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1992-08-25 Interview with Robert D. Flynn, August 25, 1992 Leg001:1992OH337 Leg 049 00:54:46 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Political campaigns -- Kentucky. Daylight savings -- Kentucky. Kentucky. Governor (1967-1971 : Nunn) Powers, Georgia Davis, 1923- Daylight saving--Law and legislation. Nunn, Louie B., 1924- Kentucky. General Assembly. Legislative Research Commission. Flynn’s Restaurant and Statesman Lounge Kincaid, Shelby Legislative Research Commission (LRC) Key Legislation: Daylight Savings legislation Term/District: Senate (1968-1970), 13th district Leadership Position(s): Fayette County (Ky.) Robert D. Flynn; interviewee Judy K. Bowen; interviewer 1992OH337_LEG049_Flynn 1:|17(7)|31(9)|45(6)|71(6)|81(5)|96(7)|115(8)|129(3)|142(11)|165(11)|181(3)|189(6)|202(3)|218(12)|238(11)|258(5)|271(7)|283(12)|293(4)|305(6)|314(13)|325(4)|335(10)|347(6)|361(5)|376(7)|403(4)|419(1)|428(10)|439(11)|450(10)|466(3)|477(12)|488(12)|498(12)|521(5)|537(11)|549(9)|568(11)|597(2)|610(11)|625(11)|635(1)|653(8)|667(13)|676(7)|690(1)|702(10)|713(8)|741(2)|756(2)|765(10)|775(17)|787(10) audiotrans Legit interview BOWAN: Unrehearsed interview with former state representative, well uh, former Senator Robert Douglas Flynn who represented the 13th District in 1968 and in 1970. The interview is being conducted by Judy Bowan, for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on August the 25th, 1992, in Lexington, Kentucky in the Fayette County Council Room. BOWAN: This morning, I am talking with Robert Flynn. Mr. Flynn, could you tell me about your family, when and where you were born? FLYNN: Yes, I was born in Lexington on Bluegrass Ave. July the 25th, 1927. There's seven kids in our family. All of them, thank goodness, are still living. Of course, my mother and dad are deceased. BOWAN: Could you tell me about your grandparents? FLYNN: My grandparents, on my mother's side, was a finish carpenter and my grandparents, on my daddy's side, was a farmer. My daddy was in me wholesale dry goods business. He also owned a grocery store, in which, us children had to put up stock, after school. BOWAN: He had a lot of employees. (laughs) FLYNN: He had a lot of employees, is right. And, he stayed in the business for years though, I guess, 40 or 50 years, in this business and he retired about 8 or 10 years ago and then he died two years ago. BOWAN: Okay, how far back, in Kentucky, does your family roots go? FLYNN: Well, I wished my wife was here because she could tell you more specific because she's researched our family tree and also, hers. I would say, all of my grandparents and their children and as far back, I, I couldn't say. I think it goes back, back further than my grandparents. I think my other great-grandfather and them was from someplace else. I know that eventually, on the Flynn side, came from Ireland and, to tell you the truth, I don't know where my grandparents came from, on my mother's side. But they were raised, I think, in Lee County. That's up in Breathitt County, Beattyville. BOWAN: Yeah, I did some of my master's thesis research, in Lee County. I did it in Wolfe and Breathitt and Lee County. FLYNN: Right. BOWAN: On farmland in Kentucky, small family farms, and a co-op that exist up there. FLYNN: Right. BOWAN: It was a lot of fun. I loved it. FLYNN: Oh, I know. BOWAN: Oh, it was, it was fun. Much, much better than school. I didn't like school as much as I did that. FLYNN: I used to spend a summer up in Irvine with my grandfather, as much as I could. My daddy had a younger brother, younger than I, by about a year, and he was my uncle. And we used to go up there, help on the farm, tend the corn, do everything you normally don't do in a big city, you know? I enjoyed it. BOWAN: It's always a nice break. FLYNN: Right. BOWAN: It's always a nice break. Um, what do you remember most about growing up? ----------(??). FLYNN: Well, we were a pretty free bunch of people and we played, as children, we played football and basketball outside, and baseball and softball. It seems that we always had something to do that we can involve ourselves in and entertaining ourselves. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be true today. That that, seems that children are having trouble finding their own recreation that suits them. Which is, which is sad because we had a very happy life. And if we couldn't find something to do we climb trees or just, you know, do anything. Make us a tree house. It seems to me like, I don't know, I had a happy life growing up. I played all kinds of sports. My father believed in playing sports. I traveled, on bicycles, for miles, to some of the parks, to play midget league softball. On Sundays, we'd just get up a bunch of people and find a vacant lot and play touch football, you know? Of course nowadays, they got parks that are built that people can go to and play in and, and just have a big time, if they want to. BOWAN: Doesn't seem like people use them though. FLYNN: No, and I think the reason, they use them most of the time during the day but nighttime, there is so much meanness going on, you're a little scared, you know? And I've advocated, you know, in my role as councilman that we should have some guards out there. They used to have guards when I was growing up but they don't have them now. BOWAN: I don't know, I came downtown about two weeks ago and really got, totally, freaked out. We were coming down to Kentucky Theatre because there was a really nice movie playing and we were just driving. And all of a sudden, we hit all the traffic and there was about, I guess, 2, I guess probably between 20 and 40 cars in a line, cruising around the downtown block down here. 16, you know 16 and 17 year old kids and they were all lined up along this street and we couldn't find any parking because they were in all the parking spots and stuff. And it was so weird because I've never, and, you know, the past years that I have lived here I've never seen the kids do that before. And it seems like they're all getting in one little area down here. FLYNN: Well, it's true. BOWAN: It's bad. They can't find anything better to do on a Saturday night. (laughs). Well, I don't know, we did that when we were in high school, too. But, of course, we didn't have movie theaters and we didn't have bowling. We didn't have anything. I lived in a town of 250 people. We didn't have nothing to do but sit around and talk to each other and play cards on a Saturday night. FLYNN: Well, fortunately, I, I love sports and I played everything. Even in high school, I was on the track team; I was on the ball team, basketball. Unfortunately, they didn't have football at school until the year after I graduated. And I would have loved to have played football because I was always the fastest man on the baseball, basketball team. I'd like to tried to see just exactly what I could do in the football. I never had the chance. BOWAN: Uh, where did you go to school? FLYNN: I went to school at Lafayette high school and then went to the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. I was selected in my senior year at Lafayette as the best basketball player in central Kentucky. And I was a personal friend to Bernie Shively who was an athletic director of University of Kentucky and, and I had a scholarship offered to me at the University of Kentucky to play basketball for them. But they had two All- Americans, at this particular time, sitting on the bench, back during the "Fabulous Five" era. And, I wanted to play and I guess it was a lack of confidence in my part and I was offered a scholarship to the University of Dayton and, and I went there and graduated at the University of Dayton. BOWAN: Back in high school, did you have a favorite subject, or book, or--? FLYNN: Not really and you're going to laugh at this but we had a choice in high school either to take Latin or take Home Ec. And a bunch of us basketball boys took Home Eke. And we thoroughly enjoyed it because we learned how to cook and they taught us how to do things that, that we could put into effect now, if we have to. And it helped me because, in later years in life, I went into the restaurant business for eight years and I, I knew how to cook some and I enjoyed that, really. BOWAN: Did you have a civics course? FLYNN: A what course? BOWAN: A civics course. FLYNN: No. BOWAN: American government type thing? FLYNN: No. BOWAN: None? FLYNN: Well, we had a history course but I, I really didn't enjoy it and I guess I was one of these students that, that went to school because of my athletic ability and the chance to play in the sports at school. And studying for English and History was just a, a means to the way or a way to the means, as you want to put it, where I could enjoy and stay eligible to participate in the sports. But as far as saying yes, I like this, no, I like this, I, I really didn't give it any thought, to tell you the truth. I just went to class, did my studying, turned in my grades and looked forward to going out for basketball and sports. BOWAN: (laughs) What was your major in college? FLYNN: I majored in history and, and had a minor in, I mean, in physical education and a minor in history. BOWAN: That's an interesting combination. (laughs) FLYNN: Well, it was. Of course, when I got to college, I did have ambitions of becoming a, a coach. It didn't matter to me what I was a coach in. Basketball, I enjoyed. I am an avid golfer. I like tennis, you know, just anything. And, I was going to be a coach and a funny thing happen. WLW's radio station had a star search review. They were looking for talent for their radio station. And, I was a comedian and an impersonator and I had about 26 different voices. Luckily, I came in second in this contest that they had and they gave me a year's contract to the radio station to perform and was offering me a second contract, for the second year. And during that time, my daddy had a heart attack. When I came home, he asked me if I would help him in his business and my other brothers were away. I had an older brother that was in Florida and my younger brother was in Florida and my middle age brother was in Paducah, living and having his business. So, I didn't have any business so I came home and started working for daddy. And I gave up my ambitions to become a professional radio person and I stayed there for four years until he got better and well, and that's when I went into the restaurant business and then eventually, worked there for a few years and then sold the business. BOWAN: What was the name of the restaurant? FLYNN: Flynn's Restaurant. It was on Versailles Road, located at Days Motel. And back in the early years, this Motel was the first one built in, in Lexington. And was one of the finest hotels or motels there was. And it was just, just beautiful and we had a beautiful business and everything but we had to work about 16 hours a day in the restaurant business and I got tired of that. BOWAN: And very quickly, I'd say. I would, too. What did you do after college? FLYNN: Well, after college is when I worked for WLW. BOWAN: Right, and then you work for your father? FLYNN: And then I worked for my father and then I went into the restaurant business and then I sold the restaurant. And then, after the restaurant business, I went into the insurance business. And then that's what I did until I retired in 19 and 80, let's see, 1982, I think it was, that I retired. No, '86 and then I became a city councilman. So, my full-time job now is, is representing the people in 6th District. BOWAN: Well, that's good. It's, it probably is a full-time job. Um, when did you get married, in this picture? FLYNN: August the 3rd, 1946. We just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary. Bowen: That's nice to hear. FLYNN: Yeah. I've got a wonderful wife and a mother and wouldn't change anything. We, we got married quite young. BOWAN: I was going to say, I mean, figuring your birthday out, I was sitting here going, he must have been very, very young. Before you went to college? FLYNN: 18. I was married when I went to college, yeah you're right. BOWAN: That puts a new perspective on college life. It makes it, I think, more difficult because my friends who were married at Berea, they had a much harder time. They had an easier time studying but they had a harder time supporting each other during that period FLYNN: Well, she lived here. BOWAN: Oh. FLYNN: She lived here and stayed here and I stayed in the dormitory because I was on a basketball scholarship. And the only reason I went, first of all, is because they said they would take care of all my expenses and find me a, a part-time job where I could work and, and go to school. If they hadn't have done that, and I probably wouldn't have went to college. I would have found me a job and tried to support my wife like I was supposed to do. But she assured me that she could support herself and I said, "Well, that's not your responsibility." She got a job working at the old Dunn's Drugstore, which was located on the corner of Broadway and Main. And, right where the Triangle Park is now; right on the corner. And she worked there for years and, of course, what money I made, I sent to her to take care of her. Periodically, we would come home or she would come up to Dayton and, to watch me play basketball or something like that. BOWAN: Um, you have a son? FLYNN: I have two sons. My older son is Doug FLYNN. He's, he's now the Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program for the state of Kentucky. Works out of the governor's office. He is a professional baseball player, played 15 years, 12 of them in the majors and just had a fabulous career. Played on two world champion teams, got the Golden Glove in 1980 with the New York Mets, and just had a wonderful career. And he's now traveling all over the state of Kentucky, talking to young men about the hazard of drugs. And, then I have a younger son is a deputy sheriff and he's been a deputy for two years now. BOWAN: Okay, okay, have you always been active in the communities that you've lived in? FLYNN: Yes I have. We're, we're, of course, we're strong, Christian people and we're very much involved in our church. I go to Grace Baptist Church where I am a deacon and I'm also the moderator of our business sessions. My wife is president of the WMU, the Women's Missionary Union, and we're very active in our, in that. We were very active in school and in activities when our kids were in school. We traveled with them, the school kids, when they went to play ball. We, we went to the ballgames. We supported PTA, any community activities, we tried to be involved, and really love it. Even today, with our children not at home, we're still involved in anything at the school or the church or any community, anything the community wants to do. We don't go to PTA meetings like we did when our kids were in school but we are a member of the alumni, even though we didn't go to Bryan Station School. My wife is on the alumni at Lafayette school and so we keep pretty much informed in, in the school that we went to and also the ones that are children went to. BOWAN: How did you start getting interested in politics? FLYNN: Well, it was strictly by accident. Our family was calm had a pretty good name. We all, all of our brothers and sisters were all good kids, good students, were good athletes. Our father was an exceptional athlete that played ball around here and semipro baseball and softball and the FLYNN name was a name that everybody knew because all of us boys played high school ball and we played mostly at the one school, in the south end. But I did have an older brother for the old University High School and made All State. And my brother, older brothers, they were on the state championship team so our name was known pretty much all throughout Lexington. I had no ambition whatsoever of being a state senator. I, I wasn't involved in politics like everyday people. I registered every year, I voted every year and that was the extent of it. Well, one day, I was at home and a party called me up and said, "Bobby, where are you going to have lunch tomorrow?" And I said, "Uh, wherever you pay for it." And he said, "Well, that's great. How about meeting us at Springs Motel and have lunch with me?" I said, "Fine." I had no idea what he wanted or nothing. When I got there, there was about 12 or 14 people and they were all prominent people of Lexington. I mean, bankers, highly respected insurance people, realtors. And after we had finished eating, the gentleman that had invited me said, "I suppose you're wondering why we invited you here." And I said, "Yes." He said, "We want you to run for state senator against Shelby Kincaid." And I said, "Who me? I don't know a thing in the world about being a state senator." And he said, "Well, they didn't either before they became a state senator." But now, if you are not aware of who Shelby Kincaid is, he's a former mayor two, two times unopposed. He was state senator and when I ran he was unopposed then until I put my name in the hat. And I said, "No way! I don't like politics I don't want nothing to do with it." And they said, "Well, think about it." Well, at this particular time, I had just started an insurance business. And, they convinced me that, "We'll take care of paying your expense." All you have to do is go out and knock on doors and you'll get more advertisement and you'll get your name in more people's houses in this short time of running than you would if you paid for it. So, I started asking people, "How do you think I would do as state senator?" And they said, "Well, I think it's great Bobby. Why don't you run?" So finally I said, "Well, okay, I'll run." And I ran and, by golly, I won. (laughs) And that was just about the extent of it. That's how I got into politics; I stayed in there for four years, I didn't particularly like it. I couldn't make a living at it. It only paid $6,000 a year. But demand that people put on elected officials to attend meetings, with astronomical. Every, every type of organization wanted you to meet with them. [loud siren] And then you had your subcommittees that you had to meet and I just couldn't make a living. So, I told the party, that even though I was an incumbent that I wasn't going to run back. And they said, "Oh, Bobby, you don't have to run now, you can win." And I said, "I don't want it. I've got to get out here and get a job and make a living." Because I had children, you know, and I've got to make a living. After a while they said, "Well, we can't find anybody to run. Can we just put your name on the, on the list to run?" I said, "You do what you want to, I'm not going to campaign. And I don't want to be a state senator if I can do the job and if I get elected I'm going to still work and I'm going to have to tell a lot of these organizations that I can't meet with them, that I have to make a living." So they put my name up there and I didn't, I didn't run, I didn't campaign, I didn't go door to door, and I got beat by 200 votes. BOWAN: That's pretty good. (laughs) FLYNN: Well, I could have won, I think, very easily Judy. It, had I, you know, just let the people what I wanted. But, there were some of the areas, they had changed the area a little bit, of the district, I didn't even go into. And I knew enough people that I probably could have got, got them, got the votes but I chose not to do it. BOWAN: Okay. FLYNN: And the person who has that seat now is Senator Michael Maloney. BOWAN: Um hum. Um, had anybody, in your family, ever been involved in any kind of politics before? FLYNN: Just my father was an avid politician as far as getting out and campaigning for the person he thought was the best choice. And he would walk the streets, campaigned heavily if he thought you're the right person. But, as far as running for anything, no. It wasn't until after I became a state, I mean, a councilman that my younger brother ran for the councilman in Paducah. And he wanted then he ran for a second term and he won. And then he got tired because it took too much of his time away from playing golf. BOWAN: (laughs) Well, that makes things difficult. Was he retired when he ran? FLYNN: Pardon? BOWAN: Was he already retired when he ran? FLYNN: No, he still has, he's working still now. He's got an insurance businesses, an antique store and he's got his children running the insurance business and his wife running the antique store and he bought him a travel van and he just goes out and plays golf and travels. BOWAN: That's a good deal. FLYNN: The kind of life I'd like to have. BOWAN: That's a real good deal. Um, your political affiliation is with the Republican Party? FLYNN: I'm, I'm affiliated with, yes, with the Republican Party. BOWAN: Okay, have you always been a Republican? FLYNN: Yes, I have. BOWAN: And, um, why did you choose that party? FLYNN: Well, I, I'm basically a conservative. And, I think the Republican Party is noted for being a more conservative party than, than the Democratic Party. And, I started out being a Republican cause, because that's what my father was and I respected his judgment and I had no reason to change, you know? BOWAN: Uh, when you first went to the legislature, went to the senate, uh, did you have a plan or any kind of bills or anything that you wanted to get past? FLYNN: No, the only thing I did, and, and people had consulted me about is to help write, rewrite the laws that dealt the Fish and Wildlife Department. And I cosponsored that, with some other senators, and we worked hand-in-hand with the sporting clubs and tried to get the basic Fish and Wildlife Laws to where they were suitable for everybody and would be good for everybody. No, being a novice State Senator and not really being in politics, I didn't know what to expect. And I went in, with an open mind, and thought maybe I could do something, you know? A mind is sort of like a parachute, it's got to be open to be any good, to function, you know? So, I didn't know what to expect. I figured people would be calling me and, people would be calling me and I would try to research what they would like for me to make the laws. And I didn't know whether, what they asked me to do were good laws or bad laws. Of course, thankfully, we had the Legislative Research Committee that could look at the assets of, of a law and the benefits and, and the pitfalls of the law. And, and I never was much for trading out votes when I was in the senate. I had a lot of senators and house members say, "Bobby, I got a bill here and I'd appreciate you voting for and, although for yours." And I said, "Well Senator, let me tell you how I feel about this. I don't know if this is a good law or not." I was asked to put in to the Legislative Research Committee and research. If it's a good law, I hope that you'll vote for it. If it's a bad law, I hope you'll vote against it. And since were both in here to do what's best for the people we represent, then I'm going to do the same thing with any building you bring up. And I'm not going to vote for anything for your people that I wouldn't vote for my people also. And they got to be tough because a lot of this goes on in, in the Senate. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. And you've got to do a lot of that and I don't mind that in certain instances but in a lot of the cases, I'm against it. I like to put a bill on the floor; I like to put an ordinance here in the Council. If it's a good bill, hey, vote for it. If it's a bad bill, vote against it. BOWAN: I agree with that. Um, before you went up to Frankfort, what did you think the role of government was in a society? What did you think they were supposed to do? FLYNN: Well, I've always thought that the government was always, of course, supposed to support their constituents. And that's what I tried to do now. Even though there might be some things that, that I would oppose that my constituents are in favor of and vice versa. I think it's, uh, my obligation since they voted me in, to voice their opinion. And the only time I will state my own opinion is if something comes up that is a moral issue and, and I am against, I will vote my convictions rather than vote some other way. BOWAN: Okay, were they're very many women, in the Senate, when you are up there? FLYNN: One. Uh, Senator Powers from Louisville, Georgia Powers. Very nice black lady that did an excellent job and she was the only lady in the Senate, at that time. BOWAN: Okay, was there, what did you think the most people, blah, stuttering today, what did you think the most important piece of legislation was, that you sponsored was, for the 1968 session? FLYNN: Well, the one that we had the most trouble with was the daylight saving time, fast time and slow time. I'm sure you're not aware of it but it was deadlocked in the Senate. And, of course, our President of the Senate, Wendell Ford had to vote to break the tie. And, this was a, this was a big thing. We had a lot of farmers who thought that, by having fast time, it would hurt their business of getting people out to work. And, then you have the people that lived in the city that said they liked this extra daylight time, you know? And it was a very controversial subject. And, of course, I had to deal with that and, and, of course, I voted the way that the people that I represented wanted which was, I voted for fast time. That was the most knowledgeable, right now, piece of legislation that we had the most trouble with, I think. Of course, they have so many pieces of legislation that comes through the Senate and to go back and pick out any one, all of them are important because they affect somebody. And, and we tried to put as much time in it. I don't think there's a senator or a house member that could read every little bit of legislation that comes through. I just don't think they have enough time to do it because there's so much. In a case like that, growing up in Lexington, I come to have regards to a lot of people that were, what I call, had an expertise in certain subjects. And, whenever I had some legislation that came up, I had no hesitation, whatsoever, to go to them and ask them, could they tell me the good points and the bad points about this particular legislation and give them the bill and let them read it and then I'd make a judgment according to what I think is best for the people that I represent. BOWAN: Okay, what was your district made up like of, ethnic and religious makeup and everything? FLYNN: It was a combination. It had a little of the inner city, a little of the outer city. It's sort of a half-moon, you might say, and they changed, they since changed that now a little bit. Of course, the district that I ran in is no longer the district. In other words, Mr. Maloney is in the district that I don't live in now. BOWAN: Um hum. FLYNN: And, I think, Tim Philpot is the Senator now that's in my district. BOWAN: What was that, 13? FLYNN: Yeah, well-- BOWAN: Is it still? FLYNN: 11th now, I think. BOWAN: Redistricting confuses me sometimes because, somebody asked me what district I was in, the other day, and I was like, I don't know. I know were I go vote and I know the people are but I swear I couldn't tell you which one it was. FLYNN: Right. BOWAN: Um, in your elections, were you heavily involved in them or did you, in your first election, especially, were you like really heavily involved in it? Did you have a campaign manager? FLYNN: Well, I had a, a, we had to all have a treasure, of some sort. It was just a personal friend of mine and, and we got just the people that I associated with over the years. The people in my church, the people in organizations that I was in, high school buddies, and so forth like this; that just helped me. But I went out personally, myself and did all the work. Campaigning door-to-door, every door, and I did this for 8 months and I didn't miss a house. And, I think that's the reason why I beat Mr. Kincaid because, him being in the Senate and unopposed, being the mayor he felt like that this was my first race and he was a cinch. And he didn't work and so, the fact that I went out and campaigned door-to-door, I think, is what beat him, you know? Some people can get complacent like that, you know, and get beat pretty quick. BOWAN: Yep, I think that's what a lot of people are finding out is you're going to actually have to get out and work in order to be elected. FLYNN: And let people know and, and I enjoyed, I, I, when I campaigned, I saw so many people that I hadn't seen in years. A little embarrassing, too, because you knock on the door, "Hello, I'm Bobby FLYNN. I'm running for, you know, Senate and I'd certainly appreciate your vote." "Well Bobby, do you know who I am? We went to school together." BOWAN: Yeah. (laughs) FLYNN: He hadn't seen them in 20 years, you know, and you'd be, "Gosh, you, you look familiar but--" BOWAN: Well, they got one up on you. You just told them your name. BOWAN: laughing). FLYNN: Yeah, ----------(??) old acquaintances. I was, I was also, Judy, I've refereed football and basketball for 29 years. And all of the kids, and all, they played any kind of sports at all, and even the families knew me from my baseball, I mean, from my officiating. And, it's just like, it's just like Doug, now everybody knows Doug, when I say, "I'm the father of Doug FLYNN." They say, "Oh, we know Doug." You know, and my name was before the people and, and I had the advantage of knowing a lot, a lot of people. Of course, you know what they say; they say the three most hated people in the world are politicians, insurance salesman, and basketball referees. BOWAN: And you were all three. FLYNN: I'm all three of them, right. It's a good way to try to win friends and influence people. (both laugh) BOWAN: I've heard that saying before somewhere. FLYNN: Yeah. BOWAN: Um, I want to ask a few questions, just generally, about the governor's and what you thought of them. Now, you served under Breathitt? FLYNN: No, I served under Nunn. BOWAN: Nunn? FLYNN: Yes, Louis Nunn. BOWAN: Okay. FLYNN: This was in 1968 to '72. BOWAN: Right. FLYNN: I thought he did a beautiful job. I thought he, a lot of people were upset, and they talk about, they're upset with him because they say, they called it the Nunn Nickel, on our taxes, on our, and, but I try to tell the people, "Look, it was his ideal but it was a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate to pass it." Because we were outnumbered, I think in the house there were 70 some odd to 20 some odd and in the Senate he was 20 some odd to 13, I think. So, they can't blame Nunn. If they didn't want it passed, it wouldn't have got passed, you know? But, I thought he did a good job in there. We, the state, was a well off. They, they had money in the bank when he left and that's about all you can ask of a governor. BOWAN: That's true, that's very true. Um, some people say that the governorship has changed in Kentucky. I mean, back in the 60's and 70's, they say it was run totally by the governor. That they were in control, it was a very controlling governorship, that they actually ran and that the Senate and the House really didn't have much to do. They just did what the governor said. Then they said it started changing, they thought with Martha Lane, that it became a weaker governorship. At the legislators started getting a little bit more freedom. What do you think about that interpretation of our governorship? FLYNN: Well, I knew in the past, all the governors, and I can say, from Governor Nunn on back that most of the time, any governor that was in there, could get any kind of legislation passed that he wanted. And he had the power, of course, in which he used it, his power and I think its, its common knowledge what they did. You have a legislature and a mountain that wants a road through there. And, in the governor says, "Okay, you want the road? Vote for my legislation here." And, that's the old saying, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. But, I know that when, when I was in the Senate, Governor Nunn got every bit of legislation that he wanted passed through the House and the Senate. And he was a Republican and the House and Senate was Democratic. So, the governor, at that time had the powers. Right now, you're right, the powers is not as strong but still he's got the vetoing power which still gives him a, gives him an edge, you know? BOWAN: Do you think it is proper of Kentucky to have a veto? FLYNN: Well, what's the good of being a governor if you don't have a little power, you know? I don't think I would want this to be a figurehead, to set up there and have no power at all and say, "Look, that's the governor." "What's he doing?" "Well, he isn't doing anything. He can't do anything and get away with it." BOWAN: He decides things. (laughs) FLYNN: No, I think he should have a certain amount of power. Where you should stop, I haven't really given it much thought, to tell you the truth. BOWAN: Okay, I need to turn this taped over. Okay, when you were serving as a senator, were they're very many people there that had served multiple terms? FLYNN: Oh yes, I think most of them that was there; we had very few people who were there for the first term, especially in the Senate. If we had, if we had more than, I'd say 5, that was a large amount. Most of them had been there for years and years and had represented their people. I'm not so sure that that's good either. BOWAN: That was my question. FLYNN: I, I think eventually, you know, you run out of ideals and, but the experience is something that you can't replace. It's always good to have fresh ideals from anybody and, and how long or, how long a elected official should stay in there, I'm not sure, I'm not sure. It takes them 2 or 3 years to really get the grasp of what his job actually is and what he can do and what he can't do, what he should do. And, I know, even when I became a councilman here, it took me a little over a year to find out where certain places were, who I would go to if I had a specific problem because, anymore, sort of, they've given different departments, different things to do and, and at onetime these things were all in one department, you know, and they're all becoming specialized. One guy picks up garbage and stuff out front, here's another outfit that cleans the cupboards out, with the old garbage and stuff, you know, that piles up. So, it took me for a while just to learn who was doing what. I'm not sure, as I say, to answer your question, what the term should be with the legislature or even with a city councilman. I think we can stay in their 12 years, which is not bad. The only bad part about being a city councilman and even about a House member is the fact that you got to run every two years. I think the council seats ought to be at least three years and same way for the, for the House. BOWAN: What do you think about having annual sessions for the legislature? FLYNN: I never was in favor of it, you know? I, I, I think if, if the people, the legislators does the job that they're put down there to do, if they can take care of the sessions the way it is now the annual sessions just another expense for the state and I feel like we could probably be using that money in a better way than, than just to meet every other, every year. I don't know. I may get some argument on that, I'm sure. BOWAN: I talked to one person who said it would be best if they met for 2 days, every 10 years. (laughs) I was like, that's a very serious, that's a good, that's interesting comment. Um, what committees were you on during your time. In the Senate? FLYNN: Well now, Judy, I swear to goodness, you know, I'm not sure I can remember. That's funny but it doesn't come to me right at this particular time. I can't think to save my life. Now if you ask me what committees I'm on now, I can tell you. (both laugh) But, I, they change these committees quite often down there, different, I wasn't on the Budget and Finance Committee and I wasn't on the Government ----- -----(??). And, I, I can't remember just exactly what, what they call these committees that I was on. I apologize. BOWAN: Well, they change the names of them anyway. That's okay. They change the names of them really often because I know the, like, I interviewed somebody that was from the 50's and Natural Resources was not Natural Resources. It was like; they called it Coal Management, or something like that. And it was something, it was a real funny name, and I was thinking, I wonder what it's, what it's called now because I'm not even sure if it's still the Natural Resources Committee or not. FLYNN: Yeah, that's what I'm saying, gosh almighty ----------(??), we're going back about 25 years, you know? BOWAN: I was born in '67 so I just turned 25. (laughs) Um, over your two terms what do you think the most important thing was that you did in those two terms that you served? FLYNN: I just served one term. BOWAN: Really? FLYNN: Um huh. BOWAN: That's what got me confused then because I was thinking you served-- FLYNN: 2? No, I served, see, a senator serves for 4 years. BOWAN: Okay. FLYNN: '68 to '72. BOWAN: Okay. That's why I thought you served under Breathitt and Nunn. Okay, that makes more sense because I was sitting here thinking, I could've sworn you had to have had 2 terms, okay. What do you think the most important thing you did was a near term that you served? FLYNN: Well, you asked me that, I think, earlier. BOWAN: Yeah, sort of. FLYNN: And, I just, I just told you, just being, the most important thing that I did was being available to the people I represent. And try to take their problems, and their troubles back down to Frankfort and see if we couldn't solve them the best way that we could. I'm not a crusader, I've never been a crusader, I'm not a crusader now. I think the responsibility of an elected official is to have his constituents at heart and concern and then have his community as a concern and then have Lexington as a third concern in this state as a fourth concern. And this is the way I look at my job now is the 6th District Council. I try to represent the people; I make myself available to them. I have a voice pager in which they can get in touch with me anytime they want it; I have an answering system, I return every call. I try to help them, if I can't help them, I, I tell them I can't do anything about it. Some of them get mad because they feel like maybe I'm not doing everything that I should but I can't make the people that works for the government do anything, I can only ask them. And I can just create enough noise and maybe that they'll get embarrassed to do some things. My philosophy is, I'm a backdoor politician that, if I get a complaint from any of my constituents, about anybody or anything, I will take this complaint to the party is being complained about and tell them, "I've had some complaining about weeds not being cut, a house not being taken care of, cars being parked in the front yard, old junky cars in the driveway." And I said, "There is a law that says you cannot do this or you have to do such and such." I don't like to take it to the government and let you get a letter, and I'm telling you that you've got 10 days to get rid of it or, and so I'm going to tell you that I'm going to give you a couple of weeks to do something about it and they'll be back. And if it's not done, I have no recourse, except to take it downtown to the government and then, if you don't do it, then they'll take you to court. And if I have any problems with, say drainage, I go to the directors of the divisions and tell them that I've got a problem out here I'd appreciate they go out and take care of it. Some of the Councilman, unfortunately, will get on the television and get the division heads up in front of the television and, and take 20 or 30 minutes of telling them about a problem that they've got in their district which doesn't have nothing to do with any of the other Councilman, you know, it just prolongs the sessions that we have in the Council. I'm, I'm against that where just a phone call could take care of it and, and uh that's the way I operate as a Councilman. BOWAN: Okay, thank you very much for doing this interview with me. FLYNN: Well, you're entirely welcome. I haven't been giving you much because, as far as my life is concerned, there really hasn't been a whole lot that I have done. I just tried to represent the people the best I know how. I, one thing I can do, I can go home at night, regardless of the way I vote, and sleep and know that I've done the best thing I have, could do for the people I represent. Flynn (Senate 1968-1970, 13th district; Republican) gives lengthy family background, discusses his race against Shelby Kincaid, praises the Legislative Research Commission and explains his political philosophy. He talks about his work on the Daylight Savings Time legislation, his constituents, campaigning, Louie B. Nunn, annual sessions and the way in which his service on the Lexington City Council reflects his political philosophy. Kentucky Legislature