November 15, 2001 - Orande County Register: Vasquez defends role in O.C. bankruptcy

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 11 November 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: November 15, 2001 - Orande County Register: Vasquez defends role in O.C. bankruptcy

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 5:35 pm: Edit Post

The following article appeared in Gaddi Vasquez's hometown newspaper, the Orange County Register, the day after his confirmation hearings and provides their assessment of how the hearings went for Mr. Vasquez:

Vasquez defends role in O.C. bankruptcy

Vasquez defends role in O.C. bankruptcy

Senators praise Peace Corps nominee, but former volunteers object.

November 15, 2001

By DENA BUNIS The Orange County Register

WASHINGTON -- Former Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez was asked to relive the Orange County bankruptcy Wednesday and was called a "rank total amateur" by a former Peace Corps director at a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to head that agency.

But the Senate is expected to confirm Vasquez, 46, of Orange, by year's end.

Vasquez was praised by Reps. Christopher Cox, R-Newport Beach, and Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, as well as Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Boxer called the attacks by a group of former Peace Corps volunteers cruel and unfair.

"I know there are feelings, even on the Republican side, that there could have been a better choice," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps and a former volunteer. "But if I had to speculate today, I would speculate that he would be confirmed."

The attacks on Vasquez centered on his lack of international and diplomatic experience, the fact that he had never been in the Peace Corps, and concerns about a lack of oversight when the county lost $1.64 billion and sought bankruptcy protection in December 1994.

If he could not manage the county's affairs, the ex-volunteers said, they questioned his ability to lead an agency with 7,300 volunteers and a $275 million budget.

"I did the best job to the best of my ability as an elected official in Orange County to be diligent," Vasquez said. He said he was responsible as board chairman for putting together the county's recovery plan, that supervisors had no warning the county's investment pool was in jeopardy, and that it was former County Treasurer Robert Citron who pleaded guilty to wrongdoing in the bankruptcy.

Vasquez, an executive with Southern California Edison, noted his other community activities, such as his work with the Boy Scouts and the Salvation Army and his development of a scholarship program for Hispanic youths.

Vasquez also insisted to Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., that he did not resign from the board in 1995 because of an impending recall campaign or anything connected to the bankruptcy. He said he left to spend time with his family.

"What about your obligation to the voters?" Sarbanes said.

Vasquez said that he had accomplished all he set out to and that he didn't leave until a recovery plan was in motion.

Jack Hood Vaughn, who was the Peace Corps director under former President Nixon, called Vasquez a "rank total amateur" who "lacks management skills." Vaughn also mentioned Vasquez's $100,000 campaign contribution to the Republican Party, money he transferred from his dormant political account, as the probable reason for his selection.

If Vasquez were applying to him as a Peace Corps volunteer, Vaughn said, he wouldn't make the cut.

The ex-volunteers not only organized a petition against Vasquez but also did their homework on his background. Officials provided the committee with copies of a Securities and Exchange Commission report about the bankruptcy, newspaper clippings and other documents chronicling Vasquez's record.

They also raised a vote Vasquez made as a supervisor against a county ordinance that would have made it illegal to discriminate against someone with AIDS when it came to housing.

"Would you take that vote back if you could?" Dodd asked Vasquez.

Vasquez said he couldn't say without reassessing the facts. He said he voted against the ordinance because state and federal laws already cover such discrimination.

The vote was relevant, Dodd said, because a major AIDS-education program, particularly for Africa, falls under the Peace Corps.

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