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Posts posted by DavidLeeLambert

  1. On 10/9/2020 at 11:51 AM, CynicalScouter said:

    [quoting a news article]

    On Wednesday, Century asked Judge Silverstein to shorten the notice required for compelling depositions of the coalition's founders Tim Kosnoff and Andrew Van Arsdale, arguing that they were stalling requests to answer questions. The two have "claimed a 40 percent interest in the bulk of the inventory of alleged claims" the coalition represents, Century said.

    "The Puerto Rico address for Mr. Kosnoff turned out to be a marina, despite Mr. Kosnoff's representation on his letterhead that he practices law in San Juan. Mr. Van Arsdale likewise could not be located at the address provided by Brown Rudnick, which is a storefront in a closed building," Century said. "The deponents' lawyer, for his part, refused to provide addresses when the parties met and conferred."

    I looked up the address where they had tried to serve Mr Van Arsdale on Bing Maps, and noticed a sign on the building that seems an apt comment on the case, or at least his involvement with it...


    In filings today, it seems that the LCC/BSA and the TCC are mostly in agreement on providing full information about Local Council assets... some complaints from councils that they weren't properly given notice, and that they might need more time, but no objection to any other party finding that information out if they can obtain it somehow.  The big sticking-point going into this week's hearing is rosters. BSA's latest filing says they probably don't have any rosters older than about 20 years, because that's when the National Council computer system was set up. 

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  2. One other thing I noticed in the case documents: three letters to the court from currently incarcerated individuals, alleging that they were abused. (One also complains that the notification process itself makes him a target for further abuse in prison.)  Names and some other details are redacted, but I was able to use the state and inmate number of one to determine  that his current sentence is for failure to register as a sex offender, and he previously served prison time in that state for "POSS PHOTO ETC CHILD SEX PERF", offense date 01/27/2010.




  3. On 9/23/2020 at 8:29 AM, elitts said:

    I agree that a "discussion about porn" isn't related; however, I will argue (just one time) that the existence of porn IS related by virtue of it being a potential factor in YPT.  I mean, my troop can't be the only one where there has been a scout caught watching inappropriate material on a cell phone.   So when that happens, is it just a teen/tween being a standard kid or is that scout now a possible sexual abuse victim (because someone exposed them to it or allowed them to be exposed to it) that the Scoutmaster needs to report to Council and possibly the Police/Child Services?

    That said, I won't belabor the point as I have no further comments to make on the issue.

    I don't have the link handy right now, but during the most recent search for a new superintendent of the school district where I reside, one of the candidates went from being the frontrunner to being disqualified on the basis of two blemishes in his record: (1) he allegedly took off his shirt and performed an exotic dance in front of a younger female teacher when they were the only two people in the building, and (2) while he was coach of the football team, some boys on the team watched an R-rated movie during a school-sponsored trip.  Not that he showed it to them, or provided it to them, or even knew about their watching it, just that they watched it.

  4. 21 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

    Works on contingency. No money for victims, no money for him.

    Speaking of greedy lawyers:

    "Century served deposition notices for the depositions of Messrs. Van Arsdale and Kosnoff after the TCC turned over Mr. Kosnoff’s email to the Office of the United States Trustee in which he refers to the abuse claimants who serve as members of the Committee as “nitwits” and threatens BSA and Committee." [D.I.1266]

    "The deceptive nature of these ads also mask a more fundamental and troubling reality. Mr. Kosnoff holds himself out as no longer practicing law and Mr. Arsdale is an advertising company owner who only recently passed the bar. They are in the business of creating and marketing “inventories” of claims. In the seedy underbelly of mass torts, individuals front for “motherfunders” and a host of other non-lawyers who provide funding in exchange for a piece of each claim." [same document, earlier page]

    And also,

    "In this email, Timothy Kosnoff (who, together with Andrew Van Arsdale, is the spokesman for the Coalition), states that we “need to control our power. Not just to the committee but to everyone - mediators, BSA, councils etc.” [D.I. 1228 at 20.] He also states that some of the entities for whom he claims to speak “aren’t handing over any of their data to anyone unless and until this gets sorted out. [Mike] Andolina and the 3 Amigos [the mediators appointed by this court] need to get that message. They are wasting their time talking to the TCC." [D.I.1261]


  5. 54 minutes ago, David CO said:

    A settlement like that makes a lot more sense for the tobacco companies than it would for BSA.  Some people will smoke regardless of the cost.  I don't think people will continue to join and support BSA if they know that they would be spending their hard-earned money (for the next 25 years) to pay off a lawsuit.  There are plenty of other youth activities available that aren't encumbered with long-term debt.

    As an adult member and former boy member, I won't completely rule out contributing to the victim compensation fund, one way or another. But it will really hang a weight around recruitment and retention.

    BSA's own internal review identified 12,254 victims in the Ineligble Volunteer Files (cited in a Washigton Post article). MSU's settlement in the Larry Nassar case was a little over $1.5 million per victim. Back in 2007, the Diocese of Los Angeles settled with over 500 alleged victims for about $1.3 million per victim. So that could add up to (very roughly) $18 billion for a "market rate" total settlement fund.  Divide that by the number of currently active Scouts, and it's $8,788 settlement share per current youth member.  The BSA assets in complete liquidation wouldn't even be "10 cents on the dollar", more like 5 or 6 cents.

    Since I have four kids in Scouting, that would be over $35,000 I'd have to pay off over the next 2 to 12 years to keep them in the program... less than my yearly salary, but enough for a decent new car, or a few really nice vacations, or a major home renovation, or one kid's tuition and room and board for a year at MSU, or all the kids' tuition for each to get an associate's degree at a community college.

    But there's a long list of people who presumably benefited from the pre-YPT program more directly than I did, and more than my kids will, and it seems like they should be paying something toward any settlement, even though there's probably no actual legal way to pass the liability on to them now:

    • Anyone who earned Eagle before 1989
    • Anyone who was a professional Council or National Council employee before 1989
    • Anyone who served on any level Committee (unit, district, council, national) before 1989
    • Any parent who saved money that otherwise would have been spent on babysitters or fees to another youth organization's camps, by sending his or her boy to Scout Camp, before 1989
    • Any boy who learned something from Scouting, or had a great time while participating, before 1989
    • Any organization or community member who accepted volunteer labor from Scouts, before 1989
    • And of course the Scoutmasters and other volunteers who actually committed or covered up the abuse

    Then again, all of those people are older than me, many are probably deceased, and some may themselves have been victims.

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  6. On 7/1/2020 at 8:58 AM, MattR said:


    I wonder what happens in the scenario where a council property is "hidden" by giving it to a holding company with the intent of getting it back in the future, the council is [dissolved] and a new one replaces it. Where does that leave the property? Legal ring 6, probably.

    I would guess a bankruptcy judge has power to void such a "gift".  However, at least in my own Council, I don't see anything like that going on.  What has happened to camps includes:

    • Being allowed to revert back to the original donor, where the original gift was with conditions (a small camp, no waterfront, donated by the Kiwanis Club)
    • Sold to a housing-developer, and houses built on it (part of one camp already, that may be what happens to the other half after it closes; the nearest YMCA camp also has a development of 5-to-15-year-old houses on what was probably a big chunk of the original parcel.)
    • Leased or sold for mineral extraction.

    If a council sells a camp in an arm's-length transaction and puts the money in the bank, the creditors/plaintiffs shouldn't have anything to complain about: either they get the land (and have to sell it themselves) before the sale, or they get the cash afterward.

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  7. 19 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    Does this mean Scouting U is getting nuked?

    (Disclaimer: my employer is a competitor to, partner of, and customer of Oracle, and I personally have some expired Oracle certifications; however, my statements below represent my own opinion, not that of my employer.)

    I don't think so. Apparently BSA has several contracts with Oracle, and they're only trying to terminate some of them. The motion says,

    "With respect to the Volunteer Learning Management Services, the Debtors have concluded that substantially similar services are available at a lower cost from an alternate provider."

    So I would guess, and I think they want the judge to believe, that they want to continue online "Scouting U" in some form. Either they have a paid-up license for the software and want to purchase cloud hosting for it cheaper elsewhere, or the content is sufficiently portable that they can host it in another vendor's software on cheaper hosting. 

    Given my experience with "migrations" and "upgrades" and "refreshes" and "consolidations", both as an IT professional and as an end-user, I'm a little worried that the "substantially similar ... at lower cost" might not be accurate.  It might be prudent to print out hard copies of course completions in My Scouting, and retain other written records, and printed training materials (even if currently officially "obsolete"). Just to "Be Prepared", of course.

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  8. I am involved in a pack, and a troop, and am registered as a merit-badge counselor.

    For the pack, we've had a few virtual meetings in place of our previously-scheduled pack meetings. The cubmaster played a silent YouTube video of a waving flag while someone said the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath, and Scout Law as opening exercises, then we  did a discussion of some topic (giving each Cub Scout a chance to speak) or played some sort of guessing-game. We also opened the floor for any Cub Scout to "present" anything required by any Adventure, but no one took that opportunity yet. It seems like participation is similar to what you experienced... fewer than 10 Cub Scouts attending out of over 40 registered and probably between 20 and 30 attending our last in-person meeting.

    For the troop, we took a break of a couple weeks but then settled into having weekly meetings again in our usual time-slot.  An adult starts the meeting. The SPL calls people to order, turns the time over to the Scoutmaster for announcements, then introduces the main question/topic, and leads the discussion or practice, assisted by the adults as needed. On our scheduled Committee days, the boys are dismissed at a certain time, and the Committee convenes on the same call afterward. So far we haven't had all the boys on the call at the same time, but every boy in the troop has joined during at least one meeting.

    I also ran a "virtual" Merit Badge class organized by the local Council. I had Scouts from all over the State, and three from out-of-state. Once Scout's parent wrote me before the first meeting to inform me that their Scoutmaster had not approved their Scout's participation, and two others dropped out after the second meeting, bu most of the Scouts stuck with it through seven meetings, did the homework, and earned the badge.

    So for Scouts BSA and older, virtual meetings absolutely can work. For a Pack, they're one part of "do your best", but it's also important for your den leaders to check in with parents individually and understand their family situations.

    And I think the early resumption of in-person den/patrol activities, at least, is important. Formally, I've voiced my opinion that the C.O.R. of each unit I'm in should encourage the District to encourage the Council to allow at least limited in-person meetings again. The troop's C.O. is a church, and the Pastor never cancelled his services; so I think there's some agreement there. The pack's C.O. is the school "Parent Council", and the school took a long Spring Break and then pivoted to a little over a month of purely-virtual instruction, so any in-person meetings before the fall are very unlikely, and even in the fall itself there's some uncertainty.

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  9. On 5/17/2020 at 1:06 PM, Protoclete said:

    Maybe I missed something, but why would there be a new religious emblem program? The LDS has an established emblems program, that should really just continue, no? Even if the internal organization responsible for scouting has changed. 

    It's a reasonable question, and I'm inclined to argue that an LDS Scout who completes the prior requirements as written is still eligible to obtain and wear a religious knot and count it toward rank where applicable (that is, for Cub Scouts, not Scouts BSA). But the LDS emblems program was a footnote/annotation in the larger LDS youth progression programs, such as Faith in God for Boys, starting with:


    If you are a Cub Scout, you can also earn the Scouting Religious Square Knot patch. To do this, complete all the activities with the

    knot icon

    next to them.

    So there are some potential problems with keeping it as the only way for LDS youth to earn a Religious Emblem:

    1. The old program was gender-specific. There was no corresponding footnote in the Faith in God for Girls booklet.
    2. I gave a link to the requirements above, and my family has a paper copy of the booklet somewhere, but eventually those requirements will be harder to find.
    3. The new youth programs are a complete overhaul, with a lot less emphasis on specific "requirements", so there's no obvious direct correspondence between the old square-knot-tagged requirements and anything in the new program.
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  10. I find it interesting that the top three unsecured creditors listed in the bankruptcy filing are three former CSEs (Roy Williams 2000-2007 for $2.4MM, Bob Mazzuca 2007-2012 for $1.6MM, and Wayne Brock 2012-2015 for $1.14MM), and that Mike Surbaugh is #8 on that list (for about $700 thousand). Presumably that's expected liability under a pension or executive deferred-compensation plan. 

    I'm not sure how I feel about that, or how relevant it is.  On the one hand, it shows that the National Council may be an example of "you can't get blood out of a stone", relatively. Michigan State University settled an abuse-lawsuit with one primary abuser (although there were criminal charges against his supervisor and higher in the administration) and about 330 alleged victims for $500MM.  Here there are likely at least 5,000 alleged abusers (as documented in the IVF), possibly thousands more (if the lawsuits bring in a lot of alleged abusers who were never documented in the IVF, or were purged prior to the mid-80s due to age or death), and likely at least 5,000 alleged victims (although there was probably a little bit of overlap where a victim was abused by more than one person who was, had been, or would be a registered BSA volunteer, or who had been a registered BSA youth, that's certainly balanced out by cases when one adult abused multiple victims.)  Suppose the cash on hand and liquid personal property is about equal to the total of the unsecured claims, and the camp properties don't actually net more than what's owed on them when sold. That would be maybe $1000 per victim, before even paying the lawyers. Or suppose the secured claims are disallowed (under some theory that the secured creditors were complicit in the abuse), and Bechtel is sold for its full cost to develop.  That might free up enough cash to pay about $200 thousand per victim, still significantly less than MSU's settlement.

    On the other hand, maybe those CSEs should be liable somehow, and their pensions should be in jeopardy. BSA's own analysis shows a significant, although not total, drop in abuse reports right around 1990 ("30 years ago"). The four living ex-CSEs served in that office well after that, but they were all Professional Scouters before that date.  Mr. Surbaugh's pension will pay perhaps $100 per likely victim, Mr. Williams's about $500.

    Perhaps a fair overall settlement should assign liability to a lot of other parties as well:

    • The local council where each abuser was serving, or had last served, when the abuse occurred;
    • The local council where each abuser had originally registered as an adult, if different;
    • The local council where each abuser had been registered as a youth, if he had a history as a Boy Scout himself;
    • The chartered organization with whose unit each abuser was serving, or had last served, when the abuse occurred;
    • The chartered organization with whose unit each abuser had originally registered as an adult, if different;
    • The chartered organization for the unit where the abuser had been registered as a youth;
    • If the chartered organization is defunct, but was effectively subject to some control by and operating according to the teachings of some parent body (for example, a congregation of a church, or a Catholic diocese), that parent organization;
    • If the abuser had some professional license or credential before he registered and committed the abuse, the body that issued the license or credential.
    • If the abuser was working in some position of responsibility over children, the employer.

    (Regarding the last two point, take the example of Robert E White, who, in 1986, "had been the subject of two police investigations since 1975, was dismissed from three health facilities for alleged misconduct with young males, and changed his name from McPherson to White to avoid 'scandalous accusations' - but nonetheless managed to retain his state nursing license. When arrested, he worked at a Ferndale psychiatric hospital and as a Mt. Clemens Scout leader.")

  11. My sons' current troop's committee meets during the troop meeting; so we join the scouts for opening exercises, then head off to a room on the other side of the building for the committee meeting itself.

    My daughter's pack's committee usually meets in a room at the town's public library, so no ceremony; sometimes someone uses the phrase "call to order", but the real start of the meeting is when the treasurer passes out the budget report, anything before that is just chat.

    When I ran pack committee meetings of an LDS pack, I always opened the meeting with prayer.

  12. Noting the Salt Lake Tribune's usual editorial viewpoint, I wonder if the quote is being taken out of context; or if it was a response to a leading question like "out of the two organizations, which one left the other?" Even in the quote, Elder Ballard doesn't specify what the wrong direction was.

    I was an adult leader at an LDS Encampment (that is, a summer camp week where all troops were LDS, organized into a provisional troop per stake) this summer, and President Owen visited and spoke; earlier that day, he hosted a smaller sort of roundtable with just adult leaders, which I attended. Someone asked about why the church was leaving BSA, and he said it wasn't about "these political things" (without specifying what they were), but just about the needs of the new program: equality between youth in different countries, and equality between boys and girls.

    Of course that prompts the questions "Isn't Scouting international?" and "Didn't the BSA just admit girls?" But BSA isn't international (other than some literature in Spanish, and some units for expatriate Americans), and when the Church started purchasing its recreation properties and otherwise designing a possible new youth program, well before 2015, it wasn't clear how the BSA would integrate more girls or whether it could successfully do so. "And no man putteth wine in old bottles..."

    Then he also said LDS families were still free to participate in Family Scouting, just as they might have their children be involved in theater or (some sport, I forget which). When I later read "the new registration fee amounts to $5 a month, which is an enormous value when you consider that many seasonal extracurricular activities often start at $100 for programs that last a few weeks", something sounded familiar. 

    I remember when I was a teenager hearing adult leaders chatting with each other and saying things like, "The Church is moving away from Scouting because they let girls into Venturing and Exploring."  But the Church actually stuck with BSA for another 20+ years after that.

    I've written elsewhere about what I think the reasons for the disassociation were. In short (and with some more comments):

    • The demographics of a typical congregation aren't sufficient to support a Troop with Patrols that follows the Patrol Method.  (And with the other changes to per-congregation standard organization announced about the same time and since then, the manual for how to align that troop with it would have had to have been rewritten anyway.)
    • But if an LDS troop is made up of boys (or girls) from several congregations, or only run by congregations that luckily have enough boys, it's just an "optional activity" that some people go to, not tightly tied to the program of the church.
    • Mismatch between badges/recognition/"excellence" and Christian virtues like humility.
    • Lawsuits (and now talk of bankruptcy and mortgaging Philmont)

    It probably wasn't a factor before the announcement, but it bears mentioning that GSUSA complained loudly about BSA admitting girls after the deed was done. (And I have a daughter who registered with GSUSA shortly after she turned 8, and as a Cub Scout with a pack run by her school's PTA a few months later. So far she's still in both programs;  it's interesting to see the similarities and differences, and how each organization's local Council is selling properties.)

    I don't know which consideration was highest in the mind of each of the Apostles when they discussed and voted on the question of whether to take any of the steps that led to the new program without a BSA component. I do know that I've had less success that I would have liked getting parents to fill out registration-paperwork for their kids, or adults in callings that should have had a Scouting component to complete YPT and fill out an application.

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  13. So a few months ago I signed two of my sons up for a "Merit Badge Blitz" run by a nearby troop and advertised by the Council. There was some adult training offered on-location the same day, so I signed up and attended "How to be a Merit Badge Counselor", taught by that troop's Venturing coach. He walked us through all the policies about how the scout (not his parents or leaders) is supposed to ask his Scoutmaster for a blue card and the name of a counselor, how instruction should be individual to each scout and not just a large-group activity, how the scout is responsible for keeping the blue card safe until his Board of Review and not anyone else, how the counselor should fill out the card to indicate a partial rather than a full completion, and how that's OK...

    And when we got home I insisted that my sons let me take pictures of their blue cards with my cell-phone, in case they got lost, and wrote out a list of just the requirements they were still missing with some notes on how they might complete them.

    My sons didn't finish either of the badges that day (and I hadn't expected them to), but I think for the "classroom" parts they learned the material better by going through it all in one day that if their troop leaders had tried to cover it piece-by-piece over several troop meetings. They also had a chance to interact with boys from other troops; some turned out to be their schoolmates.  And they got to be taught by adults who might have been hard to meet with had we not met them during that event.

    I wouldn't think that a boy who got his badges only at merit-badge fairs, or only at camp, had been in a quality program; but if the alternative was 21 badges with the same counselor for all 21 of them, I wouldn't think he had been in a quality program either. If the organizers and participants have the right intentions, I think a "fair"/"blitz"/"university" can be a great way to progress a lot of scouts in advancement, have fun, and meet new people.

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  14. On 3/18/2019 at 10:47 PM, ParkMan said:

    [...]  However, the LDS church is not acting like other church with respect to it's relationship with Scouting.  [...].  Friendly in my book would mean that the LDS leadership would encourage local leaders to help Scouts to organize LDS sponsored units if they so choose.  Friendly would mean that local LDS leaders would be guided to hold meetings and encourage members interested in continuing in Scouting to do so. [...]

    The LDS church already was "not acting like any other church", by having a policy stating that all congregations had to have a Scouting program. Some of the winding-down requirements that might seem harsh are probably a necessary reaction to that. The Church has decided it can't prudently be yoked to the BSA any more, so it's making sure there's a clean break; no back door where a Bishop or Scoutmaster or former Area Authority Seventy can say "my troop is really the same old LDS troop as such-and-such, even though it's no longer sponsored by Salt Lake", and then actually use funds from Salt Lake to run it, or have so many members from the same ward supporting the same unit that when something bad happens liability comes back to the Church.

    The May 2019 Joint Statement was sent by e-mail to local leaders (not sure exactly who, but I got it directly, probably from calling as Committee Member), and a Church News article about it quoted the closing paragraph “it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead.”

    To paraphrase @HashTagScouts, members of the Church are welcome to continue to participate with BSA programs just as they can already participate in city soccer, karate, YMCA, 4-H, even GSUSA... but the Church just won't sponsor it.

    I see the prohibition on leaders "referring" or "recruiting" people, and the rule about the bulletin-board posting, as ways to be fair between existing community packs and troops, not as an attempt to shut Boy Scouts down. As someone with callings into an LDS-sponsored pack and troop, my interpretation is that I can't walk up to a parent and say "Brother or Sister So-and-So, your son would do great in pack X" (not that I've had much success with similar pitches of the LDS pack), but if someone asks me "what can I do?", I can say "go to the Be a Scout website and search for your zipcode" or "look at the bulletin board", and if a parent asks me point-blank "I'm thinking about Troop X; what do you know about them?", I can give an answer based on my actual experience.

    I know there's one branch in my stake where a non-LDS troop had already been using the LDS meetinghouse as their usual meeting-place, well before last year's announcement. Arrangements like that may have to stop, but then again maybe they can get an exception as long as they're not "recruiting" at those meetings.

  15. On 2/24/2019 at 10:15 PM, malraux said:

    I don’t know if earns the patrol patch is the right way to put it. They have a patrol emblem once they vote on it. [...]. 

    I'll agree with that as well. Furthermore, the requirement isn't "follow the Patrol Method completely"; it's "practice the Patrol Method, by doing the following:". And of course, Cub Scout requirements are measured against Do Your Best.

    At the council-organized day-camp I took my son's pack to last year, the Webelos helped choose the provisional-den yells, and only the Webelos in each den made the provisional-den flags. That counted for (c) of the requirement, at least.

    Later, after we got home, at a regular den meeting, we talked about the Patrol method some more and the boys had an election. They actually chose a boy who hadn't made it to camp. If I had planned better, I would have had a Denner cord ready to give to whoever won the election; but the election was what satisfied the requirement, not what they wore after it; and they earned a belt-loop (and their rank) by completing the Adventure.

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