A difference of opinion about Pat Schroeder

Letter from Jeanne Englert

Politics – June 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine


Ed, I agree with most of your opinions, but beg to differ with you about Pat Schroeder. Certainly she had a national feminist constituency, but the main reason she got re-elected and re-elected, etc., was because she was constituent-oriented. You had a problem with Social Security? Veterans benefits? She got her staff right on it.

Not only that, but she even took us under her wing, we orphan constituents in Durango who opposed the Animas-La Plata project, because we could not trust Ray Kogovsek, then Third Congressional District representative, to make appointments for us in Washington, D.C.

Pat Schroeder understood our problem, she herself having been vilified by opposing the Narrows reclamation boondoggle in northeast Colorado. She assigned her staffer Pete Sears to take care of we poor little naive huerfanos from Durango, and he did a magnificent job. He got us a meeting with a Carter aide in the White House, a meeting with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, and an aide to Mo Udall. In addition, we got nearly an hour’s briefing in Pat’s office from Pete Sears, who had our agenda typed out and instructions of how to get from there to there.

In contrast, Kogovsek made us cool our heels waiting at the Extension Building in Durango while he met with the powerful Westland District dudes in California, who flew to Durango to lobby him to keep their water subsidies and change reclamation law to allow these corporate “farmers” to make huge profits off of publicly-funded water projects. So we waited. One of my fellow opponents, a professor of political science at Fort Lewis College, whose mission in life was to infuse students with America’s great values of representative government in Poly Sci 101, leans over to whisper to me, “Is that really a camel’s hair coat?”

What’s going on here? We’re the constituents, aren’t we? Heck, we’d even worked to help get that son-of-a-gun re-elected. We finally learned who Kogo’s constituents really were by poring over records of contributions to Kogo’s campaigns we obtained from the Federal Election Commission. California cotton growers. Not that I have anything against cotton growers. Good fiber, but it did seem unlikely that at an average elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level, where the Animas-La Plata water was supposed to go, our local farmers, a.k.a. developers, would grow cotton.

So, Ed, we agree/disagree. I’m with you all the way about the lack of concern to local constituents in your excellent story about the census. And all CCM readers should appreciate what you and Martha did in giving us the population numbers, which indeed do tell stories of Colorado’s past. But please don’t give Schroeder a bum rap again.

Jeanne Willobought Englert

(How great-grandpa E.A. Willoughby’s name was recorded in the 1860 free inhabitants of the census, county of Arapahoe, Kansas Territory.)