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Chipotle backs out of Scout-O-Rama event, citing policy on discrimination

Published March 20, 2013 7:11 am

Donations • Great Salt Lake council says it's close to $70K target for big May fundraiser.
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Chipotle Mexican Grill pulled its sponsorship Tuesday from the Utah Scout-O-Rama, which had suffered from sagging contributions but is narrowing on its target of $70,000.

The Great Salt Lake Council, one of three of the largest Boy Scouts of America councils, started ticket sales Saturday for its big annual fundraiser — the Scout-O-Rama in May. Donations had been way behind, with just $8,000 collected of the targeted $70,000, according to a March 5 email sent to hundreds of Scout leaders.

But Rick Barnes, Great Salt Lake Scout executive, said Tuesday the email was "wrong and the sponsors are in place and we're probably at $65,000."

Chipotle "pulled out but the show will go on," said Barnes, who added that the restaurant chain donated about $4,250 in food coupons.

In an interview last week with The Salt Lake Tribune, Chipotle Mexican Grill spokesman Chris Arnold, said the company would supply food for the event. But that changed after corporate leaders became aware of it, he said. He explained the decisions about community support can be made at the restaurant level or by regional marketing staff.

"When our leadership became aware of this sponsorship, we quickly decided to terminate it because of our anti-discrimination policy, which [includes sexual orientation]," Arnold wrote Tuesday in an email to TheTribune. "The decision to terminate the sponsorship was made because it is inconsistent with our anti-discrimination policy."

The Boy Scouts of America, which bans gay youths and leaders, last week sent surveys to 1.1 million Scouts and their families around the nation asking whether to change that policy.

In the leader's guide for Utah's Scout-O-Rama, a list of "sponsors and partners" includes the Clark Planetarium, owned by Salt Lake County, which has a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] anti-discrimination policy.

In a statement Tuesday, the planetarium said it "participates at this event with a booth featuring materials advertising the astronomy merit badge program for Boy Scouts. It is part of the Planetarium's mission to advance science education."

The Utah Grizzlies, which are owned in part by West Valley City, are also listed. West Valley City passed an LGBT anti-discrimination policy in 2010. West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, who has advocated for such protections against discrimination, could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.

The Utah Jazz and the Salt Lake Bees sports teams, owned by the Larry H. Miller Group, are also named as sponsors or partners. The Miller Group also owns KJZZ, which has an nondiscrimination policy that includes "sexual orientation."

Other Scout-O-Rama sponsors include the Utah Blaze, IC Communication Group, Recreation Outlet, and Chuck-A-Rama Buffet.

The Great Salt Lake Council comprises more than 75,000 youths and 31,700 adult volunteers in Tooele, Summit, Salt Lake and south Davis counties.

Craig Greenberg, the council volunteer who sent the March 5 email, confirmed he was given the fundraising figures from the council. Scout executive Barnes did not elaborate on what he asserted was incorrect about the email.

The Scout-O-Rama — a gathering of about 20,000 people with Scout-run booths that showcase what the boys have done during the past year and a Pinewood Derby — will be held May 4 at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.

rparker@sltrib.com

Twitter: @rayutah