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Marcheck

Atlanta Scout Executive resigns amid scandal

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Adrianvs,

I do believe in God, but I don't force my theism on others.

 

The definition of Reverent in the Scout Handbook includes respecting the beliefs of others. You have disrespected my beliefs re the supernatural, as well as those of Atheists. Moreover, different countries have similar but not identical Scout Laws. I prefer that of Scouts Australia, which in its 10 Points says Respectful rather than Reverent & Obedient.

 

Darrell Lambert's actions were in greater accord & compliance with the Scout Law than those of the number-inflaters. Indeed, he did the behaviors which most of us call Duty to God EVEN THOUGH HE BELIEVES THAT GOD IS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER. In conclusion, I object to the BSA's overlooking behavior contrary to the Duty to God while punishing the mere belief that God is fictional.

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BSA did their own "audit" in Texas in 2000 and found no fraud though enrollment numbers dropped 30-40%. Currently there are fraud reports from FL - boys left on rosters long after gone, AL - the "John Doe living at Council headquarters is for their protection", Or where a PAID staffer is suing after being forced to resign when he refused to go along with fraudulend disabled Scout units. Atlanta overstated membership by 100%. Interestingly a Council in NH is now conducting an audit - THEIR SE came from Atlanta within the year and though "they have confidence in his leadership....." C'mon - if Atlanta was overstating at that level, this was longstanding......

 

Our Council is scrambling to "correct" numbers after being challenged - a 30-40% drop from claimed enrollments sure seems more like fraud than simple errors. Our DE claimed 400 more than even the inflated "official" numbers for our District to get Quality status. He is getting a promotion and is the keynote speaker at our Council Eagle Dinner. But the only time he was seen areound here was to ask for money - meanwhile one of the units in our community, begging for help they never got (because the old commissioners had been replaced with never seen political appointments) folded. No way did he do all he claimed for Quality Status. No way do we have the numbers claimed. We are LOSING members at a rate 10 times the claimed "growth" rate.

 

Hypocrisy is hypocrisy and you can't afford to be "shortcutting" on "character" when that is the claimed strength of your organization, its "raison d'etre."

 

If a paid professional lies about numbers, it should be his job. But as someone else posted, BSA protects their own. One of those behind the Dallas fraud surfaced again in the current Alabama one. Only when there are outside voices screaming (Operation PUSH/Rainbow Coalition in Atlanta) and keeping a close wathc on the resulting OUTSIDE audit does BSA do the "right" thing. THAT is truly sad.

 

ALL of this comes from the professional ranks. Volunteers have no reason to lie about numbers. VOlunteers have been the ones calling in outside authorities when paid staff told them to "shut up" or get removed from Scouting - as reported out of AL.

 

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Several years ago, I saw our district's list of registered units. It listed several dozen Explorer/Venture posts that I know did not really exist, and kept Scouts and Scouters enrolled for years after they graduated or left. It was a very open secret, known to most volunteers working at all with the district or council. We hated it, but it was coming from the top and no one seemed too interested in fighting it.

 

About the same timem, I spoke to an excellent and respected DE pacing in the Scout office lobby where he shared that he had just been told by the Exec. to get his numbers up by any means necessary- and his district was one of the two richest and most populated in our or neighboring councils.

 

I was not working close to the Scout office when the news about inflated figures investigations broke, but friends there told me that there were many high-level, very secret meetings going on. I have since heard that our council's enrollment numbers have plummeted, but conversely, the data is harder to obtain now.

 

This is part of why I don't get real excited about the 'opportunity' to participate in FOS, popcorn sales, and other district/council activities.

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Sure the guys from a few councils have let the side down.

But lets not get carried away with all of this, the reports of inflated membership are in a very small number of districts.

I by no means think of myself as being any kind of a Super Scouter, but I know the Units in the District I serve. I know that we don't have a single unit that is willing to hand over more cash in registration or membership fees than they have too.

I see the annual rechartering process as an opportunity to verify the service that we offer to our community. Every year when the rechartering is complete I receive copies for each and every unit in the District. I can go back seven years, they are all in a filing cabinet in my garage. I receive updates on membership every month, one copy via e-mail and one copy by snail mail.

There have been times when one of our pro's have tried creative or out of the box ideas, which because I'm maybe not that creative or an out of the box type of guy that I have not gone along with. In fact our last Field Director and myself crossed swords a few times because of this. While I didn't like or go along with these creative ideas, I don't think anything was illegal.

It saddens me when I read "This is part of why I don't get real excited about the 'opportunity' to participate in FOS, popcorn sales, and other district/council activities.

Sure if you personally want to use not participating in popcorn sales and you don't want to support the Council with your FOS donation as your way of sending a message to the people in Atlanta or Florida that is up to you. But so very often people make their choice and then don't allow the members of the unit the opportunity to participate.The end result is that services get cut, camps don't have the funds needed to operate and get sold , which makes everyone upset, so more people stop participating and soon there just isn't a Council any longer.

So while a handful of people have broken the rules and have stained the good name of the organization that I love and I believe does so much good in the communities particularly the community in which I live. I can rise above the actions of this small number of misguided people. I can see the good that Scouting is doing in the Cub Scout packs, the Boy Scout Troops and Venturing Crews, closer to home I'm so very happy how great an influence Scouting is having on my son. The day when I don't see it will be the day that I quit.

Eamonn.

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PatBB,

 

How did I disrespect your beliefs regarding the supernatural? By asking you to explain your beliefs for us? "Freethinkers" always want the freedom to attack others' religious beliefs, but rarely take advantage of the opportunity to use that same freedom to explain and defend their own beliefs.

 

Regarding your first post, the BSA does NOT require that members believe that the "Universe was created by a Creator," at least not a benign one. It is not necessary that a member of the BSA associate God with the creator of the universe. Buddhists, Gnostics, Zoroastrians, and others do not believe that a God which they follow created the universe, yet they are allowed to be registered members. The BSA has interpreted "God" very loosely and the principle that members must accept is that acceptace of a higher power is required for moral development and good citizenship. A Platonist, for instance, would have no problem becoming a member of the BSA, even though what they call God (Theos) is completely impersonal in nature.

 

Do you have any ethics to submit to us which don't rely on acceptance of anything which may be called God?

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I'm not certain that ANY ethic necessarily originates from a supernatural source. Or have I misinterpreted your statement?

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My message had nothing to do with my personal theology. I merely asserted that:

A. The SEs' dishonesty in membership numbers is a much more serious violation of Scouting principles than is refusal to believe in God,

&B. The National Council is hypocritical in punishing the latter quickly while punishing the former slowly or not at all.

 

I concede to Adrianvs on BSA's broad definition of God, while I still fault his assumption that I must be an atheist just because I wrote that atheists in Scouting are not so bad.

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We as Scouts hold ourselves to a higher level of integrity - not just trust. Setting your own moral standards to achieve your business or political aims is far more deleterious in Scouting because it establishes the premise that morality and ethics are only for followers - not leaders. So, what again are the Aims of Scouting?

 

We tell our boys with the deepest of sincerity that as they become Eagles, they will be held to a higher standard - and will be expected to behave better than those who didn't experience Scouting. Yet we continue to live our lives in a culture of greed and one-on-one, me-first behavior. When this kind of activity shows up in our own back yard we're defenseless. SE's are "executives" and in America today that implies privilege, power and exemption from ethical behavior. We propagate this pattern by our very silence. It simply cannot be tolerated in BSA as long as we present real values to young men.

 

Do you honestly think a 16-year-old young man can't see these moral inconsistencies? How did YOU feel about "do as I say, not as I do" when you were growing up? Ask yourself: did you justify your role model's contradictory behavior because they were somehow elevated above the masses? Or did it leave you confused?

 

David Larkin, executive director of the Atlanta-area council, was quoted by the news as saying he was disappointed personally and professionally and took full responsibility for the false records. In my opinion his resignation was far more honorable than the shifty way Bill Clinton and Ken Lay refused any responsibility (to name just two - the list gets bigger every day). But he did not single-handedly cook the books, and everyone in the council who knowingly assisted should either resign publicly or be dumped overboard.

 

To answer Marcheck's question of what can be done to root out the problem: Be vocal. Be open with your unit and district leaders. Challenge the numbers, and challenge your Scout Execs (they are the hired help after all). Make them stand up for Scout values. Don't accept the bogus line that "he's been the CEO of the XYZ Company so he can really make our organization wealthy and successful." Any paid Scouters who can't control their poor ethics to support Scouting the right way do not deserve to clean our latrines.

 

 

 

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I must say that there seem to be a lot of disappointment and upset over these misstatements of membership numbers. This doesn't strike me as a very important issue. If false reporting is illegal, why? If the FBI is conducting an investigation, why? Has the public been harmed such that our government must intervene?

 

My church reports the attendance of services in the church bulletin. Some weeks it is up, others down. Of course the minister wants attendance to be up, and up, and up. Were it to be discovered that he intentionally reported higher attendance than in fact, I'd be disappointed. His integrity would be questioned. But would that be illegal? Would the FBI want to know?

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I think another reason it's such a big deal and why the FBI is involved is that there is considerable money involved as well.

 

It costs money to sign up a boy ($10?) and these fees for underprivilidged boys where paid for by contributions by various organizations. That's where the fraud comes in.

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One connection (there may be others) is that BSA is a legal charity. As such, it enjoys tax-exempt status and its contributors enjoy tax deductions. In this sense, government IS a partner in BSA'a financial dealings, not to mention the resulting subsidy that BSA enjoys as well.

Any group that enjoys this status, and engages in practices that may affect funding and other financial dealings should properly be subject to scrutiny by any government that has granted that status.

Or they can decline the status.

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If a $10 membership fee is paid by a contribution, what is fraudulent, unless the Scout Executive pocketed the money? Did BSA not get the donation and use it to further Scouting?

 

If the membership number is 500,000 or 400,000 how does this affect the tax exempt status of the organization?

 

 

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The reason the FBI is involved and the reason it's a big deal is that:

1-As a 501©(3) corporation, BSA is only tax exempt as long as it follows the IRS rules. Soliciting funds to put live kids in Scouting is not the same as putting names on the rolls knowing they are not getting a program. The donors are being defrauded. I would consider that I am being defrauded, since I contribute money to Scouting, although that probably does not rise to the level of a federal offense. It would be against the law in most states.

 

2-Scouting receives grants and federal subsidies for support of underprivileged kids in some of these special programs. Again, if the councils are taking the money and using it to register phony members, it violates federal law.

 

3-Although I am not as concerned personally about the ethics of the professionals who are doing this, since I already know the ethics of the BSA when it comes to this, it is a lousy time to be playing with fire. In a day when we are under siege from all sorts of places over our membership policies and leadership requirement, it strikes me as pretty stupid to be doing something that will further damage our public image.

 

Having said all that, I will opine that our chances of causing the BSA to seriously put a stop to number goals and growth at all costs are about the same as getting a seat on the next space shuttle.

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If I were in a church that cooked the books, my belief in God would not be shaken. My belief in mankind's greed would be affirmed. I fully expect men to act like men in all given situations. What I don't expect is for men to act in accordance with God-like characteristics.

 

My belief in Scouting and the principles of Scouting is not shaken because a few or the many lied, cheated, stole and acted like criminals. I am sure these were common, cowardly bureaucrats with little aptitude or ability to do little else in life. They thrive on emptiness and would do so in any business and in any place, in any time period.

 

Throughout all ages and countries there have been men/women that have taken on a heroic nature. Their bravery consisted of knowing that truth will simply rise above all else. It is these men/women that we cherish and that lives in all written material and our hearts. We do not build statues to remind us of the slovenly and the weak- willed but of those that did things that men cannot do on their own and that is act with principle.

 

 

FB

 

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