Forty Years Ago This Week: The Colorado Statesman published a letter authored by several state legislators that took Gov. Dick Lamm to task for repealing Colorado’s Bilingual Bicultural Education Act when he signing Senate Bill 81-492 into law.

Among the representatives who signed the letter were Denver Democratic Reps. House Minority Leader Federico Peña and Assistant Minority Leader Richard Castro. The legislators said they wanted to remind the public that, “The CBBEA has increased parent involvement in the public schools of Colorado, has brought cultural understanding among children and served as a voluntary, integrative environment for children from varied backgrounds.”

Since its inception in 1975, thousands of non-Hispanic parents and children had been involved in the program. An external evaluation of English language skills of K-3 children showed an average of at least 80% improvement in competency.

In a June 8 message to legislators, Gov. Lamm said that repealing the CBBEA was the “ … only responsible course of action. I must choose the best available alternative to advance the interest of Colorado children. Chicano members of the legislature have a particular and special interest in this issue. Some members of the Hispanic community consider SB 492 an affront.”

But Pena and the other opponents of the repeal said that support for the CBBEA was not limited to Spanish-speaking Coloradans. Pena highlighted a Channel 9 poll that found that 80% of Coloradans were strongly supportive of the act.

“We deeply resent the implication that bilingual, bicultural education is only a Chicano issue,” the Democratic legislators wrote. “Gov. Lamm’s transparent rhetoric is a thinly veiled attempt to paint Hispanic legislators as “anti-children.” This a calculated, ironic twist of the facts.”

Fellow signatories included Sens. Paul Sandoval, D-Denver; Polly Baca Barragan, D-Thornton; Don Sandoval, D-Denver; and Reps. Laura DeHerrera, D-Denver; Leo Lucero, D-Pueblo; and George Chavez, D-Denver.

Twenty Years Ago: The 2000 election cycle had been a doozy — in particular the race for state House District 10 between Democrat incumbent Rep. Alice Borodkin and Republican Bruce Holland. Borodkin had won by the slimmest of margins — a mere 508 votes. Neither party was keen for a repeat performance.

Several months later in June 2001, a veritable dossier comprising some 61 documents was delivered to The Colorado Statesman office. An unsigned note read: “Thought it would be appropriate for the press to be aware of Holland’s background.”

Most of the items featured in the documents had already been written about during the 2000 election cycle: a previous arrest for DUI and several “bad” business debts.

When pressed by Statesman reporters, Holland said he would be pushing forward to run for Colorado’s 1st Congressional District, but that he was considering another attempt at HD 10.

“A number of prominent Republicans in the community and around the state have asked me to run,” Holland said. “And who knows what will happen with reapportionment. But I think the state legislature need at least one Republican in the majority who can work for both sides.”

Holland vilified Borodkin, calling her a “do-nothing legislator” who hadn’t championed any great causes or shown leadership.

“Last time I ran a positive campaign, and I intend to run an above-the-board campaign in the future,” Holland said. “If she wants to launch cheap personal attacks, let her. But I’ll wait until next year to make a decision whether or not to run.”

Holland was not aware of the fact that Borodkin was not behind the document dump but rather several members of his own party, led by an unnamed former county party officer, who said the documents were prepared in case Holland ever ran against Borodkin or for the 1st Congressional District.

Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, with degrees in Political Science and History from Colorado Mesa University, and is a contributing writer to Colorado Politics and The Gazette.

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