SENATOR BACKS OFF ON RENAMING PEACE CORPS

May 22, 2002 – Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel said Wednesday she has withdrawn "for now" her resolution renaming Peace Corps Elementary School for longtime educator Lucille V. Roberts. Her announcement came on the first day of a scheduled three-day full Senate session amid lively debate over the ethics and protocols involved in naming institutions after people.
The agenda featured several such resolutions. "Don't think for a minute I agree with all of you people who oppose naming the school for Ms. Roberts," Pickard-Samuel said. "This has nothing to do with a letter I got from anyone."
Peace Corps representatives had written the senator and met with her last week to discuss the matter. They asked that she withdraw her resolution, and on Tuesday afternoon they presented Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd with a petition bearing hundreds of signatures or residents joining in that request. See "Peace Corps partisans say it's more than a name".)
Pickard-Samuel said Wednesday that her phone lines had been clogged with calls — "hundreds of calls" — from people in support of the renaming. She said she did what she thought was right. "Leaders must lead," she said.
She said she was withdrawing the resolution because she had spoken with the family of the 97-year-old Roberts, who taught in the territory for 51 years, and they had asked her to do so because of all the trouble the proposal was causing.
Later in the day, Pickard-Samuel said she had introduced the resolution at the request of the Roberts family. She also said she notified the school of her intent by mailing a draft of the resolution about two or three weeks before she took it before the Rules Committee several weeks ago. School officials say they never saw such a mailing.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, one of the resolution's two co-sponsors, said she had "taken lots of blows" for signing on to it, "and that is wrong." She said if Yvonne Bowsky, Peace Corps' first principal, had approached her first about renaming the school in Bowsky's honor, "I would have supported her, too." Bowsky sat in the audience Wednesday.
Afterward, in answer to a reporter's question, Pickard-Samuel said she was not considering submitting a resolution renaming the school for Bowsky.

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