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highland05

Does CO ever lose rights over a unit?

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CO had chartered many units when local council was in habit of running to it to sign charters when in a bind and they needed one. When DE was asked by new IH/COR for list of all units that had ever been chartered so they could be aware, they said not to worry about it, charter was only for the year, and if the unit didn't come to the CO for a re-charter, they didn't have that unit anymore. This had led to a much larger issue with the "ownership" of a unit that was moved (with assets) to another CO without permission of old CO. What is recommended course of action legal or otherwise? Local council wants to let sleeping dogs lie. When does National get involved in local Councils doing what the handbooks say is supposed to happen?

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For the most part, the CO "owns" the unit and all of its assets while the charter is in effect. One contributor on this forum, Kahuna, has commented that they figured out a way to keep the assets of the unit separate. He might interject a thought or two on that.

 

I don't think that National really gets involved with these kinds of things. The charter "contract" is between the CO and the Council. I think that the ownership of assets is only in effect as long as the charter is. Others may know better, but here's my thought. As far as moving a unit, if it was done when the charter expired, then I don't think that there's really a problem. If it was done mid-year, then you're really supposed to get permission of the CO if you want to keep the assets. I've never heard of a CO trying to take the assets of a unit, but they'd within their rights to do so as long as the charter is in effect. I think.

 

In this case, was the unit moved while the charter was in effect? Is the CO trying to take possession of the assets of the unit?

 

In most cases like this, a responsible CO won't have a problem with moving a unit if someone takes the time to explain why the move is being done, ie, keeping them in the loop. Did that happen?

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This all comes down to How far is the old CO willing to go to regain the assets? The old CO can not force the members to come back but it does still have legal rights to all assets acquired by the unit while chartered by the old CO. The old CO has grounds to file suit for theft of property and funds. Just because a unit allows a charter to lapse does not give that unit the right to seize property. If you lease a building and allow the lease to lapse you dont take ownership of the building. Is the old CO willing to go to court to press its legal rights? The old CO would have to file suit against the CC, SM, Treasurer or CFO, and all members of the Troop Committee, seeking an accounting of funds and assets for the time the troop was chartered. Is the cost of litigation worth the return or is this a matter of principle? The Council may or may not get involved but the chances of National getting involved are so slim as to be non existent. This happened in my District and the old Co decided it was not worth the aggravation and didnt fight. The problem here was that only half the troop members left but they took most or all of the equipment and funds. LongHaul

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It sounds like the CO had provided a friendly accomodation to the scouting program in its district by lending its name only to get a unit up and running. Heck, the CO doesn't even know how many, let alone which, units it had formed. It sounds like the CO in question (hypothetical?) did not fulfill its obligations of the charter agreement beyond just signing a piece of paper. As others have mentioned, to now make an attempt to garner unit assets would be a very difficult process for the CO. Frankly, I fail to see how this CO could make a valid claim to unit assets when the CO doesn't even know what units are even involved. Its participation was truly in name only.

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It's really a moot point unless the CO wants to take legal action to recover the equipment. Usually, they could not care less, which sounds like the case here.

 

I always made it a point to acquire equipment in the name of a 501©(3) corporation that I controlled. The corporation leases it to the unit for $1.00 a year. That way, there's no issue as to the CO keeping the equipment. The public is protected, because under the laws of (I think) all states, a non-profit corporation can only transfer assets to another non-profit, so there's no question selling it to private hands and keeping the money.

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More info. This CO had chartered this particular unit for many years previously. The CC held the recharter so that it could expire. No one from unit or district level brought any info or paperwork to CO. Previous DE then left Council. IH of CO that had signed previous charter had left, new IH was not given any info or aware of situation. Come to find this out now.

Doesn't the unit operate under the auspices/pleasure of the CO and not the other way around? If this holds true everywhere, then all a unit has to do is hold their documents/recharter then go wherever they choose and the previous CO has no say.

Even BSA says that part of the reason a CO would charter a unit was to further not only Scouting aims, but also be able through Scouting to further develop CO programs to family and boys in their community. In this case, through sleight of hand and fortuitous timing the CC took everything to a new location. If this is the way that BSA conducts itself, why would a CO even bother to charter any unit at all? How can a CO protect itself?

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For a charter to expire unnoticed, a lot of people need to be asleep at the wheel. Usually, it is a top priority of the District Exec to keep a unit alive for another year.

 

Sounds like, in a nutshell, if there was property/money involved, then it's simple theft. The CC stole from the CO. The CO needs to call the police and file charges. Or at least threaten to. I don't think Council will get involved...it's between the CO and the CC.

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I wonder about the reason why the unit would break off its long-standing relationship with this CO?

 

Although as someone else pointed out, this CO doesn't sound terribly involved with its units (doesn't know what units it sponsors, even), on the other hand I see potential fault with the unit and Council for treating the CO this way too. From the account given, the council regularly relied on this CO's good will toward scouting to act as a paper sponsor when other units were in danger of folding for lack of a CO partner. And then the council didn't even inform the CO when their faux sponsorship was no longer needed?

 

At a minimum the decent thing for the unit in question to do would have been to inform the CO of their desire to change affiliations. At that point the CO and unit leaders could have worked out the details of what "stuff" the unit and CO would each keep and probably have had an amicable parting of ways. From the sound of it, this CO may be justifiably uninterested in sponsoring any future bsa units, after this experience.

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

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Based on the new info, it sounds like the CO - through the previous IH - was very much aware of this particular long-term unit. Its not a short term, can you help us out with this, unit - its a unit that the CO has had for a long time - possibly even the original unit (true?). Its often the case that when people leave an organization, they forget to impart their knowledge of things to their replacements - we don't know why the original IH left and if he had much contact with the new IH before he did though it sounds like the new IH got very little info from the previous IH but had enough info to start asking questions to get a handle on his/her new responsibilities.

 

From the new information, it looks as if the CC hijacked the unit from the CO - maybe even using the departure of the previous IH as cover hoping no one would notice. That Council did not immediately stand up and take notice that a chartered unit was allowed to lapse and recharter with a new CO without asking any questions of the previous CO shows incompetence, negligence, or both, on Councils part.

 

The IH of the previous CO should go to the Chief Scout Executive of the Council - NOT the District Executive - and demand - not ask, DEMAND - that the units charter and all of the units equipment and funds be returned immediately to the original chartered organization - remind the CSO what the CO has done for them in the past, and let them know just how damaging this could be to the Council if the CO decided to make a really big and public issue out of this whole mess (including the negative press they would get if the CO decided to press criminal charges against the CC and anyone involved in taking the CO's equipment - and it does belong to the CO).

 

CalicoPenn

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A few questions -

 

If this CO had "chartered this particular unit for many years" then I would assume that the unit was visible at the CO, and had been "for many years". Did the CO supply the unit any meeting space? During the "many years" they chartered this particular unit, did the CO do anything at all for the unit? Did the unit do anything for the CO? New IH or not, it is hard to NOT notice a bunch of boys running around in uniform!

 

Unless, this CO was on paper only, & although they had this charter for many years, they never did anything other than sign a paper & pay a fee once a year. That would explain why the unit felt it necessary to seek out a new CO (although the way they went about it was not very good).

 

One more question -

 

WHERE WAS THE COR?

 

The Charter Organization Representative is a MEMBER of the CO. He represents the CO with the unit & THE COUNCIL. For all purposes, the COR IS the CO as far as the unit is concerned. The COR, along with the unit's UC, should be involved with the recharter process. Why didn't your COR follow thru, or even inquire about it?

 

Unless, the COR did not care what the unit did, or there was no real COR, just a name on a piece of paper & that was all.

 

Highland05, you ask - " How can a CO protect itself?"

 

The answer is to be involved with the units it charters. To follow the BSA policies in regards to the running of a BSA unit. To exercise it's right to be a voting member of it's local council.

 

As Scoutldr noted, for this to have happened, a lot of people had to be asleep at the wheel. Including the CO.

 

 

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Have a question. Are you part of the CO or part of the unit that left. If not I would stay out of this mess. Leave it to the Council and the CO.

The CO legally owns the unit. Lock Stock and Barrel. If a unit leaves their CO they can not use their old Unit number or take any equipment that has been purchased with money earned my the unit.

One thing we have been doing just in case is we have had parents donate equipment. Though we see no problem with our CO there is always a chance. The Lions Club has chartered the Pack and Troop since 1948.

But unless you are part of either the CO or the Unit involved I wouldn't get involved.

 

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Lynda J,

CAREFULL with that word "donate"!!! If a parent donates equiptment it becomes property of the Pack and thereby the CO, been down this road! If the parent allowes the Pack to use personal property then the parent is liable for anything that happens related to the use of that property. This is all legal stuff but that is in fact what this thread is about. Setting up a 501(?) is really the only way to cover all the bases relating to property rights and liability.

LongHaul

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