My Dad, Richard Lockhart has lived an interesting and full life both as a World War II veteran who was a Germany Prisoner of War, an admired state of Illinois Lobbyist and a carrying Father. Here are some videos and stories that provide both history and inspiration.
Great (legislative) thoughts from Speaker Lockhart*
Credibility is a non-renewable resource: once gone, it is gone. Expect the worst and plan accordingly. You can never win an argument with a legislator – never! A legislator and his ego are never parted. Never criticize a legislator – especially in print. Never say “never,” except for the preceding statement. Organizations have egos too. It is better to convert an opponent than it is to gain a supporter. If it costs money, it is in trouble. If it saves money, it will probably be in trouble too. If you can’t defeat a bill, dilute it; if you can’t dilute it, delay it. Getting mad at someone is a luxury you can’t afford. Do not threaten. Promise only what you can deliver. Help those who help you. It is better to look for a key to a locked door than it is to try to beat the door down. Persistence wins. If you want to know, ask. Constituents make the best lobbyists. Fear and/or greed generate most legislation. Everything is temporary. Be nice to your enemies; tomorrow they may be your friends. Be willing to forgive, but not to forget. A lobbyist (professional) is someone to blame when things go wrong. Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows. Coalitions are temporary love affairs, seldom consummated or even blissful, and they frequently lead to seductions by clever suitors. The merits of an issue are seldom enough. No bill should be called before its’ time. Legislation is not only the art of compromise, compromise is also an art. A good lobbyist learns something new every day. A lobbyist has no job security. Repealing a law is usually more difficult than passing a new one. “Mandate” is a dirty word. It is almost impossible to keep a legislative secret. Integrity is also power. Say “thank you” often (and mean it). Don’t take all of the credit, even if you think you deserve it. Commitments are important, but don’t count on them. Legislative rules are important, especially the unwritten ones. Legislation and political campaigns cannot be separated. Publicity is a tool of lobbying, not a substitute. Politics and war bring out the best and worst in people. There is no such thing as flawless legislation. About the only thing that can be guaranteed in legislation is that there are no guarantees.
*Richard Lockhart, Speaker, Illinois Third House, 1981
Respected lobbyist, WWII veteran Lockhart retires at 93
In this Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 photo, veteran Illinois lobbyist Dick Lockhart talks about being the oldest practicing lobbyist in Illinois, and possibly the nation, in Springfield. A soldier and prisoner of war in World War II, Lockhart began lobbying in 1958. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
By Bernard Schoenburg
Posted Jan 1, 2018 at 9:22 PMUpdated Jan 1, 2018 at 9:22 PM
Dick Lockhart is looking forward to not driving to Springfield from his Chicago home when the Illinois General Assembly is in session in 2018.
That means the Statehouse will be just a little different —as Lockhart, 93, has been a lobbyist representing a variety of clients and plying his trade under the dome since 1959.
“I don’t enjoy the (at) least six hours every week on the road,” he said in a recent telephone interview about his end-of-2017 retirement. “It’s kind of demanding, and due to my eyesight failings ... I cannot relax, and I cannot drive after dark. I’m not going to miss the driving at all.”
“The place really will not be the same,” said Keith Sias of Springfield, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Illinois Credit Union League. “He’s been a mentor to me and he’s just someone that I admire personally. And he has such a great personal story.”
That story, probably not known to most folks who have walked past Lockhart as he has sat along the Capitol’s grand staircase during session days over the years, includes fighting with the Army in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge and enduring five months in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp. He suffered frostbite, and during his imprisonment his weight went from 160 to 100, and he was beaten by a guard. His parents, back in Indiana, got a telegram that he was lost in action. They thought he was dead.
“I enlisted and volunteered for the infantry,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss anything, and it worked out that way.”
Back in civilian life, he built a business that is based on knowledge, relationships and trust.
“I believe in being up-front with everybody and telling the truth, even when it hurts,” Lockhart said. “It’s nothing complex or religious. ... It’s based upon, it seems to me, good business sense, good business relations. And I do believe in having a straight-A, so to speak, reputation. That’s just how I was brought up.”
Lockhart has represented groups including the credit union organization, an independent accountants’ group, detectives, a mental health treatment advocacy group, retired teachers and members of state college and university retirement systems.
Along the way, he’s shared pearls of accumulated wisdom about how to best achieve goals in Springfield.
“You can never win an argument with a legislator, so don’t start one,” he wrote in one of the many newsletters he put out through his firm, Social Engineering Associates, over the years.
“Promise only what you can deliver, but then deliver,” was another nugget of advice to people wanting to get things done at the Statehouse.
Lockhart now hopes to work at his home — a townhouse in Chicago’s South Loop filled with books and pictures — to write a lobbying guide. He said he wants it to be a reference where people can learn about facts of life in Springfield, such as the use of the “structured roll call,” where lawmakers of both parties figure out who can best provide the needed votes to put a measure over the top.
“I hope to have the discipline to complete it, somehow, this summer,” he said.
“I can’t wait to read it,” Sias said, “just because I’ll probably learn something, just like I do every day from Dick.”
Linda Brookhart of Springfield, executive director of the State Universities Annuitants Association and its foundation, said one reason Lockhart garnered respect is “because of his integrity and because of his honesty.”
Beyond that, she said, he’s been a “wonderful mentor” and “one of the finest lobbyists that has ever been.”
“His philosophy was that you love them all,” Brookhart said, and “walk the center” of the partisan aisle.
“While we don’t always agree,” she said, relating the philosophy Lockhart has passed on to many, “it doesn’t mean that we’re not friends, or you can’t be friendly.”
Brookhart and Sias both said Lockhart, who lobbied for their groups, was good at keeping up with new legislation and watching out for any proposals that could affect the clients.
“Dick is so old school,” Sias says. “He goes and gets a printed copy of every bill and every amendment, and he takes them home and reads them at night. Then the next morning, he leaves on my desk four or five amendments,” that may affect Sias’ group.
“To me, that’s just a great testament to the approach that he has on doing the job and how thorough he is,” Sias said.
Lockhart says a passion of his is reading.
“I still have my first history book, given to me for Christmas in 1933,” he said.
Lockhart has a son David, who splits time between Florida and Chicago, and daughter Lisa, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He lost his wife, Dorothy, about a decade ago.
“I tell people, when I’m talking about my life, I say, “I’ve been here in Springfield for 10 governors — four of whom went to jail,” Lockhart says. That, he said, gets everybody’s attention.
And as for changes over the years, he said, “I regret how everything has been more or less politicized.”
He said Gov. Richard Ogilvie, a Republican who was elected in 1968 and served one term, was notable for realizing the state needed an income tax and for getting it passed by a Republican General Assembly.
“Nobody wants to take a chance any more,” Lockhart said. “They don’t want to risk anything if they can help it.”
But Ogilvie, he said, “knew it had to be done, and he did it. ... I don’t know if he was the best governor or not, but he was the best in terms of courage.”
Lockhart said he wondered if Ogilvie’s experience as a tank commander wounded in World War II helped him in government.
“He was in a situation where he had to make life and death decisions,” Lockhart said of Ogilvie. “So maybe the decision about whether Illinois should have an income tax wasn’t all that important after all” compared with “decisions he had to make earlier in his life.”
For his own military service, Lockhart received the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He said that experience, including his time in the prison camp, helped him with his career.
“I could say, ’Well, I went through that and handled that; I ought to be able to handle other things here in civilian life,” Lockhart said. “It did give me some self-confidence.”
Despite shunning the drive from Chicago, Lockhart said he has grown “very fond” of Springfield, and he knows people are proud that it’s the state capital.
“I think Springfield is a great city,” he said, “and I have nothing but praise for the people in it.”
Lockhart has been the subject of some legislative resolutions, including Senate Resolution 726, which marked his coming retirement and was passed in October. It designated Dec. 31 — Sunday — as “Richard ‘Dick’ Lockhart Day” in the state.
Contact Bernard Schoenburg: email@example.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg
A GUIDE FOR YOUR ADVANCING YEARS
To: Friends, young and old From: Dick Lockhart
Now that I am 90 years old, I could reveal my “secrets” as to how I have managed to survive the tribulations of the Great Depression, the dangerous WW II, and over 50 years as a lobbyist in Springfield to reach this advanced age and maintain a heavy work and travel schedule. Rather than reveal “secrets,” I have decided to provide two simple lists: “Do’s and Don’ts.” They are to be taken seriously – at least for a while. They are not in any order of importance.
Thank each of you for your friendship, support and patience. I could not have survived without you.
Read (books, magazines, newspapers, obituaries).
Walk every day.
Talk, but not to yourself.
Write something about your youth, your family, your memorable experiences. Then,
Contribute to politicians, causes and organizations that support you.
Travel, near or far, alone, or not.
Call, or look up friends.
Listen to others; act interested.
Say “thank you” often.
Be nice to dogs (they don’t care if you’re old).
Drink martini’s (Bombay), in moderation.
Be grateful for living in a great country and at an interesting time.
Go to meetings; listen politely, behave.
Go to places you always wanted to go, but never got around to it.
In case of doubt, better to try, and fail, than not to have tried at all.
If receiving a pension, be grateful; don’t let it control your life.
Learn something new.
Order dessert, once in a while.
Be tolerant, even to the intolerant.
Pass your driver’s test.
Go to your favorite restaurant; tip big.
Prepare and sign your will.
Wear hearing aids and glasses if you need to.
Pay attention to governmental issues; try to comply.
Be nice to your friends, they, like time, are non‐renewable.
Whine or complain.
Go to the doctor, or hospital (unless life‐threatening).
Watch TV day and night.
Booze it up, especially on vodka.
Talk out loud to yourself.
Disillusion yourself into thinking the opposite sex thinks you are attractive.
Say that you are “too old,” or “too tired.”
Get bitter about the world (or parts thereof).
Fall asleep, except in your own bed.
Get mad at technology.
Disconnect your phone.
Spend all of your money.
Go to job interviews.
Feel sorry for yourself.
Brag about yourself.
Eat fried food.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT ‐‐
According to American author, William Faulkner, “The past is never dead, it isn’t even past.”
Finally, be grateful to Dick Lockhart for this valuable Guide, and just in time. RETAIN FOR FUTURE REFERENCE
February 5, 2014