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Goodbye, Owasippe

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Maybe not.... CAC volunteers took Council Leadership to court and won. Court ruled that CAC leadership had NOT followed their own Corporate bylaws and agreed with the volunteers bringing suit. Looks like voluneteers are finally going to be able to vote for a leadership slate THEY want - after REFUSING to approve the current leadership slate in TWO votes. Look for wholesale changes in CAC.


But why should it take court action for volunteers to be heard by their own Council leadership? Why should volunteers have to take BSA to court so they can elect representatives and a Board THEY want? This case showed howw much of a sham the "democratic" representation of volunteers really is.


Look for real fallout from this. CAC isn't the only Council having these problems. Up until now, BSA has said "tough luck" when volunteers disagreed with the SE and his hand-picked board. Well, court found this unacceptable.


Alabama is in court still and word is a few others will be headed there.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year JKHNY, we havent heard from you in awhile and I hoped you were well.


I may be wrong, so I will be open to correction but as far as I underatand it, in all the training courses I have had, no one ever said the BSA had "democratic" representation of volunteers.


I have been told its the COR's that elect the Board, not the rank and file scouters.


Now, About Owasippe and the CAC, I have no idea whether or not what jkhny alleges is true or not. But, lets say that a "new board" is put in place and after about two years the new board goes to the membership and says, "gee guys Owasippe is a huge money pit and keeping it around is just throwing good money after bad and we should sell it" Wonder what would happen then?

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PLEASE - refer to my November posting. Owasippe and Chicago Council goverance are two entirely different matters.


OldGreyEagle - sorry, splitting hairs about what is a "democracy" in the BSA is exactly what the Chicago Council SE and Board President got into trouble about.


It was eleven Chicago Scouters, COR's and Board Members who went to Court to get the matter heard. The Court seems to understand "democracy" while others seem to want to protect the megalomania of BSA Professionals and Officers.


Years of operating in the red and the inability of well paid Professionals to achieve basic fundraising goals is at the root of the Chicago Council problems.


Concerning Owasippe. Cramming residential zoning down the throats of a rural township simply because the Council has deeper pockets will not work this time around.


This is going to be a public relations disaster as well as a cost of several hundred thousands of dollars for the Council. Another example of BSA arrogance.

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            Sir, I didnt respond to your first post because we are on the same side. Your work and that of the OOEC is much appreciated by us rank and file volunteers.  I feel I must respond now because you keep claiming that the fight with the board and the fight to retain Owasippe are totally seperate.  While the sale of Owasippe is not the reason for the law suit brought against the Board, it (the sale) is a result of the refusal of that Board to act in good faith with the CORs and youth it is supposed to represent. The OOEC (Owasippe Outdoor Education Center) was not even formed until the Board was convinced that Boy Scouts dont belong in the real-estate business and the decision to divest the Council of all land holdings was acted upon. You want to separate the effect from the cause to the extent that you forget why the OOEC was formed. Was the concern that the residents of Blue Lake Township were being treated unfairly or was it because the scouts and scouters were about to lose their camps? Do you think that those of us who will be present at the public hearings January 14, 2006 will be there because we feel the residents of BLT need our support or do think we are coming to express our dissatisfaction with the sale? I can say for certain that we are coming to seek the aid of the residents of BLT in our struggle to prevent the sale of our camp. The law suit seeks to reinstate a slate of officers who would probably oppose the sale of Owasippe, thats why the current Board wanted to prevent a vote on it. This current fight can be drawn along for the sale or against the sale lines, even though the sale is not the reason for the fight. The sale was just the straw that broke the back of the volunteers. It is a shame that it took the sale of our camps to unit the volunteer base after the long years of mismanagement of our Councils assets, resources and volunteer base. The suit and fight against the Board and the fight to prevent the sale of Owasippe are two fronts in the same war. LongHaul

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In respose to your "what would happen then" question we won't get to that point in two years if we win this fight. First, the assests at our Camps have been managed poorly for years. CAC owned two plots of land, one forty miles west of Chicago and another in White Hall Michigan. The local camp (Hoover) has been sold for around 18 million dollars, the Michigan camp, Owasippe Scout Reservation hosts five scout camps and a family camp. When those who camped there in the 60's returned with our sons and scouts in the late 80's we saw the problems and moved to correct them. Use of the camps was more than doubled and the opening of two camps which had been closed resulted. New "outposts" were created and a very good High Adventure base created. Parts of the camp were leased to LDS groups and PLAST (European Scouts), opportunities to use the camp in off season for football and soccer camps was being researched. The "money pit" was shrinking and a self sustaining facility was on the horizon when our Council came "under new management". "We don't belong in the real-estate buisness" replaced "Be Prepared" and those responsible for the new interest and life of our camp were forced out. Attendance dropped and that drop was used to defend the sale of all of our camps. The decision to sell the camps and bank the cash was made before the issuse was reshearched or put to the board. The person responsible has a history of selling scout camps, his motives were clear when he arrived but warnings fell upon deaf ears.

With the 18 million we now have to insure start up capitol and a vision to make the OOEC a self sustaining entiy we do not need to sell our camp, we need to manage our assests in the best interest of the youth members not the paid profesionals.

LongHaul(This message has been edited by LongHaul)

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LongHaul - I accept your point as you present it. Yes, there are many actions by the Council Professionals and the CAC Board over many years that are felt to not be in the long-term interests of the rank and file of the Council. I can accept that the decisions concerning the sale of the camping properties may have been the "straw that broke the back of the volunteers."


The difficulty I have in recognizing the lawsuit in Chicago as "two fronts of the same war" are several.


First, I have no expectation of a new Board to be able to dismiss a sales agreement for the property by a vote to recind the agreement. In all likelihood the agreement that the Council has is legal and binding. While there is much to be said about the manner in which the agreement appears to have been created, it is likely that any future Board will need to show an honest effort to follow through on the agreement.


Second, there is some factual basis to the concerns about the economic viability of the Owasippe property AS IT HAS BEEN USED BY THE COUNCIL. While it is true that there are many additional revenue positive programs and uses that COULD mean long-term viability of property ownership, the question is about the will of CAC Boards of the future to keep that vision. In other words, how do actions now assure that this current situation is not revisited in the future? What would happen if the Council were consolidated with another Council in the future is just one example of how the current situation could be revisited.


Third, there are additional parties who have an interest in resolving the issue of a sale of the Owasippe property. The township, county, Holton and Whitehall school districts, fire protection district, emergency medical services, soil and water conservation district, county and regional economic development authorities, local and regional planning commissions and more.


The fact that the Council has brought forth the subject of the sale of one of the largest parcels of privately owned land in West Michigan means there will be no going back to the 90+ years of quiet coexistence of the Council and local government. The local enities have a much larger public to serve than the Council.


I believe that the Owasippe Outdoor Education Center was created as an effort to find a single solution that satisfies all interested parties. Fundimental to the OOEC effort is that the property remain zoned FR-I, not rezoned to allow residential development.


Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see the Council recind the sale and go forth with a long-range redevelopment plan for the Owasippe property. It is something that could have been done decades ago.



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I too have no expectations that a new Board of Directors will succeed in rescinding the sale agreement. My hope is that we will prevail on January 14th and a new Board will be faced with a united community opposed to the sale made up of people local to the camp and those registered CAC members here in Chicago who know the value of retaining our last piece Nature. So as not to seem duplicitous I must state that you are far more concerned with the residents of Blue Lake Township et.al. that I am. The impact of the re zoning and sale to the local community will be nothing less than devastating but the community would survive. White Hall and Holton would not become ghost towns they would become larger cities only the rural lifestyle would be lost. The loss of this camp to the youth would be irreparable. Where else does the Boy Scouts of America control close to 5000 acres on a local Council basis? We are but one camp in that area, check the going rates for a week at camp with all of them and you find BSA charges about half what everybody else does. With out Owasippe most of the boys we serve will not have the opportunity to get back to Nature in a controlled, organized, and educational environment. This is in deed and in fact MY camp, I paid for it with over 20 summers of attendance and countless hours of service and will fight with every available opportunity to prevent anyone from selling it to pad the bank account.

The likelihood of CAC being merged due to the falling numbers is very real and it will only be with the complete cooperation of any future Board that the OOEC will come to be realized. You could win the day in Blue Lake and loose the camp in Chicago. Together we can yet triumph.



For those unfamiliar with our fight, the OOEC is a not for profit entity set up to create a self sustaining preserve which will be free of BSA Corporate greed. We hope to actually buy the camp and get it away from Board influence.


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When the volunteers in a Council have to take that COuncil to court because the Council leadership REFUSES to follow corporate bylaws, something is very wrong.


CORS and other voting reps deliberately and consciously did NOT "approve" the two slates of candidates the CAC put up for a vote. THe only choice they are given was to vote "for" or "Against" the WHOLE slate of handpicked candidates. The duly chosen reps and COR's voted AGAINST - twice. The Executive Board refused to allow other candidates - candidates that the reps and COR's WANTED to vote for - to be chosen by their hand-picked "nominating committee."


ONLY by going to court were the members of CAC able to get BSA CAC to do what they SHOULD have done all along. THis case points out the absurd claims made that BSA Councils "represent" their volunteers and are responsive to them. When volunteers have to go to court to make this point, it is a sad day for Scouting. The hypocrisy of BSA claims to "represent" their volunteers couldn't be clearer.


BSA will be facing a number of court actions in the upcoming year which will further make this point.

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  • 2 months later...

Here is an update on the Owasippe property status.


The Blue Lake Township Planning Commission voted to not recommend the residential rezoning proposal of Owasippe advanced by the Chicago Area Council. The issue now goes forward to the Muskegon Area Planning Commission for review and, following that, to the Township Board. There are several more months of consideration before the rezoning proposal has a final disposition with the Township Board.


The Township Planning Commission based their recommendation on extensive research and public comment. More than 2,600 people expressed their opinion in writing. Of that total less than 1/2% were in favor of the rezoning proposal. 99%+ clearly let the Commission know that there should be no change to the zoning and Master Plan of the township that would allow residential development of the Owasippe property.


The current zoning for the almost 7.5 square miles of Owasippe is for forest recreational use by institutions. This zoning applies to Owasippe as well as four other camps, operated by other not-for profits, located within the Township.


The Muskegon Area-wide Plan (MAP Project, 2003) has established the following community goals that are relevant to the future of the Owasippe property:


a)Promote natural resource based tourism and the countys quality of life as an economic development tool.


b)Encourage partnerships with government, local organizations and businesses to help achieve local and regional economic development goals.


c)Protect the valuable farm and forestlands, wetlands, surface and groundwater resources, wildlife habitat, and opportunities for passive and active recreation.


d)Limit adverse impacts on environmentally sensitive lands by encouraging redevelopment and increasing densities in cities, where necessary and desired.


e)Protect and preserve natural resources and continually improve the quality of air, water and land resources found in Muskegon County.


f)Foster increased environmental sensitivity and voluntary stewardship through public-private partnerships, federal-state-local cooperation and public education and outreach.


g)Identify strategies that will manage growth and support reinvestment in urban areas and promote rural viability.


h)Link natural resource protection with development to reduce loss of important natural resources and open spaces in urban and rural areas.


i)Develop policies and regulations to address the quantity and quality of water resources.


j)Mitigate environmental and human health impacts to important natural resources.


k)Protect the watersheds and shorelines of Lake Michigan and the inland lakes of Muskegon County.


l)Develop integrated and coordinated land use planning in rural areas to revitalize small towns. Link natural resource protection with residential development and maintain working landscapes (agricultural, natural resource tourism, forestry, etc).


m)Develop policies to ensure land is available to provide employment opportunities, variety of housing types, open space and natural areas, and access to goods and services based on future projected needs.


n)Encourage compatible land use plans between adjacent jurisdictions by updating land use plans, zoning ordinances and regulations.


o)Work collaboratively to encourage economic diversity throughout the region and reduce competition between communities.


p)Prioritize water and wastewater facility improvements consistent with the distribution of the regions population, employment and planning while emphasizing water conservation and reuse.


q)Provide infrastructure systems in both urban and rural communities utilizing existing infrastructure capacity where it exists before developing new infrastructure.


r)Promote coordination and enhancement of arts, cultural, recreation and historic resources in the county.


s)Develop partnerships between government and non-government organizations to improve the health of the environment and individuals.


It is sad that the Chicago Council made no effort to have discussions with local government officials concerning the property before advancing a residential development proposal that is so contrary to the goals of the local community. Tens of thousands of dollars have been and will continue to be spent by the Council to try and work against the desires and goals of the local community. Those are dollars that could be going towards program in the Council.


There is a vision for the Owasippe Property that has been advanced by the Owasippe Outdoor Education Center that can meet the goals of both the Council and the local community. That vision is shared at www.ooec.org.


Thank you to all who have supported the effort to preserve the Owasippe property. More work will is ahead and your continued support is needed to reach a resolution that can benefit both Scouting and the local community.






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Thanks for da update.


This is good news. If the courts and scouters can force the governance issue and finally send the Executive Board packing before the final zoning ruling comes, then all your hard work may pay off.


My understanding of the sales agreement is that it's contingent on zoning changes. And only the council has the legal standing to challenge the zoning decision. If the Executive Board chooses not to fight a negative zoning decision, then that will void the sales agreement, eh?


Never, ever have I seen such dishonorable behavior by a NFP board of directors. To have it happenin' in Scouting is just appalling.

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  • 4 months later...

Well, it's update time again. Is someone doing the outline for a novel yet?


The rank and file Plaintiffs won against the Council in Court concerning illegal governance by the Council President and Executive Committee.


Council went ahead and filed in Appeals Court.


National sent representatives in an effort to "mediate" and to get the parties to make nice with each other.


Rank and file Plaintiffs informed National's representatives that it wasn't likely that they would settle anything since they had already gained a decision in their favor.


National was sort of "blind sided" by this. They had no knowledge that the Court had already decided against the Council.


National Council informs Chicago Council and rank and file Plaintiffs that the recharter of the Chicago Council would not take place. National indicates it would liquidate the Chicago Council, including assets and divide the franchise to other surrounding Councils.

UNLESS Council and Plaintiffs agree to a reorganization plan dictated by National.


National requires the Council President plus two additional Executive Committee members removed from positions and one Executive Committee member plus two Board of Directors who were included as Plaintiffs to be removed from positions.


Also, National disbands Chicago Council's Board of Directors and reduces Council's Executive Committee to four continuing members plus six or seven new Executive Board members selected by National from surrounding Councils.


Also required was that the court actions would be stopped.


This new Executive Committee is charged with reorganizing the Council so that new Board elections can take place in January, 2007.


The interesting twist to all of this is that National has also charged the appointed Executive Committee to review the approved sale of Owasippe. Somehow National seems to have taken on the idea, fed by the former Executive Committee, that the Owasippe sale was the root of all problems in the Council.


That the Executive Committee of Chicago couldn't come up with slates of Candidates for Council positions for three years in a row appears to have been discounted in importance. That the Executive Committee kept itself in position with no election for three years also seems to not have been deemed important enough for the folks from National.


National had been contacted and asked to help resolve the situation early on in the matter. National insisted the issues were "local issues". Why was it only when a Court ruled and began the process of resolving the issues in favor of the rank and file members of the Chicago Council did National find it proper to become involved and it was no longer a "local issue"?


It is refreshing to know that efforts are now going forth to try and settle the Council into a mode that can address program improvements and expansion for the kids. That is job #1 for everyone.


It's just plain disappointing that National only got involved when it was clear that the rank and file had been successful in court. Is it too much to ask for the "Professionals" to respond when problems start?





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Funny how National steps in when the volunteers finally - after COURT action - manage to vote out their current leadership.


The VOLUNTEERS were following bylaws, while Council leadership did not. But now, even after winning in court and getting court to order new elections with a slate of candidates that the VOLUNTEERS chose through a nominating committee according to bylaws, the VOLUNTEERS once again lose ANY voice in things.


Somehow NATIONAL is now choosing who runs things. How is this possible? THE VOLUNTEERS once again have no voice in what will be happening. How is this?


Why didn't National simply let things go forward - according to bylaws. LET the elections go forward with the candidates the VOLUNTEERS wanted....... but then the VOLUNTEERS may end up doing something National doesn't want done.......


Anyone still believe that BSA is a representative democracy where volunteers have any real say in how things are run?

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  • 4 months later...

4 months since the last post. Here is an update.


The Boy Scouts of America (National) has now directly operated the Chicago Area Council since June 1, 2006.


The Nationally installed Chicago Council Directors have attempted to accelerate the legal efforts to achieve a sale of the Owasippe property as quickly as possible.


Critical, it appears, that the Court action be completed before there is a chance that members of the Chicago Council can vote for a Board of Directors.


The Circuit Court effort blew-up on the faces of the National and Chicago Scout Executives.


In court BSA National and the local Council has been told to follow the legally established due process of the State of Michigan.


Many thousands of dollars (from unpaid bills) are due the local governement by the National/Chicago Council according to statements filed in Court.


Can anyone dispute that more than $200,000.00 of BSA Chicago Council money has been spent, so far, in this effort?


And the band played on.







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Yah, JSchlicht, thanks for da update, eh?


Poor CAC traded one bunch of goons for another. Is there a date set for the Annual Meeting yet? Should be in the first quarter of '07, no? Problem is you'll be right back in the legal soup again with the bylaws stalemate. Yeh have the advantage of a prior case precendent, though. This time, I hope the volunteers see it through to the end. Complete with regular press releases, talk show appearances, full media blitz to go with the legal side, eh? Lots of daylight helps when folks are spendin' time lurking in shadows.


Good luck with it anyway. Keep us posted.



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The members of the Council have nothing to do with who is now operating the Council. Effective this past June 1 National took over the Chicago Council.


The ultimatum given by National was going to be either an immediate liquidation of the Council or no resistance to an imposition of an Operating Committee selected by National. That was the no-compromise edit of the National Council.


Seven people from outside the Chicago Council were selected by National to operate the Council and four other people with Council membership were selected to round out the operating committee.


All Professional staff was retained by National.


The Scouter 11 (who won the court case against the Chicago Council) were informed by National that the Chicago Council would be not be rechartered and cease to exist on June 1, 2006. That was unless the Scouter 11 stopped the legal activities to enforce the court judgement against the Chicago Council.



Your message in part said, "This time, I hope the volunteers see it through to the end. Complete with regular press releases, talk show appearances, full media blitz to go with the legal side, eh? Lots of daylight helps when folks are spendin' time lurking in shadows."


I have to say this type of comment is way out of line. It is being critical of a group of volunteers who reached very deep into their own pockets, and gave much more than 'an hour per week' to go after what can only be called a proven corrupt Boy Scout Council. Proven corrupt by a Judge.


The Scouter 11 action was not done for the amusement and entertainment of sports fans. It was a damn serious effort to right a wrong and try and get Scouting in Chicago refocused on the youth it should be serving.


In this instance any Monday Morning Quarterbacking of what was done by those 11 individuals belittles the effort they agonized over doing. Those guys and gal stepped-up and put their reputations as well as their dollars on the line for the youth who could be served by the BSA in Chicago.


As you can tell the result of the Scouter 11 effort was an embarrassment to the National Council. National did the only thing that a self-serving bully could do.....take their ball home.



The Chicago Area Council now appears to be operating totally outside the laws of the State of Illinois that govern not-for-profit organizations in that State. The Chicago Council continues to solicit and accept hundreds of thousands of dollars under the guise that they are a legal entity operating under the laws of the State of Illinois.


In my opinion the Attorney General of the State of Illinois has not taken the proper action to protect the interests of the people of Illinois. By allowing the BSA to come into the State and run a not-for-profit without following the by-laws of the organization and laws of the State of Illinois is just plain wrong.


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