The Camp Coleman controversy continues this week as the Friends of Camp Coleman (FoCC) hunt for evidence to corroborate the claim that the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama (GSNCA) withheld property information from the board of directors.
Friday, May 17, Karen Carroll received the documents requested in a discovery motion that merited Carroll and GSNCA membership access to records — including 10,945 pages of documentation containing board minutes, profit and loss statements, etc. — justifying the council and board’s decision to close Camp Coleman.
“Those board members did not read the Chin Report. We know that he recommended to keep Coleman open,” Carroll said, referring to a property assessment report conducted by a Girl Scout USA consultant prior to the local council’s decision to divest of four of six campgrounds.
Carroll hopes the received documentation will show that the board was indeed ill informed and therefore unable to wisely vote on the sale of GSNCA property.
“I know board members that have been on the board before the annual meeting are beginning to ask questions, because they realize they weren’t given all the information. So, hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of this and figure out what’s driving this — and hopefully stop it.”
Simply receiving the documentation has been a major battle, first begun in December 2012.
On April 29, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Don Blankenship ordered GSNCA to release the requested documents by Monday, May 13. According to the legal team representing Carroll, Bradford and Ladner, those documents were not made available until Friday, May 17.
When Bradford and Ladner arrived May 13 to retrieve the documents, they found copies had not yet been made, despite the council’s previous claims regarding cost accrued during time spent copying.
In the March 21 letter GSNCA counsel Daniel Burnick sent to Weld regarding GSNCA efforts to comply with the discovery motion, he wrote, “GSNCA’s extensive search for documents to respond to [the petitioner’s] requests resulted in almost 11,000 pages being identified and copied.”
For many weeks, GSNCA has not responded to Weld’s interview requests and has not commented Judge Blankenship’s ruling, which denied both a GSNCA-requested protective order and a motion to dismiss the discovery petition.
“All this time,” Carroll said, “they’ve been telling us: ‘You owe us x number of hours for copying’ — only they haven’t copied anything.”
After months of this legal back-and-forth, the FoCC now has the documents in hand, yet is faced with making sense of thousands of pages of reports.
“We have about 92 stacks of huge paper,” Carroll said. “Some of it’s junk; some of it’s information we requested. And we have not had a chance to finish going through it. With all of us [members of the FoCC] working, it’s difficult for us to find a time to go and sit at the office. I plan on going all day Thursday to see what I can go through.”
Carroll and others involved in the grassroots group attempting to save Camp Coleman and restore the relationship between GSNCA council and membership spent the weekend organizing the documents.
“I don’t know what they contain — if they are everything we asked for. I don’t know until we get a chance to go through them. It’s going to take six to eight readers just to go through these pages, since we’re talking thousands of pages.”
Concerned by the time required to sort through the documentation, Carroll said, “Things were really jumbled up. There’s no rhyme, reason or order to any of it, which I’m fairly certain was planned.” Carroll is determined not allow the “jumbled mess” to deter the FoCC.
“It’s my plan to go through and see whatever is useless information or information we didn’t ask for — I’m not paying for. They can eat those copies. They did it on purpose.”
Carroll believes the GSNCA has not participated in membership transparency and the most recent “stunt” in this ongoing battle is yet another delay tactic.
At the time Weld spoke with Carroll, the FoCC had 10 days until May 31 and the impending closure of Camp Coleman. As for whether or not the FoCC’s efforts will halt the sale, Carroll said, “I just don’t know.”
Still, she and her fellow grassroots Girl Scouts intend to pursue Camp Coleman’s preservation.
“Board members finally got a special meeting called,” Carroll said. “They’ll meet on the 12th [of June], which is after the camp closes, but really, that’s the best we can do.”
The featured image for this post was shot by Scott Buttram and originally used by The Trussville Tribune.