Jump to content

Atlanta Scout Executive resigns amid scandal

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 72
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Looking at a few objections to X-Ray's post...


re: Rechartering schedule- At least some councils do indeed follow the calendar year for rechartering and budgeting. No idea if every council does, but it would not surprise me to find that National requests such for whatever reasons. Even if the council or district followed a different schedule, the process of adding names and units could still be followed.


re: charters reflecting boys who have dropped- This is not the big problem. The big problems are boys added without the unit's knowledge (handled internally- sometimes discovered by accident), and ghost units.


re: Salaries- the 100K-250K range seems right based on disclosed salaries, and I know many of the perks listed were offered in one local council. I don't claim to know whether this is an appropriate compensation.


re: Ghost units warning signs- X-Ray's list is pretty decent. Ghost units tend to be small- but that does not mean that a small unit is a ghost unit, nor do I think he tried to claim such. Ghost units obviously do not produce advancement or attend meetings or events. (I once saw a list of Explorer posts (just before they were shifted to LFL) and absolutely KNOW that many of them were ghosts- it was an open joke in the office among the more senior staff. In fact, one post that was trying to register as a newly formed unit was surprised to find they already existed and had registered leaders no one there had ever heard of.)


re: CO and unit responsibility- I am not sure what COs (or CMs/SMs and CCs) can do to keep this from happening in their unit- the majority of fraud I know about happened entirely without their knowledge. It is not the SMs signing up ghost kids, and CORs are not signing off on ghost units or inflated charters.


re: Required signatures, fees, etc.- I do not know how the people doing the frauds get around all of the stumbling blocks, only that they do- at least well enough for their purposes. I know some DEs paid dues out of their own pockets and submitted the costs for reimbursement under other names. I know some forms are submitted and look funny to Scouter Services, etc., but they are told to process them anyway so they can get chartered and it will be fixed later.




Another note on perspective:


1. At this point, there is no reason to assume it is a national problem, although people in places where it is happening will usually think of it as such. I THINK it is pretty widespread, based on conversations with long-time paid staff, but I don't know that. I only know that it happened in a council I worked at a few years ago.


2. It apparently has been going on in one form or another, or to one degree or another, for a long time. My dad commented that it was 'common knowledge' when he was a commissioner in the early 70's. (Actually, considering the crashing membership of the 70's, I sorta wonder if this might not be where some of the practices got their start?)


3. In the scheme of things, it is certainly NOT a 'big deal'. Sure, it is wrong and most likely criminal, but I bet you'd be hard pressed to find another business, organization, or program that involves anywhere near the numbers and money the BSA does that does not do pretty much the same thing. Look at how common it is for government offices to wildly inflate their budget needs to protect their next-year's budget, or for a company to massively inflate projected sales to boost research and development funding.


(I am not arguing that it is OK, or that nobody is hurt- just that there is a middle ground between squeaky clean and utter corruption.)


4. While this is an interesting topic of conversation, it certainly should not take energy or support away from the local units that are still delivering program regardless of what is happening on the upper levels.


5. Heck, of all the stuff I knew happened in our old council, inflated unit numbers was not among the top ten most outrageous things going on there. If I told about it here, it would seem pretty unScout-like to have happened, but it is stuff that happens in corporate America all the time. Just seems jarring to see it happen in the 'world of the 12 Laws and Oath'. On the other hand, it happens in churches, doctors offices, and such as well- we are all just humans!

Link to post
Share on other sites

madkins, good post.


But I guess I'm more angered by the ethics issue than you. And I don't mean to minimize your criticism of corruption anymore than you were softening the wrongness of it.


Even though I know there are bad guys out there and nobody is perfect - I'm terribly uncomfortable with adults in positions of honor who betray the inherent trust of others. Teachers should be good to kids, priests should honor the trust of families, police should be law abiders as well as law enforcers, etc. I despise people who desecrate their position more than other lawbreakers. A teacher who abuses a child is more horrific than another child abuser, a crooked cop is worse than a crook, if you see what I mean.


A Scouter, volunteer or professional, should follow the Oath and Law and their behavior should be above that of the rifraf of the world. It's not acceptable to me that corporate America has its share of slimeballs, or churches do, or anyone else. We Can't be tossing around phrases like "Timeless Values" or "morally straight" and not hold ourselves to a higher standard. We Can't tell some people their behavior isn't acceptable for our group and then be satisfied with this kind of behavior.


jd(This message has been edited by johndaigler)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree we should all encourage everyone in Scouting to follow the Oath and Law, just as we should hope that all ministers will follow the Bible, the Dharma, or whatever, but it's unrealistic to expect that they will.


I just try to keep my unit going on the straight and narrow and I don't mind calling attention to councils that are doing big time cheating. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, just don't let it get you down. The big picture is as good as it ever was and your unit is the only one that really counts. You can help a few hundred kids in one unit over the years and that will pay off for you.



Link to post
Share on other sites

johndaigler, I agree. Interestingly, I think I remember respondents who (in a thread on communist weapons dealers and subsequent spun threads) seemed to be quite black-and-white regarding laws, ethics, and hierarchies of 'good and evil'.


They seem to have ignored their own standards for this issue.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not at all I absolutely would hope that all scouters whether volunteer or professional would act in accordance with not only yje values of the Scout Oath and Law but also with civil laws.


The connection to be made betwenn this thread and the one you have referenced is the biblical quandry of, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.


Before we have anonymous volunteers raising the voices in disgust on the forum about professionals that did the wrong thing let's ask if we obey the laws ourselves. What was shown in the thread you mentioned was that while many scouters have no qualms with violating laws while avoiding apprehension or conviction (and doing so in full view of scouts) they explode in disgust when a professional scouter is caught.


How convenient.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Point taken, although I'm not sure why the situation would be considered 'convenient'. I evidently misunderstood you to be in the position of defending the offending professional scouters.

However, the quandry, as you put it, is not really a conflict that should stop action by anyone, in case that was your intent.

A person who breaks one law still has a duty as a citizen to respond to another person who breaks a law. Regardless of a third party's opinion of the situation, the duty remains.


I suppose this returns us to the apparent conflict between the black-and-white world versus the gray-scale world. Does any crime, no matter the 'size' (absconding with a pencil from the office, perhaps, or a non-criminal rule violation, not wearing scout socks) eliminate our ethical ability to accuse or convict someone of another crime, no matter the 'size' (fraud, child abuse, perhaps)? I think not. And if it does eliminate that ethical ability, well, I'm not sure that 'convenience' is the correct term to describe it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Does any crime, no matter the 'size' (absconding with a pencil from the office, perhaps, or a non-criminal rule violation, not wearing scout socks) eliminate our ethical ability to accuse or convict someone of another crime, no matter the 'size' (fraud, child abuse, perhaps)?


I would agree with packsaddle & answer no. Crime is crime but not all crimes are equal. Someone who drives over the speed limit is committing a crime. So is someone who steals a car. But these aren't equal. If they were, the punishment would be the same.


The BSA execs are accused of fraud. Serious charge. They are accused of padding the numbers. So was Enron and Adelphia & many others. Fraud is a whole lot different than violating the speed limit!


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to be contentious, but driving over the speed limit is a civil violation, like getting a parking ticket. You can't be put in jail for that. Definitely not all crimes are equal in the eyes of the law. Not all Scout Oath violations are the same either: a Scout is trustworthy, but if your wife asks if her butt is too big, are you going to tell her the absolute truth? :-)

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Naw, honey, it NEVER could be TOO big." :)

But seriously, Kahuna, in NC (as I remember) if you get busted for speeding over 80 mph with a child in the vehicle, you can go to jail for child endangerment (I can't remember the specific wording for the crime). I suspect there are similar statutes out there for other states as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

madkins007 is right that the "problem" of registration misrepresentation and non-accountability is not a Universal National "problem" however it likely is a problem of autocracy that affects about 10 to 20 percent (30 to 60) of the national Councils.


1. Because the "problem" is (thankfully) not Universal, those Councils with "open" non-authoritarian Council Executives have Scout Leaders who likely are mystified at the fuss and feelings of moral betrayal felt by Scout Volunteers in the autocracy Councils.


2. The problems of autocracy and "number padding" likely have been going on for a long, time, but like spousal abuse, incest, pedophilia, and alcoholism, cultures eventually reach a point where some relatively rare behavior patterns are no longer tolerated.


3. The problem with the "problem" (which is really autocracy and not just the number padding) is that in order to preserve the image of the purity of Scouting, some Scouting Executives stifle all criticisms regardless of the nature or truth of those questions. As a result, real instances of pedophilia and alcohol abuse by Scouters and Executive are hidden under the guise of protecting the "privacy rights" of those individual as well as protecting the image of Scouting. It is very similar to the autocratic policies of the Catholic Church in "protecting" pedophile Priests (estimated at 5% of the Priesthood). And that mentality should be an anathema to Scouting.



4. Such concern IS relevant and essential for Scouting if Scouting is to maintain the empirical wisdom that is its basis. The 80%+ of the Councils who do not have a problem with autocracy with their Council Executives are fortunate and need to continue to focus on the quality of their programs. The other Councils need to have an "internal" mechanism for preventing such problems so that it does not lead to the disembowelment of Scouting nationally or the creation of "red" and "blue" Councils based upon whether or not the Scouting Professionals are autocratic.


5. Just because "number-stuffing" takes place in "corporate America" does not mean that Enron or Tyco or such similar abuses should be tolerated in corporate America or Scouting. (Richard Scrushy's HealthSouth case in Alabama is an exception in that he proved that you can fool some of the people all of the time" as demonstrated by the final members of his jury.) The organization that we are talking about IS the Boy Scouts (remember the Scout Law item called "Trustworthy") so that there are higher standards for both the members AND the Professionals, not only in how our organization is run, but as roll models to the Scouts. It is why the number of successful business, government, and religious leaders has such a high percentage of Eagle Scouts. To not apply such hypocritical standards to our Professional staff also violates the 13 Scout Law in that supposedly "A Scout is not a fool."


The ideal "solution" to the "problem" is going to be internal to maintain the credibility of Scouting within Scouting rather than external and forced upon Scouting by lawsuits or challenges to Scouting's tax-exempt status by State governments. What is needed to prevent these "problems" from occurring in the non-autocratic Councils ("absolute power corrupts absolutely") and to remove the "problem" from those Councils experiencing them is a very slight modification of the Scouting structure and communication channels:


1. The Council Committee member selection process needs to be more independent of the Council Executives. Charter Organizations must be better notified and required to get more involved with Council Committee selection and elections because broader participation would not only widen the support for Scouting, but diminish the potential for abuses. To avoid abuse of authority problems a better means of feedback and involvement in the operation of the Councils is needed by the Charter Organization Representatives and the Council Commissioners to insure that the Council Committee does NOT become a rubber stamp for the Council Executive or other Professionals. The structures are likely already present, they are just by-passed or ignored. Current Federal and State tax laws require the Council Committee to be independent of the Professional organization of Scouting. The threat of those controls being by-passed in the future is that such a hand-picked Committee might cause a BSA Council to lose its tax-exempt status.

2. Numerous Scout Councils are run by a good old boy system that stifles new leadership and maintains a static environment ripe for abuse by Council Executives. Limiting tenure of Council Committee members may reduce the roles of experienced senior Scouters, but it also creates opportunity for new leadership and involvement. Because of the limited, or non-, accountability by the Professional to the Volunteers as to measures of Scouting performance, there are very few, if any, checks or balances outside of the organization to avoid the type of abuses experienced in the Northeast Georgia, Atlanta Area, or other Councils. Having new Volunteers on the Council Committee increases the opportunities for oversight.

3. As franchises of the National BSA, Scout Councils seem to have as their primary goal fund-raising rather than increasing the demographics of per-capita Scouting. Funding seems to be the main measurement of success by National BSA. This has resulted in an emphasis on bigger financial donors to Councils rather than increased participation. Broader participation might likely avoid the obsession with authority by the Council Executives as well as significantly increase Scout funding by increasing the number of donors.

4. A more useful way of measuring and/or validating the success of a Council is the per-capita growth of Scouting and the Eagle Scout graduation rate. The Northeast Georgia Council projects the illusion of a successful Scouting program because the total number of Scouts has grown over the past several years. What is hidden by the Council is that the overall population of Northeast Georgia has risen significantly faster than the increase in the numbers of Scouts, with much of that growth from the Gwinnett District. The Gwinnett per-capita increase in Scouts has fallen far behind the population increase, and the growth in the numbers of Scouts in the rest of the Council has been minimal or declining. A per capita measurement of Scouting involvement is much more rational an indicator of growth than total numbers.

5. Scouting, like Parenting, is a process. The culmination of that process is the graduation of a Scout in becoming an Eagle Scout as a life-cycle reflection of the efforts of that Scout, the support of his parents and friends and family, and the support of his Troop. It is NOT desirable that Scouting and Troops become Eagle Mills with the main focus of creating Eagle Scouts because that might dilute the concept of personal growth associated with being an Eagle or diminish Eagle standards. However, If the standards remained undiminished, it would be beneficial to those individuals as well as our society to encourage Eagle status for as many Scouts as possible. Our Gwinnett District of 6300 Scouts had 78 Eagle Scouts in 2003. The approximately 630 Scouts per age group gives us a graduation percentage of 12.3% which compares very favorably to the national average of about 4%. A District by District comparison, and a Council by Council comparison, of Eagle graduation rates would provide a very accurate and useful quantitative measure of the effectiveness of the local, District, and Council Scout Program. (Currently, these numbers are hidden not only from the general public, but are hidden from the National Association of Eagles which only gets the names and totals of new Eagles from each Council.)


It is unlikely that a national review of the demographics is going to come out of National BSA, however, because I sense they fear of loss of their control (autocracy). Such a review will likely have to come from independent senior Scouters setting up a clearing-house webpage that invites a review of Scouting policies and demographics for each Council. I do not have the resources, the time, or the credibility to organize such an effort. If it is done, Scouting will then have an empirical measure of its success and its value to society and the individual who benefit from that learning and involvement. If it is NOT done, I fear that the dichotomy of the Professional autocracy versus the actual needs of our society may lead to the demise of Scouting.


Please feel free to edit or copy and share the comments above. If you know someone with the time and resources to organize such a National Scout Council review, please let me know. If I can provide them with any productive insights, I would be delighted.


Link to post
Share on other sites

An excellent post, AlcovyS. You raise some very good points. It's a fact that in the most authoritarian or "good old boy" run councils the COR's can outvote everybody else all the time. The problem is that most of them have no interest and, if they did, would not have a clue what to do. Of course, if every unit would raise the issue and train them as to what to do, it would be different. Unfortunately, most unit leadership wouldn't know, either. And since, if the COR's are trained at all, they are trained by people from the council. A real dilemma. Maybe some of us can think of ways to activate the COR's when the situation calls for it (and from some of the posts here, sounds like there are councils where the situation does call for it - luckily, I am not in one of them).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I think the smart answer is for the BSA top managment to visibly begin to systematically excise all the rot out of the system. Audit councils aggressively, and remove leadership (council, regional, or national) that played a role in the problems. Hire independent auditors to supervise the process.


Make a bit of media noise- a sort of quiet, dignified 'we found some troubling issues and are dealing with them decisively' sort of release that highlights the aggressiveness and open nature of the treatment process. Use good soundclips and videos to make a nice big splash.


Do this BEFORE it is forced upon them- beat the lawyers and media to the punch and reclaim the moral high ground.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...