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Public Eye


When the Shooks Run Coordinated Community Partnership invited the Boy Scouts to talk about the 90-year-old club, group co-chair Becky Cramer wasn't really thinking about the chances that it would happen less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the organization may legally ban gay men.

A handful of Colorado Springs gay and lesbian activists were up in arms over the talk this week, entitled "90 Years of Scouting." The speech was scheduled to be delivered by local Boy Scout executive Wendy Shaw to the homeowner's group during their regular monthly meeting.

Cramer said she scheduled the talk before the Supreme Court ruling and, truth be told, wasn't entirely familiar with the controversy. While she is appreciative of the Boy Scouts for allowing her group to use their building at 525 E. Uintah Avenue for meetings, she also has no problem with demonstrators who might show up in protest. "If anyone wants to come and make a statement, that's fine," she said.

But 69-year-old Roy Rylander, who lives in the neighborhood, thinks he'll skip it.

"I told them I doubt I would be attending because I fear that what I have to say would get me hauled out of there to the county [jail] in leg irons," said Rylander, a former Scoutmaster.

Two decades ago, after nearly 30 years as a Scoutmaster, Rylander was forced to look at the Boy Scouts in an entirely new light. The episode occurred when a member of his troop, an Eagle Scout, went off to college, came home at the end of the year and told the group he was gay and proud of it.

No big deal, until the higher-ups got wind.

"They were going to pull his ranks, including his Eagle Scout and his God and Country award," Rylander said. "I said, 'No you're not -- he earned it and they are his for the rest of his days.'

"So we all pulled out and disbanded the troop."

The gay Eagle Scout is now a physicist at the prestigious Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island. And Rylander, the former Scout leader, says he's not bitter. Boy Scout executives can run the organization any way they want. But that doesn't mean Rylander has to subscribe to their exclusionary practices.

"They don't need us old geezers, but it's a shame that they take the [position] that as long as you're white and straight, you're alright. Especially the straight part."

Cramer noted that the Boy Scout talk was actually supposed to be only a minor portion of the meeting agenda. The Shooks Run group, which organized primarily as a vehicle to raise the visibility of School District 11 and the neighborhood's relationship with the district, has been meeting for three years and has plenty of other important issues on its plate.

About 20 people generally show up for the meetings.

This month the group also planned to talk about whether the City of Colorado Springs will break its promise not to compete with District 11 by putting measures asking for tax increases on the ballot at the same time.

That agreement was struck two years ago during the first and only meeting between the Colorado Springs City Council and members of the D-11 School Board in recent memory. The theory is that voters are less likely to approve tax hikes if more than one appear on the ballot. But recently, the city has been talking about putting another Springs Community Improvement Plan (SCIP) on this November's ballot, when D-11 is almost sure to ask for a mill levy override.

"Here is a moment when SCIP could hold off and have D-11 pass a mill levy, which it desperately needs," Cramer says. "So the community partnership will talk about whether we should independently take actions on behalf of the school district by lobbying the City Council."

The Committee for Responsible County Government isn't just urging all Republicans to vote in the Aug. 8 primary. The watchdog group wants all voters to join the Grand Old Party and vote on Aug. 8 to remove Commissioner Betty Beedy from office and ensure that she doesn't get reelected and seize majority control of the five-member board.

The bipartisan group, which formed a few years ago to monitor the activities of the elected board of commissioners, this week endorsed Chuck Brown and Jeri Howells in their reelection efforts. Both are facing challenges from candidates who are said to be Beedy clones.

And the group put its weight behind Tom Huffman, an ultra-conservative dentist who is challenging Beedy.

"We believe our county is at a critical crossroads," the group's chairman, Alfred Metzger, said in a prepared statement. "It is time to select commissioners who will work together and provide real leadership by their positive actions."


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