December 25, 2005: Headlines: Friends: : LA Times: Shriver puts the ‘first’ in first lady

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Friends of the Peace Corps: April 4, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Friends: Maria Shriver : December 25, 2005: Headlines: Friends: : LA Times: Shriver puts the ‘first’ in first lady

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 9:28 am: Edit Post

Shriver puts the ‘first’ in first lady

Shriver puts the ‘first’ in first lady

Shriver has been selective about where she puts her efforts. She kept her distance, for example, from her husband’s doomed special election in the fall. But she has thrown herself into other causes, including promoting volunteerism, encouraging anti-obesity education and advocating on behalf of women.

Shriver puts the ‘first’ in first lady

Shriver puts the ‘first’ in first lady (LAT-WP)

The line snaked from the lobby of the state history museum to the sidewalk, as scores of people holding pink-and-white hardback books waited to get them signed by the author, California first lady Maria Shriver.

No one walking past the state-owned building in downtown Sacramento that afternoon in May could have missed the Shriver brand: Copies of the book — a 62-page advice manual for teenage girls — were displayed prominently in the museum’s windows.

On gift shop shelves sat T-shirts with inspirational sayings attributed to Shriver: "Fear can be your best teacher;" and "Women are the architects of change." Near the cash register were items from a jewelry line she helped create called Maria Shriver’s California.

The crowded event made one thing clear: Even as her husband is struggling to recoup his popularity, Shriver has solidified her status as the most prominent — and powerful — first lady California has seen. In two years she has emerged as an important force in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s government, while also taking hold of state cultural institutions like the history museum, called the California Museum, and other programs that interest her.

"All things considered, she would have to be the most conspicuous and influential of the first ladies in the history of the state," said Kevin Starr, state librarian emeritus and Shriver fan.

Shriver has been selective about where she puts her efforts. She kept her distance, for example, from her husband’s doomed special election in the fall. But she has thrown herself into other causes, including promoting volunteerism, encouraging anti-obesity education and advocating on behalf of women.

A whirl of ideas and plans, Shriver brings with her enormous resources: money, celebrity, a famous political pedigree, glamorous friends and a web of public relations firms and tax-exempt groups dedicated to promoting both her causes and Shriver herself.

To her admirers, she has defined a new and important role for the wife of a governor. Bonnie Reiss, a Schwarzenegger aide who became a close friend of Shriver while working for the 1980 presidential campaign of her uncle, Sen Ted Kennedy, suggested that Shriver has reshaped the first lady role.

"Maria, like most great women that have been first ladies in the state and the country, certainly has brought her unique Maria-ness to the role," she said.

But at times, her critics say, her good works have become so entangled with self-promotion that it is difficult to distinguish where serving California stops and furthering Maria’s interests begins. They also question the extent to which, in advancing her agenda, she’s relied on corporate interests and privately funded charities — groups that are shielded from public accountability and, in some cases, dependent on actions taken by the Schwarzenegger administration.

"It’s unambiguously self-promoting," author and academic Michael Blitz said of Shriver’s work. "I don’t think anyone doubts that."

Blitz, co-author of "Why Arnold Matters: The Rise of a Cultural Icon," sees in Shriver’s activities a desire for a national profile. "If you look at the constellation of activities" Shriver is involved in, "they really are the stuff of creating a very strong platform on which to stake a claim you deserve to be in a leadership capacity on a national scale," he said.

If Shriver has charted a new course for a first lady, it has come at a cost. She has a taxpayer-funded staff with a current annual payroll of about $576,000, although one of her aides will be leaving in January. Shriver’s staff payroll is 57 per cent higher than that of her predecessor, Sharon Davis. Shriver declined to comment for this article, but a spokeswoman said that extra staff is essential.

"Maria is an internationally recognized celebrity," said Terri Carbaugh, Shriver’s press secretary. She added: "Comparing Sharon Davis to Maria Shriver is like comparing Jewel to Madonna. Both are successful in their own right. Each has her own following. But in terms of recognition and celebrity status, they don’t compare."

Shriver’s taxpayer-funded staff is only a part of the picture. The first lady has also put together a network of private tax-exempt groups, corporate allies and public relations firms to support her causes. Last year, Shriver started a tax-exempt group, the California State Alliance, to advance various projects. Another tax-exempt group, the California Governor’s Conference for Women and Families, was set up last year with a board dominated by Shriver friends and government aides. The Alliance alone has raised more than $950,000 in private donations, according to Erin Stein, its president. At least 20 corporations and foundations gave money to the organization in 2004-05, according to a list provided by the group.

But the gifts raise questions about conflicts of interest, because many of the corporations donating to Shriver’s causes also have business with the state.

Shriver’s Conference on Women and Families in Long Beach two months ago continued a tradition in California of state-sponsored women’s conferences. But the conferences now bear Shriver’s distinctive stamp. In addition to drawing a crowd of nearly 11,000 women, this year’s conference also drew a crowd of corporate sponsors, many of whom have cause to lobby the Schwarzenegger administration.

One major sponsor was Ameriquest Mortgage Co. Ameriquest Capital Corp, a parent of the mortgage company, has given more than $1.5 million in campaign contributions to Schwarzenegger campaign committees since 2003. A packet of material handed out by conference organizers thanked Ameriquest on behalf of Shriver and the governor and included a blurb that said Ameriquest Mortgage had helped more than a million Americans become homeowners.

What the blurb didn’t mention is that the company has a history of run-ins with regulators and consumer groups and has set aside $325 million to settle allegations by 35 states and the District of Columbia that it overcharged home loan customers and pressured appraisers to inflate property values.

When this story was posted in January 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Top Stories: January 3, 2006 Date: January 3 2006 No: 772 Top Stories: January 3, 2006
Tony Hall leaving ambassador's post 8 Dec
Military aims to bolster language skills 2 Jan
Isaiah Zagar rescuing Magic Garden 1 Jan
Taylor Hackford won't produce J Lo in Carmen 31 Dec
Rupert writes on militants' aid in Quake Zone 29 Dec
Toledo bows on Military Human Rights Violations 29 Dec
Tim Shriver supports movie "The Ringer" 26 Dec
Josh Busby writes: How Healthy is the NPCA? 24 Dec
Congressional Victory on Peace Corps/Military Option 22 Dec
PC Fellows Nursing Program doubles at JHU 19 Dec
PCVs team with Mexican scientists on water quality 17 Dec
Farr denounces Pentagon spying at UCSC 17 Dec
Jack Anderson dies at 83 17 Dec
Theroux criticizes rock star badgering on Africa 15 Dec
James Walsh opposes Maoist revolution in Nepal 15 Dec
Scott Stossel appointed acting editor of "The Atlantic" 15 Dec
Oklahoma has highest percentage increase in PCVs 15 Dec
Sargent Shriver honored at JFK Library 13 Dec
Blackwill says torture may be appropriate 13 Dec
Bill Moyers for President? 13 Dec
Kinky Friedman files papers to run for governor 8 Dec

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

PC establishes awards for top Volunteers Date: November 9 2005 No: 749 PC establishes awards for top Volunteers
Gaddi H. Vasquez has established the Kennedy Service Awards to honor the hard work and service of two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members. The award to currently serving volunteers will be based on a demonstration of impact, sustainability, creativity, and catalytic effect. Submit your nominations by December 9.

Robert F. Kennedy - 80th anniversary of his birth Date: November 26 2005 No: 757 Robert F. Kennedy - 80th anniversary of his birth
"Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change."

Peace Corps at highest Census in 30 years Date: October 22 2005 No: 745 Peace Corps at highest Census in 30 years
Congratulations to the Peace Corps for the highest number of volunteers in 30 years with 7,810 volunteers serving in 71 posts across the globe. Of course, the President's proposal to double the Peace Corps to 15,000 volunteers made in his State of the Union Address in 2002 is now a long forgotten dream. With deficits in federal spending stretching far off into the future, any substantive increase in the number of volunteers will have to wait for new approaches to funding and for a new administration. Choose your candidate and start working for him or her now.

'Celebration of Service' a major success Date: October 10 2005 No: 730 'Celebration of Service' a major success
The Peace Corps Fund's 'Celebration of Service' on September 29 in New York City was a major success raising approximately $100,000 for third goal activities. In the photo are Maureen Orth (Colombia); John Coyne (Ethiopia) Co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund; Caroline Kennedy; Barbara Anne Ferris (Morocco) Co-founder; Former Senator Harris Wofford, member of the Advisory Board. Read the story here.

PC apologizes for the "Kasama incident" Date: October 13 2005 No: 737 PC apologizes for the "Kasama incident"
The District Commissioner for the Kasama District in Zambia issued a statement banning Peace Corps activities for ‘grave’ social misconduct and unruly behavior for an incident that occurred on September 24 involving 13 PCVs. Peace Corps said that some of the information put out about the incident was "inflammatory and false." On October 12, Country Director Davy Morris met with community leaders and apologized for the incident. All PCVs involved have been reprimanded, three are returning home, and a ban in the district has since been lifted.

The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: LA Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Friends;


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.