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2006-08-11 Interview with William J. "Bill" Lile, August 11, 2006 Leg001:2006OH147LEG137 01:03:48 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Teachers -- Kentucky -- Biography. Republican Party (U. S. : 1854- ) -- Kentucky. Race relations -- Kentucky -- Louisville. Educational change -- Kentucky. Kentucky. Governor (1979-1983 : Brown) Kentucky. Governor (1991-1995 : Jones) Kentucky. Governor (1995-2003 : Patton) Louisville (Ky.) legislative independence Richardson, Bobby Brown, John Y. Jr. Jones, Brereton Patton, Paul education reform Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) racial discrimination open housing legislation school discipline postsecondary education community colleges BOPTROT Kentucky Dam Village State Park pre-legislative conference lobbyists economic development Key Legislation: Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) Term and District: House (1972, 1982-1984), 27th district; House (1986-1996), 28th district Leadership Position(s): Senate Minority Whip, 1988-1990 Counties in District: Jefferson County (Ky.) -- Hardin County (Ky.) William J. "Bill" Lile; interviewee Jessica Flinchum; interviewer 2006OH147_LEG137_Lile 1:|18(2)|29(4)|42(17)|53(16)|69(2)|76(18)|84(2)|89(19)|96(12)|105(16)|111(13)|117(5)|123(11)|130(3)|136(12)|143(8)|149(10)|160(13)|166(2)|174(5)|184(11)|194(6)|199(14)|205(1)|214(11)|222(3)|227(6)|234(11)|245(1)|250(15)|259(1)|268(1)|274(8)|284(9)|290(13)|297(7)|303(16)|310(11)|316(14)|326(13)|332(16)|339(15)|350(7)|356(14)|370(10)|376(14)|391(8)|399(1)|409(13)|415(12)|420(15)|426(12)|437(4)|443(9)|452(9)|459(12)|467(2)|474(8)|482(8)|489(9)|499(6)|506(8)|512(13) audiotrans Legit interview FLINCHUM: What is your full name? LILE: William Jeff Lile FLINCHUM: William Jeff Lile. Could you please tell me when and where you were born? LILE: I was born in West Point, Kentucky, which is in Hardin County, in January of 1946. FLINCHUM: Did you grow up there? LILE: I grew up there and moved to Jefferson County about the Valley Station area in 1966. FLINCHUM: Where did you go to school? LILE: I went to West Point Elementary School, and since we didn't have a high school there, we were bused to Elizabethtown High School. So I went to, graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 1964. Spent my first two years of college at the newly opened Elizabethtown Community College, which was affiliated with U of K and then I went to U of K and graduated in 1968. Became a teacher. (laughs) FLINCHUM: What grade level did you teach? LILE: I taught eighth grade. I did some seventh and eighth grade. It was a middle school situation. But my later years of teaching, I taught-my first year was taught at Lebanon Junction Jr. High School. I taught seventh grade there and then moved to Jefferson County and I taught twenty-six years at the same school, Robert Cross Middle School, and mostly concentrated on eighth grade social studies. FLINCHUM: Social studies, that was my next question, what subject you taught? LILE: Yeah, social studies. It's a tough age but I loved those kids. I really probably would have taught longer than twenty-seven years but got involved in another political race, a race for county commissioner. So I was told I needed to retire and concentrate on raising money and I did. But, I loved teaching. FLINCHUM: How did you decide you wanted to be a teacher? LILE: Well, it was just something from when I was growing up. I just-that was what my focus was on and I can't tell you exactly why. I had some very influential teachers as I was growing up. One was a woman named Virginia Bealer (??) at Elizabethtown High School. She was my civics teacher. I just decided that I wanted to be a teacher, and that was my focus, and that's what I became. FLINCHUM: Okay, can you tell me about your family? Did you have brothers and sisters growing up? LILE: Yes, I'm one of seven children, the fifth out of seven. I had four sisters; one is deceased now, and two brothers. So we had a rather large family. My father was a civil employee at Fort Knox Military Base and worked there thirty-three years as a plumber. My mother was just a housewife and-I shouldn't say just a housewife-she had her hands full but she never worked outside of the home. She never even learned how to drive. She was devoted to the family and stayed at home. FLINCHUM: What about your own family? Do you have children? LILE: I have three boys. I've been married twice. My first marriage produced my oldest son, Chris, William Christopher, who unfortunately died just a little over a year ago from a severe case of diabetes. I have two sons, Craig and Matthew, by my second wife Marsha, who is also a teacher, was a teacher. I met her at Robert Cross Middle School and now she is teaching at University of Louisville. FLINCHUM: What subject does she teach? LILE: She teaches perspective teachers. (laughs) In social studies. FLINCHUM: How did you first become interested in politics? LILE: What an interesting story I think. Growing up in Hardin County, it was a very Democratic county, and I can't tell you exactly when I first became interested but I remember very well, as I was growing up I liked Eisenhower. I think that's why I became a Republican. I was just enamored with Dwight Eisenhower when he was President. So I always had fascination with politics. When I moved to Jefferson County in 1966, I happened to be walking to the polls on Election Day. It was down a road called Ashby Lane. I was walking down from the place where I lived to a house where they were voting at the time in a garage. They don't do that here in Jefferson County anymore, but I again I happened to be walking down the road to vote and a gentleman in a little Volks-not a Volkswagen but a Mustang-pulled up beside me and asked me where I was going and I told him I was going to vote, and he said that's exactly where he was going, to hop in and give me a ride. It turned out the gentleman's name was Jim Backus (??). Jim turned out to be the Republican precinct captain. So, as we were riding to the polls, he and I got to talking. He asked me if I'd be interested in helping him out. I said, "Sure, I'd love that." So, the next election he put me to work. He made me a precinct captain. He became a committee person in charge of several precincts. He made me one of his precinct captains and put me to work in one of the precincts, I worked in several elections, and then they asked me to become a committee person. Then there was a year of redistricting and they cut off, or they cut up several precincts. At that time, I was at the old 45th legislative district that was represented by Dottie Priddy at the time. They cut the lines up to the point where Jim ran as the representative candidate in the 28th district and I had been placed in the 27th. The party asked me to run. At that time, there was a closed primary. That meant that if the party endorsed you, you were the candidate, you know. So they asked me to run and being as naive as I was I said, "Sure," again. That year, which was 1971, I ran as the Republican candidate in the 27th legislative district. There were three candidates in the race. Archie Romines [Senior] was the Democratic candidate and a gentleman named Henry Bud Mason was the candidate for the American Party. So it was a three-man race. I ran that race not knowing very much about what to do or anything about the job of state representative. Spent six hundred and won that race by thirty-six votes. (laughs) So, that was the start of it all. FLINCHUM: That was a close race. LILE: A very close race. It was quite an experience at that time. In my experience, you know, I ran that race, I served that term, and then I ran again for reelection, and got involved in-the party sort of split for the next race and I ran again for reelection but had a gentleman in the primary that was ruled off the ballot. Then I got beat because of that split in the party by the same person I ran against in '71, Archie Romines [Senior]. I came back in '81 and ran again. This time Romines was still in office and I beat him in 1981 and served continuously from '81 until '97, when I was asked by then County Clerk Rebecca Jackson to take the job of Republican co-director of the board of elections. I chose to resign from the General Assembly at that time and become the co-director here at the board of elections and I've been here for about nine years since that time. But if I could convey anything to people about the history of the General Assembly, you know, I think I have a rather unique perspective on it, having served a term in 1971-72 and then gone back in '81, then serving until 1997. The thing that I would emphasize is how much the General Assembly has progressed over the years, in what I've witnessed as having the opportunity to serve. When I first went to the General Assembly, for the '72 session, we had in the Republican caucus, the Republican House caucus, I think we had twenty-three members. It was in the low twenties. So the Democrats totally dominated the General Assembly. At that time, too, the Governor totally dominated the General Assembly. There were times when-well, in the first place, no bill that was sponsored by the administration or the Governor ever went down to defeat. The Governor would have down on the first floor, while the General Assembly was in session up on the third, the Governor would be monitoring votes. If a bill that he favored was on the short end, they would hold the roll call as they called members down to the Governor's office to change the vote. It was very, very controlling atmosphere on the part of the Governor. He just totally dominated the General Assembly. The other thing that was really interesting to me was how little importance the Republicans played. Obviously, they were in the minority. But, at that time, the majority party, the Democratic Party, even totally dominated the ongoing procedure in the Assembly itself. If you were a Republican, first none of your bills would pass, they always had to have a Democratic sponsor. But even if you wanted to get up on the floor of the House and speak, you would have to first get recognized by the speaker and he would limit what you were going to say. You would ask you for what purpose you were arising and you would tell him and then you would usually say something to the effect that, "Would be gentlemen recognized for this purpose and this purpose only?" You couldn't go beyond that. So it was totally controlled atmosphere on the part of the Governor and the majority party at that time. Committee meetings also were interesting in that, at that time, they did not have the meeting rooms and the space that the capitol annex affords the members today. Our committees met upstairs above the General Assembly on the fourth floor in rooms that were so small, that you had one large table where the representatives sat around the table and spectators would be standing, literally peering over your shoulder up against the wall. The room was so small that the tables and chairs were almost back literally up to the wall. Spectators would stand peering down over you. The facilities were just-just outrageous, I would say, you know. You did not have, as a representative yourself, you did not have a-the only telephone access you had was the pay phones that were outside of the General Assembly. So you did not have the ability just to call constituents or be in touch with them. You very seldom got messages from your constituents like, you know, they have message lines today and everything. The other thing is that we were such a small caucus that we met off to, in an office off to the side of the House, which is now the speaker's office. But that was our caucus room where we caucused every day. The General Assembly, just from the time I first served until when I left, when we moved into offices in the capitol annex, and, you know, each group of legislatures had its own receptionist, and its own office telephones, message lines, everything, meeting rooms. The whole process has advanced a thousand fold. FLINCHUM: Same time with growing legislative independence, did you notice a huge difference in that, besides just more office space, there's a lot more independence happening then? LILE: Yes, and that's the other thing, the independence that the legislature has established has been really an advance forward. When I went in again, or got back in '81, there were gentlemen in the General Assembly like Bobby Richardson, who would later become the speaker of the House, who were advocates, and Bobby, to his credit, was a Democrat. But there were more people in the General Assembly at that time who were willing to buck the Governor and to advocate legislative independence. That was a movement that gradually gained some steam until John Y. Brown became Governor. It seemed like Governor Brown realized that the General Assembly needed some breathing space and needed some more independence. He was pretty much a-I don't want to say a hands-off Governor, but he let the legislature have some breathing room and some growing. So it was under his administration that the General Assembly gradually gained more and more independence and the legislature itself evolved to the point where you would-then it was possible to defeat administration bills and it was possible for minority members to sponsor bills and to speak on the floor of the House without limitations, so. The legislature in my years has really grown as far as independence, too, until a point now, of course, where the Republicans in the House, I think, they have something like forty-four members, or so. That has again contributed-and, of course, they control the Senate. So it's a totally different place than what I served in. FLINCHUM: Who is some of your favorite Governors? LILE: Well- FLINCHUM: Or, least favorite? LILE: (laughs) I would say that, you know, I liked Brereton Jones. I really enjoyed serving with all the Governors. I don't think I'd be critical of any of them. They all have their own style, their own agenda. You have to respect that. I think Brereton Jones came in and was not a real strong Governor until later in his administration. But, you know, John Y. Brown was certainly a good Governor in my opinion. I had a good relationship with Paul Patton, although, you know, I thought that he interfered too much in politics, so to speak. He would be out there campaigning against Republicans on a regular basis. So I wouldn't be critical of any of the Governors that I served with. I generally had a pretty good relationship with all of them. FLINCHUM: You mentioned earlier being a Republican from a heavily Democratic area. What can you say to explain how partisanship varies across the state? There are parts of Kentucky that are heavily Republican, parts of them like Western Kentucky, Democratic. What exactly does it mean to be a Republican in Kentucky? LILE: Well, you know, that's an interesting phenomenon, too. I think at one time the parties meant a lot more than they mean right now. I think, you know, you had a more, a larger and a more solid base of party membership. As the years have gone by, I think, the parties have become-I won't say less important but maybe people, more people are beginning to vote their conscience, vote personalities. The parties are just not as strong as they once were. When I first ran my district was over three-to-one Democratic and I won by thirty-six votes. As I ran from '81 on, even though the registration did not change perceptively, the viewpoint of people in my representative district changed, I think, rather dramatically. Registration with the party did not mean quite as much. What I am I guess most proud of is, that even though I was a Republican in a three-to-one Democratic area, I was drawing 66 to 67 percent of the vote. And that told me people did not care what party you were but they were interested in more than anything is whether you were representing their interest, whether you cared about them, and whether you show that caring, and whether they liked you. I think that when you look at very successful politicians, generally, they will be people who are caring, who listen carefully to what their constituents say, and who afford their constituents the opportunity to express themselves. Whether or not they agree with who is representing them. I think that if you afford them the opportunity to express themselves and they understand that you're listening to them and you care about their concerns, you're going to be successful. FLINCHUM: What were some of your top priorities as a representative? What were some of the issues your constituents were the most concerned about? LILE: Well, it's interesting that in my area, southwestern Jefferson County, there was always a big concern about services. The phrase while I was serving was always, "The Forgotten Southwest." I don't think my constituents were so much interested in legislation. I did not sponsor a lot of legislation in my years in the General Assembly. What they were more interested in basic services. We had a lot of drainage problems. I can't tell you the number of times that I have visited homes in southwestern Jefferson County and tramped and trodded through drainage ditches with constituents who were concerned about overgrown bushes and trees in the ditches, or just the fact that they had standing water in their yard, or roads that needed to be repaved, or zoning problems. Things that a normal state representative would not be involved in. I was involved in a lot of zoning cases, especially things like whether or not to burn tires at a cement kiln, or whether or not to build a plant that would burn chemicals. There were just a lot of basic service-type issues that kept me busy. Legislation was not something that my constituents were mostly concerned with. Obviously, you know, there were people that cared about issues like abortion, and capital punishment, and that sort of thing, but by and large, it was basic services that they were more concerned with. As an educator-and, of course, I was teaching at the time that I was also a state representative, so I had to juggle two jobs at once-but as an educator, of course, I was very concerned with the educational opportunities of my district and the state as a whole. I had the opportunity to serve on the education committee during my years in the General Assembly. Had to be, or had the opportunity to serve at a time that Kentucky passed the sweeping KERA [Kentucky Education Reform Act] legislation that has redirected education, or the direction of education in Kentucky. So education was always big on my agenda. FLINCHUM: Most of the interviews I've conducted have been in mainly rural southeastern, western Kentucky. You have already mentioned some issues that have been a great concern to a Louisville representative that might not be there. What are some other things, like that you deal with housing, crime? LILE: Well, I served a term or two on the judiciary committee in the General Assembly. I thought that was interesting. My background is not obviously in the law enforcement field or anything. But, it was a committee I was interested in just because I felt like our parole laws were very lax and that we needed to be bigger in the enforcement field. So that was interesting to me. But, you know, obviously every section of the state has its own needs and its own priorities. I was very aware that a lot of people looked for our other representatives, sort of felt like their section of the Commonwealth did not get enough attention. Did not get enough money, had their own problems like mining, strip mining, and that sort of thing. So, you know, it was interesting to me to have the opportunity to see the perspective of other representatives. I know that while I was serving, there was a lot of resentment towards Louisville. We had a fairly large delegation but there was always been that Golden Triangle mentality [Economic Region of Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky] on the part of some people in the Commonwealth, that the Golden Triangle gets all the resources. Then, if you're in the metropolitan areas, you know, there's the feeling that indeed the Golden Triangle or the metro areas don't get all that they put into the system, as far as tax dollars, they don't get a big enough return. I think there's always going to be that but you have to have an appreciation that this Commonwealth is so diverse and has so many problems and every section of the Commonwealth has its own needs and wants. You have to be appreciative of that and try to give attention to others in what their feeling, what they need. FLINCHUM: What is your impression of race relations in the Louisville area? LILE: Well, it's changed dramatically over a period of time. As a Republican, I always felt that the biggest problem or the biggest mistake Republicans made in the city of Louisville- at one time, Republicans were in the majority in the city of Louisville. Then in the late sixties, mid-to-late sixties, the question about open housing came up. I felt like Republicans were on the wrong side of that. They were very much opposed to the open housing issue. That, I think, totally changed the dynamics of politics in Jefferson County. It totally changed the West End, which is the African American section of the community, changed residents in that area from being Republican to being Democrats. So from that point on, and it's beginning to change a little bit more today, I mean Republicans are winning races in Jefferson County once again, but for a period of time, almost twenty years, or so, the Democrats were the dominate party, and, of course, today they have almost a two-to-one advantage in registration. Republicans have not been on the right side of the race, racial issues throughout my lifetime here in Jefferson County. Now, I think, we have-there's still underlying tensions, and so forth, but I think things are improving day by day. I think young people, especially today, are not near as prejudice as older people were back when I was growing up. FLINCHUM: You mentioned education reform earlier. What are some of your thoughts on KERA? LILE: Well, it was interesting, you know, I was on the education committee. We traveled around the state, trying to get input from people about our educational system. Of course, we were under a court mandate to change the educational system and provide more money to less well-off districts. At the time, there were a great many things in the KERA law that I favored, but then there were a lot of things there that I did not, as a teacher, think that were good for education. The idea that a school would be punished and that every teacher in that school would be punished because a school did not meet certain guidelines did not suit me. You know, I felt like every school has its share of good teachers and average teachers and bad teachers, and even superior teachers, outstanding teachers, I just did not think it would be fair to penalize an outstanding teacher if a school did not reach certain goals. A teacher could be just working as hard as they could every single day, and I think most teachers do that, and yet if a school was in an economic area where education was not valued as highly, where parents were not as supportive of getting an education, then that school could be penalized, along with that very outstanding teachers could be penalized. There were aspects of KERA that I did not like. Now, in the end, when we had the vote on KERA, I remember on the House floor at that particular time, we were debating the bill and the bill was-I forget exactly how lengthy it was- but it was hundreds of pages long. We were having a vigorous debate on the floor of the House, and all of a sudden, the speaker of the House, who was Don Blandford, at the time took a motion from the floor to end debate, to bring the debate to an end, and to bring the vote the bill to immediate vote. I just, I hated any time when you limit debate or shut off debate, and especially on an item that was just so important to the state, to the Commonwealth. So I ended up voting against KERA, basically because of procedure. Now, in subsequent years, as I look back on that vote and as I look out on KERA, there are still things that need to be changed but I think we're working on that. I believe overall that KERA has been good for the state of Kentucky. It's redirected the things that we teach and the way we teach them. It emphasizes critical thinking more; it emphasizes writing ability more; it emphasizes reading ability more. Those are good things that have come out of KERA. Now, being a social studies teacher and what I see today, one of the things that I see that does not set well with me is that certain subjects are being emphasized more and more, while other subjects that I think are important are being given less and less emphasis and virtually being eliminated. You know, physical education is not as important as it once was, and, of course, with the obesity problem with teenagers and young kids today, it should be of greater importance. There's a movement today to take social studies and relegate it to a lesser status in our educational system and everything seems to be centering around science and math. While those are very important topics, I don't think you can push aside other subjects that are equally important in my opinion. So, in the long run, I think KERA has been very important but we still need to continue working to sort of shape it and make it better. FLINCHUM: What are some of your thoughts on the problem of discipline in schools? Any ideas on how to correct that or the source of the problem? LILE: Well, you know, I had-and I'm not trying to toot my own horn, so to speak or anything-but, you know, having taught for twenty-seven years, I think discipline, in large measure, is sort of a function of the teacher and is controlled by the teacher and how he or she controls the classroom and conducts the classroom. I always felt like I had a very good relationship with my students, that they enjoyed coming to my class, that they appreciated my role in trying to convey knowledge to them. That, you know, I just believe that a teacher can make or break a classroom in the area of discipline. Poor teachers, teachers who do not make a class interesting, do not give their kids hands on training. You know, if the student does not enjoy a classroom, then it leads to problems. It leads to discipline happening and I think that while I am a strong advocate of discipline in the classroom, and I think too often disruptive students have been allowed too much leeway in disrupting the whole classroom environment. I think a teacher, a good teacher can eliminate a lot of that problem and can handle a lot of the discipline him-or herself, if they present a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning. By the same token, I think it's very important, not just to have a good teacher in the classroom to eliminate discipline problems, but it's very important to have a good leader in the school, a good principal that will be out and about and who will be involved in the atmosphere of the school, helping to make it a school where kids enjoy coming and enjoy learning. Also someone who will back their teachers, his or her teachers, when there are problems because there are inevitably going to be problems in school. FLINCHUM: What about higher education? Are Kentucky colleges headed in the right direction? LILE: Well, I've always felt like we can do a much better job in higher education. Our system that we have today, I think, too often colleges are given maybe a little too much freedom. You know, I'm not an advocate of censorship or whatever, but by the same token I just don't-I think there has to be a game plan for colleges and for the instructors who are in colleges. I don't think we should just create courses to be creating courses without an objective to them. You have to have some degree of control over what's being taught on college campuses. I know there has to be a lot of diverse courses, but by the same token, I think we need to focus what we're teaching in college so that students can apply that teaching and apply that learning to everyday life. I think too often on the college level there are too many meaningless courses being taught that don't get a student ready for the real world. You know, I think we've come a long way. I mean, we've improved but by the same token, I think colleges need to go through their own KERA-type revolution to make sure that they're focusing on what students really need in the real world. FLINCHUM: Do you think that is something that individual colleges need to chart out for themselves? LILE: Yeah, well. FLINCHUM: On a statewide level? LILE: No, I think there needs to be a sort of a statewide objective or goal. Again, you know, I think every section of the Commonwealth is unique and different and there are critical needs in every section of the Commonwealth. So I would be in favor of giving the colleges some leeway but their objectives should be focused on the clientele that is coming to them and what that clientele needs. In eastern areas of the state, you know, the economy is different than in a section like Louisville or Jefferson County and the workforce is different, the needs are different. So, I think, you have to give the colleges leeway, but by the same token, the colleges need to be focusing on what those students need in order to be successful. Too often, again, I think we sort of let them scattershot all over and offer classes that really are meaningless in the real world. FLINCHUM: What was your impression of the community college system? LILE: Well, having been a student of the community college- [Tape 1, side 1 ends; side 2 begins.] LILE: Well, I was a student of the community college system and I attended the first two years at Elizabethtown Community College opened. So I have an appreciation for the education that they provide. I think they provide-I know in my case, I was the only child in my family to attend college. I could not have afforded-my family could not afforded to give me a college education had I not gone to community college at that time. I think that there are a lot of students in this Commonwealth today that community colleges afford the opportunity to get some higher education and so I think community colleges play an invaluable role in our educational system. By and large, they do provide a good education, a good start on a higher education degree. So I'm an advocate of the community colleges. Of course, I went on to U of K and at that time, most of the community colleges were controlled by University of Kentucky. During the Patton administration, that was changed and community colleges fell under a different umbrella. I think, by and large, that has probably been a positive, and that there been more emphasis on things like technical education in our community colleges. All in all, I think the community colleges are a great plus and do provide a great number of people with the opportunity to get some further education after high school. FLINCHUM: In addition to the issue of education reform, I know the BOPTROT investigations were a big part of the Kentucky legislature during the time you were there. What are some of your recollections on that? LILE: Well-(laughs)-that's an interesting thing, too, because I don't think you can make excuses for misconduct. It's hard to make excuses for misconduct. I know many of the people who were caught up in that investigation and who were punished. Some of them were people that in my mind were just extremely, extremely good individuals. I think what you have to do-and again, this is not to make excuses-but you have to look at the environment that the legislature had sort of evolved into and the environment that had been created. You know, a lot of these individuals were caught up in a system where that was just accepted practice, not so much the accepting of money; I'm not talking about just the acceptance of money. It was pretty much accepted practice that, you know, the lobbyist bought your dinner, the lobbyist provided entertainment, the lobbyist would pay for you to play golf. It was stuff that once it evolves and it becomes accepted practice, you don't think of it as being anything wrong. Now again, I'm not talking about accepting cash payments from an outside source. I think that there's no way to justify that. But, the BOPTROT era was a definite stain on the General Assembly. It was something that I think was necessary. It was something that provided a cleansing of the atmosphere and has led to a lot of good things. You know, I think the fact that lobbyist don't play such a dominant role. I mean, they're still an important part of the system, and they still probably wield too much influence, but by and large, a lot of the things that were going on at that time don't happen anymore. It's probably something that, you know, the ethics procedures that had been adopted that control what a representative or senator can receive and what contacts you can have and so forth. That's a good thing and I think it's probably something that our national Congress needs to learn and they need to adopt many of the things that our state has adopted in the way of ethics reform. Because I think in today's political world and the viewpoint of most voters is that lobbyists are the beyond end all, and they control the system. That money controls the system. I think that perception needs to change for people to get more confidence in their elected officials. FLINCHUM: Did you see big changes in terms of lobbyists when you came back to Frankfort for the second time? LILE: Not until after BOPTROT, BOPTROT happened. You know, I was amazed when I first went to General Assembly in 1971-72, they used to have a pre-legislative conference down at Kentucky Dam Village and all the lobbyist had a little lodge area where they would entertain representatives. You know, it was wine, women, and song. It was an amazing atmosphere for a person who was at that time the youngest representative; I was only twenty-six at the time. That atmosphere sort of flourished until BOPTROT and then everything changed and it changed for the better. I think the fact is that receptions today are not as open and sort of free flowing as they once were and lobbyists are more aware of what the ethical limitations are on them. You could probably talk to some of the older hands in the General Assembly. People who have been there far longer than I was and they can tell you that it used to be an atmosphere of anything goes. It's no longer like that, and that's good. FLINCHUM: What about economic development? What are some of your thoughts about the way Kentucky has approached that? LILE: Well, you know-I was not as involved in economic development issues as maybe some other representatives were. I don't have a lot of thoughts on that, except to say, you know, I think Kentucky has advanced. I'm in favor of an incentive program that allows the state to offer incentives to businesses to locate in Kentucky. I think that Martha Layne Collins made the right moves when Toyota came to Kentucky. I think that the whole controversy about the arena here in Jefferson County, whether not to build one or not build one and where it goes and so worth, I think that's been a good debate and it's a necessary debate. Overall, an arena for Jefferson County is going to be, or the city of Louisville and Jefferson County is going to be a good thing. We're on the right track as far as economic development. Our biggest shortfall probably is having a work force that can meet the needs of the businesses that would like to locate here. I think that holds us back. So we need to improve the educational system and educational ability of a lot of our citizens that reside in this state, and other than that, you know, I think that we're on the right track. FLINCHUM: You mentioned earlier that in addition to services some of your constituents were concerned with issues like abortion. What are some of the most important social issues to constituents right now in your opinion? LILE: You know, of course I've been out of the-so, out of office now for almost ten years, so my district has undergone some changes but I think that by and large, the overall citizenry there in my general area hasn't changed that awful much. But I really did not-you know, I think my area was anti-abortion. I think they still are. They are very conservative area. It is a very conservative area. Again, they were not as concerned about legislative issues so much as they were concerned about basic services: about having a good education system, about receiving a fair share of tax dollars, you know, about having places for kids to play, and so forth. Social issues were not high on the agenda on my legislative district anyway. FLINCHUM: Can you think of some issues or trends that we haven't brought up already, some things you'd like to highlight? LILE: I'm sure that after we end this interview I'll think of a lot of things that I probably would of liked to say. (both laugh) Right now, you know, I think again, what I would emphasize more than anything else is that the General Assembly has come a long way. It used to be that, again, at twelve 'o clock on the last day of the session, you would stop the clock and you'd continued working until everything was done. It used to be, I can recall several members of the General Assembly that were actually alcoholics and would be drunk on the floor of the House when I first served. All of that has changed because of better quality of legislature. A more informed quality of legislature. There's better facilities. There's more interest in doing a good job. I think there is more legislative independence. My years have seen a growth in the General Assembly that has been very good for the Commonwealth and that would be the thing that I would emphasize over, over, and over, and over. Is that we have come a long way and it's been a very positive thing for the Commonwealth to see the General Assembly evolve into a strong part of our government. That's the thing that I am most proud of. FLINCHUM: How would you like to see Kentucky change in the future? LILE: Well, I'd like to see it become even more Republican. (both laugh) No, I think that, you know, I've often said that no party has a monopoly on good representatives and good senators. Both parties have their good and their bad. But I think it is important that we have a strong two-party system in Kentucky. My experience says to me that when you have one party dominating everything, it's just not good. It leads to bad things happening. It leads to arrogance. It leads to a lack of competition. I think every senator and every representative should have a political race with an opponent every year. Every time they run just because I think, it makes them more accountable. It keeps them on their heels. It keeps them aware of that they need to be answerable to the public. You know, when I look back on my years, I served that one term as the 27th representative-well, actually two terms as representative of the 27th district, and then in 1984, my district was cut during reapportionment redistricting, and I was left with three precincts of my old 27th and they threw me into the 28th legislative district with the majority whip who had been there for some fourteen years. And his attitude at that time was, 'If I have to knock on one door to ask somebody to vote for me, I'm just not going to do it.' I remember that race very well because I walked that entire district twice going door-to-door, knocking on doors. He spent $48,000 and I spent 8 [thousand dollars] and I beat him by almost 2,000 votes. I think it's just because he had grown accustomed to not being accountable and he had gotten lazy in the fact that he felt like he could just put his name on the ballot, not have any competition and win. I think it's important for us to always offer that opposing point of view and offer people a choice in our political system. FLINCHUM: Thank you very much for a good interview. LILE: Thank you, ma'am. I appreciate you coming. [Tape 1, side 2 ends.] [End of interview.] Lile (House 1972; 1982-1984, 27th district; House 1986-1996, 28th district; Republican) discusses his education, his decision to become an educator, his experience teaching, how he became interested in politics and his first campaign. He describes how the General Assembly has changed since he was first elected in 1971. He reflects on being in the minority party during the era of gubernatorial control, legislative independence, and what it means to be a Republican in Kentucky. He talks about his constituents' needs, his view of race relations in Louisville, his work on the education committee during the KERA debate, and his opposition to the bill. He gives his views on higher education curricula, the community college system, BOPTROT, and economic development. He concludes the interview reflecting on the need for a strong two-party system and the importance of legislators facing opponents in legislative races. Kentucky Legislature