Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Outing Scouts

In what has become a mess of red tape and legal fees, the potential settlement between the Boy Scouts of America and the city of Philadelphia has resulted in the potential sale of the property to the private organization for $500,000. In exchange for the low ticket price, the Scouts would drop their law suit against the city in which they obligate the tax payers to shell out nearly a million dollars in legal fees.

Well, a local real estate mogul may have offered another solution. Mel Heifetz has offered the city $1.5M, which would cover both the Scout's offer for the building and their law suit. Heifetz does not want to develop the property, but donate it to an organization that does not discriminate. Heifetz also paid off the mortgage on the William Way Center, a nonprofit resource for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

The Boy Scouts of America local headquarters, the Cradle of Liberty branch, at 22nd and Winter.

Mayor Nutter has previously supported the initial settlement saying that it will put an end to a nasty legal battle that drew national support for both sides of the case. Unfortunately the settlement also acknowledges the administration's disregard for the city's own ban on discrimination that includes sexual orientation.

The scenario's legal complications come from the fact that a private organization that operates under it's own rules, which include discriminating based on sexual orientation, has been allowed to operate in a government owned facility for nearly a century. The city attempted to demand rent from the Scouts, which resulted in the Scout's lawsuit against the city.

In the end, the building will either belong to the Boy Scouts or to Mr. Heifetz. In either scenario it will be owned privately and no longer subject to the city's anti-discrimination policies. The city now has the choice, to either pay a settlement to the Scouts and uphold its own policy, or to practically give away this historic building so that the administration may absolve itself from its own responsibilities.

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