Friday, July 18, 2008

358. From One Branch to Another - and Who Will Follow?

My how time flies when you are working, walking precincts, stopping in the hospital, watching a ball game at Slugger Field, and sweating in the heat. I've done all of those things this week, but one can be eliminated for the time being - stopping in the hospital. My dad has been discharged and is at home and doing better, which is a good thing. Other than some cute nurses to look at now and then - his report and my observation (of him, not them), his recent stay in the hospital wasn't all that pleasant. But I'm glad he is home and he seems to be as well, and as his spirits are improved by the familiar surroundings, hopefully his health will follow.

The temperature when I left the office at 5pm was 94 degrees at Standiford Field, which meant it was closer to 97 or 98 downtown in the asphalt empire governed over by His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. It has since receded back to 92 - not much of a retreat. Other than some random clouds here and there, and a full moon, not much change is expected weatherwise anytime soon here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

But, change is in the air, at least politically in Kentucky's two most populous counties. Here in Jefferson County, my long time boss and even longer-time friend Irv Maze, at right, is expected to make some moves soon ending his partisan political career, and possibly making a lateral move to the judicial branch taking a seat on the Jefferson Circuit Bench. Irv has been Jefferson County Attorney since his election to that post in 1998. He succeeded Mike Conliffe, who had succeeded J. Bruce Miller, my former employer. Irv and Mike worked under Bruce who was County Attorney from 1969 to 1985. Irv was originally elected to the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee the same year I was, in 1980. He was elected Chair of the 46th LD; I was elected Vice Chair of the 45th. I was elected by a wide margin; his election was very close, challenged at the local level, appealed to the State Central Committee, and decided in a recount of the weighted votes, where he won by a few thousanths of a percentage point.

Fayette County is going through a partisan-to-judicial conversion as well, one which has created some electoral opportunities in their legislative delegation. Longtime State Senator Ernesto Scorsone has withdrawn as a candidate for reelection to the 13th Senate District, a position he has held for ten years, and filed for a Circuit Court post. That created a vacancy on the ballot for the 13th Senate. Longtime State Representative Kathy Stein has been chosen by the appropriate people in the 13th Senate District to be the Democratic Party's nominee. She will have to remove her name as a candidate for State Representative in the 75th House seat, which affords the appropriate people in the 75th House District the chance to nominate a replacement candidate. I have a strong opinion as to who the appropriate people in the 75th House District might be, and I will be curiously watching to see how this position is filled. On several occasions while a member of the State Central Committee, I proposed an Amendment to the State Party By-Laws which would address and clarify who the appropriate people might be in such a situation, but my proposal was never heard, most recently due to the early adjournment of a meeting which had ran longer than anticipated.

Aside from how the replacement candidate for the 75th is chosen, I am genuinely interested in these legislator changes. The legislators currently representing the 13th Senate and 75th House districts are two of the most progressive and conscientious people in Frankfort, or for that matter, anywhere in the Commonwealth, and I am proud to call them my friends. They have served not only their own constituencies well, but also have been great assets to the people of Kentucky as a whole. Their work protecting those who are regularly underrepresented - or misrepresented - or unrepresented - has been noted by many and has in itself ennobled the work of the General Assembly, in an era when so much coming out of Frankfort is less-than-satisfactory at best. (Senator Scorsone and Representative Stein are shown above with 77th District Representative Jesse Crenshaw).

The spring Ernesto Scorsone first ran for the legislature, if I recall it correctly, I was living part-time in Louisville and part-time in Lexington. I was doing work for the University of Kentucky Student Government Association, then being led by David Bradford - again speculation, not to be represented as factual - it may have been Tim Freudenberg at that point. Anyway, within our circle of SGA hangers-on was Claude R. "Buddy" Vaughan, whose father, as I remember, was Ernesto's primary opponent for the 75th House seat. Although I didn't know Ernesto or Mr. Vaughan, I think I remember campaigning for Mr. Vaughan at Buddy's behest in the Chevy Chase neighborhood and out toward Morton Junior High School (now Morton Middle) - which, unrelated, is one of the most handsome school buildings anywhere, but not quite as impressive as Jefferson County's duPont Manual High School. At least, that's what I remember. 1984 remains a cloudy, cobweb-filled year in the crevices of what is left of my memory, which is somewhat diminished from its former capacity. Maybe all this happened, maybe it didn't. But, I digress.

Ernesto won that primary and went on to serve in the House of Representatives for a decade, at which point he moved over to the Senate, defeating Republican Mitchell Meade in that first election in 1996. Kathy Stein took Ernesto's place in the House, defeating Pete Palumbo the same year. Both have worked hard not only in front of the camera, but much more so behind the cameras, in committee meetings, Democratic caucusses, and countless other encounters, making sure that certain legislation either did or didn't make it to the House or Senate floor, and making sure that if such legislation did make to the full body, that all parties and positions were well-represented in the deliberations. Each has moved up in power and prestige; each has done a lot of work and a lot of good, much of which goes unreported or underreported. Representative Stein is currently serving in the very powerful role of Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

I do not blame Senator Scorsone for his wanting to move from one role to another, especially given the so-called "leader" of his chamber is State Senator David Williams, Republican of Russell Springs, or Burkesville, or somewhere associated with the number 666. Nor do I begrudge Representative Stein the opportunity to serve in the Kentucky Senate, presently home to only one Democratic female, 35th District Senator Denise Harper Angel of Jefferson County. The Senate needs and will benefit from Stein's presence in that chamber. But, I am concerned that her voice there will be, at least in the beginning, not quite as strong, perhaps (though doubtfully) not quite as effective, as it is in the lower chamber. And I am concerned that whoever the appropriate people mentioned above choose as a replacement candidate in the 75th, that that person will not be as effective as Stein currently is in her leadership role in the House. I know that time will lend favor and power to Stein in the Senate as well as to her replacement in the House. And I am hopeful that it doesn't take too long for the favor and power to find itself and whoever is serving in these positions.

I can only wish both of these able and amiable leaders the best in their new roles in Fayette County. And to my friend Irv Maze in Jefferson County, the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have had not the personal experience that Kathy Stein represents the oppressed; my experience with her has been the opposite.

She illegaly buried an impeachment petition be refusing to give it to her committee. The law on this matter clearly states that any citizen impeachment goes to the committee.

Meanwhile, the same individuals who had me falsely arrested; Greg Stumbo and Howard Keith Hall are still in office and have never been sanctioned for their malfesance actions.

I have a letter from the Attorney Generals Office stating that they have no jurisdiction in matters of criminal behavior by county attorneys. What the letter failed to state is that the particular county attorney Hall in this case, was a campaign contributor to Stumbo.

The truth is at the same time they claimed not to have jurisdiction; they were pursuing the exact same criminal charges against a sitting republican governor. This is called selective proseuction.

Now don't think I am a republican cause I am not; but it certainly stinks to have been betrayed by your own party in failing to protect you.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.