Friday, May 24, 2013

Boy Scouts Luck Out Again

This isn't about the new policy which I support along with the response and position of the LDS Church in this matter. We'll see how it comes out in the long run.

What this is about is "A Scout is trustworthy . . .obedient . . . clean . . . and morally straight." Remember, I'm not talking about the "policy."

My wife does a lot of work for the Scouts on both the Council and National levels. My service is mostly at the local level as Scout Committee Chair. But sometimes my wife consults with me and I help out a little in editing or writing. You might say I am her "ghost writer" but as she takes no name-recognition credit for the work she does, I'm sort of a ghost of a ghost.

One of the projects she was working on for the Great Salt Lake Council was to get the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award program going. This is a recognition for an outstanding (i.e., "distinguished") adult in the community who exemplifies the values of Scouting like those mentioned above. The Council tried to set it up to make Eagle Scout Mark Shurtleff, also Utah State Attorney General, the first recipient and then to serve on the committee to award this honor to others. Well, it didn't work out because of the Attorney General's busy schedule and the fact that he was receiving treatment for cancer at the time which is apparently now in remission. He is no longer Attorney General either, having been replaced in the last election by his chosen favorite, John Swallow.

And Attorney General John Swallow is interesting because there are all kinds of stories swirling and even calls for his resignation because of alleged ties to certain Utah con-men who are successful Internet fraudsters. Well, at least until they get caught. But if caught by Swallow or his predecessor Shurtleff, maybe it's not such a problem.

So today I read in the Salt Lake Tribune that a recording has surfaced with Shurtleff, as Attorney General, having breakfast with some guy and supposedly planning on getting him money from a couple of these fraudster guys. I had to read through it twice before I could understand ("follow the money"). Now, we all know even public officials accused of inappropriate behavior (such as conspiring to pay bribes along with abuse of public office) are innocent until proven guilty, getting caught on tape appearing to do such does not help you be a distinguished pillar of Scouting ideals.

The funny thing is that when my wife needed help in writing up a summary of Shurtleff's accomplishments in order to present the proposed award, I thought it would be good for me to show a little bipartisan spirit and do something for someone I wouldn't necessarily agree with. And I did like Shurtleff as he was one of the few in Utah who would reach across the Republican partisan divide to work with the few Democrats in state government. He also was a firm supporter of the Utah Compact much to his credit as it's been rejected by many Utah Republicans (Utah County, I'm talking to you). So after I did a little internet searching and my wife worked with Shurtleff's Administrative Assistant in the AG's Office, we came up with enough info for me to prepare this draft:
Mark Shurtleff
Attorney General
State of Utah

Mark has dedicated his life to the support of the youth of the State of Utah, the United States, and the World.  His dedication to the Boy Scouts of America in local units and in his public service on behalf of all the people of Utah extends to a national and international influence in support of values he learned as an Eagle Scout.

Below is a sampling of the volunteer work he has provided and positions on public interest boards as examples of his influence:       
Board of Directors, America-Israel Friendship LeagueBoard; Member Constitutional Defense Council; Board of Directors, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Association; Board Member, Utah Citizens Against Pornography' Honorary Chair, Utah Mentor Network; Board Member, Utah Prosecution Council; Board of Directors, Washington Legal Foundation; Board of Directors, National Commission Against Drunk Driving; Board Member, Police Athletic League; Board Member, Rape Recovery Center; Volunteer, Anti-Drug Lecturer; Volunteer, At-Risk Youth Mentor; Youth Sports Coach, Basketball/Soccer/Volleyball/Softball; Former Chair, Conference of Western Attorneys General; Former Member, National Association of Attorneys General, Executive Committee; Various positions in support of Scouting in his local unit
Mark’s professional career has been principally in the area of public service beginning with the U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate Corps, out of law school:
Officer/Attorney, United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, 1985-1990Assistant Attorney General, State of Utah, 1993-1997Deputy County Attorney, Salt Lake County, 1997-1998Attorney General, State of Utah, 2000-present [2013]
As part of these public duties Mark also served as a Law Enforcement/Corrections Instructor and a Small Claims Judge Pro Tempore, Third District Court of Utah.

As a sampling of awards Mark has received:
The George Wythe College Statesman Award; The Stand for Decency Champion of Children Award; The Citizens for Families Utah's Protector of Children Award; The Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Award of Excellence in Government; The Equality Utah Allies for Equality Award; The Utah Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs Helping Hand Award; BYU J. Rueben Clark Law School Distinguished Service Award; Utah Press Association Honorary Publisher
While political careers by their very nature create controversy, Mark has remarkably been elected to the first-ever, third term as Utah Attorney General with an increasing percentage of the vote through three elections. Most recently, he reached out through party and cultural lines to promote the Utah Compact, a unique approach to the issues surrounding immigration that he recently presented to the White House.

Mark’s public service and political career began early at Brighton High School where he served as student body president during his senior year.  While not as political, he was also a member of "The Buds," a group of high school friends that stayed together through college at Brigham Young University and performed as a barbershop quartet. As quoted in the Deseret News, a fellow “Bud” explained, "We were just a bunch of friendly guys that palled around and tried to make girls laugh." During his college years, Mark took time off to serve a volunteer, two-year, church mission in Peru.

Most important in Mark’s life is his family and his dedication to his wife M’Liss and their five children. Recently, Mark has become a hero to family and community, regardless of political persuasion, as they support him in his courageous battle with cancer. As a visible symbol, two sons and a son-in-law recently joined with Mark in shaving their heads to match their dad when he was receiving treatments.
This is really, really sad. Innocent until proven guilty, yes. But I think the Scouts may have just lucked out big time by not presenting that award. If he were to be convicted, they'd have to ask for it back on that "morally straight" business. Please Mark, come clean.

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