My friend Chris called yesterday and wanted to know why I hadn’t posted anything lately. Well the answer is I’ve been busy. Chris and I have known each other since our days at the University of Kentucky.
Chris, a Kentuckian by birth and a West Virginian by choice, is one of those guys that has known you so long that he remembers things about you that you have forgotten or a least claim you have forgotten.
So for Chris today we are going to jump into the Wayback Machine and take a look at the political myopia that sometimes occurs when politicians look at their career.
From today’s Herald Leader former Gov. John Y. Brown speaking about the Fletcher merit system scandal:
“Brown said he doesn't fault the Fletcher administration because previous governors had well-established patronage systems to reward supporters.
But, he said, his administration was an exception.
Brown said he never hired anyone for political reasons while he was governor, from 1979 to 1983.”
Isn’t the myopic haze of time a wonderfully convenient, particularly when a reporter writes a puff piece like this?
For those of you too young or too cloudy of mind to remember John Y. came into office with the Republican sounding slogan of “Run it like a business”. The slogan was Johnny Boy’s equivalent of Ernie’s “Waste, Fraud and Abuse”. Every administration needs a good slogan.
Of course John Y. did run it like a business, except that business was run by the administration appointees and not John Y. Brown. When it came to making decisions Johnny Boy delegated, except maybe for buying a new helicopter, or screwing up the budget by passing out money he didn’t have and leaving the Collins administration to clean up the mess, but those are rants for another time.
Remarks made at the 20th Anniversary of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence by Robert F. Sexton, Executive Director, in June 7, 2003 pretty well sum up what a lot of people thought of the Brown administration.
“Dot Ridings remembered that John Y. Brown, the governor, came to Shakertown for one of our meetings in 1981. We always invited the governor and the governor always showed up.
But Prich never made a secret of the fact that he thought John Y. Brown didn’t pay enough attention to things that were really important. (Dot was being diplomatic. Prich thought Brown had no personal interest in education at all. He said — this wasn’t private, it was in the paper —‘he hasn’t read a book since Babar the Elephant.’)
On this particular occasion the governor flew into Shakertown in his helicopter and landed on the grounds outside where we were meeting. He came in with his entourage and made his remarks and told us we were doing good work. We told him that we wanted some more stuffout of him, and he said he’d think about it.
He was about to make his exit when the heavens opened up with rain, thunder and lightning. John Y. and his entourage fled upstairs, and a few minutes later one of his staff came down and said the governor was going to come back down himself and stay for a while since he couldn’t leave. Then, Dot said, Prich leaned over to her and said “It’s an act of God! ‘ ”
The Brown administration instituted the current Cabinet system of organization in state government. The organization was a six by six design, no person supervised more that six people and there were no more than six levels of supervision between the Governor and the lowest ranking employee.
Since John Boy was pretty hands off, the folks under him used the reorganization of state government to settle a lot of old scores. Obviously our reporter on this story failed to mention the number of state employees laid off, all of which were reinstated by the court system.
From the Herald Leader:
“Past administrations have also stumbled over personnel issues. An ethics commission fined former Gov. Paul Patton for some of his hiring practices. And mass layoffs under Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. led to numerous lawsuits in the early 1980s.”
Now Brown may never have personally pulled strings for a political appointee, but his administration was certainly not the Camelot he would lead us to believe