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Marcheck

Atlanta Scout Executive resigns amid scandal

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I suppose by now everyone knows that due to the unsavory findings of an independent audit, the SE in Atlanta, GA, has resigned. My concern is that this problem may be more widespread than any of us would like to acknowledge. What can be done to root out of the professional Scouting culture the notion that it is okay to exaggerate and or falsify numbers of Scouts and Scout Units?

 

I think that as long as every Dec. 31 each DE is judged primarily on numbers of kids, this will go on.

 

What do you think?

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Sadly, it is now an established tradition that started back in the days of Boypower 76 under Alden Barber. At least in some councils. I would hope it doesn't go on everywhere. It's also very difficult to get inner city and rural minorities into Scouting in meaningful numbers and a lot of financing is related to how well they serve minorities. I'm not sure, but I feel that may even be a more significant reason than total youth numbers.

 

Unfortunately, executive boards don't seem to want to really know what the results of an independent audit would be. Scout Executives like the one in Atlanta probably don't want to know either. They just want to see the numbers.

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What can be done to root out of the professional Scouting culture the notion that it is okay to exaggerate and or falsify numbers of Scouts and Scout Units?

 

One would hope that the first point of the Scout Law would be sufficient. Sadly, there have been enough of these incidents over many years to make clear that it is not. And since it is not, I suppose some fraud is inevitable as long as job security is based on "production."

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Unfortunately, it looks like the BSA places much more importance on being a heterosexual who believes that the Universe was created by a Creator than on worldwide core Scout principles such as Trustworthiness.

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This is the second such case in six months, isn't it? I think it is more common that anyone wants to admit, and it sorta reminds me of the recent scandal endured by the Church, before a decision was made at the top to commit to real change.

 

As opposed to Scouting, I think it's clear that BSA, Inc. has been infected by some of the less savory "values" we see in our society today. It's especially ironic, given our self-proclaimed moral high ground, but BSA, Inc. is qualitatively no different than Enron. As long as there is money involved (and especially careers), some people will lie and cheat. Even if they know better and even if they have promised not to.

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The BSA's 2004 annual report quoted a total of 4,825,853 youth served as of the end of 2004. The recent BSA press release on ethics says "Serving nearly 4.1 million youth...", so do the math. It would have to be pretty widespread for the overall total to go down 15%.

 

This TV report mentions the FBI is investigating scout execs in 6 six states (but doesn't list the states):

http://www.kbcitv.com/x5154.xml?ParentPageID=x5157&ContentID=x62587&Layout=KBCI.xsl&AdGroupID=x5154

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It would be nice to believe that Scouting (or the Church) was about something other than careers, but that would be unrealistic. In any organization, as soon as someone is hired whose livelihood will depend upon the rise or fall of the organization, the whole picture changes. Look at the March of Dimes. It was created in the thirties to help victims of polio. Polio went away, but not the March of Dimes.

 

The BSA as an organization is not about believing in a Creator or being heterosexual. It is about it's survival as an organization. The top brass of the BSA perceives, probably rightly, that the main chance for growth lies with other organizations who would not support it if they changed those basic tenets.

 

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find an organization with employed executives that does not function and have pretty much the same outlook on survival and growth as does the BSA. One of the reasons I left the profession thirty years ago. I didn't like it as a business.

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This story has been in the media here in Atlanta for several months now.

 

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/iteam/index.html

 

The link above is from February when this all hit the fan - updates as to the later United Way withholding funds and Larkin's resignation are not yet attached (as of this post, anyway).

 

It's a bad situation - cooked numbers, ghost units with large numbers of members, and CO's that didn't even know they HAD a unit. All these problems were reported in inner-city areas; someone's attempt somewhere to meet a quota.

 

The only positive aspect of this is that it appears it was SCOUTERS who saw the problems, and demanded the truth. While the media will likely continue to give the Council leadership a well-deserved spanking, hopefully the local units will not be affected adversely.

 

Learn from this, folks..........don't let your council be next.......

 

 

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PatBB,

 

Do you think that the BSA would have less honesty scandals if it abandoned its stance on sexual morality (by adopting whatever lines you happen to draw) and the need for one's recognition of a greater power in moral development?

 

Explain to us, using whatever enlightened ethical system you espouse, exactly why the actions of this particular SE were wrong.

 

Also, explain why the BSA should keep the virtue of Trustworthyness (or any other for that matter) if it chooses to drop Reverence. Should every scout and scouter be able to choose whatever 11 points they agree with? Whatever 6? Should the Scout Law become BP's Antiquated Guidelines?

 

Why not?

 

And please don't appeal to any higher powers. That includes the virtues, which many consider to be superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Formulate your naturalistic ethics and present them for the rest of us. We aren't going to start jackhammering our foundations until we see your blueprints, friend. It's been done before; read the political history of the twentieth century so see how your selective moral demolitions work out in the end.

 

 

Edited part: Removed inappropriate apostophe(This message has been edited by Adrianvs)

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I used to work in a Scout council office, and know many people with far better access than I had. Based on what I know and have heard, the problem of inflated figures seems to be rather widespread and based on pressure from pretty high levels.

 

Unfortunately, the BSA as a business is subject to a lot of the same problems other businesses of its size and worth have, Scout Law or not.

 

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How prevalent is this on a local level?

I just received an updated roster from the Troop I just left (Im still on the e-mail list).

 

On this, they listed as having 31 Scouts registered. Of these about 1/3 have not been to a troop meeting in over a year and about 4 or 5 I never heard of. It was the same thing on the adult leader side. There were about 25 leaders listed for the Troop. About half I had no idea who they were and 4 or 5 of them moved and were living out of state.

 

If things like this are happening on the Troop level, we are just starting to see the tip of the iceberg in dealing with inflated numbers.

 

I think these types of inflated numbers are hurting the program.

It seems that our CE and DEs are more interested in numbers than running a quality program.

 

On a related note, I see the same type of thing being done with the Quality Unit award.

 

CNYScouter

 

 

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While I agree that at a national level BSA Inc. is essentially a business, especially to those involved in the professional ranks, not all businesses are unethical and one would hope that BSA Inc. could operate better than most. These situations tarnish the image of the entire organization.

 

I agree this issue is far more widespread than most of us would like to believe and would like to see a more concerted effort on the part of the national office to police it's own organization rather than waiting for law enforcement to get involved. That means asking the tough questions we may not like the answers to. I've seen too many organizations implode because the leadership did not want to hear bad news, so no one reported it to them.

 

SA

 

 

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My wife, bless her soul, is always right and she is fond of saying that "scum rises to the top." It is a generality that may be overstated and prejudicial, but considering the executive branch....;)

An Epiphany! I just thought of a possible explanation why no professional scouters have joined this forum to engage us in discussions of ethics and morality. I suppose I could be wrong...

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CNYScouter: The extra kids on your registration sheet are not really part of the problem. I'm sure every unit has kids who come in, pay their registration and drop right out again. While that inflates the numbers of the BSA artificially, some of these guys have created entire units and districts of fake or mostly fake units by using school surveys, rosters of inner city youth programs and maybe even the phone book.

 

Packsaddle: I would say "ambition rises to the top," which sometimes is scum and sometimes not. I would say that it is unlikely that anyone who is a Scout Executive or Chief Scout Executive has not inflated figures or allowed inflated figures by turning his/her head.

 

BTW, you can be pretty sure there are professional Scouters on these forums who choose not to identify themselves as such. I can't say whether they participate in ethics discussions or not. Certainly there are men and women in the profession who would not take part in any fake units or membership, and who doubtless feel the same way most of us do about the issue.

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I have seen several threads which answer the question - how do we recruit more people or how do we retain our scouts? The answer that always pops out of the forum is that if you povide a high quality program the kids (numbers) will be there. Our executives should stop measuring success by numbers and start making sure we have a high quality program.

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