Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on June 15, 1969 · Page 56
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 56

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 15, 1969
Page 56
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I > 5 Republican Blatchford astarts shakeup of Peace Corps MAIL Nfciwwttk Fefttaft Service WASHINGTON - "it's hard enough to get used to a Republican In the White House," a local Democrat moaned recently, "but a Republican in the Peace Corps is just inconceivable." The despondent Democrat •could console himself that at least Joseph H. Blatchford, the new head of the Peace Corps, looks un-Republican. AH tousled hair and nervous «nergy and athletic humanita- lianism, he seems to be all •Set to block a Kennedy in-law ,ln a Hyannis Port touch football game. . But the 34-year-old lawyer is a real Republican, and his View of the Peace Corps is Hot one that will send GOP legislators into denunciations Of "me-tooism." In his own urbane, good-mannered style, Blatchford has already begun to change things after only a little more than a month in office. To begin with, he wants to bring in a new type of corpsman. His idea is to supplement what he calls "the ge- neralists — the young people just out of college" with technicians and with older men and women "in mid-career." "The Peace Corps is in puberty," he says. "It can start looking now for more mature, more highly skilled people to help in development." Further, Blatchford seems willing to risk his agency's vaunted independence by tying it in with other foreign-aid programs. And a management-consultant firm has already been called in to see where cuts in the administrative staff can be made. The changes seem reasonable enough to many observers, for the Peace Corps in the past few years has come upon hard times. Once the jewel of the Democratic administrations and warmly appreciated by the new nations it sought to help, the corps is now down to its last appreciative friend in the Middle East — Iran. Gabon and Mauritania no longer allow the volunteer workers to function within their bo- which Corpsmen, eight, ami by Septem' When Bl miniskirt ed made their in May, yatta of him. A yatta used thusiastic with visit! Tanzania, 400 Peace has only will be gone r ord — and his , Winifred overseas tour ent Jomo-Ken- refused to see years ago, Ken- have long, en- ming sessions All this tirely due outraged at American, ing its yoiuE cate the the reacti* volunteers ciently tr jobs. There tions of deed, it is both in Af: ton, that gence A agents workers. These p: surprise to ility is not en- chauvinist pride & concept of an rnment send- people to edu- rtives." Some of -was caused by were insuffi- to do their been accusa- moreover. In- merally believed, •st and Washing- Central Intelli- c y infiltrated the volunteer •lems came as no latchford. He is, after all, the former head of a "privately financed peace corps" of his own—though he bridles at the phrase. It all began in 1957, when Blatchford, then the president of his class in law school at the University of California at Berkeley, read of the stoning of Vice President Nixon in Caracas. Blatchford organized a good-will tour of Latin American universities by a group of student jazz musicians and tennis players. (Blatchford himself was a tennis player of international caliber; he had played at Wimbledon the previous year.) Horrified by the living conditions he saw and stimulated by discussions with Latin American students, Blatchford won a grant for an intensive study of Bolivia and came up with a community development program to be financed by private capital. He sold the plan to International Business Machine Corp. Chairman Thomas Watson, who was about to underwrite it when President John Kennedy announced his own plan for the Peace Crops. This eliminated loyal Democrat Watson, but Blatchford transferred the plan to Venezuela, picked up some Rockefeller backing and founded a program called "Accion." It differed from the Peace Corps in that it was a good deal smaller and relied a good deal more on local talent. Blatchford's aim was to develop a band of career Ameri c a n "Accionistas," who would move from country to country, progressively working themselves out of thier jobs, as the local people were trained to take over. He was a driving, but inspiring, boss, a 9 a.m. to midnight, worker, who expected his subordinates to put in the same kind of hours. A former co-worker recalls the office routine: "After midnight, he would coax or persuade friends to sit up with him until 3 or 5 in the morning to drink beer and work over whatever random ideas his restless mind might light upon. He had a special scorn in those bachelor days for married friends who — he muttered with disgust — had all turned into 'pussycats' who start to yawn at 11 p.m." Though there is general agreement that the Peace Corps needs rejuvenation, Blatchford won't have an easy time. Old hands resent his polite down-grading of the idealistic young people who gave the agency its first great impetus. And they doubt that Congress will be willing to appropriate the money to raise present subsistence salaries enough to attract all those "mature, mid-career" technicians. bULLUUCj The Arizona Republic B*5 Phoenix, So&day, June 15, 1989 And one scheme, dear to the new director's heart, has already received a rough welcome. This is the "reverse Peace Corps," which would bring people from the new nations to work in poverty areas in the U.S. "The idea is dead—drop it," bellowed Democrat Wayne Hays at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing. "What the hell do you think we are — an undeveloped country?" 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