Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William B. Lear, August 10, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

HERDMAN: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative, uh, William Lear. Mr. Lear represented the Seventy- Ninth District from 1985 to 1994. The interview was conducted by Catherine Herdman for the University of Kentucky Oral History Project on August tenth, uh, in Mr. Lear's office in Lexington, at ten o'clock AM.

[Pause in recording.]

HERDMAN: Good morning, Mr. Lear.

LEAR: Good morning.

HERDMAN: Uh, let's start with your family. Where were you born and who were your parents?

LEAR: Born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1950, at Good Samaritan Hospital, the modern version of which you can see right out the window here. Uh, my parents are, uh, both from this area. Both still live in this area. Marvin Lear, who, uh, grew up the first few years of his life in Wilmore, in Jessamine County, and my mother, Louise Jones Lear, who grew up in Lexington. Both attended Henry Clay High School. Um, both 00:01:00attended and my father graduated from the University of Kentucky after, um, a stint in World War II.

HERDMAN: Okay, and what did, uh, they do for a living?

LEAR: Uh, my father originally, uh, was in the, um, insurance adjustment business. Then he went into the, uh, life insurance business and ran a couple of, of general agencies in Lexington. And ultimately, um, was a real estate developer of industrial and residential properties and, and still maintained his insurance practice until he retired, and ended up being a bit of a farmer.


LEAR: So he, he had two or three aspects to his career.

HERDMAN: (laughs) Different careers.

LEAR: My, my mother, uh, was a hard-working homemaker.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Do you--

LEAR: --still is--

HERDMAN: --have brothers and sisters?

LEAR: I do. I have three sisters all in Lexington. Uh, one is Kathy 00:02:00Chatfield(??). She owns and operates an, um, employee benefits insurance company. Carol Bryant, um, who is a, um, realtor, and runs the Doug Smith Real Estate Company here in town. And my youngest sister Barbara Thomasson, who was an accountant with, um, with, with, um, Coopers and Lybrand, and later with Dean Dorton and Ford, and now is, um, involved in property management of a family company that we have.

HERDMAN: Okay. Um, what do you remember about growing up here in Lexington during that time period? What did you do for leisure activities, that sort of stuff?

LEAR: Um, I, I did, um, probably what, what, um, most kids in my generation did, and, and that is played a lot of sports.


LEAR: Uh, I lived mostly in the south end of Lexington, growing up, and, and my first memories in Lexington are, and, um, out around the 00:03:00Stratford Drive area. I went to Clays Mill Elementary School, which was then fairly new and then, um, Lafayette Junior High for one year. Then moved over to near the Gainesway area.


LEAR: And, and, uh, um, attended Tates Creek Junior High and then Tates Creek Senior High. Was the first, was a member of the first class to go all the way through Tates Creek.


LEAR: Second graduating class, but the first one to go all three years. And as far as, I had a lot of friends growing up. And, and my memories of, of, um, childhood in Lexington are all really good ones.


LEAR: That's, of course, you know, that's a different era. I didn't know, um, um, didn't know anybody who was divorced.


LEAR: Um, was allowed to run pretty freely in Lexington without fear of, of, um, other people. Rode my bike, um, a lot of places. I mean my 00:04:00mother wouldn't let us go, go anywhere. (laughs)

HERDMAN: Right, and it felt safe--

LEAR: --yeah--

HERDMAN: --as far as crime--

LEAR: --it was a very safe and secure environment. And, and, um, remember coming downtown when there was a lot of retail downtown. So, it was, it was a great place to grow up.

HERDMAN: And did your family attend church?

LEAR: We did. We, um, my wife and I still belong and my parents still belong to the church that, that, um, I was born into, which was Maxwell Street Presbyterian.


LEAR: And it's right over here. (both laugh)

HERDMAN: Also visible, right? (laughs) Okay.

LEAR: You can see it out the window.


LEAR: Um, but, you know, things where, Lexington has grown and changed a lot since then. When, when, um, IBM came to Lexington in the probably '57-'58 timeframe, it initiated a post-war growth boom that really has changed Lexington a lot. The University of Kentucky was still, was big 00:05:00then; it's gotten a lot bigger now.


LEAR: But most of the, the things that you, that are noteworthy out there now, like the medical center, and I remember when they were, were first built.


LEAR: Most people don't. (both laugh)

HERDMAN: Right. Um, well, the, the fifties and sixties, when you were growing up, on a national level was experiencing civil rights movement, and that sort of thing.

LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: Did you see the manifestation of that here?

LEAR: Well, you know, the, in the environment that, that I grew up in, we didn't see very much of it.


LEAR: We did toward the end of the sixties. I mean, you couldn't be isolated from--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --from the civil rights movement, women's issues, um, the anti-war movement.

HERDMAN: Do you recall when Lexington was still segregated in public spaces, or was that, would that have been before you were--

LEAR: --you know--

HERDMAN: --um, before you were out there?

LEAR: If, I am sure that there were, there were some vestiges of, of 00:06:00segregation in my earliest years, just knowing what, I mean, I was, I, I was, um, only six years old in nineteen-, well, 1954 was Brown v Board of Education, so I was four years old then.


LEAR: Um, I don't remember, I know there was some, some amount of, of racial strife but, but we were very much, um, apart from it.


LEAR: Living in the south end of Lexington. Now I, I don't remember, all the schools I attended were, were integrated, but there were very few African Americans.


LEAR: I mean, in my high school in 1968, um, there probably weren't more than ten or fifteen.

HERDMAN: And do you remember if they were bused in or if it was, if they were living in the, in the area that the school covered?

LEAR: Uh, I think probably a few, a few out in the--Tates Creek took in some rural areas.



LEAR: And, and there's one, um, there's one small, there's one small black settlement out, um, Tates Creek Pike called Jonestown, I think.


LEAR: And so, a few of the kids may have come from there, which would've been in the primary area that wasn't that far from where I lived. But it was not, um, the rest may have come in from, from some inner-city locations. That, what happened in Lexington, as you probably already know, is that, that, um, there were two new schools formed at about the same time; Bryan Station was opened in about 1963 or '64 and Tates Creek was opened, um, in 1966, I think. Uh, and, and that was about the time that Dunbar was closed. Dunbar was a historically all-black--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --school. Uh, and there really was not much integration before that. And when that happened, the kids that had been at Dunbar 00:08:00basically ended up at Bryan Station, or the kids that would have been at Dunbar ended up at Bryan Station, Tates Creek, Lafayette, and, and, um, Henry Clay.


LEAR: But I, I don't think in each of those schools had a, had a geographic area. Bryan Station probably picked up more--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --of the inner city kids than anybody else.

HERDMAN: Okay, um, where did you attend college?

LEAR: Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. And, um, what was, what was your major, what was your field?

LEAR: Economics.

HERDMAN: Okay. And did you do any graduate work?

LEAR: Uh, I went to the University of Kentucky Law School immediately after, after college, and graduated in 1975.

HERDMAN: Okay, any memories from that period that stand out, teachers, professors?

LEAR: Um, college?


LEAR: Well, college was, was a, um, really good experience. Once I got over being homesick, I'd never really been--


HERDMAN: --how did you end up at Davidson?

LEAR: Well, I, um, I wanted to go to a school, um, in the south.


LEAR: Um I was a high school golfer and, and wanted to play college golf. I wanted to go to a school that was strong academically.


LEAR: Um, I had a good academic record in high school. Uh, and I did, I preferred a small rather than a large school. And I literally met with a high school counselor and we picked out, I don't know, four or five schools, including Princeton, which is neither in the south. (both laugh) But I had always had this fascination with Princeton, so.



HERDMAN: Why were you always interested in the south? What drew you there?

LEAR: Um, mostly weather.

HERDMAN: Weather?

LEAR: And if, if I was going to play golf--

HERDMAN: --um-hm. Longer season--

LEAR: --yeah, you wanted to, yeah, you wanted to, to play. I mean, Lexington we started playing in March and in high school, and it was really cold. It was the first of March. It was awfully and so that 00:10:00was a big, a big driver of it. Um, I ended up not playing college golf. I, I enjoyed doing a lot more things.


LEAR: Down there. Davidson was all male, when I, it was one of the, um, uni-sex schools when I was there. Uh, although it, it, uh, went coed shortly after I graduated. My wife, um, went to Queens College, which was an all-female college in Charlotte. We met in, so that, that, you'd have to count that as good memory. (Herdman laughs) We celebrated our, in, on Saturday, we celebrated our thirty-fourth anniversary--

HERDMAN: --wow--

LEAR: --and so--

HERDMAN: --congratulations.

LEAR: We meet down there. Uh, I made a lot of good friends down there and, and I had, um, a really enjoyable college career. Davidson is a small school where everybody pretty well knew everybody else, so I got to be good friends with several, several professors, some of the, um, some of the, um, key administrators, like the president, who invited 00:11:00me to stay another year, after I graduated, to be his, they, he would pick some, one person out of each class to be his special assistant for a year.


LEAR: And I actually turned that down, um--

HERDMAN: --to get on with law school.

LEAR: To get on with law school. My wife and I got married, she was a year behind me, and we got married after my senior year, the summer after my senior year, she hadn't graduated yet, so they, her school allowed her to take credits at UK, transfer them back down to Queens, and, and--

HERDMAN: --still graduate--

LEAR: --graduate, she actually graduated in three and a half years.

HERDMAN: And what was her field?

LEAR: Biology.


LEAR: And she actually, after she graduated, she went to work, um, for a, ultimately ended up at the College of Pharmacy, doing research work.


LEAR: And, and--

HERDMAN: --you mean, here at UK.

LEAR: Here at UK. And basically put me through law school. (Herdman laughs) Doing that, which I've never, um, given up thanking--


HERDMAN: --yeah--

LEAR: --her for.

HERDMAN: (laughs) And where was she from originally?

LEAR: Winston Salem, North Carolina.

HERDMAN: So, she moved back here with you.

LEAR: Um-hm, um-hm. And she's never forgiven me for that. (both laugh)

HERDMAN: That's two strikes--

LEAR: --um-hm, actually she loves, she loves Lexington, but, um, she's a Carolina girl at heart.


LEAR: And really likes it--

HERDMAN: --her family's still there.

LEAR: Um-hm. Her parents still in Greensboro.

HERDMAN: Okay. And, uh, did you have an armed services, in the army, or?

LEAR: I was, um, at Davidson, we were required to take two years of ROTC. So I--

HERDMAN: --everyone?

LEAR: Everyone. And we went to drill every Tuesday afternoon, marched around, played, played army. And, um, after that, um, most everybody dropped out. That was right when the Vietnam War was going on.


LEAR: Um, if you were in college, you had a, a, um, deferment.


LEAR: For college.

HERDMAN: And what year did graduate Davidson?

LEAR: [Nineteen] seventy-two.

HERDMAN: [Nineteen] seventy-two.

LEAR: And, and that was when the lottery was put in. And, and so, 00:13:00uh, we got, um, through with two years and all my buddies and I said, "Hooray, we don't have to go to ROTC anymore," and then we, they had the lottery. And my number ended up being twenty-two, which meant that I was certain--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --to be drafted, so I figured if I'm gonna go in, I'll go in as an officer. So, I stayed two more years in ROTC and graduated as a, I guess, a second lieutenant. But by the time I graduate, the war was winding down.


LEAR: And they didn't need officers. So, I was granted what was called a delay, to attend law school. Attended law school and then after law school, I still had an obligation, so I went ninety days active duty for training.


LEAR: Um, not, not that it had an imprint, impression on me, but I began at November 4, 1975 to be specific. (both laugh) At, in, um, Fort Harrison. Um, in the, in the, in Indianapolis.

HERDMAN: So, would it basically been boot camp, is that?


LEAR: Yeah, although it, it, I ended up in an administrative type branch.


LEAR: Um, called adj------(??) general. And, um, we didn't do, the, boot camp was army summer camp, which I had at Fort Bragg, right after I graduated.


LEAR: That was six weeks out in the, I mean, every day, out in the field. Um, we didn't spend much time out in the field in 1975. It was mostly classroom stuff.


LEAR: There were a few, few, um, overnights but not much.

HERDMAN: Okay. And then you didn't do anything after that ninety days--

LEAR: --uhn-uh--

HERDMAN: --war had -----------(??)--

LEAR: --although I was in, I was in, I came back and joined the reserve unit.


LEAR: Um, I ended up being a motor officer in the supply company, of all things.


LEAR: Which was interesting, and, and stayed in the reserves for, uh, about four years. I think I actually joined the unit in 1976 and got out in about 1980.

HERDMAN: Okay. Um, so you came back, finished up law school in '75 and 00:15:00then did that.

LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: Did you start practicing law?

LEAR: I did.

HERDMAN: In the late seventies?

LEAR: I did, I started in 1975 with a firm called ----------(??), which was an eight-person firm at that time. Stayed there for about three years. And decided to join some of my buddies who were, uh, I had been in law school with, and had formed another firm with an older guy. Um, the three of them were, um, Steve Beshear, who was later attorney general.


LEAR: And lieutenant governor, Steve, and, uh, Tim Green, who was a classmate of mine and Tom Ming, who was a year ahead of us in law school.


LEAR: Stayed there a year. Um, 1978 to '79, Mayor James Amato called me up and asked me if I would like to be his law commissioner. A law commissioner is the head of the Urban County/ Government land department.


LEAR: So, at the ripe old age of twenty-eight, I accepted the job to be 00:16:00law commissioner--

HERDMAN: --how did he know you, what made you standout at that time?

LEAR: Uh, I don't, I had, um, um, well, I guess, I had a pretty, um, this sounds self-serving, pretty distinguished career in law school.


LEAR: I graduated near the top of my class and was editor-in-chief of the law journal. And, and had been involved, I was interested in politics. Um, pretty much along.


LEAR: I figured I was gonna get involved in politics, um--

HERDMAN: --is your family politically tied in any way, or?

LEAR: Not really. Um, but I was in student politics. I was president of my student council in high school and president, student senator, and president of my senior class in college.


LEAR: And, um, always I assumed, one of the reasons I wanted to practice was that, especially in those days, that was a route that a lot of people took into politics.


LEAR: And, and I, so I had been somewhat involved in, in, um, political 00:17:00things, locally, and, and then, with the legal background.


LEAR: So, he called me. I, I guess had a, the first position, government-type position I had, I had, uh, he had been mayor in 1978. He had put me on the local transit authority board. After about three months, I was elected chairman of that board and I ran that for a while and I got to know him some from doing that.


LEAR: And then, um, I don't, I'm not sure what had happened. I think his, his, uh, prior law commissioner, his name was Tim Combs, had gone back into private practice.


LEAR: And, and he needed somebody, called me up. So, I did that for about sixteen months. And then I was asked by the law firm here to, to join them and, and came home.

HERDMAN: Okay. And you've been with, here--

LEAR: --um-hm--

HERDMAN: --for your, as far as your professional career?

LEAR: Ever since.

HERDMAN: Ever since.

LEAR: August 15, 1980.

HERDMAN: Okay. Um, do you have children?


LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: And what are their ages and names?

LEAR: Um, you're never supposed to ask the dad that. (Herdman laughs) Uh, let's see--

HERDMAN: --I've actually had someone in an interview call his wife and ask.

LEAR: Well, my oldest daughter is thirty. And, and she's here in Lexington and has, has two little boys, I've two grandsons. Um, I'll show you their picture in a minute.


LEAR: Um, uh, my middle child is, my daughter Carrie is twenty-six.


LEAR: Uh, she's married. Her husband's in seminary. She's actually working for one of the development companies that's, uh, I'm involved in--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --that does downtown housing. And my son Robbie is twenty-one and he's a student at Centre College.

HERDMAN: Okay. So, between, like, getting out of law school and getting in your political career was when most of your, when your children was born.

LEAR: Well, they were in, um, um, there's a funny story about one of them. They were born in, in 1976, Jennifer's a bicentennial baby.


LEAR: Nineteen seventy-nine and nineteen eight-four. Which, and, and, 00:19:00um, Robbie's birthday is December eighth, um, 1984, which tells you he was born about a month after the November election.


LEAR: My wife went door-to-door with me--

HERDMAN: --wow--

LEAR: --seriously pregnant.


LEAR: And, and she claims she won the election because all the nice, little, old ladies in Chevy Chase, they would say, "Come in, honey. You don't need to be walking out in the street"--

HERDMAN: --they just couldn't believe she was out there--

LEAR: --"let me, let me, let me invite a few of my friends over, have a glass of lemonade, and tell us about your husband."

HERDMAN: (laughs) So, it seems like that first campaign was mostly personal, face-to-face.

LEAR: It was.

HERDMAN: Did you do any advertising, TV, or any--

LEAR: --oh, oh, yeah, we, we, uh, um, we did a lot of that. Um, I, I raised a fair amount of money. In fact, I, my race, counting the, the, uh, primary and the general election, set the then record for spending.


LEAR: I, it was an open seat. Um, one of my high school buddies, Hank List, graduated in the same class, had held the seat and had decided to 00:20:00set down. I had helped, I had helped him in all his elections.


LEAR: And, and, uh, uh, he decided to step down. So, I ended up running in the primary against a friend named Bo ----------(??).


LEAR: In, in--

HERDMAN: --in the Democratic primary.

LEAR: In the Democratic primary, and then, um, my race in the fall was against a woman named Anne Ross, who's still involved in, in thing--

HERDMAN: --and she was--

LEAR: --in Lexington, she was--

HERDMAN: --she was the Republican candidate.

LEAR: She was a Republican, she was the, um, ranking Republican officeholder in, in Lexington. She had been the vice-mayor. I'm not sure if she was still vice-mayor at that time or not, but she was an at-large councilmember at that time.


LEAR: And, uh, so it was a, it was a tough race and it was in, it was in the year when Ronald Reagan won by a landslide.


LEAR: Um, Dee Huddleston was beaten by Mitch McConnell and Larry, um, Hopkins, uh, won in a huge, and we were the only, there were only four 00:21:00partisan races on the ballot.


LEAR: So, the, the last campaign piece I put out literally had the whole ballot--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --with a little block that said, "Vote"--

HERDMAN: --yup--

LEAR: --and pointed to my race, so that people that were supporting me wouldn't go in, the Republicans particularly, and just pull--

HERDMAN: --right, sure--

LEAR: --the party lever.


LEAR: That's a tough race. I won by, I won in the spring by about a hundred votes. And in the fall, I believe I won, there were 34,000 votes casted, and I won by either 117 or 121 votes--

HERDMAN: --wow, that's very--

LEAR: --it was really, it was really tight--


LEAR: That was the biggest political miscalculation I ever made and it was showed my lack of experience. The, the, uh, there had been a lot of, of, of growth in the, the new areas of the district. The, the fringe areas of the district. They, it had a lot of young families who had basically began to vote in the Ronald Reagan years.



LEAR: They didn't vote, they didn't come out to vote in the primary election, because there really wasn't anything on the ballot.


LEAR: There was no Republican primary for anything that spring. And, and I can remember, uh, where the people really voted in the primary was in the Chevy Chase area, the older areas.


LEAR: And I had, um, I, I knew I was gonna do well in those areas. I didn't campaign nearly as hard in these new development areas because they just hadn't turned out well. I can remember walking, you know, walking around, or visiting precincts, um, on Election Day, just to see how the turnout was. And I can remember walking into one precinct, out beyond Man O' War Boulevard, in which 70 votes had been cast in the primary, and I said, "What do you expect the turnout to be today?"

LEAR: And they said, "Oh, probably about 750."

HERDMAN: Hm. Yeah, and you hadn't given--

LEAR: --that would--

HERDMAN: --any attention.


LEAR: The great sucking sound--

HERDMAN: --right--(both laugh)--

LEAR: --was me taking a deep breath right then.


LEAR: I imagined, I, I, I beat her by more votes in the old area than she beat in the new area, but just barely.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Okay, and, uh, so then, let me go back and then fill in something. How had you decided to run for representative? Did someone in the party asked you, were you active in the Democratic Party?

LEAR: Not really. I, I--

HERDMAN: -- -----------(??)--

LEAR: --had, you know, attended a few party functions and knew most of the, most of the people by then around town, from the year and a half I spent as law commissioner and just other involvement. And had lots of, um, friends around town. Uh, the real, I was probably not ready to run then. Uh, I had wanted to be established, part of the advice I give to young lawyers that, that want get in politics is, you need to get your legal career established first, because if you don't get established 00:24:00first, you probably never will.


LEAR: People just don't think of you as a lawyer. They think of you as a, as a--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --a politician. And so, I had really wanted to get firmly established beforehand. And I, the reason that, that I decided to run at that time was it was my, obviously my seat was vacant. It was one that I helped, so I knew the area, having, having lived in it all my life, and, uh, having helped the, the previous incumbent--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --I guess, he ran three times and he helped him.

HERDMAN: And did he support you in turn?

LEAR: Yes.

HERDMAN: And he kind of hand--

LEAR: --he did--

HERDMAN: --picked you, so that probably helped.

LEAR: Well, he didn't so much handpick me as, as, um, we just, we had been friends--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --um, since high school and he knew that I was gonna run at some point, even when I helped him. In fact, I think the first time he ran, he came to me, said, "I'm thinking about running, are you gonna run?" I said, "No, I'm not running"--

HERDMAN: --not yet--

LEAR: --"You know, and I'll help, I'll help you." So, it was one of those things and, and, um, um, I knew that an open seat would be easier 00:25:00to win--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --than running against--

HERDMAN: --sure--

LEAR: --an incumbent, and obviously I wasn't gonna run against him. So, when he got ready to, to jump, that was time.


LEAR: But I waited pretty late. Uh, my wife was never enthusiastic about me being in politics.


LEAR: And, and, um, so I put off the decision. The other guy had gotten in the race way earlier than I did. Um, but I still, um, made the decision.

Um-hm. Okay. Uh, what were your expectations heading off to Frankfort, and how were, how was it different when you got there?

LEAR: Well, um, I had not, the one, even though I had had some involvement in politics, I hadn't been around Frankfort politics.


LEAR: That much. Um, my expectations, um, were that it was gonna be, um, interesting as I'll get out.


LEAR: Um, I was, um, I was probably, um, pessimistic about the quality 00:26:00of the, the staff people.


LEAR: You know, I had, had a lot of the same impression about state government workers, um, that everybody has that hasn't involved.


LEAR: Um, I know, I know one of the, the things that, that was the, uh, uh, -----------(??), an expectation that got dashed, I, I assumed when you went over there, that if you had a, a better idea than anybody else, that the world would automatically rally around it.


LEAR: I learned, and one of the things I learned is, no matter how, how smart you think you are, um, or what great ideas you think you have, there are 137 other legislators that think they've got just as good ideas and, and, are gonna try to sell them. So--

HERDMAN: --did you run into wall along that line being a freshman, your first term?

LEAR: I did. I, I got some, I got some things passed, um, my freshman, 00:27:00my freshman year, that, that I think people didn't expect. I, the, the Kentucky Whistleblower Act, I passed as a freshman.


LEAR: And, and a lot of people didn't expect something like that. I, I passed several pieces of legislation as a freshman, but, um, it was, it was hard. I backed, uh, in the, there was a leadership race my first term, right at the beginning of my first term. Bobby Richardson was the speaker, Jim LeMaster who was from, um, Bourbon County, was a friend of mine, and still is a real good friend of mine. Um, was majority leader and, and I supported them in the elections. And they both lost.


LEAR: Well, one of the things you learned in Frankfort is you, if you pick the horse in a leadership race, it'll cost you in terms of committee assignments--

HERDMAN: --sure--

LEAR: --and other sorts of things. So, basically, um, I went over there as a freshman, and, and, um, bet on the losers, so I started from about 00:28:00as far down--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --the pecking order as you can start from. But I did, you know, I managed to get enough done.

HERDMAN: What would you say your constituents' major issues were your first term? What is, what were they concerned about?

LEAR: It, the, the, um, folks over here were, were always, uh, in my district, concerned more about the bigger picture--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --issues. Um, with one exception, and that is, traffic in Lexington is always an issue.


LEAR: So, I made it a point to try to, to do everything I could to bring home some dollars for road improvements we needed. But education was from the very beginning extremely important--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --to, to my constituency. Um, they were, um, always attuned to, um, things like ethics. Um, in fact, um, the reason I passed the 00:29:00Whistleblower Act is that I, I remember getting a letter, I think, or maybe a phone call from a fellow who lived in Gainesway, his name was Colonel--he's a retired army colonel, I think, Larry Floro(??), he and I ended up being, got, got to be good friends. He said, "I want to know what Bill Lear's gonna do about ethics in government."


LEAR: I said, "Well, that's a good question."

What was he referring to specifically, do you know?

LEAR: Well, there, one of the things, one of the big issues in the election around here, um, when I was, was, um, elected, was something that they called the Greed Bill; it was a legislative pension bill--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --where the legislators in the session in, in '84 had padded their pensions. That kinda was a reoccurring theme. And, um, of course, Hank List was not running for re-election, so it wasn't a real issue in my race. But David Van Horn had voted for it and he was beaten by 00:30:00a fellow named Louie Mack. Carolyn Kenton had voted for it and she was beaten by Ernesto Scorsone. Uh, and maybe one other local legislator had voted for it and lost. There were three or four freshman that came in at the same, same time. Pat Freibert was Republican and probably had voted against it. And she, she managed to do just fine.


LEAR: So, that had made ethics an issue.


LEAR: But that's the reason when he, when I got that call, I took a look at things that had been considered and hadn't been, people hadn't been able to pass them before. And one of the things I found was the Whistleblower Act.


LEAR: And the reason it never passed is that no Democrat had ever wanted to push it.


LEAR: Because the, the powers-to-be--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --were all Democratic.


LEAR: So, um, I pulled it out, modified it a little bit, introduced it, got it through the House, got it through the Senate.


LEAR: And off it went.


HERDMAN: Great. Um, given that you were starting kind of at the bottom, what committee assignments did you end up with, and did, how did they change over time?

LEAR: Um, I ended up with, with, um, the cities committee, um, which had been one of Hank List's committees, I didn't mind that, because there were a lot of issues related to--

HERDMAN: --yeah, if you come out of Lexington or Louisville--

LEAR: --urban areas--

HERDMAN: --that seems to be--

LEAR: --it's a, it's a good committee. Um, BOP, the famous BOP, which is not called that anymore. Business, occupations, and professions, uh, and I really didn't mind that because of the horse industry is important, and all the horse, uh, legislation went through BOP, along with all the other licensed professions, but the most important was horse. Um, and, um, um, of course, that's, you know, that's where that committee got in trouble. You, you know all about BOPTROT, and everything.


LEAR: Um, I was one of the unscathed members of that committee during 00:32:00all that. Uh, and state government. And state government, um, in those days, was, was often viewed as not a great committee. Now, it ended up being one of my favorite committees while I was there. Um, and it, because it was graveyard committee. It had a jurisdiction so broad anytime the leadership wanted to send a bill to die, they would send it to, to state government committee. But during--

HERDMAN: --is that different than the rules committee, is that also--

LEAR: --yeah, rules--

HERDMAN: --a graveyard committee, or--

LEAR: --well, the rules, it can be. Rules is a, is not a, rules is a committee that, that is not one of the standing committees. All the bills before they go to the floor have to go through rules.


LEAR: But rules committee can send bills back.


LEAR: Um, and sometimes they'll just hold it in rules--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --for a while. And not act on them, because there's not any, not any requirement. But while, while I was, um, while I was in Frankfort, state government ended up being, um, a committee that dealt with things like the lottery. Um, it dealt with a lot of the, the ethics stuff.



LEAR: I was very much involved in the post-BOPTROT ethics legislation. Uh, so it ended up being a committee that, that actually had a lot of really interesting issues.


LEAR: So, that was all right. Then, the only, the only thing that changed, um, in, I think, '91, the interim that began in '91, I became chair of the economic development--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --committee in the House. And went off of cities. But I stayed on state government and stayed on BOP, I'm pretty sure, for the duration.

HERDMAN: Okay. Um, you mentioned that the, the TROT situation, let's talk a little bit about that. What did you do find when you arrived in Frankfort, before all that happened, um, what did you find the role of lobbyists to be? Were they helpful, were, did, did, could you see where it was going, or?

LEAR: Really, um, I've, I've got a whole lot of observations about, about 00:34:00BOPTROT. Um, the, the, um, like most groups, the lobbyists were fell into a lot of, of different categories. There were some that were just camp followers. They were groups that had people, they're almost like reporters; they would, they really different affect legislation, they would sit over, listen to what was going on, and, and they were always a part of groups; never really getting anything done on their own.


LEAR: Uh, and, and, um, I always thought that, that they were a, a waste of expenditure by the people that hired them.


LEAR: Because, anybody could've told you what was going on and not really affected things. Um, there were, um, there were some that were genuinely helpful in providing information.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Which ones do you think were best at that?

LEAR: Um, stretching my memory a little bit now. (Herdman laughs) Uh, 00:35:00I, in terms of providing information, not necessarily in terms of, of convincing people--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --Mike Morgan(??) was always, they always called him the Dean of the Lobbyists. He'd be there for the Kentucky Retail Federation for a while. Um, some of the chamber folks were decent. Um, the, the, uh, um, let's see.

HERDMAN: Did you have lobbyists from the, the horse, uh, industry?

LEAR: Yeah, there was, um, the KTA, the KTA began, um, lobbying during that period of time. Nick Nicholson(??) was there for a while. There was a fellow Gene McQueen(??) who was there. And he was pretty good. Judy Taylor was there. Um, Churchill always had, um, Churchill Downs always had one or two folks. Um, varying degrees of effectiveness. Um--

HERDMAN: --how active was the LRC, the Legislative Research Committee at 00:36:00the time? It seems--

LEAR: -- -----------(??)--

HERDMAN: --what I'm getting at, is it seems to be that the lobbyists and the information they provided became less important as the LRC became, um, more prevalent and provided more information.

LEAR: Are you, the, the staff, uh, I don't know. Um--

HERDMAN: --did you interact with them a lot, or?

LEAR: Oh yeah, LRC's staff, that was the, the, the single most pleasant surprise that I had was the quality of the LRC staff.

HERDMAN: And that happened later, that, people who served in the seventies didn't say that same thing--

LEAR: --no, no--

HERDMAN: --so, yeah.

LEAR: No, but, uh, the whole time I was there, they were really good. And I worked with them a lot. Got along with them very well. Um, and, and, um. I, I, I really can't, can't say anything bad about the, the staff as a whole. I, the, the third, before I finish--

HERDMAN: --sure--

LEAR: --the third were, were a group that always seemed to, to entertain folks a lot and be very effective, that was the Jay Spurriers and some 00:37:00others that had been, you know, a lot of those folks got in trouble. Um, and there, there, I thought, I, my, my historical observation about BOPTROT, BOPTROT was that it was to an extent inevitable.


LEAR: Because what happened was there was a, a huge shift of power from the executive branch to the legislative branch that began in the late, um, eighties and gathered steam, in the late seventies and gathered steam up in the eighties.


LEAR: And, and at the same time, um, there were, there were a series of governors that either didn't know how to deal with the legislature or didn't care.


LEAR: John Y. Brown only cared about a very small range of issues, and otherwise he didn't care what they did. And that, he was the perfect guy for legislative independence to--


HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --to, um, come to fruition. Um, in, in his administration. Uh, Martha Layne was the best of this group at dealing, and she generally got what she wanted from the legislature, though not always. Um, Wallace was terrible at dealing with the legislature. He wasn't liked, he was arrogant, he just, um, he wasn't effective, and Brereton Jones wasn't very effective.


LEAR: So, you had, you had this growing, this, this increase in power with no change in the, the, um, reporting, restrictions, any limitations, so it was almost inevitable. And, and I can remember, um, when I first got there, um, I, I mean I knew, uh, a lot of the, of the lobbyists, including some of the ones that got in trouble. I'd known, if they were over here, I'd known before. They knew I loved to play golf. There was a group that went on a golf trip, um, every year, down 00:39:00to somebody's place in, in Gulfport.


LEAR: And I was invited to, to go, maybe Gulfport's wrong. Anyway, somewhere on the, on the, uh, um, court, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Um, I was invited several times to go on the those trips and I always went down. The, the overlap between those indicted and those who regularly attended those trips was significant.

HERDMAN: So you ----------(??)--

LEAR: --it wasn't a 100 percent--

HERDMAN: --right.

LEAR: It wasn't a 100 percent and I was always, the other thing that I always did was come at night. I figured, I lived close enough, but I figured there was less opportunity to, to get in trouble, if you didn't stay over at night.

HERDMAN: Well, and that's a good question, as far as the, um, your day- to-day routine. You didn't typically stay in hotels or stay there to eat very much, or.

LEAR: No, I, I came home, um, almost every night. About the only exception, if they were gonna have a big party, and this was typically 00:40:00toward the end of every session, they would have a big--

HERDMAN: --like a ball or a dance or something--

LEAR: --well, just kind of the big, going away party.


LEAR: Then, I would stay over because I didn't want to drive back--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --after, after drinking, and especially late. But that on average would be no more than one or two nights.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Out of the, out of the session.

LEAR: A session, out of a, out of a whole session. And probably, um, that kept me being as much as one of the guys as--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --as somebody that palled around and drank with them at night. But, um, it managed, I managed to keep my sanity.


LEAR: And I'll tell you, that, that was largely in the days before cell phones.


LEAR: And I did some of, I did some of my thinking driving--

HERDMAN: --sure--

LEAR: --back from Frankfort after dealing with particularly difficult legislative issue and figuring what, uh, I thought ought to be done or--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --driving over in the mornings.

HERDMAN: That's an interesting point; that you had that time in-between--

LEAR: --I did--

HERDMAN: --before and after to--

LEAR: --I'd have forty-five minutes to kind of just think.


HERDMAN: Um-hm. Okay. Um, so when was your second campaign? It would've been in '86, you had a two-year term or a three-year term?

LEAR: Um, two years.

HERDMAN: Two years.

LEAR: Two years, my second campaign, uh, was in '86. And I had pretty limited opposition.


LEAR: Um--

HERDMAN: --in the Democratic primary--

LEAR: --I didn't have any, I didn't have any primary opposition. There's a guy named, I think his name was Barney -----------(??), if I'm not mistaken, who ran against me and, and he never did much. Of course, you don't know how, if you can take somebody for granted. I did the same thing; I did yard signs, walked door-to-door, did some amount of media, not as much as I'd done before. Um, and it was real weird. I mean, he wouldn't, the, the night of the election, I, I won by, I don't know, 70/30, some big margin. The night of the election, he, he called me up to congratulate me and he said, "I think you're doing a good job." (laughs) So I said--


HERDMAN: --so, it was kind of--

LEAR: --"Why in the hell then did you"--

HERDMAN: --yeah, so he--

LEAR: --it was like he just--

HERDMAN: --was a Republican.

LEAR: He's a Republican, it was like he just, uh, he wanted to, to, um, um, run just so I would have opposition.

HERDMAN: Yeah, in a lot of outlying areas, the, um, I found that the race was the Democratic primary. They didn't have Republican--

LEAR: --right--

HERDMAN: --opposition. So, maybe here the party just wanted to remain visible and that sort of thing.

LEAR: I think so. But I got along very well with both parties.


LEAR: And, and, but the entire time I was there, um, other than the initial race, the local Republican party never tried to get anybody to run against me. Because I, I was pretty non-partisan.

HERDMAN: Right. But the larger Republican Party would sometimes want, I mean, the opposition provided by--

LEAR: --no, it just, the Republican opposition I had, um, I had five races, two unopposed, and three opposed, but other than the very first race, the, the Republican opposition were just individuals that decided 00:43:00they wanted to run; there was no party support--

HERDMAN: --okay--

LEAR: --for any of them.

HERDMAN: Um, do you think that, or how did the issues for your constituents change over time? I mean, I, probably remained education, but did anything become more important, like health care, or any other issues that came in?

LEAR: Um, you know, there were , uh, we did have, um, some very big health care issues that came up during my time in the legislature. We had, uh, um, one of the things that a lot of people do not realize, in 1990, we adopted KERA.


LEAR: And it's probably the landmark piece of legislation that was, that was passed during my ten years. In that session, we actually spent more time on an effort by Humana to do away with the certificate of need law. And I, I was one of the vocal opponents of that. We 00:44:00ultimately succeeded in killing it. Um, I, there were a lot of physicians constituents in Lexington--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --that thought it was a terrible idea to do away with it. They were afraid of Humana really, um, creating and taking over the practice of medicine, for one of the better terms. Um, and, and so I did work on that on behalf of, uh, um, the physicians. Then when Brereton Jones did his, um, attempt at health care reform, I was one of the, the most vocal opponents of that, largely because, and I, I think history has proven that position correct, that, what he was trying to do was change the national health care policy from Kentucky .


LEAR: It was, it would clearly would've been a case of the tail trying to wag the dog.


LEAR: And, and what it ended up happening is, is reducing the competition for health care coverage and creating a lot of obstacles. 00:45:00The physicians, um, across the state were very much opposed to that, as were a lot of health care providers, and, um, constituents. I ended up being the ----------(??) lay person of the year of the Kentucky Medical Association--

HERDMAN: --wow--

LEAR: --and the Fayette County Medical Association, as a result of that. And Brereton and I are still friends; we just never could see eye-to- eye--

HERDMAN: --on that particular--

LEAR: --on that, on that, that issue. So, health care, uh, did end up being a, um, a big issue. Um, I got involved heavily in economic development. Um, because that was an, an interest I had. I, you couldn't say that that was something my constituents were really driving me to do. I, I would say, uh, throughout the time I was there, education was far and away the most important issue.


LEAR: And, you know, I voted for KERA. Um, never had the slightest, 00:46:00and, and some people calculated as, as including the largest tax increase in Kentucky history, whether or not it was, is debatable. But, uh, certainly it was big one and I never got the slightest bit of backlash from my constituents over that.

HERDMAN: They were ready to pay--

LEAR: --um-hm, they were ready--

HERDMAN: --extra taxes to--

LEAR: --they were--

HERDMAN: --fund that--

LEAR: Um-hm. I voted, there was sort of a mini-education reform that Martha Layne pushed through in a special session in 1985, which I also voted for. And it, and it, it included some business taxes, increases in business taxes, which the business community supported for education. I didn't, I never got any, any backlash over that--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --either.

HERDMAN: Um, when you were working economic development, what were the primary, um, issues surrounding that? What kind of development were you doing? Like the Toyota plant, or like that--

LEAR: --well, the Toyota had been done as one time issue. What, what I was asked to do by the speaker is, is take a look at the whole Kentucky 00:47:00economic development system and see how it needed to be fixed. And--

[Pause in recording.]


LEAR: I was able to pull together a big and really impressive blue ribbon task force, with people from all over the state that were involved in business, labor, and other things.


LEAR: And, and, um, taking a really, turn it inside out. We got some great consultant help from elsewhere, and what we found was that, that Kentucky's basic approach to economic development was hampered because it was way too political.


LEAR: I mean, the horror stories we heard about, about companies coming to, to Kentucky to look at places to operate in, being driven to a special friend's, um, industrial park or something, it's way too political. It lacked professionalism and it lacked continuity. There was this revolving door with a change of administrations--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --that, that somebody would come in, it would take them a year to really get up to speed. They would spend two years and then because of 00:48:00the change over in administrations, the last year they were looking for a new job.


LEAR: So you basically had two years on, two years off, two years on, and you weren't getting real pros.


LEAR: So we totally took it apart, rebuilt it, created a structure, um, that has resulted in the current secretary of economic development serving in that position since the first of the Brereton Jones's administration, since the first of the Brereton Jones's administration. Now, to do that, we had to strip some of the powers away from the governor.


LEAR: And, um, we were able to do that. Um, we recommended doing that, um, so that the governor can't simply come in and change--

HERDMAN: --sure--

LEAR: --everything in that cabinet.

HERDMAN: Provide continuity and.

LEAR: Right, and, uh.

HERDMAN: What were the assumptions with the new way that you developed it? Did you work through like urban areas working out to rural, or what, how did you go?

LEAR: No, we, we didn't do that. I'm, I'm not sure what your, what your 00:49:00question is, is asking--

HERDMAN: --what was the plan?

LEAR: Well, the plan was to create a, a public/private board.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Okay.

LEAR: That, that was actually dominated numerically by private sector representatives, um, that were chosen from particular groups like the Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Farm Bureau and so forth. And they were to, um, do a national search, find the right person to head the agency, or the right persons, and then submit a list to the governor of three and the governor would pick one. But once, once the person was in place, that person could not be fired by the governor; could only be fired by the board.


LEAR: Now, the governor sits on the board but it doesn't numerically dominate the board. and it also required a strategic plan for economic development, which did go out to all the areas in the state and pull from them their ideas about the kinds of companies we should target, 00:50:00the kinds of incentives we should offer, and, and other things we should do to build from the ground up, as opposed to just recruiting. All of that went into the strategic plan.


LEAR: And the, we ended up getting it done. Um, everybody, I don't think, people thought we would get it passed because of what it did to the governor's powers. But Brereton Jones, when he was running for governor, had, um, given a speech in which he said, "I support this concept," and he articulated very much like we ended up passing it. By that time during the campaign, we were well along in our work, and he knew what we were doing, so he endorsed it.


LEAR: And I was called to the governor's office early in the session. Paul Patton was there, who was then lieutenant governor and had been appointed initially as the secretary of economic development.


LEAR: Um, the, the chief of staff and the secretary of the cabinet were 00:51:00there, and I can't remember who--Joe Prather was one of them. Brereton was there. And their intent--I know later--was to tell me that they were, they were gonna kill the bill.


LEAR: And so we jockeyed back and forth for a minute, and I had brought a copy of the speech. (Herdman laughs) And I said, "All I want you to do, Governor, is what you said you would support in the campaign." And I showed it to him and he read it and he said, "That's what I said and that's what we will do."


LEAR: And so they supported it, and we got it passed.

HERDMAN: That's great.

LEAR: But I've, I've heard from all the players later that they were gonna kill it--

HERDMAN: --they were intending to kill it--

LEAR: --they were going to kill it. So I'm glad I had that speech.

HERDMAN: Let me jump back a little bit and ask you, um, over the, the entire time you were there, how you gauged public opinion? Do you have a relationship with the press here in Lexington? Was it personal calls? I mean, how did they let you know what they wanted?

LEAR: Uh, I, I would say in, in three or four different ways. I, I always did constituent surveys before each session. I would, I would pick out ten or fifteen issues that I thought were most important and I 00:52:00would do, I would mail to every registered voter a survey.

HERDMAN: A mail survey. Okay.

LEAR: Um-hm. And I, I--

HERDMAN: --what was your percentage of return on that? Who, how many participated?

LEAR: You know, you would, probably 10 or 15 percent.


LEAR: And that's pretty normal for those kinds of things.

HERDMAN: Yeah, sure.

LEAR: And we would tabulate them up and pay attention to those. Um, I, I, uh, responded to, uh, and used it pretty promptly to all constituent calls and, and, um, except when we got into the real hectic times in the session, when you, you just couldn't keep up with it, but I paid attention to what, what they were coming in as. And, um, then just interaction with, with, um, folks back here. I used to tell, um, people that, that you could go downtown and it wasn't really reflective of the general public opinion. I wanted to know what the guy with the 00:53:00bass boat in Gainesway thought about something.


LEAR: Um, or, or what the woman that was driving the carpool to, to, uh, ---------(??) Elementary thought. However, my view of, of, um, public service is that, that while it's important to keep up with public opinion, they elect you because they think--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --you're the best person. They're never gonna know as much as you know about the issues and you gotta trust your own judgment.

HERDMAN: Have you ever had a crisis of conscience where you, you knew your constituents felt one way but you felt something different? Was there ever real divergence? Some issues I've had in response to that question is the lottery, things like that.

LEAR: Yeah. I, no, I ended up, um, I ended up being a supporter of the, of the, um, lottery. And I honestly I think probably most people in Lexington were. I think the, the, um, the surveys showed. There were 00:54:00probably some, some tax issues where, where I thought the, the correct decision was one way, not big, not big sorts of things. Um, I could probably identify some, but they, they weren't, you know, uh, abortion was always one where they were evenly split.


LEAR: And, and, um, I most often voted with the pro-choice folks on those issues, except the, um, um, parental consent was--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --was one place.


LEAR: And that was, and that was probably the legal side of me.


LEAR: Um, that, that brought about that, but, um, that would've been the only one where, where, you know, it's hard to say that there was a clear consensus--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --it probably, um, split pretty close down the middle in, in 00:55:00Fayette County. My, my view of that is that you can be pro-life and win and you can be pro- choice and win but you can't waiver and win.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Sure.

LEAR: On, and I think that's true on any issue that's very emotional. If people know where you are, and you make it clear where you are, and you don't waiver, flip-flop, then most people won't vote against you.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. For, on a particular issue--

LEAR: --on that, on that one issue--

HERDMAN: --right, okay. Um, let me switch to, uh, a personal question. How did you find, did you find it hard to balance being in the legislature, a job, and your family? Did you have enough time, and if not, uh, how did that work for you?

LEAR: Well, the, the, uh, it was difficult at times. The, um, the demands, uh, the, the nice thing I was able to do for, um, for most, um, sessions is once we got to a certain point in the session, I 00:56:00wouldn't try to practice law.


LEAR: I'd just concentrate only on that. And, and, uh, most days wouldn't even come to the office. Once, you know, we got probably to the, uh, first of March, you know, so for the last month. Um, the family--

HERDMAN: --were the days of the session more concentrated later?

LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: Like, I know, it was kind of split, spread out over ninety days, but it was actually sixty days--

LEAR: --yeah, but the real work is done, yeah, it's sixty days and it's spread over ninety days but the real work is done in about the last--

HERDMAN: --right at the end, um-hm--

LEAR: --the last month. And especially if you're carrying bills, if you're responsible for bills, there is so much more to do.


LEAR: You know, going one-on-one with people, getting your votes, making sure it gets to the right committee.


LEAR: Getting out of committee and all that sort of thing. So, um, you know, what you learn is you can't just show up and talk about something and expect to get it out. If you got a bill, you want out of committee, 00:57:00you need to talk to enough people and get enough commitments that you know it's coming out. Um, and so, um, that takes, that takes a lot of time. Going home every night helped a lot with, with the family--

HERDMAN: --location seems to be a big factor.

LEAR: It is a big factor. I mean, I, being able to go home every night, we, we had supper. I had supper every night with the kids or almost every night with the kids at the normal time. Um, and, and, uh, um, managed to keep, keep up that way. So, from their perspective, when I was at work, you know, I would go, they, I typically, um, I drove carpools forever and ever. And I think a lot of time, a lot of the time when I was in the session, I still because of when we would start I could, you know, get them in the car and take them to school--

HERDMAN: --go through the routine--

LEAR: --yeah, and then go on--

HERDMAN: --probably didn't seem that much different than you--

LEAR: --to them it didn't--

HERDMAN: --taking them to the office.

LEAR: --yeah, to them, it didn't, it didn't seem all that much different.

HERDMAN: Did your wife, uh, participate in the social level? Did she show up for parties or was she expected to, or how did that work?


LEAR: A little bit. No, I, I, I tried, um, because she wasn't a, a, um, fan of a lot of political things. I mean she would, she would, um, she was a great sport about that. Just about any time I would ask her she would do it. I tried not to ask her too much. So, you know, most of the, most of the chicken dinners and that sort of thing, I went to by myself.


LEAR: But, you know, that way we weren't having a babysitter and one of us was, was there with the kids.


LEAR: So, it, she did, I mean, she did plenty of that but no more than absolutely necessary.

HERDMAN: No more than she had to, right, sure. (laughs)

LEAR: She could, she could still tell you. There was, they used to have a dinner in Lexington called the Banahan Dinner. And I can't even remember whether this was before I was in office or, or, uh, during the time I was in office, but Julian Carroll was the speaker. Uh, I guess he was governor then. So it was probably before I was in, um, in elective office. And he went through about thirty years of elections 00:59:00in Kentucky, for no apparent reason, other than he hadn't prepared a speech. So he just wanted to talk about how great the Democrats had done. So it was a, he just went in, "And then in 1960, we did this and then in 1964," and it was the most boring. (Herdman laughs) She could recount that today.

HERDMAN: Uh, let me, uh, that's a good segway. Do you have any, uh, humorous anecdotes, good stories that stand out, anything from the time that you can share?

LEAR: (laughs) Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, um, yeah, there are lots of, lots of interesting things--

HERDMAN: --pranks or anything like that--

LEAR: --that, that went on. One of, uh, one of the fun things that, I'll, I'll just, I'll share two or three things with you.


LEAR: One of the, one of the fun things that happened when I was in the legislature was that, that two guys Herbie Deskins and Raymond Overstreet always tried to pass a bill to allow people to carry 01:00:00concealed deadly weapons. Now that passed. I think it's a mark of where our legislature has gone that ended up being one of the centerpieces of a more recent session that they got that done. Well, it was, it was, it never passed before I got there, never passed while I was there, but they always kept trying. Uh, and, and, uh, I think I was the one that nicknamed it, The Gunslinger Bill. (Herdman laughs) And, and so it got to be, once, once during a terribly dull time during the legislature, I actually wrote a piece of legislation as an, as an amendment to a bill--and I wish I had, could show it to you--it was the most convoluted thing. You read it and you really had to follow it. It was about this long, but it would allow, it would all conceal deadly weapons, but in this really weird legalistic funny way. (Herdman laughs) And so I gave it to them. I said here, "We need to have some fun." So you guys file that as an amendment on some bill. 01:01:00They called it up. And, and, uh, um, sure enough, I mean we had, we, we debated. Everybody laughed about it. Um, I remember a time in, uh, um, when would this have been? Nineteen-, probably '88, that early in the session, there's not much done.


LEAR: You have a lot of fluff guest speakers. There was a group of, of black Africans from South America.


LEAR: Who had come to speak and this was during the, the apartheid times. They were down in the Senate, and we were waiting on them to come and speak in the House, one or two of them was going to speak. And I'm sitting on the back row, and, and I always used to remark about some of the folks that I served with, they were, they were colorful but not on, not on the cutting edge of knowledge sometimes, anyway.


HERDMAN: (laughs) That was very politically well-put.

LEAR: (laughs) We, we, uh, we're sitting there and, and this guy was sitting next to me looks over and says, "What are we waiting on?" I said, "Well, there's some, some, um, black folks from South Africa that are going to come to talk to us." And they said, "What are they going to talk about?" And I said, "Apartheid, I guess." And he looked at me kind of funny and said, "Do we need that in Kentucky?" (Herdman laughs) "No."


LEAR: No, some that say we have it in some places--

HERDMAN: --yeah, exactly--

LEAR: --but no, no, we don't need it.


LEAR: I'm, I can think of, um, I'm gonna play something for you in a minute.


LEAR: That's one of the, one of the most fun things. Um, I can think of a, uh, a time. This was a really serious, um, piece of legislation, but I have to digress for a minute. Um, in about 1992, there was a group impaneled called, uh, this was a, a national project by the 01:03:00National Conference of State Legislatures. It was called the Investing in People Project. It was about education and workforce development. They selected representatives from of only about six states to participate in. It was funded. It was National Conference of State Legislatures. It was funded by the DeWitt Wallace Readers Digest Foundation. And what they did was they paid for us to do some really serious work on workforce development for older people, training, as well as education.


LEAR: Kentucky was selected to participate because of KERA, what we did, the advances we had made in that. I was asked to chair or co-chair Kentucky's Investing in People Group.


LEAR: Um, and, and most of the work was done, I mean, we met over a period of about two years in Kentucky and we pulled together a really great group from around the state. One of the people involved was Richard Lewis, who was a legislator, who's now deceased from western 01:04:00Kentucky. Another one was Gene Strong, who was then secretary of economic development. Anne Northup. I, I got Anne on. Anne and I are friends, the congresswoman.


LEAR: Um, uh, there was a fellow named Morgan Bayless, who was a, one of the top guys in the state AFL-CIO. Well, we got to be friends and the, the fun part of this was they sent us to two institutes where these concentrated week-long things, where they had national speakers, you know, we met. The first institute we went to was in Snowbird, Utah. And it was during June. It wasn't ski season but it was still a beautiful place in this big ski lodge. The second institute they near the end, they sent us to Key West, which was not tough duty.


LEAR: And, and we, we were down there in December, early December, which is, if you've ever been to Key West, is the--

HERDMAN: --yeah, that's the best time--(laughs)--

LEAR: --that's the best time. Anyway, we went down there. None of us had ever been there before. We discovered Duvall Street. And, 01:05:00and, uh, um, we were staying at the Casa Marina Hotel. We all rented mopeds, which was the best way to get around there. (Herdman laughs) Well, one afternoon we were going down the Duvall Street after we finished our meetings. Gene Strong and I were out front. Morgan Bayless and Richard Lewis, who was a legislator, were in the back. Well, Gene and I got down. We kept waiting, kept waiting. Well, we went back and found out that, that, um, Richard Lewis on this moped had, had skidded around this corner, run into this BMW. I mean, had this really bad wreck. We were lucky he wasn't killed--

HERDMAN: --a moped wreck? Wow--

LEAR: --ended up being bruised and all this kind of thing. So, now fast-forward, that, this happens in December. Um, fast-forward to about February in the legislative session. Richard and I sponsored the state seatbelt law that was actually passed.


LEAR: And, and we're in this heated debate on the floor of the House, 01:06:00Richard and I are both up on our feet arguing and answering questions, and, and I get this tap on my shoulder and ----------(??), whatever his name was, the doorman hands me this, this note. And, and I open it up. It's from Morgan Bayless, who is upstairs watching. He said, "I wonder what the people in this room would think if they knew that the sponsor of the seatbelt bill went over the handlebars of a moped in Key West just two months ago." (Herdman laughs) So I folded it back up, and I took it around to Anne Northup. She opened it up, and she just about died. There was one other person that was there. Now the last thing, I, this tape is not what it ought to be.


LEAR: You may have heard about this before. I'll set the stage for you.


LEAR: Um, it's the best speech given in the General Assembly in the ten years, and it's not mine. Ten years, I was there. The, the setting is this: Wallace Wilkinson campaigned for and won the governor's chair. 01:07:00Um, his principal campaign, um, issue was the lottery. He proposed, you know, pushed for the lottery, and we're going to pass the lottery, we're going to use it for education. So the lottery passed. And then we come into session, and we're debating what to do with the proceeds of the lottery. And, and a lot of members of the General Assembly wanted to simply put it in the general fund.


LEAR: And because two-thirds of it would be spent on education anyway.


LEAR: But didn't feel like they were, were, uh, constrained by Wilkinson's campaign promises to put it 100 percent in education. I actually put in a bill that would require it all to go into education and got no support for it, so. Wilkinson had been helped in his election by James Carvel, who's now, you know, world famous as a result of, of Clinton and everything since then. So, Wilkinson brought Carvel 01:08:00back to Kentucky to help him develop a strategy to just beat the tar out of the General Assembly on this whole issue. They were running ads and, and Carvel was quoted, I think he said something pretty indelicate as he want to do about members of the General Assembly. And everybody was all up, up in arms. And do you under-, do you know what, um, points of, of personal privilege and all that sort of thing are?

HERDMAN: Unh-uh.

LEAR: Well, part of the, part of the, the fun, um, I guess, process in the, in the General Assembly, if you're really mad about something, you're a legislator. Then you can stand up and you tell the majority leader who controls the floor business on the floor--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --that you want to be recognized for a point of personal privilege. And, you know, then the speaker will say, "Well, what purpose does the gentlemen," in this case was Bobby Richardson, "the gentleman from Barren, what purpose does he'll?" "A point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker," and they'll always say, "Has the gentlemen 01:09:00been aggrieved? Or has the lady been aggrieved?"


LEAR: You know, they don't use names. Well, this is a, the tape, I've played this and maybe some, a little bit of screeching is on the tape, but hopefully you'll be able to hear it.

HERDMAN: I think I can get it on there.

LEAR: And I'm, I think I've got it.

"House Bill 148 related to financial institutions, introduced by Representative Bruce. To consent calendar. House Bill 295, not related to state-owned vehicles, introduced by Representative Johnson. House Bill 267 not related to insurance, introduced by Representative LeMaster. House Bill 264, not related to insurance, introduced by Representative Kerr."

"The next order of business is the orders of the day." [gavel strikes twice] (pause) "For what purpose does Gentleman from Barren arise?"


BOBBY RICHARDSON: "A point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker."

"Has the Gentleman been aggrieved?"

BOBBY RICHARDSON: "Well, not personally, Mr. Speaker, but, uh, all the rest of the members of this body have been and I feel I must speak out for them."

"Make your point."

BOBBY RICHARDSON: "Mr. Speaker, this morning when I went to change the kitty litter box and the lining in there had to be changed. I reached for my normal paper to use for that, the Courier-Journal, and I found, uh, an article in there that, uh, caused me quite a bit of consternation. It appears that a fellow that I never met, a fellow by the name of Carvel, or Carnival, or something like that, uh, uh, has 01:11:00spoken very familiarly about the members of this body. And the members that I've talked to don't seem to know this fellow, and it's hard for me to understand how he has been able to apply a, a description to them, uh, that he's implied in the press and in publicly. But Mr. Speaker, I'm more worried about the governor. Uh, it's reported this man works for the governor. Now, I know the governor well. We're good friends. We're business partners and he's a man of high character. A man of good intentions. And I know that he wouldn't have a man like this Carvel working with him. There's something wrong. There's 01:12:00something terribly wrong going on here. Now, I heard that this fellow Carvel came from Louisiana. I believe that what has happened is that he has overdosed on Tabasco sauce. (laughing) It has--(laughing and applause)--it has disrupted his digestive system and caused a backup- -(laughing and applause)--which has spilled over into his rhetoric. (laughing) Now, Mr. Speaker, I believe this man is traveling under an alias. I don't believe he's who he says he is. You know, about 01:13:00fifty or sixty years ago, there was a fellow by the name of Rasputin, who gained the ascendency over the ancient line of Russian czars. And as soon as he gave that ascendency, the czar, who's rather run-of-the- mill, divine-right ruler started acting peculiar. They started changing positions they had for years. They started changing all policies that they had implemented. Started changing everything they had run and that told the people that they were gonna run the government on. They changed all sorts of things. Now, Mr. Speaker, I'm worried about the governor. If he starts acting peculiar, this fellow is Rasputin. 01:14:00(laughing and applause) Now, Mr. Speaker, you've got a grave duty this morning. If Rasputin has surfaced in Kentucky, you've got a duty. You need to notify the FBI; you need to notify the CIA; you need to tell Attorney General Cowan; and close the papal embassy. (laughing) Now, Mr. Speaker, if this term that's been used in reference to us, it wasn't fully published by the press. Gentlemen of the press, you've 01:15:00got a duty. (laughing and applause)"

LEAR: I think he, he may have called this, mother ----------(??).

HERDMAN: Right, right.

BOBBY RICHARDSON: "Publish what he said and let the people of Kentucky know what contempt this man holds their elected representatives in. They have a right to know and to know the whole story. Now, I don't know where this man got his expertise. Some say he's from Louisiana, some says he's from Washington. Well, I know that the per capita incidence of dumbness is greater in Washington, D.C. than anywhere I've ever heard of. (laughing) Mr. Speaker, it's your duty. It's 01:16:00your responsibility. Appoint a task force. Investigate. Don't let calamity fall on Kentucky. If it's Rasputin, capture him!" (laughing and applause)

[End of tape.]

LEAR: That's it. Carvel left.

HERDMAN: Left the room?

LEAR: Left, left Kentucky.


LEAR: He, he told people that Bobby ran him out of Kentucky.

HERDMAN: (laughs) And that, uh, let me just get it for the record. He, the name of the speaker?

LEAR: Bobby Richardson.

HERDMAN: Richardson, and where was he from?

LEAR: Barren County, Glasgow. He's the fellow that was, was the speaker of the House.


LEAR: And the one that I told you lost--

HERDMAN: --right, that' s right--

LEAR: --in the election. (laughs) But he was--

HERDMAN: --and what, um, what was the approximate date? Around what time was that going on? Just in case we want to cross-reference it with the, 01:17:00the article? January 26, 1990.

LEAR: Nineteen and ninety. Um-hm.

HERDMAN: Okay, January 26, 1990.

LEAR: January first, nineteen and ninety.

HERDMAN: Okay, great, that's, that's a great, uh, addition to the project.

LEAR: Isn't that, isn't that a fun thing?

HERDMAN: It is. Um, did, did that happen often, or was that really out of the ordinary?

LEAR: Uh, there, it happened several times a session. That people would have a point of personal privilege and, and that does relate to one thing that I, I, you've probably heard from other people. One of the things that, that, um, was a very pleasant surprise going over there was just how colorful a lot of the people really are. There's a fellow named Woody Allen that would get up and give these really rip-snorting speeches about things.

HERDMAN: I was going to ask you. Who were your friends or the people that caught your attention, your mentor, anything like that? Who were the important people for you?

LEAR: Well, um, Bobby was a good friend. Jim LeMaster was. Um, there's 01:18:00a fellow named Marshall Long--

HERDMAN: --I interview Mr. Long--

LEAR: --who was from Shelbyville. Did, did you? He and I got to be very good friends. Um, Joe Clarke, um, they would, uh, when, when I first got there, they would tell you, um, if you want to know the right way to vote, watch Joe Clarke's light.


LEAR: You know, lights on the floor, and if you want to know the, the, the way to vote that'll insure you get reelected, watch Jimmy Bruce's.


LEAR: Jimmy is still over there. He was there, had been there a long time when I was there. He's the longest. He holds the record for the longest service.

HERDMAN: Longest continuous.

LEAR: Um-hm. And the highest compliment I was paid early in my years in the legislature was probably my second session. When there was some fairly complicated bill coming up that had come out of a different committee, and I kept waiting to see how Joe was gonna vote, and then 01:19:00finally voted at the end, and I, I told him I said, "I was waiting to see how you were gonna vote," and he said, "Well I was waiting to see how you were gonna vote."

HERDMAN: (laughs) Did you, uh, on the, you mentioned the seatbelt bill.

LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: Did you work with Henry Lackey on that bill? Was he involved with that?

LEAR: Um, I don't know if, Henry may. I can't remember who carried it for us in the Senate. You know, you always--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --when you, when you were the sponsor in one side, then you'd have to find somebody good to carry it. He may have been the one that carried it in the Senate. I worked with, I do remember working with Henry on some of those--

HERDMAN: --he told me a good story about, um, some of his friends putting like three or four seatbelts on his chair because there'd been significant debate about it.

LEAR: Is that right?

HERDMAN: So, he came in one day and there were seatbelts all, all up in his chair.

LEAR: Yeah, yeah.

HERDMAN: How did you, how did the House relate to the Senate? What, did, did you do a lot of intercommunication, or was it rather separated?

LEAR: You know, um, related better in those days because, um, both sides were controlled by the same party.



LEAR: And in, uh, um, the time I was there, the leadership of the Senate was very strong. So, um, you know, they, there was a little friction at, toward the end of every session, there was friction over the Senate holding some House bills up and the House holding some Senate bills up.


LEAR: But by and large, um, the, the relationship was good.


LEAR: I, I never had any trouble. I had very few of the bills that I had that passed the House that did not pass--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --the Senate. Um, and I ended up carrying a lot of bills for senators in the House. Uh, one of the things, um, I, I guess, when you're not a committee chair and you're not in leadership, and I wasn't a committee chair until the last few years, um, there are other ways that you can--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --can help people along. And I helped a lot of people because of my legal background. I didn't want to be on any of the, the, the so-called lawyer committees.


HERDMAN: Yeah, I was going to ask you. You didn't do the legal committee?

LEAR: Judiciary, I never wanted to be on judiciary. I figured I practice law the rest of the time.


LEAR: But with the background I had, um, I could help people draft bills that they needed and help them pass. I've, I've handled a lot of bills on the floor.


LEAR: Um, so that, you know, you build up a fair amount of, of rapport with people, and also a, a share of favors, if you--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --if, if you're are handling things for them, they'll will help you on the other--

HERDMAN: --right--

LEAR: --other side of the aisle or the other end of the Capitol.

HERDMAN: Let me, um, just clarify that, so, when you had a House bill, you would pick a particular person to champion it in the Senate--

LEAR: --no, you have to have--

HERDMAN: --and vice versa?

LEAR: Well, you, um, you don't have to identify somebody before it gets to the floor because when it goes in committee, you, as a representative, would go to that committee and present to them.

HERDMAN: Okay, to the Senate committee and present it to them.

LEAR: Yeah, now, if you can find somebody that really wants to help you and they're on that committee, then that's good.



LEAR: But once it goes to the floor, then you have to have a specific, unless it goes on the consent calendar, then you have to have a senator get up and handle the bill on the floor.


LEAR: So that's when you have to have, um, what we would call the Senate sponsor.

HERDMAN: Um-hm, and vice-versa.

LEAR: Vice-versa, yeah--

HERDMAN: --they do the same thing--

LEAR: --and, and so a lot of times--

HERDMAN: --and you served that capacity, Um-hm. .

LEAR: A lot of times I would have people say, "I've got this bill thus and such, will you handle it on the floor of the House?"

HERDMAN: Um-hm, okay.

LEAR: So, I did that a fair amount.

HERDMAN: Um, let me just ask you briefly about the committee system. Do you feel like it works, and do you feel like the increase to annual sessions was necessary?

LEAR: Uh, I never felt like, I thought the committee system worked well during the sessions. I thought the interim committees generally were not that useful because any bill, even if a bill passed during the interim, it had to go back through the committee system. A lot of legislators would just show up, and as soon as they got there, during the interim meetings, they wanted to adjourn and go home.


LEAR: Um, and, and, um, and so I, I, the interim task forces now, when 01:23:00there was a special issue and you got a task force that was really trying to get something done, they, I was on several of those that I did think were beneficial. The, the committee system during the session, I thought worked well. It, it, um, where it tended to break down was because so many things were saved until the end, and, and you'd be trying to get a bill out of committee, you had to have a quorum of the committee to get it out, but at the same time, a lot of people who may've been on that committee, were at other committees because they had their own bills--

HERDMAN: --okay, um-hm--

LEAR: --they were trying to get done. And that's, that's where, um, it tended to, to, um, break down. I didn't support annual sessions because during the time I was there, most of the very best people there were at the outer limits of the time they could really spend.


LEAR: And, and I'm a believer at the state level, particularly in the 01:24:00citizen legislature, and the best legislators were people who had successful businesses or careers away from the legislature. And I was afraid that, that most of those people couldn't put in the extra time. And honestly I, I watch what they do now. I've seen very little significant legislation get done in the off year.

HERDMAN: Do you feel like, um, what you were, what you feared came true? That the increase to annual sessions minimized, um, or maybe concentrated who could serve--

LEAR: I think it has. Now--

HERDMAN: --thereby watering down the citizen part of it?

LEAR: --it, it sounds like, it sounds like I'm saying that the, the, um, that all the good people have gone.


LEAR: I don't think that's happened, but pretty much all of the really good ones who were there when I was there did leave.

HERDMAN: Well, it does seem to minimize the type of other jobs you can 01:25:00have.

LEAR: Right.

HERDMAN: I mean, there're only certain things that you can do--

LEAR: --right--

HERDMAN: --and get away to make it that often, you know.

LEAR: Yeah.

HERDMAN: Um, what about the budget? That was one of the big arguments for annuals that the budget has to be reviewed annually. Do you feel like that's improved or?

LEAR: No, I mean, the concurrent with that change has been the two times they haven't even adopted a budget.


LEAR: So, you know, I don't, uh, I really don't think the process of tweaking the budget has, has gotten significantly better.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Okay, um, so you ended your term in '95?

LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: Uh, how did you come to leave the legislature? Did you choose to? Were you defeated?

LEAR: Just chose to.

HERDMAN: And why did you make that decision?

LEAR: Uh, a couple of, um, a couple of reasons primarily. The, the, uh, the, all of the things with BOPTROT had taken a lot of fun. I mean, it, 01:26:00the cloud that hung over us with, with, um, that. The newspaper here was particularly hard. The newspaper in Lexington basically said, "You either were guilty of it, or you knew that it was going on and didn't do anything about it, or you should've known." Well, that's not true.


LEAR: I mean, you could've suspected, if you, you know, if somebody asked you to pick out the top ten candidates, you would've hit most of them, but people didn't know that kind of thing that it turned out to be--

LEAR: --going on was going on. And, and, so they made it, they made it less, uh, less fun to be there.

HERDMAN: Do you think there was an overreaction to that scandal?

LEAR: I don't think so. I think it was necessary, I mean, I was the author of a lot of the reaction.


LEAR: Including some provisions that made it much harder for somebody in a large law firm to serve.


LEAR: I, I, in some respects, passed some legislation that put me out of a job. Um, it wasn't quite that bad, at least the way it was interpreted later, but, um, the disclosure requirements concerning the people you did business with made me think somebody in a large law firm would have a very difficult time serving. Now they haven't interpreted it the way we anticipated it would be. In fact, I've got a law partner 01:27:00right now in our Louisville office that is in the legislature, Scott Brinkman. And, you know, he's an example, he's a, um, an example of somebody really good that still is finding time to serve even with annual sessions, um, but--

HERDMAN: --I think that distance makes a difference there too. Anything, anybody--

LEAR: --yeah--

HERDMAN: --within an hour of Frankfort seems to be in better shape.

LEAR: That's right, he does, you know, he goes, he goes home in the evenings. But, um, I think, um, I don't think there was, I think the reaction that we, that was made to it in the, in the ethics legislation was necessary to restore a level of confidence in--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --you know, it, you could say it was, was overdone, but in that 01:28:00environment, I don't think it was overdone. Because we really--

HERDMAN: --um-hm. It was necessary--

LEAR: --I mean, you know, you had the speaker going to prison. You had, um, committee chairs going to prison. I mean, I don't know how many legislators were, were, uh, um, convicted, but I think it was ten or twelve, and then lobbyists. And the whole image that was painted was of a much too cozy relationship--

HERDMAN: --um-hm. sure--

LEAR: --between a lot of legislators and--

HERDMAN: --I had someone say, "You didn't even want to go to dinner with lobbyist after that." (laughs)

LEAR: Yeah.

HERDMAN: "You didn't want to be seen in public"--

LEAR: --yeah--

HERDMAN: --"even if you were paying for your own, you didn't want to be seen in public or with someone.

LEAR: That's right, that's right, and, and before that, I mean, there were, there were legislators that would literally on the way back to the offices, um, after a day at the session, look for some of their favorite lobbyists to look and invite them to dinner, knowing that, that what, if I'm inviting you to dinner, that means you're gonna pay for my dinner. (laughs)


HERDMAN: Um-hm. sure, yeah.

LEAR: It's the opposite of what one would normally think.


LEAR: So I think it, it clearly had gotten too cozy.


LEAR: And, and so we needed some strong medicine, and, and our version, the House version was actually, um, was actually stronger than the Senate version.


LEAR: I'll, I'll tell you one other funny thing about that. I know you've probably gotta go, and so do I.

HERDMAN: Oh, you're fine.

LEAR: Um, I was given responsibility for the House version of the ethics legislation; Joe Meyer was given responsibility for the Senate version. And ours was a lot harsher and lot more detailed; the Senate, we just threw out. There was some fairly lukewarm stuff before on the books, and we threw it out and wrote a whole new ethics code. The Senate, um, had taken the old ones and tweaked them a little bit. Now there's, there was some things in there that were stronger, but it wasn't nearly what we had done. Well, we ended up having this big caucus because we were butting heads, the House version versus the Senate version, you know, which one were we going to work from in the conference committee and all that sort of thing. So we had all the Democrats, House and Senate, I think, pretty sure in, in one meeting. And Joe Barrows was 01:30:00speaking. He said, "Well," he said, "Here's the problem we got. We've got the two best draftsmen in the General Assembly that are handling these bills." Joe Meyer and then me.


LEAR: And then he'd, you'd talk about being political. So. He said, he said, "Now there are some that think that Joe has a little more feeling"--I think that's the right--"for the members than Bill does." And I stopped and I said, "I think that's the most politely I ever been called a son of a bitch in my life." (both laugh) And that broke, that broke everybody up.

HERDMAN: Yeah. (laughs)

LEAR: It kind of, it took the tension out of it, so.


HERDMAN: All right, well, let me just ask you a couple more things.

LEAR: That's fine.

HERDMAN: Um, back to the, the issue of the federal government and what was going on when you served from '85 to '94, was there a, a lot of influence of national politics on state or did it feel very separated?

LEAR: Very separated.


LEAR: I, I used to tell people in Kentucky there, at least in those days, there was a lot more difference between the view of the world between the urban and the rural than there was between the Democrats and the Republicans.

HERDMAN: Sure, okay.

LEAR: I mean, we had, we had rural Republicans who, from the coalfields who were very pro-labor, and we had Democrats, like myself, from the, some of the urban non-union areas that were, were not pro-labor at all.


LEAR: I mean, and so it, it just wasn't--

HERDMAN: --that brings up an interesting question, too, about voting blocks. Did you, did the representatives from the Lexington area tend to vote together? And were there other major blocks?

LEAR: Yeah, on most, on most things we, we tended to, um, to carry on, 01:32:00to get back to the one partisan issue, there were only about two times a session, two or three times a session when you were pretty much obligated to, to stand up and salute the partisan flag.


LEAR: Very few time, very few bills of any type were, were, were, um, categorized as Democrat/Republican bill.

HERDMAN: It seems like with the pervasive Democratic influence that there's factions in the Democratic Party more so than--

LEAR: --yeah--

HERDMAN: --or at least it's not just--

LEAR: --yeah, they were(??)--

HERDMAN: --in the Democratic/Republican--

LEAR: --now there were a lot more--

HERDMAN: --yeah--

LEAR: --because of the, of, it's a lot more partisan because it's truly a two-party situation. It wasn't nearly as much, um, in, in those days. Uh, there were, the Lexington folks tended to, to vote together a lot, though not, um, not 100 percent of the time.


LEAR: Um, but, you know, on, on all the big education issues, for 01:33:00example, Ernesto, Louie Mack and, uh, um, oh, who else would've been here in those days? Jim LeMaster for the little piece of, of the puzzle. Uh, we would, we would be pretty close.

HERDMAN: Um-hm, and what about Louisville? Did Lexington and Louisville tend to vote, being the major urban areas?

LEAR: Um, sometimes and sometimes not.


LEAR: The, the, there are a lot of, a lot of issues that were just particular to Louisville.


LEAR: And, you know, we kind of let them--

HERDMAN: --deal with that--

LEAR: --handle their business and not, not fight over too many things.

HERDMAN: Okay, um, for point of reference, as far as, uh, time wise, I want to ask you about race and gender within, um, the situation. You're a little later than some of the people I have spoken with.

LEAR: Right.

HRDMAN: Um, it's, it had opened up a little bit by that time, and you served under Martha Layne Collins.

LEAR: Right.

HERDMAN: Um, what are your feelings on those issues? Did it, did it matter? Was there a voting bloc around that sort of issue?


LEAR: Um, you know, the, uh, there, there were still, let's talk about women first.


[Pause in recording.]


LEAR: Um, I think that, um, during those days, there, um, there were still and maybe, and maybe is today, I don't know, but there were still, um, some amount of resist-, resistance to, or resentment of, um, women who, particularly those that that were, were outspoken.


LEAR: Um, I mean, anybody who's in the legislature is, is gonna be outspoken, but, but, um, just to use a couple of examples, Anne Northup, um, was, was never loved, even by the Jefferson County delegation. She was outspoken. She really was, she was ahead on everybody taking on big tobacco. Uh, that was one of her--


HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --real hot button issues. She and I became very good friends. I, I respected her intellect, and I also thought she was ahead of the curve on some of those things.


LEAR: Um, but she, and there was another woman named Susan Stokes who was Republican and just really aggravated a lot of the members, especially the, the Democrat males. Um, and, and so I think there was a little bit more resistance to them because they were women than there would've been, um, if, if they had been men in the same party and the same district saying the same thing. Now that's my, that's my sense, now, um.

HERDMAN: Did you notice that with Governor Collins too, or did her personality somehow -----------(??)--

LEAR: --no, I think she, I think she, she was, I thought she was the best and most effective governor of all of them that I served with.

HERDMAN: Wow. Um-hm.

LEAR: Uh, and I think she was generally, um, she was generally liked and 01:36:00respected in both--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --in both houses. And, and part of it, I think, you know, Martha Layne had, she'd been around, she'd paid her dues in the party, and she'd held other, she'd been clerk of the supreme court, I think, before that.


LEAR: And seemed like maybe secretary of state, anyway, she'd been there, and people had gotten to know her. Her personality is, is such that I think she's difficult not to like.


LEAR: I mean, we really, we've always hit it off well. Um, now the, the, um, I, I felt like the, the, uh, minority representatives, um, were generally, um, liked and respected and treated as equals. I didn't see, I didn't see any, um, any real overt racism during the time that, that I was there. Now, you know, some, um, some of the, the hot 01:37:00button issues that they, that they may have been pushing related to, um, civil rights, for example.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. I was gonna ask if they--

LEAR: --they wouldn't, they wouldn't carry--

HERDMAN: --were distinct issues--

LEAR: --yeah, they wouldn't carry the day on, but I don't think, um, I don't think anybody that I ever saw was, was again, I mean, you don't know what's in people's heads.


LEAR: But was, was being overtly racist and disagreeing.


LEAR: I mean, issues like private clubs, for example, and tax treatment and all that sort of thing, um, you know, there are people who, who, to this day believe, I don't care what your type; a private club is a private club, and people, even if they shouldn't discriminate, people have a right.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Sure.

LEAR: You know, to, so, uh, I, I didn't see--

HERDMAN: --who were the leading African Americans that you served with? Were you with, in with Aubrey Williams, or Carl Hines, or?


LEAR: Um, Gerald Neal.


LEAR: Uh, was there, and, um, oh, gosh. Um, one of the fellows that was on our Investing in People group cause I can still, I remember taking him that note who ended up working in the administration. Um, Aubrey was not there.



HERDMAN: He was already gone by that time?

LEAR: Yeah, he was already gone. Shoot, I can. (pause) I have to.

HERDMAN: Oh, that's okay. Specific names are like--

LEAR: --yeah--

HERDMAN: --you know, come and go, you know. That's fine.

LEAR: I can, somewhere over there I keep.

HERDMAN: (laughs) On a list somewhere, right.

LEAR: Right, hold on just one second.


LEAR: Let me.

[Pause in recording.]

HERDMAN: Okay, um, so in '94, you decided to go ahead and end your term.

LEAR: Um-hm.

HERDMAN: And what have you been doing since, professionally, still at 01:39:00the same, uh, law firm, right?

LEAR: Same law firm.

HERDMAN: Are you involved in politics at all?

LEAR: Oh, I'm not in, um, um, any serious way.


LEAR: Oh, I'm, let me put this back on. I'm not in any, any, um, serous way. I get asked a lot if I'm gonna run for mayor.


LEAR: And if I'm gonna run for this that and the other, I haven't ever, part of the reason is that I never, I enjoyed it. Um, and, um, I have never said that I won't run for something again. I'm the, um, managing partner of this law firm.


LEAR: And so, I do a lot of law firm management. Still practice law. I'm involved in some, um, development projects. I'm, I'm, I'm doing a lot of the new downtown housing, which keeps me occupied. I stay, I'm involved with the Chamber, and I've served since I got out I've served as chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lexington's 01:40:00Economic Development Agency, which was called Lexington United, so that keeps, that keeps my, I guess, my hand into community-oriented things. I, I like government because I thought it's the ultimate problem- solving opportunity.


LEAR: And it's sort of fun(??)--

HERDMAN: --when you left, do you still feel that way?

LEAR: Yeah, I do.


LEAR: I do. I don't think that government always does the best job of solving problems, but it, I think it presents the most opportunities to solve things--

HERDMAN: --and has the structure to possibly do that--

LEAR: --and, um, do things well.

HERDMAN: I'm gonna ask you just a couple more, um, looking back, kind of questions. What was your most satisfying accomplishment and, or, uh, biggest disappointment?

LEAR: Um, the, the most satisfying accomplishment, I think, um, was, would've been one of two things. Well, I don't know. It's hard to identify just one.


LEAR: I played a significant role in KERA, um, from a perspective of 01:41:00dealing with, with some tax issues that needed to be solved.


LEAR: Local tax issues that needed to be solved and in order to make that work. Um, so that, I, I think KERA is the most important thing done by the legislature. Um, the, um, the work on restructuring economic development, in terms of something really big that I played the central role in, that's probably the most satisfying.


LEAR: But, um, my, I, I think the, the, uh, single communication that I prize the most, I got a, there was a nurse that we worked with both the child restraint law and the, and the, uh, um, and the seat belt law, who sent me a note after we passed the seat belt law, said something like, "There'll be people in Kentucky whose lives will be saved that will never know what you did, but we'll know."

HERDMAN: Um-hm. That's great. Yeah, that's very good feedback.


LEAR: Biggest disappointment, um, I would say the biggest, the, um-- (pause)--the biggest disappointment was probably the BOPTROT scandal and, and what it did to the, the fabric of the place because it really, um, I don't, I don't think that, I don't think that the General Assembly has been as nearly as fun or as collegial ever since, because right about the time that, and they've sort of moved into the imperial General Assembly now. They, we used to, our offices were all together. There was a, there was a place everybody met in the morning and the afternoon where people would tell stories, and that's a, that's a great environment for hearing stories and jokes. Um, and right after that 01:43:00was also when they moved into the new offices, and it's just different. I mean, people will tell you it's not nearly as much fun as it was. And I suspect that, that if you interviewed the folks over there today, they wouldn't have nearly the funny stories and, um, the good memories about, you know, how it all worked, as you heard from Marshall Long--

HERDMAN: --um-hm--

LEAR: --and the people that were there earlier. So I, I think that's probably, that's the biggest disappointment. I mean, personally I've had enough successes that I don't, you know, I don't regret anything.

HERDMAN: No big bill that you just didn't get passed or anything like that? It's more a general.

LEAR: No, I, I, I would say, in that regard, the single biggest disappointment I had was, um, in, um, I told you about this Investing in People project.


LEAR: We, we developed, with a lot of work, we developed a, a, um, major 01:44:00revision to Kentucky's, um, system for educating older workers.


LEAR: And it required, on a regional basis, it required all the different entities that were providing workforce training, which was then Kentucky Tech, um, the community colleges, um, half a dozen others. We, we created a system that, that required them to come up with an integrated plan instead of competing against each other, which they did, um, required them to come up with an integrated plan to, um, work together on a regional basis.


LEAR: So, as they, as we used to say, "So they weren't all hustling the same side of the street." And the, the linchpin of it was that there was an, an entity, and I can't remember exactly how we set it up, that could withhold their funds if they didn't adopt an approved plan, an 01:45:00integrated plan. Everybody signed off on that. We had the, on the, on the task force, we had the head of the U.K. community college system. We had the head of the Kentucky Tech, which was the technical schools that the state had from the Workforce Development Cabinet, had everybody signed on. And we put the bill in, and then one day early in the session, um, Bill Houston, who was head of Workforce Development Cabinet and, and, uh, Ben Carr, who was head of the community college system came to see me, and they both said, "We're dropping our support from the bill." So they, without them, it died. And I am convinced to this day, that if we had passed that bill, the legislature would never have come back and stripped the community college system out of U.K.


LEAR: Which I think has been a big blow to U.K. statewide.


LEAR: U.K.'s primary source of political power statewide, which I think 01:46:00is important to maintaining them--

HERDMAN: --sure--

LEAR: --as a top university, primary sources were the community college system, the U.K. basketball program, and the agricultural extension program, and that was--

HERDMAN: --you mean things that tied the rest of the state to U.K--

LEAR: --yes, yes--

HERDMAN: --and gave them some negotiating power--

LEAR: --right--

HERDMAN: --and that sort of thing.

LEAR: And losing the community college system, now, now Lee Todd did a great job this last time of, of getting it back, but losing the community college system has had a big negative impact on U.K.'s statewide influence.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. Sure, um-hm. Um, you've kind of hinted at your political philosophy or approach to politics. Uh, what values in your life do you think, um, helped you form that most? Some, like upbringing, religion, what's the source of how you ended up being the kind of politician you were?

LEAR: You know, I, I, I think probably just the environment, um, that, um, I was raised in and, and educated in.


LEAR: I, I, um, um, I was probably influenced a lot by my parents to, 01:47:00to think independently. Um, influenced, um, the, the political book that I, that I've ever read that influenced me the most was Profiles in Courage, particularly the, just the, uh, introduction that was written by, not by Kennedy--

HERDMAN: --yeah. (laughs)

LEAR: Sorenson, or whoever it was that, you know, that said that, um, "That politicians are not there to be," what is it, "seismic detectors of shifts in public opinion," or something like that. Um, it's, that's, uh, some people think that's a little Pollyannaish because most of the people written about in that book didn't get reelected. (both laugh) On account of the stands they took, but I still think that, that, um, 01:48:00being, being, uh, um, I'll think of the right word in a minute. Being a statesman is more important than, than being somebody that, that wins every election. And I think that's what moves, moves everybody forward. So I think, you know, coming from Lexington, I think Henry Clay was the guy who said, "I'd rather be right than be president."


LEAR: And he tried five times. (both laugh) He never was--

HERDMAN: --right. He ended up ----------(??)--

LEAR: --he was never president, but he was right on, on more things than he was wrong about.

HERDMAN: That's right. Um, and the last question, what advice would you give somebody heading into politics now? What do you think is the most important things you've learned that you would pass along?

LEAR: Well, I, um, I would, I'm gonna, I'll give you something for you that you'll get a kick out of before you leave. I, I would, um, I would say that the, the first thing I would tell young people is, make 01:49:00a success of yourself in something other than politics before you get into politics.


LEAR: I think that's, that's important, um, for a whole lot of reasons, including establishing your credibility. Um, there are too many people in politics today who the only thing they can say they have done successfully is win elections. And that, that doesn't meet my, um, my standard for somebody that's a good political leader. Um, the second thing I would say is, um, find something that you care about and, and make a difference rather than simply being there. You know, there's something being said for always being there and always voting.


LEAR: But, um, I would much rather be able to look back at, at some specific accomplishments than at some attendance pins.



LEAR: And, and so, I, you know, I, the third, the third thing I would say, and it relates to the second, is the primary obligation of leadership is to lead.


LEAR: And if you're elected, you're supposed to be a leader, and therefore that means you gotta, and Terry McBrayer likes to say, "It's hard," "It's hard to lead and hide." (both laugh) So, that means you got to get out front, you got to, got to take heat.


LEAR: Let me see if I can find this quickly. If I can't, I won't bug you with it. When I was in Frankfort, I did something, um, after a while where I started writing down little observations that I would have. Um, I'm not sure if this is right. I was going to pull it out earlier. Little observations and I called them, "Lessons from the Legislature." (Herdman laughs) After a while, and some of them, some of 01:51:00them you'll, um, you'll recognize from what I've said.

HERDMAN: You could probably publish that in pamphlet form and give it to all state legislatures across the nation. (laughs)

LEAR: Yeah, it really, um, I may have put it someplace. I can't find it. If I can't find it quick, I won't bug you waiting around for it, but it's, it really is, um, I don't think it's gonna be in here. Pictures of people in the bar, and there are, I mean, in every profession, and our bar is no different. Anyway, there're a group of people that are just known universally as asses.

HERDMAN: Um-hm. (laughs)

LEAR: I mean, they really are. So, I did, I did this thing, new from 01:52:00Parker Brothers, "Asshole Dartboard," and I put all these guys around and my partner that I was, that I was after, I put him in the middle, and posted it. I bet I'm not gonna be able to find this. I should've looked for it ahead of time. Well, if I find it, I'll, I'll send it to you, but I'm not sure what I've done with it now.

HERDMAN: Okay, we'll actually send you a copy of the interview, so you'll have the address.

LEAR: Oh Lord.

HERDMAN: If you want to send it back, we can do that.

LEAR: Okay, I'll, I'll, uh, find it and send it to you. All right.

HERDMAN: Um, anything else you want to add? All right. Thank you so much, Mr. Lear. You did a great interview.

LEAR: It was an interesting ten years.

HERDMAN: Yeah. (laughs)

[End of interview.]