Don't Listen to Gossip | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Don't Listen to Gossip 

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In the online comments on CityWeekly.net, C. Trentelman says he’s “a bit disturbed that the article [“Tainted Saint,” Oct. 20, City Weekly] and previous ones cited paint the Boys & Girls Club of Midvale as some place where radical abuse took place.” He says he’s a journalist, “One who learned long ago, and the hard way, why anonymous sources and disgruntled employees are not to be trusted.” He suggests I should go to the Midvale club to see his relative that works there.

The problem is that Trentelman’s relative was not there in 2002. Executive Director Bob Dunn was not there. I was there, every day. The anonymous teen Trentelman speaks of was there every day, and every day the teens were herded to an adjacent park and denied access to the club, its bathroom facilities and drinking fountains, even on days when temperatures reached triple digits.

They were “humiliated,” and for Dunn to respond to these allegations with “I have no knowledge of any such mistreatment of Midvale club members that summer” is stunning.

In a 2010 ABC News report by Matthew Jaffe, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Tom Corbin, R-Okla.; Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; and John Cornyn, R-Texas; question “whether or not a very top-heavy organization might be siphoning off federal dollars that should be going to help kids.” A press release quotes the senators as saying it is “a matter of transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayer funds and program integrity for the young Americans who are supposed to benefit from these resources.”

I don’t have a problem with executive-director salaries. My problem is when they take our money and radically abuse the children most in need of club services. The Boys & Girls Club is intended to be “a positive place,” a “safe” place for kids—nothing could have been further from the truth.

Let’s call it what it is: hypocrisy, deceit, harassment and fraud. There are penalties for this kind of “mistreatment.” And those who condoned such mistreatment need to be held accountable, as do those who obviate the truth. The “radical abuse” I witnessed at the Midvale club between 2001-2005 was akin to ’50s and ’60s civil-rights violations. And that’s the truth.

Unless Trentelman’s relative’s name is Salazar, Peak, Contreras or Thompson, Trentelman and Executive Director Bob Dunn are operating on gossip. And that’s a slippery slope. As a journalist, he should know better.

WALT HUNTER
Former gang-prevention specialist for the Midvale Boys & Girls Club
Executive Director of Kids Without a Country

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