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2006-07-11 Interview with Nicholas Kafoglis, July 11, 2006 Leg001:2006OH117LEG120 01:04:33 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Discrimination -- Kentucky -- Lexington. Medical care -- Law and legislation -- Kentucky. Common Cause Kentucky. Kentucky. General Assembly -- Reform. Kentucky. General Assembly -- Committees. Kentucky. Governor (1983-1987 : Collins) Kentucky. Governor (1991-1995 : Jones) Kentucky. Governor (1995-2003 : Patton) Lexington (Ky.) immigrants Vietnam War Common Cause campaigning campaign finance reform Rules Committee legislative independence Kenton Amendment Collins, Martha Layne Brown, John Y. Jr. Patton, Paul Jones, Brereton health care legislation Clinton, Bill coal mining Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) postsecondary education BOPTROT lobbyists abortion lottery free enterprise Key Legislation: healthcare reform (under Jones), lottery bill Term and District: House (1972-1976), 20th district; Senate (1988-1998), 32nd district Leadership Position(s): Senate Majority Caucus Chair, 1994-1998 Counties in District: Warren County (Ky.) -- Logan County (Ky.) Nicholas Kafoglis; interviewee Jessica Flinchem; interviewer 2006OH117_LEG120_Kafoglis 1:|18(2)|30(1)|39(10)|50(6)|67(5)|97(2)|111(9)|121(3)|127(7)|137(4)|158(4)|174(13)|182(2)|189(12)|201(3)|218(9)|247(11)|259(7)|269(4)|278(10)|287(9)|295(2)|306(4)|314(1)|323(7)|331(7)|343(5)|355(5)|363(6)|374(6)|386(11)|407(10)|419(9)|427(9)|434(1)|445(6)|453(6)|465(7)|476(9)|488(7)|497(5)|509(1)|522(9)|530(6)|542(1)|549(7)|563(11)|576(8)|584(3)|594(13)|603(5)|614(11)|637(2)|645(3)|657(1)|687(6)|697(12)|714(4)|723(11)|731(13)|741(4)|749(2)|759(11)|776(4) audiotrans Legit interview FLINCHUM: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative and Senator Nicholas Kafoglis who represented Warren County in the Twentieth House District from 1972 to 1976, and Logan and Warren counties in the Thirty-Second Senate District from 1988 to 1998. The interview was conducted by Jessica Flinchum for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project, on Tuesday, July 11, 2006, in Mr. Kafoglis's home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, at one o'clock. Mr. Kafoglis, what is your full name? KAFOGLIS: Nicholas Z. Kafoglis. FLINCHUM: Nicholas Z. Kafoglis. When and where were you born? KAFOGLIS: Lexington, Kentucky. Nineteen thirty. FLINCHUM: Did you grow up in Lexington? KAFOGLIS: Yes. FLINCHUM: What are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Lexington? KAFOGLIS: (pause) Well, Lexington was a very livable community at times. (laughs) Not nearly as big. (pause) I guess I have good memories, of sports, you know, as a youngster. School. FLINCHUM: What were some of your favorite sports? KAFOGLIS: Oh, most everybody played basketball in Lexington. Football, baseball, that was about all there was in Lexington, in the way of tennis and things like soccer and that sort of thing, which the kids play now. FLINCHUM: What were some of your favorite things about Lexington? KAFOGLIS: (pause) Well, I was always very comfortable with Lexington. I guess I was proud of it. It was a nice community. We didn't have much conflict. You know, racial problems probably were there but not evident. Of course, those things came up later, busing controversies, eat-ins, and that sort of thing. Before 1940, probably before 1945, there really wasn't much conflict in that way. FLINCHUM: Do you remember some examples of that--from the sixties in Lexington, eat-ins or sit-ins in Lexington? KAFOGLIS: Yeah, of course, there was the challenges to segregation in the restaurants. And challenges to segregation in the busing. Some people were very hostile toward integration. I guess we got through it about as well as most people. Of course, Lexington pretty much was a southern-oriented town. I don't remember any--any organized riots or anything, but there were individual conflicts at times, between blacks and whites. FLINCHUM: Did that make a big impression on you growing up? KAFOGLIS: I don't know exactly at what point it registered on me, but I generally thought segregation was very unfair. FLINCHUM: Where did you go to school? KAFOGLIS: I graduated Henry Clay High School. FLINCHUM: Okay. KAFOGLIS: Then I went up East. I had a postgraduate year at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. I graduated from Yale. I went to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Then I had two years in the Air Force. I came to Bowling Green to practice general practice. After three years, I decided I wanted to be a specialist and went back to take residency training. Then I came back to Bowling Green in--let's see, 1965, been here since then. FLINCHUM: And as you were saying earlier, you live in the same house that you moved into in 1965, is that correct? KAFOGLIS: Yeah. FLINCHUM: You lived here? KAFOGLIS: Yeah. FLINCHUM: In the same area? KAFOGLIS: Right. FLINCHUM: It's a beautiful place by the way. KAFOGLIS: Yeah, we like it. (laughs) FLINCHUM: It's right in the middle of Bowling Green. There's so many trees out in the yards. It's like a good combination of rural and urban, isn't it? KAFOGLIS: Well, it is nice that it's close to town but very suburban too. FLINCHUM: Um-hm. Very nice. When did you first decide to would go into medicine? KAFOGLIS: During college, I kinda had to choose between ministry and medicine. I had worked in the clinic. Just gradually, I decided medicine would've been a better choice for me. FLINCHUM: But you considered going into the ministry for awhile? KAFOGLIS: Yeah, yeah. FLINCHUM: What can you tell me about your family? KAFOGLIS: (laughs) How far back you wanna go? FLINCHUM: As far as you like, whatever you like. KAFOGLIS: Well, my parents were immigrants from Greece. My father had come here fairly early. I think around 1916. Was in the U.S. Army during the First World War. Like many Greek immigrants, they went back to get a bride. So he went back around 1922, I guess, or '23. My parents were from the same hometown, which is in Eastern Turkey, and that area was largely populated by the Greek population. But there was a war between Greece and Turkey in 1922, and all the Greek residents of Turkey were expelled, and about one and a half million, I think, were absorbed by Greece. My grandparents--my mother's parents--had had four children; two girls and two sons. And they were anxious to marry the girls off because the economy was terrible. They were refugees. I guess my father was thirty-two, my mother was sixteen when they were married. It was pretty much an arranged marriage. Of course, then they came to the U.S. Well, let's see. Now, I don't know where I was heading with all this, but. Anyway, my father had a job in Cincinnati working on the railroad, and he was on a railroad crew. They would go outside of Cincinnati, and they were working in the Lexington area at one time, and he thought this reminded him of his home area. (crying) Sorry, I get emotional about it. FLINCHUM: It's okay. Would you like for me to pause? KAFOGLIS: That's okay. Anyway. He decided to live in Lexington. He worked in a hotel and then started a restaurant, like many of the Greek immigrants. (crying) So, anyway. Yeah, why don't you stop that. FLINCHUM: Okay. [Pause in recording.] KAFOGLIS: My father died in '41; my mother remarried in '43. I went to high school in Lexington. I am a graduate of Henry Clay High School in 1947. I think I mentioned I went to Andover and Yale and medical school, and so on, back to Lexington and then to Bowling Green. FLINCHUM: Did you enjoy medical school? KAFOGLIS: Yeah, but it was hard. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: I bet. Which was harder, medical school or the Air Force? KAFOGLIS: Oh, the Air Force was a breeze. I mean, when I went in the Air Force, I was a doctor. (laughs) I worked in the hospital. It was very pleasant. I had base housing, and I was married then. I had two children. We enjoyed our two years in the Air Force. I had a nice time. FLINCHUM: Where were you based when you were in the Air Force? KAFOGLIS: In--I had two years in ----------(??)I guess two years, two months in San-Antonio and the rest of it in Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. FLINCHUM: My grandfather was in El Paso, Texas for a while. KAFOGLIS: It's a big state. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: When did you first become interested in politics? KAFOGLIS: Hum, let me think about it. (pause) I guess the Vietnam War had something to do with it. You know, there was tremendous division in the country at that time about the Vietnam War. I had gone to some rallies against the war. That kind of led me into thinking politically. I began to think, well, I was a young doctor here, you know, What could I do to have some impact? Obviously, you think, well, there's really not much ya' can do. (laughs) You vote, but I was trying to think of some way that I could have a little more impact on public policy. I guess it was one of the Presidential elections I got involved in that was the--(pause)--yeah, candidate from Wisconsin that was anti-war whose name I can't think of right now but I'll think of it. He died recently. Anyway, the anti-war, I started thinking about trying to get an elected office. I had a medical practice. Obviously, I couldn't--it was not just practical in any way to try to run for Congress, but I knew that the Kentucky General Assembly only met about two months every two years, and I thought, Well, maybe I could devote that much time to it. So I decided to run for the House in 1971. I defeated an incumbent. But I only served two terms before I realized that it took more--(laughs)--time than I thought it was going to take. Plus, the fact I had four children, that I was going to have to educate, and I just really couldn't afford to continue. So, I didn't run after my second term. I continued my medical practice all that time of course, and then after ten years, when the children were pretty well through school, I decided to run for the Senate. FLINCHUM: Was that around '85, '86? KAFOGLIS: I ran, I guess, the election was in '87. FLINCHUM: Oh, okay. KAFOGLIS: My first term--trying, think, '88. It was the '88 legislative session. FLINCHUM: Okay. KAFOGLIS: I don't know. Let's see. Now I'm thinking about the Senate. FLINCHUM: Yeah, I'm sorry; I was talking about the Senate. KAFOGLIS: Yeah, because I was in the House '72,'74 and in the Senate, from '88 session through the '98 session. I think. FLINCHUM: Sounds right. Earlier you mentioned some of the Vietnam War protests. Were you part of some of the war protests at the University of Kentucky or Lexington area? KAFOGLIS: No. FLINCHUM: In the Lexington area? KAFOGLIS: No, because I was older then. FLINCHUM: Um-hm. KAFOGLIS: I wasn't university age at that time. FLINCHUM: Yeah, I wondered if you may have shown up for some of those. KAFOGLIS: No, because I was in Bowling Green then. FLINCHUM: Okay, I see. KAFOGLIS: I don't recall. I don't remember honestly whether there was much student protest here at Western. FLINCHUM: Um-hm. But you saw it on T.V., read about it in the papers? KAFOGLIS: Sure, there was a lot of anti-war feeling, you know. Of course, it got worse and worse as time went on. So, yeah, the Vietnam War was not over the first time I ran. It was still, that was in--the election was in '71. FLINCHUM: What are some of your memories of your first campaign? KAFOGLIS: (laughs) Well, I was very idealistic and didn't have a lot. First of all, didn't have a whole lot of money to put into a campaign. I had joined Common Cause. You're familiar with Common Cause, no? FLINCHUM: Not very. KAFOGLIS: Okay. Well, Common Cause is an organization that lobbies for clean government. They lobbied for clean elections and campaign spending, and that sort of thing. I kind of was inspired by some of the causes of Common Cause, and so I decided that I would run a campaign that did not take campaign contributions and spent very little of my own money. I think I spent three hundred dollars, which, you know, may have been the equivalent of about fifteen hundred today, I guess, but anyway it was not a lot of money. I didn't do any T.V.; did no advertising, and I did have some cards, and it was a door-to-door campaign, and I enlisted actually a lot of my patients to work for me. Bless their hearts. (both laugh) Anyway, I ran against an incumbent, and I won. But, anyway, the cleaning up campaigns and anti-war, I guess, were the two motivating factors for me to seek public office. FLINCHUM: What were some of your impressions when you first went to Frankfort? Was it what you expected to be as a part of the General Assembly? (Kafoglis laughs) Any surprises? KAFOGLIS: Well, I had a lot to learn. I was fairly naive. I had not served in any public office before. Really my first time was largely finding out how the system worked. At that time, the Governor was very dominant. The Governor controlled who the legislative leaders were. The Governor controlled the agenda, controlled the budget, pretty much controlled everything, and that was something I reacted against. I guess I became one of a group of reformers to try to change how the legislature worked. So, probably I had two; when I went there, one of my main goals was campaign finance reform, and I did introduce some legislation in that respect and did get some passed in the '74 session, which limited campaign contributions and limited campaign spending. Of course, that's all been gone to the board since then. It was a reform at that time. Then the other thing that I that I became very interested in was to changing how the legislature worked. I resented the dominance of the Governor. I resented that the members of the General Assembly really didn't have a voice. The leadership dominated everything, and, of course, they took orders from the Governor. All the legislation went to the rules committee. The rules committee was composed of legislative leaders and chairs of the committees. But the rules committee was closed. Most of the--well, a lot of committees were not open at that time. That was another thing that I reacted against. I thought all the committees should be open, and open to the press. So, I was a strong opponent of the rules committee. That was in my first session. In the second session, they asked me to be on the rules committee. I guess they thought I would go along. (both laugh) And so I served on the Rules Committee, but that gave me even better- -(laughs)--access to what was arguing for because a lot of things were done, you know, in closed doors without any public record, and I could talk about that. So anyway, one of the things that I thought I contributed to was the opening up of the rules committee. That was in my second term, but then after that, I didn't run again. FLINCHUM: I understand you played a key role in the growth of legislative independence. I imagine even in the Senate when you came back. KAFOGLIS: Yeah, yeah. Of course, when I first served in the seventies, as I said, the General Assembly was very dominated by the Governor. I wrote an article about how the Governor dominated everything. Of course, I pretty much continued that. There were a number of changes made along the way that changed things. One important thing was, there was a constitutional amendment--I think was in '76--that changed the cycle. The Governor and legislators were always elected at the same time. That legislative amendment changed the election schedule, so that legislators were elected a year before the Governor. So if the legislators could come in one year before the new Governor, and in the last year of the current Governor, they would not nearly be likely to dominated by the new Governor because they had already formed, you know, their associations and who they wanted for leadership and that sort of thing. So that was a big change. Then the committees system had evolved to where committees actually did something. As the committees grew stronger, the people on the committee, the committee chairs wanted more say. There were a number of changes along the way that strengthened the legislative body relative to the executive. (pause) I'm trying to think of some of the other changes too. There were a number of other changes. I can't recall all of them, but probably--I'm trying to think--by my first session in the Senate in'88, there was a considerable shift in the balance between the legislative branch and executive branch. Plus then, by the fact that we had two Governors who were not really strong Governors--Martha LayneCollins and-- FLINCHUM: John Y. Brown? KAFOGLIS: John Y. Brown. They were not terribly strong Governors, and John Y. really just didn't care what the legislature did very much. At least, that was the general attitude. Under those two Governors- -especially during Brown's administration, the legislature gained more authority, also established more oversight over administrative regulations, which comes--were pronounced by the executive branch. We established several review committees that exercised review over executive authority. Although we couldn't reverse them, we could question them, and at least, publicize them. There were a number of changes over those years that I think helped, change the balance of power. You know--it's never gonna be completely equaled and depends a lot on the individuals and their personalities, and so on. The kind of leadership you have both in the executive branch and in the legislative branch, but at least, as far as the institution itself, I think it's possible now to have pretty much co-equal branches of government. FLINCHUM: Do you think it would have taken a lot longer to gain that independence without Governor Brown allowing it to happen? KAFOGLIS: It probably would have taken longer, but it was gonna happen because these changes were gradual. But you had, I think probably a better educated group of legislators. Who came to Frankfort because they were there to serve the public rather than some local interest, or some particular interest that they had. Probably before, oh, you know, I remember hearing stories that Governor Breathitt introduced his budget and had it approved ten minutes later, you know. (both laugh) That sort of thing. Legislatures just gradually assumed more authority and more of a view of what the executive branch was doing. As I say, I do think that there is now pretty good possibility of pretty much balance between the legislative and executive branches. FLINCHUM: Who have been some of your favorite Governors or some of your least favorite governors? (Kafoglis laughs) However you want to address that. KAFOGLIS: Well, Martha Layne Collins was a very good Governor. Not a terribly strong Governor. But I think, I think she was an effective Governor. She did--one strong thing for the state was to get Toyota to come to Kentucky. So she was very good in economic development. I think--I didn't serve under Governor Brown. Let's see, after Martha Layne. (pause) FLINCHUM: Out of the Governors who served before you were in the General Assembly, do you have any heroes-- KAFOGLIS: --yeah-- FLINCHUM: --or villains? KAFOGLIS: I think Governor Breathitt and Governor Combs were excellent Governors. I'm trying to think of what succession was. Let's see, we had. I guess, Brereton Jones came in around '90, I think. FLINCHUM: Wilkinson? KAFOGLIS: Yeah, well, Wilkinson came, um, I can't. (laughs) FLINCHUM: Oh, that's okay. KAFOGLIS: I'm trying to think. FLINCHUM: Years don't matter. KAFOGLIS: I'm trying to think. Wilkinson came after Jones or before Jones. I have to look at my notes. FLINCHUM: That's okay. KAFOGLIS: Now Brereton was Governor from I think from '90 to'94. FLINCHUM: Then Patton. KAFOGLIS: Paul Patton was from '96 to 2004, I think Brereton, and he was--Patton was Lieutenant Governor under Jones, and so. Wilkinson was after Martha Layne, and then it was Wilkinson and then. (pause) FLINCHUM: Was Collins your favorite Governor of the most recent ones? KAFOGLIS: No, Paul Patton was. FLINCHUM: Patton? KAFOGLIS: Yeah. I thought Paul Patton was the best Governor that I served under. He was very smart. A lot smarter than a lot of people thought or gave him credit for. He was capable politically. I think Paul Patton was highly motivated to serve the public. I don't. Paul had already been a very successful businessman. I don't think he had any particular interests that he was trying to favor. I thought he was a very fair Governor. Of course, he had probably his own biases, but I thought he was the best Governor that I served under. Greg Jones was probably the best intentioned Governor. (both laugh) But Governor Jones did not have, I did not think he had the political skills to be effective. The other thing was, he led us into really a disaster with the health care reform. Which I was all for, and over the years have been terribly disappointed that it hasn't worked. Governor Jones wanted Kentucky to be a national leader in health care reform. We passed, after great, great conflict, you know, his health care reforms, which were very unpopular with doctors in the state, and very unpopular with insurance industry in the state. The other thing was just the fact that his proposals were so controversial, led the General Assembly into a lot of conflict within itself. So it was a very difficult time under Governor Jones with the health care reform. What we passed, first of all, was not adequate and because we had to make compromises, and then the fact that, there was just great anticipation that the federal government was going to pass national health plan. That everybody was gonna get health insurance, and Governor Jones kinda wanted to be the leader of that. I guess he wanted to make his mark in history as, you know, one of the pioneers in health reform, you know. Of course, that was President Clinton's high priorities was health care reform, and, you know, Hillary was head of that big task force. But that encountered strong opposition from the insurance industries and the pharmaceutical industry, and most Republicans. You know, it didn't go anywhere. Well, when the federal health care reform initiative failed, we were kind of out on a limb with our initiatives, which didn't fit. We had to go back and repeal a lot of the stuff that we had passed. So it was a disaster. I think Governor Jones, you know, has to bear a lot of responsibility for that. I thought his ideas were great, but they, they were not--well, I'm not so sure. They were not practical, but they were not politically passable. The opposition was too strong. That's still a large problem as far as health care reform goes. We still have, you know, forty-five million people without health insurance. Still now, the health care costs are going up. A lot of people can't afford health insurance. We still have a large number of people without health insurance. There are a lot of problems still in health insurance. Now I give credit to Brereton Jones, at that time, he tried. He did his best to try to correct that problem, and it's still a problem. It's probably a worse problem today than it was even back then. FLINCHUM: Do you think that will remain a problem until there is a change at the national level? Is it possible for Kentucky to do its own thing? KAFOGLIS: I don't think so. I think it has to be done at the national level. Now, theoretically, people--ideally, people say states can be laboratories for this nation, but health care is such a national-- integrated, so much nationally as far as health insurance and that sort of thing it has to be done pretty much on a national level. One of the problems we had with the health insurance reforms that we passed I think in '94, a lot of health insurances left the state. (laughs) And we were stuck. Eventually all that was repealed. So it has to be done pretty much on a national level to be effective. It will happen one of these days because the problem is increasingly inadequate. One of the reasons it hasn't happened yet is an awful lot of people have had pretty good health insurance. Even though we've got forty-five million uninsured, that's just a small part of the whole. If the majority of the people are pretty well insured, they're not going to be favoring change. But, as the costs goes up, the deductibles go up, the out of pockets go up, more and more people are becoming dissatisfied. So I think eventually, eventually there will be enough popular support that it will change. How it will change is another issue. But, you know, that's another issue. FLINCHUM: Speaking of the national level, who have been some of your favorite Presidents or your least favorite Presidents? KAFOGLIS: Well, the current one--(laughs)--isn't one of my favorites. I guess President Nixon was not, one of my favorites. I thought President Clinton was a very good Governor, very good President. I thought Jimmy Carter was a good President in what he tried to accomplish. But he lacked political skills to effect what he wanted to do. I very much liked President Carter's ideas. And what he wanted to do, but I thought he was not skillful enough to accomplish what he wanted to do. President Clinton today would go down as a great President had it not been for his sexual affair. He was a very, very capable President. President Bush, I think has been one of our most efficient presidents. I think he is learning as he goes along, but, you know, I think he's made some terrible errors. FLINCHUM: Bush Junior, the current President? KAFOGLIS: Yes. His father was not one of my favorites, but I thought he was a decent president. FLINCHUM: We mentioned some of the major issues, especially that were brought up when you were in the House, particularly legislative independence committee reform. What about when you were in the Senate? I know you worked for some reforms in strip-mining legislation? KAFOGLIS: That was in the House. FLINCHUM: In the House? I'm sorry. KAFOGLIS: Yeah, yeah. Of course, I continued to, when I was in the Senate. In my '72 election, the strip mining issue was a very prominent one, and I ran on the platform of banning strip mining, which was pretty naive at that time. I didn't get very far with that. Gradually, we did get some reforms in the strip mining. I did continue to support reforms in mining in the Senate. Election reform continued to be a high priority. (pause) Of course, education was always a high priority because it's the most important thing the state government does, and most of our budget goes to education. I was a very strong supporter of education reform that we passed I guess in '90, '92, or '94--I forget which. Unfortunately, we have not supported the education reforms to the extent that we should have. We have not financed the education reforms as we had anticipated when we passed education reform. So I don't think--I thought we did a great thing with education reform act, but in subsequent legislatures, it has not been adequately funded, and it has not been adequately supported. FLINCHUM: What about higher education? Do you think we're headed in the right direction with the universities, community colleges? KAFOGLIS: I think our universities have made great progress, but I think there are still some problems. You know, someone--I don't know if it was the Governor or someone at one point, advocated that, instead of every university having its own board, that we have a higher education authority over all the universities, and I think that was a good idea. It's been proposed several times, but it just because of the local politics. I don't mean local politics in the -----------(??) way, but because, you know, every community has a college, they want more local people involved and local people running it. But I think we could eliminated quite a bit of duplication and spent our money more effectively with a central authority. I hadn't heard that idea recently, but it was a fairly popular idea at one time. I think we've had some good presidents in our universities. Unfortunately, public support, financially-- [Pause in recording.] KAFOGLIS: --universities have had to raise more private money, and that's not all bad. I know the Western president, for example, has done a very good job, of getting people involved in the university, in contributing, and because that provides support for the universities. But still, public support for the universities is important because it helps keep tuition down, and in Kentucky, which we still have a population which is far below average as far as educational attainment, we still do not have adequate access to education for everyone that we should have. As tuition goes up, it makes it harder and harder for people to go to college. Unfortunately, in recent years, the tuition in our public universities has increased substantially. Now the community college's taken some of that load, and that's good, and the community colleges are very good. But, I don't think we are adequately funding higher education as we should, especially to make it more accessible to everyone. FLINCHUM: You were also in the Senate during the BOPTROT investigations, right? What are some of your reflections on that time period? KAFOGLIS: Well, the BOPTROT was kind of a interesting phenomenon. I think that the people who eventually were convicted of wrongdoing, really didn't realize what they were doing something so terrible. (laughs) Over time people had kinda gotten used to lobbyists paying for the meals. Paying for a lot of, you know, trips and that sort of thing. But the relationship between some of the people in the General Assembly and the lobbyists had gotten so close that they didn't really realize the difference, that they were being so much influenced and dominated by lobbyists. The fact that BOPTROT happened though, had a good impact because, in its wake, we passed very stringent legislation to separate the lobbyists from legislators, and, you know, we passed a legislation that you could not accept any favors from lobbyists, not even a cup of coffee. So, although it was a bad, bad experience to go through, the result was very good in the fact that we did clean things up. I don't know whether that's waned since then or not, but I think the laws are still pretty strict about, you know, what lobbyists can do and favors that they can extend to legislators. FLINCHUM: Another major issue in the General Assembly, I guess especially close to the time when you retired in '98, was the abortion issue. What are some of your reflections on that? KAFOGLIS: Well, the abortion issue's a very, very difficult issue. As an obstetrician, unfortunately, I encountered women who on occasion were pregnant who would not wanna be pregnant, not planned pregnant, or who were single. Some were very young. Early in my career, I had experienced, seen patients who had, had abortions illegally before abortion was legal. And I saw so many severe complications from abortion. So, I generally felt that, at least under certain circumstances, abortion should be available and legal. I think, you know, if most legislators had, had the experience that I had, seeing the complications of illegal abortions and some of the terrible situations of unwanted pregnancies, probably they would not feel so strongly about it, but they had not had that experience. You know, the feeling of destroying life, I can understand how it is abhorrent to many people. On the other hand, if you haven't really dealt first hand with the issue, I don't think you really realize what a complex issue it is. FLINCHUM: I've been told that there are a handful of legislators who are strongly pro-life and a handful who are strongly pro-choice, but most are somewhere in the middle. Was that the impression that you got, in the General Assembly? KAFOGLIS: Probably, but a more accurate description would be is the vast majority did not wanna deal with it. (laughs) It's just an issue they did not wanna touch. FLINCHUM: I think that's probably true. KAFOGLIS: Because it was so controversial, and no matter what they did, they were gonna offend a significant number of their constituents because the public's split on it. So, you know, whenever the issue came up, there was always an attempt to bury it in the committee, so people would not have to vote on it. FLINCHUM: One way or the other, just don't deal with it. KAFOGLIS: Yeah. Try not to deal with it, right. FLINCHUM: I know that among different pro-life groups, there is some division over which approach to take. Some were gradualists; they want to, you know, put gradual restrictions on Roe v Wade, and others want to suddenly overturn it. Just based on your experience, which has been the most effective for them? KAFOGLIS: I think the gradualists are right. (pause) I think, probably, the general public, at least a small majority, would favor abortion with certain circumstances. Maybe not, you know, just at will. So, I think the anti-abortion, the pro-life forces, probably are more practical in their approach, and probably more reasonable in their approach. That's probably a better strategy because I think that they will be able to limit, more effectively, limit the abortions. I don't think the public wants to completely overturn Roe v Wade. FLINCHUM: Do you think that's one of the issues that has caused some problems for the Democratic Party at the state level? I know Kentucky's always been, mainly a Democratic state, and in national elections, there seems to be a trend away from that. KAFOGLIS: I don't think it's been that major an issue because I think legislators have been pretty able to kind of avoid the issue pretty much. It's not really become a major issue among the public, I don't think. I may be reading that wrong, but I'm not--I don't think so. FLINCHUM: Maybe not at the state level-- KAFOGLIS: --yeah, yeah-- FLINCHUM: --as much as it would be at the national level? KAFOGLIS: Yeah, yeah. FLINCHUM: What are some subjects that I haven't brought up yet? Some things that we need to talk about? (both laugh) There's so much. KAFOGLIS: Let's see. I'd have to go through those files. (both laugh) FLINCHUM: Do you want me to pause the tape? KAFOGLIS: No--yeah, why don't you. FLINCHUM: Okay. [Pause in recording.] FLINCHUM: Okay. During this short break that we took, we were talking about the lottery for a few minutes, and you mentioned that you had voted against that? KAFOGLIS: Yes, I was very much opposed to the lottery. It really surprises me that so many people waste their money by buying lottery tickets, and also so many people go to casinos across--fortunately, we don't have casinos in Kentucky, but so many people cross the river to Indiana to throw their money away at the casinos. To me, as I indicated that, it seems to me it's not an appropriate role for Governor to allow the people to be exploited through gambling and certainly should not finance our government. The operation of government through revenues, that are derived from gambling or from the lottery, and I'm just amazed that so many people are willing to throw their money away. Let's see. They need for a lot of other things, and a matter of fact created a serious problem with some habitual gamblers. A lot of people who can't afford the money spend their money and then have to file for bankruptcy or do not care for their children. So the lottery has also created a lot of social problems as well as exploiting the citizens of the Commonwealth. FLINCHUM: Rather than serving them, right, as you said earlier? KAFOGLIS: Right, right. Instead of promoting the general welfare, so to speak. FLINCHUM: What are some of the biggest problems, some of the most important issues facing Kentucky today, in your opinion? How do we need to change in the future? KAFOGLIS: Well, the one problem I'm most concerned is not only a Kentucky problem but a national problem, and that's health care. You know, I'm a physician, and I've always been very concerned about people who do not have access to health care. Throughout my whole medical career that's been a great concern of mine. It's one of the reasons I was such a strong supporter of Governor Jones's health care reforms, which unfortunately didn't pan out. So I do think lack of health insurance is a major problem in the United States and also in Kentucky. We have, I think nationally about 15 percent, I guess Kentucky's somewhere there, but a very large segment of our population does not have ready access to health care. I hope in the years ahead that, that will be corrected. Education is always a major issue and concern. You know, Kentucky has always been among the lower rank of states as far as educational obtainment. I think we still have a very high drop-out rate, very low high school graduation rate, and I think we've got to try to continue to address those problems. Try to find ways to make sure that our children finish school, and especially high school. Try to make sure that higher education is accessible, and that tuition's not so high that people can't afford it. We probably need to have some new thinking in the way of try to keep people, youngsters in school, because once they drop-out, it's very hard for them to recover. Some of them will get GEDs and will realize what they've missed, but keeping our youngsters in school and getting as much education as they can is very important in today's world, which, you know, we have a world-wide global economy in which education is very important. FLINCHUM: Any other thoughts? Some closing comments? KAFOGLIS: (laughs) Well, I guess I have some concern that at both the national and state level, in recent years, there has been an attitude that people want less government. I don't mean that we should have a big brother government, but I think there are certain and very important things that government does. Governments should make sure that everyone could get an education. Government should make sure that everyone can get health care. Government should make sure that we have an economy which is fair to everybody and which people cannot be fooled or manipulated. So that they waste their money. Those are some of the things that I think that we have receded from that I think we need to go back to. Of course, I suppose, that's not a popular opinion today, but I hope that that trend will reverse in the years ahead. Cause I-- FLINCHUM: Do you think that it will? KAFOGLIS: Yes, I think it will. I think it will. But it may be a long time coming. You know, our free enterprise economy is a very--I think the best way to have, is the best system in the world, but it cannot be unfeterred free enterprise. It has to be a regulated free enterprise; so people cannot be exploited. Certain basic functions have to be available to everybody. Education, health care, housing, food--certain basic elements of survival we have to make sure that are available to everybody. I'm all for people can be getting as rich as they can and living as fine a lifestyle as they can, as long as they do it fairly, and also be willing to at least contribute to those who are not so well off. FLINCHUM: Thank you for a good interview. KAFOGLIS: (laughs) You're very nice. I'm sorry my memory is getting poor. I can't really recall some of the stuff, especially during the General Assembly. A lot of the things I just can't recall the details of. FLINCHUM: You recalled a lot. KAFOGLIS: (laughs) Anyway, I'm getting older. FLINCHUM: Thank you very much. KAFOGLIS: Yeah, thank you for your interest, and you have been very nice. (laughs) I don't know--I don't know how worthwhile this is. Maybe it will be of use to somebody, I don't know. FLINCHUM: Probably so. [End of interview.] Kafoglis (House 1972-1976, 20th district; Senate 1988-1998, 32nd district; Democrat) talks about growing up in Lexington (Ky.), briefly describes race relations, talks about his Greek parents who emigrated from Turkey, his service in the Air Force, his decision to enter politics, his interest in the Common Cause advocacy group, his first campaign, his first impressions of the General Assembly, his dislike of the Rules Committee and his work on it. He discusses his role in the push for legislative independence, reflects on the leadership of Martha Layne Collins, Paul Patton, and Brereton Jones. He discusses Jones' health care reform initiative and the problem of expanding health care coverage. Other topics include BOPTROT, abortion, the lottery, and the need for some forms of governmental regulation. Kentucky Legislature