What does it mean to be a Boy Scout in 2012?

I can’t believe some of the things I’m reading about the Boy Scouts in recent days. I am not a former Scout myself, though I was a short-time member of what at the time known as the Sea Explorers (now Sea Scouts). However, I think the issues at hand affect us all and the way they are being handled put a huge black mark on the entire Scout movement in the US.

First, this article about sex abuse involving Boy Scout troop leaders in Sonoma County. Quoted in part below:

An Oregon court made public Thursday thousands of pages of confidential records compiled by the Boy Scouts on sex-abuse allegations involving more than 1,200 adult leaders from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. The database, a blacklist known internally as the “perversion files,” contains dossiers on six alleged molesters on the North Coast — four in Sonoma County and two in Mendocino County.


“It’s a double whammy: First that this happened, and then that nothing was done about it,” said Cheney, a deputy with 22 years at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

The story goes on to detail what has been done to keep this from happening again. I’d certainly like to know why someone sat on this for as long as they did. We, the people of decent society, have the right to timely justice.

And then, Ryan Anderssen being denied the Eagle Scout award he earned fair and square, simply because he is gay. Ryan rejoined scouting after dropping out due to bullying due to his sexual orientation. Leaders of his troop encouraged him to come back. And now that he does, it’s the adults in effect doing the bullying by refusing to approve his Eagle Scout award.

This is nothing short of outrageous, and is clearly un-Scout-like and un-American on the part of the local troop and Boy Scouts of America. The BSA enjoys a unique status as one of the few Title 36 Federally chartered organizations. The fact that the BSA’s spokesperson cited a breach of “Duty to God” on Ryan’s part (a stretch at best, and a creative interpretation of the Bible at worst), may very well push the boundaries of church and state. I am disgusted that an organization which claims to be about establishing character in our nation’s youth would discriminate in this fashion. I also believe we don’t need to reference a specific religion to teach values; to keep Title 36 status, the BSA should be required to strike out all references to God and/or the Bible and replace them with what they really mean to say.

As a sidenote, Little League Baseball is also Title 36. If they tried the same thing, the cries of outrage would be deafening from coast to coast. So why is the BSA getting away with it?

Does a professional have to be paid to have credibility?

After my recent election-related post, the Houston Chronicle published a piece regarding the Precinct 1 Constable election. And I couldn’t help but notice this quote:

“We don’t need a volunteer running the constable’s office,” [Danna] said. “We need a full-time, professional peace officer, and that’s what I’ve been for 18 years.'”

The reference here is to Alan Rosen’s status as a reserve officer, which is a volunteer position. The implication is that Alan is less qualified simply because he is a volunteer, not being paid for his current job. As someone with a lengthy volunteer history, I find the implication a bit offensive; one can take pride in one’s work and do it in a professional manner, even if not being paid for it.

I originally was not going to bring this up, but it is worth noting that Mr. Danna’s daughter and the treasurer of his campaign, Monica Danna, was the lead organizer of WordCamp Houston 2010 and in fact was just mentioned in this blog not too long ago for her dubious handling of the proceeds from that event, which were to be awarded as a college scholarship. The difference between my criticism of Ms. Danna as an organizer and Mr. Danna’s attack of Alan Rosen, however, is that my criticism was based on an evaluation of the merits of Ms. Danna’s performance and the facts I had available at the time. I further believe that Mr. Danna could and should have made a better choice for the treasurer of his campaign.

Originally, my criticism of Ms. Danna’s handling of the WordCamp Houston proceeds was based on the assumption that she and the other organizers simply sat on the funds without looking for a student for the scholarship to be awarded to. I have since learned that there was an attempt to publicize the search for a student to award the scholarship so, but if I was looking for this and never saw it, I question whether or not it happened. My formal inquiry as to where and when this was publicized has yet to be answered, and may have been ignored. (I will follow up on these later developments in more detail in a later post, but I suspect whichever organizer(s) ultimately received the inquiry may be intentionally withholding answers until after the election, realizing full well it’s relevant to political commentary. I’m not going to fall for that, and any publicist with the experience level comparable to that of Ms. Danna should know better than to do that.)

If Monica Danna cannot handle simple publicity better than a rookie flack, she has no business running an event like WordCamp Houston or the treasury of a political campaign, even if it is her father’s.

If Joe Danna lacks the good judgment to not attack his opponent based merely on whether that opponent’s current job is paying, he has no business being the leader of a law enforcement agency, and dare I say it, may well have no business even carrying a badge and a gun himself.

And my response to Mr. Danna’s tweet, stating in part: “Pct. 1 needs a law enforcement professional; NOT a volunteer/investor”? It reads as follows: Precinct 1 needs a law enforcement professional, not a politician. Alan Rosen is a law enforcement professional; Joe Danna is a politician, and not even that great of a politician at that.

My endorsements/positions for election 2012 (Houston/Harris County)

As much as I have written about government issues, I haven’t written much about my positions on upcoming elections. This one is a big one with a lot at stake, though, so I need to weigh in on a few of the races (not all of them).

First is the election for Harris County Constable Precinct 1. I am officially endorsing Alan Rosen for this position; his past experience and the list of other endorsements (including the Houston Police Officer’s Union, former Houston mayor Lee Brown, and four members of Houston City Council) leads me to believe he is the best candidate for the position. (By contrast, the majority of Joe Danna’s short list of endorsements are from people within the Republican party; see for yourself.) I also support Alan’s creation and enforcement of a new ethics policy and his endeavor to have a work environment with fair and equal treatment for all employees (from the LWV Houston guide). This is a big one for me, as even though I currently do not live in Precinct 1, I am frequently traveling through it. Unfortunately, you have to actually live in the precinct to vote in the election.

Next, the election for Harris County Constable Precinct 2. I endorse Chris Diaz, primarily for his plan to maximize efficiency among the various local law enforcement agencies.

On to the Metro referendum regarding the General Mobility Plan. I am against this as I believe it is not Metro’s job to handle road maintenance and Metro’s taxes should be used primarily for mass transit and HOV/HOT lanes.

I am in favor of all five Houston bond propositions (A, B, C, D, and E).

Finally, I support re-electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden. They are unlikely to carry Texas, but I will be voting for them on principle anyway.