January 25 - Gaddi Vasquez approved by US Senate as Director of the Peace Corps

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By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 6:56 pm: Edit Post

Gaddi Vasquez approved by US Senate as Director of the Peace Corps

Gaddi Vasquez's nomination as Director of the Peace Corps was approved by the Senate the afternoon of Friday, January 25. He was approved by unanimous consent as part of a group of other pending nominees. No roll call vote was taken.

History of the Nomination

The nomination was originally made on July 26. Controversy surrounded his nomination from the beginning due to the questions raised about Mr. Vasquez's lack of service experience, lack of international experience, lack of experience managing a large organization like the Peace Corps and for his role as a member of the Board of Supervisors of Orange County before and during the $2 Billion Bankruptcy of the county in 1995.

The nomination was opposed in articles that appeared in the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Hill and Washington Monthly. Peace Corps Online wrote a story on Mr. Vasquez and an editorial against his nomination in August.

Confirmation Hearings for Mr. Vasquez were held on November 14. He was questioned strongly by Senator Sarbanes of Maryland and by RPCV Senator Dodd of Connecticut who said that Mr. Vasquez did not pick up on the opportunities he provided Mr. Vasquez in the hearings.

On December 14, the full membership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met to discuss his nomination and for the first time in Peace Corps history, votes were cast against a nominee for Peace Corps Director. Senators Sarbanes, Rockefeller, Feingold, and Wellstone voted against his nomination in committee but the nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 14-4 and sent to the Senate.

On December 20, Senate Minority Whip Don Nickles asked the Senate for unanimous consent to get a confirmation vote for Bush Nominees including Gaddi Vasquez for Peace Corps Director but the Senate adjourned without taking action.

Returned Volunteer Opposition to the Nomination

For the first time in Peace Corps History, the Returned Volunteer Community mobilized to make their voice heard regarding a nominee for the Directorship of the Peace Corps. Hundreds of RPCVs signed the petition against Mr. Vasquez which was presented to the Senate. Thousands of RPCVs made phone calls and sent emails to their Senators. Senator Dodd threw down a stack of emails in the meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee and said that "this is just a small number of the emails I have received from former Peace Corps volunters across the country and others who care about the institution in strong oppositon to this nominee." The committee for the Future of the Peace Corps took the lead by placing an ad in "Roll Call" the newspaper for Congress, coordinated witnesses like Director Jack Vaughn to speak against Mr. Vasquez, and met with Senators and their staffers to lobby against the nomination. The nomination was also raised at the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) where members voted 13 to 7 in the President's Forum last September to oppose a resolution asking that the NPCA take a stand opposing the nomination of Mr. Vasquez.

Check back on this site over the weekend and we will have more details on this story as well as reaction from the Returned Volunteer community.

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By Colin Gallagher on Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 3:05 am: Edit Post

Sunday, Dec. 16, 2001
(The following comment was excerpted from a post I made last year. It seems relevant to the situation at hand -- a situation which, incidentally, requires ongoing vigilance -- and represents my feelings on the now-confirmed nomination.)

Knowing Mr. Vasquez will likely be confirmed, we dare to dissent because it is our right to do so. And well we should. It is only through reasoned opposition that Mr. Vasquez may be confirmed, not through unthinking complicity. Thus, through the test of time, Mr. Vasquez's actions can be compared to our commentary on his character. It is said that what people are led by is example. If Mr. Vasquez presents a good example of service, more power to him. Yet if he does not -- and there are certainly reasons to indicate that such may be the case -- it would be criminal negligence on our part if we had not forewarned our political counterparts of the possibility. For it is not only foreign relations and American lives that are at stake, but in fact actual, living societies around the globe that stand to be impacted by whatever decisions are made by the Peace Corps, arguably the most relevant governmental organization of the post-September 11 cultural context.

Sargent Shriver has recently called us to "Serve, serve, serve." Let us never forget that an essential, if forgotten, element of service is dissent.

By Terry Adcock on Sunday, January 27, 2002 - 2:41 am: Edit Post

I am disappointed but not surprised. The political cards were stacked against those of us who opposed the nomination.

I am heartened by the appointment of RPCV Jody Olsen as Deputy Director. Hopefully she will lend needed strength to the Peace Corps leadership team.

And, I am counting on all RPCV's to keep a watchful eye on the Director to assure that he keeps the promises (such as they were) that he made during the Confirmation process and that were reported by Senator Boxer.

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