BOHL: The following is an unrehearsed interview with StateRepresentative Joseph "Joe" Barrows who represented Woodford, Jessamine and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties in the Fifty-Sixth District from 1980 to 2006. The interview was conducted by Christy Bohl for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on Friday, August 18, 2006, in the home of Joe Barrows in Versailles, Kentucky, at 9:00 AM.
[Pause in recording.]
BARROWS: --going to have me go extemporaneously from--
BARROWS: --ideal childhood and, and, uh, we'll be here two hours, juston my childhood.
BOHL: (laughs) Okay. This morning I'm talking with Joe Barrows. Mr.Barrows, can you please tell me where and when you were born?
BARROWS: I'm glad we're starting with the easy stuff. Uh, actually born1:00at the army hospital at Fort Ord, California, uh, April 16, 1950. My father was in the, uh, navy. Uh, World War II. He was a, flew, uh, dive bombers off carriers. Very, uh, um, impressive sort of thing to have to do during the war. Still in active duty when, uh, I was born. Uh, they were living in the north side of Monterey Peninsula and that happened to be the only military hospital around, and so that's where I was born.
BOHL: Okay. Uh, where did you grow up?
BARROWS: Um, here in Versailles, Kentucky. I think, uh, probably movedonce or twice. Uh, after I was born, I had a younger brother born in Pensacola, Florida, and then, uh, we moved back to Oakland, California. Uh, and then, uh, my dad got out of active duty in about 1954, uh, 2:00thereabouts, maybe early '55, and moved back to Versailles, Kentucky. And I say back, this was my mother's hometown. Uh, my father actually was from, uh, Stickney, South Dakota. So, uh, they, uh, met as a result of the war, I'll say, in, uh, in Washington, D.C., and, uh, got married, had five kids, all of us born in a different state. Uh, the youngest, uh, born back here in Kentucky, my sister, um, after Dad got out of active duty. Uh, so I was four, roughly four and a half, or so, probably when we moved back here. And so really all, you know, I claim to be a, a Woodford County native, just not born here, so.
BOHL: After your dad got out of the service, what kinds of things didyour parents do for a living?
BARROWS: Uh, my mother's actually in the service too, uh, during the3:00war, uh, in, uh, the Navy also. Uh, she, uh, uh, was always, uh, a wife, a homemaker. Uh, we lived on a farm that, uh, that was really, uh, her side of the family, if you will, property here in, uh, Woodford County. Uh, my dad had actually taught a year after he got out of college, uh, Yankton College in South Dakota. He'd, uh, coached a state championship basketball team in South Dakota. Uh, had a friend said, "Let's go join up. There's gonna be war," and he was actually in flight training when Pearl Harbor hit. So, he was one of the early classes out to the, to, uh, the Pacific. Uh, when he got back, uh, he went to, I think, he maybe even had a year of graduate school, uh, but he went, came, went to UK, ultimately got his PhD at UK. Taught 4:00for a while at UK in anthropology, and then moved over into the administration. Uh, his mentor and friend was Dr. A.D. Albright, who was, uh--[telephone rings]--of some, uh, renowned in higher education circles in, in the state. [telephone rings] Anyway, uh, so my father was, uh, his PhD was in education. Um, and as I said, ended up being a professor, and then in the administration at the University of Kentucky until his retirement. And I don't remember when that was, probably mid-seventies, late seventies. So, uh, and Mom basically, as I said, raised five kids. That's what she did, so. She was, uh, uh, we were, uh, lucky enough to live on a farm, but that was the first farm outside of town. All the kids in the town came to the, you know, we had the 5:00baseball field, and the, you know, and the, up at our house, or at, at the, one of our fields, and we were, you know, there were just tons of kids around, and it was really a nice way to grow up.
BOHL: Okay, what kinds of farming were you doing?
BARROWS: Very traditional, general agricultural stuff, uh, tobacco,cattle, corn. My dad sort of oversaw it but didn't do the, since he was working at UK, didn't do, didn't do the farm work. We kinda helped around the farm. But, but, uh, uh, I would not tell anybody that I did a lot of, uh, farm work on the farm. Most of the, uh, stuff I did was always with friends. As we got a little older, we'd go work for somebody else. Help them put in hay, sit tobacco and house tobacco, and all that kind of stuff. But, uh, as I said, it was, uh, ideal in terms of, uh, you couldn't ask for a better way to grow up. Being out 6:00on a farm, and then but close enough to town to have friends, and, you know, tons of, of playmates and, uh, as I said brothers and sister, and, uh, just a great way to grow up.
BOHL: Okay, you mentioned that this was your mother's hometown. Did youhave much contact with your grandparents?
BARROWS: Um, no, I had, uh, really just one grandparent, in the senseof, didn't know either of my father's parents. Uh, one of them, I think, his mother died when he was, when he was like eight years old. My grandfather on that side of the family, uh, probably died when I was twoish, three. You know, I didn't have, don't have any recollections of him. Uh, my grandfather, uh, Joe Howard--where I get some of my name--
--uh, was the, a cattle farmer basically here in, in, uh, in town. And,7:00uh, he died when I was probably about eight. So, I have some memories of him but not very many. Uh, but my grandmother, now, my mother's mother, Ruth Howard, uh, was a character and she lived to be in her eighties and probably died even after maybe I'd even been elected. So, I mean, she was clearly, uh, uh, I knew her well and, or had lots of fond memories of her. And she was, as I said, a real character. After her husband died, she didn't just sit around, uh, or she went on trips. She took trips everywhere. She, a couple of world tours and separate trips to Europe and South America, and Africa, and brought, you know, slides and photos back that she'd show to the, the ladies down at the church or the civic clubs. And it just, uh, she had, we had kinfolk in Canada. She made sure we went to Canada to visit them every summer, 8:00and things like that. And, uh, I said, great sense of humor and, uh, she was a, uh, you know, very fine memories of my grandmother.
BOHL: Okay, where did you go to school?
BARROWS: Uh, public schools here, uh, Jack and Jill Kindergarten.(laughs) Uh, elementary school, Woodford County High School, and then, uh, went to DePauw. D-e-p-a-u-w University in Green Castle, Indiana, for my undergraduate work. And, uh, came back to Kentucky and went to U-, uh, University of Kentucky College of Law. Uh, '68 graduate of high school, and'72 1/2 graduate of college and a '77 graduate from UK College of Law, so.
BOHL: Was education something that your family really emphasized?
BARROWS: Yeah, my dad, in particular--
BARROWS: --because he, he grew up in Stickney, South Dakota, which has9:00got, uh, you know, less population than one subdivision. Now, it's probably was 300-four people then, and its 300-400 people now, uh, really, uh, grew up on a farm. I think his dad was a dairy farmer, even in, uh, South Dakota. Uh, several kids in that family and it's pretty stark up there. We've gone, uh, still have some property up there, and we've gone to visit kinfolk up there over the, over the time. And, uh, you know, it was hard to picture how he would've grown up on a farm and then ended up going to college, uh, because that would've been, seventeen, twenty, you know, you're talking about in the mid-thirties. Uh, in fact, I don't know how, whether I ever asked him, how he managed to make it to college. But, but, uh, uh, and then, as I said, afterwards, I think he actually did a year, uh, at the University of Iowa, and some graduate work. Uh, but, yes, uh, he sort of broke, 10:00I would've said what would've traditionally happened to somebody that grew up where he grew up, and I expect the war had a lot to do with that change, the environment, and all that. But once, as I said, uh, he got out of active duty, came back to Kentucky, why he went straight back to, to UK to work on, uh, master's and doctorate, kind of stuff. Uh, he wasn't a tremendous taskmaster in the sense of demanding, uh, you know, that we study or do that. I, for myself, I sort of, I don't know why, but I sort of did that, uh, naturally. But, but, yes, he, uh, it was clear that he valued or, or, uh, education and, and, uh, um, and passed that along. So, yeah, um, as said I, I don't remember him sitting us down as kids and saying, "Now, you will study and do," but, uh, by example.
BARROWS: Uh, I think what always impressed us at that time was his11:00vocabulary. He was a great, uh, speaker. Had a great vocabulary, and used lots of, uh, uh, I'll say, big words, but I mean words that, uh, you know, you have to think, Now, what does that mean and you might have to go look it up or something. And so, and that was the same thing people always said about him around town. "Oh, you know," they said, "He speaks well and he's got a great vocabulary." I, whether directly or indirectly, uh, uh, that I'm, I'm probably like that a little bit, I'd say, because of him.
BOHL: Were there any particular subjects in school that you really likedor disliked?
BARROWS: Um, probably liked them all, at one time, uh, in the sensethat I was probably an overachiever as, as a student. Um, I am inherently brilliant and, you know, like everybody thinks they are, 12:00I made straight A's all the way through everything. Uh, and liked all subjects, probably liked math and science, and then I can't, I don't know that I've ever done the self analysis to figure out where I switched from hard sciences to social sciences, but somewhere in my senior year in high school, I dropped trigonometry and took journalism and, uh, um, and sort of shifted. I got through college science based on what I'd learned in high school, and I had some excellent, uh, teachers in biology, two years in high school. But, uh, but again I was, uh, I was a bit of, uh, either a nerd or an anomaly in, in the sense that I played sports. Uh, I think I lettered in four different sports my senior year. But, but I was small and I had glasses and, and 13:00book wormish, and, and, uh, you know, paid attention to, to academics and, um, and a little of government stuff too. But, but, uh, um, no, I probably, uh, I think, uh, the one subject I didn't, I, I liked but I probably didn't, uh, excel in was Latin, which is not, people don't take too much anymore. But in that case, it was, uh, uh, maybe the switch that got me switching to, uh, social issues or social sciences. I thought the teacher was unfair. And in retrospect she was a, she was a, uh, tough teacher, uh, very principled and all that, but I think, uh, uh, she expected more out of me. So I got graded harder than my best friend who was a complete reprobate in a nice sort of way. 14:00(Bohl laughs) Uh, you know, who was, uh, she didn't expect much from him, so he would get the same grade I would, and I couldn't understand why I would, you know, why that is. So, there was, she had a, uh, uh, her, I think, grading based on expectations. And, and, uh, I thought I wasn't maybe treated fair in that respect. But, uh, uh, you can't pick this up on tape. Most of the things I say, I'm saying with a slight smile on my face. So, so anyway, um, and I don't know, that was sort of the beginning of some difficult, I'll say, national times in, in the mid- to late sixties. And, uh, for some reason, when I went to college, I, uh, shifted entirely away from, uh, any kind of interest in math and science and, uh, majored in political science and sociology and psychology, uh, which at college, they called it, you had to apply for that area, major, we called it at, uh, DePauw. And, uh, it was my 15:00way of avoid declaring a major. You had to write up something, explain how these, uh, subject matter were related, and what you intended to do with it and, and I had, uh, no idea what I wanted to do. And, and so I didn't, uh, didn't want to declare a major, and I thought this offered the opportunity to take as many different, uh, courses, maybe, without having to take some of the, uh, required courses for any of those particular subjects. Uh, explained how it would be good background for law school, uh, which I ultimately did, but at the time had no intention, uh, or no motivation or no goal of going to law school, um, so. And college for me was limbo. I mean, I, if I was, uh, over prepared for everything in high school, I was underprepared for, uh, every class in college, and was doing my best just to get through it. 16:00Uh, I would say DePauw was not necessarily a good fit. Uh, but was so apathetic that I couldn't muster up the, the, uh, initiative to transfer anywhere that might've been more appropriate. I tell folks, and I think I'm being, uh, uh, somewhat honest about it, uh, where I, all the schools I applied to, uh, with Duke, and Tulane and Vanderbilt, all south of the Mason Dixon line--
BARROWS: --DePauw was the only one north of the Mason Dixon line andprobably, uh, got that name from my father, who, who at UK, did a lot of institutional comparisons. And he could tell you which were "good schools" and things like that. As I said, his, uh, mentor, A.D. Albright, I think, had gone there for a couple of years. Probably the only way I even knew it existed. Uh, up until two weeks before, 17:00uh, school started, I had already been, uh, had my room assignment at Vanderbilt, and, uh, that's where I was, uh, headed and supposed to go, uh, but I had this bad, well, could be good habit but at least a characteristic of tending to do, uh, the opposite of what people tell me I should do or ought to do. Uh, and around this community, anyway, uh, Vanderbilt certainly had a great name and reputation and deservedly. Uh, but I would get, you know, on the street, "Oh, well, you're going to Vanderbilt. That's wonderful. That's wonderful," and every time I'd hear that it would make me say, "Then, that I'm not gonna do that." I basically called up DePauw, after, you know, I'd told Vanderbilt I was coming two or three weeks before classes started, and asked them if I could still come up there, sort of sight unseen. and, and, uh, went up there on the, uh, maybe slightly, uh, less than, uh, 18:00than, uh, astute notion that, that, uh, since it was the only one above the Mason Dixon line that I might get a broader prospective, the others were southern schools. And maybe if I went somewhere up north, and, as I said if I got anything out of college at all it was, it was that the Mason Dixon line doesn't have anything to do with, uh, bigotry, uh, bias, or narrow-mindedness, or tunnel vision, or any of that. But that, uh, that, that exists or can exist everywhere cause I, I found out that people in Indiana look down on people from Kentucky, and I couldn't understand why that would be the case. But, um, anyways, so I, maybe it was a good move in the sense that I realized all those things, uh, really aren't, uh, uh, geographically, uh, specific; they, they exist everywhere. Uh, anyway, that's, uh, that's how I ended up 19:00there. Um, as I said, mainly just sort of, uh, not very, uh, motivated at the time. As I said, pretty much a time of turmoil for, uh, for young people. Uh, that's when the draft, the Vietnam draft, I have, you know, recollection of sitting in a room with other people watching TV. And when the first, you know, when you got your first number, you, and I remember thinking, uh, you know, if I get a low number I'm out of here. You know, and I'll go join some branch that, uh, uh, before I get just told where to go. If I get a high number I'll stay here and really apply myself, you know. And, uh, I got some number in the middle--(both laugh)--that gave me no indication of whether I might go or might not go, and so, uh, I responded appropriately by just sort of, uh, treading water through my, uh, through college years, not 20:00terribly motivated. As I said, to me, in, in high school, all the way up to high school, I think I was, uh, fair, fairly intense, uh, uh, competitively, both in athletics and, uh, academics. In fact, I know I was. Maybe, uh, overly so. But, but to me, you know, to, if you were supposed to get an A, I mean that's what you. In, in college it was what can I do to maybe get enough to hang on and not get kicked out or something. Uh, so I lost somewhere in there the, the notion that, that, you, you know, that I should do everything I could to get an A or something in the class, so, anyway.
BOHL: Okay, as you've mentioned, it was a time of, uh, unrest really forstudents. Uh, what was the situation at DePauw, were there protests, sit-ins, that kind of thing?
BARROWS: Uh, DePauw is a small private liberal arts school. And if you21:00wanted to compare it to Kentucky, it'd be much like Transylvania or Centre. Uh, had its origins in the Methodist church. I grew up in a Methodist church. So, maybe, you know, subconsciously that might've, uh, I thought that might've make a fit or something too, But, uh, but it, but it grew a lot from suburbs of Chicago, uh, and obviously some from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, too. But a few from Kentucky, but not many, in terms of student population. They did have a good thing going, in that they had some foreign students, uh, from Africa in, uh, in relative terms, I'll say many; of course, in actual numbers, not too many, but, uh, which I thought was a good thing. Um, and it had a ROTC program, too. Air Force ROTC, which would've been the absolute best you could have hoped for if you went to any school, because Air Force was, would've been, you know, one of the places, if you were 22:00going into the military service, you would rather land in the, the Air Force than in the, the army, for instance, at the time. Uh, and, uh, someone burned the ROTC building at DePauw University, so which was, uh, uh, set fire to it. And so, even, even in a college that probably, uh, had, uh, you know, a lot of folks from, you know probably upward middle-class. Most the kids I, uh, that, that I went, to my recollection of my colleges, uh, or fellow students at, uh, DePauw were very much Greek-oriented, too. I mean, you went through Rush, and, uh, uh, did all that before classes even started as a freshman, and literally moved into some of these, uh, fraternity houses that are not like big campuses where you take an old house downtown, and, you know, that's where the. These things were built to, to house students. They 23:00had, you know, dorm rooms and study rooms and all that in probably, on average, anywhere from fifty-five to seventy-five people. And, and without that, they wouldn't have any place to house students. So, uh, and my recollection was that everybody that I was--exaggerating slightly--everybody that I went to school with was pre-med they all, they're all there because they were either gonna be a doctor, or lawyer, or something, you know, fairly intense like that. And the worst thing that happened as you, you'd see several of them crumble when, with organic chemistry, and then there, they couldn't be a doctor or something. But, uh, a lot of, you know, highly motivated to, and on a very narrow, never, ever thought much about anything other than, Oh, I'm gonna go be a doctor. Uh, and as I said, my typical reaction to when I'm getting in a situation where everybody is one way, is 24:00I'll do the opposite just almost out of, just to, you know, to see if I can, uh, disrupt or disturb a little bit, uh, the thinking or the norm. And, um, so, there, you know, it was not a, uh, I didn't burn the ROTC building--(both laugh)--in case you were getting to that. Uh, you know, but, but, but I'm saying the, there, there wasn't, uh, the student population was probably anymore than 2300, or so. Anyway, so it was, you know, but yes, even that, as I said, even at a school like that, those kinds of issues came up. You had one maybe upper-class dorm for men, and they would've been the folks who didn't get selected by a fraternity. You probably saw a little more, uh, I'll call it radical behavior out of, out of that, but more inclination to grow , uh, beards, and long hair, and, and wear army fatigues, and coats, 25:00and things like that. Uh, but yeah, even at that place, there were those issues, uh, seeped in. And in, in fact, as I said, the fact that somebody set fire to the ROTC building at, uh, at, uh, DePauw was an indication that, that, uh, was affecting, you know, those issues were, were affecting everyone. Or, or if, if not rampant, certainly present on even a campus like DePauw, so, um, anyway.
BOHL: Okay, you mentioned that, uh, you were raised Methodist andDePauw was a Methodist school, how important was religion when you were growing up?
BARROWS: Uh, well, uh, I'll say it was important in that, uh, mygrandmother, who I mentioned was one of the sort of the pillars of the local Methodist church. And, and, uh, my mother very much, uh, you know, insisted that we went to Sunday school and, uh, and, uh, church. Um, yeah, I think I was, uh, sort of brought up in the church. Uh, 26:00not, I mean the Methodist church is not a, it's, it's a fairly even- keeled, I'd say. It doesn't have a, uh, uh, anyway. (laughs) Uh, but yeah, we went, I, you know, it was, uh, church, I'm not, uh, I'd say, not unlike most youths probably, by the time I was in high school, I was getting less frequent in my attendance. But, uh, but yeah, when I was early teens probably at least still going to the Methodist Youth Fellowship, you know, and, uh, church camp, or two probably along the way. Uh, so I, I had a, uh, I don't know, I would say fairly traditional and fairly but, but, uh--[telephone rings]--active, uh, church existence young. Probably--[telephone rings]--uh, went, uh, the opposite direction as soon as I left town, if you know what I 27:00mean. Uh, I would've gone the other way probably just to an extreme of being, you know, uh, uh, not too church-oriented at all through, uh, college and, and afterwards Uh, but, uh, uh, it was, yeah, I was raised in a family where it was, uh, we, we, we didn't, uh, it wasn't, it didn't get preachy at home either, but I mean it was clear, you know, that going to church was a good thing. So. Uh, I had something else really important to say, which it will come back to me, I'm sure, in that regard. Uh, anyway.
BOHL: Okay, another big, uh, big issue from the sixties was the civilrights movement. Is that something that affected you?
BARROWS: I'll say yes, in that, uh, I remember in grade school when28:00we were getting integrated here in Woodford, uh, County that, uh, the first time an African American student, uh, George Higgins, and I want to say it was fourth or fifth grade. Uh, but again we, I, it, it went fairly smoothly in this community in that we had a school superintendent at the time, who said, "We're gonna do it." This is what I've been told; I don't actually, you know, know this firsthand, but we'd had a Simmons which is still an elementary school, but Simmons High School was the African American high school in town. And, uh, uh, so we were, uh, segregated. And, uh, but I, I want to say if it were, let's see, fourth grade for me would've have been. See, I've slipped in my math, uh, skills. Uh, uh, six, seven, eight, it would have been '58 maybe. Uh, but yeah, as I said, I remember the, the, 29:00but I, I don't remember there being any tremendous upheaval, uh, locally. I thought it was, and I've asked about it since to people who were a little older who, who were instrumental or, or who understood that was the right thing to do. And, and, uh, um, yeah. But handled very well as far as the school system in, in Woodford County. Um, you know, I don't remember any, as I said, anything really dramatic going on. Um, and it seemed to, uh, I thought, uh, again, maybe in both without, well(??), really knowing or recollecting that it went smoothly in the sense that I thought that oddly enough, maybe even, I thought for a while there we were doing better in that regard than just about anyplace else I could think of. That is, I thought, uh, 30:00that the, that, uh, white students and black students actually got along and were friends in, in, uh, athletics. Certainly, you know, it seemed to be that everybody, you know, worked well in the athletic field. I, I recall having, you know, playing little league and having, you know, there's another, uh, institution that, uh, that was, uh, was integrated, so you had, you know, uh, kids of all color playing, uh, you know, little league sports together, and it just seemed to be all right. It didn't, uh, it wasn't, uh, you know, there wasn't any sense of any real turmoil over it, and, uh, I think there's some folks historically in town probably ought to be, uh, credited with that. I don't necessarily know who all of them were. I, you know, the movie theatre was, you know, the balcony was for, for, uh, African Americans. 31:00And I have some vague recollections of that, but that didn't seemed to, you know, last for a long time. Uh, in, in my civil, civil right experience at the time was, uh, small versus big. I was the shortest guy, uh, always. Uh, and I used to, I remember taking up for, uh, black kids who were getting picked on. But not because they were black because they were getting picked on because they were short like me. I mean, I was pretty feisty; I'd get in fights with people, uh, frequently. But, it, it wasn't black and white, as much as a big guy picking on a little guy. Because sometimes it would've been a, you know, a, you know, in a basketball practice, a tall, uh, big, upper class, uh, uh, African American taking the ball away from my friend who was, you know, short like me, and, and I'd get in arguments and fights 32:00over that. But as I said, it was just the big guy picking on the little guy sort of notion. Uh, anyway, but not, uh, uh, you know, not, not so much a civil rights, uh, you know, white people, uh, picking on black people kind of stuff. Anyway.
BOHL: What was your first job when you got out of school?
BARROWS: I don't know that I've ever had a job. (Bohl laughs) I'msmiling when I say that. I, I, uh, what did I do? You know, I got out of, actually, uh, you know, I, when I said I graduated '72 1/2 I lacked one credit for graduating with my class in '72. Was another example of my, I did the impossible; I failed a pass/fail course. (Bohl laughs) Which is virtually impossible to do. Uh, and, uh, so I had to go back 33:00and get one credit. So I went, went back. And then stayed the entire year, and extensively the second semester I was doing graduate work, but what I was really doing was taking some education courses, so that I could maybe, uh, teach. And I stayed there and was the assistant, uh, baseball coach. As I said, I played baseball all through college. And really all through law school, too, played a lot of baseball. Anyway, uh, so, I, my, that, that way they helped I think justified maybe tuition help, or something, as the assistant coach. Um, that would've been, let's see, '73, I didn't start law school until '75. I think, uh, construction, some construction work, uh, my reprobate friend that I mentioned from Latin class, uh, was very good with math but also very, liked the practical applications in construction, and 34:00I had worked, uh, with him. He worked for a company and I remember building apartment buildings. I learned more that, doing that probably in terms of just very practical, uh, skills. Uh, poured concrete, did all kinds of stuff, it was, I'm glad I did now, it was hard work. Um, I don't recall ever, you know, having sort a, a steady job. As I said, I was sort a out of college a year and a half, I think, um, before I started law school. Probably, yeah, just doing that kind of sort a stuff. I've, uh, when I got into, to, uh, my first experience politically in the real life, I guess was, was in the 1974 session when I worked for, uh, Vic Hellard who was the state representative from Woodford County at the time. So, if that's January of '74, yeah, I think it was probably out of college construction work. Uh, I tell 35:00people I was laying around the apartment reading books.
Uh, but, uh, and then, uh, worked during, you know, was a gopher duringthe '74 session, and probably did, I think actually Vic had asked me if I wanted to clerk in his law office. I maybe even clerked a little bit before I actually started law school, which, uh, was good. Uh, yeah, I think I clerked, uh, yeah, there wasn't much time in there to do much more than what I just mentioned, I'd say, but playing softball, too, at the time, and baseball, and that pretty well took up all of my time.
BARROWS: Um, my first job after law school was back with the LegislativeResearch Commission, uh, where I was on staff for about seven months before I came back to Versailles and opened the law practice and did public defender work. Uh, I only did that a year before I ran for the 36:00legislature. So, I don't think I've had a real job much of, of the, of, but what I've described. I had a bad habit, too, like I said, of just, if I didn't like something, I'd walk away from it. I remember asking my father about getting a job at UK with--this was probably when I was still in high school or about the time to get out--and, uh, I had in mind that he could get me into this, when I was interested in science, into a laboratory to help be a lab assistant or something. And what he got was a, uh, job at the college agriculture where I steam cleaned, uh, uh, manure off of the concrete walls of the barns, where the, where apparently sick cattle had been. (both laugh) And I did that for about a week and I thought, No, this is not what I had in mind, you know, I was wanting to do, uh, I wanted to do, uh, what till 37:00you see this reaction(??). Oh man. Uh, I wanted to work in the lab, you know, and, and, uh, so when I found out that I was not doing that, a week or so, I thought nope, and I just walked away, and, uh, anyway. Uh, now, job-wise, that's about it I'd say.
BOHL: Was politics something that your family discussed when you weregrowing up?
BARROWS: No. I have talked with college-age kids, periodically, whilein the legislature, they have them come in, and, and, uh, I'd talk about the importance of being involved in politics, and whether it's as a politician or somebody running, not so much that at least pay attention to issues, and who you do elect, and all that. And my line that I give them is, it's important because everything that can happen to you from the day you're born, you know, until the day you die, 38:00and when you talk about issues like abortion or inheritance and the state taxes, it's really before you're born and after you die can be affected by somebody in Washington, D.C., and Frankfort, Kentucky, or down at you, you know, local or county, or city government level. So, uh, so it's your duty, your responsibility as a good citizen to pay attention to that kind of stuff. And as I say, but nobody does it for that reason, or there're very few that do it for that reason. So, if you can't do it for that reason, look, look at it this way. If what I said is true, do it out of pure self-interest. If you have some ambition or goal or your family or people you care about, as I said, you need to pay attention to those things because somebody else is gonna be making decisions that's gonna affect your life or the lives of people you care about. You know, do it out of pure self-interest, if nothing else. That motivates, people are motivated by self-interest probably more frequently than altruistic, uh, reasons or, you know, a 39:00sense of civic responsibility. It's unfortunate but it's true. Um, and in that whole spiel, I talk about how, you know, how did you get involved kind of stuff. And in, upon reflection, I'd say people, uh, uh, I was lucky. Or unlucky. Uh, it's no different than a lot of other things. Whatever happened when you were young has a great, you know, what your family was doing. Uh, so I have a, you know, good friend who's a political junkie, one of the best political minds I've ever seen at any level. He knows more than lots of people that make, uh, great sums of money being political strategists, and advisors, and all that. Uh, but, and his family, he grew up with, you know, he, he remember campaigning door-to-door when he was ten years old, handing 40:00out stuff for some candidate. Uh, so, for him that was sort a what he, he was raised doing in local politics. But I wasn't, we didn't talk about politics in my family at all. Uh, I don't remember even talking issues, even so much. Uh, so it didn't happen naturally. So, um, you know, how does, how does it happen? Uh, in my case it was a mentor situation. My friend then sort a got me, you know, well, when we turn eighteen, you gonna have to, you know, get registered to vote, sign up for some party. And, uh, I, I, I think as a good student, whatever, I would be paying attention to issues, and, and was the student council president during, in, in the eighth grade, and again in high school, but that was more because, you know, uh, not because of real politics or real issues, but, you know, I was, you know, a good 41:00student and fit the, you know, the student leader, you know, that whole stuff. Uh, although I think I had a little, intuitive political, uh, uh, notion at the time. I, when I, I recall running for the student council presidency, and, and, uh, uh, usually you dressed up in a coat and tie that day, and gave a speech to the, uh, to the students assembled. And the other two guys that were running did that, then I didn't appear on the stage or the podium when, when they were sitting up there. And I had secreted myself in the, uh, uh, locker room there in the gymnasium. And when it was my turn to speak, I walked out but 42:00I, I was wearing jeans and a leather jacket, and I maybe used a slight vulgarity in my speech, which, of course, endeared me to the students, uh, but, uh, not to the faculty or the principal. (laughs) Uh, but, so I may have had some innate, uh, sort of notions about how to, uh, do some politicking. but, um, really, uh, the friend that, that, uh, was, you know, I remember him saying, "Well, we, let's go work, do something for this guy who's running for judge," or something, uh, and so on same generation level and as important, maybe more important for importunateness, what I did, uh, in, in become a legislator was Vic Hellard who, as I said, was a legislator here who literally I didn't, didn't know, uh, but a mutual friend, a different one, had, had, uh, 43:00gotten us UK basketball tickets for a game, or something, and Vic had said, "Well, who you gonna take to the game?" And he mentioned me and it was kind of, "What's Joe Barrows doing?" He knew of me, too, and he said, "I don't know." He said, "Tell him give me a call." I literally met him on the street corner, uh, outside the courthouse when he said, "Would you be interested in working for me during the '74 session?" And no, not much, uh, communication that we'd had, you know, prior to that time. And I said, I told him, "I was just laying around the apartment, reading books." And he said, "I'll pay you fifteen dollars a week." And I told him he'd get what he paid for. (both laugh) And, uh, but that was, you know, as I said, after college but before law school. And I went and read bills and, and the face of the legislature was entirely different at that time. Uh, in that it was, uh, that was really the beginnings, Vic and several others, I'll call them, young progressive legislators, uh, you know, were starting to chafe a little 44:00bit under the notion that they couldn't, you know, on their own make some decisions, or initiate some policy, uh, or program kind of things, but, uh, very much at the beginning of the legislative independence, uh, movement. Uh, had very little staff, uh, support. Very little, uh, you know, additional, any kind of support, so, I, I was a rarity in, not everybody had a, uh, they use the word intern now or something. But I, and he just I think decided that he would do that. And, uh, so I read bills, uh, which you, you know, wouldn't even know might be voted on. Uh, you know, no bill summaries in those days or anything. That was my job. I read bills and summarized them for them, and then indicated whether I thought they were good or bad, and, of course, 45:00had no, no notion at all, uh, whether they were, were or not. And I mean, I was too green to know that. And I, I would go down to the law library, and, and, uh, the ----------(??) would read all these things and give them a little yellow pad of, uh, explanation of the bill, and he'd take it, and he'd show it to four or five of his colleges, and I'd sit up in the balcony and watch the proceedings. And, and, uh, I kid by saying, I, I was probably controlling five or six votes in those days, uh, which is more than I control right now so. (both laugh) But, but it's just a different time. You just, uh, in, in terms of the, I'll call it the maturity or the, uh, or the, uh, the way of the legislature worked. I think '74 was the first, if not the first, one of the first sessions in which they actually had budget hearings. 46:00Uh, you know, before and, and probably even during that time, the budget would be introduced, and it went, on occasions, you know, within a matter two, three weeks be passed or less, with no changes in it whatsoever, and that session I think they had some budget hearings, and actually asked people from the administration to come over and talk about the budget. And some of them I don't think bothered to even--
[Pause in recording.]
BARROWS: As I said fledgling(??) times for what really is the singlemost important thing that the legislature does, and that has power over the purse string, and if you can imagine, uh, the legislative branch never even bothering to ask questions was about a budget, when that's their real power, and real, uh, uh, you know, single most important thing we do every two years. Uh, and it's always the issue. People always talk about the, you know, what are the issues of the session; the issue is always the money, where's it coming from, and where's it 47:00going, and how you spending it? And, uh, as I said to them even now imagine that, uh, you, you, that the legislature did not even bother to ask a question about the budget, it just seems, uh, uh, extraordinary to me. And, and upon reflection but I think, but '74, as I said, is when I worked down there for, uh, Vic Hellard was kind of the beginnings of this, uh, coming out of a cocoon, I think, for, for doing what really is the legislature's primary responsibility. But you've asked me what my first job was.
BOHL: That's okay. (both laugh)
BARROWS: Uh, anyway.
BOHL: Okay, so, then after law school you went to work for the LRC yousaid, what kinds of things were you doing there?
BARROWS: Well, uh, Vic Hellard was very popular, good politician, and,48:00uh, uh, represented Woodford and Jessamine County in the Fifty-Sixth District for two terms, '74 and '76, or '72 and '74, I'm not certain. Uh, but it could've been there for as long or longer than I've been here. Uh, but in those days because the legislature wasn't exactly the, uh, hot spot for independent, uh, you know, initiative and all that, typically, and this wasn't unusual, uh, frequently I'll say, uh, legislators, representatives would come in and stay for four years, just like a governor would. In those days were primarily Democrats. So, you were having factional fights in the Democratic Party, and typically, uh, whoever got elected would bring in, you know, on his coattails, legislators, uh, I mean, representatives who might be identified as being in his wing of the party. but, uh, but we had a 49:00working arrangement, as I understand it, with Jessamine County that is, uh, someone from Woodford County would hold the seat for two terms, then it would be Jessamine County's turn to do it for two terms. And, and then the fight would be within the factions in both those, uh, counties. So Vic held it for two terms. He was, uh, uh, then, as I said, had a law practice. Uh, not his so much as with, uh, uh, Calvin Rouse and Jim Rouse. But, uh, but Bill Kenton from Lexington was his good friend, and, and, uh, uh, Bill Kenton had become speaker, uh, probably in '76, or thereabouts, hand-selected by the Governor, as was the tradition of that time. Uh, and asked Vic if he would come over and be the director of the Legislative Research Commission, which, again, was still not anywhere like, I mean, it was not massive or, or 50:00modern, I'll say, had(??) good folks but I'm just saying it was not, uh, not a major staff, uh, uh, which if you've heard anybody talk about Vic Hellard, I think you would, they would say he, uh, as much as any nonelected official, was responsible for, for bringing the legislature into a more appropriate role by improving staff, and, you know, the, the ability of the legislature to deal with their constituents, and all that kind a stuff. Anyway, uh, so he was director of LRC when I got out of law school, and, and said, "If you need a job, come over and work at LRC," in which I started after I graduated and before I took the bar exam, uh, probably up until I took the bar exam, I was studying 51:00but after that, uh, I'll say July or August of '77 and worked there as a staff person, a committee staff person. I think I was assigned to the city's committee, um, through the, um, '78 session. Uh, I did regular, you know, staff work. Drafted bills, and put on meetings, or, you know, sat in on committee meetings, and did that, but I actually drafted legislation, uh, witnessed the session, and all that, and, and, uh, pretty well thought that I knew everything there was to know about the legislature at that point in time, about the legislative process, which was, uh, completely naive. Uh, thought even after being there in '74 and serving as a staff person in '78. We had a great, uh, uh, hobby, I'll say, among staff people of sitting in the gallery and 52:00watching on occasions the floor discussions, and I remember forming opinions about legislators based on what I observed on the floor. Uh, and couldn't have been more wrong in my conclusions about, uh, uh, you know, who really, uh, had, uh, the clout or power or influence. I'm trying to think of something that doesn't sound -----------(??), but who were good legislators and who weren't, because as I now obviously, discovered the floor action is sometimes the least significant part of the whole process. But I remember thinking, Oh, I can do that, you know. And that guy's an idiot, and that guy's, you know, he's, you know, he can't, uh, you know, if that's, that's what it's like, why, you know, I'm bound to be able to improve this situation. And, uh, of course, I knew it from the technical side of how a bill becomes a law, 53:00like a textbook, with no earthly notion about what it really takes, uh, to get, you know, A moved all the way to Z in the legislative process, which was really about people and personalities, and, and which is politics. Uh, I had no, I don't think any innate skill in that regard. The friend I mentioned was just the opposite; he had all the innate skills of dealing with people and would've made a great, uh, legislator, as well as what he liked to do, and that really work behind the scenes on the campaigns and things like that. He understood the people side of politics, and, uh, I would've said I was more of a policy side of the politics. But, uh, with enough showman in me, I guess, to get, get over the hurdle of, uh, the people side that you 54:00have to, you have to be at least somewhat adept to get elected I would think, so. Anyway so, as a staff person did regular staff stuff, and then, uh, since I was a, a lawyer, decided I'd come back to town and open a law practice, which I did by myself. Uh, did public defender work, as I mentioned earlier, which sort of paid the bills, and that would've been, oh, April, May of '78. And, you know, by May of '79, I was running in a primary. Um, have no idea how we got into that, other than probably again my friend and some other young guys were saying, "You know, we gonna run anybody for state representative?" I remember having a meeting at my house in which several folks--several meaning 55:00five or six--talked about, you know, we gonna try to find somebody to run against John V. and two or three wanted to do it. And I don't remember why exactly but I sort of stepped out first, and said I was gonna do it, and can I. You know, everybody else sort of backed off. But, uh, I was still in my late twenties. So, it was a little bit, I don't know what, what, uh, I don't know why I did it. I don't recall, I'm, I'm certain it was more of a, I've been down there, and I, it looks interesting, and I've enjoyed it, and, uh, it was certainly not because I thought I was, I had some, uh, tremendous issue, you know, that motivated me, or that I was gonna save the world, or anything like that. It was more very, uh, pragmatic. yes, I think I can do a good job, and at least as good as the, what I've seen down there, and I 56:00think since I've been down there, I think I would know, I could be good at it, and that kind of thing. Uh, but completely clueless on the, the campaigning side or the real politics of, uh, what that decision, uh, would translate into, so.
BOHL: When did you get married?
BARROWS: The watershed year was 1977. I got out of law school andpassed the bar exam, uh, got married in the same year. Uh, my wife, Jean, and I've been married now thirty--no, thirty, '77. Be twenty- nine years. Uh, and, uh, probably dated, I'd say all through law school, six, seven, I probably dated her six years exclusively before we got married. Um, so, we've been together for a long time. Uh, she 57:00may listen to this someday, so I'll go on and say probably the best thing that's ever happened to me, and the richest blessing I've had is, uh, finding somebody that likes to laugh at my, uh, comments, and, and, uh, entirely supportive, and, and, uh, probably intuitively, uh, uh, as good a politician as anybody, and not in the political sense, but I mean if you just want to, uh, you come back from Frankfort either on an issue, a tough vote coming up, and/or, uh, a political situation in the campaign, uh, you can get, you know, bogged down in details and nuance, or this and that, and go, uh, you know, uh, just worry yourself to death over it, but, uh, she's able to just, just cut right through all that, and get back to, you know, the basics. 58:00Here's, here it is. And then invariably if I ever got any advice on, on, on that, it was always the right advice. She(??) had a hand in something. And I think, she just retired this year; she'd been a, uh, first grade teacher for thirty-two years, and I think her ability to deal with first graders probably, uh, gave her that insight on how to deal with, uh, legislators, and, and, uh, political issues, and things, too, because, you know, I think with first graders it's probably as a teacher, it's probably this way or this way, and it's pretty simple, and that experience probably, uh, proved invaluable in dealing with me, and what issues I'd be facing in the, uh, the political arena. But as I said, invariably, you know, the right advice. And, uh, uh, so.
BOHL: How did your family react when you told them you were going to run59:00for office?
BARROWS: I have no recollection. I wasn't estranged exactly from myfamily, but I think I mentioned, uh, you know, going off to college and then sort of going the opposite direction of how I was raised. I went through this period of time when I probably was in fact estranged from my father. We didn't talk much. And my mother, you know, I didn't, I wouldn't hang around as much. Wouldn't, you know, I got into this, uh, I won't, don't give me anything for Christmas because I don't, I'm not giving anything to anybody for Christmas kind of notion. Uh, again, one of those, uh, traits, if it's what everybody else is doing, then they're, then they're not doing it for the right reason; they're just doing it because that's what somebody's told them they have to do. I got married, I, I said on one condition; we're not gonna have any rings. As I said, "We'll, you know, get married, and we'll, you know, you can," uh, so we went through the write, write our own vows 60:00routine, too, but as I said, the only condition I have is we're not gonna do rings because everybody, you know, gets married, gives the other person a ring, and it doesn't mean anything. So we're gonna do without rings. See, how that works. And it's worked well. But anyway, that, um, I don't remember, you know, talking in advance with them about it, or shortly thereafter, or I'm not sure what kind of reaction, I'd get kidded a lot because the first time I ran, my, my friend, as I said who's been a political sounding board and strategist, uh, laughed because hell(??), your family can't even vote for you. One of them, I had three brothers, and a sister, and two parents alive at the time. My father was either registered Republican or Independent at the time; my mother and grandmother, God bless them, were Democrats, and I'm sure voted for me, but I, I probably had two other brothers who were either probably not registered to vote. I mean, it just wasn't, 61:00in my family, it wasn't, you know, we didn't grow up with politics, so, uh, hell(??), I don't even know how, what any of them were registered at the time now. So, um, all that mass, core mass of support there with the numbers, you know, a big family, uh, probably didn't translate into, to, uh, actual votes, except that most of my family is likeable, okay. So, you know, my brothers are, are likeable folks. and in a, in a odd sort of way, I always thought that since I didn't grow up in a political family in, in terms of a small community, I didn't come into the race with any, any baggage, any preconceived notions, or anybody not liking, you know, my faction because we'd been involved in other races. So I think in an odd way it sort of benefited me in some respects that, that, uh, uh, you know, maybe I hadn't been involved in 62:00politics, but my family was not involved, and I don't remember really talking to them about it. Uh, I'm not sure what kind of reaction. My grandmother, uh, as I said, her reaction was, "Oh, I've never been involved in politics; this will be wonderful." So she was a, a vagarious person. So, she, "Oh, you got to vote for my grandson," I mean, she was never involved in politics, she was a great politician in the sense that she would've, you know, enjoyed telling everybody that her grandson was running, and they needed to vote for him. Would've, would've I'm sure, uh, secured a lot of votes for me, and my mother kind a the same way probably. You know, well liked. And my father was a stranger in the sense, you know, you have to live here for a long time in a small community before you're accepted. So he's not from here. And in, in fact some of the staunch Democrats, I think my father had maybe run for magistrate at one time or something, and, and, 63:00uh, gotten beat by a guy that he thought, you know, an imbecile, and I think that soured him on politics. He would've said, "How could a guy who can't, you know, I don't think can, you know, not too bright, you know, beat, you know, somebody well educated," or something like that. And again I think there were some staunch Democrats that thought I might be Republican since my father was either a Republican or an Independent at the time. In other words one of the initial things I had to do was convince them that I was actually a Democrat and, uh, be running in the primary, but, uh, anyway.
BOHL: How did you go about campaigning, door-to-door, or?
BARROWS: Yeah, I, I, uh, was clueless on how to campaign. Uh, wasn't64:00in a position to, I mean didn't have, uh, of course, campaigning was a lot different then. Wasn't money-oriented like it is now. Uh, I, as I said, completely naive on how to campaign. And, and to this day don't know how I won that race except I remember working extremely hard. That is, I'm, and I'm, you may find this shocking, I'm not by nature a gregarious person. I'm pretty much, uh, uh, keep to myself, I'm not, uh, a, a backslapper, or happy-go-lucky, or my personality was pretty much of, of, a shy, in all honesty, and, and, uh, so the most difficult thing I think I probably ever done in my life would be campaign, and not just the first time, it's something I've always have to, would've always had to gear up for, but to go up to strangers, or 65:00people I didn't know, and introduce myself, and ask them to vote for you is probably the single most difficult thing I've, uh, done. So, it was fairly traumatic, uh, campaigning in, in that I had to do that. Uh, but that's what I did; I, I knocked on, I went to see people, and, and, uh, knocked on doors, and drove up and down country roads, all, up to farmhouses, and, and got around, and just talked to as many people as I could. Uh, don't even remember what I told them, or what you know my, you know, that I had any particular pitch. Um, I'm convinced I got help from folks that I have to this day no knowledge. That, that for some reason or another decided to help out. Uh, as I said, I was, I got a lot of, you know, this, "You're awful young to be doing this," kind of thing. I had a sort of pillar of the community 66:00kind of guy, well-respected dentist in town that agreed to be, he was, you know, same generation as my parents, uh, agreed to be my campaign manager. And again it's cause my friend said, "Get him because he'll give you, uh, creditability." That guy didn't know anything about politics either, but if he'll be your campaign, you know, manager, then you automatically, you get some. I, I didn't understand those kinds of, uh, thoughts or, or things. Um, and it, and it, and it obviously helped. Uh, had, had no business winning the race. Uh, to this day don't know how I won the race. Uh, and that's why I say, I'm convinced I got a lot of help from folks who, who I would never, I don't either, that I to this day wouldn't know necessary because the ones that would've been involved in politics all the time would've at some point in time made a choice about who they were gonna be for. Uh, right 67:00prior to the election I got a call from a, uh, fellow in Jessamine County--this, I'll just use this as an example of how I didn't know anything but how things happen that, that, uh, in, in the campaigns- -uh, I was in the race against a two-term incumbents, uh, John V. Carpenter, a great guy from, uh, Jessamine County, very popular in his home county. Uh, and Jessamine County was a larger county population wise. And I was in the race here from Woodford County, but the ten-year incumbent mayor of Versailles, well-known person, filed also and was running. And so the convention of wisdom is, and, and people who were for me that, like Vic Hellard would say, "You just need to understand, you can't win the race, but this will help, you know, get your name out, and you can be ready for the next time," or something, because one person from Jessamine will beat two people from Woodford. 68:00You split up the Woodford vote, and, and Mayor Miller's run and been elected mayor, and, you know, he's gonna have a base support. So you just go work hard and don't get disappointed. But, uh, well, uh, the night before the election, I get a call from a guy in Jessamine County who, who doesn't identify himself and just says, "Mr. Barrows, I, I want to ask you one question." And I said, "What's that?" And he said, "Who got in the race first in Woodford County, you or the other fellow, the mayor?" I said, "Well, I, I filed first." He said, "Thank you, that's all I needed to know." And I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Well, that means John V. Carpenter had gotten the mayor to get in the race to assure a split vote in Woodford County." I don't know if it's true or even think it's true, but that's the way this fellow thought. He just said, "That's all I needed to know. Me and all my people will be for you," because in Jessamine County, he was in some 69:00faction that wasn't the John V. Carpenter faction, you know. "I'll get all my people to be for you." But all he needed to know was who was in first cause I would've been then, you know, the real candidate, and whoever got in second would've been the plant. Well, that kind of stuff never, you know, I was, never occurred to me that people, you know, plotted and schemed politically that way. Uh, anyway, so, I, I mean, I just anyways, I didn't know any better. I just, all I did was, uh, you know, had, you know, it's like the old Mickey Rooney movies where, "Let's go do a circus, you know, and we'll put on a circus." I, you know, I had friends sitting over at my in-, in-laws, my mother-in-law, mother and grandma, we'd literally doing old-style campaigning, with the hand-addressing letters and mailing. And, and the first few times we did it, we separated them by zip codes there sitting at the kitchen table or, or dining room table at my mother's 70:00house. I mean just, uh, it was, just, as I said, the day when it was people campaigning and not, and not just money campaigning. But, uh, ended up, uh, winning by about 365 votes. Uh, completely shocked. Uh, um, as I said, to this day I don't really understand how it happened because I, as I now experienced in campaigning, the math(??), uh, the conventional wisdom was right; there's is no way that, you know, a novice twenty-nine year old, or twenty-eight year old should've won a race against an incumbent mayor and incumbent, uh, legislator who was well liked. You know, John V. Carpenter was well liked in Jessamine County. The simple explanation was they, uh, took it for granted in, in John V. Carpenter's, uh, camp or in Jessamine County. Yeah, 71:00he would've been assumed a shoe-in. And, uh, that's the simplest explanation was, uh, turnout in Jessamine was probably light, and, uh, they assumed he was gonna win. Uh, the reason I like John V., among other things that I've run into him periodically since and, uh, he's never seemed bitter or anything, uh, he called and congratulated me that night, which would've been a tough thing, always a tough thing to do, but a tough thing to do when you were probably expected to win, and you get somebody out of nowhere that beats you. I only mentioned that in now, having been, uh, in the legislature for twenty-seven years, and I don't know how many races I've run, uh, oddly enough only two people have every called me during that time to congratulate me: the first race I ran and the last race I ran. And nowhere in between did anybody ever call and say congratulations on, on, on winning on the good race, and all that, which is, uh, I think, uh, um, well, an indication on how 72:00tough it is to have to, uh, when you get beat to actually congratulate somebody, it is a tough thing to do. Uh, and I think the rest of it is everybody that I beat had fully expected to beat me since I was such a lousy, uh, politician that it, it made it that much more difficult to accept, uh, the fact that they didn't win. Uh, but, uh, uh, I just, I always thought that was a little strange cause, uh, you know, I've always thought I won races because I outworked my opponents literally on the ground, uh, even as campaigns, and mine in general became more sophisticated, or money-oriented, or mailing-oriented, or media-oriented, and all that, I still believe in a, in a smaller race, which I consider a state representative race be, you know, still a fairly finite small, you know, even now forty thousand people, and 73:00not that many voters even. What, twenty, you know, eighteen thousand registered. And so, uh, it is, uh, it's about going and seeing people. And, you know, the bigger the race, the less ability you have to do that, so it shifts toward, toward media, or, or, uh, whatever else. But in at least a size race of a state representative race, I think you can still win, or ought to win, or ought to focus on seeing as many people as you can see. Single best way, it's the most inefficient way, time-wise to campaign, uh, but it's the single best way to campaign. Uh, and it's the single best way to find out what's going on. People, by and large, appreciate that you came by and asked them, first of all. I've had, you, everybody you've probably interviewed has told you they've had some guy that said, "Well, you didn't ask me to vote for 74:00you and so I didn't." People like to be asked. And, uh, and I can tell you how the outcome of every race that was going on simultaneously, uh, how it was gonna turn out by the, by the polling I would do, if you will, or just the feeling I would get by knocking on doors and talking to people at the door, I could tell you who was gonna every race that was, that was going on. Uh, I wondered what was, you know, really on folk's minds, uh, not that they talk a long time to you, but you just, you sort of, you, you pick up on what, what's on folks minds. I, as, as the district I represented morphed over time, redistricting and all that, I picked up Franklin County precinct, uh, lost half of Jessamine, and then lost all of Jessamine after the '96 supreme court ruling, which was one of the worst rulings I've ever, as a, I'll say as a lawyer and as a legislator, one of the worst rulings the redistricting, 75:00uh, decision, uh, in, in '96. Got out of Jessamine all together because it was now then unconstitutional to split that county and had to pick up precincts in Fayette County, which, uh, any incumbent will tell you, they don't like their district lines changing much. It's the fear of the unknown that, uh, they like the familiarity of the campaigning with the same folks. But, uh, anyway, so Fayette County was relatively new to me. I remember campaigning, just amended in the last campaign in the primary, just to demonstrate my point about what, uh, that was one of those sessions in which we had not passed a budget. I thought, they're gonna eat me alive. They won't understand how much work we actually did. They just, you know, the, the press will hammer on the end result. Like we didn't do our job, when I can tell you that that the amount of work that goes in to every session people by, by and large are clueless. They don't understand how much time, uh, folks 76:00spend in that process over there, staff as well as legislators, both. And as I said, they're gonna, you know, I'm, I'm gonna go around, take my medicine, I think that's also the best thing to do, you go around and let people vent. They, you know, even if they're not happy with you, you give them a chance just to slap you around, and vent, and get their frustrations out, by, by seeing their elected official. So I started knocking on doors, precincts in Fayette County, not one word about that. All they were talking about was what every little turmoil was going on down at the, the metro-government, the Lexington Urban Fayette County, area, Government. (laughs) So I'm, everyday I'm leaving the campaign trail, I'm wiping my brow, going, "Shoo, they're not, they're not mad at me; they're upset, you know, at the local guy," whatever, you know, there're a few controversy's going on, you know, and just personality-wise in Lexington. So, I thought, Well, this is great; I'm not gonna, if I get beat, it won't be because all the sudden 77:00everybody's mad at me because we didn't pass a budget. That ain't on the radar screen for the folks. Uh, so, you know, I go again talk to them and, and find out what, uh. But if you would sit back and only run a media campaign, or something, you wouldn't have known that. You might have thought, Oh, that's gonna be that'll be on their minds, I'll emphasize that I, you know, was for a budget. Well, they'd have taken that mail piece and thrown it away; it wouldn't, you know, wouldn't, wouldn't have mattered anything. So, where was I? Where were you?
BOHL: (laughs) Okay, your first term, uh, the incoming legislatorsdecided to form a caucus, and you were the chair. That seems to be pretty unusual based on what I've seen elsewhere. Can you tell me a bit about that?
BARROWS: Yeah, completely naive again. It goes back to my notion that,uh, uh, that, you know, having worked in '74 as a gopher and then been on staff that, that, uh, we all, that we as first termers ought 78:00to have our own, uh, caucus. And then we could, you know, talk about legislation or something. (laughs) Like that and somehow we, we should bond. And well, uh, so we did, and I think I probably advertised or others did that since I've been on staff I might've be a good one to chair the caucus or something. Well, it, it wasn't a significant caucus, I'll say, or, and, and didn't last very long in the sense that, uh, again, once the session gets up and going, that this caucus would've had fresh, would have had first term senators as well as House members together. The way you split up, you never really see anybody from the other side much during the session. Uh, and then obviously had some Democrats and some Republicans. Well, at some point in time, you know, you're, you know, that gets, uh, split, and so, it's not 79:00a, it was again more from a, a fairly naive notion that this was, uh, would be a good thing. Uh, that it could have some impact, you know, and would be helpful, a good way to discuss the issues, you know, and, uh, that's about all I remember about it. That and I thought maybe we were gonna, uh, have revolving chairmen, you know, move, you know, have a different person chair periodically, so that more people would get involved. And, and, uh, I think those that were a little more sophisticated, uh, on the people or personable, personality side of the, the, the process that were incoming freshmen that pretty soon recognized that they was not, they were, they were all ready busy doing the real politicking, and making friends with their, you know, the 80:00experienced legislators, and things like that. So, I chuckle now, it's probably not a bad idea, but in reality if I'd known anything about the process down there I would've recognized there was not going to be long lasting or effective. We didn't talk much as first termers either. I, you know, the, the first person to get up and speak on the House floor I think during that session was as a first termer was me, and I did it just to announce that we were having a meeting of the freshmen caucus. So, uh, it wasn't necessarily encouraged that, uh, first termers got up and voiced any kind of opinion on substitute matters. Uh, anyway that, uh, I don't know if you've picked up on the freshmen caucus, but that was, uh, uh, as I said, I'm sure a wonderful conception idea with no real pragmatic significance.
BOHL: Okay. You were also widely known as one of, uh, a group oflegislators known as the Young Turks. Can you tell me a bit about that 81:00experience, those colleagues?
BARROWS: Uh, yeah, which, and it wasn't that the freshmen caucus morphedinto Young Turks; that did not happen. Uh, the Young Turks were--I'll go back and analogize to when, as I said, I was an intern for Vic Hellard. There were a group of what, I thought, were fairly progressive young legislators at the time, that, that, uh, not single-handedly, because there were Senate members, too, and, you know, this whole notion of some legislative, you know, independence or coequal branch of government stuff. There were some pretty progressive young legislators in the, in the mid-seventies. Uh, now, not that we were either young or progressive, but, but I'm saying they would've coalesced around some things that they would've have thought were important and, and tried to do something about it. That's kind of what happened with the Young Turks. We, uh, as I said, my wife was a teacher; Harry Moberly's wife was a teacher at the time; uh, Tom Jones's, uh, wife was a teacher; uh, 82:00Joe Meyer was, uh, you know, very much believed in education. Uh, so several of us newer legislators were coalescing around this whole issue of education which, uh, you know, sort of, sort of became the hot about 1984 with the nation at risk of being published and, and all the sudden this real emphasis on improving--[telephone rings]--and, uh, elementary and secondary education primarily, uh, at the time. [telephone rings] And we had, I remember, uh, when I first got to, to the legislature wasn't any big deal to be on the education committee, and my recollection in those days was the issues that came up were relatively, relatively insignificant. The people affected by them might've thought they were, but they had nothing to do with big, big stuff. And, and I remember being somewhat astounded, uh, uh, that the way was sort 83:00of the handle was you heard from the teacher's group, you heard from, uh, a school board's group, you heard from a representative, and then you heard from the superintendent's representative. And, and it was like, well, each of you on the committee knows who you're gonna listen to, let's just, just let, and then, and then you take, take the vote. It's like no real, uh, uh, you know, starting something with a notion that we're gonna make things better. It was just whatever happened to, you know, bubble up. And then here are your instructions, you know, and, uh, then, I'm sure it wasn't as bad as that, but that was kind of what I was a little disappointed in that. Uh, but, uh, Roger Noe was another one in that, uh, group. Uh, I think out of, uh, I'll say, a genuine appreciation, uh, and maybe just in, in, my case, so I could have something to talk about with my wife when, when I was 84:00in Frankfort, so I'll get on the education committee, so we could, we could, uh, have something to talk about. Uh, but I think the issue probably was education that got us, uh, you, you know, talking and, and discovering not just on education, but in lots of other issues, we, we tended to come down on the same side of, uh, of issues, and so it's not unusual for folks then to mingle with folks who, who think similarly. And, and, uh, so we got, as much as anything we're becoming friends. Uh, uh, and at the same time, you know, voting the same way, or taking on, you know, tilting of the windmill every now and then. Uh, and, uh, probably the description of being a Young Turk is, uh, as much to do with, uh, uh, then what was the political coup(??) at the time. Um, unseating a sitting, uh, speaker and, and electing, uh, 85:00uh, uh, a challenger. Uh, Bobby Richardson had succeeded Bill Kenton who had, uh, I think things would've been a lot different had he not died, in that he epitomized Bill Kenton in sort of what a speaker was. Of course wasn't(??) a new legislator, he was stentorian, and, and Boom Boom was his nickname. And he, he was a bright politician too. Uh, uh, he, you know, he was thinking, uh, institutional kind of changes, along with Vic Hellard, that, that's why they made a good team. And actually, you know, that would've, were, General Assembly or legislatively-bias, you know, trying to improve the lot, uh, although I think he wanted to be governor. So, would've been curious, interesting to see how he would've, uh, then, uh, if he'd become governor, handled 86:00this, his old stomping grounds. But anyway, uh, Bobby Richardson was the, uh, when I first got elected, I, I sat beside him on the House floor in the same seat I sat in for twenty-seven years, because I found out my first term, that the floor leader and the traffic cop of the, of the session, uh, I think I heard more sitting beside the floor leader than I would've had I sat half way across the, the, uh, you know, people have to come there to, either get information or give information. And, and, uh, but anyway, I sat beside by Richardson, who I think almost epitomized what a good floor leader was like. Was real interesting, uh, but after Kenton died, Bob, Bobby Richardson became speaker. Uh, and he was not a good speaker in my opinion. Or I mean, and he was, he was good on policy, he was a good politician, he was an excellent, uh, speaker, which is what a floor leader needs to be, uh, as opposed to a speaker who doesn't hardly speak at all, 87:00certainly not in terms of speech -------(??). Uh, but I didn't think Bobby was as, as well suited for the speaker's roll, uh, as he was for the floor leader roll. Uh, uh, anyway, that, uh, so, Don Blandford takes on Bobby Richardson, who, uh, and again, I'm still fairly naive in, in politics. I'm thinking policy stuff mostly. And we were, uh, somebody, I don't know, I don't know who to give the credit with the, the notion, uh, could've been Roger in that he probably he grew up as Young Democrats. This is the kind of thing you would've learned in the Young Democrats, or something, about how you, uh, you get a block 88:00of votes. And it wouldn't have occurred to me that, uh, that made sense, that you would vote for who you thought was the best person, as opposed to here's an opportunity to block votes, and we don't care who the best person is necessarily, but this is the way you, you, uh, exert some influence in the, in the process. So, we literally had meetings just with six or seven of us. You know, went to the, got on the pontoon Tom Jones had, you know, out on the Kentucky River, just talking about, then and strategizing, and, uh, several meetings. And concluded that what we'd do would be to block vote, and as best we could read the tea leaves, sort of hold our vote, not announce it until we sort of could figure out who we could get the best deal from. And the, and the deal in those days would've been committee assignments, and that sort of thing. Uh, with the notion that we would really try 89:00to take over in the education, not take over, but I mean get to, you know, be the chairman. That and the budget part of education, too. And all seven, uh, and I sort of, you know, was sitting there going along with it, in the sense of, uh, this was, you know, this was a little bit, and this kind of, of plotting and scheming was sort of new to me, too, you know. And, and, uh, uh, it kind of, you know, as much as anything an observer, uh, uh, politically up to that point. You know, I just kind of fascinated by the, by the sociology of it since I was a sociology major. Uh, but as I said, not, not having been engaged in a practical matter, still learning all this kind of stuff. And, uh, so, uh, ultimately decided that we would, uh, bank our votes with Blandford. Uh, bank our votes with, uh, Greg Stumbo, who, who's a, you 90:00know, colleague but wasn't really in the middle of all this. Couldn't afford to be in-line with small, you know, group. He had to go out and get votes from everybody. And, and, uh, and that's the way it turned out. Now, I, I hope people don't listen to this until after the, uh, until I'm, until everybody's gone. But, uh, Jim LeMaster was the floor leader at the time. I'd known Jim for a long time, and I couldn't think of a reason, even though Greg and I were friends, too, why everybody else could articulate something that, you know, they were mad at Jim about, or something, they didn't like, but I couldn't. And I, I, I thought it was not right for me to, to, uh, vote against him. So, as I said, everybody that I just named probably thinks we all voted the same 91:00way, but I, I did not vote for Greg; I voted for Jim LeMaster because it went back to the way I was raised, more about, you know, it's, uh, and as I said(??), Greg Stumbo and I are fast friends. I don't know that I have ever confessed that to, uh, him. And, uh, I assume he's thought all these years that, that's probably how I voted because everybody else was voting the same way. Um, but more on the notion that I, I couldn't, even the practical politics of how you take this and translate it into, uh, I still haven't, that hasn't transcended the notion of, you know, you vote, uh, sometimes for other reasons. And, uh, I was on the committee that counted the votes. And what I did find fascinating was that in the vote counting that leadership race, I 92:00assumed that if there was a Blandford vote, it would always be a Stumbo vote, too, uh, but I found that there were other people who were sort of independently thought about things. So, you did see some Bobby Richardson/Stumbo votes. And you did see some Blandford/ LeMaster votes, more than I would've assumed. Uh, but, um, anyway that, that, uh, uh, bargain in good faith with, with, uh, Blandford. And I think probably one of the good things we did, you know, strategy-wise was to sort of list, in fact, not generally, but here's the position we would like to have. And, uh, you know, so many positions on rules committees, so many positions in the, you know, the chairman of the budget subcommittee, you know, education and, and chairman of education committee, and those kind of things. And, um, when it worked out that 93:00way, uh, Blandford was good to his word, although by the time the--
[Pause in recording.]
BOHL: --asked for more than you thought you could really get?
BARROWS: Yeah, but, but got most of what we asked for. Uh, on apersonal note, I will say--this is, not that this had any, uh, uh, ultimate significance--but the thing I asked for was to be the chairman of the budget review subcommittee on education, the budget chair. And, uh, Harry Moberly had asked to be the chairman of the judiciary committee as a lawyer. And, and, uh, once we left town and we, I got a phone call on the Saturday morning while they were still going through this divvying things up, and, uh, uh, Kenny Rapier had asked basically was, uh, said, "Look, we're in a bind. We need to help out the Jefferson County needs a little more and, and, uh, Dottie Priddy maybe might, I don't be, wanting to be, to make her a chairman, and she 94:00wants to be chairman of judiciary, and Harry says he won't give that up for anything except the budget review subcommittee on education. Would you be willing to give that up?" It was the only thing that I wanted. Uh, but as I said, I, I, I would do that on, on, if, if that would make everything smooth, uh, but if there were another budget subcommittee position available, could I, could I do that? And there was. So, I got to be budget subcommittee chairman of, uh, of, uh, general government but, but, but remained on the budget subcommittee on education. And I, you know, sometimes wonder was I, was I being too nice, I could have very easily said, "No, that's the only thing I want to do is be the, uh, chairman of the, uh, education budget part," uh, because that's where I really, that's where I was spending all my time, uh, on anyway. Uh, but, you know, but that a lot of people don't 95:00know that. That, that was the, not that anybody cares either but I mean for me, personally at the time that's what I wanted to do. And but I agreed to sort of take a, a different spot to help, you know, sort of everything work out, and make, uh, cause what we got out of the deal, as I said, was the chairmanship of the education committee, uh, and then the chairman of the budget review subcommittee, the money part of it, and then four out of seven positions on the budget review subcommittee. So, you had, uh, working majority, if you will, on the budget part of education. Uh, of course, uh, not necessarily naively but, but just, I mean, I since know now that even with all of that, uh, you don't have the ultimate control anyway, because the process is 96:00much longer, and you've got a governor, and you've got a Senate, and, and you've even got your own leadership, uh, but at least, for where we were in our experience at the time, it was a pretty good, uh, it was not a bad coup, and not a bad, uh, quid pro quo, as they say. And really put us in a position to, you know, to emphasize and start, uh, talking a whole lot about more education, and more about education, and, and education funding. Uh, so, uh, and Don Blandford, to his credit, as I said, was good to his word. Joe Clarke didn't like it, because, uh, he, I think, probably ------------(??) and sort of figured out who he wanted his subcommittee chairs to be, and in this case, they said, "Joe, you're gonna have this guy, this guy, and this guy," and he, uh, didn't care for that, and would periodically years after, asked Don, or so it's been reported to me, "Is how long is that, was 97:00that, is that deal good for, Don?" You know. (both laugh) And he would say, "That's, that's the way it's gonna be, so." Uh, anyway we were all budget, good budget subcommittee chairmen. Tom Jones was one. I was one. Uh, I mean, and by that, I mean, uh, again I lived in a, I lived, uh, served in a very dynamic time, stuff we were doing in the budget then was like the first time, almost. We were trying stuff, and, and asking more, and getting our staff, you know, sort of to dig more. And it was, uh, really very, you know, interesting and, and dynamic. And we had guys that were, that were willing to do the work. I mean that put their sweat equally into it. And, uh, uh, you know, I literally remember once we'd get the budget, I'd stay until, you know, eleven- 98:00thirty, twelve every night, and all the receptions that we'd have(??), I wouldn't go to any of them. Not saying I was better than anybody else, I don't mean that. I mean, I, I, you know, I'd, you know, I'd be, like a student, getting into, and trying to learn, and understand, and, and all that. And, and we had others that were doing that. And, uh, I think it made, you know, made us better budget folks. and, uh, uh, as I said, '84, I think it was, '85 when Martha Layne and her budget was initially premised on an increase in taxes, maybe just the gasoline tax, I don't remember, which we didn't pass. And so, we were then, for the first time in the legislature, we were looking at a situation, we, we got a budget that's out of balance and, and we got to do something about it. So I mean, it's like the first time we actually then said that we'll then tear it down and build it up. We probably didn't tear 99:00down much. But all that was sort of fledgling new kind of stuff for us to do. And, uh, uh, as to where now, it's, uh, you know, second nature, or at least our staff is as knowledgeable and competent as the governor's staff. You know, at that time, most of the information all resided in the executive branch. Yeah, so we were building staff capacity and staff expertise at the time. And, you know, that's just, uh, and not a bad time to be around, if you really believe that the legislature ought to be a coequal branch of government. Uh, and, and spending their time on, on the budget, which, let's follow the money, I mean that's in write in black and white, whatever you think the policy ought to be. But you, the policy really just determined by how you spend your money, whether it's education or anything else. So, uh, it's really a fun time to be around, uh, in terms of feeling like you, 100:00you know, accomplishing something, or had, had some, uh, were doing something significant. Uh, but so, anyway you asked about the Young Turks. (Bohl laughs) I think we got named that sort of after the coup was successful. Some people trying to analyze how to, you know, a meat cutter from Owensboro beat a well, you know, a, a lawyer, a very skillful politician. And because the conventional wisdom would've been Tom Jones a lawyer, Harry's a lawyer, I'm a lawyer, Roger's, you know, a PhD, or working on it. I mean, fairly, they would've been educated folks, you know, uh, would've been for Bobby Richardson because he probably would understand education better than Don Blandford, who is, you know, a meat cutter from Owensboro, or something. And it was, so that, that surprised folks. And, and the aftermath was probably when 101:00they named us Young Turks, when they recognized there'd been a, a, you know, a, a specific effort to, to, uh--and it wasn't a specific effort against Bobby; it was a specific effort to block vote for whoever, you know, we got commitments from. So, uh, that, that was the, as I said, we weren't Young Turks until after that, until after the coup, I think. But I got this, at some point in time, you have to tell folks what you're doing, that is break the news to somebody. Two other comments about that particular, uh, leadership race: one, uh, we were sitting around, and it was guys, we, you know, we owe it to the folks to tell them how you're gonna vote, and probably literally would've been literally the day, earlier in the day the vote was gonna be taken. And so we drew straws, or in some fashion, picked who had to be the 102:00envoy to break the news to Bobby Richardson, and I got that job. And I had vivid recollections of that discussion, too, I can tell you, I can take you to the Capitol Annex and show you exactly where we had that discussion. I was not the bearer of good news for Bobby. But I don't, and I can't remember whether we literally drew straws for that assignment or not, but it was something, and I'm sure the other ones outfoxed me in that regard, too. They assured me that, I mean, they made it likely that I was gonna be the one to carry the message. The other thing is, while we, uh, you know, we were gonna block vote from Blandford and Stumbo, uh, the best way to get things done is to have at least three out of five votes in leadership. And, and we thought Well, we was gonna parlay this into third; who's gonna win the whip's race. I don't remember, maybe it was the whip, and maybe it was the 103:00caucus chairman, one or the other positions. And we, you know, all sat around, and said, "Uh, Brinkley's gonna win that race. Well, let's go tell Brinkley we're for him then, if he's gonna win." And so we did that, too, to assure that, uh, you know, he would at least appreciate our support, and all that, too. Well, that happened, as I said, in the morning, by the afternoon, Pete Worthington, who was a very skilled, insider politician had taken that piece of information and used it against Bill because, and, and beat him. So again, I mean I was still naive and, and didn't fully appreciate the dynamic of it, but Pete had a skill, uh, insider politician skill, I call it, that he could take what would appear to be bad news, you got six or seven of these guys that's not gonna be for me, but he was able to take that and go use that information against Brinkley to turn some votes, uh, away from Brinkley back to us, probably by saying, "These guys are gonna take 104:00over everything, they're just young smart asses," or whatever, you know. So and all we'd done then was just basically said, "Oh, we think that's who we think will win that. That seems to be the (??) now that Brinkley will win that race." So I learned a lesson in that regard, too, you know, about how the insider politics of it. So, uh, anyway.
BOHL: You mentioned how late that you stayed to work on the budget.When the assembly was in session, would you stay in Frankfort, or because you're so close, would you--
BARROWS: --no, I, uh, my first session, uh, I drove home every night.And what I discovered was by the time I got back there the next morning, at least three days worth of information I would've missed out on, even though it would've been just whatever happened from the time we adjourned until the, the eight or nine o'clock in the morning when the committee meetings start. I was so far behind the curve that whether it was the rumor mill curve or what, something, something had 105:00actually taken place because when you're in session it's a fishbowl, and it's compact, and literally everything that's going on is gonna have, can, can conceivably, I mean, it may be a phone call or a conversation at 11:30 at night that may in fact impact some important decision the next day. So, all, I, I missed out on, all, all that, whatever interaction was taking place after the session closed down, which, again, naively I didn't understand that I don't think. And, and then, you know, it's, everything that happens down there is, is part of the process, so whatever's happening from, you know, from five o'clock to eight o'clock the next morning might just be, as, if not, more significant than the actual committee meeting that you just attended that day, or something, in terms of some, uh, ultimate decision, or result on an issue. And so, I'd come back, uh, to Frankfort the next day and feel like I was, as I said, three days behind on the, on the information. Uh, uh, the rumor or whatever, you know, that was going 106:00on. So, uh, from the second session all the way through until about '94, uh, yeah, it was like, I analogize it was like going back to college. We'd, we'd, five or six of us go be roommates, and we'd find a house to rent, and again at this very dynamic time, whether it's on the specific issue of education, or whether it's on, uh, just the legislature doing stuff they'd never done before, uh, yeah, it's like, you know, uh, you'd go, you'd stay there in, in, in Frankfort. And by the time everybody got back in the evening, you were talking about what was airing, or we might talk about in fact what, what might take place in the committee the next day, and, and add some stuff to the discussion on bills themselves, and, uh, uh, much better way to stay 107:00in, in the process and up to speed. And, and, uh, early on, typically it would be David Thomason who was a bright fellow from, uh, Henderson, uh, at the time Bobby Richardson moved to speaker, he, he'd only be, he came the same time we did, and he moved immediately into a leadership position. Again, I don't remember if it was caucus chairman, or whip, or what. But I mean that was a pretty dramatic rise. Uh, bright fellow who, again, believed in education, too. Um, but, uh, typically was Roger, Harry Moberly, Roger Noe, Tom Jones, Greg Stumbo, me, uh, Fred Cowan, I think, uh, a session or two Frank Smith, uh. That, yeah, Mike Bowling(??), I guess later when he, he came on, uh, arrived, I 108:00don't remember when he first got to the legislature, but probably maybe even after Tom Jones got beat, I don't know. So we, he might've been his substitute. But, uh, yeah, and you would go out, and rent a bed, and a chest of drawers, and a light, and, uh, put it in a room, and that's where you'd sleep. And, and, uh, hell(??), it's like, you know, like going back to college for a semester, and, you know, just, uh, if it was about as , uh, uh, hygienic. (both laugh) Just what college life was like, too, so. Uh, anyway, uh, stopped doing that at, uh, at, uh, probably the, I forget what session, '94 or '96, my father-in-law had, uh, surgery, aneurism. Uh, and my wife literally went every day and every night to the hospital. He was in intensive care. And it was 109:00during the, probably the late fall all the way through the session. I had two kids at the time. So, they were going to school. So, I came home every evening. Uh, and had, and had anticipated doing the same thing, staying down there, but once that happened, I came home every evening that session in '96, probably. [Nineteen] ninety-four or '96, I'd have to look it up. Uh, so, I could be here to get, you know, the kids to school, and all that, and after that, once I got elected to leadership, it occurred to me that, uh, I could come home because now I was helping make the decisions. So I wouldn't(??) necessarily be behind the curve. And some of them would have to wait until I got to Frankfort the next day. (Bohl laughs) So, uh, it wasn't as necessary, uh, for me to stay in Frankfort. So, uh, stopped doing that, as I said, at a, at a certain point in time, anyway. 110:00
BOHL: How have you seen the role of lobbyists change over time?
BARROWS: Um, well, it, it, it's a, uh, it, it fits very, uh, uh,coincides with the whole evolution of, of the legislature in the sense that I don't even know if lobbyists registered in the day, when '74, when I first started working over there, or '78 when I first started serving. But if there were lobbyists then, you'd probably, I'd say fifty. And, and they had to lobby the first floor, cause that's who was making all the decisions. Uh, and then they, maybe they would help pass the word along to, to, uh, legislators, but they weren't actually necessary to do that probably. And, and as this whole, uh, notion of legislative independence, uh, uh, grows and comes to fruition, uh, 111:00well, lobbyists could no longer just lobby, uh, the first floor; they had to then lobby legislators. Uh, and for a while could probably lobby leadership. But, you know, that's not even good enough anymore. And for a while could probably lobby just mainly one party, uh, and that's not the case anymore. And, and so, uh, their numbers, uh, have expanded dramatically. I think somebody told me there're five or six hundred of them registered just last session. That's a huge number of people, and not all of them are over there every day, and not all of them are "high paid" lobbyists or anything like that. But, uh, and we have a law that says if you're gonna talk to legislators, you got to register. But, but, uh, the whole notion that there're a whole lot more of them now. And the role, you know, I don't, in general probably hasn't changed in the sense that they are there to, to inform and, 112:00uh, uh, conjure, or to, to convince about a particular prospective on any number of, on their, whatever their issue is. Uh, and so they do, they, you know, the essential role is the same, I guess, they just got to do it with a whole lot more people, and so they're a lot, uh, more of them. Uh, I think it was a maturation process as well in, in that the, and I consider the time I've been there, I, I think if people want to go analyze it historically over time, I could prove this I think, I, I think it was the golden years of the legislature, from 1980 to about nineteen, uh, I'll say to 2000, that twenty-year period. For a lot of things I've touched on. Just the whole evolution of the, really a major change the way government in Kentucky is run. Almost 113:00revolutionary, if it happened in a five-year period, they'd a called it a revolution, but the fact that it happened in a twenty to twenty-five year period is, uh, evolutionary. Um, anyway, so the, the blot on the record of the legislature at that time was BOPTROT.
BARROWS: Which, uh, I think is, is, uh, probably misapprehended in,in a lot of people's minds, too. But, uh, but that was the lobbyist- related, uh, um, event, uh, which, you know, if you step back and look at it, probably was not, not destined to happen, but, but follows the same notion of, of the maturing of the legislature. That is, in the days when the governor ran everything, lobbyists were there, if they were messing around with legislators, uh, which they would've been, I mean, they would've been there, lobbying legislators, and all 114:00that, it wasn't that they had to so much as that's just we were all in Frankfort. Hell, they'd have been, they probably would've gone out, uh, and had dinner together. They'd probably had, you know, drinks together. They probably, you know, might've gone and played poker together. You know, I mean it would've been a different, a little bit different, uh, scenario, I mean, the, the, the most important thing for them to do at that time probably, as, as opposed to being, uh, you know, here's the facts and here's the sheet that'll tell you why my position is right, the most important thing for them to be doing then probably was, you know, convincing the governor, and then just being around and being friends with folks or being, and, and some of its genuine friendship. Well, as the legislature moves in, in, it's, you know, this dynamic shift of, uh, of, uh, of power over there, uh, that, that would've continued to be the case, uh, but, but they would've then 115:00found themselves in a position to actually be talking to somebody who was not a governor that, that could have that affect their position just as much. Uh, but, but going out to dinner, and, uh, and all I, they're and this is not unique to Kentucky, it'd be the same everywhere. Uh, there'd be certain restaurants that were gathering place. Flynn's, for example, uh, I recall going to Flynn's, and sitting down, and, uh, not with lobbyists. Uh, and having a meal. And the waitress come over, and I'd say, you know, "Check, please." And she says, "It's been taken care of." Have no notion that, that somebody had bought my dinner, but without any idea who did it either. Uh, but that, that was just, if legislators came up there and had dinner, somebody was going, I, I think what happened was that lobbyist generally just kinda ran a tab 116:00with, uh, Mr. Flynn, and, and said, "You know, take care of them." Uh, and you, and you wouldn't necessarily even know who bought your dinner; that was just the way it was done, uh, which was not a very good way to exert influence, I wouldn't think, if they don't know, if you don't who bought the dinner. But, but, uh, anyway, uh, so in, in this process of moving, I'd say from, from um, you know, rubber stamp to a coequal branch, uh, a change in that, that dynamic between lobbyists and legislators was going to happen. It might've happened, uh, without, uh, the trauma or drama, and that would've been probably better, but I think at some point in time it was bound to happen. I don't mean that, you know, that, you know, an investigation and a, and a corruption thing, allegation. But, uh, over time that, that relationship 117:00would've, would've changed, and that probably the, the BOPTROT thing probably, and I, cause I disagree with a lot of things that, that, that happened as a result of that. Uh, but probably this will even sound bad, probably was a good thing in that it brought it, you know, there, there was an event, and so then the reaction to the event, uh, then really as a, is a watershed sort of mark about then how, how you'd proceed from, from that point on. Uh, and, but for that, uh, maybe would've, maybe something a lot worse would've happened, maybe, maybe not. Or the, or the process wouldn't, wouldn't have happened quite as rapidly. The ethics law we passed, why, a lot of it defines some common sense is a good thing. And, you know, puts people on notice as 118:00to things you can and can't do. And that's always better than, than accusing somebody of doing something when they maybe not, didn't fully appreciate the standard, which was part of BOPTROT.
BARROWS: Uh, so, uh, the, the, uh, I thought a lot of people got hurt byBOPTROT that were good, honest, decent, hardworking folks, legislators that I would, that I knew were not corrupt and not dishonest. That I would have done business with on a handshake, and known that, that I could've trusted them. Uh, a lot of them got, uh, smeared, not smeared but I mean, uh, uh, hurt, uh, that, you know, um, that I didn't think, uh, deserved it. And the real, I mean the real criminal stuff that was done, was either done by lobbyists, uh, and almost didn't involve legislators, or was just the set-up stuff, which I've never, 119:00uh, I've never fully, you appreciate the different ----------(??), I've appreciate it and understand it, I don't appreciate it in, in the motivation behind it. Uh, sting operations, and tempting folks, and all that, I, I, I don't, you know, I've, what law work I do as a criminal defense lawyer, not at any high level, but it just doesn't sit right with me that, that you can, uh, you know, go, put somebody in a position and then sort of say, "You know, here's the two hundred bucks, go buy some folks a dinner." Well, human nature, you know, you don't think of that as being, you know, nobody means anything by it, nobody's getting anything for it. I just, I don't, it's not my only experience with, uh, investigations and things like that, but I've, I've come to believe, uh, that based on those, some experiences that, the some 120:00of the less moral or upstanding, or this now, I'm gonna get way off base here, I don't mean less moral but, uh, more dishonest or, or lack of integrity occurs on the side of the, of the investigators and the prosecutors than, than that ever happens on the side of the folks that they're, you know, investigating, or they're out to get, kind of stuff, uh, which doesn't seem right in our system. Seems like the good guys ought to be the good guys and, and act like good guys. And the bad guys are the bad guys and, and, and go get the bad guys. But anyway, BOPTROT did, did put a black mark on, uh, the legislature, but, uh, you know, was gonna be part of the maturing process I think. Uh, and, uh, as I'd said, the ethics law resulted, some of it is, defies 121:00common sense, but on balance it is a good law, uh, strong as any in the country probably. And I think has in fact made a sort of the point in time where it was clear that the relationship between lobbyists and legislators would be a professional relationship, uh, above board, and, uh, um. Hell, you know, in the overall scheme of things, while that is important that, that relationship, uh, it's sort of begs the, the question of whether or not, uh, in the, in the, in the ultimate process, by the time you get to the bottom-line of any session or any issue, whether or not that, that has actually changed, uh, what the results would be. That's, that's just an interesting question. I don't know 122:00if I have an answer for that. But generally speaking, powerful people, you know, are people of, with money generally get their way. And so, if you have a very professional relationship, lobbyists to legislators going on, or one in which, uh, let's go out and, and wine and dine you, whether, whether the results are any different I don't know the answer to that. And it'd be kind of curious study to look at. Uh, but clearly it's better to have that, the, uh, the, uh, the relationship defined at least legally in a, in a professional way. Uh, what, as I said, what would be interesting to find out, if you could ever analyze it, it would be whether the results are any different now, uh, this way or the old way. And my guess is there's probably not much difference, but, anyway. Where we going next? ( both laugh)
BOHL: Because you were so involved with the budget, clearly you would'veinteracted with governors at a different sort of level than most 123:00legislators.
BOHL: --what kind of interactions did you have?
BARROWS: No, not necessarily, uh, in, in that I would've been at the,uh, subcommittee chair level--
BARROWS: --uh, probably one pay grade too low for much interaction withthe governor.
BOHL: (laughs) Okay.
BARROWS: Okay. Um, and again, my own personal style as not terriblyinteractive anyway. I would've been more of, I'm researching it on my own, kind of learning that way. You know, talking on a staff level. Uh, but not clearly from '85 to '90, you know, through the, education reform act and all that, um, I probably wasn't interacting with the governors, uh, on a real serious policy level too often. The exception 124:00would've been Martha Layne Collins had a education reform act that had some good stuff in it. And I remember some meetings with her and her staff. And one issue, in particular, on the, uh, the building the schools, in which we were gonna change the mechanism by which the state assisted in building elementary and secondary schools. And, uh, and that was serious policies and stuff, and as I said, I, I don't remember what she called it, but she had a, Martha Layne Collins had an education reform act that did, in about '85 or '86, somewhere along in there. And I remember being in discussions with her and her folks on that. Uh, and there was some good stuff in there. Um, yeah, um, a, a little bit with Wallace. As much as anything it had to do with, you know, how long you were there, I guess, you know, and having some 125:00status, yeah, where they'd want to start, you know, having you be convinced on the policy side of, of things. Uh, I remember some of us Young Turks meeting with, uh, after Wilkinson was elected, or, you know, his, the guy that was gonna be his education--Jack, uh, I can't think of Jack's last name right now. Uh, you know, before we ever got into session, and he was outlining, and, and all their education, uh, uh, stuff and trying to get our input or reaction, and then, uh. So, yeah, that was happening some. I guess not so much on, uh, probably more on education substance stuff than on, than on the budget stuff, I would say. Uh, now, as I said, I was doing the subcommittee on general government. Uh, that had the core agencies, revenue, you know, 126:00finance, those are fairly dull budgets and fairly straightforward in the sense of, you know, you got to pay the lights, you got to pay the people. You know, there's, new initiatives that don't show in their budgets or that. Now, I found out, I, I, as I said, I learned a, a lot while I was there, and I learned you could do a lot with a little money while handling that area of the budget. But if you were analyzing the budget, that's not where, you know, new money would show up. You know, they, they were basically just funding the core, core agencies of state government there. But, uh, wasn't much need to have any, any high level discussions in that area of the budget, so.
BOHL: How have you seen the needs of your district change over your time127:00in office?
BARROWS: Um, you know, I, I always felt, uh, sort of fortunate inthat, uh, when I'd compare with the colleagues from other parts of the states, what they were coming and saying they needed, you know, roads, blacktops always been political currency in, in the Kentucky politics. We had a good county road system because we'd had some good local county engineers over time. And, and, uh, you know, so I, I felt like I was almost was freed up to talk about, you know, some bigger issues, or the big policy issues because I wasn't getting a lot of the, we need, you know, the sort of, you know, basics of life: blacktop, shelter, and, and, uh, water, or something. The, uh, and, 128:00and Jessamine and Woodford, why, a little bit different. Are certainly not dramatically different, uh, and when I picked up part of Franklin County, it was sort of the rural part of Franklin County, so that was very similar to what I already represented. Um, and I don't know that the, I guess the needs I saw for the district that I don't think necessarily changed have been, you know, what would've been the big, would've been the big picture issues. You know, how, how was my, how was my district going to be affected by, you know, education or, or other money issues, or how you spend your money issues. Um, with one core area of, you know, state employees, for example, because I represented Franklin County, their, you know, their sort of needs or issues sort of are fairly consistent. And, you know, they want a, 129:00be left alone. They want their 5 percent. They don't want anybody messing with their retirement. And, you know, they want to be able to do their job, uh, which they do very well, you know, without being put upon too much. Uh, that's been a con-, that probably hasn't changed much over time. Um, no, I don't, it's, I want to be able to answer that question better, but, uh, So, I guess I felt fortunate where I never did feel like there were great demands put upon me, uh--[telephone rings]--on things that may have been great demands from other, that other legislators. A fairly solid economy around here nothing and, and pretty diverse. So, I, while others would've been, you know, "Please help us to get a factory to come in," I never felt like there was a great deal of pressure put upon me from local, you know, from over time, we (??) enough to feel lucky to have, to, uh, to live and represent the area I represented, so. Anyway. 130:00
BOHL: How has your public service affected your family?
BARROWS: I have two children and I can't think of their names. (Bohllaughs) And I've gone to calling my wife, "Dear," because. Uh, no, um, it's, it's, this sounds self-serving, as it can be, but I, I think by and large the public doesn't necessarily fully appreciate the, the demands or the time you've spend doing the job like this. And that in fact it does require some sacrifice. Now, I, you know, I asked for it. I went back and ran every two years, uh, cause it was, uh, certainly interesting. It was challenging. It was, uh, as I said, we get to be instant experts on whatever the crisis ---------(??) is. Well, that's good, I mean, you're always learning something, some things are always the same, but I mean you're constantly learning about, you know, how 131:00to waste garbage, I mean out-of-state garbage, and, you know, whether you can haul it across state lines, or not, or, uh, or, uh, you know, income, or tax issues, or education. I mean, it's, you know, so, it's, but, and, and I don't know that it's necessarily anymore stressful or demanding than if, you know, somebody went, had to work, uh, any other job. Uh, but it's, there is no question that, that, uh, I, I felt like there's a certain element of sacrifice involved to it, uh, on the family side of things. Um, financial side of things, um. But everybody I guess has the, if they, you know, stop long enough to think about it, has the ability to adjust, uh, a little bit at least 132:00to whatever the circumstances are, in setting their own priorities with family and everything else. Uh, I, I probably didn't realize it at the time but, uh, with my daughter, who you just missed as she was taking off to go back to her senior year in college, I probably thought I was doing good parenting, uh, you know, cause I went to all her soccer games, or I drove over to the games, and this, that, and the other, but I probably, in, in that period of time when you're actually in session, I literally don't see any of them. I'm either in Frankfort all the time, as I said, or staying there, or were, you know, it's just long enough to see them off to school, and by the time I get home they're in bed, I mean, you do miss, uh, a lot of that. The financial side of it is, uh, between my wife being a public school 133:00teacher, and what, on average was about for, for most of my career probably less, less than, than $25,000 on average, uh, annual salary. Uh, I couldn't do, I wasn't very good at, uh, shifting hats like other lawyers and legislators. I think they can, uh, you know, they can move from legislator to lawyer pretty quickly, and I, I wasn't very good at that. So, most of my practice has been the same, as it was when I was doing public defender work. The only difference is that was when I was public defender; at least I got paid under a contract. Now, uh, everything I do is the, is the same, is essentially the same clientele, only I don't get paid for doing it now. Uh, because it's, uh, well, I voted for you, and all my family voted for yeah, so I, I take it for free. Uh, yeah, I think it's, sometime, I, I, probably in my case, as 134:00much, uh, um, an impact on, let's say, on the, on the outside just the nuclear family, the rest of my family, I probably have put, you know, on the backburner in a lot of things, in terms of taking care of, of my mother, and her, uh, interests, and things like that, uh, which, you know, sort of falls on me supposedly as the lawyer in the family. And, and, um, yeah, as, as I said, I had a hard time not doing the legislative thing, uh, you know, to go do other things. It was sort of all or nothing with me. But anyway, my daughter, whose name I do know incidentally, Perry, and is now a senior at college in Charleston, and my son Hayden is, uh, starting his freshmen year at Woodford County. 135:00So, um, and my wife Jean really, as I said, probably was, uh, again, I'm very lucky. She managed things very well, tolerant. Actually what she did was she, she's got a fairly low opinion of legislators. I mentioned this on the House floor when I was, uh, retiring, and I said, "I think it's because most of her, she was, as a teacher, she didn't have the ability or luxury or the time to, to go to Frankfort be a legislator's, uh, wife there in Frankfort." And some do not, all of them have that, that ability, so she probably doesn't, didn't know very well too many legislators, or their, or their wives. But whatever she saw on TV, or whatever I might've told about her, so, I think, I mentioned on the House floor, I thought it was unfortunate, uh, for those folks not to have known my wife a lot better, because 136:00they would've, as I said, uh, fully appreciated her, as well, I think. But I said, "She had a low opinion of legislators. One, on a serious note, that as a teacher, her, she often thought all of us really smart people in Frankfort that knew so much about education, really didn't understand the classroom. So, here we could do these big policy, you know, notions and we're gonna do this, that, and the other, and she, she'd, not unlike some teachers"--and resentful may be too strong a word--"but just a little, you know, 'They ought to come spend a little time in the classroom, uh, before they start making these wonderful decisions up here. And really, you know, try to, uh, you know.' So, it was like, 'What do you guys really know about it? You're there in Frankfort, and let me tell you about it in the real world.'" Well, at least for me, it was helpful to have that kind of input. So, so in that sense of the word or that sense of the, uh, um, uh, issue, uh, 137:00she probably didn't like legislators. But, uh, in the sense that, uh, I think she felt like I was doing something I liked or that could be important. And as I said, she was, uh, wonderful enough to, to tolerate this, uh, this hobby. It wasn't gainful employment; it was a hobby. Uh, and I got great support from her family. I've been lucky, my in-laws are great folks. And, and most of my brothers, uh, now can vote for me. I think we've about got them all registered in, in the, in the appropriate, uh, party, so I, I've been lucky to have good family support. So, I mean the, the stress on it, and there's this family sacrifice on one hand, but, but I, but as I said, I've been very, I, I've gotten all the support I need, or deserve, anyway.
BOHL: Okay. [telephone rings] It's 11:20.138:00
BOHL: So, I think I'm gonna have to cut it for today. Would you bewilling to talk in the future, it might not be with me but with--
BOHL: --someone so we can complete the rest?
BOHL: I still have so many questions.
BARROWS: You, you, uh, are now experiencing one of the skills I neverlearned in the political process. I, I was a terrible interview, uh, with newspapers. I mean, if I had, uh, my mentor is Vic Hellard, as I said, who, who really reached out and, and recruited, if you will, young folks he thought had potential, to be sure they got involved in politics, and, uh, very astute thing to do, you know, to build new, you know, to get new people involved, and all that. His second greatest skill, or at least as good was his relationship with the press. Uh, as the director of LRC, he had, I don't, I don't know how to say it, it wasn't disingenuous; it was generally affable, and nice, and good 139:00guy, and funny, and, and all that kind of stuff. So, he was, had good personality but when you say you had the eating out of your hand, it almost connotes something disingenuous. But he, he, he did but it was in a generous fashion, a genuine--
[End of interview.]