Thursday, August 12, 1999

WLW crossed line

Interview called mean-spirited

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Standing up for Jimmy. Some Kenton County Democrats are more than a little peeved over the treatment former county surveyor and party activist Jimmy Williams received on a WLW radio talk show.

        Mr. Williams, who has a mental disability and calls himself a “slow learner,” was interviewed a couple of weeks ago on a radio segment the gang over at WLW calls “Nitwits Match Wits.” He was asked some questions about current events and politics in a tongue-in-cheek manner that under normal circumstances would have been sort of funny.

        But given Mr. Williams' disability, the segment came off as rather mean-spirited. The radio station personnel claim they didn't realize Mr. Williams is disabled, and he was given an on-air apology.

        That's not good enough for the Kenton County Democratic Combined Club, which plans to protest the way Mr. Williams was treated by the station.

        “We're going to at least write a letter,” said club member Steve Hoffmann, a Kenton County magistrate from Park Hills.

        “Having fun is one thing, but the interview with Jimmy crossed the line. It was mean.”

        The interview has also drawn a response from Judi Gerding, executive director of The Point in Covington, which provides jobs and assistance to those with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

        “I ... was irate as I caught the last part of the program on my car radio,” Ms. Gerding said in a letter to Kentucky Enquirer columnist Karen Samples.

        “Sometimes it makes you wonder who has the disability.”

        Mr. Williams said he appreciates the support.

        “The Democrats haven't always gotten along in Kenton County,” said Mr. Williams. “This has brought them together.”

        The entire incident is inspiring Mr. Williams to undertake his next political campaign.

        “I've been thinking about running for Covington city commissioner,” he said. “This has convinced me to run.”


        A STACKED DECK. Northern Kentucky is getting a big run on the Kentucky Republican State Central Committee.

        Fort Mitchell attorney Rick Robinson rejoined the committee last week. He joins State Party Vice Chairman Damon Thayer of Grant County; 4th District Chairman Jay Hall of Florence; Boone Countian Sarah Blanken; and Kenton Countians Debbie McKinney and John Salyers, both members of U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning's staff.

        It's no coincidence that all of the above, not just Mrs. McKinney and Mr. Salyers, are close to Mr. Bunning, a Hall of Fame baseball pitcher who knows the value of surrounding himself with a good team.

        MONEY FOR MITCH. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell knows the value of a buck, whether it's raising some cash for his campaign or defending his right to do so as a politician.

        Mr. McConnell, a proficient fund raiser, is also the most outspoken critic in Congress of campaign finance reform.

        With not much taking place on the campaign front this year in Northern Kentucky, Mr. McConnell's Aug. 27 fund-raiser at the Crescent Springs home of Ashland Inc. CEO Paul Chellgren is shaping up to be the big-money, high-profile political event of the summer.

        A lot of the usual suspects in Northern Kentucky GOP fund-raising circles are on the co-host list, including builders Paul Hemmer Jr., Ralph Drees and Henry Fischer, jeweler Joe Koester, Dr. Steve Hiltz, attorney Tom Hiltz, developer Bill Butler and political consultants Hayes Robertson and Paula Miller.

        But the event will also have a Cincinnati flavor.

        Among the co-hosts from across the river are Firstar President and CEO Jerry Grundhofer and several members of the well-heeled, politically active Lindner family, including Carl, Carl III, Craig and Keith.

        MORE ON $. Speaking of money, here's a look at some of the top contributors in Kentucky to federal candidates and parties, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Election Commission.

        The top giver over the last two years was Louisville-based Brown & Williamson Tobacco, with $748,271.

        Among local companies were Ashland Inc., $361,300; Turfway Park Racing Association, $32,250, formerly owned by developer Jerry Carroll; and Wilder-based Carlisle Construction, $32,000.

        YEAH, BUT DOES HE HAVE A SLEEPER HOLD? With his nearly bald head and neatly trimmed goatee, the children of Eric Deters — the Independence Republican running for Kenton County attorney — have begun calling him “Stone Cold Steve Austin,” after a professional wrestler.

        Okay, we're shameless. Let's be the first to give him the official nickname — Stone Cold Eric Deters.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. His column appears Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 578-5581, or 502-875-7526 in Frankfort, or by e-mail at