scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Government investigates Scouts' membership figures (2/2)
Mike Montalvo (mike_montalvo@YAHOO.COM
Sun May 14 2000 - 06:57:04 CDT
Mr. Godsey said raw membership numbers still are used to calculate
United Way donations to Circle Ten, but he added that the funding
formula has been changed in recent years to shift emphasis away from
"Their current status with us is outstanding," Mr. Godsey said. "At
this point, we believe in the program. We believe it's doing great
things in the community."
A more significant portion of Circle Ten funding - nearly 25 percent -
comes from parents and small community groups responding to direct
solicitations. Mr. Galipp and others said they have given dozens of
fund-raising speeches to civic groups based on a prepared script that
Circle Ten encourages them to use.
One such script obtained by The News, from 1998, asked donors for money
based on a formula that used a membership total of 70,000 Scouts. The
script asked donors for at least $85 each, the amount said to be needed
to support each Scout.
Dave Walker, a volunteer who heads a Circle Ten district that includes
parts of North Dallas, Farmers Branch and Carrollton, said membership
figures are used in the talks.
"We talk about the 30,000 inner-city boys and Rocky Mountain Highs
[camping trips]," he said.
One funding effort, the "Friends of Scouting" campaign, is in progress.
The goal for this year's campaign, which includes small group
presentations, breakfasts with corporate leaders and mail
solicitations, is about $2 million, the volunteers have been told.
Circle Ten has spent millions of dollars in recent years to upgrade its
area camps and facilities. Projects include a 114-foot-long water slide
and a swimming pool big enough for canoe training at Grayson Camp on
Lake Texoma. This year, the council is putting the finishing touches on
"Cub World," a camp in Duncanville that includes giant castles, pirate
ships, and space and American Indian theme villages.
Mr. Draper wrote in his 1998 letter to national Boy Scouts officials
that he was coming forward with his allegations only reluctantly. Mr.
Walker, Mr. Galipp and others, including the current employee, said
they have confronted ranking Boy Scouts officials separately.
"First of all, let me say that the lid I am about to take off the
Circle Ten Council is not one that I do with ease," Mr. Draper wrote.
"But fortified in the belief that the course I have chosen is the right
one and the best for Scouting in the Dallas, Texas area, it is time to
be proactive, do what's right, and let the consequences follow."
Mr. Draper concluded that what he called "bogus" membership "flies in
the face of what Boy Scouts of America stands for - integrity, Scout
Oath and Law, and all that is needed in this society."
About two weeks later, Mr. Draper received a two-sentence reply letter
from Ronnie Holmes, assistant regional director of operations for the
Boy Scouts' southern region.
"We take your letter very serious and I will follow up immediately,"
Mr. Holmes wrote.
Neither Mr. Holmes nor Boy Scout officials at the organization's
national headquarters in Irving returned telephone calls for this
Mr. Draper and the current Boy Scouts employee, who spoke only on
condition of anonymity, said council executives told about 40 employees
during a meeting about two weeks later that an internal audit found few
irregularities and that they should forget the matter.
Instead, the two said, they quietly gathered evidence during the
balance of 1998 and brought it to the Dallas Police Department's fraud
unit in June 1999.
Former Police Chief Ben Click told The News that he referred the matter
to federal authorities because he sat on Circle Ten's board and the
department sponsors an active troop, and he wanted to avoid the
appearance of any conflict of interest.
Mr. Draper said he has given documents to authorities and has been
interviewed by the Postal Inspection Service. The investigation has
since expanded to include volunteers. Mr. Walker said he was
interviewed Wednesday morning and handed over membership rosters.
The troop rosters checked by The News included that of Troop 814.
Circle Ten records from last October listed 63 boys and scoutmaster
Zulma Ramirez, an Oak Cliff mother.
Contacted recently, Ms. Ramirez said she's not involved in Scouting.
"No! No! That's like fraud," she said when told she was listed as
scoutmaster. "There's not a troop. I shouldn't be listed."
Council literature claims more than 18,000 adult leaders involved in
Scouting. Like a number of other adults contacted who are listed as
Circle Ten troop leaders, Ms. Ramirez said she attended a Boy Scouts
recruiting meeting two years ago and filled out applications for
herself and two sons. She said she has continued to receive
Scouting-related mail, but no Scouting official ever contacted her.
It's unclear whether Troop 814 exists. No other adults listed as
members could be reached. Many phone numbers and addresses were omitted
from the rosters.
Yolanda Barner, another area mother, told a similar story.
A 1999 roster shows that Ms. Barner is cubmaster for Pack 197's 19 Cub
Scouts, including her son. Ms. Barner, however, said the pack never
took hold after an initial meeting and was abandoned about December
1998. A February 2000 roster shows that Pack 197 grew to 21.
"It really wasn't a positive experience," she said. "We didn't last
Bessie Johnson is listed in 1999 as a leader of Cub Pack 003 and its 13
members. A February 2000 membership lists 28 members for Pack 003.
She said she and her son attended one meeting last year and filled out
"We've been trying to locate who's in charge," Ms. Johnson said. "We're
not active at all."
Mr. Draper said he gave federal authorities information that Hassell
Elementary was listed as a current troop sponsor. The school near Fair
Park was demolished in 1990. He and the current Boy Scouts official
said they also found one Scout on the rolls who is now 30 years old and
has a family. At the man's old home address, his elderly mother told
whistle-blowers that she wondered why she was still receiving Boy
Scouts material in the mail after all these years.
Despite such stories, Scouting is alive and well in some parts of
southern Dallas, supporters say.
For 30 years, scoutmaster Thomas Lipscomb has run one of the black
community's largest and most prominent troops. He boasts that Troop 167
has produced almost 90 Eagle Scouts over the years. The troop is used
in many of Circle Ten's recruiting advertisements.
Asked about Circle Ten's claim that 28,000 Scouts participate in the
inner-city program, Mr. Lipscomb said the number seemed high. But he
added that keeping a troop healthy and active in the inner city is a
constant struggle against poverty and peer pressure.
"A lot of minority leaders just don't have the time because they're
working," he said. "It's a dedication, especially for minorities
because we have so many distractions."
Another Scout leader, Mark Baker, said the recruiters came to Daniel
Webster Elementary School in Oak Cliff, where he teaches, last November
and made Cub Scouts out of 19 very appreciative first-, third- and
fourth-graders. He said Pack 648 has met nearly every week since it was
established. The Cub Scouts have been on four campouts and have taken a
number of out-of-town trips.
"I enjoy it very much, and the kids benefit overwhelmingly," Mr. Baker
said. "It's not just recreation, either; it's education, memorizing,
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