Chuck Ludlam Blasts Coyne….But I Don't Know Why!

Chuck Ludlam (Nepal 1968-70 & Senegal 2005-07) sent me this email from Patagonia. He is traveling there with his wife, Paula Hirshoff ( Senegal 2005-07), and he asked me to post his comment as his internet connections are chancy. He did write as the end of his blast at me, “Please post this as a response to your post.” 

So here’s what Chucky had to say about me from sunny Patagonia!

It’s too bad that John Coyne didn’t bother to read our 150 page report on Peace Corps reform — posted since July 2009 on PeaceCorps Wiki. It would help the readers to see it posted on Coyne’s website.

John would find there that we oppose the 5-year rule, which has given political appointees entirely too much power at the agency and destroyed its capacity for institutional memory.
He’s also find that the Peace Corps transferred the investigative authority away from the Office of Inspector General in order to minimize the adverse publicity that comes with crimes against Volunteers. A major scandal.

ABC posted six minutes of our hour plus interview. We made lots of points in our interview that are not presented in this excerpt.

Coyne’s post shows that he is opposed to Peace Corps reform and has no understanding of the extent of the mismanagement at the agency. The evidence of this mismanagement is presented in depth in our report. It presents an appalling picture of an agency that has lost its sense of mission. The notion that all we need to do is expand couldn’t be more misguided.
Chuck Ludlam

[As best I can recall, I never posted Chuck’s 150 page report as it was too much for my limited blog site, and also it had already been posted on several Peace Corps related sites. As for my recent posts about the Peace Corps, all that I have written about is the murder in Benin, not about reforms for the agency, though, like all RPCVs, I support changes. Chuck is right, however, in that I do support the 5-year rule, but unlike Chuck, I don’t support political appointees in the agency. I only want RPCVs in those jobs.

I’ve never met Chuck. I have never met Paula. My first and only contact (out of the blue!) came when they were PCVs in Senegal and Chuck sent me a few angry, hostile, and demanding emails.]


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  • Angry, hostile and demanding have characterized virtually every interaction I have had with Mr. Ludlam. The report he wrote raised a few good points, but overall it was so mean spirited, it was useless as a reference for policy changes. On the whole, Mr. Ludlam’s writings and remarks have been, in my view, continally unhelpful. The criticism of Coyne — just plain dumb.

  • Thanks for the post, John. It’s still nice to read different opinions. Why doesn’t Mr. Ludlam print his report as a book and share it via or even create a web site and post it- or both?

  • At least Ludlam opposes the five year rule since he says that it allows too many political appointees to get in. I also oppose the five-year rule because 1) it takes more than five years to really learn the job and related to this, 2) Peace Corps has no sense of its own history, which they seem unable to go back to square one and focus on applicants as their primary objective. On this latter point, we all agree on this one.

  • The Five YEar Rule and the Political Appointees are not the same thing. The political appointees number upwards of 30 which is, I believe, the most of any agency of its size. The political appointees all resign when a new administration takes over, if that new administration is of a different political party. Thirty new political appointees from the new political party take over, when they are finally approved by the Senate.The Five Year Rule would kick in if the same political party was in power for longer than five years.

    At the same time as the poitical appointees are coming or going, civil service employees are subject to the five year rule and are coming and going, but for different reasons and on a different schedule. One report said that the average tenure at the Peace Corps was 18 months.
    The agency assessment report said that much time is spent recruiting and training all the new employees.

  • Here in sunny southern Florida, dark clouds hang over RPCV heads obscuring our traditionally warm views of Peace Corps. Due, of course, to the ABC scandal of rapes and cover-ups. Our local RPCF group is planning a forum, so that we may all get together and share our shock and emotional reactions to what has transpired. (Call it Peer Counseling years later.) I hope that we may vent, explore, and come up with some kind of wish list for our beloved Peace Corps. I’ll keep you posted. But I think other RPCV groups might consider coming together as we will.

    Leita Kaldi Davis
    (Senegal 1993-96)

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