and we said that, you know. And then the pay is changed quite a bit since I, I was there too. But again, so is everything else, you know.
BOHL: What was it like for your family while you were in the legislature?
DONNERMEYER: Very hectic. (both laugh) They, Mary was a trooper. Uh,149:00it, it's so ironical(??), it's funny. I got this answering machine. I'll never forget this guy from Cincinnati Bell was, come to my house one day, and knocked on the door, and says, "I can't get a hold of you." He said, "You got to get some kind of a thing in there." I said, "Well, why? What do you mean you can't get a hold of me?" He said, "Well, your phone is always busy!" I say, "Well, I'm talking to constituents. You know, and I do have a life, you know." So, I had an, I have an answering machine. And, uh, what, what was funny about it was whenever, uh, in leadership on, when Friday come along, you didn't get out of there before minimum one o'clock, two o'clock, even though you met in the morning at nine, you were done by ten, ten-thirty, that was get-away day. Everybody, they just knew that. But leadership, you, you didn't get away until a lot later. Most of the other ones would be, they'd be home by noon. Well, I'd always call Mary up and say, "Well, Mary, I'm getting ready to leave." And she knew it took an hour and a half, two hours to get home, so if she's gonna fix super, she, she'll know when to get ready. And invariably I would get home 150:00and that phone would ring. "Are you eating supper?" "Yeah." "Well, it'll only take a minute." Ten, fifteen minutes later you're still on the phone. So I, I found out they must know when I come up the hill. I don't know how they figured it out. So, I just got that and what I would do, I made it(??) religiously, when they call, I'd call them back, but not right away. And then I found out it's really good, you can listen to it too, you know. Sometimes, not being nasty about it, but sometimes I, well, I, that's, I'm, I'm working on this for somebody and I know I got to get back to them right away. I just kind of prioritize a little bit then get back to whenever I feel, but I did get back. I mean(??), a lot of people say that they knew that too, that I'd always call them back. Wouldn't get them right away, but I'd get back to them. And I thought that was important that you need to, that's just common courtesy that you should do that, you know, whether they were to get on me or not, I didn't care, I'd always get back to them. And that's another thing, I never asked anybody when they called, "Are you a Democrat or a Republican?" That didn't bother me. In fact, what 151:00frank, tell, tell it's kind of funny, when people used to come to the legislature for the different things, you'd see them and they looked like they were a little bewildered. I'd stop and say, you know, "Hi, I'm Bill Donnermeyer, what's your name and where you from? Uh, what are you here for?" And they wouldn't even know you're a legislator, and they'd say, "Oh, we, we're down here and we, we're trying to get this and we don't know where to go." "Oh, what are you doing? Come on up, come up by my office, let's sit down, we will talk about this." And get them, show them where to go, and what to do, and that was, it'd make you feel good to see that somebody took enough time to, to get through the maze for them. Say, "Here's where you go, here's what you got to find out about this." Or, "Here's how you can find out about that." Or, "You need to copy them? Oh, we can get that for you. No problem." And, uh, then we always had an unwritten rule where if, uh, uh, some of the, the people like from Louisville or Jefferson County have a school class coming over, you know, to see how the legislature works, they'd have you come and talk to them. And what I would do with them all the time is say, uh, you know, "What grade you're in, what school you go to, 152:00and how do you like school?" And, and, uh, then say, "Well, how do you, how do you pronounce the Capitol of Kentucky? Louelle-ville or Louie- ville?" Invariably Louelle-ville, Louis-ville, Louelle-ville. Finally I found a little voice back that'd say, "Frankfort." (both laugh) Oh, that was kind of funny, because you kinda try to catch them, you know.
DONNERMEYER: (both laugh) And then when I'd have somebody down, I'dget one of them to come and talk to my class. And, uh, that, that's, that was always something that then I got to know all the people that took care of the Capitol. And, you know, that took the, the people around. And, and, uh, and it's always nice that you, you'd get a little note sometimes at your desk, "I, Dear Representative, I sat at your desk." (both laugh) I ran into a lady at a political thing not too long ago. And, uh, her, her father is a lawyer from out in Fort Thomas. Well, it's her stepfather, actually. And, uh, he was there 153:00with her and I said hi to him, was talking to him, and met her, and I kept thinking, I know that young lady from someplace, but I didn't say nothing. And, and, uh, a little while later on, we're, we were eating our, our dinner, and she comes over, and says, "I know where I knew you from now." I say, "Where?" She said, "Uh, from up in, uh"--see, when I had redistrict one time is we lost, uh, a population here at Campbell County. My idea was to keep split us up into three districts, Sixty- Seven, Sixty-Eight and Sixty-Ninth, but keep our base here. And then move out. That way we were being, we were being selfish, but we would be, uh, be able to contain our three districts. And it wasn't all that bad for, like we moved in, I moved into part of Pendleton County, I had, uh, four precincts there, and I had four precincts in, in Bracken County in Augusta. And I always tell them, I said, you know, you had me and Pendleton County, uh, down in Falmouth, they had liked me and two or three other legislators, "Oh we got all these legislators." "Hey, each one of them is a vote! Look at the half-full glass, not 154:00empty. You got all these legislators! Before you only had one! Now you got three or four!" But now, anyway, uh, she, ----------(??) was a, uh, judge executive out there and for years. And, uh, you met these people because they would come down and, and, uh, you know, that even your government had lobbyists, and they would always, well, if they had problems they'd contact you, that's what you're there for. I would always let them know, you know, we'd work with them on anything they had. And he sent her down to be a page of mine. And she was my page. And, uh, I had brought her in. I said, "I want you to vote for me." She said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well when this comes up, I'll tell you what's the way to push that, red or green!" And she, that, she remembered that, she come back and said, "I was your page and you let me vote for you." She said, "I never did forget that." (both laugh) I had her come in on the floor and see when they'd come in, what we'd do as a page, uh, they, we had a page lady that indoctrinated them. And then if you had a personal pa-, they would set up front and if you 155:00needed a page they would send one back, but if you had a personal one, they'd set right with you. Right next to you, you know. And that's what I had her doing. And that was one of ---------(??) people and I, you know, treated her really nice, and had her come in and I said, "I want you to vote for me." She thought that was the biggest thing she'd ever seen. She had to see that, you green light go up there. (both laugh) That's kinda funny.
BOHL: Okay, how about your daughter? She was going to school most of thetime you were in--
DONNERMEYER: --yes, she was, yeah, but she, she kinda liked the, thepolitical end of it. You know, she liked the idea that we were in it. And then, I mean, she got a good thing out of it because we would take her to these legislative things that we went to. We went to a lot of them. And they were very helpful, a lot of people thought you were wasting the money, but really if you did it right, when you went to, you went to different meetings that you had. And, uh, uh, you met with other legislators and they had meetings, and then you would, they, they had things in the evenings for the families, but at the same time you got to meet different legislators. "Well, how did you handle this 156:00kind of problem? What did you do with that?" And you got a chance of, to meet and get their ideas. And that's what my bottom line was with our computers thing, what I wanted to do was knowing that we couldn't afford computers; I was looking to have create a computer library. and then have our, like I could walk into the library and you'd be one of the computer geek sort to speak, you'd be in the library, then I could walk in, and say, "I want a, I, I got an idea or my constituents need this, or I came up with the idea, I want this bill. And I want to find out what other states have done." So, you'd get on the internet or whatever and find out what they did. And, and we, that would help me create that bill and do it better than just what we did. We'd find out what worked and what didn't work, you know. And knowing that we couldn't each have a, we would start that. So we were going towards that. And then after I got out, uh, I found out that, uh, they, see, when, when you even had a, your desk had all these, the, the copy of 157:00the bills on them in, in written form. And then you had the amendments would come, they had the amendment book and then through, right before the session started, all through that morning, you had the LRC people going through each one of them putting the bills in and putting the amendments in, and then when you got up to explain your bill, or listen to somebody else, you had to get that book out, look at that bill, and look at the amendments, and try to put them together, and now they got computers. I think that's just wonderful. That's something that I dreamed of but never did, never did get the luxury of seeing it done. But, uh, we started all of that, Hank and I, and especially Hank and I, Hank Hancock and Art, and we stayed on that committee called the state-wide retrieval. And then it had to do with the geometrics and everything, with, uh, uh, federal government and everything. And it, it's really been great; I think it's done a great thing. you know, they can, they now look from the, the, the, look down, and they can set up your, all the houses and the school district and they can set that, the boundaries up for the PVA, uh, everything, all the assessments and 158:00also the school buses, everything. It's just a tremendous what they can do now with the computer, which we couldn't do. (laughs) So, they ought to have it a lot easier. (both laugh)
BOHL: Okay. Another thing that you became really associated with was thelottery. How did you get so involved with introducing a state lottery?
DONNERMEYER: When I first got in, that was one of my things I wantedto do. I wanted to, I wanted to, it wasn't just a state lottery, when it first started out with charitable gaming. We always had bingos in northern Kentucky and Louisville, most of the large areas. And the, actually they were unconstitutional. But since nobody brought the question up, then they went ahead and did them. and what that created was a situation where somebody would get in there and do a 159:00lot skimming off the top, because, uh, your local police, your local sheriffs, your local, they didn't want to get too involved with it. And so we had kinda an unwritten rule, they were written, but there was no force of law to them other than the legislature passed the bill and said that in it. But if anybody ever brought up the question and took to the supreme court, we knew it was going to be declared unconstitutional and it finally came to that. But I was, when I first went down, I'd, I had a bill and I got up and I said, "Let, let Grandma play bingo and let Grandpa go to the track." And we, we just couldn't get any place with any of it, but we did keep changing some of the rules to try to safeguard charitable gaming. And that was really where I got into it. It was my idea for a state lottery, a very, long before Wallace Wilkinson thought about it. (both laugh) And, uh, the reason I ended up being, uh, because I was for it all that time, and 160:00still couldn't get no place, but kept coming back a lot of different times with it, when it, when he finally got elected as governor and saying was using that, well, when it came time to do it, he wanted the, uh, the, uh, which very seldom would a floor leader take a bill. He was going to run it. Usually, the leadership had assigned all the, like the governor's budget, any main bills, uh, the, the, the leg-, the legislature's budget, things like that. And when this came up, he wanted to do it. But he said, "On one condition: I want Bill Donnermeyer to run the bill. Because it was his idea in the first place. Long before you thought about it, Governor." We were meeting with him, see. (both laugh) He said, "Fine! No problem." So that's really where I got involved in doing that. But, uh, because he pushed it that way. But the charitable gaming was the one that, that, uh, I did push quite a bit too, and we got it passed. Put it on the ballot because down in western Kentucky, somebody challenged it, and they said it's unconstitutional. And Don was the speaker and I went to him ahead of time, I said, "Don, this, this is gonna happen and we better 161:00be ready for it." And he said, "Yeah, you're right, that's." So, as soon as they did that, we then started coming out with how we wanted to try to push for it to get it on the ballot. See, that's something we don't do. I don't know if you knew this either. But, uh, I think you're allowed to have four things each time, each session to put, uh, to change the constitution.
DONNERMEYER: Now, in order to do that, what we did was two for theHouse, two for the Senate. On, and, and that, what that meant that this House would come up with two changes if they wished, proposals, and the Senate would. When, when you do that, it's, it's in bill form and you propose to change the constitution to do whatever you want it to. And we would allow the House to have two, the Senate two, and we wouldn't bother theirs, they wouldn't bother ours; that was kinda an unwritten rule. And see, when you do that, it has to pass both Houses. But the Governor has nothing to do with them. The Governor don't have any say; that's the way the constitution is, so long as they pass both Houses, and that they then go on the ballot, to change the 162:00constitution. And then after you do it, if it passes, then you got to do the enacting legislation. Well, nowadays, they, lucky if they put two on. Maybe that's good, I don't know, maybe we shouldn't, shouldn't change too much in the constitution, but, you know, uh, there's some things that, that really need to be looked at, and they're playing games(??), whether not putting(??) any on, I don't think. The last time I don't think they did any. And Dennis Keene had one. I think he sh-, I told him, he, he called at me different times. And, and in fact, I backed him and helped him get elected. And he'll asked about different things. And he brought that up, and I said, "I think you ought to use it." Well, somebody in leadership didn't want to. And I said, "You still should put it in." Uh, this pardoning thing should be straightened out, not, not as a, a political thing, but it, it's wrong the way, the way it was done. As I said, I don't think it's right to say you just can pardon somebody for something they didn't do. I think the intent was that once you got proven guilty, then the governor could decide whether he wanted to pardon you, he or she. But there, I think 163:00we're misusing. I think it ought to be, uh, codified and straightened out in the constitution. And he was going to come up with something to say how you can do it. Well, they didn't want him to do it. And he didn't get to do it. Now, of course, he's a new legislator and they kind of put in the pressure on him. And, uh, but that's what they ought to be doing. Uh, they ought to be changing those things. And that's, that's something that, uh, there's, there's enough things in there that could be looked at, that could honestly need a change, or at least a look at anyway. And, uh, but they don't do that either. You know, one of the things that you didn't mention, I don't know if you had it down there, that that something that I was really, uh, didn't know a whole lot about at first, but, uh, the, uh, change from the, uh, judiciary to the, uh, uh, way we did it where we took out the, uh, uh, local police departments having the police judge and all of that, and the judicial article. that was, that was something that 164:00was kind of, uh, entertaining and keen, because, uh, Julian pushed that. And he, like I told you, he was a, a really good governor, when, when he did it, he knew everything about it. He would have staff, and invariably what he would do, he would invite like the leadership would be there, and we go through this. And you'd get a chance to say, "How about changing this? How about doing it this way?" Then he'd bring in, like if it was a county thing, he'd bring all the county judges. And you'd meet over at the mansion, and he'd have this big board up there, and he'd have his staff started doing it, and invariably within ten minutes after they started, he'd take over. And you don't find many people that headed up here that knew everything, took the time to know everything he was trying to do. He just knew it all. But he was also very open to you, you know, as far as that. Uh, when you were in leadership with him, you would meet every morning, the House and Senate leadership had to go downstairs and meet with him. And after 165:00the session was over, you'd get a little note, "Governor would like for you to come over this evening." And then usually, wasn't usually for a meal, you just came over, eight o'clock or so, and you'd meet from eight until about ten in the basement of the mansion about state government things. And then you'd go back to the session the next day. And he was very open about things. Very seldom did he get like the old governors were, "This is what I want you"--one of them was on--oh, what the heck was it; it had to do with, uh, state troopers coming in at local areas. And see, uh, the unwritten rule was state troopers didn't come into a county or a city unless they were asked to. But he, the, the, the, the problem that everybody was concerned about was the governor misusing that and bringing them in there if somebody didn't do what they wanted and, and having them getting after people what, uh, a watering hole, or someplace, or something, or misusing that authority. So, they were trying to change it and it got to be kind of a funny 166:00thing up on the floor. "Why," they say, uh, "Governor called me down; he explained the bill to me." (laughs) Everybody was against the darn thing and only after a while it finally got to the point where you got enough votes where you can pass it. (both laugh) But he, he, and he would have you down and talk to you about, you know, "This is why we need this." So I, I had a lot, he, he's back there and he's, he's done a great job, and I had a lot of respect for him for that reason that he was very open. And I'll never forget, I'd always come down about five minutes late in the morning to get to the meeting. And one time I knocked on the door, they were already in there already. He come to the door and he says, "Hi, Representative. I'm glad you could make it. How is your, how is your, uh, how is your, uh, agenda going now?" I said, "Mine's fine, Governor, how's yours?" I must have had a bunch of bills. (both laugh) Uh, he was, he was, he was good. I called him about, uh, uh, the transportation bill this last time and talked to him about it. And, uh, that's something that really makes you feel, when you call down there and leave a message, and they call you back, I've 167:00been the House and the Senate both, different ones would say, "Oh hey, yeah, we'll give you a call back."
BOHL: Well, it's almost one thirty and I'm really not supposed to domore than three hours at a stretch. Would you be willing to give me some more time so that we can wrap up?
DONNERMEYER: Sure, sure!
BOHL: Thank you.
[End of interview.]