FLINCHUM: The following is an unrehearsed interview with StateRepresentative Harry Moberly Jr. who has represented Madison County in the Eighty-First District from 1980 to the present. The interview is conducted by Jessica Flinchum for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project, on Tuesday, June 27, 2006, in Representative Moberly's office in Frankfort, Kentucky at 10:30 AM. Representative Moberly, what is your full name?
MOBERLY: It's Harry Moberly Jr. I don't have a middle name.
FLINCHUM: Okay. Harry Moberly Jr. When and where were you born?
MOBERLY: I was born in Richmond, Kentucky, at the Pattie A. ClayHospital in 1950. September 2, 1950.
FLINCHUM: I was born in the same hospital. (laughs)
MOBERLY: Really, were you? (laughs)
FLINCHUM: Um-hm. Pattie A. Clay.
MOBERLY: What year?
FLINCHUM: In 1980.
MOBERLY: You were born in the new one. I was born in the old Pattie A.Clay. Before it was torn down, it was an older hospital.
MOBERLY: But, yeah, it's still the same.00:01:00
FLINCHUM: Same location?
MOBERLY: No, the new hospital is moved out on the eastern bypass; theold hospital was in the middle of a residential neighborhood in downtown Richmond. And that's where I was born. The doctor that delivered me is still alive; I go to church with him. But he was gone to a Labor Day party and came in a tux, my mother said, and delivered me.
MOBERLY: But I was born right there in Richmond. I have lived there mywhole life.
FLINCHUM: Okay. Why don't you tell me about your family, parents,grandparents? What they did for a living?
MOBERLY: Well, the Moberly family in Madison County, my father had ninesiblings. Several of them lived in Madison County, and he worked at the post office, and was in fact postmaster for twenty-four years. He got to be p--he and one other fellow were the two top candidates 00:02:00for postmaster and back then it was a Presidential appointment in the '60 election where President Kennedy won determined that it would be a Democrat instead of a Republican. He had a good friend that was a Republican and they knew that if Nixon won, his good friend would be postmaster, and if Kennedy won, he would be. So, he got to be postmaster for twenty-four years, and his friend got to be the assistant. So, that's an interesting play on how politics works. My family was in local politics. My grandfather R.O. Moberly was county judge of Madison County for twelve years back in the fifties and early sixties, and that's the way I got interested in politics because my family was always around politics. I had--my dad's first cousin was ABC commissioner down here and was very active in Democratic politics. And so, it was discussed early on, around that dinner table, every 00:03:00night we talked about politics, both local and national. And that's the way in which I got interested in politics. And then, when I graduated, after I graduated from Eastern, I went to law school at the University of Louisville and graduated in '77. I was about three years behind because when I graduated from high school, I took some time off, and worked at various jobs, and then didn't go back--I graduated from high school in '68, and then I didn't go back to college until '71, and then I was ready to go and did very well. I think graduated with a 3.8 in three years but that's what maturing helped me to do. I went on to law school. And then when I got out of law school in '77, I ran for office the first time in '79. So, it didn't--I was so interested in politics just really from I think my family exposure that 00:04:00I decided to run at an early age. My mother's family was from Eastern Kentucky and we visited them, and still, I still do. My grandmother is 101 years old, lives in Paintsville. My mother's family is from Eastern Kentucky, and I had the benefit of two really good families, and my father and my two grandfathers were excellent role models for me. My maternal grandfather was the first Commonwealth Life Insurance agent in Eastern Kentucky. And when we go visit him, he would take me in his little Volkswagen bug. I was just a boy. He'd take me around visiting. He had a debit account, insurance account, which means you had to visit and collect money from everybody once a month. And so, he would take me around and actually we'd drive up in what people call 00:05:00hollers and all around eastern Kentucky. And that was fascinating for me as a young child. And so, I got a lot from my dad and from both of my grandfathers and had just a wonderful upbringing and good family experience. And as I said, my maternal grandmother is still, is 101 years old. So I was up to see her in Paintsville not long ago. So, I've just had wonderful family support throughout the years. And is the reason for my interest in politics. My mother was very interested in politics. She was kind of a black sheep in her family because my mother's family is all Republicans and she moved to Richmond during the war to work at the Bluegrass Army Depot and met my father. And she changed to be a Democrat, and she got to be a very strong Democrat. And was very outspoken in her political belief. So, I got 00:06:00my politics not just from my, from the Moberly side being involved in local politics but from my mother's interest as well. She was kind of a firebrand about certain issues and was just a very, turned into a very strong Democrat. So, whenever we'd go home, it was kind, her home up in Eastern Kentucky, it was kind of a, you know, a thing of amusement for us to go up there because they'd all say she was only--we were the only Democrats in the family but she was the strong one. She was the oldest of her siblings. So, all of that experience caused me, I think, was part of the reason that I was interested or a big part of the reason I was interested in politics.
[Pause in recording.]
FLINCHUM: You mentioned that your mother's family was Republican and sheswitched to Democrat. I've noticed that historically Madison County 00:07:00and surrounding area has been very heavily Democrat. And in recent years, some people exhibit dual partisanship; they'll vote one way for local elections and other for national. How do you explain that? What do you think determines party loyalty in this part of the state?
MOBERLY: Well, of course, party loyalty in lot areas goes back to theCivil War. And Madison County was more of a pro-southern county and you start getting down in the southeast Kentucky, from the county you're from, and you'll find more Republican. But a lot of that has not traditionally been based on philosophy but rather what you were, what your ancestors were coming from the Civil War. And because Madison County was pro-southern, it was mostly Democratic. Now, in recent years, the South, Kentucky included and Madison County has 00:08:00been leaning and voting more Republican in national election. Madison County still votes Democrat in local elections. That's seems to be a phenomenon all across Kentucky because Kentucky is been traditionally a Democratic state and it has more Democratic registration now, but because of national politics, actually the Republicans are probably the predominant party in Kentucky right now. They control the Governor's mansion, the State Senate, and the Democratic Party, which I belong, only controls the State House. Some of that philosophy may be moderating a little bit but I don't think the basic trend is going to change that because at the national level, the National Democrat Party has been perceived through some of its candidates--not Bill Clinton 00:09:00but others--as being too liberal for the average Kentuckian that the local, the state Democratic Party has suffered. Now, in Kentucky right now, a lot of times in the General Assembly, the philosophy between the two parties is blurred or almost non-existent. There in the General Assembly you will find very conservative Republicans and very conservative Democrats. You'll find moderates to the extent you could apply these labels, and they're fuzzy sometimes, too. But you'll find people all across the panoply of philosophy in both parties. And actually what carries the day, as far as public policy in Kentucky, is sort of a moderate to conservative point of view, regardless of which party that you're in, or to which you belong. And whoever 00:10:00controls--for instance, the Senate is controlled by Republicans, the House by Democrats, but we have agreed at the moment of this interview on a tax bill that passed the House yesterday and will pass the Senate tomorrow, and it's sort of a moderate reasonable policy, kind of a public policy statement that we're enacting here. The executive branch has agreed to it. So, as far as Kentucky is concerned, it's a moderate to conservative state, and it's always--whether it's Republicans or Democrats governing it--it's going to stay that way. Now what has made a difference and made the Republican Party become the predominant party in the state is national politics. And the feeling about a lot of Kentuckians that they don't like the--although they did like Bill Clinton--but the rest, many of the rest of the national Democratic 00:11:00leaders are perceived--whether they are or not--are perceived as being too liberal for Kentucky, and so that's the reason for the switch. And, of course, a lot of politics is perception and Republicans, too-of course, from my point of view, which admittedly is prejudiced, Republicans too have capitalized on hot-button social issues to the extent that Democrats have not been able to do. Republicans are better organized, have managed to present themselves as more pro-family, and that sort of thing, even though I believe Democratic policies are. They're better strategists, and better organized, and better at using hot buttons social issues, which are not the most important things to the people of Kentucky. I believe that things like education, human services, real people issues are the most important thing. I don't think abortion or other hot-button social issues are the most 00:12:00important things that we deal with down here. But, you know, some people do, and Republicans have exploited that to a great degree. But I think national politics is the reason that Republicans have become predominant in the South, and most of the states, and I've kind of count--Kentucky is a border state, but we have sort of a southern mentality. And I think that's what's happened. But if you talk to me and you talk to Jeff Hoover, the Republican leader in the House--and we get along very well, work together well, and we don't have any trouble working together--you'd find that we feel very similar about most issues. So [telephone rings] you know, there's not too much difference there. We're both moderate to conservative people. It's not a matter of party, really. It's really a matter who controls the body and who gets to say. Now, the Democrat Party does have an extreme Left wing and we've got [telephone rings] maybe eight or nine legislators in the 00:13:00Democrat Party that are like that. Republican Party has eight or nine of what I think are just really Right wing extremists, but they're not in the majority in either party, and that's not where it carries the day on public policy.
FLINCHUM: So you're saying that the majority of each party is not toofar apart?
MOBERLY:--I believe that that's true--
FLINCHUM:-- ----------(??) at the Kentucky level?
MOBERLY: Well, in the last two sessions we've had extraordinarycooperation in the House in '05 and this year in '06. When we passed budgets, we've had extraordinary cooperation between the Democrats and Republicans in the House. In fact, Jeff Hoover, the Republican leader, has worked with me and has worked with our leadership on crafting the budget and has been very much a part of it. And we've had very few disagreements and the ones--it's more about--when you talk about where you have disagreements, it's more like urban versus rural, than it is Democrat versus Republican, when we actually work together, and try to 00:14:00put the party politics aside, and talk about what we really believe is best for the future of Kentucky. [telephone rings] It doesn't tend to be a party thing.
FLINCHUM: Okay. What do you remember about your first campaign when youfirst came to Frankfort? Any surprises awaiting you?
MOBERLY: Well, I was very naive in my first campaign and I was veryfortunate to win. I didn't at all know what it would take to win a campaign and I found out. I was just twenty-nine at the time. And I was, I had just been practicing law for a short period of time. I started practicing law in '77, and the campaign was of course in '79. And I announced before I gave very much thought to the race. I was very fortunate at the time I was running against a House, a member of House leadership at the time. His name was Dwight Wells. And he is good man; he still lives in Madison County. And he had been doing a pretty good job, I found out later. But he had made a lot of people 00:15:00mad, particularly teachers and educators. He had not been doing all that they had wanted in support of education, and my first campaign, and it was the issue in which I was the most interest was education, and I ran based on improving education in Kentucky. And I managed to as an incumbent and a member of the House leadership, he was a, you know, difficult to run against but I was fortunate in the fact that I had a lot of volunteers, particularly teachers, and I think I had a Madison County public teacher walked every street of the district on my behalf. And I was very fortunate to have a lot of people who were ready for a change and they saw me as a credible candidate, I think. And my father and my family ties helped me quite a bit, and I was able to beat him by about three hundred votes. And then, I had a very difficult race against a Republican that year because this is 00:16:00a Republican I had to run against him and I almost beat him the two years before in the prior election. And he ran a good race, but I was able to as the sort of the new candidate, the new look, and I think people were looking for a fresh face, and were looking for somebody that was talking about education like I was, and I was able to be elected against those two veterans. So, I was very fortunate, but I remember learning so much from that campaign, and I remember having so much help from other individuals, particularly teachers. And I learned one thing from that--I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing about Kentucky and I'm sure American and probably politics all over the globe--but if people are really, really want to beat your opponent or really don't like your opponent, that's just as strong a sentiment form as them being for you. I think after people got to know me they really 00:17:00were for me, but their initial reason that a lot of people support me was that they very much wanted to put my opponent out of office. And that's a very strong sentiment. That's why all those teachers signed up initially to walk those streets was because they wanted to get rid of him. And I think after they got to know me and understood my positions that they were very much for me, but I found out in that first race that, that's a very strong sentiment; not just being for you but being against somebody else causes people to work quite a bit. And it cost a little more money. Back in that time, I spent about five thousand dollars in the primary and the general election. That's nothing today for a race, but back at that time that was quite a bit of money. Then I learned a lot from going door-to-door. I went door-to- door in that campaign, along with all the other people that were helping me. And of course, was surprised that reactions I got. People will 00:18:00say the--you know, I don't remember whose show it was, you know, they say, 'People say the darnedest things,' I mean you just had to be ready for anything but. It was very interesting to get around in that first election, and talk to people, and find out what they were thinking, but it was an education for me. You know, I never had had that much public contact before. And it really was enlightening, I guess I'd say just to listen to people, and hear what they thought about politics, and what was going on in Frankfort. And of course, I learned when I got down here, I learned later on what actually was going on. I realized a lot of things I said during the campaign were not exactly accurate, but I didn't know that. During the cam--I mean it wasn't a dirty campaign of any kind but some of the things that I might have said about what I thought was going on, what needed to be done, you know, once I had some experience, I learned many things that I did not know. But the first campaign is probably the one that sticks out in my mind as being the 00:19:00most memorable, just because it was such a different experience for me.
FLINCHUM: And several times in the future you were uncontested, is thatcorrect? Or did you ----------(??)
MOBERLY: Well I've had, I've been uncontested some, but I've had someraces, too. I've had an interesting odyssey through the General Assembly because when I first came up here, of course, I was a young lawyer and Joe Barrows--who is retiring this year--came in the same time as me; we are the last two left from the class of 1980. But I had an interesting reelection in '81 because I often found myself being--Joe and I were kind of a like on votes. We'd be like ninety- eight to two on a lot of votes because we came up here and thought that we shouldn't vote for something that was unconstitutional. You know, we were looking at it from a lawyer's perspective because we were both young practicing lawyers and hardly anybody else up here; the 00:20:00veterans were looking at it from that perspective. And so, I made some controversial votes the first time out and the gentleman that--the two gentlemen that ran in the primary against me in '81, two years later, tried to exploit that. But I won handily that time. And then through the years I've been unopposed some years and I've had elections in other years. But I've been opposed either primary or general several times. So, I've had, you know, to campaign several times, but I think the first election was the most memorable. But I came in at a time when the General Assembly was changing, and, you know, I can talk a little bit about that if you want me to.
FLINCHUM: Sure. In terms of growing independence legislature, wasGovernor Brown ----------(??) that time?
MOBERLY: I came in at the same time as Governor Brown. And instead ofhaving an organizational sessions now that we have up here in Frankfort, after elections, we had what was called a pre-legislative conference 00:21:00back then. And in '79, before I actually took office, I went to the first pre-legislative conference; it was down at Kentucky Dam Village. And that was quite an education in of itself because legislators were down there with lobbyists, and lived in cabins, and all that kind of thing. So, it wasn't like being up here, like we do now, to organize. I actually attended two of those in '79 and '81. It gave me a little taste of, you know, how lobbyist would approach you, and all that sort of thing. And it was kind of a--that was kind of an education as well. And sometimes those pre-legislative conferences were kind of party atmospheres. Leadership races were going on. And it was just an interesting, it was an interesting kind of thing. Speaker Kenton was up for election that year and he was running against Don Blandford who eventually--Speaker Kenton died in '81 and then Don Blandford later 00:22:00became speaker and was a very powerful man. And then, of course, got in trouble in the BOPTROT investigation and went to federal prison--but he was running against Speaker Kenton that year and Speaker Kenton beat him. And I was engaged in the process of trying to support the right candidates for leadership, and get the committees that I wanted, and just trying to learn what was going on as a freshman legislator. But what was interesting particularly about that time and all that was that up until that point, Governors Julian Carroll, Wendell Ford and on back, Louie Nunn, and all of the modern Kentucky Governors had controlled the General Assembly. They had picked the leadership of both bodies, and they had picked the committee chairs, and they had sent lists up telling legislators what to vote for and what not to vote for on the floor. And the press in '79 after Governor Brown was elected; he was supposed to be an outsider, businessperson. And I had 00:23:00made several appearances with him around Madison County when he was running because I was on the Democratic ticket and had talked to him a little bit. But he didn't want to control legislative leadership. And the newspaper pundits were saying that he would eventually change his mind that he would come into that pre-legislative conference and tell legislators who to pick as their leadership, who to pick as their committee chairs, and all that sort of thing. And that was the talk in the paper but he didn't do that. But I was, of course, subject to all that discussion about, 'Is the Governor going to choose your leadership?' and 'Is he going to control the General Assembly?' And he didn't do that; he was true to his word. But what I did notice is we actually went into session in January, our leadership at the time in the Senate stood around for mostly a month, about a month, as I recall. 00:24:00And it was interesting to me to watch them because they just kind of stood around and said, 'When is the Governor going to send us an agenda over here?' Because that's what they were used to. And so, that was the session that started legislative independence, but it wasn't something that the legislature knew how to grab on to immediately. It took several sessions--another session, of course, with Governor Brown, then Governor Collins, of not trying to do, you know, what people thought they might try to do about keeping their thumb on the General Assembly, for us to really gain our independence and learn how to deal with it. Once we did--probably not fully until Governor Collins came into office, and then after her, Governor Wilkinson--but once we did fully gain our independence, I think that we probably since that time have become more influential in policymaking then the Governors have. But it took a Governor to come in and not try to do it before we were 00:25:00able to achieve that. Now, the Senate in '78 had sort of, had what was called the "Black Sheep Squadron," and they had rebelled against Governor Carroll. But that had not and--Speaker Kenton had done some of that. But if Governor Brown had come in and tried to do that, it's hard to tell--looking back--whether we would have been able to achieve independence then or not. But that independence that started then was a true change, substantial change in the relationship between the executive and the legislative branch. And it just evolved until, as I said, somewhere during the Collins and Wilkinson administrations, I think we truly, when we passed education reform that was more of a legislative--we had more really input into that than the Governor did, 00:26:00although he was strongly supporting it and part of it was his plan. But I think that's where we truly showed that there was legislative independence, and that we could act, and do things in the best interest of Kentucky. And we showed that some during the Governor Collins term. During her term, I was one of about four other legislators that worked with her and others over at the mansion that had passed the Education Improvement Act of 1985, which is pretty significant, but it sort of paled in future years in comparison to Kentucky Education Reform Act, which we passed in 1990. But that true transition period in there, we owe a lot to Governor Brown for at least--I don't know if he actually allowed it, if it would have happened anyway, but he certainly facilitated legislative independence, and I think we truly are an equal branch of government now in a lot of ways. 00:27:00
FLINCHUM: I remember reading in the Richmond newspaper that you placeda heavy emphasis on communication with your constituents from the very beginning of your career, calling public meetings, and so on.
MOBERLY: You must have gone back a ways.
FLINCHUM: A little bit. (laughs)
MOBERLY: Did you go back and--
FLINCHUM: I skipped around, I think.
FLINCHUM: I did about four years at a time, I would look at--
FLINCHUM:--an election year for '80, '84.
FLINCHUM: The (??) different years.
MOBERLY: Yeah. When I ran, I placed a heavy emphasis, as you said,on education--I mean, on communication, and that was one thing that had caused political problems for my predecessor was his sort of curt and, 'This is the way it is. You're gonna have to like it,' kind of attitude. He accomplished a lot; as I said, he was in the House leadership. And it took me a little experience to understand that he had done some really good things while he was here, but he 00:28:00could not communicate them very well. And in fact, he'd made all the teachers mad, as I previously said which caused them to be interested in working for an alternative candidate. And a lot of that was just communication. I mean he had made a statement--that you may or may not have seen that--where he said that constituents were like, I think he phrased it, "The people of Kentucky are like children and it's our obligation to tell them what they need to know." And, of course, that didn't go over well and he got some editorials in the newspapers, both the Richmond and the Lexington-Herald about that. And so, one of his biggest problems was communication and that's one of the things I talked about in my campaign that I would communicate. And I did hold some public meetings after I was elected and tried, you know, every way to figure out the best ways to communicate, and learned a lot from 00:29:00doing that. Learned a lot, as I said earlier, I learned a lot from campaigning for office. And I learned a whole lot from just after that listening to people. And people will come out, and talk--and in those days, the attitude is a little different, you know. Politics is--this my twenty-seventh year--so, politics and people's attitudes have changed a lot since then. I think people are probably more cynical now than they were then about their state government, about the office of state representative. And early on in my political career, in the eighties particularly, I think people felt that coming to public meetings would be useful, helpful. That they'd welcome the opportunity to, you know, to say what they thought. And I think some would still but there is also more of an attitude now in politics that, you know, 'It didn't matter,' you know, 'I'm not going to have any voice,' or, 00:30:00'They're all corrupt,' or, 'I don't have time.' People are busier now than they were in 1980. Everybody is. Families are busier. I don't know what it is, but the pace of society is faster now than it was. The press is more negative toward government in all national, state, local. When I first came in, there was a lot of positive press about governmental officials. Now they won't bother to write anything that's very positive. If it's not negative, they won't write it at all. So, that's the teaching in journalism school is shifted that way. I mean, if you talk to kids that work for one of the college newspapers, you'll find that, you know, that's what they're taught, as you're looking for us, you know, you're looking for something. They may not call it sensational, but that's essentially what it is, to get 00:31:00your readers interested. I think it's a National Enquirer mentality but I think that has caused the public not to have as much faith in their elected officials, when actually most have very good, most of the people I've served with through the years, the great majority have had only the best intentions for Kentucky. They may not all, you know, we may not always agree, but they don't have any kind of surreptitious, you know, personal motive that they're trying to get something done. There's a few--it's just like a, you know, the old saying, 'That a few rotten apples will spoil the barrel,' I think a few rotten apples through the years maybe causes public not to feel as confident in its public governments. But communication was important then and is still important. But I think people were a little more trusting in those days, I guess, is what I am saying. 00:32:00
FLINCHUM: Maybe today people don't take advantage of that openness asmuch as they should. You know, they can communicate but they don't bother to, do those constituents?
MOBERLY: I just they're more cynical because of the, you know, if you'rebombarded daily--and I don't mean that, you know, just complain about the press. (Flinchum laughs) But, over a period of years--because I'll be the third seniority in the House after the people retire, they are retiring this year--it just gives me an opportunity to make comparisons over decades. And there is just a difference in the reporting. Now, I mean, it's not like they used to write a bunch of fluff pieces, but now, it really, if it's not somewhat negative, it's not worth write, you know. And I just think that's had a taken a toll and then to the extent that now-the thing that worries me about it, I mean I realize that journalists are there to afflict the comfortable and they are a necessary part of keeping politicians doing the things 00:33:00that they're supposed to be doing. I recognize the importance of their mission. But I just worry that too much negative, and not enough, you know, talking about some of the positive things has an influence on young people. And, you know, we need to have them interested in government. We need to have young people interested in government. You know, government is the business, and politics is the business of democracy. And, you know, we're not gonna to have a good future with our democratic government, if people don't participate. And I just worry that they may be too much influencing young people in a negative fashion too much to where they don't want to get involved in politics. But we do have some good young people that are involved and interested. So, but I have that concern. 00:34:00
FLINCHUM: You mentioned earlier that one of your top priorities goingin the legislature was education. And I definitely want to discuss that some more. But first of all, what were some of your other top priorities in the legislature?
FLINCHUM: If you can make a list, what would be towards the top?
MOBERLY: (laughs) Well, of course, education was the first. Andnaturally, with Eastern Kentucky University, their higher ed was a priority for me. But I felt going into the '80 session that there was not enough money being spent on public education and that we needed reforms as well as more money. But once passed that and the need to support higher education, you know, I suppose my top priorities then, or the needs of Madison County, the road projects that we needed. I think I talked a lot about in my '80 campaign about two particular projects, the Union City reconstruction and Barnes Mill reconstruction. Those have both since been done, of course. Were done not too 00:35:00long after that. But I think the needs of the local community were paramount, the need for water and sewer, infrastructure, that sort of thing. I don't remember besides education if there were any big particular issues. I can't remember any other than I think both of my opponent and I talked a lot about local needs, and what we would try to do, and what our priorities were with respect to those local needs, and in that sense, you know, elections haven't changed that much. Those are still very much an important part of any legislator's election. After I got into office and began to see the impact of the social programs; and of course, I heard a lot from individuals who would come 00:36:00and see me about how terrible welfare was. You know, I'd hear that. 'Welfare is awful,' you know. 'People are--women are having babies because they want to draw a welfare check,' and all this kind of stuff. And for years and years, that would be of working class Madison County ends, or whatever that, I would hear that all, but. And we did have some abuses in the system as I got in and started looking at it. But whatever abuses we had, I think have been principally cured by the national welfare reform because now everybody has to work or go to school. And as I began to understand, as I began to serve on A & R in '82, and as I began to understand the tax system, I began to see that, you know, what we spend on public assistance at the state level--and 00:37:00we get a good deal in Kentucky because particularly in Medicaid we get a big match--but what we spend on that, for the welfare of some of our poorest citizens pales in comparison to tax breaks the big corporations get and people with money. So, you know, I don't feel--as gradually as I began to serve, I began to get more interest in social programs. And then, of course, nursing home, Medicaid, long-term care became much more prevalent and important as the years passed. And, of course, I saw many middle class people using that, nursing home, and then as people began--well, of course, just hadn't been recently but people have began to live longer and the great improvements in cardiovascular health now and what they're able to do, more people going to nursing homes. You know, I began to see people, my contemporaries with their 00:38:00parents in nursing homes and how much those programs, Medicaid programs meant. Began to see, you know, how--began to get a good feel for how much poverty we're living in Kentucky. And as the years passed, we became a state whose children were increasingly living in poverty and that began to be something that I was developing an interest in. And have a great interest in that now, and try to work with my budget sub-committee chair, Representative Lee on that, on foster care and children's home. That's one of my top priorities now because it's not right for these kids to be living in, as many as we have living in poverty in Kentucky. So, while that was not an interest of mine when I first went in, through the years, that's become much more of a social programs and meeting human needs has become much more of an interest for me because I've gained a greater understanding of what 00:39:00we actually have in Kentucky, what our demographics looks like. And if you go out and visit some of the personal care homes, or you visit some of the children's homes, or those, you get a personal feeling for some of the things that we deal with up here that are just absolutely crucial. And, you know, so I'm very, have evolved into being very interested in that. And all areas of the budget that are extremely important. You know, in my position as A&R chair, you got to be interested in all of the things in on which we're spending money, and besides human services and education, which make up the biggest part of the budget. You know, we got a huge corrections budget, and our penal system, and the way that that works, and all that's involved with that has to be a big concern of mine now as well. But education and 00:40:00human services are what government is all about, in my opinion. Not for handouts, but to help people that need help that are willing to help themselves, and particularly try to help the kids that need help in Kentucky. We got more people on Medicaid in Kentucky than we have children in the public schools. So that's, you know, that's a telling statistic. A lot of those--that is tied in to our educational level and educational opportunities, but what I think we've got to be about down here is opportunity. We got to create opportunities. We got to help people come up out of poverty. We got to create opportunities, so that there'll be jobs here for our kids when they graduate, so that we can keep our, not only our best and brightest, but as many of our Kentucky kids as we can in the state in where they will have economic opportunity. And we have really almost two Kentuckys; we've 00:41:00got a very prosperous Kentucky, and then we've got an area--a lot of it concentrated in Eastern Kentucky--that's very poor and where people are moving out. I can recall a trip that we made to--education committee, I'm on the education committee, as well as being chair of the appropriation committee--but we went to Owsley County to look at their schools. And those people up there are wonderful people. They're really trying hard at their school. They have a great school, but they're losing population because there's no opportunities there for their children. So, their state funding for their school is going down because it's based on per pupil, their average daily attendance. And so, it's going down. And their county is just kind of slowly dying. But, you know, they have a great culture and wonderful people up there, but it's a shame that we can't create, and we need to try to find out how we, for the Owsley counties, how we can create economic 00:42:00opportunity in those areas.
FLINCHUM: What can you tell me about education reform, the controversyaround KERA, some of the accomplishments?
MOBERLY: Well, I think education reform has been a great success. Justthis year we got the national award from the Education Commission of the States, or getting it--and I don't, it may be in July, or it may be in June--but we're getting the award for our continued reform but we've had bumps in the road. Education reform in Kentucky was a drastic change from what had been done previously. Of course, we had a court--we probably never would have done that much, as was done, if we hadn't had the court decision that said that our education system in its totality was unconstitutional. The people who filed that 00:43:00suit just really wanted more money; they didn't want change the way they were doing business. They just, the school districts had filed it, some of the districts with the poorest and less wealthy property values basically filed suit saying that, as a matter of equity that children in their districts weren't getting the same education because not as much money was being spent on their education. That suit was one of many equity lawsuits going around the country at the time. It was successful in Kentucky. Rather than just put more money into it, because the court said that our system was unconstitutional in its totality, we decided to take the opportunity to make drastic changes in the system. We traveled around to several states. I remember myself going to Rochester, New York, and Miami, Florida. We went to Miami to look at their site-based decision-making and several innovations that 00:44:00they were doing in Rochester. But the thing about those innovations were that they were not statewide. They were things that were being done in particular communities. Like in Miami they had this new thing called, 'site-based decision-making,' but that was not across the state of Florida. And some of the reforms that we saw in Rochester were not across the state of New York, but they were just being done in particular communities. What was different about Kentucky's education reform was we came back and instituted these major reforms all across the state. "Primary Program" was a big one, where, you know, we said if children were ready to move along, you had to multi-age, and move kids along, and teach to the individual needs of students rather than just move them along according to the convenience of the school. And, of course, the assessment in the instruction were geared toward demonstration of knowledge as well as just rote memory and that sort 00:45:00of thing. We had problems early on with adjustments where people just didn't want to change. We had problems with our testing system and our testing vendor. I mean even such things as truck turning over, and test being lost, and not grading on time. A company got the testing contract that was a small company that was probably not able to handle it, although they had some very innovative and visionary ideas, they were not able to handle the contract. And what happened in the early years, I think were that we had growing pains and adjustment pains and then we had a problem with those supporting reform adopted a bunker mentality where they said--and I did not. I was--
[Tape 1, side 1 ends; side 2 begins.]
MOBERLY: Okay, and one of the problems with reform was the fact that,00:46:00was the discussion between prior (??) reformers as to where if they see problems we need to change or whether we just need to strictly adhere to what we're doing, and which I called bunker mentality; you know, we can't change anything. And I was one of those and thought we ought to be changing along the way. The others prevailed for a while and what that did was, I think, was drive sort of moderate people who wanted to be for reform but saw problems with it and saw people unwilling to address the problems, over to the other camp of people. It drove them over to the other camp of people who just weren't for reform and would never be for reform. And that came to a head in 1998 when the Senate actually adopted a bill that did away with the testing system that we had under reform, until it could be, until some of the problems could be addressed. Well, that was like throwing the baby out with 00:47:00the bathwater because that would have done away with the central core of what we were trying to do in education reform. So, I introduced a bill at the time that tried to address the problems but kept the central theme and kept the testing program with some modifications, like it was. And that bill was eventually compromised but kept in its essential form, and passed. And I think we were able to save education reform in '98 because finally those that had adopted that what I was calling the bunker mentality came to see that we needed to make the necessary changes in testing and some other areas, in order to keep reasonable people on line on reform. And since then, I think it's gone fairly smoothly. But there's always--nothing is ever perfect and that system is not ever going to work perfect, especially when 00:48:00you have the accountability that we do with it. And so, we need to constantly improve our testing system. We need to constantly try to make it more efficient and less days for the students. And I am also co-chairs of the EAAR's committee, which is acronym from Educational Assessment Accountability Review. So, we sort of have the oversight of the testing system, and we have a national technical panel that advises us. And so, we are able to keep oversight on that. And in my view, as long as I am partly in charge of the oversight--is what I stated a minute ago--and that is that we're going to continue to try to make the changes that are necessary. The state board and the commissioner have been continuing the evolution of change and improving the test every year. So, I think now we've come to the toughest times, and we're moving on to other areas. I think we've got our testing 00:49:00where we are on the track to keep continually improving it, and we're looking at other things now, like intervention strategies, and some other innovative things that are the next step in reform. And we have some pretty good agreement between the House and the Senate on reading and math intervention, and how we're going to approach that, and where we're going with our testing system. And so, I think the reform now is fully ingrained in our system. If you try to take our reform system away now, you would get backlash from the educators themselves that they don't want to change back now. In early years, they really did want us to change. But what I found when I was a co-chair of the task force on public education in '97 that also included members of the executive branch and legislature and some others. And even in 00:50:00'97, before we made the changes in '98, we found that most educators at that point did not want to throw out education reform; they just wanted certain changes. And those were the many of the changes that we brought about in '98. But it's not been a road without bumps, but it's been worth it, even though mistakes have been made. Because I think we have much more money in public education than we would have otherwise. And we also, our children are doing much better than they would have otherwise. Now that didn't mean we don't still have problems. We still have a high remediation rate, which means that there's not enough going on as far as transition between secondary and higher education is concerned. And higher ed bear some of the blame for that as well. And that's not--there's a big initiative going on now to address 00:51:00our remediation problem. Remediation meaning that a high percentage of our students that come out of secondary school are graduating from high school, they go on to postsecondary, more particularly the postsecondary universities, have to take remedial classes when they get there based on their ACT scores and some other indicators. And that has to be the next big thing that we address. But we are much further down the road of success than we would have been otherwise if we had not had education reform.
FLINCHUM: Do you think there is a greater discipline problem in publicschools today than there used to be, or is it similar to the way it used to be?
MOBERLY: Well, that is one of the things that, you know, that youhear about the most still is discipline problems, although I think that we've had professional development, much better professional 00:52:00development in the last few years trying to get teachers better prepared to deal with discipline problems. But discipline problems are manifested in a lot different ways than when I first came in. Of course, discipline has always been a problem. But when I was actually in school at old city school in Richmond, Madison High School, the discipline was a big paddle. And you could hear in the halls of the high school on any given day, you would hear, you know, big whacks out in the hall where the football coaches--all the teachers brought their discipline problems to the football coaches--and they had paddles, big long paddles. And, you know, we didn't get out of line very much because we didn't want that sort of--of course, the philosophy is changed since then that there is very little, if any, corporal punishment in any of our schools. So, the philosophy is changed. Now, I don't know exactly, you know, I don't know how bad, or how good that 00:53:00is, but I don't think kids should be whipped the way they were whipped when I was in school. And probably we have the best philosophy now is to get away from corporal punishment. But you have--the difference that the societal change of more mobile families, more broken homes, more kids with diagno--and I don't know what's causing this, but there are more kids with actually disability diagnosed behavioral problems in the schools than when I was a child. All of that, you know, causes more discipline problems. But, you know, the societal problem itself of children in broken homes, I think, is a big problem. And then, kids move around a lot. Bullying seems to be more prevalent than it used to be. So, a lot of these are just the way that society has, 00:54:00you know, caused things to happen in the schools. Society itself is rougher and harder on children than it used to be. But yes, discipline is a problem. I was the primary sponsor of the Kentucky Save Schools Act. I think we passed that in '98 maybe--I can't remember the exact year, '98 or 2000--but that act puts a lot of money into alternative programs. Now those alternative programs are mostly secondary school, maybe a few in the middle school, but there are none in the elementary school. And what I hear from educators a lot of times is we need some alternative programs in the primary, in elementary. Now, current education philosophy is that, just like there's no corporal punishment, is that teachers ought to be able to, in elementary school, ought to be able to deal with that in their classroom. It's very difficult for 00:55:00some of them. And also class size has something to do with that as well. And we have dealt to a certain extent with class size. I did--I was the primary sponsor of the class cap bill, which is the only time that we've limited class size in Kentucky where we said that it has to be within a certain number of where it was funded. Before that, that's one of the things I saw early in my career that was a problem. We would fund schools that maybe twenty-six students in the classroom, but there would be thirty-five or forty in an elementary classroom. And thirty-five was the accreditation standard but there was no cap. And so, I introduced a bill, which I had a hard time getting through, but eventually did where the cap would be like three over the funding level- -or four--depending on what grade it was. And that's still the law, although site-base decision making councils have the ability to waver 00:56:00from that, if they want to, but that's the local control of the school. But class size has something to do with it as well. But discipline still is a problem for schools and we're constantly searching for ways that we can help teachers get better professional development. That, you know, we put more money in alternative programs and things like that. So, it's a very important thing for us to try to help educators address as much as we are able to affect that. One thing that we have to remember and I've learned through the years. When I first came up here, you know, already to change the world, I thought, you know, if we passed a law, then it would immediately work, absolutely if it was a good idea, you know. If we passed it, it would be a great idea, and everything would be hunky-dory, just work perfectly. Well, of course, I learned soon enough that, you know, you've got to talk to the people where the rubber meets the road, you got to talk to the people that 00:57:00are on the ground. And what maybe a great idea to me or some other legislator may not work at all in the real world. And so we've got to constantly be cognizant of that, and to keep good relations with educators, and other groups when we're looking at passing legislation that we don't pass something just sounds good but ain't going to work. And, you know, I've been surprised at, you know, some of the things that I have been involved with that when they got out there they were interpreted differently, didn't have the effect. But serving as long as I have, one thing you can learn is sort of the culture of the people that you deal with, and I've sort of learned the culture of Kentucky schools. And so, I can just about tell you now, just by virtue of working with it through, for many years, if you tell--if you got two or three good ideas about education, I can probably tell you, were they're good ideas or not, whether they would work in the schools, or whether 00:58:00they would be accepted by Kentucky educators, or by parents. Because just from the process of experience, I have sort of something that's, I guess, by osmosis or something, I've got that perspective, but that's one thing that's beneficial about experience, I think.
FLINCHUM: What are some of the reflections on BOPTROT?
MOBERLY: Well, BOPTROT was a very trying time for the General Assembly,but its aftermath has been very beneficial for the legislature. When we gradually began to become an equal branch of government--as I've described in the eighties--attention started being focused more on the General Assembly for actually policy matters, which meant that people who needed things done, and particularly lobbyists, paid-lobbyists, 00:59:00began to focus on legislators. Prior to 1980, they paid no attention to the legislature at all, because what they needed was the Governor's consent, or help, or rubber stamp in order to get their issue through. So, they spent all their time talking to the executive branch; the Governor or his minions, they talked to them. Then they gradually began to see the shift in the eighties, the shift in policy over to the policymaking, over to the General Assembly as an equal or even more than equal branch, lobbyists began focusing on the General Assembly. And the General Assembly was not ready for that. Did not have an appropriate ethics code in place, you know. It never been needed before. And at the time of BOPTROT, the culture up here was bad, in terms of lobbyists lining up every night to take legislators out to 01:00:00dinner. Lobbyists, you know, paying for the liquor at legislators' parties, just all sorts of stuff like that. It got to the point where some lobbyists were so powerful that they would kill your bills, you know. I can remember filing bills, and the lobbyists walk out of the speaker's office. and say, "I saw you file that bill; I've already got it killed." One of the chiefs of staff for Speaker Blandford at the time was sort of a--I don't know--he was like a little 'Boss Hog,' or something. I mean he was just--he dealt with all the lobbyists. He could get contribution for whoever he wanted. I mean it was just--it was a bad, it had deteriorated into a bad situation. It was inevitable that somebody was going to get in trouble sooner or later. And it was--I think my own analysis is, it was just what happened 01:01:00when all of the sudden the legislature got to making real policy. And lobbyists suddenly, in a short few years, were focusing so much attention that we'd walk out of our offices--which were just cubicles back then in one big room--but you'd walk out of your office and you'd meet--you're talking about the term 'buttonhole' legislators, I mean you'd literally walk a gauntlet of lobbyists. They'd grab your arm, you know, and just, I mean you couldn't get over to the chamber without both ears being full, and lobbyists grabbing you, and wanting to take you to dinner that night, you know, wanting to do this, wanting to do that. And I think Speaker Blandford, although he did many good things, he had a good sense about, even though he was not a well educated man--in fact, he was a butcher by profession--but he was a very astute politician. And he understood things--he didn't 01:02:00understand Kentucky education reform but he used his political ump, his political authority to get it passed because he knew it was the right thing for Kentucky. So, he did many good things, but I don't think he had an in-depth appreciation of his position, or how he needed to really deal with lobbyists. And, of course, he eventually served a prison term. But the aftermath of BOPTROT was that we had, we now have one of the toughest ethics laws in the country. You know, you read about Congressmen going on all these trips, and paid by lobbyists, and all of this, well, that can't happen in Kentucky. They can't take us to dinner anymore; they can't do that. And we're so much better off for it. The General Assembly, the aftermath of that has made us much more representative of the people. There're lobbyists are still, 01:03:00have a big influence up here. Money still has influence because money goes out there for campaign contributions and things. But we are much more representative of what our constituents want than we are of what lobbyists, these high paid lobbyists want. And very much of that--excuse me--is due to the reforms that came about because BOPTROT happened. And if it hadn't happened, we'd be in a mess up here, if the law enforcement authorities hadn't directed their attention to what was going on up here. Not that there were any big criminals but it was a culture. It was a culture that had developed because the legislature wasn't prepared to have all that influence when it did. And so, right now, I think we're a pretty tightly run ship, and we are much better off for it, and people are much better represented because of it. 01:04:00
FLINCHUM: At the time, do you think that Kentucky was much more corruptthan other states, or would you have found a similar situation, if the federal government had chosen to focus somewhere else?
MOBERLY: Well, there were several other investigations, and I thinkthey caught people doing a lot worse than what people were convicted for. I think Speaker Blandford had gone on a trip to Las Vegas with some lobbyists, and they'd slipped him five hundred for spending money, but he had never actually agreed to do anything for it. I don't think he was actually bribed for it, but you know, he was convicted under the probably the wide interpretation of the statute. I don't think there was anything actually had happened in Kentucky, or any bill passed that was the subject of any criminal investigation. They had a big investigation in South Carolina about the same time and somebody there had taken like twenty thousand or something. Nothing like that happened in Kentucky. So, I'm not sure that the corruption 01:05:00was something you could, you know, put your finger on as much as they did in some other states, but it was the beginning of a culture that need to be stopped, and as I said a minute ago. So, no, I don't think Kentucky was the worse state at all. There were several of these, you know, investigations in other states. Several stings that appeared to be worse. But with our ethics code now, and the training we get--we have required ethics training--I just don't think it'll ever happen, you know, again in Kentucky.
FLINCHUM: You've served on many committees and sometimes as chair.What's your opinion of the committee system and some of the ways that it is reformed over the years?
MOBERLY: Well, the committee system works pretty well now. Of course,there's always going to be a friction with the committee system about how strong a committee chair should be. Committee chairs are depended 01:06:00upon by the membership not to let 'bad bills' out of committee. Now what's a bad bill is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. So, committee chairs have a lot of authority and responsibility. And I think when the committee system works well--I don't know any other system we could have--when the committee system works well, a committee chair is fair, but if the bill would negatively impact public policy- -and, of course, that's once again is in the eye of the beholder--then the committee chair will usually sit on those bills, but it's usually done now in consultation with leadership. And members of the committee have quite a bit of say. And I, usually a chair is not gonna sit on something unreasonably. If they do, then the members will complain to 01:07:00the leadership, and the leadership will get a new chair. So the way that this all works is the members elect the leadership, the leadership appoints the committee chairs, and if a committee chair gets too oppressive, or too authoritarian, and unreasonable, then in the next leadership race, the members are going to say, 'Look you got to replace this committee chair.' So, it usually works out okay so that committee chairs that make wise decisions are kept in there and those that don't are replaced, through the process that we had. Now, in more recent years, more responsibility has fallen upon the committee chairs to filter the bills because rules committee, which when I first came in, the rules committee killed a lot of bills. The bills come out of the committees, and they go to rules, and sometimes rules just send them 01:08:00to a black hole, or send them to a graveyard committee. In fact, that was the reason that Greg Stumbo was initially--Greg came in with me in 1980. And Greg was elected majority leader, I believe, in '85, or maybe '84--I'm not, I can't remember now--but he beat Jim LeMaster, who you probably heard of, former UK ballplayer. Jim was majority leader for a period. Majority Leader controls the rules committee. And at the time, Jim, a lot of bills would come out of the committee, but Jim was killing a lot of bills in rules, and members didn't like that, once they'd gotten their bill out of committee. And so, they--Greg was able to beat Jim the next time for majority leader principally on that one issue. So after that, it sort of became a practice or custom that the committee chairs would look more closely at the bills 01:09:00and take the hint from the members rather than the majority leaders. If it got of committee, it was likely to hit the floor. So, over a period of time, the committee chairs became, you know, we, it's up to us--and leadership conveyed that, too--it's up to us to make sure that bad bills don't hit the floor. So, that's kind of evolved into where the committee chairs are expected not to let very many bills hit the floor on--well, not to let bills that don't look like they have a good consensus hit the floor. And then, of course, my committee is a little different. Appropriations is also--is the principal graveyard committee now. If the leadership wants to kill a bill, they'll send it to me generally. And then I have a lot of bills introduced where the sponsor--in my committee--where the sponsor knows that it's not going to be considered, but they introduce it just for public consumption back home. A lot of those would be tax reduction bills, and, of course, it's my responsibility to look after as much as I can 01:10:00the fiscal wellbeing, of the Commonwealth. So, I mean, if somebody introduce a bill to reduce taxes by a hundred million, you know, I'm not going to let it pass out of committee. And so, it's kind of my responsibility to do that. So, my committee is a little bit different with--I probably feel like I have a special responsibility to make sure nothing bad comes out of that committee, or nothing irresponsible comes out of that committee. But a lot of bills that are introduced--even though I get most of them--but in other committees, a lot of bills will be introduced, and the sponsor will know that they never have a possibility of passing. They just do it so that they can say, 'We introduced this. I couldn't get it out of committee, but I'm going to keep working on it.' And, you know, sometimes in politics working on something is as good as getting it done. (both laugh) So, but that occurs but I think the committee system is the best system we have for 01:11:00filtering out things that don't have a good consensus and things that irresponsible. And it's as good as the people who chair the committees.
FLINCHUM: What do you think are some of the best examples of economicdevelopment that you've seen in Kentucky over the years? Like for example Toyota, a well known example. And what are some ways where we're headed in the right direction?
MOBERLY: Well, of course, you mentioned the one that was probablythe--and that one was quite--Toyota was the best example of economic development, and Governor Collins certainly gets a lot of credit for that. And if you've ever heard her talk about the learning the Japanese culture and all the things that she went through, it's really fascinating. I don't know if you've ever heard her speak about, but it's real fascinating to listen to it, and learning the nuances in the Japanese culture, and what she had to do at certain times, and all that. And, of course, she had to get the General Assembly to agree to--do that. We had to pass legislation that did that incentive 01:12:00package, and there was quite a bit of resistance to it. That's the first really big incentive package that was done in Kentucky. Since then, we've given the economic development cabinet ability to do incentive packages, and, of course, that's been controversial. I don't know if you'd noticed the articles in the Herald-Leader about whether our economic incentives have worked or not, but many of them have. And Secretary Strong has been--Gene Strong (??) --has done a particularly good job with making judgments about economic incentive packages. But we've also had some that haven't. Where companies have come and taken the incentives, and then just as soon as they ran out, they'd leave the state, go offshore, and that kind of thing. But Toyota has caused us to be the third largest car manufacturing state in the 01:13:00nation, and with all the spinouts--many of them are in my area--with all the spinouts from that, that has been a tremendously successful, and it is the greatest success story, I think, for Kentucky. Our horse industry continues to be a great success story, and we've done some economic incentives there. But, horses, not just thoroughbreds but others--and we did some economic incentives in the tax reform bill in 2005--but horses are the biggest agricultural product in Kentucky. One of the greatest economic incentives that we've had for our agriculture community is the unique way in which we have utilized 50 percent of the tobacco master settlement money for agriculture and agriculture diversification incentives in Kentucky. No other state has done that. Most of them have just spent that money in their general fund. And 01:14:00we've spent 50 percent of ours on agriculture, and we have quite a few innovative diversification efforts going on out there. We have an ethanol plant that was built with some of that incentive money, and I think it's going to be important in the future, when you look at the price of gasoline. Ethanol, or products like that, not just burning, not just making it out of corn but out of paper, and waste, and all that is going to be an extremely important in the future. We just passed an economic incentive in the House--it'll be passing the Senate Wednesday, tomorrow--for this future gin (??) energy plant, zero emission coal plant. And that's going to be very important, that particularly emphasis on clean energy and clean coal is going to be important to Kentucky whether we get that plant. If we are a finalist, that will produce spinoffs in Kentucky, and in the energy area that's 01:15:00going to be a very important. And we've made incentives in investments there. We've done very well. If you look at Site Selection magazine, which is sort of the bible of manufacturing incentives, and they rate states, and we're always right in the top ten, sometimes in the top five, for manufacturing. So, we have done very well in attracting manufacturing companies here. Where we need to do better is in new economy intellectual capital. And we've started to address that in a couple of different ways. We had a new economy bill that Speaker Richards sponsored and I co-sponsored back in '02, I believe, trying to set us on a path for new economy jobs and try to create the atmosphere in Kentucky for building those innovative high-tech type jobs here. And we passed a revision to that. We've appropriated like forty million 01:16:00in two budgets for that and we are very hopeful that that will move forward in Kentucky. And at the same time, of course, we had higher ed reform in '97. And what that was partially meant to do, or one of the big goals of that, was to make higher ed be part of the main cogs in the economic engine of the Commonwealth, both for work force training, and for intellectual capital, and for creating high-tech jobs, and creating the research that would bring high-tech companies to Kentucky. And we've been somewhat successful in that but our higher ed budget since then, and particularly the one we passed this year, encourages that. And so, when you encourage higher ed, you do that. Of course, we tried to do tax reform, or we did do tax reform last year, and it's intended to encourage business to locate in Kentucky; I think it will. 01:17:00But if you look at surveys as to what's the most important thing to attract companies and jobs to your state, you'll find it's the quality of life. With so many jobs now, people can live anywhere. You know, if they have to travel or if they do a lot of work on their computer-I got a cousin that works for one of those big computer companies. He lives in California, but he can live in Kentucky, too. Because he travels around but does a lot of work just through his computer. But there are more jobs like that where people can live anywhere and what they are looking for is quality of life. They are looking for a good education system, good parks, and recreation, opportunities, cultural opportunities. And we need to concentrate on those sorts of things. I had an appropriation last session, I put my House budget--did not finally make it through the Senate--where I was trying to put up five million to enhance the production arts at the arts centers throughout 01:18:00the state. So that we can have better offerings, more education offerings, and better performance venues because I know that, that's part of what attracts economic opportunity to Kentucky. But we got to start thinking in terms of what makes somebody want to move to Kentucky. Beyond our tax system, it's schools, cultural amenities, parks, and recreation, those sorts of things. Environment, just in terms of is it clean? Do you have good drinking water? And we're trying to do a lot with respect to that. So all those things contribute to jobs, as well as the economic incentive programs that are administered with guidelines, but in the discretion of the secretary of economic development, Mr. Strong. So all those are extremely important, but by far, Toyota was the biggest thing but the education reform act of '90 and the higher education reform act of '97 are also important for 01:19:00economic opportunity, if you're looking at the big things that have happened in the state. But the future of Kentucky is very much tied to this clean coal and clean energy initiative, whether it'd be ethanol, clean coal, or whatever; we're very much tied to that, too, I believe, in the future as well as other diversification of our agriculture products. So, we got a lot going on but we got a lot left to do.
FLINCHUM: Who have been some of your favorite Presidents and Governors,maybe your least favorite Presidents and Governors?
MOBERLY: Well, you know, my favorite Governor was Paul Patton. In hisfirst term, he did higher ed reform, strengthened education reform, and did so many things that I think were important to the state, including economic development. And I thought he was the best quick-study Governor that I had the opportunity to serve with. When he ran into 01:20:00his second term, he got into the situation where the Senate changed hands to Republicans. And he and David Williams didn't always get along, and then he got into problems with his personal life, and his second term wasn't nearly as successful. But I think in his first term, he was--I really felt good serving with him in his first term because I felt like what I was doing was accomplishing more because of the collaboration and the initiatives that he had. Martha Layne Collins was also one of my favorite Governors because she initially had a rocky start with the General Assembly, but then after that, called us in a special session, and I was the one of the ones who worked on the Education Improvement Act of '85. And I thought she was a very successful Governor after that. And Toyota, and many other things, and she had some of the best people working for her. A fellow named Larry Hayes, who lives in Louisville now, and works, actually worked for Mayor Abramson, that was her secretary of the cabinet, and he was one of the 01:21:00most skilled executive branch people that I've ever worked with, in terms of trying to do what was right for the state, and getting people together to do that. It was kind of interesting during her term. You know, her husband was widely credited with raising a lot of money to help her get elected. And as was reported, there was sort of Bill Collins's people and Martha Layne's people in the administration. And as she went along, her administration, her people gradually took over the reins of authority, and when they did, she became a much better Governor, I think. I mean I think she wanted it that way all along, but some of his people were not as good about, I think the philosophy in what government need to be doing. But once she had her own way with it, I think that she was an excellent Governor, and doesn't get all the credit that maybe she deserves. Wallace Wilkinson was a good Governor. He was hard to get along with because his favorite recreation was just 01:22:00figuring out a way to sort of jab at you in some form or fashion, you know. If you'd walk in his office, he would figure out some way to kind of gig you, or he'd say something that would get under your skin. He loved to do that. That was the way he conducted business with people. And when he first came in, he didn't have a good idea what legislature was supposed to do. But he was such a smart man that he learned what he had to do to get things accomplished. And got those done now. Now he did call us into a special session. We were talking about at yesterday in this special session because we all remember. He called us into one special session one year, and kept adding things to the agenda to where we thought we were going to be here about two weeks, and we were here about six or seven weeks. So, that was a-- everybody thinks back the nightmare of special sessions was when Wallace was Governor. But he was a interesting person, and once you learned 01:23:00to deal with him, he was a very smart man. So, and education reform passed on his, during his term. So, I have to say that he was a very successful Governor. I liked Governor Brown because of his attitude, of course, not trying to control the General Assembly. But he had a very laidback attitude, and he would never get mad at you. He didn't spend a whole lot of time in Frankfort. He would only come over here for the big things, and he was not a particularly hard worker. He liked--he had a, he and Phyllis had a house called, 'Cave Hill' over in Fayette County. It was a beautiful old home. And he spent most of his time over there. And, of course, then they finally got into renovating the mansion, and he didn't spend any time at the mansion after that. But Governor Brown would come over a couple days a week, maybe, and if more was going on, he'd come over. But he didn't work too hard, and he never did--if he couldn't get you to vote for something he wanted, 01:24:00he'd make a persuasive argument, he'd just say, "Okay, well, I'll try to get you the next time." So, he was not a vindictive about you not supporting him on some things. So, those probably were my favorite Governors. I've actually enjoyed working with Governor Fletcher, even though his, he seems to shoot himself in the foot a lot. I do think that he is actually--and I said this in the Richmond Register--I think he is a person of character, and he's tried. And I personally like him. But he's had some bad advice, and he just didn't have very much experience. Being a Congressman does not prepare you to be a Governor. You have to be around state politics some because when you're Governor, you are scrutinized with a microscope every day. When you're in Washington, the state papers don't pay that much attention to you and you can get away with a whole lot of things or you're just not--you're just not under that microscope, and here you are. And he 01:25:00wasn't prepared for that. He didn't know what being Governor was all about, and I think he is just now getting his arms around it. But he is a very nice individual, and I hope that he, you know, becomes more successful. His approval rating I think is only like 31 percent, so it don't look like he can get reelected. But I hope the rest of this term is more successful than his first part has been. As far as my favorite Presidents are concerned, you know, of course, it makes a difference whether you're talking about from just the ones that I've seen since in my lifetime or in history. Of course, looking back in history, the ones that were before my lifetime, Roosevelt and Truman were my two favorite Presidents, and of course, Lincoln. But since and more in 01:26:00my adult life, you know, Bill Clinton is a favorite President of mine because despite his personal shortcomings, which were quite extensive and not really excusable as a policy matter-well, as policy goes, I think he had this country in really good shape. He did, our budget deficit was down. He knew how to deal with people. He was a good politician. I think he gave people hope in their government until he had his problems, personal problems. He had a, you know, a personal, just--I don't know what call them--faults or weaknesses that you know, a lot of people are, most people are not all good or all bad; they have weaknesses and strengths. He had some really bad weaknesses, but he also had some great strengths, the ability to lead, the ability to work 01:27:00with the other party to get things done, like welfare reform, which he and Newt Gingrich worked on and got done together. And one of the most interesting speeches I've ever seen is when I was listening to Newt Gingrich speak and talked about his time serving as Speaker of the House when Bill Clinton was President because they did a whole lot of things together. They had a lot of legislation that they worked on together from a moderate sort of point of view, like welfare reform. And Gingrich said that Clinton was the best politician, natural politician that he had ever seen in his life. And sometimes he dreaded getting a call from Clinton because he knew that Clinton was probably going to talk him into doing something he didn't want to do. (both laugh)
FLINCHUM: He sounds persuasive.
MOBERLY: But he said one-on-one that he was the most persuasivepolitician and that actually they had worked on a lot of things together in, and had been able to compromise because they were both 01:28:00policy hogs (??). They are both intellectually brilliant, and they liked to talk about policy, you know. They'd drive other people out of the room because they'd sit there, and other people eyes would glance over, and they'd sit, they'd talk about the details of all these policies, and this sort of thing. And before Clinton got into his troubles, I think he was just an outstanding President and my favorite. You know, I can remember from my childhood Kennedy and being inspired by him, but I was only thirteen when he was assassinated. So, I don't think I had a real good picture of that. I actually liked, on reflection, I probably didn't like him at the time because I was a student, I guess, but on reflection, I think you have to say that another person who had that, you know, very talented and also had some really bad traits was Richard Nixon, who actually made a pretty good 01:29:00President. You know, went to China. Did some really good things as far as domestic policy was concerned, but had those demons that caused him to, you know, do Watergate, and things like that, that he had those, you know, that black side, or that dark side of himself. But as far as some of his Presidential policies, he was really quite a good President in many respects. And, you know, I think it's interesting to look at some of the, I guess these are, you have to call them great men because of what they have achieved and becoming President of the United States, it's really interesting to examine some of them, and how great they can be on the one hand, and how petty and dark they can be on the other hand, or how weak they can be as Bill Clinton was. On the one hand, they're, and, you know, misleading, and deceptive, and lie to you on TV, and things like that, and on the other hand, do really 01:30:00great things for the American people. But we've had some outstanding men that have been Presidents, no question about that. As I look back in history, I admire Harry Truman for a lot of what he did. I think Franklin Roosevelt was a genius in many of the things he did. And, of course, anybody that, you know, that cares about American history and understands the history of this country has to admire Abraham Lincoln. I've read almost every Lincoln book that's, you know, that's been printed. I think I have read them all. And I do believe, I do agree with those historians that say he was our greatest President. But I think Roosevelt is, you know, is second, and would be on my list.
FLINCHUM: What are some of the most important ways that Kentucky haschanged over the past decades, and what are some of the most important 01:31:00issues facing us in the future?
MOBERLY: Well, Kentucky, it's interesting. Kentucky, if you look atits history back in colonial times and up until close to the turn of the century, of the 1900s Kentucky was a very important state, we were an important state. You know, Louisville was a crossroads. If you look back in the nineteenth-century, you know, some very famous people came from Kentucky, and during the Civil War, you know, Lincoln said, I forget the quote but he had to have Kentucky, you know, and somehow we lost--
[Tape 1 ends; Tape 2 begins.]
MOBERLY: Okay. And somewhere along the way, Kentucky lost itsprominence, and I think, you know, at some point, Kentucky became a 01:32:00joke across the country probably, or. I know my dad, when he was in the service during World War II, he went on a boat, and he was on a sort of a nontraditional navy boat, and he was the only sailor on there. And they were patrolling the Bering Strait but he was the military person attached to them. They were supposed to be patrolling for Japanese submarines but he said when he went on the boat, he noticed that everybody kind kept a wide berth from him, and nobody would ever say anything out of the way or whatever. And when he finally got to be good friends with all of them, he found out that he was the only one from Kentucky on the boat, or anywhere around Kentucky, and that they'd all heard that if you say anything that makes a Kentuckian mad, that they'll shoot you. (both laugh) So, you know, they weren't going to make him mad in any way. But I think probably lack of--in the early 01:33:00twentieth-century, lack of good leadership and probably-to the extent that I've read about it--maybe parochial leadership, not doing the things we need to do to promote public education or promote the state in anyway, that Kentucky has fallen behind. And I think it's only in recent years that we've made a resurgence, maybe in the last twenty, thirty years. And you know. I think 1990 with education reform was extremely important. I think the fact, one thing that has helped Kentucky and even before the last two or three decades, we did develop early in the century and on through the twentieth century, developed a good network of public universities in the state and that has helped us tremendously. And as we have enhanced them with funding and mission 01:34:00statements, they all got their mission statements in '82 when we started mission, mission model formula funding, and we have the version of that now. And they all have their service areas. Now that's not perfected, and we need to do a lot more in different ways. But higher ed has, we have a--when you rank where things rank in Kentucky, our higher ed has always ranked fairly high and it ranks pretty high now, when you compare it to other higher ed systems in the nation, and particularly if you look at income and per capita and all that. So that has helped us a lot. But I think it's just in the last twenty, thirty years we've really been making the progress that we needed to make to get back to where we once were as a prominent state in the United States. I think when you look back at Governors like Bert 01:35:00Combs, and look at what he did, and building roads like the Mountain Parkway, bringing things to Eastern Kentucky, Governors like him who had the courage to levy the nickel--well, he levied three-cents and then Governor Nunn who came in later and levied two-cents and never was able to be elected to another office. Governor Combs tried to run for Governor again and he got beat in the primary because he had levied the sales tax or got the legislature to levy the first three-cents And then Governor Nunn had levied the additional two-cents to use on education and other things like our mental institutions that he was very concerned about. When you had forward thinking men like that like Bert Combs and Louie Nunn, who weren't afraid to do things but knew that it might harm their political careers but wanted to do the right thing when they were in office. Governor Nunn tried to run again; he was 01:36:00never elected to anything. And they called him 'Nickel Louie' because he had added two-cents on to the three-cent sales tax and made it a nickel. But leaders like that, that came along in Kentucky, and then people, when John Y. came in his emphasis was on economic development. And all the Governors I've served with, I think they've been visionaries, or they've all have had certain visions that have been carried out. And we've made that progress. And as the legislature has grown, we've made that progress in education and human services that we have in the last few years, and that's been bi-partisan Democrat and Republican both working on that. However, as we look forward, we've got a lot of problems. And you asked me, you know, 'What does Kentucky need to be doing where are we going?' Well, we got to do more, even 01:37:00better of supporting education, and not just public, elementary, and post-secondary, but, you know, we still have a very high illiteracy rate in our population, and we got to do more about that. That's-- we're making great strides, but if you look at our rankings where we rank in illiteracy, we're still very, we're still right down at the bottom. We need more people--we need to do something about our high school dropout rate, more people graduate from high school, and some post-secondary training, whether it's college or some other technical school. But we need a lot more postsecondary, and the council on postsecondary education recognizes this, and that's their main goal is to get more college graduates. And we're not at the pace that they've set for us. So, we need to--even though we're gaining, we need to pick 01:38:00that up. We've got to get a better retention rate at our universities. A lot of people start out and don't make it, and they don't get all the way through, particularly going back to their remediation problem I was talking about. The ones that have to go through remediation are not very successful in getting all the way through with their, with the retention rate, actually graduating. So, we've got to do better with remediation, more people going, and then getting them graduated, producing degrees. We have to do that in order to create economic opportunity. We've got to train our kids even better in secondary school to be retrained. You have to have a strong math and science background to work at manufacturing anymore. If you're going to work at Toyota, you're going to have to know how to work a computer, you got to have math and science. Any, the company that looks at Kentucky's workforce finds one very good quality--Gene Strong will tell you 01:39:00this--one very good quality is that Kentuckians will work; there's not a lot of absenteeism. Of course, they like the fact that Kentuckians don't want to particularly want to join unions unless the benefits are bad. So, they find Kentuckians who really want to work as well as any state in the union is what I'm told. And surveys and manufactures will tell you that, that our people will work that they'll come here. So, we have a workforce that's willing to work. What we are increasingly having is a workforce that can be trained. They want to have people that are trainable, meaning they have good basic skills in math and good basic skills in reading, and reading comprehension. And writing, too, you know. We have a big emphasis in writing in reform. So, we're moving forward in that but we need to do even more of that. You have 01:40:00to have a workforce that's ready to be trained, and then, of course, more degree production. And more of what I was talking about earlier to improve the quality of life in the Commonwealth. You know, we still have a lot of people that don't have sewers and drinking water and we spend a lot of money in this budget that we passed in the regular session--we just concluded on that--infrastructure and highways. Now our highway system is not too bad, but we can't let it crumble, and we got to improve it by a lot. And then, there is some areas state that still don't have good rural secondary roads. And all that is necessary. We got to develop, I think, our tourism industry more because there are areas of Eastern Kentucky and areas that are--I was talking about Owsley--and areas of Eastern Kentucky that are beautiful that should be perfect places for tourism but we hadn't figured out the right thing to get more tourism there because, you know, it's not 01:41:00bringing in the money that we would expect. But that's got to be one of the answers to some of our areas like Eastern Kentucky that are so beautiful but isolated to a certain degree, is to have more tourism in those areas. We've done a lot in tourism development in Louisville and Northern Kentucky, and we're going to do more in those areas, you know. Louisville's got a lot going on. That arena in Louisville, a lot of people are against that but that will help all the state, I think. But we need to find out how to do more in rural areas. And we can't have a state that's got these two--where we can't have this state of "haves" and "have nots". We got to figure out a way to bring up our poverty areas, both urban and rural, and to create more economic opportunity in those areas. And it all goes back to what I mentioned 01:42:00earlier is the quality of life issues: education, illiteracy, having a trained workforce, attracting intellectual capital, and research. So, we can get the high tech, higher paying jobs in Kentucky, as well as the manufacturing jobs. We've got a lot of initiatives going in all these areas, but we got to keep working hard because for one thing our surrounding states are not standing still. We passed a bill this time, or put in the budget, money this time that if we sustain it over three more years, we'll get our teachers to the average teacher salary, to the averages surrounding states within five years. And, you know, I'm dedicated to the proposition that we're going to do that. And we did that by figuring out what the average increase would be in our surrounding states and then adding enough to get ours over a period 01:43:00of five years to that average. And, of course, it's a guesstimate but we think we're fairly accurate. We can adjust it along the way. But everybody else is not standing still. So, you know, we have to, to catch up, we've got to do better than them and to, you know, we--it's not a matter of us standing still and just doing a little; they're going to be improving so much. So we got to keep that in mind. We got a lot of work to do but we're on the right track.
FLINCHUM: You seem to be doing well since your recent heart problemsearlier in the year. Do you feel good?
MOBERLY: Yeah, I'm--of course, in the busyness of the session I probablyhad failed to notice certain symptoms, and I think, of course, the principal symptom I had was being winded after walking very much, walking up steps, and I had attributed to that to my weight and didn't 01:44:00think it was a heart problem. But, of course, that surfaced during the session and since then, of course, I'm--they opened up my artery in the process. And then, I'm on cardiac rehab, which is a pretty extensive exercise program. And I've started losing weight, and so I'm feeling much better than I did before I had my heart attack, and the doctor tells me I don't have any permanent damage. So, it's probably a good thing that it happened when it did and where it did. And I'm dedicated to the proposition to get more healthy now.
FLINCHUM: I'm glad you feel better.
MOBERLY: Thank you, I appreciate that.
FLINCHUM: Is there anything else that you'd like to talk about,something that I've just failed to bring up, for the record?
MOBERLY: I probably talked about everything, but I guess, you know, onething I'd say is that I have enjoyed immensely my public service. That 01:45:00it's--I can't figure out how I have been so lucky to do something that I love to do so much for so many years. And it's just been a great privilege for me. I think you have to, you know, you have to like it to do it, but I enjoy it as much now as when I first came into office, and I'm just very thankful that I've been able to serve in public office for the number of years that I have. It's really a fascinating experience. Not very many people really get to do it. And to serve during a period of time when we've had such transitions, such change in Kentucky also has been, I've been very fortunate to see all that, and I think see Kentucky improve, and I'm very optimistic about our future. I think we've got a good--we've got good manufacturing base in 01:46:00Kentucky. We've got--we're on the track of moving ahead with the right kind of opportunities that we need for our kids. We've got--we're improving our education system. And as I look at other states and what they're doing, I think we really doing well. It's a continual striving process what we do down here--our work is never finished; it's just an attempt to do the best we can every time we meet. But we have a really serious duty to the people of Kentucky, and I think the members of the General Assembly and the members with whom I've served have all been very dedicated to that duty, and the great majority of them have been great public servants. And so, as I look ahead and what I think may happen, I'm just very optimistic about our future and about the future for our children. And I'm very grateful, you know, to be alive in 01:47:00Kentucky at this particular period of time.
FLINCHUM: Thank you for a good interview.
MOBERLY: Thank you.
[Tape 2, side 1 ends.]
[End of interview.]