FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Corbin leaders have taken former Senate President David Williams' name off an exposition center, complaining that he didn't do enough to protect the city in a dispute with Knox County officials over revenue from an occupational tax.
City Commissioner Ed Tye said Friday that the decision to delete the Republican's name from the David L. Williams Southeastern Kentucky Ag & Expo Complex was made before he resigned from the state Senate earlier this month to accept a judicial appointment.
Williams said he's OK with Corbin's decision to remove his name.
"I never asked that it be put on there, so that's fine with me," Williams said Friday. "As a matter of fact, at the time, I asked them not to put it on there."
Tye said Corbin leaders believed that Williams, who for more than a decade was the most powerful Republican in Frankfort, could have helped the city in a longstanding battle with Knox County officials over the occupational tax revenue. Senate Floor Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, was able to get legislation passed earlier this year that prevented Corbin from collecting 25 percent of Knox County's occupational tax.
Tye said that move cost Corbin about $600,000 a year.
"The people in Corbin are not pleased, needless to say," Tye said. "And neither are we."
Williams' name was only taken off signage. On legal documents, the building will keep the name.
Publicly, the building is now known as The Corbin Arena. Its houses a 5,000-seat concert hall that draws singers and musicians from across the country.
Such a move by local political leaders to pan Williams would have been unlikely while he was at the top of the legislative pyramid.
But Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Williams circuit judge in southern Kentucky effective Nov. 2, ending two decades of legislative service that made him a household name in Kentucky. Beshear and Williams were often at odds, and the appointment was widely viewed as an effort by the governor to get his political enemy out of Frankfort.
Williams helped to orchestrate a Republican takeover in the state Senate in 1999, in a move that propelled the small-town lawyer into one of the most recognizable faces in Kentucky politics. He became Senate president in 2000, earning a reputation over the years for a keen intellect and a sometimes prickly disposition.
Williams ran against Beshear last year in a vitriolic gubernatorial election that showed an intense dislike between the two. However, Beshear has a record of appointing Republicans to more lucrative government positions to get them out of the Senate.
Previously, Beshear had made Senate Floor Leader Dan Kelly a circuit judge and appointed Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Charlie Borders to the Public Service Commission.
Williams said he did fight for Corbin to keep the occupational tax revenue.
"Anybody who says I didn't stand up for Corbin and stand up for what I think was right is inappropriate," he said.