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2002-07-24 Interview with P. Joseph Clarke, Jr., July 24, 2002 Leg001:02OH51 Leg 50 01:46:49 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Practice of law -- Kentucky. Educational changes -- Kentucky. Kentucky. General Assembly -- Reform. Kentucky. General Assembly. Joint House and Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Taxation -- Law and legislation -- Kentucky. Kentucky. Governor (1967-1971 : Nunn) Kentucky. Governor (1971-1974 : Ford) Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll) Kentucky. Governor (1979-1983 : Brown) Kentucky. Governor (1983-1987 : Collins) Kentucky. Governor (1987-1991 : Wilkinson) Kentucky. Governor (1991-1995 : Jones) Danville (Ky.) Hunt, Sonny Fleming, Jim Nunn, Louie B. Ford, Wendell Carroll, Julian Collins, Martha Layne Conn, Phil Brown, John Y. Jr. Stovall, Thelma Wilkinson, Wallace Blandford, Don Moloney, Mike Jones, Brereton Appropriations and Revenue Committee Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) Head Start Legislative Research Commission (LRC) Lexington Herald-Leader law practice budget legislative independence education reform healthcare legislation tax legislation court reform ethics legislation campaigning lottery stopping the clock Key legislation: Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA); Lottery bill; Court reform; ethics legislation (after BOPTROT) Term/District: House (1970-1971), 50th district; (1972-1998), 54th district Leadership Position(s): House Speaker, 1994 Counties in District:Boyle County (Ky.), Marion County (Ky.), Garrard County (Ky.), Washington County (Ky.), Lincoln County (Ky.) P. Joseph Clarke, Jr.; interviewee Eric Moyen; interviewer 2002OH051_LEG050_Clarke 1:|16(5)|28(7)|51(3)|66(3)|78(12)|89(3)|103(5)|127(12)|140(9)|158(9)|169(3)|178(13)|205(7)|217(2)|229(12)|239(13)|248(10)|264(2)|283(3)|298(5)|307(8)|317(13)|326(11)|339(10)|352(3)|365(9)|378(12)|391(7)|407(4)|413(15)|431(11)|448(3)|462(10)|477(12)|485(7)|493(1)|508(7)|516(9)|536(1)|548(13)|560(3)|576(11)|586(4)|603(6)|614(3)|631(12)|644(4)|662(5)|673(10)|687(6)|698(13)|711(11)|722(2)|736(3)|745(16)|765(2)|776(2)|787(11)|797(7)|808(2)|817(13)|839(1)|850(14)|862(10)|871(7)|882(15)|893(7)|904(9)|915(6)|925(11)|938(10)|950(12)|968(14)|980(14)|994(5)|1008(12)|1023(4)|1035(1)|1045(8)|1054(12)|1063(10)|1083(17)|1097(8)|1110(17)|1120(10)|1134(4)|1143(5)|1151(11)|1165(2)|1183(15)|1193(11)|1203(12)|1214(8)|1224(4)|1244(8)|1259(4)|1270(6)|1289(2)|1298(6)|1308(4)|1333(4)|1344(10)|1358(3)|1367(9)|1378(10)|1388(14) audiotrans Legit interview MOYEN: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Joe Clarke, who served the 54th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1970 to 1998. Mr. Clarke was also Speaker of the House from 1993 to 1994. The interview was conducted by Eric Moyen as a part of the Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project for the University of Kentucky on July 24, 2002, at Joe Clarke's law office in Danville, Kentucky. [Pause in taping]. I'm here with Joe Clarke today on July 24, 2002, doing an interview for the oral history project, the Kentucky Legislature. Thank you for meeting with me. CLARKE: You're quite welcome. MOYEN: And I thought maybe we could start out just you telling me a little bit about your background. CLARKE: Okay. I grew up in Danville, Kentucky, went to Notre Dame, got a degree in civil engineering. And after I got out of Notre Dame by the skin of my teeth, I decided I was in the wrong racket, that I probably shouldn't have been an engineer in the first place, and so I decided to go to law school. And I applied to Harvard and Georgetown, and to my amazement, was accepted at Harvard, but they weren't interested in giving me a scholarship, and I had no money. So I got a job in the Patent Office and went to Washington and went to Georgetown Law Center at night. And then after I got through there, I came back to Danville and opened up an office. MOYEN: Why did you decide to return to Danville? CLARKE: It's a nice place. And people knew me here; it would be easier to start a law practice. My father was an attorney. He was the county attorney. Didn't have any private practice. I didn't practice with him. I just opened up and started from scratch. MOYEN: Okay. Now, when were you born? CLARKE: Nineteen thirty-three. March 12, 1933. MOYEN: Did you go to school around here? CLARKE: Yeah, Danville High School. MOYEN: What about primary, elementary school? CLARKE: Went to Broadway Elementary. MOYEN: Okay. Are there any teachers you can think of that really stand out as your mind, in your mind as maybe having influenced you in your career path at all? CLARKE: You know, I don't know how much sense my career path made. I just kind of stumbled around, sort of wound up doing-I don't know that anybody really (laughs) influenced me that much. My dad influenced me pretty good. But no, I don't remember any, I mean I had some good teachers, I don't, don't get me wrong, but I don't recall any of them having any impact on my career. MOYEN: And why did you choose to go to Notre Dame? CLARKE: Well, I was kind of raised on Notre Dame. My dad was a big football man. He played, 126 pounds, he played for Danville High School. And when he graduated, he went to Missouri with his high school football coach, who got a job at a college out there, and tried to play football there for a year. And then he came back to Danville. MOYEN: Which college was that? Do you remember? CLARKE: No, I don't remember the name of it. And he came back to Danville at a time when Bo McMillin and "Red" Roberts and all the famous Centre heroes were here, when they beat Harvard and allegedly won the National Championship. So he was here then during that period, and obviously wasn't big enough to play football at that level, because that's the Centre 6, Harvard 0. Supposedly, Centre thought they won the National Championship that year. I'm not sure it works like that. And then he left here and went to Notre Dame to law school. And while he was at Notre Dame, Knute Rockne was the coach. And that's the period of the Four Horsemen and Seven Mules. And so he, you know, he got a lot of football. So growing up as a kid, even though I was, as I like to say, "little, but slow," I was bound to play football. And that's not why I went to Notre Dame, to play football, because I really didn't think I'd get to. MOYEN: Did you play any sports in college? CLARKE: Well, I did play football, or practiced football. When I got up there, and I didn't know this until my son gave me a book for, about football for my birthday. And I was reading in it, and they said there that about the time I got to Notre Dame, the NCAA had reduced the number of scholarships that colleges could have. And Frank Leahy was the coach up there then, and he wanted more warm bodies. He wanted to build a scout team that would learn the plays of the opposition and run them against the varsity defense. And so I went over to the athletics office and said, "What do you do if you want to play football?" And they said, "Just stay loose, son. They'll be asking for you" (laughs). So 115 of us applied, and they gave thirty of us uniforms and took us out there for a week or two, made cuts and so forth. Anyway, I made the final thirty at Notre Dame, so I practiced up there for two years. I'm not exactly Danville, Kentucky's answer to Rudy, but I did, I never got in a game, but I practiced for a couple of years. Great experience. MOYEN: All right. Now, after Notre Dame, when you were in law school, what type of law did you study? Did you have a specific area that you wanted to look at? Or what interested you? CLARKE: Well, I wanted to be a trial lawyer. That sounded a lot more exciting. Of course, I was working in the Patent Office during the daytime, so I mean, I'm qualified very technically as a patent attorney, but I don't do much, if any, of that. I usually refer people. MOYEN: Okay. So after law school, you returned back to, you returned to Danville. And how did you get involved in politics? CLARKE: Well, of course, my father loved politics. He just was really into it, and he kept trying, I think I was a great disappointment to him because I really wasn't that interested in politics. And I was, John Watts, who was our longtime congressman here, I was his campaign chairman, oh, two or three times. And it was pretty easy to be his campaign chairman because he was pretty popular and he always won. So I had a good track record from that (laughs), not anything I did, but just because he was pretty solid. But Daddy was always trying to get me involved, but I never did do that much of it. MOYEN: And what were your parents' names? And how exactly was he involved in politics? CLARKE: Well, I'm Phillip Joseph Clarke, Jr. MOYEN: Okay. CLARKE: He was Phillip Joseph Clarke, Sr. My mother's name was Marie. Her maiden name was Newton. She, he got her out of Somerset, big Republican country. MOYEN: Is he from Boyle County? CLARKE: Yes, sir. MOYEN: Okay. CLARKE: Yeah, he was born and raised here too, just like I was. MOYEN: And what was his role in politics or how did he serve? CLARKE: Well, he was a member of the Clements-Combs faction of the Democratic Party. He didn't think much of "Happy" Chandler; always had a subscription to The Irish-American, which was a paper that was very anti-Chandler. He always looked for that paper coming in. He'd read about how bad "Happy" was. But when Bert Combs became governor, he put Daddy on the Democratic Central Committee, so he was kind of involved through that period of time. MOYEN: Okay. And what are your memories of Democratic factionalism, growing up with a father involved in politics? And how would you explain the history about that as best you were told? CLARKE: That's a tough question. He always tried to break me in to being more active. He pushed me, but I didn't do much of it. My political career was accidental. I kind of backed into it, so I really wasn't that involved. He loved it. And it frustrated him, I think, that I wasn't committed to it. MOYEN: Okay. Now, besides serving as a campaign chairman, were there any other ways that you were involved in politics before serving- CLARKE: Well, I was county chairman of the party at one time. MOYEN: When was that? CLARKE: I don't know. It's a good question, but I know I served in that capacity at one time. MOYEN: Um-hm. Do you remember who was governor at the time or who may have been? CLARKE: When I went to the legislature, Louie was in the middle of his term. Probably during the Combs period. MOYEN: Okay. So how did you wind up in the legislature? What made you get involved in that? CLARKE: "Sonny" Hunt, who's infamously known for his period with Julian Carroll, had been the legislator here, and "Sonny" was kind of in trouble. He lost the primary, or won the primary by a very narrow margin and survived an election contest suit on a technicality. It was not filed properly, and it got thrown out. So that summer I got a phone call from Wendell Ford, who was then lieutenant governor. Nunn was governor. And he said that they had done some polling and research, and that we were going to lose this seat if I didn't run. And I hadn't thought about the legislature, didn't know anything about it, and I said, "No, I don't think I'll do that." And J.R. Miller called me. He was the head of the Democratic Party, and they just kind of hammered on me for a while. And I finally said, "Okay, you know, if you guys want to do it, I'll give it a shot." Hadn't thought much about it, and to be honest with you, when I got into it, I discovered that a lot of people were not happy with "Sonny" and had committed to the other guy. And all I had was a general election, you know. There was no, the primary was over, "Sonny" had won that. But I agreed to do it, and the state central committee put, I think, to tell you the truth, I think I was county chairman then. And they, because I had to decline. I did not nominate myself. But I was put on the ballot about six weeks before the general election by the State Central Committee. MOYEN: Didn't leave much time for campaigning then? CLARKE: No. No, it didn't. MOYEN: Do you remember what you did to try and campaign, to try and get votes or- CLARKE: Shook hands and went door to door and tried to cover my butt in Garrard County as best I could. MOYEN: Um-hm. How- CLARKE: And I lost Garrard County. It's not a surprise. It's a Republican county anyway. MOYEN: Do you remember how close the election was? CLARKE: It was, I won by a couple of hundred votes. It was pretty close, the closest race I ever had. MOYEN: Do you remember who your opponent was? CLARKE: I do, a guy named "Moose" Moss, Julian "Moose" Moss. Nice guy. I think he was in the finance business, ran a finance company over in Garrard County. Was a nice fellow, and he'd gotten a lot of people committed to him, so it was not an easy go. MOYEN: Okay. So when you go to Frankfort as a legislator for the first time, what about that experience was a surprise to you? What was, maybe, what you expected? CLARKE: Really didn't have a lot of expectations. I kind of backed into it. I didn't know what I was, I hadn't, I wasn't a guy who had always planned to be in the legislature, didn't know much about the legislature, didn't even want to be in the legislature, to be honest with you, until they tried to get me to do it. And, but one thing that made a big difference, I think, in my legislative career is that when I went down there, I was one of 50-something freshmen out of 100 in the House, so we were all new, we're all practically-we started from scratch. And that meant that there were a lot of opportunities to move up pretty fast, you know, in the hierarchy. MOYEN: Why do you think there were so many new legislators that session? CLARKE: Well, Louie had pushed through an increase in the sales tax, and I think he bribed a lot of Democrats to get the, you know, "I'll build you a building" or whatever. And a lot of those guys were afraid to run, didn't run. And some of them that did got beat. It was just a messy turnover. Raising taxes is not a popular thing, not just in Kentucky, but anyplace, politically. MOYEN: Right, sure. Now, the time you entered the legislature, the late '60s, early '70s, kind of becomes known as a time for legislative reform. Do you know in what ways the legislature was changing at the time? CLARKE: I don't know that it was changing. I think, I'd like to think I helped change it after I got there. But I remember Jim Fleming called me up. Now, Fleming was with Wendell Ford and was the director of the Legislative Research Commission (coughs). And he said, "Clarke, I don't want any bullshit from you. I'm going to give you first choice. You can be the chairman of the appropriations and revenue committee," and this would be my second year, second term, "or you can, and take care of the budget, or you can (coughs) be chairman of the State Government Committee and do reapportionment for the first time. But I'm giving you your choice, and Richard Lewis gets the other one, whatever you take." And I thought about it for quite a while, and I knew that the governor dominated the budget process. You know, the legislature really hadn't done very much there, but I decided that would be the thing to do. And another interesting thing, at the time that I went in the legislature, the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers had got a big grant to run schools for legislators. And I was one, they had two guys from each state, and you, and did half the states every other year, one Democrat and one Republican nominated by the press corps. And we went down to Florida, all expenses paid, bring your family, stay two weeks. And they had all these seminars on the legislature and how it works. And so I got involved in legislative reform through the Eagleton Institute, and that was right at the very beginning of my legislative career. MOYEN: Now, your first term that you served was under Louie Nunn- CLARKE: Yes. MOYEN: a Republican governor, and the last one since. How did that one term differ for Democrats in the legislature than the ones that would follow? I mean, obviously the chief executive is from a different party, but in terms of actions, what was different about that? CLARKE: Well, it was easier to buck a Republican governor if you were a Democrat. And we had the majority, and he didn't have anything like a majority in the legislature. Whereas when Ford got elected, he came in and planned on dominating things. The legislature was supposed to do what he said, according to him. And Julian was worse when he got there. Every day you'd get a sheet, all the Democrats did, from Julian's office telling us exactly how to vote on every bill, even some little resolution memorializing the mosquito or something, you know. We were given a list and told exactly how to vote on everything. Now, a lot of us didn't do it, but that's how tight he tried to maintain control. MOYEN: During Ford's time as governor and then Carroll's time, was there a similar split? Could you see a split continue? You had mentioned your father was part of the Clements-Combs faction of the Democratic Party, as opposed to the Chandler faction. Was there a similar split once Ford and Carroll were in office? Could you- CLARKE: No. MOYEN: see anything? CLARKE: No, not at all. MOYEN: So that had passed? CLARKE: I don't, if there was ever a split between them, I don't know what it was. They seemed to get along okay when Ford was governor and Julian was the lieutenant governor. MOYEN: What about in the party itself? CLARKE: The party didn't have a lot to do with, the party organization didn't have a lot to do with how the legislature functioned that I witnessed or that I recall. MOYEN: How did Governor Ford or Governor Carroll respond to the legislators when they wouldn't follow exactly what the sheet said to vote on or what was passed down? CLARKE: Well, I think it worked differently with different guys. I had the impression, this is in hindsight, I'm not sure I had that impression then, but I was pretty popular with the press, and I think they were kind of afraid of me. Julian would try to get me to do things and I'd just tell him no. And he'd threaten and cajole and all of that, and, you know, but nothing ever happened, so how do you be afraid if they don't-and I didn't seek the job in the first place, so if they ran me off, I, you know, I'd be back with more time for my law practice, so you know, I was not that vulnerable. But he was always trying to get me to do something. Called me up one time and said, this is Julian now, he wanted me to take over the, what was it, the Council on Higher Education, I guess. Said they were driving him crazy, and he knew if I'd take that over, he wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. I said, "I kind of like what I'm doing. I'm going to stay here for a while." Because I was beginning to try to write budgets, and that didn't make him very happy. But they, my impression always was that they were kind of afraid of me, because the press liked me. Now, that might just be ego, but that was my feeling because nothing ever really happened to me. You know, you'd get pressed, but nothing, never followed through on anything. And I'm sure I pissed Wendell and Julian both off. MOYEN: Um-hm (laughs). Can you think of any specific legislation during Ford's administration or Carroll's administration that was very important or landmark legislation that kind of marked their terms in any way? CLARKE: You ask hard questions. I really can't think of anything. You know, one thing that happened was, and I don't know if we can call this landmark, but when Wendell was governor we passed a severance tax for the first time on coal. And I don't think anybody thought that was going to be anything earthshaking, but what happened not too long after that passed was that the Arabs embargoed oil, and all of a sudden the price of coal went from, like, $6 a ton to $30 a ton, and we were collecting five percent of it. So Wendell wound up in pretty good shape financially because of that severance tax. And that wasn't any brilliance on anybody's part, it just happened. MOYEN: So at that time, did that make the job of the A&R Committee easier with that money there? CLARKE: Well, the more money you've got, especially money that you didn't know you were going to have, makes it easier to balance the budgets, that's true. But I was so green then that I am not sure, you know, at that point, the governors were still pretty much writing the budget. And during my period as A&R chief, I actually wrote some, you know, literally. I mean Martha Layne's, when she was there, they did some serious miscalculations on the revenue, and her budget was so far out of balance that we wound up just writing the budget. It was a legislative budget, in effect. We didn't introduce it, we just, it was just the amendments to her budget. MOYEN: You had mentioned that during Carroll's administration, that's when you started getting into the budget process or writing budgets. How did that start or how did the A&R Committee start gaining momentum or more ability or power in that way? CLARKE: Well, some of it is probably my fault. I, like I said, I went to that big seminar down in Florida, and I saw what other states, more progressive states like Florida that have a strong legislature, how they handled the budget process, and I was kind of envious. And so we just tried to sort of emulate what the other states were doing. And my first couple of years as chairman, the Senate chairman was not very strong. MOYEN: Do you remember who that was? CLARKE: I can't think of his name now, but he wasn't. And then shortly after, I don't know, one or two terms, then Mike Moloney took it over in, on the Senate side, and I think between the two of us we exerted quite a bit of muscle. We were known as "Gloom and Doom," because we frequently commented on the fact that we needed to do something with our tax base, because we weren't going to have enough money to pay for all the stuff we were trying to do. I always asked them to call us "Sweetness and Light" (Moyen laughs). I thought it would have been much more complimentary. That's something the press cooked up anyway. But Mike was tough, and I think between the two of us, we kind of took the budget process away from the governors. MOYEN: Um-hm. How would the A&R Committee go about studying the budget? How do you even get a grasp on that or handle on it? CLARKE: Some of the things that we did early in the game was required by statute that the agencies send us their budget requests when they sent it to the governor's office. So we had the same information he had. When a governor starts out, and all the agencies send in what they think they have to have, and he has his budget staff work on that, well, pretty early in the game we required that we be given those same budget requests. And that wasn't anything that the governors fussed about, so you know, when he got-in the fall, going into a legislative session, the agencies all had to file their budget requests. Well, we had that information. We'd start hearings in the fall and bring the agency people before us and say, "You know, on page three here, what the hell does that mean?" you know, and, "Why do you have to have that much money?" We did the process that the governor was, I guess had been doing for years behind closed doors, only we were doing it publicly. And I think- MOYEN: The governor-oh, go ahead. CLARKE: well, I think it put the fear of the Lord in some of those agency heads because, you know, at least they could make their arguments in private and didn't show their ignorance quite as badly as they did in appearing before a legislative committee. So I mean I think that created a different attitude on the part of the agencies toward the legislature. MOYEN: Um-hm. Would there be a very different tone in terms of the budget from the governor's first session when they're just elected and they don't have as much time, versus their second session, when they've been there for a while? Are there different dynamics there? CLARKE: You'd think you would, but most of those people are smart enough to hire staff people that know where the bodies are buried, you know, know what's going on, and then some of them were a part of the process beforehand. You know, Julian was lieutenant governor and then went into the governor's mansion. So I don't know that it made that much difference, really. What was different was having us hassle them, having the legislature on their backs all the time. And another important thing that we did was build up staff. When we first started doing that, we didn't have anybody to help us, so we spent some money and got people, knowledgeable people on our staff that were as smart as the governor's people were. MOYEN: Now, when you say "our staff," are you talking about your staff or the committee staff or both? CLARKE: The committee staff. MOYEN: Okay. How rapidly or how large did that grow? Do you have a guess as to how many people you were employing as staffers? CLARKE: Well, we had ten or twelve people. In fact, Julian got so mad at me, and he controlled the guy that ran the LRC, Phil Conn. And I was in the process of reviewing Julian's budget publicly, we were having hearings on it and everything, and things popped up in his budget that I don't think he even knew about. So he got kind of embarrassed. And I'm trying to think what was it that I was doing that they got so upset about? He, I don't think he knew this, I don't think he had anything to do with putting this in there, but his budget that he introduced had a million dollars to build a place for him to live while the mansion was being renovated. And you know, that was not a terribly popular political thing, that wasn't too wise when a governor, you don't need to build a big fancy house for the governor. Let him, send him down to the motel or something, if necessary (both laugh). But he, there were things like that that popped up that I don't think he knew was in his own budget. But in any event, I wound up with Phil Conn, the LRC director- MOYEN: How do you spell his last name? CLARKE: C-O-N-N. MOYEN: C-O-N-N? Okay. CLARKE: He fired all my budget people for one reason or another. They had, said there had been a party and some of them had smoked marijuana. And these were young people, very bright, very dedicated. And I spent about two weeks writing letters of recommendation. And they ran all of them off. I had to start all over again, started hiring people to, and this was a group that had been developing and learning, you know, in the process, so I, you know, it wasn't easy all the time, fighting with governors. MOYEN: Do you recall if those letters of recommendation or the positions that they took, were they still in Frankfort as staffers or were they- CLARKE: No, they were all over the place. No, they, these were sort of general letters of praise about how good they were, not necessarily to anybody that I knew that got them a job. Now, I know a couple of them went to Washington. But the whole staff was fired. MOYEN: Um-hm. How did that type of activity change, or did it change, once John Y. Brown- CLARKE: Well, John Y. was a totally different breed of cat. He didn't want to run the legislature. Now, he got pretty pissed off at me- MOYEN: Why was that? CLARKE: while he was developing a budget, because of the way the process went, we were developing one, too. And I introduced it, and I've still got some clippings someplace. It pictured him looking very pissed off and pictured me looking very benign. And he says, "Clarke thinks he's the goddamn governor," you know (laughs). "He doesn't write budgets, I write budgets." He wasn't happy. And John Y. and I got along well, really, but he, you know, he didn't want to, he didn't try to run things and he didn't try to control, you know, use political control to make us do everything. He was just a different kind of guy. MOYEN: Um-hm. How did that affect the legislature in general? CLARKE: Well, I think it was easier to be independent if you didn't have a governor that was trying to, you know, put a roadblock in front of everything you did. He didn't try to stop us. He was really unhappy when I introduced that budget, but I wasn't trying to piss him off. I really didn't realize he was going to get that bent out of shape. MOYEN: Do you remember who the legislative leadership was at the time of his administration? CLARKE: John Y.? I think Bobby Richardson was speaker then. I'm not sure, I don't remember who the other members were. You know, Bill Kenton was speaker for a while, then he died in office, and then Bobby took his place. But I'm pretty sure Bobby was-and Bobby was more the main man than Kenton was when Kenton was speaker. MOYEN: In what ways? What would have been different about their- CLARKE: He was just a stronger individual. Actually when Julian became governor, Bobby called me and wanted to meet with me. And he said, "I'm going to be the new majority leader for Julian Carroll, and I think you'd make a really good speaker. And I have recommended to Julian that you be speaker." I said, "Okay." You know, "That's fine." And then "Sonny" Hunt got a hold of it. He was still floating around out there someplace, well, he was in the Carroll administration. He, in fact, he was the chairman of the Democratic Party during that time. And before all this, the machinations occurred, Bobby got me an appointment with Julian, and I went down there and we had breakfast, very good breakfast, you know, country ham, redeye gravy, eggs, and, in the mansion. And he said, "I want you to be my speaker." And I said, "Okay, I'll try. I don't know whether I'm, whether I'll be any good at that or not, but I'll try to do it." And so Bill Curlin was one of Julian's insiders, and Curlin called me and he said, "Julian wants you to be speaker." Said, "Just sit tight. You won't have to do anything. It will all be set up, and Julian will call you tomorrow." So, got no phone call, and I called Curlin and I said, "He didn't call." He said, "Well, he's gone to Florida. He'll be back in a few days." And then Monday morning I got up and read in the paper that Bill Kenton was going to be the new speaker. And the way I understand it happened, "Sonny" Hunt said, "You don't want that son of a bitch, because he'll just be nothing but headaches for you because he's going to want to do things his way. And he, you don't want, you want somebody you can control." Now, that's, "Sonny" didn't tell me that but-so I was almost speaker a long time before I, but I understood that. I would have been difficult for Julian, I think. MOYEN: During his term, he leaves the state briefly, and Thelma Stovall calls a special session- CLARKE: Now, she was a piece of work, Thelma was. MOYEN: Tell me about her and your thoughts on her in that session as well. CLARKE: Well, isn't that the session that we, that was called and then had to be recalled because of weather? I think there was a big, terrible snowstorm about that time. Anyway, Thelma wanted us to do a lot of tax-cutting. She, you know, she was running and she, so she was recommending that we cut a lot of taxes. And I was chairman of A&R, and I said I wanted Thelma to come over and testify. And she said, "goddamn it," she didn't need to testify. So I subpoenaed her and it really pissed her off. And when she got there, she was red hot. And I've got another clipping someplace that's a picture taken from behind my head with Thelma over there across the table. And you could just tell, I mean there was fire in her eyes. And I said, "Governor, do I get the feeling that you want to take the credit for cutting taxes and make us take the blame for cutting programs?" And she said, "You're damn tootin'" (both laugh). I'd like to have a video of that (both laugh). She was an interesting character. It didn't do her any good politically; obviously, you know, she didn't become governor as a result of that. MOYEN: Um-hm. During- CLARKE: Are these war stories what you want? MOYEN: Yes, that's exactly what we want. CLARKE: Okay. MOYEN: Those are the good details I'm looking for. As, or during John Y. Brown's term, he was gone a lot of the time apparently. CLARKE: Sometimes. He had business interests and things he had to take care of. And he liked to gamble, so he'd go hit Vegas or someplace, you know (laughs). MOYEN: Uh-huh. Did Martha Layne Collins as lieutenant governor step into any type of leadership role during his term or- CLARKE: Not really. Not that I recall. MOYEN: Do you recall anything during his term, besides his personality, that really appeared to be an example of this new legislative independence that was developing? CLARKE: No, just that John Y. was not one to try to have a stranglehold on the legislature. He didn't make that sort of effort. It just wasn't something he wanted to do. He'd fuss about you, you know, but he didn't try to force you to do anything. I remember him calling me one time. He had some kind of a tax bill that he really wanted bad. I said, "Governor, we can't pass the damn thing. I mean I can't get it out of committee." I said, "You know, you've got two votes for your damn bill. One of them is me, and you're the other one, and you're not on the committee." I said, "I'll tell you what I'll do, though. I'll call a meeting of the A&R Committee, and you can come up here on the third floor and see if you can talk them into doing it, but I'm not going to get it done for you." And he did, and afterwards he said, "Well, you told me right (both laugh). They don't like my bill." So, but he was more, much more benign. He didn't try to control things. And I think he really tried to do the right thing for the state, and he had good people. He got a lot of dollar-a-year people that would come in and help him out. Bill Young is one good example, you know. But it, I think that, I think the very fact of John Y. and his personality and his general attitude had a lot to do with legislative independence moving along during that time. MOYEN: What about the economic situation during his time in office? CLARKE: It wasn't good. MOYEN: And why was that? CLARKE: I don't know whether we were in a recession during that time or not. As I recall, we kind of struggled with revenue receipts. Of course, that's always true, that you have some difficulty in that regard. MOYEN: And in what ways during that time were you trying to solve that problem, in terms of revenue? CLARKE: Well, one of the things that we were working on then was that, one of our problems were the revenue estimates. We really were, the way the system worked when I first got there was that the guys that estimated the revenues, which is what you base the budget on, would be told by the governor whether he wanted a high figure or a low figure. And so we kind of took that process away from the governor and got our own experts to come in and, so that we hopefully would have-and now the revenue- estimating function is much more sophisticated. And it's done by a committee, by a group of economists who collaborate on it, instead of having a best scenario and a worst scenario, that you now reach a number, you know, the governors got the numbers they wanted back early in the game, or close to them, you know. I don't know what you did if those numbers weren't realized; that could have been pretty tough. That never really happened, but it scared the shit out of me that it could happen. You know, we could wind up writing a budget that wasn't supported at all by the revenue stream. But now you've got consensus evaluations. You've got several economists, they all get together, and instead of a high number and a low number, they come up with what they think is the best number, and that's pretty much what's used. [End of Tape #1, Side #1] [Begin of Tape #1, Side #2] MOYEN: Okay. About the time of John Y. Brown's term as governor, you'd been serving ten years or ten-plus years. CLARKE: Something like that. MOYEN: Did you face any opposition in your elections here? CLARKE: Yeah, I had, I ran fourteen times and had opposition seven times. Now, not, I don't think I got opposition from the governors. It was all some, usually some kind of local issue. When John Y. was governor, he had promised that he wouldn't use the old Kentucky State Mental Hospital as a prison, and said he wouldn't. And then he switched and decided he had to. And, you know, it made sense. It was a facility that was already there that you could just spend some money upgrading it and put a prison out there, but the people here didn't want it. And the guy ran against me because I didn't keep the governor from putting a prison in Boyle County. He happened to live next door to the prison, which made him more sensitive about it. But most of the people that ran against me did it for some reason. Early on, one guy that ran against me, he had been out getting signatures for some issue. Oh, he was opposed to the court reform that we did years ago when we revamped the whole court system. He was very much opposed to that. MOYEN: Do you remember his name? CLARKE: J.C. Talley was his name, and he ran against me pretty much on that basis. I don't think the public was as upset as he was, obviously, from the way the election turned out, it wasn't. But most of the time it would be one issue, and it wouldn't be, I didn't have governors come after me, which is just kind of surprising. But no, I didn't have that happen. MOYEN: You mentioned the court reform. Now, wasn't that an amendment approved by the voters? CLARKE: Right. MOYEN: What exactly did that, what did that reform do to the judicial branch? CLARKE: It just totally revamped it. It was massive. And, you know, what you had before that was that a lot of these little communities were running their operations based on the amount of traffic tickets they could get in. You know, they kept the money, and when that system changed then they were funded, the money went into Frankfort and it didn't have any, make any difference in the locality how much money they got based on the, you know, the number of traffic tickets paid. We took all of that away from them, which was a good thing. That was a pretty tough operation though, that judicial reform. But it really dramatically changed the courts, especially the small, the lower courts in Kentucky. MOYEN: Can you, I'm not sure, can you think of any ways that it changed the courts? I'm sure that it did, but I'm not familiar with those specifics. CLARKE: Well, it just totally revamped the whole system. It just, it did literally reorganize the whole system of courts. I don't know before that if we had a Supreme Court. It didn't have the status that it has now. But what comes to my mind about the most radical change were these lower county courts and things. MOYEN: Okay. Do you remember what would have upset someone enough about that reform to run against you? CLARKE: Well, he was just bitterly opposed to that whole, I guess it made it easier for him to get tickets fixed in the old system (laughs), I don't know. MOYEN: Were these all Democrats that challenged you? Or did you have any Republican challengers? CLARKE: Well, I had Republican opposition from time to time. MOYEN: Okay. Were any of your opponents very threatening or very serious? Or did you win by sizable margins? CLARKE: I usually won pretty handily. Probably the closest race I had was a general election, and the guy that filed against me was the father of one the high school football stars. And he didn't do anything and I didn't either. I mean he didn't have any bumper stickers or posters and wasn't spending any money on the radio, and I just kind of sat there too, and it wound up being pretty close. I did better if somebody came after me than if they were sort of benign, because I was basically lazy. I didn't do any work that I didn't think I had to (laughs). But that was a general election where, like I said, neither one of us did very much. And I won, but, you know, substantially but not overwhelmingly. MOYEN: So when someone did come after you in an election, it's, I'm just trying to get a personal experience here. What is campaigning for a position in the Kentucky legislature like? Is it just miserable or is it not so bad or, and why? CLARKE: Well, I guess it depends on whether you like it or not. I never got much fun out of campaigning but, you know, if you do it right, you've got to raise some money because you're going to need to run ads on the radio. On a legislative operation, you don't need television. That's where the big money goes now is television. And you need to run articles, you know, things in the paper. You've got to get your name out there so they know you're running. MOYEN: Did you ever have any trouble with people who did donate to you or your campaign, expecting certain things from you once you were re-elected? CLARKE: No, I think that I had made it so clear. I never took more than a hundred bucks from anybody. I figured if anybody thinks that they can buy me for $100 is kind of misguided. And I think I've made those kind of statements so much that I don't think anybody thought that they were going to get any influence with me, you know, from something like that. MOYEN: All right, so let's move forward. After John Y. Brown is governor and Martha Layne Collins becomes governor, you had mentioned earlier that she had, or her office had some problems with calculating their budget. And in what ways did you in your position on the A&R Committee try and correct that and how was that received? CLARKE: Well, we were looking, I didn't know that we did it right then, but we were looking at changing the estimating process and trying to get the best possible people involved in it, you know, economists from the universities and so forth, and to sort of make it as foolproof as you could. It's, you know, it's obviously not a precise science so you're going to be wrong sometimes. You're not going to guess what the economy does, but I think we improved on it. And nobody, you know, that wasn't just the legislature; the governors didn't want to get caught in that trap either. It would be pretty embarrassing if you don't have your numbers right. MOYEN: She calls a special session when she is governor, and it's primarily about education and education reform. What did the legislature pass during that special session, do you remember? CLARKE: Not in detail. It wasn't very significant. I mean she wanted to be the "education governor." You know, everybody wants, when they become governor, they want to be the "education governor." And I think that was kind of her effort to do that, but we didn't achieve very much reform. And what we really needed was radical reform, which we wound up with after Bob Stephens wrote that opinion that says, you know, the old constitution said that education is the responsibility of the legislature, and that court opinion threw out the whole system. We had to start from scratch. We had to reenact every law on education. And that's what was needed, and, you know, that was a brilliant stroke on his part to go as far as he did. MOYEN: Uh-huh. Did you feel like the appropriations for KERA were sufficient? CLARKE: That's a tough question. I don't guess they're ever, sufficient is one thing, I guess they were sufficient. Yeah, the schools-but, you know, we really, if we had the resources, I think everybody knows that smaller classrooms result in better results. And better teachers are going to require better teacher pay, because a lot of people, you know, don't want to get into that profession because it doesn't pay very well. So people are more apt to want to be a doctor or a lawyer or something like that. And until we do pay an adequate amount, we're not going to get the best people going into the teaching profession. MOYEN: Right. It seems- CLARKE: And that's something we didn't do anything much about in KERA. I mean we put a lot more money into education, but we didn't do a lot about increasing teacher pay. We're still talking about that. MOYEN: What parts of KERA do you think were most worthwhile in terms of educational reform, not so much on the funding side, but what about the legislation that had a positive effect on education? CLARKE: Well, I think an important piece was that we recognized that we need to start educating children as soon as possible. And the programs that we had were not fully funded for those in the lower levels, so we turned that around. I think that was a very important move. Not a lot has been said about it, but I think that was a key item. Kids learn a lot earlier than we realize, and we need to get them off to a fast start. You had a federal program but it wasn't fully funded, and we basically fully funded it when we, in the KERA program. MOYEN: Do you remember which federal program that was? CLARKE: Head Start. I'm getting old, and my memory is not as good. Sometimes I have to stretch to get to (laughs), but I lived through all this, so I can remember most of it. MOYEN: When you passed some of the education reforms under Martha Layne Collins, it seems like a few years later there were budget constraints that made it virtually impossible to fund even the reforms CLARKE: True. MOYEN: that you did manage to pass. In what ways did you try and deal with that, or try and convince other legislators that something needed to be done about that? CLARKE: Just told them. Tried to persuade them. MOYEN: And what were the responses- CLARKE: Sometimes I don't think I was terribly persuasive (Moyen laughs). When it comes to raising taxes, and I'd never had this experience, but legislators are scared to death of even, you know, raising a little tax a little bit. It's so obvious now that we really ought to increase the cigarette tax, you know, in the shape we are in. That shouldn't be hard to do. And I was involved in increasing taxes a number of times, and I don't know that I ever lost any votes. I didn't get run out of office based on that. I think that's just one of those kind of inherent fears that politicians have, you know, that you can't raise, raising taxes, cutting taxes is a good thing, and raising them is a terrible thing. And I think that's the sort of, it's like politicians are raised on that. You know, they think that's an absolute. I don't think it's true at all. I think people will accept a lot more than legislators think they will, if you can articulate why you did something and prove to the people that it's the right thing to do, it's a good thing to do. I only know of one guy that got beat over KERA, and he says, he thinks in his own mind, Blandford didn't recognize him; he had a big speech he was going to make. MOYEN: And who was this? CLARKE: I can't think of his name. He's still down there. He's a Republican. I remember after that vote he sat there with his head on his arms at his desk. He was just torn up by it. And he did get beat. And he's back in the legislature now. Oh, what is his name? A nice guy. I was sorry that he, he might have gotten beat anyway. But I don't, I just don't believe that this tax thing is the bugaboo that most politicians think it is. MOYEN: You said you were involved in raising taxes a number of times. Do you recall what those instances were when you raised taxes? CLARKE: You know, maybe it was more, obviously KERA was a major tax increase. Other than that, there probably weren't any significant ones. You know, tax reform is something that has yet to take place in Kentucky, and it's going to have to eventually. And, but tax reform would involve probably reducing some taxes but increasing others or broadening the base. One of the arguments that we got in when we were working on KERA, and Wallace and I pretty much agreed on this, that what we really needed to do was to expand the tax base and probably move the sales tax into more of the service areas where the economy is growing. See, what we tax now isn't something that grows. You know, we've got the same old taxes we've always had, and that's why we have problems. But because of where we're located, you know, Kentucky's got states all around us, it creates a conflict on the borders. And it almost needs to be done on a national level before you're going to get it done. I mean you have all kinds of people saying, "If you put, if you tax me, I'll move over into Indiana and not pay those damn taxes." And, you know, that's a pretty good argument (both laugh). MOYEN: Talking about the new businesses and the type of things that we're getting here in Kentucky or have gotten here in Kentucky, the big landmark business deal under Martha Layne Collins was Toyota. How did that develop in the legislature? What were the arguments for and against in terms of the breaks that they got and how that evolved? CLARKE: Well, it was really a small group of legislators that were involved in that process. I think, Martha Layne got mad at me because she said I was pissing the Japanese off, but as an old country lawyer, it made me uncomfortable for us to keep making commitments and not getting anything back from them. They kept asking the legislative leaders to write letters promising this and that, and I said, "When are they going to promise something? I haven't seen them do anything." Martha Layne got very unhappy with me because I was playing the lawyer too much, and the Japanese don't think they ought to have to make any commitments, at least that was my impression. I mean it's turned out to be a great boon to Kentucky. But I got kind of nervous about it at times. MOYEN: Were there any, was there anything that you can think of that you would have added or stipulated? CLARKE: Not off the top of my head. MOYEN: Okay. CLARKE: You're pretty good at this. MOYEN: Well thanks (laughs). CLARKE: You're welcome. MOYEN: After Martha Layne Collins is through with her term and Wallace Wilkinson enters office, the first, I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, this is really the first chance or the first time that the independent legislature is maybe challenged again, or there's a very, a return or an attempt at a return to a stronger executive leadership style. Would I be correct in saying that? CLARKE: Well, I think Wallace wanted to be. I don't know that he pulled it off. And we fought with him a lot, you know. Blandford didn't like Wallace. And Don was a strong speaker. I mean he was a good speaker, I think. MOYEN: Do you recall around when he became speaker? CLARKE: No, not exactly. I remember when he and, I'm trying to think, I don't know when that was. It was in the middle there. Kenton died, Bobby Richardson took over, and then Blandford overthrew Richardson, but I don't remember the dates. And Bobby had gotten a little too heavy-handed. I think that hurt him. MOYEN: Um-hm. Can you think of any examples of that heavy-handedness that other legislators may have not appreciated or- CLARKE: Just, no, not examples, it was more a personality thing. Bobby, you know, pretty much did what he wanted to do while he was speaker, and I think that upset people. And I think that gave Blandford some impetus to knock him off. MOYEN: Um-hm. What type of dealings go on as there's leadership realignment, like as Blandford's making his move? What type of discussions are legislators in, in terms of who they're going to align with in those different positions and the type of things that might be promised to them? Or was there any of that in those different races for speaker? CLARKE: I'm sure that a lot of that happened. I wasn't in on it. I wasn't, you know, I wasn't involved in the overthrow of Richardson and company. In fact, I'm trying to think if, I may have probably nominated Jim LeMaster, who was the majority leader with the Richardson group, and he got knocked off with them. Blandford had about twenty-five or thirty guys that would do anything he said, no matter how bad. He had a group, he could pull that many votes together, and that makes a big, if you've got that large a chunk out of 100, you can get what you want. But he had a group of people that would do what he wanted, period, whatever it was. I wasn't one of them. MOYEN: Why do you think that was? CLARKE: I don't know. I mean he just developed that kind of relationship with these guys. When he first went in, I don't, I think he was kind of scared of me. He didn't try to get rid of me as A&R chairman, but, and then after a while, I was someone who they could depend on if they wanted to bury a bill. They could send it to A&R, and I'd never let it see the light of day again, you know, that sort of thing. So I was pretty handy for them, and so Blandford and I developed a relationship to the point where for a long time before he got kicked out, I was really, although I wasn't formally an elected leader, I went to all the leadership meetings. And it was, I think they thought it was kind of handy to have me around, because I had quite a bit of knowledge, you know, not only about the budget, but other things, too. And we were talking about Wallace a few minutes ago. I remember sitting in there in a leadership meeting and the phone rang, and he just, Blandford answered it and he turned around and he said, "Whew, do we have to go talk to that little son-of-a-bitch?" And everybody knew who he was talking about (laughs). And I said, "Don, you don't have to obviously, but if you don't, he'll tell the press and they'll eat us alive, that, you know, we won't even talk to the governor. You just can't do that." So we all got together and went down to the first floor. But I just sort of evolved into a kind of an unofficial position within the leadership during the Blandford years, because they relied on me for a lot of things. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, as the Blandford years were also, apparently part of those years were also the Wilkinson years as governor, how did chairing the House side of the A&R Committee change under Wilkinson's leadership and under the way he would craft the budget? Were there any noticeable differences once he took office? CLARKE: No, not really. We pretty much did what we'd always done as far as the budget was concerned. I think, now, Wilkinson and Moloney didn't get along at all. I know that, because when Wallace won the primary, and he was obviously a shoo-in in the fall, he was going to win the governor's office, he called me. He had a farm over there in Harrodsburg, Mercer County. And he told me then, he said, "I want to get the straight scoop on where we are on money." And he said, "Moloney and I haven't spoken in years and we both like it that way, but," he said, "I have the impression that I can trust you. Would you be willing to sit down with me and go over what our financial situation is?" I said, "Sure." So I met him one Sunday afternoon over there at the farm, this was before he was elected governor, and spent about three hours just kind of going over things. The bottom line was I told him I thought we were going to be short about $50 million bucks. It turned out to be $53 million. But after that experience, he decided I was credible, I think. But he and Moloney didn't get along at all. MOYEN: Do you know why that was? CLARKE: I have no idea. He never did explain that to me. And when we came down to the wire on KERA, we were just finishing up trying to get the financial piece resolved. We were all sitting at a big table, and I'm getting nervous about whether or not we're going to even be able to explain that to the members of the KERA committee sufficiently to get it through. So I turned to Wallace and I said, "I'll tell you, I know you and Moloney aren't big buddies, but if you and I and Moloney all went over to the mansion and worked this finance piece out so that we were all satisfied with it, I think we could just come back, and it will fly. It won't be a problem. But if you think that's a decent idea, I think you ought to invite Moloney." And he did, and we did, and I've still got a picture someplace of the fiscal staff and the gov--, and Wallace and Moloney and I coming across the road there to go back from the mansion. MOYEN: So when you're meeting at the mansion- CLARKE: And it worked. I mean the thing just, we didn't even have to explain it. It just, everybody that counted was for it, and it went right through. MOYEN: When you're meeting at the mansion with the governor and with Senator Moloney, what type of things are you discussing in there that aren't clear beforehand? And what takes place there that makes it so much easier once you're done meeting? CLARKE: Well, the finance piece was very complex. You know, we had to, it had to be designed to bring all the schools up to par, which meant you didn't spend the same amounts. You had to adjust that. And that was a part of the KERA opinion, you know. And it was a pretty complicated thing to try and get anybody to really understand, and I just wasn't up to spending a week trying to explain all that stuff to (both laugh) the rest of the members of the committee. But it worked. It was just rubberstamped after we brought it back. MOYEN: What about the lottery and the revenues that the lottery promised to bring in? And how did that debate develop in the legislature? Obviously that, or not obviously- CLARKE: Are you talking about budgeting the lottery proceeds or the lottery, passing the lottery bill itself? MOYEN: Both. We'll start with passing the lottery bill. CLARKE: I don't recall that being, I mean Wallace campaigned on it; obviously the people wanted it. I don't remember that being terribly controversial on the legislative level. MOYEN: Now, in terms of appropriating- CLARKE: Where did the money go, that's, that was always an issue. MOYEN: Can you explain to me what originally you thought, or how that would work? How the revenue would be, from the lottery, would be used? CLARKE: Well, to start out with, it was never that much money. I mean it was over-promoted in terms of what it would bring in, in my mind. You know, we weren't going to pay for any massive education reform out of the lottery money. Now, it brings in a little over $100 million, and that's it. It's never produced much more than that. And that's not what we're talking about expending for education reform. MOYEN: Uh-huh. So do you think that the lottery was portrayed as a panacea that it never could or would be? CLARKE: Yeah. Of course, I don't think any of us really knew how much it would bring in until we tried it, but it, you know, it's never produced a gigantic bunch of money. I think now it's, I think it's earmarked for scholarships for something. You know, it's, I'm not even sure about that. But people were always saying that it should go into the general fund, like that meant something. And the general fund is the general fund. You know, it's, that's all just money that we spend when we write budgets, so-because people still fuss a little bit about, where's that lottery money gone? They think it's, some people still think, you know, that it was a lot more. And I think probably Wallace is partly to blame for that, because he sold it as being a lot of money. But after we ran it for a few years we, you know, you could see it wasn't, it's not growing. And $100 million is not that much money. I mean I know it would be a lot of money for me, but, if I could spend it, but it's not in the general scheme of things. Nothing, nobody is going to get well on the lottery. MOYEN: Um-hm. Are there any other things about Wilkinson's term in office that you think were particularly helpful or harmful to the legislature, in the way it functioned and the leadership? CLARKE: Well, Wallace was an irascible sort of guy. He was used to having his own way, and he was difficult to deal with sometimes. But no, other than that, that's, I got along with him pretty good. MOYEN: Um-hm. Can you think of any other instances where he would try and manipulate or cajole the legislature or a legislator into doing something that either worked or really backfired? CLARKE: No, not just offhand. When I think of Wallace, I think about the education reform package, because that was our big operation at that time. And he was involved in that, not as much as his book leads you to believe; you'd think he started the whole thing (laughs). Bob Stephens gets a lot more credit for education reform than Wallace, because I don't think we'd have ever done it if we hadn't had that court opinion on our backs. MOYEN: Um-hm. Do you, now that we're ten years-plus beyond KERA, were you, if you were in the legislature now, with that hindsight, what types of things would you add to that legislation or would you change about that legislation? CLARKE: Well, of course, are you talking about the finance part of it or the nuts and bolts of the reform part? MOYEN: Either. CLARKE: I don't think I know enough about the education reform part to know what ought to be changed. I haven't been out there on the firing line. I don't know what's working and what isn't. I know some things that we did were pretty critically important, in expanding Head Start all, fully funding Head Start all the way down. I think it became pretty apparent to us that the sooner we started with these kids, the better off they were going to, better they were going to do. And I think that was a very smart move on our part. I'm not sure what needs to be changed. I don't know how the, I don't know how it is working in practice in the schools at this point. I don't have any kids now, grandkids now, but not kids. So I don't know what ought to be changed. Back when I was in the legislature, I used to talk to teachers a lot about what they liked and didn't like about what we made them do. And I don't get that kind of feedback anymore either. MOYEN: You mentioned kids and grandkids. What type of effect does being a legislator have on the family, on the kids? Do you think that that's, well, what type of effect do you think that that has? CLARKE: Well, I'm, I was probably not your average legislator. I live forty miles away from Frankfort, so I'd get up every morning and go down there like I'd go to my law office. And some of those guys, I, you know, they have a four or five hour drive to get into Frankfort, so they come in and stay the whole session. I would think it would affect your ability to deal with your children if you weren't around them for long periods of time. But that's the difference. I didn't spend very many nights in Frankfort, so I'd come home and tuck the boys in bed at night. And, you know, I was probably not that much different in terms of what I did with my kids. But I can see how, if I lived in Paducah, I wouldn't have lasted any twenty-nine years in the legislator, I can tell you that right now (both laugh). No way. MOYEN: Uh-huh. I want to talk about or hear you talk about Brereton Jones' administration, and particularly healthcare reform under his administration. CLARKE: Well, I don't think there was anything wrong with the bill we passed. I think after being so dedicated to healthcare reform, you know that was his big driving, that's what he really wanted to do, you know, when he came in there, he didn't do anything about it in terms of administering it after he got it. And he was pretty damn erratic about it while we were in session. You know, he was, we had that bill up, and he was campaigning against it, and then overnight he decided it was a pretty good bill. Jones was not my favorite governor. He's a nice guy, but I don't think he had a clue a lot of the time. But I really think that one of the reasons that the healthcare bill failed was the administration didn't jump in and try to administer it effectively, control it. And another thing that we didn't anticipate, I think, is that Kentucky is so small that they can, the insurance companies can forget about us. They can pull out of Kentucky and go someplace else; they haven't lost much. And so they just taught us a lesson. They all just pulled out. We should have realized that. I should have realized that, but I didn't. But, you know, that was his big item, and it was kind of unreal to see him, I mean we all felt like the bill was a pretty decent piece of legislation. And the night before we voted on it, he was out just beating the bushes against it. And then twenty-four hours later he said, "Well, it's not too bad," after it had failed. And then we came back and passed it. MOYEN: Do you know what the differences were in the two? CLARKE: None. There weren't any changes made. It was the same bill that he was campaigning against the day before (laughs) that we passed. We didn't change it. It wasn't because he said you've got to change something or we've got to have an amendment or something like that. What we passed is just the same bill that failed when he was out campaigning against it. MOYEN: I believe I read something in the Herald-Leader about you stopping a clock to continue debate on healthcare. CLARKE: I don't- MOYEN: Is that true? CLARKE: no, I don't think so. You know, we did do that. On the last day of the session we would pull the plug on the clock and pretend it was still midnight and keep on, and we did that all the time I was down there. There were a lot of times when we'd be on the floor until two or three o'clock in the morning, when the session technically had ended, and you run back there and pull the plug on the clock in the back of the room, and it stopped time, supposedly (Moyen laughs). And that was a tradition, you know. We'd done that for a long time. I don't remember that happening with the healthcare bill. I just know that he was beating the bushes against it one day, and the next morning when he got up he decided it was a pretty good bill, and it was the same bill. So (both laugh) it's kind of hard to be that bad the night before, you know, and then be-I don't think he'd ever read it, is part of the problem. MOYEN: Besides A&R, what other committees did you serve on? CLARKE: I was on state government and A&R for pretty much my whole legislative career. MOYEN: What does the State Government Committee look at? CLARKE: Well, like I told you way back there, the State Government Committee had the apportionment problem, reapportionment of legislative districts. It's very broad, as you might imagine, with a title like state government. It's got pretty broad jurisdiction. It's a committee where the leaders assign a lot of tough bills there, and it's generally considered a pretty tough committee that will do what needs to be done. I don't know whether that's still the way it's considered, but it was back then. MOYEN: Tell me a little bit about the reapportionment process and how that works, and what type of haggling there is over reapportionment. CLARKE: Well, of course, everybody would like to take their own district, you know, eliminate all the people that aren't for them and include all the people that are for them. That's very hard to do when you're talking about doing something across the whole state. I never worried about getting re-elected particularly. I used to tell the guys doing the reapportionment, if you give me Boyle County, you can go wherever you want to for the other 15,000 people that I have to have in the district. So I, my districts changed all the time. Every time we reapportioned, mine would be pretty radically different. When I started down in the legislature, I represented all of Garrard County and all of Boyle County. Now, that's before we even had reapportionment. And then after that, I had part of Washington and part of Marion County and all of Boyle County. And then I had part of Lincoln County and all of Boyle County, so I just, I didn't get involved in that fight. I figured if I had my base, I could survive and always did. MOYEN: Were there any very blatant attempts at gerrymandering that you or others (unintelligible)- CLARKE: I think there were individuals who wanted to do that. I don't think that the process ever did that that much. I think it was always operated pretty much on the square. I'm going to have to get out of here pretty- [End of Tape #1, Side #2] [Begin Tape #2, Side #1] MOYEN: Jones's term as governor, you became Speaker of the House. Can you tell me how that idea came about and developed to the point of your being elected? CLARKE: Well, I guess that I had a reputation as being kind of a straight-arrow sort of guy. And I think there was a mistake in thinking that you could stick a guy with a halo and wings in that job and it would satisfy everybody, but that's what they had in mind, I think. The leadership came to me and said, Greg Stumbo and Kenny Rapier, and said, "You know, we've just got to have you run for speaker." And it put me in a position of, not having ever been speaker before and not having any experience at it, of going in and pretty much having to push through a tough ethics law. I mean that was kind of the feeling I had, that that's a part of the job that I got stuck with when I got elected speaker, and I had some trepidations about that. That's the first thing, we had a special session right, as soon as I was elected, and sat there and hammered out this ethics law. It turned out, I think it was one of the toughest ethics laws in the country when it was passed. And I didn't think about this, but I don't think the members wanted a tough ethics law. I think they wanted to look good, but this thing was kind of cutting at them where they lived, you know. And so I think that kind of put me in a weak position, but when I was running for speaker, you know, the question was, you know, what the hell is this guy going to do to us, but you know, we want him because he'll make us look good just because he's so pure. MOYEN: So do you feel like- CLARKE: Because I'd always had my own rules, you know, like not taking more than a hundred bucks and that sort of thing. And I think that, and I've told some of the reporters this. I think that the newspapers to some extent hurt us. The Herald-Leader never accepted what we passed as being a strong ethics law, so it makes it pretty easy for guys that don't like having all these restraints on them to fight against it after it passes because, "it's not good anyway. Never was very strong." The Herald-Leader never gave us any credit for, you know, passing what was, what, by the people that follow this sort of thing and write articles about ethics and everything have all pretty much acknowledged that we had, maybe not the toughest ethics law in the country, but close to it. And it was probably too tough. I think we put restrictions on people being in the legislature, if they were practicing law in these big firms, they had, there was almost no way that a guy like Bill Lear, for instance, who was a good legislator, could come to the legislature anymore because of the conflicts that were created by the partners in the firm. Other things he didn't have anything to do with, but he couldn't come from that firm because he would have too many conflicts. MOYEN: Where was he from? CLARKE: Lexington. MOYEN: Okay. So do you feel like a lot of the, or the things that helped get you elected as speaker really were your good reputation- CLARKE: Pretty much. MOYEN: in the wake of BOPTROT? CLARKE: Yeah. See I'd had all my own private rules. I quit taking the football and basketball tickets because I got, you know, I'm presiding over U.K.'s budget. And I mean, I went to the, got the tick--, free tickets and went to the games for a long time. And then finally one time I had a sudden pang of conscience, I guess, and quit taking the tickets. So I had a lot of little things like that, see, that made me look pure. MOYEN: The BOPTROT scandal, what were your thoughts on that? Did the things that, the issues that came out in that, did any of that surprise you? CLARKE: Well I, my personal feeling is that they set Blandford up. I didn't think they proved their case against him. They had a, the theory of this thing was that he was getting bribed to push through some kind of horse-racing bill. And they had a videotape of one of his old buddies coming into his office, or maybe it was over in the hotel or someplace in the room he had there, and giving him money. And what he said was, "Bless your heart." I don't think they had any evidence that he actually took money to do something in the legislature. So I've always felt like he got a bum rap. But the judge told the jury that you can infer from all the circumstances that these things happened. And I don't think anything happened. Now, I'm not saying that there haven't been people who have been paid for things they did in the legislature that should have gotten them in the pen, but I don't think Blandford did that. And, you know, all of us knew that every day in the speaker's office, there'd be all these goodies, you know, country ham sandwiches and shrimp and all that sitting out on the table, and you'd go over and get something to eat. We knew that lobbyists supplied that stuff. When, the few nights that I spent in Frankfort, I went over, well maybe not, maybe didn't spend all night. I'd go over, there was a bar there up on the hill and I went in there a time or two, and the guy that ran it would say, "Your dinner is paid for." I'd say, "How did my dinner get paid for?" He said, "Don't worry about it." I thought, "How are they going to bribe me if they don't even know, I mean I don't even know who it is." But we had lobbyists who would leave credit cards in the place, and if it was a legislator, they'd just, your meal would be free. That kind of stuff went on all the time. MOYEN: Um-hm. Were there any specific examples of lobbyists making you feel uncomfortable, and you knew what their lobby was, what they wanted, that you had to say, "No, sorry." CLARKE: I guess. People didn't mess with me very much, so I didn't see a lot of it just because I was, I think, sort of considered untouchable. Nobody ever tried to bribe me, that's for sure. Not even close. But you didn't have to have me to get the votes, I mean, so-but I know that in the early years when I was in the legislature, and you know, there were, you didn't have to buy any food if you were a legislator. Actually, they were having these big functions about every night or so. You could go eat, you know, all the shrimp you wanted. All the lobbyists put on these big shows, you know. So a lot of legislators, I don't imagine, bought a meal the whole time they were down there. And we all knew where the food came from that was in the speaker's office. Now, whether or not these people thought they were getting a deal of some sort, you know, from the speaker because they did that, I don't know. MOYEN: Getting back to your being speaker, do you remember who your opposition was in the party when you ran for speaker? CLARKE: Pete Worthington and, oh, what's his name, from Owensboro. There were two. MOYEN: Was it Louis Johnson? CLARKE: Yeah. Louis Johnson. You know your people. MOYEN: I'm trying. I'm trying (laughs). CLARKE: You're doing great. MOYEN: You won that pretty handily, didn't you? CLARKE: Yeah. Yeah, it wasn't real close. MOYEN: How- CLARKE: But that was because Kenny and Greg and those guys, you know, just like they beat me when I ran for re-election. MOYEN: How did you lose their support? What happened? And why do you feel like they switched alliances on you shortly thereafter? CLARKE: Kenny says that it all came up over the healthcare bill and he's probably right. Kenny knows, he knows a lot, Kenny Rapier. I was in the chair, Ernesto Scorsone got up, asked permission to offer a motion. I trusted Ernesto, I didn't know what the hell he wanted, and so I recognized him. He made a motion to take the healthcare bill off the table, to put it in the Orders, and I just gaveled it through. Pissed Greg off big-time. See, the majority leader is supposed to control the flow of the legislation. Kenny says that's why I got knocked off as speaker. Best thing that ever happened to me. I made a ton of money back here that, I didn't realize how much money it was costing me to be in the legislature until I quit and came home, so it was the best thing that ever happened to me. And I wasn't that good a speaker, you know. I was a figurehead. MOYEN: What, how does your role change as an informal leader, like you were, to becoming speaker? How does a legislator's role change in those positions? CLARKE: I don't know. That's a tough question. You've got to know a lot more about what's going on overall if you're going to try to do the job right in the speaker's chair, more than I did. MOYEN: Now, after- CLARKE: And I think the thing that hurt me also is that a lot of members didn't want that ethics law, and I'm the guy that gave it to them, and I felt like I had to, that I was put there to do it. So I think that created some friction. MOYEN: Now, after your term as speaker, when they were going through and making committee assignments, you didn't get put back on the A&R Committee, did you? CLARKE: I asked them not to. MOYEN: Okay. CLARKE: I didn't think that would be fair to Harry to have the, you know, the guy that owned the job for so many years sitting there picking at him, so I just, I said I don't want, don't even think about putting me on A&R. Because everybody would be looking to me for answers to everything, you know, and with all my years of experience there, I probably would have some. So it was better off not to do it that way. And, in fact, they called me up and wanted me, to give me a committee chairmanship, and I said, "Don't do it. Give it to one of the guys that's in trouble because he voted for me." So Adrian Arnold got a chairmanship, and I just stayed down in-I mean I'd had my time in high spots, it's time for me to (laughs) just get out on the floor and not try to make waves. MOYEN: Um-hm. What finally made you decide, after fourteen terms, to not run again? CLARKE: Well, I didn't think that we were functioning very well. I made a couple of speeches that, you know, I thought we just weren't doing things the way we ought to. And I wasn't getting anything done, I was just down there. And after having been in the middle of it all along, you know, because I pretty much was in a fairly strong position from the beg--, very beginning of my second term. So I just decided it was time to quit, and I'm, have not regretted that decision at all. MOYEN: Um-hm. So what do- CLARKE: You know, it's not good for a guy to be just hanging around picking at everybody else, you know. I just couldn't see doing that. MOYEN: Um-hmm. So what do former legislators do once they return home? CLARKE: Practice law. That's what I did (laughs). Of course, I was doing that all along, but it's made it a lot easier. I didn't have a clue as to how much money that had cost me. It's expensive to be gone that much. MOYEN: Do you feel like that's changing as legislators are paid more and more, and that becomes almost a- CLARKE: Are they getting paid more and more? MOYEN: a career? CLARKE: I think it's been suggested that ought to be done, but I don't think it's happened. I don't think legislative pay is that much higher than it was. MOYEN: It will become more difficult too, probably, with the- CLARKE: Increasing legislative pay is like raising taxes. The members don't want to do it. They want the money, but they don't want to have to vote on it. I don't think that legislators are paid anything like what that job is worth; maybe half of what it's worth. They ought to be getting a lot more money than that, considering the responsibility involved. MOYEN: Sure. What, to kind of close here, what specific legislation would you consider probably the most difficult that you had to vote for? And what legislation did you sponsor or did you vote for that you're most proud of? CLARKE: Oh, I guess I'm more proud of my involvement in education reform than anything else. I think it's the most important thing we did the whole time I was down there, the whole twenty-nine years. I was involved in a lot of things over the years, but I think education reform was easily the most important thing. And we'd have never done that if it hadn't been for that court decision, I don't think. MOYEN: Is there anything that you voted for that, in retrospect, after seeing it take effect, you think, I wouldn't do that again? CLARKE: Well, I'm sure there are things. I just, I really haven't thought about it that much, so I couldn't put my finger on any specific thing. But I'm sure that there are, if it were brought to my attention, that there are things that I, votes I probably shouldn't have cast. Fortunately, I don't think there are many. I was pretty careful about how I voted. MOYEN: Um-hm. One last question, because you served so long on A&R and that's your specialty. How should Kentucky go about solving its problems with, even today, with budget and debt and shortfalls? What do you think the solutions to that are? CLARKE: Well, I think that you can't be afraid to raise revenues. Somebody's got to have courage enough to vote for taxes if we need more money. I know that's not easy, but like I said, I never got, I voted for taxes a number of times. I never, I still survived. I didn't get beat down there. Going down there I got beat for speaker, but it didn't have anything to do with anything like that. I think that you've got to face up to reality as far as revenue is concerned. That's always the biggest problem. But I don't think you, if you can articulate why you're doing what you're doing, raising taxes isn't all that bad. I think a lot of people would grouse about it maybe a little bit, but they wouldn't run you off. I think they want people that have the courage to do what's right for the state. MOYEN: Are there any other- CLARKE: But I couldn't convince the other guys of that while I was down there (laughs). But, you know, I voted for a lot of taxes over the years, and I refused to vote for tax cuts. For quite a while after I was out of the speaker's office and was there on the floor, there were tax cuts that I voted against and said to the members, that, "You shouldn't do this. You'd better save these little goodies until we've got some overall tax reform, until we rebuild the whole tax structure," because you can get away with raising some people's taxes if you've got, if you're taking care of another, enough other people on the other hand with tax reductions. But they gave them all away, one by one, you know, not in a package where you could get some kind of payoff for it. But that's what, something that really needs to be done now is-in fact, I went to the governor before I decided not to run and I said, "I'm not going to be back unless you think you're going to do tax reform. I think that's the next big thing that the state needs, an overall-." And he didn't disagree with that, but he couldn't tell me he was going to do it, you know, in the next term. And I, but I figured I have enough knowledge in that area that I could be of some help if he decided that's what he wanted to do, but that's only going to be done if a governor gets behind it. You're not going to see that kind of an issue come out of the legislature, I don't think. But it's going to have to happen because our tax system is out of balance. It doesn't grow with the economy, and we're always going to be short of money if we don't do something about it. And that probably means expanding the sales tax to the service area, which is where the money is now. MOYEN: Um-hm. Anything else someone studying the history of the Kentucky legislature should know about? CLARKE: You have done a wonderful job. I have no, no. MOYEN: Well, thank you. Thanks so much for your time. CLARKE: You're very good at it. MOYEN: I appreciate it. CLARKE: Not everybody is. You're better than Malcolm Jewell was. [End of Interview] Clarke (House 1970-71, 50th district; 1972-1998, 54th district; Democrat) covers his education, experiences in Danville, Kentucky, law and political background, candid impressions of governors and fellow legislators, extensive work on the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, and his philosophy on the role of the legislature. Highlights include his thoughts on reform in education, taxes, healthcare, and state budgeting. He concludes with reminiscences of his time as Speaker of the House (1994). Kentucky Legislature