Yhe Power Issue
Who's running this town anyway?

In the words of Sir Francis Bacon and Schoolhouse Rock, "Knowledge is power." So, more knowledge is more power. More knowledge would logically equate to more choice, which is something on all our minds as we approach the Tuesday election.

Power often has a negative connotation. The ultimate power though is really to have control over yourself and your choices. Will you go to school? Where will you go to school? Where will you work? How will you work? What will you learn today? What will you eat today? How will you vote? How will you live? Power is choice. In every choice we make-if we're really free to make it-we feel at least a little powerful.

The sampling below (in alphabetical order) represents people who have power in this community and the ways they've chosen to use it for good (and not evil).

Bruce Burris,
artist, founder of Latitude and Radical BUGS

"My paintings tell stories. They are the stories of people who feel disconnected and powerless. They are stories I have heard at work, or in the newspaper, on TV., or from friends. You have heard these stories too. I try to repeat them as directly and honestly as I can. It somehow seems important to do this."

Bruce Burris' power comes from his splendid inspiration and efforts to empower others-those that might otherwise feel utterly powerless. Whether through his art or his community service, Burris continues to tell stories of the underrepresented or, in recent collaborations, enables them to tell their own stories. He began his quest to give voice to a long silenced community as Director of Minds Wide Open and continues it with Latitude-both of whose goals are to provide an artistic outlet for those considered to have a disability or special need.

(Ace readers voted him Best Local Activist in the 2003 Best of Lex readers' poll.)

In pursuing those goals, both the artist and the community benefit. There's a certain kind of growth that can only happen by being exposed to new perspectives, new stories, new voices. A perfect example is Burris's latest movement: community garden-an idea spawned by a Latitude participant's interest in gardening. Last Thursday was a meeting of Radical B.U.G.S.

When he gives of his time and talent, he does so hoping for a response, not praise. Contributing to the community is everyone's social responsibility.

Dick Gabriel, WKYT

Even with his first-ever job in the real world, Dick Gabriel was not satisfied leaving well enough alone. As the sports director, and later news director, of radio station WVLK-AM/FM he launched the first sports radio call-in show in Lexington history.

Though he left the area for awhile, his return marked the resurgence of his endeavor to improve local access to sports events, even if they were happening across the country. As Sports Director at WKYT, he beefed up sports coverage of bowl games and playoffs including a 10-day stint at the New Jersey Meadowland as the UK Wildcats won the 1996 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships. Gabriel is the definitive source for sports info for a vast many Lexingtonians, and he continues to provide an ever-strengthening link between them and the sports world.

Pamela Goodwine,
First Division Judge, Fayette District Court

Judge Pamela Goodwine's rise to judicial notice has not been without obstacles. Goodwine says that, as a child, "the only exposure I had to the legal system was from television shows like Perry Mason."

Yet she dared to dream of becoming a judge and wearing that black robe. Soon after graduating valedictorian of her high school, she lost both her parents. When she did graduate from the University of Kentucky (she had taken time immediately following high school to spend time with her ailing father) it was with honors.

A short five years after obtaining her law degree, she was appointed to the bench. "I want to be a role model for the youth of my community," she says. "I want to let them know that they too can achieve their dreams."

Jim Gray, Gray Construction

When Jim Gray, CEO of Gray Construction, made his formidable-yet-ultimately unsuccessful political debut as a candidate in last year's mayoral election, it left many hoping it would be only the beginning. Jim Gray was strongly endorsed by Lexington's daily and weekly newspapers in his mayoral campaign. Ace characterized him as the only candidate the paper had ever endorsed in any race who was "in politics for all the right reasons, and none of the wrong ones."

Gray's involvement in the community is well documented, as is his vision of what Lexington could be. When his mayoral campaign stalled at the primary level, many of his supporters commented that they mourned more for what Lexington could've been, than they did for Gray himself. (He has remained active in state politics.)

His company is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on infill and renovation of historical buildings and communities with such notable examples as their renovation of the once defunct Wolf Wiles building where James N. Gray Company is now located. In a project commissioned by LFUCG to address some of the tough development issues facing Lexington, Gray's company partnered with the Lexington Habitat for Humanity on creation of the "Infill Design Handbook."

"The purpose of business is to make social contributions, whether to the culture, the community, or the individual" Gray said in an interview with Harvard Magazine.

Tom Hayward, Actors' Guild

When Kevin Hardesty, who was in line to become Actors' Guild's next artistic director, made his abrupt departure in July 2002, Tom Hayward who had only been managing director for about a month, graciously accepted the reins. "His organizational skills, friendliness, and willingness to go the extra mile to make everything run smoothly made the transition from Hardesty as seamless as possible," says Set Designer Regina Stratton.

It was and is a challenge-to say the least. As managing director, Hayward is responsible for the finances, grantwriting, sponsorships and such, and with the addition of production duties, he is left with little time to do much else. "There's a light at the end of the tunnel" he says. AG has narrowed their search for the new Artistic Director and plans to announce sometime in November. The Herald-Leader calls him "one of the area's best musical theater performers"

Kathy Plomin,
President & Chief Professional Officer, United Way of the Bluegrass

With her infinite fundraising experience, countless professional and civic affiliations and just as many rewards, Kathy Plomin knows Lexington. After working her way up the ladder and learning all she could over a number of years at WKYT-TV, Plomin decided it was time to take it up a notch and turn her volunteer time with United Way of the Bluegrass into a more permanent and encompassing position. Her power comes largely from, as she describes it, "the ability to go into the community and hopefully, somehow, help it to be the best it can be-not just in one area but across all areas."

Cole Skinner,
General Manager & Co-owner, The Dame

Much like the fickle restaurant scene in Lexington, venues for live music seem to come and go like the seasons.

When Bobby Ray left Lynagh's and the club ultimately closed, it was a long time before anyone seemed ready to fill the void in this town for music lovers, local bands, and national touring acts. We have an heir

Cole Skinner's The Dame has survived spring and summer and is forging ahead into the Fall.

Early gigs included Goosecreek Symphony and Bernie Worrell.

Skinner moved to Lexington from a little place called New Orleans, a town that knows a thing or two about music. The challenge of opening The Dame so soon after this year's big ice storm reaffirmed his faith in the viability of Lexington as a real contender in the live music scene as the staff worked 12- to 14-hour days with no heat just to be ready for opening night.

A week at the Dame might include such diverse national acts as Cracker, or this week's Los Straitjackets. And on any given night, there's never a dull moment.

Mary Ellen Slone,
Founder & CEO, Meridian Communications

Mary Ellen Slone transformed a one-client, one-woman operation into a multi-million dollar agency-helping to pave a smoother path for entrepreneurial women in Lexington along the way.

Her agency's 1979 "Have You Hugged Your Kid Today" campaign illustrates the effectiveness and expanse of her vision. She was even a Romper Room teacher.

Slone has won numerous civic and professional awards for her attention to the merger of business and family values, which includes initiatives such as the day care she opened in 1987 for employees.

With prominent local and national clients such as the Lexington Herald-Leader, Fazoli's, and Toyota Manufacturing in Georgetown, her agency shapes the way the people of Lexington, and indeed the world, perceive ther clients. Joel Rapp of Right Place Media says of Slone's relationship with Fazoli's, "She's handled them from day one, and her leadership has really helped their overall growth. Rapp adds that most of the "big players" in the market have worked for Slone at one time or another. "She's the leader that taught the other leaders."

In addition to her success as an entrepreneur, she contributes significantly to the growth of charities like the Humane Society and Moveable Feast (spearheading the annual Dining Out for Life evening).

Today she says she's proud of "having been given the opportunity to make the world a somewhat better place for some people and small animals."

Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr., President, University of Kentucky

Long before he was chosen as UK's newest president, Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr. was lobbying for Lexington's growth and success. Exuding power well beyond the borders of Lexington, Todd founded Projectron, Inc., sold it to Hughes Aircraft Company in 1990 and convinced the company to move other similar operations from New York and California to Kentucky to become the first occupants in the University of Kentucky Coldstream Research Campus. Todd also founded DataBeam Corporation, which became the nation's leading provider of real-time collaboration and real-time distance-learning computer software. In his effort to prove that high tech could be done in Kentucky, he kept the company in Lexington where the majority of employees were UK engineering or computer science graduates.

Todd knew, however, that neither his successes in technology nor even the research success at UK alone could save Kentucky from its stigmatized self. In his commencement speech to the Class of 2002 Todd said of the decision to accept the position as president that though he had reservations, the "the desire to be a part of something greater won out-to have the opportunity to make a difference, not only at the University, but also in the economic and educational growth of the entire state." Todd advocates a concept that seems to resound with several of the Power Picks: cooperation. Todd is powerful in that he has the guts to call Kentucky out on its serious need for an attitude adjustment. He is willing to confront the issues that executives, lawmakers and residents have either ignored or learned to live with. Areas where Kentucky ranks near the bottom of a list, like funding for education or, at the top as with cases of lung cancer, obesity, and spina bifida.

"If we don't change the lives of children and the lives of the residents of this state, if we don't have the people saying that this university makes a difference, and if we don't help figure out how to increase the per capita income, then we have failed as our land-grant institution. And I don't intend to fail.

l Power Favorites
How do the powerful keep track of their busy schedules? Through a complex system of planners, assistants, PDAs and associates. Well, except for Dick Gabriel who says, "I write myself reminders on little notes and then try to remember where I put the little notes."

Most Powerful PDA

The Blackberry Wireless. Jim Gray admits he's addicted to his.

Power Shopping

You could see Lexington's powerful in a whole host of places around town. Joseph Beth's , Woodland Park and the Kentucky Theater are some favorite places for relaxing. But the number one place to see and be seen by them is the Farmer's Market on Vine Street.

Most Powerful Local Sports Team

The Lexington Legends have won the hearts of our most powerful "mainly, because I just love Alan Stein," says Kathy Plomin.

Most Powerful Cocktail

Red wine is the biggest hit. " It's in the Bible and when they ran out Jesus made more, so it must be OK," jokes Kathy Plomin.

Most Powerful Pets

The Humane Society or a responsible rescue organization is the place to get a pet for power people. Just ask Mary Ellen Slone's cat, Zack (short for Prozac she says because he's soooo laid back).