Friday, February 26, 2010

602. Moving Numbers

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St. Ives?


Now and then I will use the number of an entry as a basis for the contents of that entry. Some time ago Marty Meyer expressed to me an interest in having entry #602 be somehow related to him. Much more recently, some unknown commenter reminded me, as King Hamlet's Ghost called to Hamlet from below the stage in Scene V of Act 1, "remember me." Okay, the comment actually said "Remember post 602." So I am.

My friend Marty Meyer is a candidate for the Kentucky State Senate this fall, running in the 38th District, presently territory stretching across southern Jefferson County from Pierce Way in Leemont Acres in the southwest eastwardly along the county's border around to the 8600 block of Old Heady Road southeast of Jeffersontown. Here and there it juts northward, such as to Arnoldtown Road at Saint Andrews Church Road, which, unrelated, is opposite the original farmstead of my 3-greats-grandfather John Antle, who is buried in a small cemetery near this intersection. But, I digress.

In the east side of the district, the northernmost jump is up to the intersection of Hopewell Road at the Gene Snyder Freeway. Meyer lives in yet another jump northward from the county-line, in a subdivision off Stony Brook Drive, which is one of the former Hurstbourne Lane segments which were planned in different parts of the county, all to one day be connected, and most now have been. The picture at right is from a ribbon cutting connecting many of those Hurstbourne segments. Taken on June 2, 2005 (a day on which I was a patient at Norton Suburban Hospital awaiting brain surgery), on the far right is State Senator Dan Seum, who will be more fully discussed in the paragraphs below.

Another jut northward is over in South Louisville where the district reaches up to Alger Avenue and Southside Drive to take in the precinct where the incumbent once resided. The truth is the 38th Senate District has been a moving target for twenty years. Part of what is now in the 38th was at that time in the old 7th District, which started out in the 1970s in southwestern Jefferson County, then switched to a larger area of southern Jefferson County, then added to it in southern Jefferson was the entirety of Bullitt County; and was, in the latest redraw, shifted in its entirety to all of Franklin, Anderson, and Woodford, and a large part of northern Fayette counties where it is interestingly represented by my old friend Julian Carroll.

But we're talking abut the 38th. Currently representing the 38th District is Republican Danny Seum, a friend of mine, personally - not politically - of many years. Danny lives on a small farm in Fairdale, or technically in Coral Ridge. I spoke to him briefly last week at the Louisville Metro event for the legislators at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. I worked against Danny the first time he ran for this district in the 1994 Democratic Primary. Back then, he was a very libertarian Democrat. I supported Virginia Woodward, who as I recall lost by 45 votes in that Primary (almost all of them entirely west of the L&N RR), as both were seeking to succeed a different Meyer in that seat. Marty's father, Danny, had represented the 38th for many years, after having served prior to that as the alderman for the old City of Louisville's 8th Ward. But, again, let's get back to the moving 38th.

My earliest recollection of Jefferson's senate districts is from the late 1960s and early 1970s. We had the old 7th in most of southwestern Jefferson, represented by Democrat Bill Quinlan from the Terry Road area. Then we had the 19th, Tom Mobley's seat, also Democratic, a vertically shaped district running up and down Preston Highway from Eastern Parkway out to the Bullitt County line. Tom lived in Audubon Park. The 33rd was then generally where it is now, in the old City's west side, solidly Democratic and represented by Georgia Davis Powers, who still has her 33rd SD tags on the front of her car, which I see now and then along 4th Street. The old 34th, now located in Madison, Lincoln, and Rockcastle counties (and one which has a good chance of going from Democratic to Republican this fall), was back then in southeastern Jefferson County. I remember working as a teenager for the late Helen Pezzarossi's organization against the Republican, Jon Ackerson, and in favor of Democrat Tevis Bennett somewhere in that period. Politics, it is known, makes strangers become friends. Jon won that race and he and I are now good friends, despite our great political differences.

The 35th Senate District was a compact chunk of land in the Highlands and extending somewhat out Bardstown and Shelbyville Roads. For the last century, it seems, it was represented by David Karem, a Ransdell Avenue resident. The 36th was most of northeastern Jefferson County, represented for many years by Eugene Stuart, who was a very amicable and effective Republican legislator. We had A. D. "Danny" Yocum, of Shively, representing the 37th, which was also in the southwest but north of the old 7th, extending from PRP and Shively over into the western edges of South Louisville. Finally we had Danny Meyer's 38th, a strong Democratic district which was basically a big circle in the center of a City of Louisville map, taking in areas from Broadway to Eastern Parkway and from the 10th Street railroad line eastward to Baxter Avenue. And Danny represented it through the geographical changes brought about in both the 1980s' and 1990s' redraws.

Then a funny thing happened in 1996. Senate district lines, for the first time between the decennial census, were redrawn. Federal law mandates that legislative jurisdictions get redrawn at least every ten years to ensure equal representation, or as close to one-person-one-vote as is possible. But there is no rule keeping the legislature from doing more than the required-every-ten-years redraw and thus it was in 1996 that several senators found themselves with newly redrawn districts. The next year an even stranger thing happened. Led by State Senators Benny Ray Bailey of Hindman and Larry Saunders of Louisville, both Democrats, control was wrested from the other Senate Democrats in a coup which left Saunders and Bailey voting with the Senate Republicans for leadership. Saunders was elected State Senate president without the support of most of his fellow Democrats. The summer of 1999 brought yet even more shenanigans with theretofore Democrats Danny Seum of Louisville and Bob Leeper of Paducah switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and thereby giving power in the Senate to the Republicans by a 20-18 margin, power they continue to hold. Seum has since given up any pretense of his prior libertarian philosophy and is strictly a McConnell Republican. It was after a discussion at McConnell's Louisville residence in June 1999 (and allegedly after the exchange of a necktie) that Seum switched over to the dark side of the aisle. Leeper's switch was in August, a few weeks later. Leeper has since switched again and is now an Independent. In this regard he is like former New York Mayor John V. Lindsey, who was elected under all three political monikers. Again though, I digress.

Seum originally lived on S. 2nd Street just south of W. Woodlawn Avenue. He later moved to The Esplanade Avenue, a beautiful street in the Iroquois neighborhood. With him moved also the 38th Senate district, from a once City of Louisville-centered compact area to now a wide berth of southern Jefferson County, almost entirely outside of the old City. As noted earlier, he now lives on a small farm in Fairdale in precinct I-133.

During most of the time I've written about above, I did not know Marty Meyer although I knew of him. His father and my late uncle Don Noble were friends. He was also a friend and supporter of one of my early political mentors, former Alderman and Councilman Cyril Allgeier. He helped get Allgeier elected alderman in 1981 after Allgeier had failed in two previous elections. I got to be good friends with the Meyer family and at one time ran around with Marty's older brother Danny. I also knew Marty's younger brother Michael. For whatever reason, Marty I missed out on in those early days. I came to know Marty when he worked at Ditto's Restaurant on Bardstown Road. It was there I learned he had a far greater interest in politics than I thought. I also came to know his wife Tracey and her son and others in their family, all of whom, like grandfather Danny, seek to serve an honest and effective role in civic involvement.

We really didn't become friends though until 2006 when he became a volunteer in the John Yarmuth for Congress campaign. He was one of two volunteers whom I had known from the past but in totally non-political ways. The other was my favorite American playwright Stuart Perelmuter, whom I had met three years earlier at a movie-premiere of a script he had written and in which he had starred. Stuart started in the campaign as a volunteer but was quickly hired as a writer and spokesperson. Marty became the proverbial super-volunteer, always able and willing to go wherever he was sent, and to do (and do well) whatever it was he was sent to do.

Upon John's election to the 110th Congress (which coincides with the commencement of this blog), both Stuart and Marty went to work for the congressman, Stuart in Washington DC - again as the writer and spokesperson, and Marty here in Louisville - as the congressman's district representative. Stuart has since left DC (see entry #487 entitled "Mr. Perelmuter Leaves Washington"). Working for Congressman Yarmuth, Marty has quickly ascended the political ladder and is well known as one of the hardest working people in local government. No one questions this work ethic. And because of that, he decided last year that this year he would seek election to his father's former Senate seat, the 38th, and I am supporting him.

By this point, you may have forgotten about #602, just as some people may have forgotten the first line of the 19th century riddle first printed above. Marty grew up at 603 E. Brandeis Avenue. But his first home of his own, where his children were raised, was at 602 E. Brandeis Avenue. We all remember that first home of our own.

That's the story of the moving number.


Anonymous said...

As always your post's are interesting reads, one correction though, the street was Brandeis named after our famous supreme court justice not Burnett which is close by and runs parallel.

Jeff Noble said...

Anon (maybe King Hamlet's Ghost) -- Thank you for catching my error. I've corrected it in the post.

I've made that same error before - I think I've even made it in discussions with Marty. And as many times as I've campaigned on both streets, I am likely to make it again. Another friend, Rob Holtzmann, owns rental property on Burnett and I am regularly thinking it is on Brandeis. My mistake.

I'm not sure it was named for Justice Brandeis or not. The street now called Brandeis was once a part of the City of Oakland or Oakdale (I'll have to check) which had cross streets named with letters, and Brandeis was one of the streets. Gaulbert was "A", Lee was "B", and so on. The only remaining letter-named street in "M" out in precinct I-103. One day I will write about that.

Many of those streets were renamed for the leading families of the city and Brandeis was one of those. Another was what is now called Cardinal, which I think had been "D" and was then renamed Avery Avenue.

All fodder for another entry on another day.


Bruce Maples said...

And it is past time for Mr. Meyer to take back that seat from the former-Libertarian-Dem, now somewhere-to-the-right-of-Rush-Limbaugh Mr. Seum.

Here's hoping that hard work and civic responsibility are rewarded.

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.