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Church State Issues

ADOT mixing government and religion in Boy Scout project????

Sep 23, 2013

Arizona Republic

While technically the Boy Scouts are not a religious group they refuse to admit atheists and gays to their group.

For those two reasons alone the government should not be giving them money.

And of course giving money or government aid to a group which will use it for religious purposes is a violation of the Arizona Constitution.

It is also a violation of the Arizona Constitution for the government to discriminate. And in this case they are giving money or aid to the Boy Scouts who discriminate against atheists and gays.

ADOT aids Scouts with free labor, roadwork

By Craig Harris The Republic | Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:04 PM

The Arizona Department of Transportation has donated hundreds of hours of labor to the Boy Scouts of America at taxpayer expense, teaching new ADOT employees during the past two weeks how to use heavy equipment while making improvements to a northern Arizona camp the youth organization operates.

Officials from both organizations called the partnership a “win-win,” saying the state is able to train 20 employees on graders, loaders, skid steers (also known as Bobcats) and dump trucks in real-life situations, while the Scouts get much-needed roadwork and other improvements at Camp Raymond in Parks, between Flagstaff and Williams.

But a resident near the camp said he was concerned that the Boy Scouts are getting preferential treatment with state resources.

“If they were working on state roads, I would not have a problem with it because it’s beneficial to taxpayers,” said Bill Fry, a camp neighbor who has been at odds with the Scouts over loud noises from its shooting range. “But this is for the benefit of a private enterprise.”

The state has not placed a monetary value on the improvements at Camp Raymond and other Scout camps that have similarly benefited from ADOT training exercises the past few years. A video explaining the program on ADOT’s website two years ago suggested comparable work done privately would require the Scouts to spend $100,000.

“The primary benefit is what the agency accomplishes in training our employees to safely operate this equipment, since they will later be sharing highway work zones with drivers,” said Doug Nintzel, an ADOT spokesman. “You likely can’t place a dollar value on that.”

The arrangement has been in effect for several years and began at the suggestion of an ADOT employee who is a scoutmaster, officials said.

The Boy Scouts’ Grand Canyon Council is a federally registered non-profit organization that runs Camp Raymond and other Arizona facilities. It has $13.6 million in net assets, according to its recent financial disclosure forms.

The organization for the past two weeks fed 32 ADOT employees and housed 12 of them, with most of those being instructors. The Boy Scouts also are offering classroom space. The training ended Friday.

“It helps the state save money, and saves us tens of thousands of dollars,” said Suzanne Herrmann, chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Council. “We offered up our facilities to train their operators.”

Nintzel said the state is saving about $10,000 on meals provided by the Scouts, and the lodging is free for some ADOT employees. The state, however, paid at least $14,318 in lodging for 20 of the employees classified as students who stayed at a Fairfield Inn in Flagstaff.

Nintzel said the training is needed, and the state would have had to absorb some cost regardless of where it occurred.

“We are able to combine the classroom space with hands-on equipment training that you can’t get in a parking lot or a maintenance yard in Phoenix,” he said.

Nintzel said the partnership began in fall 2011, when ADOT needed a place to train. Tim Wolfe, an ADOT maintenance district engineer who is also a scoutmaster, suggested working with the Boy Scouts.

The first three training sessions were held at Camp Geronimo north of Payson. The state agency also has done work at the Heard Scout Pueblo in Phoenix and the R-C Scout Ranch facility near Payson. The recent work on Camp Raymond is the agency’s sixth maintenance academy with the Scouts.

Nintzel said ADOT is open to examining new ideas or offers from other groups to conduct training if they can provide classroom space and an environment similar to the Scout camps, which are closed during state training. He added that the state cannot send new employees directly out in the field until they learn how to use the equipment.

“The fact is, training costs money,” Nintzel said. “These camps have provided great training locations and allowed our maintenance districts to train as many as 20 new employees at one time on how to safely use heavy equipment.”