The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

May 3, 2013

Derby a break from reality in Kentucky

FRANKFORT — The state capitol isn’t exactly a ghost town during Derby Week, but it’s close.

The rich and powerful, the office holders and politicians who run Kentucky are all in Louisville, doing backside interviews and attending Derby parties.

A lot of my colleagues are also absent from Frankfort, busy from dawn to dusk covering every detail at the Derby.

I’ve been to the Derby and I thoroughly enjoyed it each time, although I know little enough about horses, betting odds and bloodlines.

This year, like most years, I’ll watch on television. There is always a moment when I wish I were there. I get chills when the horses come on the track and the crowd sings “My Old Kentucky Home.

Perhaps because I spent some time as a newspaper photographer, I love the women’s Derby hats. I always look forward to seeing those photographs in the Sunday editions.

I love the spectacle and suspense of the backstretch. But you are welcome to the mint juleps, the crowds, the traffic, the infield and the drunkenness. I’m proud it happens in Kentucky, and I’m mostly glad the world watches us at our most glamorous.

What the world sees during Derby Week, however, isn’t the Kentucky most of us witness the rest of the year.

For all the wealth and glamour that gathers in Louisville for the Derby, our state can’t afford a little money for a social work program operated by the Department of Public Advocacy that can alter the despair of drug addiction and save the state millions.

And lawmakers can’t find money to buy textbooks for school children or help pay for day care for working single mothers who will likely have to resort to welfare.

There will be a lot of wealthy industrialists and mining executives at Churchill Downs today. Many of them hobnobbing with the governor and lawmakers, watching from high atop the grandstand in Millionaire’s Row.

But you won’t see many of the little people left to live in the wake of the pollution and poverty their profits leave behind. The people those politicians are supposed to represent and whose lives they promise to improve during campaign season (when they’re not on the phone to those industrialists, horse owners and mining executives begging for money to run their television ads) won’t be seen or remembered..

Children whose lives were cut short by abuse even while they were supposedly under the protection of the state won’t watch the Derby this year, either. But a lot of those people who were elected to protect them will be dancing and drinking at the elegant parties.

If there are any at the Derby who are among the 600,000 or so Kentuckians without health insurance, they surely will be waiting tables, serving drinks or mucking out the barns. But I’m sure the lawmakers who don’t want to extend Medicaid coverage to them and those who “stand up against Obama’s bad ideas for Kentucky” will have a great time.

Still, the more I think about it, the more I think the Derby extravagance is just what we need. Lord knows, we all need a little break from reality. So I hope everyone has a great time, and I hope the hangover isn’t too painful.

But I hope we’ll spend the other 51 weeks of the year trying to help those other folks who live here, the ones too busy trying to stay afloat or just stay alive to enjoy the Derby.

Remember, some think Stephen Foster wrote “My Old Kentucky Home” from the perspective of a slave about to be sold down the river.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results