On Sept. 20, Governor Matt Bevin held a community forum at Richmond City Hall; it was a disaster and a purposeful waste of everyone’s time.
Bevin began the meeting 10 minutes late, followed by a seemingly endless di- atribe about nothing in particular. In short, he performed a nearly 40 minute campaign speech which he began by say- ing, “This is your time,” and that it was “a two-way forum.”
He talked a lot about the pension situation, specifically addressing the group of women in the crowd holding protest signs and wearing accompanying t-shirts from the education funding protests earlier this year. They waited and waited for their time to come, only being given that time after a woman in the front row pointed out how long Bevin had been giving his opening remarks.
It was Michele Gore, a retired EKU Social Work professor holding a sign reading“Remember in November, 2018 and 2019", who was finally allowed to ask the first question.
Bevin responded with a combative question about how her two pensions— from her time as a social worker and professor—affected the morale of the taxpayers, followed by shocked boos from the crowd, ushering in a hostile, charged atmosphere which persisted to the end of the forum.
He then proceeded to suggest that employees in the public sector did not pay taxes, and that the raise he gave CIO Charles Grindle in August was justified because the state couldn’t hire someone with his education and experience for less.
For context, Grindle is the highest paid CIO in the country in a state with one of the lowest costs of living. CIOs of large corporations make $100,000 or less on average than Grindle, directly contradicting Bevin’s assertion that the private sector would be paying him more.
On the other hand, pensioners like Gore earn their pensions through de- cades of work and paying into other citizens’ social security, which teachers don’t receive. They do not come close to getting $300,000 a year out of taxpayer money.
As the event wore on for an extra hour to compensate for Bevin’s purposeful long-windedness, the audience became increasingly irritated by the series of meaningless non-answers. One woman stood up and yelled at Bevin, appearing to be on the verge of tears.
There was an edge of frustration in nearly all the questions. One man asked how Bevin felt knowing he wouldn’t be getting re-elected, to which Bevin re- sponded by talking about how he encouraged everyone to vote as if he wasn’t the problem, which was a theme of the whole event; Bevin always blamed the system and others within it while pointing out how much he’s done for us, implying we should be grateful he’s in office.
At one point, Bevin strawmanned the audience, accusing us of laughing at him talking about caring for his children while he was trying to appear relatable to the educators who were there to prevent him from destroying public education. As others in the crowd pointed out, he’s a multi-millionaire; there’s no way he can relate to the vast majority of his constituents no matter how many anecdotes he gives of his nine children being privileged.
He presented the illusion of credibility constantly, telling people in the audience to, “Google it up,” a tactic he used to either waste our time or get away with his lies; either situation is probable.
What one woman in the audience remarked toward the end summed up the entire thing, that he treated us like we had no sense. Bevin expected us to be placated by two hours of doublespeak masquerading as a community forum, all while encouraging us to be involved, apparently for the purpose of discouraging our involvement through frustration.
Matt Bevin wants us to be confused and frustrated by politics; all the more reason to see through him and every other politician. I can only hope that this event simply served to shove his foot further in his mouth than it already was, and that the voters or other forces show him the consequences of his actions.