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Below you will find the response from the President of South Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America to the United Way. I thought you might want to read it.



Subject: RE: United Way Crisis


Gentlemen & Ladies:


Let me add my voice to the chorus, to the extent you have not already heard our side of the issues about Miami-Dade United Way.


The United Way continues to try to deceive the community, including its large donors, by a series of very disingenuous claims. The facts are that United Way broke its compact with the people of Miami-Dade and especially the contributors to the United Way.


First they claimed there was an "agreement" brokered by United Way between the South Florida Council and SAVE Dade (the gay rights group) that we broke.


When we said there was no agreement and if there was one, "show it to us," they then backpedaled and said we "agreed" to add certain sensitivity training to our program by participating in a news conference in the summer of 2001 in which United Way claimed that it had obtained "progress made through the "common ground" process."


We have never, ever agreed to allow others to dictate our program and its content, including our training of our leaders!


What the United Way and SAVE Dade wanted was for us to agree to require our adult leaders to undergo "sensitivity" training that specifically covered what to do when a youth member told the leader that he or she had some questions about their sexuality and/or sexual orientation.


We already train our leaders to deal with a variety of issues that may arise, and some of those issues (such as sexual issues) mandate that our adult leaders refrain from substantive involvement and simply refer the children to their parents and religious leaders. But that was not good enough.


They wanted us to refer youths who raise such questions to, among others, organizations known to promote or act as advocates for homosexual activities and "lifestyle."


We have told the United Way that sex and sexual issues are not a part of our program, and we have more than enough to occupy our training time with youth protection, safety afloat, safe swim defense, the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, Scoutcraft, etc.


Aside from the fact that we, as the South Florida Council, are not in a position to modify, add to, or subtract from, the Scouting program, probably the last thing we would ever be interested in doing would be to add any type of sex education or training to the Scouting program.


We continue to respect differences and always encourage our members to respect differences and to teach tolerance for differing views. But that answer was not good enough for the United Way.


But it was good enough for United Way to send us a letter in mid-2002, about 1 year after the famous press conference that the United Way radicals claim embodied our "agreement," formally extending their funding to us of nearly $500,000 through June 30, 2004, and requiring us to sign and return a copy of their letter (which we did) evidencing the "extension of our contracts" (their words in the letter from one of their board members who is a lawyer) with UW.


The United Way radicals fail to address the fact that their own agency agreements prohibit a variety of types of discrimination, with which we comply, but further states as to "sexual orientation" only that the United Way "strongly recommends" (but does not require) that its agencies not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In other words, it is not in our agency contract with United Way that we (or any other agency) must refrain from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.


The United Way radicals also fail to address the fact that at least two other UW agencies, which receive from UW significantly larger funding than we were receiving, are believed to "discriminate" against the participation in their programs of openly avowed homosexuals, but they are not being "defunded." When I personally pointed this out to Harve Mogul, the UW Executive Director (who, incidentally, admitted that he lied to us about the fateful UW board meeting at which we were to be defunded because, as he later said, he was required to do so by his "handlers"), he admitted that what I said was true. However, in the face of his subsequent admissions that he, in effect, lies when told to do so by the UW Board radicals, who can believe anything he now says or said then?


They should be ashamed of themselves.


If we were to allow others, including United Way, to dictate any aspect of our program, what would come next after sexual identity sensitivity training? Perhaps some of them will think we are being too hard on our Scouts by requiring that they complete 21 merit badges for Eagle Scout rank and that a boy who does not complete his Eagle service project will be scarred for life by remaining a Life for life- perhaps their committee of radicals should tell us how we should run our advancement program, or how to tie knots or pitch tents the politically correct way, etc.


It severely strain credulity to think that Scouting, which fought for the right to uphold its own principles as a private organization all the way to the US Supreme Court, would reach any type of "agreement" with a local bunch of politically correct radicals to change our national training program to conform with what they thought we should be doing.


We have not sold out, and we will not sell out. Our values are timeless and they are not for sale at any price!


We had a contract with United Way for funding through June 30, 2004, and we planned and set our program and budget in reliance on the expectation that we would receive that funding since the UW campaign does not begin until this coming Fall. We have not broken any of our agreements with the United Way- it is they who have broken their agreements with us.


The money that the United Way will be distributing after June 30 of this year will consist of, at least in large part, money that UW raised in the past, using our good name with contributors as one of the agencies that would receive funding from their gifts.


If UW told us that they would not consider extending our contract and funding after June 30 of next year, we would have been disappointed but we could have planned accordingly.


What they have done is simple- they have broken their contracts with us, they have obtained money from contributors under the pretense that we would be among the agencies benefiting from their contributions, and they have allowed their Board to be hijacked by a small but vocal group of radicals, who have no tolerance for views that differ from theirs and who certainly could not allow themselves to be constrained by contractual obligations and due process.


They should be ashamed of themselves, but as I believe you may suspect, they have no shame.


These are the people who are now apparently in control of the Miami-Dade United Way, and it vital that you understand the issues so that you can discuss them intelligently with UW contributors you know and might be able to influence.


Please keep in mind that even if a UW contributor specifically designates the "South Florida Council Boy Scouts" to receive the benefit of its contribution, the UW can take a significant "administrative fee" off the top before they remit the contribution to us. Therefore, if someone you know wants to give to us and for us to get the full benefit of their contribution, let them give to us directly.


South Florida Council will be running a large ad in The Miami Herald this coming Thursday in an effort to set the record straight, but we cannot cover everything in that (expensive) ad, and many people fail or refuse to read the Herald.


I just wanted you to know.


Please pardon me if you are offended by the tone or emotion of my message to you, but I simply cannot stand by and let their garbage and lies about us pile up and go unanswered.


Norman J. Silber


President, South Florida Council, Inc., Boy Scouts of America

701 Brickell Avenue

Suite 1900

Miami, Florida 33131

Telephone (direct): (305) 789-2790

Facsimile (direct): (305) 537-3990

Telephone (switchboard): (305) 789-2700

Email: Norman.Silber@ruden.com


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Amazingly strong words from a council representative on this issue. Taking everything in the previous post at face value, it seems to me that the council has a cause for action against United Way for breach of contract.


I stopped giving to United Way a long time ago.

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In another post I advocated that the BSA needs to defend themselves against attacks. This letter does just that. If the letter is accurate then the United Way is definitely at fault. I wouldn't hold it against an organization to stop donations to BSA, but breaking contracts is wrong. This is the type of defense of BSA that we need. And it didn't simply repeat the rhetoric of "moral role model."


With all that being said, the tone was much too strong. The point of such a letter is to win back people who may not know too much about scouting. Such a harshly toned letter would simply turn off such people.


So if anyone wants my advice, if you're going to write such a letter, try to sound more objective. Remember that the target audience of such a letter is not necessarily scouts.

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During the 80s I worked with a client who occupied an office in the United Way Headquarters building. A magnificent building, built on the banks of the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Va. I remember thinking to myself, how could a charity organization build such a grand edifice to itself? This took place during the same time period when the UW executive(s) scandal was underway. To top it off, the client was a Washington lobbyist.


So, anyone that might have the false impression that the UW sits on the moral high ground, might just want to reconsider their position.



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Yes, it's refreshing to actually hear an executive speak in a manner akin to the rank and file ... angry and driving the point home while trying to clear the air on the subject, leaving no doubts about the stand. I respect that.


As to the donation thing, and the UW...it has always been my practice, and I shared this with my children, that when I have money to donate to a specific cause, I donate "directly" to that specific cause. Not through middlemen like the UW. I believe direct donation gets a bigger bang for the buck.

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I don't like politicians either. So I agree with you completely that we don't need spokesmen who beat around the bush trying not to make anyone mad.


However, I think a forceful point can be made without an angry tone. The "fence sitters" are the exact people who we need to win back.


This letter and its tone receives great support in the scouting community, but we already knew much of the truth. We also already agree that BSA is a wonderful organization that does so much for boys. We don't need to be persuaded of that fact anymore.


We need to appeal to the fence sitters because they're the only ones who aren't for us or against us. It's just like an election. The winners aren't decided by the hardcore Republicans or the hardcore Democrats. It's the people in the middle who make the difference. We need to win them back to our side.

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I guess I have to agree with you. I'm just not a big fan of fence sitters. I wish folks would use their brains and make up their own minds. It seems to me, these folks - the same ones that decide Presidential election as you pointed out - are more concerned with style than they are with substance. If someone comes up with a catch-phrase, like "Where's the beef?" or "It's the economy stupid!" that's enough to push them over to one side and elect a president. I'm just fed up with folks who sit around waiting for someone to sway them - rather than using the space between their ears. Sorry, end of rant...I'll climb off my soapbox...until next time any way. ;-)

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I'm not a fence sitter, but am not free to enter into this sort of debate.


I reply simply to point out that Mr. Norman is not a Scouting exec. He's the Council President and is a volunteer. I believe in the Boy Scouts of America. I can and will say this much -- Cool letter, Mr. Norman!



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There are times when one needs to call a spade a shovel, and Mr. Silber apparently had reached that point. I do believe he employed good judgement in his presentation and argument. I do believe he left no unanswered questions. And I do believe there will be thousands of cheering volunteers out there who will be grateful that someone, even if he's only the Council President (thanks for pointing that out DS), finally stood up and gave back some of what has been dished out against the BSA. There is no longer any time to sit this one out and just let the other side shovel their public nonsense against the BSA with impunity. The BSA, as professionals, must stand stalwart and maintain their decorum. The volunteers, those millions who man the stations to keep the organization alive for the boys, are very much better suited to take the argument right back at the opponents. And I cheer Mr. Silber for having more guts than I (to date) in standing up to be counted on the side of Scouting with no ifs, ands or buts. No one can doubt his stand.


And, if you think about it, that all by itself is mainly the reason that the tide continues to rise against the BSA. For the only outspoken folks so far have been those who can least afford to speak their minds in a fashion that the other side would understand. There has been no tsunami of volunteers revelling in and putting very public voice to the joys of Scouting in such a public way as Mr. Silber in defense of Scouting.


Light dawns on MarbleHead here...and I now believe that were there to be such a public outcry and voice by the thousands and thousands (perhaps millions) of volunteers in defense of Scouting, and is praise of it's program, methods, and goals, in even half as public a manner as Mr. Silber, the opposition would realize that they are not dealing with a paper tiger. There is, indeed, power in numbers. And I believe that the "numbers" within the Scouting community have yet to make themselves known in the forum where this argument with the UW is being conducted. Silence is not golden in this realm, at this time.

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Saltheart -- I appreciate your posts and I appreciate the respect you give to professionals. I would encourage you not to sell short the volunteers.


Council Presidents have a great deal of say in what goes and doesn't go in a council, even more so than a District Chairman has to say as to what goes in the district. The council president is part of the council key three along with the council commissioner and Scout Executive.


The council president in this thread, is, in my opinion, keeping with the policies of the Boy Scouts of America and in a strong manner. I'm glad to see you mention that professionals must be stalwart in supporting the Boy Scouts of America. That's exactly correct.


As for the debate over the BSA's standards of membership -- I refuse to participate. I accept a paycheck on the 15th and last day of the month from the Boy Scouts (specifically my council, but if I didn't have a commission fron national, I wouldn't be able to be a professional.) In spite of the fact that I will not join the debate, nothing can prevent me from watching and learning from all points of view.


I'm not being sarcastic when I say that I typed a bunch more stuff here, but whiped it out several times. It was going too close to a line I'm not willing to cross.


think me a coward if you like, but I learned a long time ago that if you really want to learn something from both sides of a debate, then shut up and listen. That's what I'll do.



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I have nothing but the utmost respect for adult volunteers in Scouting. And I don't think I'm selling them short at all. They all have opinions on the subject, but if most are like me, and the many I know, we find it easier and more comfortable to sit on the sidelines and discuss things amongst ourselves privately, rather than standing in the light that Mr. Sibler has placed himself squarely in. My posted thoughts are simply that, posted thoughts wishing that there could be one loud and public voice by the hundreds of thousands of volunteers to look the opposition straight in the eye and say, "Now you wait just a minute there friend while we explain things to you, and let you know why we hold Scouting so dear." Perhaps that's just foolish wishing. But I do think a common voice of loud support by volunteers in a public manner would be a force to be reckoned with.


And you're right, I do have quite a bit of respect for the paid pro's. Certainly I've met a couple in my years that weren't worthy of the position they held, but the large majority have diligently approached their careers as more of a 24/7 thing than most of us do. They get paid to perform a certain set of tasks, but those tasks, at least in our area, never provide for a 9-5 job. I respect those who can do so much...for so little in compensation. I was offered a professional position many years ago when our particular business croaked, and I was one of many out of work. After the initial interviews with the folks at the Council office, I had to say thanks but no thanks, and I stood in awe of those who could make a living with a family on the wages paid, and the hours committed. I still do. I couldn't make ends meet within that structure, so I had to take another path.


My opinion on the issue of gays and religion in Scouting is immaterial to this part of the discussion. But my opinion on where the professional stands in the line of fire is material to the discussion. The professional can not speak from the heart, only from the perspective of the employed, no matter where his/her heart is. The opposition and media will always see the professional opinion as that which protects a career and a profession, not heart and soul of the organization. Only the truly committed volunteer participant can infuse the discussion and argument with the passionate POV that comes with the territory. The professional can take off the hat and robes of the position and speak from a different stance, but he's still the pro. When the opposition has marched up to the door, bent on casting down the doors that define the organization, the only defense will be in the large numbers of those who love the organization enough to stand firmly in support, and vocally is the best start.


Aa far as I have been able to detect in my short tenure here, you are the only admitted professional participating in the forum. Perhaps Bob White is also, but haven't run across the admission. I quite honestly respect your position and your reasons for not joining the fray vocally, whatever those reasons are. I'm sure you're actually bustin' at the seams to speak, and perhaps someday you will. I look forward to that possibility, but do not require it. As you are, is fine by me. I have, myself, deleted far more than the long-winded posts I've presented thus far...type...think...delete...retype...THINK...etc. It works for me, although I'm probably still far too apt to mouth off when prudence would dictate silence, closed mouth, fingers in pockets not on keyboard, and eyes and ears open. "Coward" is hardly a term I would attach to anyone who picks up the baton to pass along within this thread, or any thread dealing with such fragile and emotional issues. Certainly not you. A better way of looking at your position might be as one who sits and ponders, until his moment arrives.



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