Interview with Edward "Ned" T. Breathitt, Jr., June 17, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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KLOTTER: I think we were--we've talked about a lot of different things, including the--your terms as governor and some things beyond that. We'd like to kind of take it from that time on. When you were in Washington working with Norfolk Southern, what was a typical day like at the railroad? What was--what was your usual work day?

BREATHITT: Well, wh- --when I first started with Southern Railway in March the first, '72, I spent a lot of time getting to know the rail industry and I had two people on my staff. One was the former congressman, Chairman of the Transportation Subcommittee of Commerce-- of the Commerce Committee. Peter Mack was his name, fellow who'd flown around the world in a Bonanza and interesting guy from Illinois. And 00:01:00then the other person was Frank Barton, who's still living, who had been the counsel to the Senate commerce committee, chaired by Senator Magnuson. He was an academic. He had--he had taught at LSU, taught transportation at LSU and at Georgetown University in Washington, had been the counsel to the Tennessee Valley Authority and then was counsel for that commerce committee. So, I got to know the whole--learn the whole processes of government i- --at the federal level from these two fellows that--that reported to me. And--because, you know, if you've been governor in a state, you go to Washington, it's a whole different ball game. And my job was both the regularity phases of working with the interstate commerce commission, the lawyers that practiced those 00:02:00cases, and I worked with them. You don't lobby the interstate commerce commission, as a regulatory body, you have to have an arm's length relationship, although the former lieutenant governor candidate Tuggle was on the commission.

KLOTTER: Kenneth Tuggle.

BREATHITT: Kenneth Tuggle was on the commission, and he and my uncle down at Barbourville were very close friends. My uncle, Tom Funk, was the coach down there at the college. And he--(Laugh)--coached both football and basketball and--and--in those days. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, I interviewed him at the commission when he was there.


BIRDWHISTELL: Kenneth Tuggle.


BIRDWHISTELL: I'd forgotten about that(??).

BREATHITT: Yeah. Umhmm. But he was an interesting fellow. And Kenneth would invite me over for lunches. The interstate commerce 00:03:00commissioners, there were five, would have lunches and they could invite people over informally for lunch. And you never talked about anything pending, but you could talk just about philosophies and issues and that sort of thing, but it was before the other commissioners, and I did that. Then I worked very closely with the Department of Transportation. And at that time the secretary of transportation was former Governor Volpe that I'd known when I was governor, very closely, and we were working on all kinds of legislation. I remember my first day on the job, they gave me an office car to live on when I was in Washington,--

KLOTTER: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --with a cook and a porter, and I turned on the little bitty TV set in the bedroom. The bedrooms are tiny, you know, on an office car. And there was the head of the United Transportation Union talking about the collapse of Penn Central, and that they thought that 00:04:00the only way to--the railroads would be to be nationalized,--(Laugh- -Birdwhistell & Klotter)--that the railroad industry was in terrible shape and had no future except as a national railroad and--like they were in Europe. And--and I thought, "My goodness, what have I--(Laugh)--gotten myself into?" But we got into then what we called the "Astro Program" which was a program to sell the rail industry to the nation. And we had speakers' bureaus and we would testify before committees, I would testify before committees, about the important--We got Wally Schirra, the--

KLOTTER: Astronaut.

BREATHITT: --astronaut to--to--"Who needs railroads?" and then "We do." He was walking down a track. And we really went out to point out the importance of the railway industry to this country, because number one it was environmentally benign; number two it could carry bulk freight, 00:05:00coal, and chemicals, and those sort of things much more safely than trucks could chemicals through towns and on interstate highways. And- -and then we--then we were trying to get a level playing field because the--our truck competition was--was--had highways built for 'em. They didn't come near paying for 'em. And the barge lines, our other competition, had locks and dams, and everything, was no user fee at all on barges. And they were fighting for bulk traffic. And the frei- - -the trucks were fighting for the other, and they were eating the lunch of the railroads. They were taking so much away from them. And of course, prior to my arriving in Washington, the--the passenger service had been discontinued and turned over to Amtrak, and that had been a big loser for the railroads, and that helped. Well, there we were with Penn Central collapsed and had to be taking over by the bankruptcy 00:06:00court, and then ultimately they created Conn Rail, and passed the Northeast Rail Service Act, which--which allowed them to be--as Conn Rail operated successfully. But before that Penn Central was run by a Kentuckian from Hazard, Kentucky, named Moore, and he, of course, had come from our railroad as the chief operating officer. But he could never get the unions to agree to get rid of feather bedding, and that was rampant on the Penn Central. And he couldn't get rid of non- profitable lines by rationalizing the system because the unions wouldn't allow it, and the shippers wouldn't allow it, and the communities wouldn't allow it. So my day would be after--my first few months was really knowing--getting to know the rail industry and attending 00:07:00hearings, meeting with the lawyers and--in our law department. I--I was in the law department, but I had the public affairs responsibility, which was the--I had the lobbyists report to me. I had lobbyists in every state reported to me, and I had the two lobbyists in Washington, the--Congressman Mack and Frank Barton, the former counselor(??). And then I worked with the lawyers before the commission and before the Department of Transportation, and before the National Transportation Safety Board when we had accidents, and that sort of thing, and then testifying before the committees. And then I would work with the staffs of the committees, mainly just selling the railroad's position, because you first have to--in Washington, it isn't a question of power. It's a whole lot different deal than in a state agency, or the state lobbying because in a--in the state, in those days, you did not have 00:08:00strong staffs and you didn't have offices in continuous sessions. So I found out that the--the key people were the staff people of the committees and the key--and the staff people of the members. And--and you had to first establish your credibility and your knowledge of the subject, because they needed you and your knowledge of the subject on these issues, because the members were so busy politicking and raising money and appearing at the committees and--and--that they really couldn't master these subjects, most of 'em, or all subjects. They might master one or two subjects, and they were dependent on the staff. So I'd work with the staffs. And--and then I'd travel around to the states and I--and I traveled some on the railroad car back and forth to Atlanta, but I never did think that was very sensible.



BREATHITT: Took too much time. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) And you can do a whole lot better just flying to different places. And--and I would then assist--I had resident vice-presidents in every state that were responsible for the state, and they did all kinds of things. They--they were community affairs people working with the mayors and city councils and on problems, grade crossing problems, industrial development, working with industrial development people in the communities and in the states for the railroad. So I did a lot of that. And--but these resident vice-presidents were responsible for the lobbying in the states, and so I'd counsel with them about it, and we'd set up strategies and that sort of thing. And--and then I'd call on the governors. Of course, I knew a bunch of 'em. Jimmy 00:10:00Carter was governor in Georgia, for example, and so I worked a lot with him and with his staff, which wound up his staff in Washington as president, Hamilton Jordan and Frank Moore. In fact, I went to Harvard, in that advanced management program, with Frank Moore. Then I did some pro bono stuff there. I was on the Children's Hospital board in Washington. I was on the Moret(??) School board, which was a private school that my mother had attended and my son attended. And I continued to work on boards and things in Kentucky, 'cause I commuted. I had apartment up there, but I commuted back and forth to Kentucky, first started commuting from Hopkinsville and then later commuting from Lexington, when I sold my house in Hopkinsville in '74. And--but 00:11:00I--I had a cabin down at the lake, so I always maintained my residence in Trigg County at l- --which--where my cabin was, until I sold it, then I m- --r- --moved my residency back to Hopkinsville, but my days were very, very busy. And then we would have management meetings and I would report on--on the impact of government policy on the railroad, both at the state level, local ordinances that might be a problem, and I remember I talked to Graham Claytor, which we probably covered earlier, but I talked to Graham Claytor, you know, about this job. I turned him down at first, 'cause I wasn't gonna be a traditional railroad lobbyist as I had known 'em,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and--and he said it's--it's all information here. It's all getting your story out and--and preparing a strategy to make your case before the staffs 00:12:00and the members. And then I also got active in the Democratic Party. I was on--I knew O'Brien(??) and I knew Strauss(??) real well. And so I served, while I was in Washington, on the national finance committee of the Democratic National Committee, which kept me in touch with my own party. But I--I did not do a whole lot in Kentucky politically. I never did get involved, for example, in Julian Carroll's campaign or administration. And I was really not prepared to get involved in any of 'em much, 'cause I was so absorbed with what was going on in Washington until John Y. ran. And John Y., of course, had been one of my chairmen. And--and John Y. wouldn't turn me loose, you know. He 00:13:00made me come up the first--(Laugh)--two weeks of his administration. He said, "Now I've got elected, I don't know what to do." (Laughter) He moved me in the mansion, and Phyllis was over getting their house ready, and he says, "Now, you just stick with me for--" and I stayed a month. And living in the mansion with him, and we'd eat, and he'd say, "What do I do about this sort of situation?" (Laughter) He'd never been in government.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you know the--

BREATHITT: And it was really interesting. And he had--And I first got him, I said, "Well, the first thing, you'd better get some staff that know what they're doing." So I said, "Get June Taylor. Now, she wasn't for you, she was for Terry McBrayer, but you get June Taylor because she's loyal to whoever she works for and she's been in governor's offices. She's been the number one staff person at the Democratic Committee in Kentucky, and she's been over at the highway department as the secretary to the commission of highways--now secretary of 00:14:00transportation--off and on for years. And she's a pure professional. And--but she'll be loyal, and you need somebody that's been there and has seen all the problems, 'cause you've got all these young people that are all Jaycee types that--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--that think they know it all and don't know anything. And they're gonna--you're gonna get blind-sided by the legislature and the media and everybody else if you don't have somebody like June." And she saved him. And then he-- then I got him to get Jim King and I got him to get--Well, he'd already gotten George Atkins, but George's ex- --experience had been as a gadfly auditor trying to run for governor and having a press conference every day. Now, that's not the operation--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--of government. Now, he'd been mayor of Hopkinsville, which was helpful 00:15:00to him. And George was helpful, but--but getting Jim King and--and June Taylor in there were really helpful to him. So I tried to, but there's another group that was really close to him, Larry Townsend and--and that crowd, Frank Metts, and--and Bruce Lunsford, and those people, were so close to him that they were--they were his confidants, and they'd have late meetings, and they'd make decisions. And then the two people that worked hard in the office--and June and--and Jim King were used to coming to work at--at seven o'clock or 7:30 in the morning and going home at six 'cause John Y. wouldn't get going good 'til two in the afternoon. Sometime wouldn't arrive 'til then, and would go to four, five o'clock in the morning (Laugh--Birdwhistell). Well, they'd been gone. They--and they couldn't--now, Jim couldn't take that 00:16:00schedule, so he just finally went back--(Laugh)--to the University of Kentucky,--(Laugh)--but Jim was very valuable to him, as was June. So I was involved to that extent. But being in Washington except for that first month, he had no clue about how to run a government, or how to be--(Laugh)--governor. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) Now--

BIRDWHISTELL: Some people have said that--that Governor Brown only knew ten people in Kentucky, that's why he had to keep using the same ten over and over again.

BREATHITT: (Laughter) Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Had you heard that story?

BREATHITT: Had--well, he--he--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--he--he had a close little close-knit group. And--and he had his old poker playing bo- --bo- --buddies from college days, Frank Ramsey, the basketball player from down at Madisonville, and--and some others that he was close to. But it was this entrepreneurial Jaycee type group, Larry Townsend, Bob Cob, Frank Metts, Bruce Lunsford, that group that were really close 00:17:00to him, Frank Gerry(??) and--who was his accountant in Louisville, and who was revenue secretary. And he really listened to those people, the absol- --the most. Then he got one really good guy, and they--oh, he also had Jim--Bill Young, W. T. Young, and he moved him in the office next to him. And W. T. had real good management skills and he knew the private sector, and th- --they were responsible for bringing in some really good dollar-a-year-type business executives into the government. And so there was a renewal of kinds of people, a lot of the old regular kind of hacks that had been in politics for years that didn't have any fresh ideas, wanted to do it like Earle Clements had done it, or Lawrence Wetherby had done it, or Bert Combs, or I had done it. You know, he did bring some new people in. And one thing 00:18:00that I observed in that time was it was a very honest administration. There wasn't any way you could buy, and he would not make a trade to get a vote. I mean, he simply thought that was immoral, and he just wouldn't do it. He'd call me and say, "Now, this is the right thing to do, go out and do it," you know. He--he did make one trade and--to get some fundamental things done, and that was we'll gi- --I'll give you legislative independence if you'll do this. And he did. I mean, and-- and of course he made that trade, and of course the legislature as awful glad to get legislative independence, and so he did that, and--for both good and bad, I think.

BIRDWHISTELL: What kind of grade would give him on his administration?

BREATHITT: His administration? "A" for integrity, "C" for administrative skills, knowing the full equation, "B+" for his vision about some 00:19:00things, "C-" for about the understanding of the poor people and the people that need a helping hand, because--now, he was--he didn't have a r- --he was not a--he--he was for equality, but he was ahead of his time. He's a lot like this proposition out in California, give everybody a fair shot and no--no affirmative action, sort of kind of guy, but he--you know, h- --he treated a African American just as easily as he'd treat anybody else. He didn't have a negative racist thing in hi- --feeling in his body, but he was--he's a strict entrepreneur, believed in that system from the days he was in college and made forty, fifty thousand dollars a year selling encyclopedias. You know he was 00:20:00a terrific salesman and great personality. He bore no grudges at that stage of his life, he didn't. He later has one against--against Louie Nunn and one against Steve Bashear(??) because of that second race. But the first race, he never would bear grudges. "Doesn't make any difference whether you're against me or not." (Laugh--Birdwhistell) I remember Logsdon (Laugh) one time, he asked him to be chairman of the party. And Logsdon says, "I can't do that, Governor. I don't know your--your friends and your supporters. I was for McBrayer." And he says, "Well, that's all right, Ed. I don't know 'em either." (Laughter) [Beep] What's in the hell is that? That thing's blinking all 00:21:00over the place. (Laugh--Birdwhistell & Klotter) Well, anyway,--

KLOTTER: Power surge.


BIRDWHISTELL: "I don't know 'em either."

BREATHITT: But John Y. was refreshing. Now, his wife was a dynamo. She got big into equal rights for women and she really pushed that as a cause, and he just let her do it, and she got big into promoting the handicraft industries in Kentucky. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: Refurbishing the mansion----------(??).

BREATHITT: Well, and refurbishing the mansion. She got that done and got it done nicely with qualified people to do that, and it was certainly upgraded. Combs and I just didn't spend any money except on the plumbing, electricity, and that sort of stuff, on it, but she really did a wonderful job there. And she was quite a dynamic personality. I 00:22:00think out over the country they were good salesmen for Kentucky. And we got a favorable image generally in--in--about Kentucky from the two of 'em, but it certainly was a clean administration. I--there was not a hint of scandal that I have--I known a- --I've ever known about.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did--did you get a sense that there was some kind of feeling of what could have been accomplished and wasn't, though, because of Brown's personality?

BREATHITT: Yeah. There was not a whole lot of follow through on--not any long term objective of what education could mean for the state, long term objective of what we do to deal with environmental problems, long term objective of--of--of seeing that individual people had real hope, 00:23:00the people that needed a helping hand, to get 'em out of the welfare thing. He just--attitude was, if they'd go to work, they could get out of it, and it's--it's much more complicated than that. Never any long term understanding about how as a state we had some fundamental problems in our culture that was rooted to worship of athletics, which dominated our--our psyche, in rural Kentucky particularly, but it's also in Lexington and Louisville--Lexington and Louisville--

BIRDWHISTELL: And Brown was a part of that culture.

BREATHITT: Oh, he was a v- --v- --very much a part of that culture. He was much more interested in who we had as the football coach than the president of the University of Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, I was gonna--and my next question,--


BIRDWHISTELL: --Governor, was his relationship with Otis Singletary was 00:24:00quite an interesting relationship.

BREATHITT: Oh, Otis was worried to death when he appointed me to the board, as a Brown man,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and he said, "Golly, he got a governor." And Otis was just nervous as a cat that I was gonna come over there--(Laugh--Klotter)--and--and Otis was spending all kind of time coming to Washington and talking to me. And I wasn't about to let Brown vote me, I--I--on the board. In the first place, the board was dominated by Bill Sturgill as chairman, Albert Clay, and George Griffin on the executive committee, and one or two others, and the board really had very little to do except have a nice lunch, and they told us what we were for. So I asked Brown to put me back on the Council on Higher Education that I--I mean, I--I w- --just didn't feel like I was making a contribution on the UK board. And at least we were discussing policy, although I was frustrated. Bill McCann(??) was chairman. One thing that I strongly agree in this new education bill is that we do have an opportunity now to make the council strong and 00:25:00we do have an opportunity to rationalize our educational system, and that means the University of Kentucky. Of course, they've--(Laugh)-- already rationalized us on the community college,--(Laughter)--but that one I didn't think was the--of course, that's a past issue now, and that has been settled, as it should be, by the legislature. But--so I'm not gonna dwell on the past. But--But I thought that Brown's administration, when you-all--add it all up, was a plus, but he did not really get into the fundamentals. Now, he got into the question of inefficiency and bloated bureaucracy, but he approached it the wrong way. He had George Fisher, and Frank Metts, and a few people like that that used the meat axe. And Ed Prichard, of course, sued 'em, got 'em back on, made 'em pay back pay plus interest. And so he didn't accomplish it.


BREATHITT: But he--he--he really attacked the problem, but he didn't 00:26:00attack it. You--he attacked it like you would in a g- --in a business, a corporate environment rather than a--a state government with a--with a merit system, like--or tenure. You know, I'm sure he was very much against tenure in universities.


BREATHITT: And--but he--he w- --he was an interesting, refreshing figure in politics and he did bring an awful lot of new people into the process, in the counties and around the state that had never been involved before. And that was good, but we all had a tendency to go back to our old friends in these counties, bo- --a- --the two factions of the Democratic Party and Republican party, and--and a lot of 'em were just worn out.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you felt like Governor Brown appreciated your help that first month when he was trying to get organized?


BREATHITT: I think so. He was just desperate for knowing what to do (Laugh--Klotter). And it was kind of funny, really (Laughter).

KLOTTER: Kind of like a teacher wasn't it,----------(??)?

BREATHITT: (Laughter) Well, after that, then all of this crowd took over, you know. They wanted me out of there.


BREATHITT: They didn't want me--

BIRDWHISTELL: --you were probably glad(??)--

BREATHITT: --having his ear.

BIRDWHISTELL: --to get out anyway(??).

BREATHITT: Well, I--I did. Whatever I could do, I'd done. I'd gotten June Taylor in there, and had gotten him started with the legislature, and gotten him started on approaches. Of course, he got some really good people like Foster Pettit, and really W. T. talked him into coming over here. W. T. had seen what Foster and Bill McCann had done to merge this urban-city government, and Stevens. And--and he did a good job for him for a couple of years in all the regulatory agencies which were--you know, they're the ones where they can do you in, and where the special interests can corrupt it. And they will corrupt it if you 00:28:00let 'em, even the best of 'em. They just want an agency over there that'll do their bidding.

KLOTTER: You mentioned the University of Kentucky Board. You also were involved on the board of Kentucky State and at Morehead in issues that went on(??) at that time.

BREATHITT: Well, I was asked to get off of the council and go to--not--I guess it was the council, and go up to Morehead, because President Rineheart(??) had a board that was very much against him, and he had a divided faculty, and the alumni was very much against him, and he had- -he had lost all of his critical support. And so the governor, then Martha Layne Collins, had asked all the board to resign, every one of 00:29:00'em. Mike Duncan was chairman, a really fine person. And there were some good members of that board, but the one person who was the worst member, and I won't mention his name, wouldn't resign. (Laughter) And so we had to deal with him. He--Walter Carr(??) was his name.

BIRDWHISTELL: How did you deal with him?


BIRDWHISTELL: How did you deal with him?

BREATHITT: We just didn't pay any attention to him,--(Laugh-- Birdwhistell)-- and--and 'cause we had Louie Nunn who was chairman, and- -and he--Louie was very, very strong. And of course, he--he--(Laugh)-- ran Rineheart off. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) And--and--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's the second president he'd run off, right?

BREATHITT: Well, the--(Laugh--Birdwhistell) Yes, he ran Oswald off. And Martha Layne knew he was a good one,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--a good runner-offer, and--and--

BIRDWHISTELL: His reputation preceded him.

BREATHITT: Yeah, that's right. And--and then--but he appointed a lot of good people, Bill Seaton(??)--she did, from Ashland Oil, who had 00:30:00just retired as the number two fellow at Ashland Oil, and who was a Yale graduate, and knew what a university was, and had adjusted to what Morehead's mission was well. And it wound up a--in his retirement as chairman of the board and I thought did a real good job after I left, and after my term was up. Well, actually after--(Laugh)--Wallace Wilkinson asked me to leave that. Wallace asked me and Louie to then go to KSU where Raymond Burse(??) had--had gotten into problems. Now, Raymond I think did a real good job at KSU in--in redefining the mission and getting it going in that way, 'cause he's a very bright and a very able man. And I think that he'd had a better P.R. group there to work with the local paper and the local community, and I blame the 00:31:00local community and--and the state journal some for that, too. They should have realized h- --the difficulties of being the president of that institution and--and they listened to the nay-sayers, because Raymond really u- --changed things. He was an Oswald and he changed things there, but that was almost insolvable. We worked out the thing at Morehead. We got--we got a--an outstanding former president at Northern there in Albright. He knew what to do and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Who--who--who made that choice to get Albright? Who--who sought him out for that job at Morehead?

BREATHITT: Louie and I--knew--knew him well, and--

KLOTTER: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --and we--and we sold it to the board and to the--and to the so-called search committee 'cause he was an interim president. It really didn't take much search. Then they, having been--you know, he was acting head at UK for a very short period, and then he was the--of course had done a--I thought, a real fine job at--at the council. And 00:32:00then at Northern, I thought he really did an outstanding--

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --job up there. So he knew what to do. And he did it well, and he had a nice, easy way about him. All the superintendents and the principals and guidance councilors were mad at Rineheart.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right(??).

BREATHITT: And they weren't sending anybody there. The re- --enrollment was going down. He had lost his relationship with those people, and- -and Albright got on the road with Keith Caperson(??), went around to see 'em all, and he had 'em eating out of the palm of his hand before-- before his term was up.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you have a hard time convincing him to take the job, or did--was he willing to--

BREATHITT: No, he--no, we didn't. He's committed to higher education,--


BREATHITT: --and not just to one institution. He'd been at UK, the council, Northern, and--and then at Morehead, and--and he could--having been at Northern. But--s o he did a real good job, and we gave him 00:33:00total support with a new board. We had Alan Lancin(??) on it, who was outstanding. We had Bill Seaton on it, who was outstanding. We had judge on the supreme court who--who was a--a wise fellow, but he wouldn't take a stand on anything,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and--I'm trying to think of his name, from South Central Kentucky, Supreme Court justice. He's not on it now. But any rate, he'll--he--he had a lot of wisdom when we would approach our own internal discussions about dealing with things. He was good, and we had good faculty people, good student representative. And we really did have a good board. And of course, Alan Lancin(??) had been on the faculty of U. of L., outstanding surgeon who--you know, he was giving up heart operations to come, at about four or five thousand dollars a crack, to come to those 00:34:00board meetings. And so I always respected that. And that was a long drive from Louisville, to Morehead.

BIRDWHISTELL: The media sure enjoyed the fact that you and Louie Nunn were working together.

BREATHITT: Yeah. Well, it was difficult, I'll say that. But it was not s- --difficult 'til we got to KSU. But KSU is--is divided up into so many, I found,--

BIRDWHISTELL: Compartmentalized(??).

BREATHITT: --partmentalized(??). The a- --black alumni ow- --feel like they own that school, and they've run it for years, and they wanted one of theirs named as president.

BIRDWHISTELL: The same debate's going on right now.

BREATHITT: I'm sure. I'm sure. And--and then the--the faculty had been raided from all their good black professors, and they had to fill the seats with whites, quite often white liberals that felt that there was a mission to that sort of a school. And--and the administration was 00:35:00nearly all black, because th- --these other universities didn't need administrators, they needed qualified professors. So they were raiding these traditional black schools for professors to meet their federal guidelines. Well, we had black administrators and president(??), white faculty, black alumni, black student government association. They were the residential students, but seventy percent of the students enrolled were white, either state government employees or just commuters, day students. And they took no interest in the student body or the school, they were just there to get credits and get a degree, or to get a couple of years and go somewhere else. And so it was really hard. You didn't have a cohesive sense of identity with that school like you do the regionals, or you do the University of Kentucky, or Louisville. 00:36:00And--and it was really hard, and--to try to get a president. We got Wolfe who made a tremendous impression, had a terrific resume, and he just was a disaster. First person he hired was a black muslim preacher, and--and I knew how well that was gonna go over. (Laugh- -Klotter) And--(Laugh)--and well, we'd--we just made a mistake there. But then we got Mary Smith, who had been vice-president of academic affairs, got her doctorate at UK, he husband had been former football coach there, had ties with the alumni, and was a really outstanding member of their f- --faculty, and then their administrative staff. And I think she's done it--(Laugh)--as well as you can do it at that school, and I really admire her. I think she's a fine person and--


BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, some people have found it may be ironic that Governor Nunn would end up involved with Kentucky State after his campaigns that he had waged.

BREATHITT: Yeah, and that hurt him.


BREATHITT: It hurt him with alumni. They wanted him--it hurt him with Chuck Lambert who had--who was there and said, "He's got to go," and that got back to Nunn, so Nunn went after Chuck. Chuck had to go, and it just got into all tho- --it was not a wise choice for--for Nunn.

BIRDWHISTELL: I don't--Yeah, it just--

BREATHITT: It was just--it did a disservice to him and the school. And I thought he did a pretty good job at--at Morehead, and, of course, he'd had the experience at UK and--as chairman. And--but he and I didn't have any trouble working together at Morehead.


BIRDWHISTELL: Gov- --Governor Brown, it was during his administration that there was the talk of merging K. State with UK as the community college----------(??)--

BREATHITT: That all was--that came up on the Council on Higher Education, and that was a proposal that--when Bob Bell on the council, just before I went on the council, but it was when I was--I guess I was on the UK board. I was on the council, and then he appointed me to the UK board, and then I asked him to appoint me back to the council, because I really didn't feel that I was making any real contribution on the UK board. He had--had this executive committee. Otis and--and Sturgill liked to operate with the executive committee. And--and if you weren't on the executive committee, you really didn't have much input. I have an executive committee, but I never call a meeting (Laugh--Birdwhistell). They have--have never done anything but once, when the full board directed them to do something during the interim. 00:39:00And--(Laugh)--I just try to involve the whole board, and that-- (Laugh)--grew out of that experience. (Laugh) And--

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think it would have been a good idea to--to try and merge K. State at that time, or was it just historically impossible?

BREATHITT: Well, it--it--it had a awful lot of supporters, and there were--there were two proposals to merge K. State as--with the University of Kentucky, since it is a land grant institution.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right. That's right.

BREATHITT: And it made a lot of sense, but--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--it would have real- --really been a headache for Otis now. And they would have needed to make--have a separate sort of campus, like UCLA, a part of the--Because you would have had--oh man, the alumni would have just created all kinds of problems, and Otis didn't need that on top of everything else. But it--it would have made sense for Kentucky, I 00:40:00think, and in time it'd work out. If you could have handled it in such a way that it had it's own advisory board, it had the responsibility for--a lot of responsibilities delegated to it by the UK board, in whi- --and--and still gave it a sense of identity to the--the--to the alumni, so that they felt that they had a school that they could identify with. It's the only loyalty at K. State, is the alumni association, and their homecoming is big time. And--and th- --their children that go there, or their kinfolks, or people that they send there. And--and their--their alumni are scattered all over everywhere.

BIRDWHISTELL: And of course, these are people who saw the local school boards close their schools, their high schools and their elementary schools, and this was their last thing to hold onto was--that we're not gonna let white people close the--or take away(??)--

BREATHITT: Our school.


BIRDWHISTELL: ------------(??)----------

BREATHITT: Take away our school.

BIRDWHISTELL: --take away the school.


BIRDWHISTELL: Well, it's certainly understandable.

BREATHITT: I--Yeah, it is. And I really think that once Raymond Burse got there and changed their mission into a small liberal arts institution with certain other commitments in keeping with their land grant mission--their aquaculture program is interesting. They do a lot of interesting things there. And--and I think Raymond pretty well--when they weren't able to merge it,--of course, my gosh, at the same time Jack White and Bill Cox were making all kinds of things like merging--(Laugh)--Murray and Western.

BIRDWHISTELL: (Laugh) That's right. (Laugh--Klotter & Breathitt) And Morehead--Morehead and Eastern.

BREATHITT: And--that's right. And--well, they were--they were going through with all those kind of things and it--that was a--that just really was about to blow up into--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and David Grissom(??), and Bob Bell, and some others just told 'em they have to quit when they were on the board. And when I got on the council right 00:42:00after all that happened--and I've forgotten whose place I took, but anyway,--

[End of Tape #1, Side #1]

[Begin Tape #1, Side #2]

BIRDWHISTELL: You've got it.

BREATHITT: Then we got into the whole question that we're now facing today in the--in the new higher education legislation, and that is eliminating unnecessary duplicating- --sion in institutions and putting strong emphasis on "centers of excellence," we called 'em in those days, in the schools, and--and having basic core curriculum for all schools, but--but each one pointing in a direction where they could excel. And we--we really pushed that, and--and we ran into a united opposition from the regionals, and University of Kentucky, 00:43:00and Louisville, which was just barely in the system in those days, and Northern, which had just come in. And so we couldn't get it done because the--John Y. Brown just ran out on us. He had his brother-in- law then, Bill McCann, as chairman, and then John Y. just didn't want to go through that fight. It didn't h- --didn't matter that much. This governor success or failure of his education reform act is gonna depend on a--on a very strong council with his strong support that does this job. If it does it, I think it's gonna be a very landmark piece of legislation if he can get that done. And I'm gonna work with the Prichard Committee. I've got three people on our board that are gonna work very hard on that, and it may t- --singe the tail feathers at the university somewhere, although I suspect that most of 'em think they've 00:44:00done enough at the university. And--but the one thing they point to are the dental schools, and I was right on the council when we had that battle. And the dentists wanted to close one of 'em. Of course, the UK dentists wanted to close Louisville and the Louisville dentists wanted to close UK.

BIRDWHISTELL: Imagine that. (Laughter)

BREATHITT: But I want to help the governor on that, and--and I've got a committee with Lizzie Platna(??), and Lois Weinberg, and myself, all three are active members of the Prichard Committee. And I want--I want to--those two as a board and as a member of the Prichard Committee work to try to help the governor get that done and--in an intelligent sort of way. So that each institution in return for eliminating certain duplications, gets something, where they can have a--a real positive 00:45:00move forward. And plus, we got to really hammer away on the education budget. If we don't get the money, not only for us but everybody else, then it'll collapse, and then the governor's program will have been a failure, and--and that would be sad for Kentucky. It's hard for a lot of people because the community college issue so dominated the debate, just totally did, and--but that the university board was solidly for everything except that, including--in fact, I suspect that UK, Terry, will be the institution that will give more support towards the coordination than any of the--and elimination of duplication than any of the other institutions.

BIRDWHISTELL: I think you're right(??).

BREATHITT: B- --and--and then it's certainly gonna give strong support to the--to make its strong effort on improving our academic and research 00:46:00capabilities. It's a long process. I had a long talk with Tom Clark about this about two months ago. He said. "Duke tried to buy it with endowed chairs and luminaries," but he says, "You can't do it. You've got to do it with assistant professors and associate professors, full professors, and keep the best." Keep 'em, nurture 'em, and build it block by block. And then you can get into your research, because there are always people that will give--or contemporaneous with that, people give you money for an endowed chair for--for a monument, and that gives you--help give(??) the critical mass that can get you grants. And--so it's a long process, I mean, we gon- --we're gonna have to work hard at that at all of our schools and c- --certainly at UK over a long time.

BIRDWHISTELL: So do you think the governor's gonna penalize the university for its stand during the special session?


BREATHITT: I don't think he can because I think that he's gonna need the university, and the university needs him.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's why you were----------(??)--

BREATHITT: And I think that he's gonna need the university to help bring the community colleges along into this new plan and--because of their-- Ben Carr and Charles are in a unique position to help lead these college presidents, community college presidents, in those communities into an- -this arrangement, and that's gonna take time. I found that feelings are intense in those towns because they--you put a community college with a UK name on it in a little town that had nothing, like Cumberland or Hazard or--or--or even--well, of course Owensboro had some college, they had Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia, but--


BIRDWHISTELL: Maysville(??) ----------(??)--

BREATHITT: Hopkinsville--

BIRDWHISTELL: ------------(??)----------

BREATHITT: Maysville is another great--

BIRDWHISTELL: Prestonsburg.

BREATHITT: Prestonsburg, yeah. It's the biggest thing ever happened to those communities. And they felt betrayed. And it's gonna take the university, it's gonna take Charles and Ben Carr, and--with the support of the board, to help ease that transition where they see that there's a future, a bright future for 'em.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think the university's willing to do that, though?

BREATHITT: Yeah. Yeah.

BIRDWHISTELL: Help them make that transition?

BREATHITT: Has to, there's no other course. That issue has been settled. You can't fight an old war (Laugh--Birdwhistell). I mean, I think that--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, you can, but not successfully--(Laugh)--probably.

BREATHITT: Well, it--it--it doesn't make any sense. You've got a--we had our day in court and we--we stood by these communities that had been so loyal to us. They're the most loyal people in the Fellows--at the Fellows' dinners th- --and, you know, they don't have any big money. They--they'll pledge it over ten years, thousand dollars a 00:49:00year over ten years. That's a big sacrifice for an awful lot of those people. And--and we still, because of the fight, have an identity with 'em. We don't have the management, but we have an identity with 'em, and we own 'em. We got that in there at the last midnight trade that--

BIRDWHISTELL: We own them in what way?

BREATHITT: The title to the--


BREATHITT: --schools is still the University of Ken- --the properties. The property is still the University of Kentucky. And we got our statewide mission back. That's the thing that I was terribly concerned about. And the--they took the total statewide mission away from us, and we just had like everybody else, and--and we got the mission back in that negotiation. And which is essential if we're gonna be a land grant institution with a service mission to this state. We'll have to do it now with the medical school and we'll have do it with the 00:50:00business school, and have to do it with the--primarily agriculture, through the extension agents and home--

BIRDWHISTELL: How about(??)--

BREATHITT: --demonstration.

BIRDWHISTELL: --education?

BREATHITT: Education, definitely. There's s- --we're gonna have to do it in other ways. For example, Charles was down yesterday working on this with that rural development center at Somerset, that Hal Rodgers has gotten him to come down, where the university can put a whole lot into that, and that's a fac- --tremendous facility. And so there are ways that the university is gonna have to be innovative, but it still is now gonna have to put it's main focus on the main campus. And--and- -because the legislature and the governor have--what he did, he didn't get the public with him, but he got all the thinking groups with him, or--now, I'm not talking about the interest groups he could make--

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand.

BREATHITT: --do it, but I'm talking about the Prichard Committees, and 00:51:00the advocates, and all those kind of people. And he got all those people with him and--so what we got to do now--I think that's the role of the board. I think it's the board's role and--to work with the president. And that's why I appointed this committee. Now that was- -that was gonna be done internally by the university, but we--and they have an internal committee. But I appointed this committee made up of Chellgren, the head of Ashland, who's done more for education as a corporation than any in this state, for years, not just one school, all schools private and public, did a lot for KSU, did a lot for University of Kentucky, did a lot for Morehead, did a lot for Centre, lot for Transy. It's--it's principally the eastern part of the state, has not done much for U. of L., but is not against it, but then it's furnished 00:52:00chairmen of the board, and it's furnished strong members of the board through the years. So I appointed him, appointed Jim Hardiman from Maysville, who's the head of Textron, one of the biggest hi-tech companies, and Lois, who's--was the chairman of the Prichard Committee for years, and really had been a big person on pushing this merger. I blame my good friend Lois for a lot of that,--(Laugh)--selling that on, 'cause I thought--I'm--and no point in fighting that battle now, 'cause we tried and failed, but I felt it was very easy administratively to get the community colleges to do what he wanted to do, but we wouldn't have had this hard feeling that we have to overcome. But, that's done and--and there's no point in looking back. We've got to look ahead at the university.

KLOTTER: Look- --looking ahead, how--how would you like to--I mean, if-- if--ten years from now, what would be your ideal of how higher education in Kentucky would look like?


BREATHITT: Higher education that begins to--to educate the people of Kentucky that--that a top-flight institution, not only at UK as its flagship in- --institution, but all the others, place such a premium on the quality of instruction, and program, and faculty, and student body through KERA--support for KERA, and that the people of Kentucky don't look on it mainly for its basketball program. We're such a basketball state, it's--God, when you haven't got anything else in these little communities, that's the only thing that gave them pride. I understand it. It served a very useful social respon- --met a social responsibility in these communities in the state. They didn't have anything. It--it--it gave a focus to the life of a lot of young 00:54:00people, but we've got to make them understand the value of education and s- --and really first rate education. If we can do that in ten years, that's what I'd like to see, is--is we change the cultural attitude of the people of Kentucky towards education. And that's the part of the governor's program that I see holds hope, and why I hope he g- --he's re-elected, because if it isn't, it's gonna be somebody that runs on the other side, that's gonna play on the resentments of the people. And it's out there, deep. And the polls show it. Now, we're gonna have to really work on those things. And the universities can do more about it than another single institution, because the resentments are in those community college towns. Now, you also got the problem, 00:55:00I see, in Kentucky of the--of the opposition party seeing--trying to get issues to run on in the legislative races, less than a year now in the primary, of trying to play on the resentments and disappointments. And--and that's a worry, but--but ten years from now, if we can change the cultural attitude of the people of Kentucky towards education, and that's what of course the Prichard Committee, and the advocates, and- -and a lot of the people on the faculty at UK, and at all the faculties of all these institutions feel. The thing I am troubled about is in the way that this campaign was run, we pitted so many people against each other and they wer- --developed a hatred towards the university people that really, really troubles me. Or a hatred by a lot of the 00:56:00university people towards these other institutions for--they think are responsible for this. We got to get rid of that some sort of way.

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: The best sort of--the best sort of leadership is leadership that unites behind a common purpose, and I think we're gonna have to do that in Kentucky and really work hard on it. Now, it's gonna take--the governor's not gonna--shouldn't listen to all these people around him that said, "Man, we beat those people now,"--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and you know, that sort of attitude, and "We're all powerful." And one of the governor's top people at the Derby says, "We believe in the Golden Rule. He who has the gold, has the rule." You know, that sort of attitude's not gonna do it. And it--and the attitude of the university won't do it if we take a "I told you so," give lip service, don't really work on getting the--the--this fund for academic 00:57:00excellence really going full steam, don't really af- --affectively put our objective there. And the other thing, I think, is--is--well, it's such thing as the--as the Rupp Arena th- --issue. I think a lot of the local paper's attitude toward UK developed over the Rupp Arena issue. I just don't think that any--I have yet to talk to anybody on the faculty that's for it. Have you heard anybody for it?

BIRDWHISTELL: For the new arena?

BREATHITT: The new arena. Have you ever heard anybody--

BIRDWHISTELL: The new arena?

BREATHITT: --for it? Yeah, have you heard anybody for it?


BREATHITT: Have you heard anybody for it? I haven't heard a soul--

BIRDWHISTELL: A lot of people(??)--

BREATHITT: --for it.

BIRDWHISTELL: --in administration for it, weren't--wasn't it(??)?

BREATHITT: W- --well, some in the administration are for it, in--the athletic director. I think--

BIRDWHISTELL: Who could be higher than that, right(??)?

BREATHITT: Well, the athletic director--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and the president are very upset with Tom Menter(??) and the negotiation with 00:58:00the contract which comes up every two years. And Menter's(??) trying to squeeze every penny out of it, and the city likes to get it, 'cause it's a city deal. They--and they don't have to put any money into it (Laugh--Birdwhistell). And so you got two conflicting interests, both of 'em are looking at money because UK is having to fund the bonds for the library--


BREATHITT: --out of athletic receipts, which mean we don't have enough money to put in the other sports that don't generate money. And the athletic director's under a tremendous bind there, as is the president,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--'cause he had to drain--he couldn't take it away from academic programs,--


BREATHITT: --so he had to take it from the athletic revenues, which means you got to have a successful basketball program and a successful football program to do it. And that is iffy always. And--and then the other thing is, if we're--have a--have a very poor contract with 00:59:00the Lexington center. Well, I--I understand. If they're trying to use this purely for negotiating purposes, okay,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--but if they're damn serious about it, then a--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--bunch of us on that board are gonna fight. Now, they're trying to separate from the board to the athletic committee--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and they do have the power, the athletic committee, to do this, but we have the oversight--

BIRDWHISTELL: You have the ultimate power.

BREATHITT: --ultimate--ult- --well, we have--we can get new president-- (Laugh--Birdwhistell)--if we have to.

KLOTTER: Well, and a--


KLOTTER: --now, doesn't the legislature have to pass on even private fund raising issues that are on the university campuses and things like that?

BREATHITT: May have to, I don't know. They--they attempted to because of the library.


BREATHITT: Of course, the library--(Laugh)--strangely enough, was approved by the legislature in '92. They--they gave us the money for the site development and acquisition of--I mean, to get the architects and the engineers to get it going, with a promise, and told us to go 01:00:00out and raise 25 million. We raised 26 million from what--over ten thousand contributors.


BREATHITT: And then Brereton had three cutbacks and said, "I can't ask for another 25 million dollars, or twenty million dollars and ask all these institutions, including UK, to cut back their budgets." He says, "If you can pass it on your own, okay, but I can't recommend it." So we had to then got out and try to pass it. We got it through both houses, but we could never get it into a conference, and Marbley fought the hell out of us, and--and Jody(??) fought the hell out of us. And-- and--which, you know, that again is--we--somehow or another we've got to break down this rivalry, jealousy, and hostility that institutions of higher earning have, and it all comes down to dividing up the pie, the 01:01:00dollar. That's what it's all about, and they also get into prestige and oth- --a lot of things. But we've got to build a lot of bridges at the university. We've got to build a lot of bridges and we've got to figure out how to do it.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was thinking--

BREATHITT: Well, I'm not gonna be for the Rupp Arena if it comes to it. I don't want to have an open break, but--


BREATHITT: --I've talked privately to the president and I'm not gonna be for it, and--(Laugh)--I'm gonna wind up with no sides (Laughter).

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think the president is going to be able to turn around and be supportive of Patton? I think Governor Patton--I mean, you've stated that you think it's best if Patton were to get re-elected, but I--one w- --might wonder if President Wethington feels the s- --

BREATHITT: I think in time.

BIRDWHISTELL: You think in time he will--

BREATHITT: I think in time. Oh, he's a--he's a pragmatist. His--his- -his going with Greg Stumbo to meet with the governor when they went 01:02:00from 55 plus votes down to 46 votes, and he knew that--that he couldn't win, he then went to the governor. Instead of--now, a lot of the Republicans and a lot of other ambitious people wanted him to go down with flags flying and a bitter battle.


BREATHITT: He saw no--no--nothing--no advantage to that, because that would hurt the university, and--and so he cut the best deal he could cut, and then stayed away from Frankfort.

BIRDWHISTELL: So the--the late night session that was highly reported, that morning news conference, as people years from now are trying to figure out how all that sort of developed--

BREATHITT: The president could have gone in two directions. He could have played in the hands of the ambitious people who wanted to preserve an issue and--and were looking forward to the pictures of taking the 01:03:00UK sign down off, and running on that issue for governor and for the legislature. Those people wanted to go down with flags flying, and a lot of the really mad people in these communities wanted to just fight to the bitter end.


BREATHITT: And Charles didn't see any tha- --that once he couldn't win his point, he just said, there's no point. I was gone down to my grandson's commencement and didn't know--(Laugh)--anything about it 'til he called me on the phone. I's going to the airport and he called me on the phone, driving back at six o'clock in the morning. He--they worked 'til--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah,----------(??).

BREATHITT: --really late. And then he had to go--after an hour or two of sleep, go back to the press con- --oh, I guess he had his press conference--I don't know the exact time, but Charles called me and told me what he did. I said, "Well, once you start--if you haven't got the votes, and there's no way you're gonna get the votes, and Stumbo's gonna leave you, then--then I think you're doing the intelligent 01:04:00thing." And once you start down that path, you can't equivocate, you can't send mixed signals, and so he just stayed in Lexington. He got criticized a lot by--by the hardcore--wh- --of allies and people in the communities, but I thought he was doing a rational--so the answer to your question is I think yes he will. He has no other game he can play. That's the hand that's dealt him. And do you make it--does his leadership provide for improvement in the University of Kentucky? He has no way to go but that way. Now, what--what has he gained by negative thing? There's no way he can gain by it, or the university can gain by it. And so I don't think he wants that legacy, and he's only got four and a half more years before his retirement.

KLOTTER: Before all--when this issue first came up, did you and the president sit down and--and talk what about your strategy should be, and--and what was in that discussion?


BREATHITT: What issue?

KLOTTER: The c- --community college issue.


BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --yes, we talked about it at great length, and we--our first strategy was to convince the governor not to do it, and we had many hours of meetings with him. After one of the basketball games in early February, the governor asked both of us over to the Radisson Hotel, and with wives. Lucy had to go be with her mother, she couldn't do it, but Judy was there, and--and then--well, Patton and his wife, Wethington and his wife, myself. And we sat and talked for four or five hours about alternatives to this recommendation, which was the recommendation of Bob Sexton, primarily, and Al Smith, and--and Lois Weinberg, to the governor. And they convinced the governor that he could pick up allies 01:06:00from the regionals in Louisville and Northern, well, the regionals and Louisville, and that he could also build a coalition with the--with the chamber because of what he'd done on the other. And it--that it took that to pass it against an all out effort from the university. And we had told him that we would resist it, that we were not going to abandon these co- --these towns that we'd put so much into to upgrade the quality of their life in these communities, to give them hope and pride and--and those 43 thousand students attending 'em now, the half million alumni that we had in those schools, the 38 million we raised in those communities for this "Partners in Progress" without any help from big 01:07:00foundations or big rich folks in Louisville or Lexington, anyway. It was a--it's the most loyal group of people to the unive- --that the university had. They take it for granted in Lexington. I mean, they think it's an o- --it's not on wheels, it's gonna be here. (Laugh-- Birdwhistell) The mayor wouldn't support us, 'cause she's interested in her courthouse. And the governor said, well--and faculty was neutral, or worse. The paper was hostile against us. We didn't have any local support. The support came from the towns across Kentucky: Paducah, Ashland, Maysville, Hopkinsville, all those town. Now, not Owensboro, 'cause Owensboro--we didn't really do anything for Owensboro when we put a community college there. That was a grab by Blandford that--that 01:08:00Morton Holbrook and the local chamber types wanted a community college because they want a four year public institution there. They got tired of supporting Wesleyan and Brescia. They wanted a four year public institution there and they knew that we were a restraining influence to keep that from happening. And they wanted out from under UK, where they could use their political muscle to ma- --make another four year institution.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, they haven't made a run at it yet ?

BREATHITT: Oh, they'll--(Laugh--Birdwhistell) Don't--don't you think they won't, because now they're out from under--

BIRDWHISTELL: Now they can--

BREATHITT: --and they got the governor obligated to 'em, and they'll- -that Owensboro crowd. The next crowd will be Madisonville, which was not doing--except to get Bill Cox's vote for the sale tax for Louie. And they said, "We want one. We want a scout ?." They never had the same sense in Madisonville that it did for these other communities 01:09:00that--that--that it did. And Madisonville will want one. They can't. They're situated a few minutes from Hopkinsville Community College. And Hopkinsville Community College wasn't picked by me, it was picked by the Combs administration's committee w- --before I was governor, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: At--at this meeting at the Radisson, what did the governor want you and President Wethington to--

BREATHITT: Well, he was listening to us,--


BREATHITT: --and we were trying to give him an alternative to this.

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. And--and he(??) ----------(??)--

BREATHITT: And we talked for four hours. We gave him a number of alternatives to removing the community colleges. Giving the program out of control to this new board that was gonna be set up t- --and also giving the budgetary control. But we would have the management of it. They would determine the--The coordination would be done by 01:10:00this board between the Kentucky tech. and the community colleges. We also said, you ought to have all the community colleges. All the other schools ought to come in. Well, he couldn't lose their votes so he left them--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--right where they were. Then he realized that position was so inconsistent that he said, "Well, you can keep the Lexington Community College," but he would not do that because he would lose their votes and their support. He had put a coalition together. The governor was trapped to--to carry out that coalition or it--it would break up on him and--from a political strategy standpoint. But we tried to convince him of the intensity of the feelings--see, he didn't live in a community college town. He's on the board of Pikeville College, and Pikeville has not been a--it--it wasn't a beneficiary of a community college. So he never had from the first ten feelings--his whole interest has been the central campus, where his children went to school, where he went to engineering 01:11:00school. So I don't think he ever fully understood the intensity or the feelings of what those schools had meant to those communities. I built 'em. I knew what it meant, 'cause I'd been there and stayed very close to 'em all. And I--and I had been working hard with Charles and Ben Carr to--to not let the academics on those campuses keep 'em from really working with these technical--Kentucky tech schools. The faculties resisted. They looked down on 'em, and they resisted. Now, that's what the governor was saying. Says, you have to put 'em under--under a new chancellor that all the presidents have to answer to, the schools have to answer to, and a new president of equal rank with the presidents of the other schools, to ever get the coordination 01:12:00you need. Now that is Sexton's and Lois' view, and Bill Weinberg's view. And Bill and Lois are extremely close together, philosophically and s- --and finan- --supportive. You know, he named Bill as a vice- chairman of the Appalachian Commission. Bill really is very active with that. We did our best to convince him. We came up with all kinds of alternatives. We came up with setting up a separate council just for this work force thing, as a proposal. And to give it--all we would do would--would select the presidents of the schools, we would--he still would name the boards. They always have named the advisory boards there. And we could say he could give those boards more power, which he did do that. And he--And we said, you can give total coordination responsibility by law, mandate, and give that power to this new 01:13:00group he's setting up. Set it up just like it is, but give us the administrative responsibility to carry it out. Hire the president, hire the faculty, the staff, supervise and guarantee the quality of the degrees. That was our pitch. That and--and a separate council, or this one under the other council, either way, to avoid the fight. We would have had no fight. We'd have been right on board. But there was also a group of people, including the Prichard Committee, that had been so frustrated over the lack of coordination and the power of the University of Kentucky in--in going around the governors and the council to the legislature to get their budget. And--and you know, 01:14:00when we had Blandford and we had Mike Moloney--

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --we could do that, and we could guarantee special projects at the university, that when we lost them and wound up with a speaker from Western and a--and Marbley from Eastern. Marbley's very hostile to UK. He's the one attacked the library, did everything he could to- -(Laugh)--keep us from getting the library. It set up a whole different ball game. And then the only clout we had was the community colleges. Dick--Richard Wilson says, "We've lost for- --sixty percent of our clout." He doesn't know what we're gonna do about it. And we've come up with a strategy, and I have really pushed this with the president, of forming a partnership with the local chamber. We've gotten that done. We met with that the last two weeks, with the pr- --with the n- --local newspaper, establish a very strong bluegrass caucus in the 01:15:00legislature, bi-partisan caucus. We met with Scorsone and Stan Cave, and they both agreed to do it from both parties. Now, we have to build from that and get around. And--and then get the thoroughbred industry into it and o- --and Robert Clay who heads Bluegrass Tomorrow, which has seven counties in that groups, and has the county judges that--that are on his board for Bluegrass Tomorrow, get them into it, and come up with a--and the city definitely, and county, come up with a program. Right now everybody has their own little agenda. Thoroughbred people have their little agenda, the mayor has her agenda, the university has its agenda, the chamber has its agenda, and we've never worked together to come up with a common agenda that we can all support. 01:16:00The university can support what the mayor's for, and what the paper's for, and--see, Louisville has gotten their act together. Boy, they've gotten their act together. They got--And they almost hired Greg Llewellyn to head that combined deal,--

BIRDWHISTELL: ----------(??)----------

BREATHITT: --and that would have been a lock with the governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: (Laugh) That would have been----------(??)--

BREATHITT: And they all backed the governor and got him elected. So the--And they've--they've hired Pam Lucky's husband to run the--the Center for--what do you call it, the Kentucky Center for Public Issues?

KLOTTER: Umhmm. Public--yeah(??).

BREATHITT: And--and Sexton got U. of L. to--(Laugh)--U. of L. to fund it. And to r- --and to get that house over in Frankfort.


BREATHITT: And--and then they hired Holwerk's wife, the Prichard Committee did. And so Sexton has got--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--and- -(Laugh)--and so--and then he and Al Smith just stayed with--they're 01:17:00a member of that editorial board, just constantly for a year, year and a half. And--and then with Pam's husband on--on the payroll, and Holwerk's wife--(Laugh)--on the payroll, they--but see, they had their own agenda. And so we're working on putting together a very strong central bo- --and then the university's focus has got to be now on the central campus and it's outreach through departments of the central campus, its service mission being carried out through the colleges of the central campus. And, yes, I think that the president will do that. He's already started, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: It's gonna be a big change for him, though, isn't it, to get through this and come out on the other end?

BREATHITT: He's got no other course. What are you gonna do with your life with four and a half more years for retirement. He's too 01:18:00intelligent. He's an intelligent man and he's ambitious man, and he has two things that sold me on him, a total commitment to the University of Kentucky, a total commitment to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He's not interested in University of Kentucky helping him in his academic career to go somewhere else. He's a South Central Kentucky, rural county guy who's gotten where he is by extreme hard work and innate intelligence, and he's the hardest working fellow I ever saw. And I'm confident-- plus I want to be one of those forces on that board that keeps prodding and pushing him in the positive direction, and we got a lot on there that are that way, got some that aren't, like any board.

BIRDWHISTELL: But I'm reminded of--thinking about this reminds me when we talked that time about the aftermath of the '64 legislative session.



BIRDWHISTELL: Where you had to regroup,--


BIRDWHISTELL: --plan a strategy,--


BIRDWHISTELL: --go out and recruit people to support--


BIRDWHISTELL: --you, get your agenda focused so that you could come back in sixty- --in '66,--


BIRDWHISTELL: --and--and make those things happen.

BREATHITT: Well otherwise th- --my administration would have been a washout.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. ----------(??).

BREATHITT: And--I mean, it would have had no significance to it at all except minding the store. Well, let me see. I'm--I have total confidence in that. I have--all the time in Washington--I--most of the time I commuted from here for a very few years, when Francis was alive and she had gotten so active with the--with the Kennedy Center and then heading that alliance for arts education in Wa- --Washington, 01:20:00which is a part of the Prichard Committee. We spent a lot of weekends in Washington, and I--my only commute then was down to our place down at the lake, and it was just--took too daggone much time. Now, we'd spend our vacations down there and--but when she died, I sold out and I started commuting again, and then I made the move from Hopkinsville to Lexington, because of my interests in higher education, and KET, and other things I was interested in. And then--Washington was a great experience, but boy the day I retired, my car was packed and I was headed home. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) I had no interest--you're nothing when you're out of power in Washington, either government, or the military, or the diplomatic corps, or the corporate sector once you 01:21:00retire. And when you're out of power, nobody pays a bit of attention to you, and you don't have the ability to do anything constructive. I mean, you can--you can work for the God's Pantry or something, or--or b- --push bedpans out along in a h- --hospital or something like that, but you can't do anything really significant other--you can volunteer your time, but it--it's not a place. And if you have a feeling of--a sense of commitment and roots to Kentucky, the place to do it is come right back here. You got to have roots. We got a young man down the hall here I want you-all to meet before we leave, a remarkable young man. You wondering why I've got Murray State up there. That's where my papers are.

BIRDWHISTELL: I know, I was looking at that earlier.

BREATHITT: Yeah. (Laugh--Birdwhistell) I am a great admirer of--of the 01:22:00president down there, of what he's doing in an innovative way. His son just got his doctorate from Queen's College at Cambridge, three years. He was the last quarterback recruited and given a scholarship by Spurrier at Duke. He went two years there. And then they changed their system and he was a passing quarterback, so he went to Yale, graduated from Yale with honors.


BREATHITT: Then he went with Mickey Cantor and--as an--as a--as a intern from Yale, and was so good that they used him on helping to draft and work as a top staffer on the GATT agreement. And then he went to Cambridge because of that and got his doctorate in international relations, three years at Queens College with honors. Now he's 01:23:00finished his first year at Virginia Law School. He wants to come back to Kentucky. Of course, his grandfather was Sam Alexander over in the c- --department of education, who ran it when Wendell Butler and all those people were--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--superintendents, from Owensboro. And I'm just thrilled that a young man of that potential and promise is gonna come back to Kentucky. He's gonna practice in Paducah,I think.


BREATHITT: Yeah. And well we'd offer him anything to stay here with that kind of resume,--(Laugh--Birdwhistell)--anything to be in a big firm here or in Louisville, but he wants to go back down there.

BIRDWHISTELL: I need to change the tape, you think(??)?



[End of Interview]