October 3 - The Peace Corps Writers

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez: The Gaddi Vasquez Nomination to Peace Corps Director: SPECIAL REPORT: Bush's Choice to Lead the Peace Corps. Is he Qualified?: What Returned Volunteer Organizations say about the Nomination: October 3 - The Peace Corps Writers

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, October 04, 2001 - 12:47 am: Edit Post

John Coyne, editor of many books about the Peace Corps and founder of the Peace Corps Writers has forwarded this article written by members of his group on why Gaddi Vasquez should not be the next Peace Corps Director.

Suddenly the Peace Corps is more important than ever. Wrenched horribly out of its long, isolationist reverie, the United States is now attempting to engage the larger, messy, complex, often violent rest-of-the-world in ways the Peace Corps has been learning about and eagerly grappling with for more than 40 years. Far more than just military---which ought to be the least of it---this multi-faceted re-engagement with the rest of the planet needs a Peace Corps that is as brave, committed and vital as ever. That means it also requires a Peace Corps leader with judgment, imagination and vision. Sadly, President Bush's nominee to lead the agency, Gaddi Vasquez, is not that person. We urge you and others who care about the way the United States conducts itself in the community of nations in the next several years to join the campaign to persuade Mr. Bush to appoint a well-qualified leader for the Peace Corps at this critical moment.

Mr. Vasquez is, by some accounts, an amiable fellow. But his serious shortcomings are numerous and his pluses nonexistent.

Item: Mr. Vasquez has no international experience. Just when Peace Corps planners will need understanding of other cultures that is especially broad-ranging and subtle, Mr. Vasquez would show up knowing essentially nothing. Unlike Volunteers, who often take a year to figure out how to do their jobs well, the head of the institution must "get it" right away, and be prepared to make hard, good decisions. If this well-motivated neophyte wants to help, perhaps Mr. Vasquez should apply to become a Volunteer.

Item: It is hard to imagine a worse choice to manage an agancy with a budget of $275 million. In his only public office, as an Orange County, California supervisor, Mr. Vasquez barely escaped prosecution after the county was bankrupted in a scandal involving fraudulently invested securities. Not quite a crook, according to the SEC, Mr.Vasquez was merely incompetent and clueless. He resigned his office in disgrace just ahead of a 1995 recall campaign, and since then has involved himself in power-company PR work and Republican politics.

Item: In Orange County, Mr. Vasquez twice voted to deny housing rights and job protection to people with HIV/AIDS. Orange County was the only urban county in the state to reject such protections. A sizeable part of the work now performed by the Peace Corps involves AIDS education and prevention, especially in Africa. Mr. Vasquez is obviously not the man for that job, either.

Item: Mr. Vasquez has no experience leading an aid or humanitarian agency. He has served on a few local boards, such as the Salvation Army and the Boy Scouts, but that's all. He has never articulated a philosophy or vision that would even begin to suggest that he could lead the Peace Corps. The closest he has come to a major expression of moral principle may have been his $100,000 contribution last year to the Bush campaign.

Since Gaddi Vasquez lacks the experience, skills, vision, and---there is no avoiding this---the character to head the Peace Corps, who then should President Bush choose? The list of qualified candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, is long. It includes RPCVs such as Ron Tschetter, Ginny Kirkwood, Mike McCaskey, and Jody Olson, whose names were submitted to the White House by the NPCA.The administration should return to this list and nominate a man or woman who will not require a protracted Senate confirmation struggle and who can quickly move into the job as the Peace Corps mobilizes to meet its most urgent challenges ever.

To help save the Peace Corps from this disastrous appointment, please do any or all of the following:

1. Write a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (http://foreign.senate.gov/committee/index.html) pointing out that Gaddi Vasquez will endanger the best impulses of U.S. foreign policy as well as the safety of the Volunteers and the agency itself. Mention that the editorial pages of the New York Times (August 24), the Los Angeles Times (August 20) and the Boston Globe (August 6) have all pronounced Mr. Vasquez unfit for the Peace Corps job. Please write specifically to Senators Joseph Biden (DL), the chairman; Christopher Dodd (CT), an RPCV; Barbara Boxer (CA); Jay Rockefeller (WV), an early Peace Corps staff volunteer; Paul Wellstone (MN); Paul Sarbanes (MD), who likes to examine nominees' qualifications for federal appointments; Jessie Helms (NC); and Richard Lugar (IN). NOTE: Congress plans to adjourn in late October, so take action ASAP. If you know RPCVs in any of these senators' states, get them calling and writing. Letters are most effective, then phone calls, then e-mails. Or do all three.

2. Write President Bush and outline all the reasons the Vasquez nomination should be withdrawn.

3. Pass this letter on to all the RPCVs you know and to all the other people and organizations that share Peace Corps values and beliefs.

4. Sign the petition on www.PeaceCorpsOnline.org opposing the Vasquez nomination.

5. Write an op-ed piece or letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Whatever you do, please act fast. When David Letterman asked Walter Cronkite recently what Americans can do to make the larger world a better place, Cronkite replied without hesitation, "Join the Peace Corps." Maybe that's what Gaddi Vasquez should do. But at the top, the Peace Corps needs its best leader ever. Please help make that happen.

(FROM John Coyne: Please help spread the word. Email this information to everyone you can.

The NPCA is afraid to say anything, as are the Group Leaders of local groups, least they offend. Offend who....? Us? RPCVs who have served? Why support the NPCA when they won't support the Peace Corps by demanding a qualified Peace Corps Director? As Sarge Shriver said years ago, and recently at the Memorial Service, speaking to RPCVs, "You, after all, are the heart, the soul, and the brains of the Peace Corps. So - much as I love you and admire you, I think now we have reached a point where every one of us, me included, have great responsibilities facing them in the immediate future." Our job--our responsibility-- is to protect the agency by demanding a qualified leader. You can help by just getting this message out to everyone who cares for the agency. Many thanks, John Coyne)

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, October 04, 2001 - 10:55 pm: Edit Post


Please pick up the phone and call your Senator now. In a conversation with Senator Dodd last night - he said that as long as he doesn't hear any opposition from his constituents, he is not going to oppose the nomination of vasquez who was up on the Hill yesterday. He said that as long as Barbara Boxer, Jay Rockefeller, Paul Sarbanes and Jessie Helms don't hear any opposition from their constitutents, they will not oppose the vasquez nomination -- this is really a tragic situation - the Peace Corps will be headed by an individual who was booted from public office, has no international development experience or foreign policy experience and just missed a grand jury investigation because his county went bankrupt under his watch, but he resigned before he got called in.

We need to mobilize the forces in key states fast and furious to have them make phone calls to all these folks on the Foreign Relations Committee - - as his nomination may go up early next week.

If the Senators don't hear from their voters in their states - they certainly will not heed our cries from Washington -- People in the states of California, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina and West Virginia need to call all the state offices of the Senators immediately to express your opposition to the vasquez nomination-- please get the word out urgently as they should flood the phones for the next 7 days.

Here's the names and their numbers - please share this with you networks and ask all your friends to get on board - our nation does not need another person with no qualifications making serious decisions about people's lives around the world.

Senator Barbara Boxer - 202-224-3553 - DC 415-403-0100 - SF 213-894-5000 - LA 619-239-3884 - SD 559-497-5109 - Fresno 909-888-8525 - San Bernadino 916-448-2787 - Sacramento senator@boxer.senate.gov www.boxer.senate.gov

Senator Diane Feinstein 202-224-3841- DC 415-393-0707 - SF 310-914-7300 - LA 619-231-9712 - SD 559-485-7430 - Fresno senator@feinstein.senate.gov www.feinstein.senate.gov

Senator Chris Dodd 202-224-2823 - DC 860-258-6940 - Westfield senator@dodd.senate.gov www.dodd.senate.gov

Senate Jay Rockefeller 202-224-6472 - DC 304-347-5372 - Charleston 304-262-9285 - Martinsburg senator@rockefeller.senate.gov www.rockefeller.senate.gov

Senator Jessie Helms 202-224-6342 - DC 919-856-4245 - Raleigh 828-322-5170 - Hickory senator@helms.senate.gov www.rockefeller.senate.gov

Senator George Allen 202-224-4024 - DC 804-771-2221 - Richmond senator@allen.senate.gov www.allen.senate.gov

Senator Paul Sarbanes 202-224-4524 - DC 410-962-4436 - Baltimore 301-589-0797 - Silver Spring senator@sarbanes.senate.gov www.sarbanes.senate.gov

Senator Paul Wellstone 202-224-5641 - DC 651-645-0323 - St. Paul 218-741-1074 - Virginia senator@wellstone.senate.gov www.sarbanes.senate.gov

Senator Russ Feingold 202-224-5323 -DC 920-465-7508 - Green Bay 608-828-1200 - Middleton 414-276-7282 - Milwaukee senator@wellstone.senate.gov www.sarbanes.senate.gov

Please flood the district offices of the senators on the Foreign Relations Committee for the next 7 days stating your opposition to the appointment of Vasquez as Peace Corps Director. IF you need back up information, please go to www.PeaceCorpsOnline.org for all the details.

Many thanks,

John Coyne

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