Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Walter F. "Stu" Reichert, January 27, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00

ROMOND: This morning I'm talking to Mr. Reichert. Could you just check your mike, you just?

REICHERT: Okay, say--

ROMOND: Just say this morning I'm--

REICHERT: --yeah, this morning you're doing the interview again.

ROMOND: Okay, that's fine.

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: The following is an unrehearsed follow-up interview with former State Representative and State Senator Walter S. "Stu" Reichert, who represented Jefferson County in the Forty-Sixth District as a state representative for the 1964 term and then the Thirty-Fourth district as the senator from 1966 to 1974. The interview is conducted by Jan Romond for the University of Kentucky Library, Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on January 27, 2006, in the home of Mr. Reichert 00:01:00in Louisville, Kentucky, at 10:15 AM. This morning, I'll be repeating some of the questions asked in our initial session because they are difficult to hear on the first tape, due to technical problems with the audio equipment.

ROMOND: Mr. Reichert, where did you go to school?

REICHERT: Well, I went to school here in Louisville and, uh, went to Isaac Shelby Elementary School, and then, uh, to Eastern Junior High School, and then Dupont Manual High School.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And went to the University of Louisville.

ROMOND: And, uh, what are your memories about, uh, school, starting with grade school?

REICHERT: Well, I think the, with grade school, I went, one of the few people that ever went two years of kindergarten.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, the reason for that was, my brother started and the teacher told my mother he cried all the time. And their solution send 00:02:00me. (Romond laughs) Be with his brother. So, uh, that's how I got started at school, and then I went to, to, uh, all the way through the, the sixth grade there at, at Isaac Shelby, and I, that was the same school my mother attended.

ROMOND: Huh.

REICHERT: In the Germantown neighborhood.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Then I went to, uh, Eastern Junior High for three years and then high school for three years.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And do any of your teachers stand out in your mind?

REICHERT: Well, the one that really stood out in my mind would be, uh, kindergarten teacher.

ROMOND: Wow.

REICHERT: Such a nice person and, and, uh, alw-, always remember her, cause she's, you know, real kind to children and we--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

REICHERT: --got along fine. And maybe cause I spent two years in her class. (both laugh)

ROMOND: Yeah, you got--

REICHERT: --right--

ROMOND: --to know each other.

REICHERT: Right.

ROMOND: Yeah. What kinda activities did you, um, do after school?

00:03:00

REICHERT: Well, all the boy's things, you know, we played, uh, played football, and, and baseball, things of that nature. And course in those days, and, uh, in Germantown and a lot of neighborhoods, uh, marbles was a big thing.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: We were kids, you know, some kid would come through the neighborhood, and he'd shoot your marbles, and of course, the amount of marbles you, you got of him, you kept.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So, that was, that was a big pastime.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. What did you most like about school? What subjects were you're--

REICHERT: --well, I think my, the--

ROMOND: --favorite--

REICHERT: -the subject I liked the most, I pretty good in math, but, uh, I liked history the most.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: History always fascinated me. Uh, things like the Civil War was, was one thing I carry over to the day, uh, fascinating time in our history because that's really when this country became a nation.

00:04:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, up to that time, we were a configuration of states and the Civil War actually made a nation out of it. And, and just the, uh, courage and, and, uh, heroics of the people at that time.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: How you could get, uh, say, like a Gettysburg, how you'd get fifteen thousand people to go across a mile-open field, knowing full well they're gonna be shot. You know, just, just amazing thing, and they did it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Out of the fifteen thousand that started across, twelve thousand didn't make. So, it's just amazing but, uh, that always fascinates me. And every time I read something about the Civil War, I find out something different.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Such an amazing time. Uh, even today, you know, we talk about the, the President's powers, what he's doing today, nothing compared to what Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War, you know. There wasn't 'ol habeas corpus at that time.

00:05:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, if you were in the north, your neighbor could say it, "Well, this fellow down there, he's a Confederate sympathizer." They just automatically arrested him.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, oddly enough--(Reichert laughs)--some people got arrested just simply cause they were Democrats.

ROMOND: Really?

REICHERT: Right, um-hm. Yeah, that's how things worked. So, chaotic during that, it's a fascinating time in our history. And I think more people really ought to read it, you know.

ROMOND: Are there any people from that time that stand out in your mind as heroes?

REICHERT: Well, there's so many of them, North and South, that, that, um, some of the generals that, uh, that, well, people that just stand out in my mind for the North would be Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. A man who was a, actually an educator, went to Bolden(??) College, uh, 00:06:00formed his own, formed his own regime, the Twentieth Maine. And, uh, he, uh, he was hero to Gettysburg.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, was wounded six times in that war. One time he's left for mortally, being mortally wounded. He, uh, through the insistence(??) of his brother, they, uh, operated on him. He survived. Came back, was wounded two weeks later, wounded again.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Six times in that war. Later on, he, and he, and he lived to the, the age of eighty-five. He became Governor of Maine four times, four terms as Governor of Maine. So, that's one of the, the, of course, the other man is, is Robert E. Lee, from the South. But, uh, he not only was a, a hero to the South, and course he just the opposite to people from the North.

ROMOND: Sure.

REICHERT: But, uh, one thing that people just don't, uh, ever think 00:07:00about Robert E. Lee is what he did for this country after the war, you know. He is the father of the university system.

ROMOND: Huh.

REICHERT: Uh, up until that time, uh, Harvard was the college. They specialized in certain things. Uh, there was another, there'd be another college specialize in medicine, another one in, in the, say, the fine arts, but he developed the university system where you had those schools at one campus. And, of course, that, that, when he became president of Washington University, and which later on became Washington and Lee, that's what happened. He started, actually he started a university system.

ROMOND: Hm. Um, what kinds of values did you learn from your family, uh, or other people in your life, your experiences growing up that 00:08:00you feel like you took with you into the rest of your life, especially into politics?

REICHERT: Well, one thing they taught you, it's more or less, uh, well, discipline.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, there's a lot of discipline in, in our family, the little German family. A lot of discipline there, you know, my father, and even my grandfather, they were, they were type of individuals that had a saying, "I'll tell you one time." That was it, and they meant it, and they did it. Uh, the other thing was self-reliance.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, you just didn't depend on someone else to do something for you; you had to do it yourself. And yours, you're your own responsibility.

ROMOND: Um-hm. How did you get into politics?

REICHERT: Well, my mother was always active in it, and, uh, she got me started, I guess, I helped her poll the first precinct when I was thirteen-years-old. And, uh, her being as active as she was, well, 00:09:00got, you know, uh, got me interested in it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And--

ROMOND: --she went house-to-house, too.

REICHERT: Oh, yes, um-hm. She would go house-to-house, and in those, in those days, uh, the, the month of August is when, uh, people, precinct workers, would go house-to-house.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, Democrat, Republican alike, and they would check who lived there, who's moved, who's died, and the whole bit. They'd make up their list. The Democrats had their list, Republicans had theirs, and they, then, they'd sit down and agree on it.

ROMOND: Did they go together to the houses, when they(??)--

REICHERT: --yes, when they got in to actually purging, they'd go house- to-house together.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And then they'd, they would have sit down afterwards and agree that this is what we found. They'd submit that, that, uh, uh, that list to the, the county clerk, and then they would actually purge people.

00:10:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that's, that's work, a lot of the work that she did and she got me interested in it. And then course, I went later on, went into the service, came back, got out, was married, and then when the, um, I, I, I lived out in the, uh, Okolona Area--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

REICHERT: --through redistricting. They, uh, formed a new House district and I was, uh, asked about running for, for office and I did and that's, that's really how I--

ROMOND: --who asked you?

REICHERT: Well, there's a fine fellow who was a, a state representative, a friend of mine, Lou Ballenger. And, uh, he was already in the House and they were looking for somebody, a can-, a candidate, somebody to run for the House, in the Forty-Sixth House District. And I said I'd run.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So, I, that's how I got started. And of course it, uh, first--

ROMOND: --what was that first campaign like?

REICHERT: Well, the first campaign is oddly enough, you know, you see 00:11:00how much people spend today, I, I spent maybe three, four hundred dollars in the race. And, uh, the fellow I ran against was a business agent for Teamsters Union. He had all the help and money he needed. And he even made a remark to me one time that, uh, "Well, you're just wasting your time running."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And I said, "Well, let's have the election anyway." So, course, I was working at DuPont's during the day, and I was out just about every night, and all, all the weekends.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And we ran in, the House district then contained thirty- four precincts. I lost two, one of them to one vote and I was out registered almost four-to-one, so.

ROMOND: Cause you were running as a Republican?

REICHERT: Right, um-hm. And I was out--

ROMOND: --there was(??) way more Democrats--

REICHERT: --almost four-to-one--

ROMOND: --wow--

REICHERT: --in the district, right, um-hm. And, uh--

ROMOND: --so you went house-to-house?

REICHERT: Oh yeah. That's, that's the way to do it and a lot of people still do it the, the same way. Of course campaigns cost more. They, 00:12:00they do things now that, uh, we didn't do then, the yard sign, which, you know, you get a lot of money wrapped up in that. And some of them even, uh, get into advertising on the radio and so on. Of course, I, you could've done that then, but it be pretty hard for people to, uh, actually know what district they live in, so if you on the radio--

ROMOND: --I see--

REICHERT: --you know, if I say, "Well, I'm running for the House in the Forty-Sixth District," with all the other races going on, well, you know, how would you determine who you, who you vote for.

ROMOND: And people listening might not know what district they were in.

REICHERT: Oh, no. No, you could take, you could go out through this, uh, uh, district I live in now, this Forty-Sixth House District. And ask them what House district, I, I would imagine 95, 96 percent of the people that live here couldn't possibly tell you.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: A lot them they don't even know who their state representative 00:13:00is, even after all the, the campaigning these people do.

ROMOND: Right.

REICHERT: Uh, they, they, they don't know. And it, it's sad but it's, it's true.

ROMOND: When you were going house-to-house, uh, campaigning, were people sharing with you what their needs were that you could help them?

REICHERT: Oh, yeah. Um-hm, well--

ROMOND: --and what were their needs, what were they saying?

REICHERT: Well, most of them those, those days, they had things like drainage problems, sewer problems. Drainage thing out, out in this part of the county was, was a big thing; still it is.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, of course roads, roads is always a big problem with them. A lot of thems been, a lot of the road systems been improved and, uh, it's part of the county.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But, uh, still a lot work needs to be done. But, uh, a lot of it's been improved but those were the concerns of people and, of course, education. That's, that's always been a, a, a big factor of people and, and still is in, when I was there, and, uh, it's always 00:14:00gonna be. Always gonna be a big pro, it's gonna be a problem.

ROMOND: Yeah. What were your expectations about what you hoped to accomplish, especially when you first went to Frankfort? What you hoped to accomplish for the people in your district?

REICHERT: Well, we had the, the problems at, at that time, um, people living in, in the county, like Louisville Water Company.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Louisville Metropolitan(??) Water Company furnished water for the city of Louisville; they didn't furnish it for the county. You had county, you had water districts in the county that actually bought water from the city of Louisville and then distributed it to the residents out here--

ROMOND: --huh--

REICHERT: --in the county.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And the people in the county paid, uh, a 125 percent for the water, like if your bill was with, if, if your bill was a, a dollar 00:15:00in the city it, in the county it's a dollar and a quarter. Cause they paid it, they actually had to pay the Louisville Water Company--

ROMOND: --extra, yeah--

REICHERT: --extra in a few, a few of the water districts. Well, one of the first bills I put in was to, uh, allow the Louisville Water Company to expand throughout Jefferson County. The same way with, uh, sewers. Up until nineteen-, in the 1960's, uh, Metropolitan Sewer District could only go up to the county line, or up to the city limits in, in the county line. They couldn't expand any further. That's why you have so many cities in Jefferson County for one thing. Uh, they had to form cities, so they could build their own sewage treatment plants. And you had a, a whirl of them in, in the county. Your subdivisions even have, uh, sewage treatment, have treatment plants. So, by the, 00:16:00the other bill was, was to let the, uh, Metropolitan Sewer District expand throughout the county.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And now, this area like here is on all septic tanks; now we're all on sewers. They can expand and, and eliminate those treatment plants, which 80 percent of them wasn't even in compliance.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: They were almost putting raw sewage in the, in the creeks and, uh, the runoff, you know, whenever they could, like, Fish Pool Creek over here. And they, uh, that thing was polluted because of, you know, treatment plants not being in compliance.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that eliminated that.

ROMOND: Is, at this point in time, is the whole county on the city sewer line or not?

REICHERT: Yeah, Metropolitan Sewer, you got Metropolitan Sewer District--

ROMOND: --okay--

REICHERT: --takes care of the city and the, and the county. See, you have one, one sewer district, and the same way with the water. The Louisville Water Company is, you know, is that's the only water company 00:17:00now. You don't have the independent, uh, water districts.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So, you had the Okolona, and you had Middletown, you had people like that before, but you don't have that anymore. It's just one little ole water company.

ROMOND: And the formation of all the little cities was about utilities, really?

REICHERT: Really, yeah, to get, to get, uh, get government services, you know, that, that type of service.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that's why a lot of them were formed. So that they could do that, in order to say borrow, borrow money or so on, to, uh, rai-, or have enough money to, to build a system, they had to be in, had be a, you know, uh, city or some entity, where they could actually, uh, have bonds, things of that nature.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. Now you started out as a representative--

REICHERT: --right--

ROMOND: --and then moved over to the Senate.

REICHERT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: How did that come about?

00:18:00

REICHERT: Well, in, I first ran for the House because of redistricting. You know, up till 1963, uh, the county particularly had two state representatives.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, the constitution says the legislature shall, shall redistrict every ten years but that's just been ignored for years and years. Well, Bill Cowger was mayor of the city of Louisville. He filed a suit against the Governor of Kentucky, and who's at that time was Bert Combs.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, to force redistricting. Well, he won the suit. Well, they redistrict in the early part of 1963. Instead of Jefferson County having, I don't know, uh, what the number was, but you only had two representatives in all of Jeffer-, uh, Jefferson County.

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: State representatives--

ROMOND: --that's for a lot of people--

REICHERT: --in the county part. Yeah, just the county part.

00:19:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So, uh, when they redistrict, they had to form, they formed, I think we ended up with somewhere around twenty-two House districts here.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And the number up till that time might have been something like, oh, maybe ten, twelve, somewhere in that nature. And those were practically all in the city of Louisville. And they formed a the Forty-Sixth House District and I ran for it. And of course when the, they also in the Senate, they created some more Senate districts here. And then in 1965, the new Senate district was up for election, and I happened to be in it, so I ran for, for the Senate in 1965. That's how I went from the House to the Senate. Because that was the new district, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And what were the advantages to you of being in the Senate?

REICHERT: Well, the Senate's smaller numbers. You, you, uh, of course gave you a little more, uh, power to get something done.

00:20:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, of course, it gave you more responsibility, too. You know, you, you have the same amount of, of people with the same amount of wants.

ROMOND: Sure.

REICHERT: They come to you. And over the House with a hundred members, its, you, you don't have as many people on you at one time like you do in the Senate.

ROMOND: Right.

REICHERT: And, uh, of course, the, uh, uh, the Senate to me was, uh, well, an easier place to really work.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Because, uh, the House was little, well, none other term, a little more rowdy. Uh, they, they'd--(Romond laughs)--kinda you had factions within, in the House, you know, among, even amongst the parties. Uh, you know, you had different factions in the House and that made it harder, harder to work. But the Senate, you, you might of had them but WILMONT they're more subtle and, uh, and you, you could, 00:21:00you could line yourself up four or five, uh, people and, you know, you had a little power.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: House, four or five people, you didn't have anything.

ROMOND: That wasn't going anywhere.

REICHERT: No, that's right. But it, it was a, uh, a better actually to work. You could get legislation passed and, or the main thing to me was a lot of it needed killing--(laughs)--

ROMOND: --oh, so that was--

REICHERT: --killing--

ROMOND: --the important, what you supported was of course important, but what you helped defeat was more important?

REICHERT: Oh yeah, um-hm, it sure was.

ROMOND: Does anything stand out in your mind as, uh, important that you helped to not pass? That you helped to defeat(??)?

REICHERT: Well, with me, I was always a, uh, an anti-school merger person in Jefferson County. I, I never could see the, the wisdom of taking two big messes and making one huge mess out of them at that time. Uh, I think a lot of it's been overcome by now but, uh, there 00:22:00was all kinds of plans that come forth to, uh, consolidate schools, or merge them. And, uh, I never did see one of them I really liked.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And think the granddaddy of them all was the one with the came with the so-called umbrella plan.

ROMOND: What was that?

REICHERT: Well, it was the, uh, they had a blue ribbon commission here of people that, that, uh, developed this plan. And what it was, it was a two-tiered, uh, system. You had like nine school districts. And they were proportioned, uh, economically and so on and should be, uh, racially balanced and the whole works. And then you had another tier up above it, which that's where it got its name, the umbrella plan.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: It oversaw the other districts.

ROMOND: Oh.

REICHERT: And the so-called one that oversaw the other districts that 00:23:00would oversee the other districts, they, uh, uh, controlled the money.

ROMOND: Sure.

REICHERT: Now, we all know that whoever controls the money controls the whole system--

ROMOND: --sure, was the ----------(??)--

REICHERT: --and, right. So, uh, the other thing that, that bothered me the way the, the bill was drafted, and the only way you could balance those districts, uh, uh, say, racially or economically, you had to, you had to bus.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You had to bus. And I made the, the statement about it one time that if that thing passes, if we merge the schools, busing right behind.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Because up to that time, the courts, federal courts had ruled you, you could bus anywhere within the district, but you couldn't bus across school--

00:24:00

ROMOND: --um-hm--

REICHERT: --right(??)--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

REICHERT: --across district lines, cause see, in Jefferson County you still got two school districts. You got Jefferson County School District, you got Anchorage.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You can't bus across Anchorage lines or out of, out of Anchorage into Jefferson County School System but you bus anywhere you want to in Jefferson County school, in the, in that, in the school district, Jefferson County School District.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Because of the, the court rulings.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, course, Courier-Journal was one, said I was just sitting up a straw man about it. Well, this was, well, let's see, this was along about 1972, '73. And, sure enough, along 1975, after they merged the districts, 1975 is when the school busing came in.

ROMOND: So you saw exactly what was gonna happen?

REICHERT: Well, it was a, yeah, cause there were people, there're people wanted it. And they thought it was a, a good thing. Well, maybe it 00:25:00was.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But it was such a hardship on people.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So costly. I mean, it, it was co-, it was costly thing, cost schools I think roughly, initially about twelve million dollars a year, just on the busing end of it alone. So, it, it was pretty costly.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And now, a lot of the people that was advocated that, uh, they sa-, they, they're not in favor of it anymore--

ROMOND: --change ----------(??)---------- --

REICHERT: --but still have to have a certain amount of it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: In order to, to keep the balance in the schools.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: I thought it was a, a bad thing then, I still think it is.

ROMOND: Um-hm. How did the issues in your district change over time, or did they change much?

REICHERT: Well, they haven't really changed that much. Like I say, the, uh, problems out here are essentially the same, you know, they have road problems; they still have some drainage problems. Some of the 00:26:00things are gone. The, the road system is, is a little better but you got more traffic, you know. Uh, where--

ROMOND: --yes--

REICHERT: --you see that the, the traffic on the Snyder. Well, what did we do before that? You know, but that, that's a, that alleviates it; it doesn't really solve all the problems.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But it, but it, it helps.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, and, of course like I say, we had the, you got the educational problem with you. It's, it's still gonna, gonna be here. Cause the, if people would stay in, in one area instead of being flexible like they are, they pick up, they move. They go from here, they go to there.

ROMOND: Um-hm, all the time--

REICHERT: --and that affects the school systems.

ROMOND: Sure does.

REICHERT: You know. Ones that really feel in the pinch is the, is the parochial schools. You know, some of them consolidating all the time, merging, or actually some of them are actually closing down because 00:27:00of people moving, and of course you got the public schools, same way. People move out of the city of Louisville, they move to the suburbs, you got to build a new school out here. And here you got property that's, that's vacant.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, it, it stays there. Uh, you even have them with, uh, things like shopping centers.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Look around Jefferson County, how many shopping center people, you know, their stores are closing.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, you had, well, Bashford Manor Mall's a good example over there. That was a thriving shopping center at one time. It's closed. The shopping center part is gone. You had some other stores come in there, like the Wal-Mart and, uh, maybe Lowe's. People like that have actually built in that area where the Bashford Manor Mall was, but people shifting, moving, you know, and, and, uh, some other people move in or they don't move in.

ROMOND: Yeah, changes retail.

REICHERT: Right, sure does. But you always got that problem. What you 00:28:00could go legislatively, that, I don't think you can solve that problem.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Cause you can't force people to stay in one place.

ROMOND: (laughs) No.

REICHERT: They're gonna move. The surrounding counties should look at them. They, you know, one of the fastest, probably the fastest growing county in, in the state of Kentucky right now is Spencer County. Taylorsville area. They're moving out. They keep constantly going out, you know. Shelby County, another one, Oldham. Uh, surrounding counties that people come out of, out of this, out of Jefferson County and move.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And then come back in to Jefferson County to work?

REICHERT: Yeah, yeah, they, a lot of them work here. Uh, medical facilities are here, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm. What stands out about your committee work? You were health and welfare chair and vice-chair at different times.

REICHERT: Hm. Well, the thing is, uh, health and welfare, that's, 00:29:00that's a, that's a big issue itself. You know, that, uh, uh, a lot of money the, the state spends is in the, in the welfare area.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And of course in, in healthcare, especially Medicaid now.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: When I was there, the, the Medicaid, I think the first appropriation--I might be wrong--but my memory serves me right, one of the first appropriation made in Medicare about three million dollars.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: It, it's no telling how much it is now. Probably a hundred times or better than that now. And, uh, so, uh, health and welfare is, is a, is a big item. Uh, course, in, in, in your budget, when you look at the percentage, it, it's, it's a good percentage of it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But you take things like, uh, roads, uh, education, health and welfare, there's 92 per-, ninety-two, uh, cents out of your state tax 00:30:00dollar right there.

ROMOND: Yeah, yeah. What were the big health care issues when you were serving in the Senate?

REICHERT: Well, we had, had one, uh, well, you had the drug problem.

ROMOND: Drugs?

REICHERT: Drug was certain problem, and there's always a debate over, uh, uh, penalties like, uh, possession of things like marijuana.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Kentucky at one time had a real harsh penalty for that. In fact, the, the way the law was written, it, uh, and we got it changed, uh, you got, could serve more time if, say, if you had an automobile--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

REICHERT: --and you got stopped and somebody, the passenger in your car, had left a, a marijuana cigarette in, in your car, and they found it. It's, it's a mandatory three year sentence for you, because you said 00:31:00it's possession.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But, and that couldn't be, be, be appealed. Now somebody who's a pusher got caught, they could get a sentence, but they could appeal it. That's how the law was written. So that was changed, you know, we got it changed. It's kinda controversial cause a lot of people think, you know, that, that you wanted to change that, you were in favor of--(both laugh)--

ROMOND: --of drugs(??)--

REICHERT: --of drugs, you know. It was. (both laugh) I know I got, got ripped over it a--

ROMOND: --you did?--

REICHERT: --a few times. Oh, yeah. (laughs) And, uh, but, but that, but drugs was, was a problem. We had another one was, uh, we had the, uh, Frankfort, uh, mental, mental hospital.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Particularly for, for children. Mentally retard, or mentally disadvantaged children. And that hospital up at Frankfort really, it 00:32:00was an eyesore. It was terrible. And, uh--

ROMOND: --was it a state facility?

REICHERT: State facility. And course it was kinda off-, offshoot of the health and welfare committee. They formed, well, it was called the Medical School's Mental Health Coordinating Committee, and I was chairman of it. And they had the two heads of, had the heads of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville Medical School was on it. Few other people. And, uh, the thing that came of it was building of, uh, Oakwood.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Down in Somerset. Now, Oakwood's got some problems today, but it was a far cry from what they had up in Frankfort. That thing was shut down and I think that's one of the best things we did.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, like I say, they, they have problems now, but nothing that they can't straighten out.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Was mental health a priority during the time that you 00:33:00served--

REICHERT: --yes--

ROMOND: --when you were on the Senate-

REICHERT: --that was one thing that, uh, I think Louie Nunn as Governor never got the real credit he deserved. Kentucky, I think, when he became Governor, was ranked about fortieth or forty-fourth, forty-first in the country in mental health field.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: When he left it was number three.

ROMOND: Wow.

REICHERT: Yeah, that's how far we came with that thing. So, now I don't know where it is now. I think it went back a little bit but I think we're, we're still doing fairly well.

ROMOND: Um-hm. What about strip mining and miner's health care issues?

REICHERT: Well, strip mining was a big thing. We, uh, uh, you know, if you go down to western Kentucky, particularly eastern Kentucky, where you did, you know, all literally mountain tops were taken off.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

REICHERT: And you have acid water run-off, which is, which is a big 00:34:00thing. And we, uh, we got into that. And, uh, I know I took a trip up to, uh, Pennsylvania to see how the reclamation went up there. They had a good reclamation program.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Up state of Pennsylvania, so we made a trip, uh, Senator Chin and I went to Frankfort one time and that was a kinda an amusing story. (both laugh) We, we went to Frankfort and left over here Bowman Field early in the morning, and it was dark. Got on this old rickety airplane and first thing that it had to do was re-, repair it. Put a bolt in the, in the landing gear.

ROMOND: Oh, that doesn't give you a lot of confidence.

REICHERT: No, and anyway, we thought, Well, we're gonna fry, fly to Frankfort, we'll get a different plane, you know, go up to, go up to Pittsburg.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Well, we got to Frankfort--(laughs)--found out we, all we did there was pick up some news people and--(laughs)--

ROMOND: --uh-oh--

REICHERT: --same plane went to Pittsburg. (both laugh) Well, we got to Pittsburg and it was cold and we went, went over to the, the, uh, 00:35:00reclamation area. And we came on back late, kinda late that afternoon. Well, it's on a Monday. So we were gonna have a session on Senate at four o'clock. So we had to come back to Bowman Field. And, uh, Dick Chin said, "Well, what we gonna do? We gonna up to Frankfort for the session?" I said, "Well, time we get up there," I said, "It'll probably be over with. Besides all they gonna do is give some reads of bills and they're gonna adjourn." That's all they had on the agenda, so, uh, we went, went on home. Well, the next morning, Carolyn, she was going, my wife's going up to Frankfort with me.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So I picked up the paper--(laughs) and saw where the majority floor leader, Jiggs Buckman, had the state police out looking for Dick Chin and I. (both laugh) They wanted to give a, give a reading to, uh, 00:36:00public accommodations bill was in the Senate, which was an important piece of legislation. And they couldn't get a quorum. Had the state police out looking for u--(laughs)--get us in there to make a quorum. So, and he accused the Lieutenant Governor Harry Lee Waterfield and, and Dick Chin and I of being in a, in a plot to scuttle the public accommodations bill, so it wouldn't get a readings. (both laugh) Why one day made any difference, I don't know. (both laugh) But anyway, we went up the next morning, got to the Capitol building and, and we, uh, got to the elevator. The first person I saw was the Lieutenant Governor, Harry Lee Waterfield. And said, "Governor, see we made the news this morning." He said, "Yeah, I see we did, so I'm I gonna have something to say about it today." (both laugh)

I bet he did(??).

So, he did.

ROMOND: About the big conspiracy?

REICHERT: Yeah, so he got on, he got on the--(laughs)--Jiggs Buckman 00:37:00about it and we had a little recess. I said, "Governor, you sure got on him pretty hard." Jiggs sat in front of me and I could just see the back of his neck's getting red, you know--(laughs)--and Harry Lee was, Harry Lee had pretty well sent him down the road. (both laugh) So anyway, he said, I said, "Governor, you sure got on Jiggs pretty good, didn't you?" He says, "yeah, and I'm gonna get him again before we get out of here." (both laugh) So, it was, it was, it was funny.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: But anyway, they got the thing passed. But that--

ROMOND: --what came of the strip mining, um?

REICHERT: Well, see, a lot of these people would come in, and the, uh, and strip these places and they, they leave like orphan land.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: They'd pick up and they'd leave.

ROMOND: Just leave.

REICHERT: Just leave.

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: Well, part of the, the strong part of the legislation was they had to post so much money.

00:38:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Before they started strip mining. And then if they didn't reclaim it, they automatically lost it. So they, and then they would be, could be fined. Course a lot of those fellows, they, like a lot of businesses they, they, they would go out, they would go out of business or change their names, see.

ROMOND: Oh.

REICHERT: And go somewhere else. Well, then reincorporate again. And, uh, they might go to Tennessee or someplace for a while and then not careful, they're back.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, but that's, that did at least it cost them a certain amount of money if they that.

ROMOND: It held them responsible.

REICHERT: It held them responsible and it--

ROMOND: -- ----------(??)---------- --

REICHERT: Right, um-hm. Aw, it was terrible way some of that was, you know, some people's home and that were wiped out. You know, the muds, the slides and the whole bit, yeah. And, um, and, of course, what they would do, they had their property, had the mineral rights to the property that other people would live on, but they had the mineral 00:39:00rights. When they'd decide to come in and, and, and, uh, strip mine, they just came on in and did it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, the courts at that time ruled it, you know, they, those minerals underneath that, uh, underneath the ground that, they belonged to the, the mining company. That was theirs, their property.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And of course, they stripped the top off to get to it.

ROMOND: And the people that lived there had no say.

REICHERT: Right, um-hm. You know, it was, it was a big item then.

ROMOND: Um-hm. What about the Falls of Ohio? You were, you were very involved in that?

REICHERT: Yeah, we, we, uh, uh, really what we wanted to do was, the way the, uh, the falls that area is, the, uh, fossil beds are in Kentucky.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, most of the river, and the river beds belong to the State of Kentucky, that's part of the, part of the original charter.

00:40:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: When Kentucky became, uh, a part of the unio-, uh, the Union.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, and, but the access to it was on the Indiana side. So what we wanted to do is like make an interstate park out of it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And it took legislation by Kentucky and it took by legislation by Indiana to, to do that. Well, I introduced the bill in, uh, in the Kentucky legislature and got it passed. And then the Indiana, Senator Plaskett from over in Indiana, he did the same.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Now, our problem was that, see, the property under that river is a lot of it's owned by individuals. And we had a hard time, the Army Corp of Engineers never could actually, uh, buy, you know, even 00:41:00think about getting those deeds because a lot of those people, you couldn't hardly track them down. Took us a long time. Well, we had to come up with a comprehensive plan to get any, say, federal funds. You know, you deal with the federal government, the first thing you got to do is have a comprehensive plan. That cost money.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: It was gonna cost us four hundred thousand dollars. Well, Governor Nunn said he'd put up two hundred thousand dollars out of his contingency fund for it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But the state of Indiana never would match that.

ROMOND: Oh.

REICHERT: And they kept dragging their feet, dragging their feet, and I think the reason why the department of natural resources over there was wanting to do like it is now, make a state park out of it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that's what it is now. Well, I'm glad they did something. It, it preserves that area because up to that time, people would go out, they'd come over there, they, they'd chip the fossils out, you know, take them for souvenirs, or whatever. And, uh, they're pretty 00:42:00well tearing the place up.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: And we wanted to preserve them. And that's, that was the way we were gonna do it. And make, you know, some kinda government entity where we could actually control that.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But we had big plans for it. We were gonna actually run it all the way down to almost New Albany on that side and make bird sanctuaries and all kinds of things out of it. You know, we had, had big ideas.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: But it never did come to fruitation because of, like I say, Indiana, although they wanted to be partners in on it, they, they saw the opportunity where they could put a, see, we couldn't put a, do that, because we wouldn't have access to the fossil beds. Now, see, if you go over to the Interpretive Center over, over in Clarksville, over in, over in Indiana, you can actually walk down to the fossil beds.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: It, but the, the fossil beds are practically all in Kentucky.

00:43:00

ROMOND: Um-hm, and the issue was the private ownership?

REICHERT: That's what held it up. That was, that was gonna be, if, if the, say, uh, uh, we were actually gonna make like a, a park out of it, the actual fossil beds itself, then we'd have to acquire property from property owners. And that was, that was gonna be a nightmare. Maybe it could possibly be done but it was gonna take a long time.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And it took a long time.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: In the mean time, uh, we changed Governors, and some of us, you know, they, they changed the boards, you know, put people in there, and I think they maybe wasn't as enthusiastic about it as we were, and so on, it kinda drug on. I think they passed a resolution in Congress that says this is a, oh, national refuge or something like that. It's about all that came out of it, and that's when Indiana finally end up putting a, you know, making a state park out of it, which was good.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

00:44:00

REICHERT: Something was done.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Something was done about it.

ROMOND: Um-hm. You had some pictures of people at the site--

REICHERT: --right--

ROMOND: --there--

REICHERT: --um-hm.

ROMOND: And I wonder if you could, um, say who those people were who were involved with you in helping?

REICHERT: Yeah, it was, um--

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: Okay, so the other people who were helping, who were also involved in the fossil field?

REICHERT: Yeah, it was doctor, Dr. Don Munich(??) from over in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Dr. Ernie Ellison(??) from here in, in, uh, Louisville. Uh, they were kinda prime movers that, uh, all along the Falls of the Ohio. They had pictures, they had the, the history of it and they, they could tell you, uh, all about the, the ----------(??) age and the whole bit, you know, these, these, uh, fossils came from, 00:45:00what they were, so on. They were more or less experts on the, on the, on the Falls. They were, they were primary, and of course the, uh, the legislative, uh, leaders were, uh, Richard Wathen. He was from, uh, uh, Indiana and he was a state House member, and, and, uh, Senator Plaskett from Indiana. Course myself over here, I handled legislation in Kentucky, Senator Plaskett over in Indiana. And that's how the, the compact was, was formed.

ROMOND: How did you get involved in the, uh, in this project?

REICHERT: Well, these two fellows, Dr. Ellison and, uh, Dr. Munich, they, uh, they, they came to me, and it, course knowing that, you know, 00:46:00this, this was really their idea.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And they came to me and, and, uh, approached me on it. Then they showed slides and went through the whole, whole bit and it got me interested in it. I thought it was a good thing to do.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So, they, they were the, they were the, really the prime movers of it.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And then you took it from there?

REICHERT: Right, um-hm.

ROMOND: You were also involved in the--

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: --the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, what was that project about?

REICHERT: Well, that project was, um, was really the first resolution on it was, uh, adopted Congress in 1806. It was a waterway that would connect the, uh, Ohio River with Mobile, Alabama.

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: Uh, I was put on the, put on the board in 1968. Served eight years on it. They, um, it was a compact five states.

00:47:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And what the waterway would be, it would start at the, uh, uh, at the Ohio River, through Kentucky Lake, down about, uh, Pickwick Landing in Tennessee. And there, there'd have to be a, a divide cut made which would connect the, uh, Tennessee River--that's where Kentucky Lake is, the Tennessee River--connect the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River.

ROMOND: Oh.

REICHERT: And, uh, that, that divide cut would link the two and then they would, then they would have to channelize the Tombigbee all the way to Mobile. They'd have to build a series of locks and dams down through Alabama, and, and, uh, and the edge of Mississippi and on into, uh, into Mobile.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that, uh, it was a, a shorter way to, to get to Mobile 00:48:00than the Mississippi River.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Plus, it was slack water. Now, at, you know, out of the Mississippi River is the Ohio; it, you have currents in it. Strong currents and, and particularly in the high water. Uh, going down it's not bad; coming back is the trick. Now, coming back the Tenn-Tom, that's slack water.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, its easier shipping and all and so on. So, uh, that was the idea. To build it, well, it took years and years. Well, it kinda laid dormant for a long time. And back in the fifties, they, um, they decided they were go ahead with the project. Well, it took enactments by five, it was five states involved: Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. And, uh, they formed a compact. 00:49:00This was done back in the late fifties, early sixties. Well, I was put on the board in 1968. And, uh, the, uh, well, in, Governor Nunn was, was, uh, what the compact was, it'd be five members from each state, appointed by the Governor. And each Governor was, uh, head of the delegation or automatically on the, on the board.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And they rotated the chairmanships. Like this year, the Governor of Kentucky was chairman, next year, Tennessee, and so on. Well, when, uh, I was put on the board, the very, very next year Governor Nunn became chairman. Well, they, they elected me vice- chairman.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, course, you know how that is, the Governor's there for one thing, that's kinda a symbolic thing. You know, the vice- chairman gets the work. So--(both laugh)--anyway, it's, um, they, uh, 00:50:00it, it, they lobbied, lobbied Washington. They had, course, they had a lot of people from Washington and key, key people like Senator Stennis from Mississippi. Uh, they had Joe Erwin, he was chairman of public works in the House from Tennessee. And they had, uh, Jamie Whitten, he was number two man on the appropriation committee. They had some powerful people on the board.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, in, in Congress, so, anyway, I, I was fairly new on, on the board, and one night, we're in Washington, D.C., and having dinner, and this fellow is the administrator of it, Glover Wilkins, uh, he was telling all the powerful people they had in Washington and the whole bit, I said, "Well, Glover, I'm kinda new at this," I said, "but you have all these powerful people, how come this thing isn't built?"

00:51:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Well, I knew what was going on, see. Once you build it, you can't run on it anymore. They--(laughs)--these fellows down on that waterway, you know, you know, "You elect me, I'm going get this Tenn-Tom built." Well, you know, they do that for thirty years, see. I told Glover, I said, "Well, I, I can't understand why it's not built if we have all these people in the right place. And they got all this power." So I told the Governor of that. He kinda laughed and I said, "You know what we ought do?" He said, "What's that?" I says, "Better get this thing built." Well, he was a, Louie Nunn was, uh, pretty close to Richard Nixon. He was President then. And, uh, Congressman Jack Edwards from Mobile and had him come up, and he and I went to see the Governor. We sat down and "Hey, why don't you get us a appointment with the President? You know, get a appointment with the President and see about getting him in the, getting the Tenn-Tom in the executive 00:52:00budget." Now, that's the trick, see. All along, they'd get engineering studies, and

All that. Well, engineering studies fine. But somewhere along the line, you want to do something.

ROMOND: Right.

REICHERT: Well, they decided to do two things: try to get the President to put it in the executive budget, and another thing, they were the gonna dedicate the waterway in 1971 down on Mobile, and get the President to come down there to, for the dedication of the waterway.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Well, they got him, he came down. And he had a hundred thousand people in Mobile for that dedication. And, you know, Mobile's a good sized town, but it's, they had people coming in from everywhere, everywhere. Well, they dedicated the waterway. And, and Nixon came out in his budget, had them in for a million dollars. That's not much money, but you got your foot in the budget. So, that's what you're looking for.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

00:53:00

REICHERT: Well, they no sooner got, got that million dollar, uh, in the, in the federal budget, environmental defense fund filed suit in Washington, D.C. court to block it, see.

ROMOND: What was the suit about?

REICHERT: Well, the environmental things, and how they always do, you know, they get into it and, uh, and costs, the whole bit. Well, of course, then, we went, we had to go to work. Well, I made trip after trip over there to Washington and we went to the Justice Department.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And we got that thing out of the Washington, D.C. court, cause see, if it's in federal court in Washington, D.C., which is real liberal court, if you lose there, you go appeal it, you gonna go on appellate court in Washington DC.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Well, we worked hard on it, and we finally got a change of venue. That trial was moved from Washington, D.C. to Aberdeen, 00:54:00Mississippi.

ROMOND: Really?

REICHERT: Yeah. So, anyway, we won in the federal court and then the other part of it was, the, the appeal would not be in Washington, D.C., but it'd be in the New Orleans, Fifth District appellate court. And then we won, we thought sure it was gonna be a Supreme Court case. But they gave up on it after the appellate court in New Orleans, uh, ruled in favor of the waterway. So then they started on the thing and it, it's built. It's, but, but the thing of it, the holdup cost, the original cost on it was three hundred million dollars, and through the holdups and everything else, it end up costing two billion.

ROMOND: Oh, my.

REICHERT: And that's probably, that's the largest civil project the Army Corps of Engineers ever had.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: The Tenn-Tom waterway and its, um, and it's in operation today. In fact, some of these, I know some of these, uh, uh, tour, 00:55:00tour guides; they got, they got tours through the Tenn-Tom waterway.

ROMOND: Really?

REICHERT: Down through there, yeah. And course the other thing it, it did too is, is, um, economically it helped. The Green County, Alabama, their welfare budget was higher than the educational budget.

ROMOND: Wow.

REICHERT: That's how poor those people along there was. The waterway was gonna help them.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But, and, and one thing, one big, uh, uh, part of those water, waterways, or series of lakes is the recreational, uh, money it brings in. But when you're justifying to Congress, you can't use that.

ROMOND: Oh.

REICHERT: See, you have to, you gotta prove to them for every dollar they put in it, they're gonna get one, at least $1.1 back.

ROMOND: Huh.

REICHERT: In revenue.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that's, that's your, uh, cost benefit ratio that you've to come up with.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, they'd always make, but if you could throw the recreational thing in it, it would go as high as $1.5.

00:56:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But we couldn't do that.

ROMOND: But you couldn't--

REICHERT: --unh-uh.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: But that is a big benefit down there now is the recreational thing.

ROMOND: Sounds huge.

REICHERT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: Yeah.

[Pause in recording.]

ROMOND: Mr. Reichert, what do you think were the biggest issues in Kentucky, in the whole state of Kentucky, at the time that you served? What were the biggest issues then compared to what the issues are now?

REICHERT: Well, the, uh, the strip mining thing was a, was a big issue which you don't hear that much of anymore. You know, it, it's still an issue but nothing like it was then. We had demonstrations, people out of eastern Kentucky would come there and demonstrate. Um, Har-, Harry Caudill, you know, the writer.

00:57:00

ROMOND: Yes.

REICHERT: The author, he, he was actually there, and talking about the strip mine thing.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Um, the, uh, civil rights thing was big at that time during the sixties. You know, uh, we had, uh, demonstrations for, particularly for public accommodations. You know, that, that went on, it went on for several years, several sessions.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, that, that was a big, uh, back during--I don't know if you remember or read about it, uh, during that sixties, even have a almost like riots here in Louisville.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Civil rights thing, and course, it drifted in, on up to Frankfort, too. So, those were two big issues and, and, uh, we had to deal with.

ROMOND: Um-hm. You came into office, um, not long after President 00:58:00Kennedy had been assassinated.

REICHERT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: And the, the Vietnam War was still on and those were national, international issues, how, how did you see those playing out here in Kentucky?

REICHERT: Well, uh, yeah, I, I was elected into the House in early part of November and, uh, President Kennedy was assassinated that just a few weeks later, in November of '63.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, I think he was, it was the twenty-second of November. And, uh, but the, the war at that time really, uh, hadn't blossomed. You know, the protest thing hadn't gone, gone that far, uh, uh, the late sixties, uh, that's, I guess it really got started in, in earnest long about '66.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: When they, the pro-, '65, '66 when the protests really, really 00:59:00got bad. Uh, although it, it wasn't that, that bad here in, in, in this state. I mean, it, the city of Louisville, you had some but, uh, your, your huge demonstrations were other parts of the country, not so much here in Kentucky.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, they had the thing, incident up there at Kent State, you know, which, I think that was a one of the, one of the real sparks in the, the thing. And, course, when we had it, uh, with the, um, the, with the, uh, the college, on the college campuses here. Uh, it was some firm action, uh, taken. Some of those people get in and you don't want them to burn and all that kinda, it, it got pretty nasty on the college campuses mainly. Uh, they had problems at the University of Kentucky and some of the others, but the, yeah, it, it was along, it 01:00:00was along about, well, it was along about '68 when it really got kinda bad in Kentucky.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: At, on the college campuses.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, you didn't have huge demonstration in the streets or anything like that here.

ROMOND: It was pretty much confined--

REICHERT: --right--

ROMOND: --to the campuses.

REICHERT: Yeah.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Were there any surprises for you, um, serving in the legislature? Things that you just couldn't have guessed ahead of time that were different than how you may be imagined before you started?

REICHERT: Well, it's, uh, you know, I wouldn't say experience with it, but I'd been up, I'd been up to legislature and seen how some of it worked and the whole bit but, um, the thing that surprised me though is, is how they, um, the leadership of the, of the legislature would 01:01:00just let things pile up to the end, you know, I thought that--

ROMOND: --during the session--

REICHERT: --yeah, it, it seemed like it, uh, that, and I think a lot of, well, a lot of it is by design. That way you kinda, they, they can kinda weed out what they want and what they don't want, but, um, they, uh, that, that logjam at the end was bad.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Nothing like it is now because of the budget. Now, see, we, we'd get a budget then, budget didn't hold things up like it, like it did now, like it does now.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, budgets sometimes up there get passed in five, six days.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: They pass it down at, at the House, bring it over to Senate, introduce it to the Senate, uh, adjourn, have a committee on committee meeting, then they'd, uh, refer to the appropriations committee. And 01:02:00then they'd have an adjournment, and they'd, they'd report the budget bill out. And get a reading all in one day. And--

ROMOND: -- ----------(??) imagine--

REICHERT: --a couple days later it's passed.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Now, through the independence of the legislature, well, the legislature gets into the budget. And they, well, you saw what happened last time. It just go, goes through the end of the session. They, they--

ROMOND: -- ----------(??)---------- --

REICHERT: --never passed one. And, uh, the, they were starting, the legislature was starting to flex its, uh, muscles about being independent when I was there. We kept talking about it. It didn't really do that much about it, but later on, it, it kept growing and growing. And now, since you've got, say, um, uh, a split of the House is one party and the Senate's the other party, your, the, you things get held up more. Well, that logjam at the end is even way worse than 01:03:00what we had.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, when you get, we'd have something like thirteen, fourteen hundred out, bills, you know, introduced in the, in the House or the Senate. And when I was there, and two or three hundred's gonna make it at the most. And most of that's gonna come right at the end of the session. And it's even worse than that now.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Since the, you got the independents, sixties days is not enough for those people to get their job done.

ROMOND: You served under three Governors.

REICHERT: Right, um-hm.

ROMOND: Ned Breathitt, Louie Nunn, and Wendell Ford. What do you recall about each of them and how would you describe each of their relationships with the legislature?

REICHERT: Well, Ned Breathitt was a fine man.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You, he was a nice fellow. He had trouble with his own, own 01:04:00party in, particularly in the legislature.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, I know remember saying one time to him, "Governor," I said, "Your problem is you're too nice a guy." You know, Governor needs to have a little mean streak in him, really. If he's, because, you know, he's executive, chief executive officer of this state was the Governor is, is powerful.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Because he controls all money. He controls every department's money. And, uh, he, that, that, that was his problem. Now, Louie Nunn, Louie Nunn had that little mean streak in him.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, course he had to deal with the legislature that wasn't of his political persuasion.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So he had to be pretty firm.

ROMOND: ----------(??)-----------

REICHERT: Yeah, it was a challenge to him, and he, he got the main things he wanted, he got done. And, course, Wendell Ford, Wendell Ford 01:05:00and I, he, he and I served in the, I served in state Senate but when he was in the, uh, senator, and course later on, he was presiding officer, that's when the Lieutenant Governor's presiding officer of--

ROMOND: --right--

REICHERT: --the Senate. When he was Lieutenant Governor, he was presiding officer, Wendell and I got along real well and.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, he was, he was a good man, and he got things done.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Yeah, and, he, he did. He, he got things done but he, he got along with, uh, the members of his own party a lot better than, uh, Ned Breathitt did.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And cause, Wendell, he, he kinda, well, uh, Ned Breathitt came, you know, had enough experience, he was a member of the House, was, before, you know, before he came Governor and all of that, you know, and so he had legislative experience, too, but the different temperament, you know, he.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Some people, they, they, they don't mind tramping on some toes if they, they want something done and that's what you got to do.

01:06:00

ROMOND: Um-hm. When did you notice the legislature start to flex its muscles, as you said, about wanting more power?

REICHERT: Well, now I, I was over in the, over in the Senate, well, I had, it was certain amount of it in, in the House. You had a, uh, faction over, over in the House that, uh, they, they, they wanted more say in, in the how things were run, how committees were formed, uh, who served on them, and the whole bit, you know and--

ROMOND: --um-hm--

REICHERT: --and the speaker of the House then and, uh, they just designated who's gonna be on, on such committees, and, uh, they thought they needed, they wanted more say. It came mostly from the, the, the Democrats over there.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: They had their own faction in--

ROMOND: --in the House?

REICHERT: In the House.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Yeah, it wasn't as bad over in the Senate at that time, uh, course they was more or less like a cl-, that was a club.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But over in the, over in the, uh, House now, they, uh, they, 01:07:00they had some fellows over there that they, they just didn't like the way things were run, members of their own party now.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, they, they got a few things accomplished but it, it started, it started there.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Were there other factions that you noticed, in the House or the Senate?

REICHERT: Well, no, uh, uh, the, the mainly, some of them called, over in the House, some of those fellows were like Happy Chandler people.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: That's what they would call them.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, from the Chandler faction. I don't think that's so much true. I think it's just some of them that, uh, uh, they, they just, they, they just felt like they wanted more say in, in what was going on. And, and, uh, John Swinford over there, he's, later on became judge, I believe and, and Richard Frymire from down 01:08:00western Kentucky, those fellows, they, uh, they were, they were pretty sharp. And, and, uh, they, they felt like, you know, that they, they should've some input and, and some of the members should.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, they, I think they were the beginning of, of, uh, so- called legislative independence.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: They, they started it.

ROMOND: Um, was the Louisville group of legislators a united group or were there factions even within the Louisville?

REICHERT: Yeah, you had factions in it, uh, well, I wouldn't call them really a faction; they had people that, uh, they had their own, uh, personal agendas.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And when you had that, see, they, uh, you, you gonna split off every now and then.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, they, uh, you had them amongst the Republicans--see, the 01:09:00Republicans here at one time had the, had the, the, the largest number of, of House members. There were twenty-two House seats here at one time; fifteen of them were, were held by Republicans.

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: Goes back in the, about the mid-, mid- to late sixties.

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: And when you get a group that big, even within that party, you gonna get all kinds of diverse opinions and, and, and ways of doing things, and so on, and now they never really got in to, what you say, a factional fight. Cause they really wasn't anything be controlled over.

ROMOND: Right.

REICHERT: You know. There's nothing up there, once they got to Frankfort, you know, they were just, uh, that time, it was close, on the average, around thirty-eight, forty Republicans in the House.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Well, you're not close to actually controlling anything. You can be heard--

ROMOND: --right--

REICHERT: --and listened to, but that's about as far as you're gonna go. 01:10:00With those, when you get into the factional squabbles is when there's something to squabble over.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: And, but the, that never happen. Now amongst the Democrats, they had some now that would, that would drift away. Because, there again, see, they, they were in control of the, the Governor's office and actually controlled both chambers, which gives them something to squabble over. And that's where, that's where you get that.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Was there ever a time that you felt like your personal values or agenda was in conflict with your constituents, the people you were representing?

REICHERT: Well, there, there's, there's times that when, when you have to, you know, particularly there controversial issues would come up, you have to use your own judgment a lot of times.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, um--(laughs)--like I always said, in a controversial 01:11:00issue, once you vote, the people that are for you, they remember about fifteen minutes; the ones you vote against, they never forget it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And that, that's, that happens but that, that goes with the business. And, uh, but, yeah, you, you, you're gonna have to make, make a judgment on many a times, you, you, you don't have posters or anything else. If, if you, uh, watch your mail, and, of course, mail sometimes is, uh, uh, kinda throw you.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Because the, the, the people who'll write you, or call you, - ----------(??) about something, or, or really, uh, express their strong opinion, are, are people that's, that's, that's pretty clo-, but they may not be near majority what people think.

ROMOND: Right.

REICHERT: So they, that's why you got to use your judgment.

ROMOND: Oh, okay. And the people who are satisfied you don't 01:12:00necessarily hear from?

REICHERT: Oh, no, no, no.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: No, they, well, I won't say that's, that's 100 percent true because there are people that, you know, that appreciate what you do and, and will tell you.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: But most of the time, like I say, that galleries up there split fifty/fifty.

ROMOND: Right.

REICHERT: The ones you vote for, they're gonna remember it about fifteen minutes. That's it. The other--(laughs)--you see them a year later, they gonna, they haven't forgotten it.

ROMOND: Are there any connections or friendships in the General Assembly that are especially memorable to you? Who stands out in your memory?

REICHERT: Well, one of the fellows, he was the opposite party than I am, and we served in the Senate together, it was Ron Mazzoli.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Uh, Ron and I worked together pretty close on some things. And I, I consider him a friend and he considers me a friend. And, uh, I could always, uh, rely on him. One thing I liked about him was you 01:13:00never got a surprise on that floor from him.

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: If he was with you, he was with you there. Now, if something happened, he changed his mind, he came to you and told you.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Say, "Stu, you better look for somebody else cause the, I, I can't, I can't stay with you on this, on this vote." Well, you appreciated that.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: Now, I had some other fellows that, you know, they'd say, you know, you counted, you counted noses, and they were with you. Got on that floor, they vote just the opposite of what they told you. That's not too good.

ROMOND: No.

REICHERT: But, uh, Ron was that type. And course, there's other, other friendships you made. They, uh, people around here, Dick Chin and I was pretty close, and we used to ride up to Frankfort together. And Scott Miller and still good friends and the whole bit. And, uh, there was one fellow, I'll never forget him, he was from up, uh, in Paintsville.

01:14:00

ROMOND: Hm.

REICHERT: Name was Roy Ross.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Little fellow and little mountaineer. And he, uh, administration, they'd have these housekeeping bills.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And they lets, let a fellow like him handle one, you know.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And all we done was clean up the statue, don't amount to anything, but it gives him a bill. You know, he, he can tell back home he got legislation passed. Well, he, he brought, uh, he brought this bill up. It was a highway surveying bill and just came out of the engineering department.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Well, old Roy, he had the bill and he was, he didn't know anything about it. And all you do with that, you know, just go almost just say what the title is, and, you know, if, call for a vote. Well, this one fellow in there, I won't mention his name, he got questioning the ole fellow pretty close on that bill. And he didn't know anything about it. And so anyway, I got up. And, uh, I knew something about 01:15:00it. And I just kinda, in a nice way, took over the bill for him, explained it away, you know, and we(??) passed it. And that old fellow never forgot that.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: Yeah, it was on a Friday morning, session was over with, I was kinda going through mail. And had an old plastic letter opener. And he came up to me, he says, "Walter," he says, "Now, I come back in Monday night, I'm gonna have you a knife. Something to open that mail with." Well, he came back in that Monday night and he had that knife. He came up to me and he says, "Walter, here's this knife."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: He says, "Now, it's not a new one, but by gosh, it's a good one." (both laugh) And I come to find out that those people from up 01:16:00there in the mountains that a, an act of friendship with you is to give you a knife, a used knife. Yeah.

ROMOND: He appreciated your help.

REICHERT: Oh, yeah, yeah. He never said thanks or anything else, but he came by and he, that's what he did.

ROMOND: That was how he--

REICHERT: --um-hm--

ROMOND: --said thanks--

REICHERT: --yeah, I'll never forget that. Yeah, he was nice little fellow.

ROMOND: Yeah. Have you changed your mind about any issues, um, that since leaving office, education, health care, environment, industry, the way government is run, have you changed your mind from how you thought about it when you were actually in the legislature?

REICHERT: Well, not, not, not too much, I don't think.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: I, I, uh, the only thing I think about the, uh, the legislature is, is the way it's changed. You know, it's, uh, uh, I, one thing, I used to always be, uh, opposed about the, uh, annual sessions.

01:17:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, like somebody said, you know, instead of meeting every, every two years, sixty days every two years, you ought to meet, you know, meet two days every sixty years. But, uh, now, I, I come to think that, you know, you got so much federal government involved in, in the state's, uh, now that, I don't see how these people--well, they can't. They, they showed it last session, even though they, they meet every year, they can't even get their work done.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And I think maybe they ought to change the way they're doing it, instead of having short sessions like they have--

ROMOND: --yeah--

REICHERT: --have two longer sessions. And actually get on some of these legislators, legislatures in some of these states, they meet all year long, just like federal Congress.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: I don't know if I want to go that route but, uh, they, uh--

01:18:00

ROMOND: --it's a fulltime job.

REICHERT: It's getting to be that way. Course when I was there, it was a, it was a part-time job and it eventually evolved, you know, we start having committee meetings, you know, interim committees. That started when I was there. And, uh, fact I was chairman of interim committee meeting, uh, interim committee of, on, uh, the health and welfare.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: When I was there, they started that, even had a environmental quality committee that I was chairman of, too, at one time. And that put more work on you. Didn't pay any more but--(both laugh)--you, that's one thing they've, they've done, they've increased that pay. I think when we were there, we made a, our, well, you had a session every other year, so your average pay was about three thousand dollars a year. (laughs)

ROMOND: Whoa. (both laugh)

REICHERT: And it wouldn't be for like companies like mine, that let, just let me go, you know, and, and didn't, didn't they pay me like I was working. Uh, well, some people couldn't serve, because of it. 01:19:00They couldn't--

ROMOND: --because of that.

REICHERT: They, they could, they couldn't afford to serve.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: That's why, at one time, about, the, the legislature was made up practically all farmers.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: And that's why they meet the early part of the year, see, in January.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: So the, so they--

ROMOND: --they're not planting or harvesting.

REICHERT: And that's right and the, and that's why the legislature was always over with about the first of April.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: So they could get their--

ROMOND: --just in time--

REICHERT: --planting, that's right. (both laugh) Yeah, sure did.

ROMOND: What did you find most satisfying as an accomplishment during the time that you served?

REICHERT: Well, the thing that we, I think one of the things, like I said, that hospital down at, uh, Somerset was one. Uh, we ---------- -(??) the Falls of the Ohio thing over there, we didn't get it done the way we really wanted to but it's there.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, and--

ROMOND: --you brought attention to it.

01:20:00

REICHERT: Well, yeah, we, we got the ball rolling on the thing, there's other, uh, groups like the ----------(??) club and -----------(??) society and some of them that was always talking about those things, but they never went the steps to actually get something done about it. And, uh, then we, of course, so many other little things that, uh, that, that you do. Uh, things like say, service on, on the Tenn-Tom thing really, that, that's something that's concrete, you, you know it's there, it's a big project, even Indians thought about they said. And I don't know if that's true or not but, uh, to see something like that, you were part of--

ROMOND: --yes--

REICHERT: --you, you can't say you did it yourself, but you're just part of it when it happened so, you know, those, those things you think about.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. Would you want to be a legislator now?

REICHERT: Now, no. (laughs) I'm, I'm afraid I'm too old for that-- 01:21:00(laughs)--right now, but, uh, uh, sometimes it, you, you think, you know, you might want to do it again, but then other times you, you, you think about what you missed. I know my, when I was there, my, my children was young, and, you know, wife, Carolyn, she told me one time that, little daughter, my daughter, when she was small, she, she made a remark, said, "Isn't daddy ever home?"

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, that's, that's what these people give up.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: A lot of people don't realize that--

ROMOND: -- ----------(??)--

REICHERT: --but they do--

ROMOND: --misses you when your ----------(??)--

REICHERT: --that's right. Yeah, you're, you're gone all the time and the longer you stay there, the more they put on you.

ROMOND: Sure.

REICHERT: It's more, more responsibility you're gonna have. And if you do your job and do it right, you know, it's, it's gonna take time now.

ROMOND: Yeah, yeah and for a reward--

REICHERT: --um-hm--

ROMOND: --for doing a good job, then you get more work.

REICHERT: Yeah, I know, back in nineteen--let's see--seventy-, seventy- two, I, I did the redistricting in here in Jefferson County. Did it 01:22:00myself. Well, I had some help but, uh, I went to, after work, I'd drive up to Frankfort practically every night, down there in the basement in the, the Capitol building had a room. And I, and, uh, and had a room down there and had the maps and census tracks all over that place, you know, and, and we, uh, drawing up the Senate districts here, and, and, uh, the House districts here in Jefferson County. That was a big job. And, uh, boy(??), it, uh, it takes time to do that.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

REICHERT: Like I say, there's no compensation for it, you just--

ROMOND: --yeah--

REICHERT: --you just do it, you know.

ROMOND: Yeah. What advice or wisdom would you pass on to somebody considering going into politics today?

REICHERT: Well, one thing, you better have thick skin.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: You know, cause, you know, you're gonna get way more criticism 01:23:00than you gonna get praise.

ROMOND: Yeah.

REICHERT: You gonna do thing, more things wrong than you gonna do right, according to the people. And, uh, and you gotta have, you, you've gotta have the desire that, uh, one, you're gonna have to have the, the, really the desire you want to win.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And, uh, you gonna have to shove everything kinda off to the side.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: And make that your goal. And then, uh, uh, you, you, you gonna have to sacrifice

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: A lot of the things you gonna have to sacrifice. You might sacrifice certain things in your family and the whole work. So, um, and then, then you're gonna have to use your own head. You, you, you, you, you can't, uh, let anybody tell you what to do or influence you too much.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: There's gonna be a lot of that around. But you gotta, you gotta us, make your own, make your own calls, use your own judgment. 01:24:00That's, that's all you can do.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

REICHERT: That's all you can do. And, and, uh, and I'll tell you, if they're interested in going into politics, the thing to do is get yourself involved ahead of time. Just don't do like some of these people, decide today I'm gonna run and start--

ROMOND: --jump in--

REICHERT: --tomorrow, you know. That's, it, nine times out of ten, they'll never make it.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm.

REICHERT: They just won't. Most of the people that that, uh, get into these things, they plan it.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: The perfect example is a fellow like Mitch McConnell.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: Now, see, Mitch McConnell, he got his start, he, the first time he ever got involved in politics, he worked for me when I ran for Senate back in 1965. And he was ambitious then.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: He, uh, he still is, he, he always knew where he wanted to go. And he planned for it. Planned for it. And that's, that's what you 01:25:00gotta do.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: He, he didn't just jump in, decide he's gonna do, do a run. The only one race mistake he made one time was he decided to run for the House. The State House.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: In the Thirty-First District over around Jeffersontown, that area. He, uh, I was in Washington, D.C., and Mitch at that time, he was working for Marlow Cook. Marlow was a United States Senator. So I happened to stop in, Marlow and I were friends, and I'd stop in and see him. So, Mitch was working back in some little cubby hole somewhere. And he said, uh, "Stu," said, "what are you doing for lunch?" "Well, nothing really, why?" He said, "I'd like to have lunch with you, want to talk to you about something." I said, "Okay." So we did. He said, "I'm gonna move back to Jefferson County," this was in January.

01:26:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: He said, "I'm gonna move back to Jefferson County and run for the House in that Thirty-First District." I said, "When?" He said, "This November." I said, "Mitch, you can't do it." "What do you mean?" I said, "You gotta live in the district for at least a year."

ROMOND: Um-hm.

REICHERT: He said, "Well, no, I believe I can do it." I said, "Well, I don't think you can." Well, he moved back here. And he filed. Well, another fellow had already filed. The other fellow took him to court; Mitch thrown off the ballot. (laughs)

ROMOND: Really? (both laugh)

REICHERT: Oh, yeah. (both laugh) He got him thrown off the ballot, you see(??). That's the one mistake.

ROMOND: Yeah, yeah.

REICHERT: He jumped in a little too early. (laughs)

ROMOND: ----------(??)----------. (Reichert laughs) Well, I have really appreciated talking with you.

REICHERT: Well, I appreciate you doing it, yeah.

ROMOND: And, um, is there anything else that you'd like to add that we haven't talked about? That hasn't come up?

01:27:00

REICHERT: Uh, no, um, I don't think so.

ROMOND: Well, thank you for your time--

REICHERT: --yeah--

ROMOND: --and your thoughts--

REICHERT: --well, appreciate, appreciate you doing it. I hope you have a success with the program.

ROMOND: Oh, thank you.

REICHERT: Um-hm.

ROMOND: Thank you.

[End of interview.]