Gaddi Vasquez surprises audience at O.C. Boy Scouts Visionary Awards

I attended the Orange County Boy Scouts Council Visionary Awards Luncheon, which was held at the Anaheim Hilton, yesterday where a surprise guest stole the spotlight. Former Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez dropped in while visiting the area on a brief trip from his current home in Rome, where he serves as the “8th United States Representative to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organizations.” Apparently he now uses the title “Ambassador.”

Vasquez himself received the Visionary Award in 2002. He spoke yesterday about was assisted by the Boy Scouts. He was involved in a Boy Scout Readers Digest Oratorical Speech Program when he was a young man, which he credited for his speaking ability, and he was in the Police Explorer program when he was 14 years old.

Vasquez also spoke about his current post with the United Nations. It was awkward listening to him talk about poor kids in Haiti eating mud pies while those of us in attendance were eating a slice of gourmet chocolate cake for dessert. Vasquez told us he has visited 82 countries in the last six and a half years and that he has seen the absolute worst poverty in the world. Which is ironic considering that he lives in utter opulence in Rome, where he has servants and lives like a king.

Vasquez also waxed poetic about the two individuals who were honored yesterday, whom he described as extraordinary individuals. He said of Marcos Nava (pictured above, in the middle, with John Palacio to his right) that he helped make the Boy Scouts look more like America and that scouting is better because of Nava, who is the National Director of Hispanic Initiatives for the Boy Scouts of America. Nava, who is a Republican, is also a member of the O.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Vasquez also praised the other award winner, Socorro Vasquez (no relation, pictured above with her husband Ernesto), saying that she her spirit epitomizes the saying that it is better to give than to receive. The program described her as a community leader who is passionate about the arts and educational opportunities for under-served children. She too is a member of the O.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She maintains homes in Laguna Beach, Hawaii and San Francisco, so I am not so sure about her carbon footprint, but she is involved in a number of charities, along with her husband Ernesto.

The event was co-chaired by John Palacio, Teresa Saldivar and Pat Velasquez. The committee members included Raquel Lomeli, John Acosta (who graciously invited me), David Scarbrough, and Dr. Helen Stainer. Those in attendance included Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez, Renee Flores from O.C. Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s office, Teresa Mercado Cota from the Rancho Santiago Community College District, Theresa Ynzunza (formerly Theresa Arzate) from the National Latina Business Women’s Association, SAUSD school board candidates Irene Ibarra and Cecilia Aguinaga, and other local politicians and staffers. Proclamations were also recognized from Supervisor Nguyen, Assemblyman Jose Solorio, and I think that State Senator Lou Correa and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez were mentioned too.

We were fed a chicken tostada salad, in one of those large fried tortilla bowls, but oddly it was not accompanied by salsa. I guess the organizers felt they needed to serve something vaguely Hispanic given how many Latinos were in attendance. But looking around the room I could tell that the attendees were not likely to order taco salads anytime soon. But the aforementioned dessert was a decadent winner.

As I flipped through the event program I was stunned to find that disgraced former O.C. Sheriff Mike Carona, who started an ICE program at the O.C. Sheriff’s department, was honored by the Boy Scouts in 2001. That doesn’t look so visionary now! I wonder if they can rescind the award?

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.