Thursday, January 8, 2009

430. Deja Vu at City Hall

Although it wasn't really "a hundred years ago," it was a long time ago when I first started attending Board of Aldermen meetings on the Third Floor of City Hall at Sixth and Jefferson streets. I would be there with my late uncle Don and his political friend Jim Reddington, also deceased. Jim's son Greg would also be there, along with our political raison d'etre Cyril Allgeier.

It was the spring of 1977. Cyril was making his second bid for office, running for the same office he had lost in the Primary of 1975, Fourth Ward Alderman. He lost to Mary Margaret Mulvihill in 1975 and was running against her again. We were running on a slate with William B. Stansbury, a member of the Board of Aldermen who was running for Mayor of the City of Louisville, an office and entity which went out of existence six years ago this week, thanks in large part to the efforts of His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, efforts I did not support. Mr. Stansbury, with whom I became friends and for whom I briefly worked, won his Primary defeating Creighton Mershon, and went on to be elected mayor that fall. Cyril lost, again, and went back to being everybody's favorite coach at Holy Family School, along with being a coach and player in the new Derby City Baseball League (founded 1974), as well as continuing in his job as a warehouseman at General Electric. But, he also planned to run again and we, the campaign team, needed to learn more about City Hall and how it operated, and having a friend in the mayor's office couldn't hurt. And it didn't. We spent the next four years regularly attending aldermanic meetings, sitting in the back of the room, and occasionally wondering around the aldermanic offices, which at that time were limited to the southwest corner of the third floor. That went on for four years from 1977 to 1981. Cyril didn't run in 1979, sitting out while John Sommers made a bid for the office - he too lost to Mrs. Mulvihill. But, Cyril and his campaign did come back in 1981, winning the Primary by 37 votes, a margin I predicted and on which I won a small bet. But, to be honest, the prediction was made while somewhat intoxicated, sitting on the front porch of the little house on Belmar Drive we rented as our headquarters. Uncle Don, Jim "Pop" Reddington, his son Greg, and Cyril also made predictions. Later that fall, Cyril won the seat outright and prepared to take office in January, 1982.

Prior to 1982, the Board of Aldermen had operated with six aides serving the twelve aldermen. Aides weren't assigned to aldermen, but rather to committees. That changed in 1982. The Board had decided to have one legislative aide per alderman. Those who were elected in 1982 would be the freshman class of aldermen having legislative aides. Cyril chose me, then 21, as his first legislative aide, a position from which he would later fire me, rehire me, and fire me again. Eventually I went to work for other aldermen and other agencies. But I was there in the beginning of Louisville's system of having legislative aides.

I enjoyed the political give-and-take of the legislative process, something I first learned about through serving as a page for State Senator Tom Mobley and State Representative Dottie Priddy. I'd regularly go to Frankfort durings sessions of Kentucky General Assembly. While a student at UK, I worked for the Legislative Research Commission in Frankfort. My interest was also furthered while in junior and senior high school by participation in the State YMCA programs known as Jr.-KYA, KYA, KUNA, Tri-Hi-Y, and others. It is a process I still enjoy.

So twenty-seven years after that first meeting as a legislative aide to former Alderman Cyril Allgeier, tonight I attended (worked) another meeting as a legilative aide, this time for Councilman Brent Ackerson, Democratic of the 26th District. Looking around the room, no one is there from my early days. My current boss was eight years old when I took that first job, as was the newly elected council president, David Tandy. Of course, I was only 21. I do see Leah Wilding from time-to-time. She was the legislative aide in the 5th Ward for Steve Magre. Dolores Triplett was the aide in the 6th Ward, working for David Banks. Dolores's son Kevin was an unsuccessful candidate for Councilman in last year's Primary, and has been a legislative aide himself in the past and I would love to work with him. Mary Margaret Mulvihill's son, Patrick, who was 11 years old when I went to work for Alderman Allgeier is now an Assistant County Attorney assigned to the Council and we have worked together for several years. Patrick is one of my favorite politicians and hopefully his name will someday appear on a ballot where I vote.

One other person who was there then still is, Courier-Journal reporter Sheldon Shafer, who has called me "Noble-One" as long as I remember, which, frankly, is a long time. But all of the other media is new. Since I do not watch TV, I could not say who the reporters/videographers from the local stations were. And something that wasn't even dreamed of in 1982, this meeting was "live-blogged," a word which wasn't created until a few years ago. Tonight's blogger was someone I've met only this year and find to be a very good writer and very intelligent young man. His name is Philip Bailey and he writes for the LEO magazine.

So many things are different. And while the Metro Council meets in the same chamber of the same building, the ancient carved mahogany desks are gone, replaced by a four-section counter top serving the twenty-six members of our local council. Still, it was all rather deja-vuish for me. I've been there before. I'm glad to be back.


Today marks what would have been my paternal grandmother's birthday. She, Grace Irene Lee, daughter of Isaac, granddaughter of Samuel, and of the Bullitt County pioneer family of Lee's, being born January 8, 1915.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jeff on the new job. You will do well.

Moderate Man

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.