Por Nima Kulkarni
This weekend, when the eyes of the world are on Louisville and the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby, our eyes should be on Churchill Downs, Inc., a corporation that has done a huge disservice to their backside workers, service employees, and our community as a whole.
Not only does the company use well-paid lobbyists to ensure that they can continue not paying their fair share of taxes, they also continue treating their hardworking employees with little respect, even though there would be no Derby without them.
So it came as no surprise when we learned that this $7 billion dollar conglomerate, which hasn’t paid property taxes since 2002 and pays almost no taxes on the multi-billion dollar slot machine industry they are building across the state, is allowing Donald Trump onto their grounds to host an event that costs $75,000 per person to attend, just steps from the backside workers, the concession workers, betting clerks, and valets who keep the event going.
The most that we have heard in response from Churchill Downs, Inc. is that they do not comment on or confirm the attendance of individual guests or private events on their premises.
But this is not just any guest. This is a person that fomented an insurrection at our Capitol, in an unlawful attempt to overturn a democratically held election.
This is a person who spent the entirety of his term in office demonizing and criminalizing the people who literally make Derby possible: the immigrants without whom the racetrack and the event would come to a grinding halt. Those immigrants who are on the backside, working constantly without being seen or heard, who will be steps from a man who believes they are less than human and who worked hard to implement policies that treated them that way. Someone else who does not pay taxes and believes that they are above our laws and basic norms.
I know that this is our most iconic and historic event, and it should be one that the people of Louisville should ALL be proud of. I remain a strong supporter of the Derby and our horseracing industry.
Most importantly, I support the people who risk their lives to make the Derby possible, but who are always overlooked.
Those who are up before dawn feeding and watering the horses, washing them, grooming them, walking them, who sleep above the stalls and travel around the country with them.
They don’t receive tax breaks, special favors, or even recognition, but they work dawn to dusk every day so that we can enjoy the first Saturday in May every year.
For their sake, we should not be a part of the insipid normalizing of a would-be autocrat at this cherished event, one who came so very close to demolishing the democratic principles of our nation.
Churchill Downs, Inc. should at least give us an honest response. If they support such a person, who is famous for not paying workers and has no interest in supporting working families, who would see the people that are the backbone of their racetrack and their corporate profits removed from this country, then say it out loud and own that absurd position.
If not, then do something about it. The workers and the neighbors of Churchill Downs, Inc. deserve better.
Nima Kulkarni is the State Representative for District 40 in Kentucky.