Bob Welsh Managed To Put Both Feet In His Mouth

Only a person with a big problem would pick a fight with the Girl Scouts. Bob Welsh recently accused the Girl Scouts of being “too white”.  Now Welsh is under fire for his own racial insensitivity regarding the Girl Scouts.

The South Miami City Commission recently undertook a piece of legislation that would have given them the right to do a top-to-bottom inspection of The Little House.  The property, which is located at 6609 SW 60th Street, in a quiet residential neighborhood, includes two acres, nature trails, a house with meeting areas and restrooms with showers. There’s a fire pit out back. It’s the site of the Girls Scouts of Tropical Florida annual summer camp, as well as other functions throughout the years.

The Girl Scouts are a uniquely American institution. They were founded by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia in March 1912. In a world that told women that there were so many things they couldn’t do, Low wanted girls to be able to explore the possibilities that the world around them had in store for them.

Under Low, the Girl Scouts did things that some thought should have been reserved for boys. They hiked. They swam. They played sports like basketball, camped in the woods, and learned to tell time by the stars. Today, the Girl Scouts have 50 million alumni all across the world and 3.2 million active girl and adult members.

What the Girl Scouts excel at is teaching young women to be leaders. In a world that too often tells girls “No you can’t”, the Girl Scouts not only tell them “Yes, you can”, but “We’re going to show you how.”

Girls in our society face enormous pressures.  Depression and body image issues afflict too many young women. While suicide is rare, a recent national study showed that about 18 percent of American high school girls have thought about it.  Obesity rates are climbing for girls of all ethnic groups.  Teen pregnancies have declined in recent years, but are still alarmingly high.

What Bob Welsh claimed is nonsense. The Girl Scouts are open to every girl, regardless of her race or ethnicity. When it comes to religion, they’re more progressive than the Boy Scouts of America. The Girl Scouts do not have any requirement of faith or belief and admit girls of any or no religious belief or doctrine, regardless of the presence or absence of belief in a God or comparable higher power.

Long ago, the City of South Miami gave the Girl Scouts a 99-year lease on The Little House and a recent meeting was perceived as a first step to try to rescind the deal.  Maybe the City sees the potential sale as a source of cash to pay for some of the costly mistakes that Mayor Phil Stoddard and the City Commission have committed in recent years.

But the agenda item was enough to bring out a battalion of girls and young women in uniform — Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors — to the podium. To a person, they spoke strongly against any attempt to take The Little House away. The leadership training proved itself to be a rousing success.

It was during this meeting when Bob Welsh uttered his observation that the Girl Scouts were “too white”.  Not only is Welsh now wrong, but he has shown that his racial views are widely out of touch with the 21st century.

South Miami still struggles with its segregationist past. The town was founded with clearly delineated areas for blacks and whites.  It was both separate and unequal.  The black citizens of the City, living mainly in the Williamson neighborhood, had to push for more than 40 years to have a municipal pool built in the city.

Summers in South Miami are hot. While a lot of homes in South Miami have had swimming pools dug in backyards, very few homes in the Williamson neighborhood have them.

Swimming is a necessary skill when you live at the tip of peninsula dotted with lakes, criss-crossed with canals, and surrounded by an ocean.  A 2014 study showed that the chance that a black child would drown is five times higher than for a white child.

After a generation and a half, the City Commission approved the proposal for a municipal swimming pool.

To commemorate the fact that the City finally appropriated the funds for the pool, Bob Welsh put out a poster showing a donkey in swim trunks and a pool float with the caption “Forty acres and a Pool”.  The poster was greeted with the same enthusiasm that flyers giving directions to a cross burning might elicit.

Some in town thought it was an insensitive play on the infamous Reconstruction-era broken promise that freed slaves would receive “40 acres and a mule.”  Others weren’t circumspect and accused Welsh of racism and that the poster was a slap in the face.

Bob Welsh’s reaction? He was sorry if anyone was offended, not sorry that he came up with the stupid poster. Sorry that it got out into circulation. Sorry that people found out about it when it was posted to a local blog.  It was an apology that lacked sincerity for an action that lacked basic human decency.

We’re sorry, too. We’re sorry that Bob Welsh is a South Miami City Commissioner. There’s only one way that he could make it up to the residents of not only the Williamson neighborhood, but of every neighborhood in the City.

Resign, Bob. Show how really sorry you are by putting your signature at the bottom of a letter that says you resign immediately.

Your comments sound racist and sexist, Bob.

The City of South Miami can do so much better without you.


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16 Comments on "Bob Welsh Managed To Put Both Feet In His Mouth"

  1. Millie Herrera | April 17, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Reply

    It pains and disgusts me that in this day and age, we still have to put up with bigoted and clueless persons such as Bob Welsh. It’s especially disturbing that he holds public office.

    Yes, please, resign Mr. Welsh. You don’t represent the good people of South Miami. For shame!

  2. Philip Stoddard, Mayor | April 17, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Reply

    The City Commission, as a body, did NOT undertake any legislation regarding the Girl Scouts or the site of “Camp Little House” in South Miami I did, however, spend a productive afternoon with the Girl Scout leadership working on a plan to restore the native pineland vegetation. The Girl Scouts will be hosting an open house with s’mores and singalongs around the campfire on May 9th from 6 to 8:30 pm. Anyone with a positive attitude should come on out and join us.

  3. Sharon McCain | April 17, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Reply

    In my opinion, Comm. Welsh is not alone to blame, he is controlled by Mayor Stoddard, and votes and speaks to issues directed by Mayor Stoddard. Mayor Stoddard tells Bob when to breathe, what to say, what to sponsor when Mayor Stoddard doesn’t want his finger nails dirty, etc etc etc. In my opinion, and to be perfectly honest, I believe there should be a referendum on the ballot in November for all commissioners to “pee in cup the cup, to be undergo psychiatric evaluation prior to running for office, and full financial disclosures as to whether a commissioner has a legitimate job to pay their bills, thus assuring all residents who vote, that their taxpayer money is not going to pay for commissioners who refuse to work, and allow the taxpayers to pay for their personal health insurance, for example, Comm. Liebman has taxpayers pay for his health insurance, never in 90 years has been allowed, yet Comm. Liebman, and his safety net, City Manager Alexander (Liebman always sponsors to renew his contract before it is due, I wonder why>) refuse to answer taxpayers questions as to why they pay his health insurance and ask what does Liebman do as far as a job? Commissioner Welsh, Mayor Stoddard, Comm. Liebman, Comm. Harris, and newbie Comm. Gil, please resign, ALL PUPPETS OF MAYOR STODDARD

  4. The girl scout little house was a blessing to me when I was a brownie many moons ago. My parents were active in the building of the littlr. My father did all of the plumbing for the little house. Both he and my mother were very active in in building the little house in the 1950s. My sister and I were brownies there and my mother was leader. All those girls that got so much use out of that building I’m sure have been very grateful over the years. If the city attempts to remove the building and use it for whatever they want it will be a sad day.

  5. Sharon McCain | April 17, 2018 at 8:25 pm | Reply

    Currently the South Miami Comm. Meeting is being held and as I watched Comm. Welsh “read” from his IPad, he struggled horrifically, no doubt he was reading an email from his mentor/father figure/ none other than Mayor Stoddard. It was pretty hard to watch, after all, Comm. Puppet, oops, I meant Comm. Welsh, couldn’t even prounce simple words, so he obviously was seeing it for the first time via email. Thank you Comm. Welsh and Mahyor Stoddard for confirming my first post, below, regarding the Community Newspaper’s article wanting Comm. Welsh to resign. BTW, Mayor Stoddard our post about the Girl Scouts is a joke, you throw ever commissioner under the bus, you have Welsh become your scapegoat, and than you post on this article that you are a lover of the Girl Scouts. If there weren’t so many lawsuits against you and Welsh, personally and others that taxpayers have to fund, the sale of the Girl Scout property wouldn’t be an issue. Stoddard is a horrible business man, and so are the other cronies on the dais.

  6. Donna Shelley | April 17, 2018 at 11:11 pm | Reply

    It seems like a very long time since Robert Welsh was elected to the city Commission. I distinctly recall writing an opinion piece about his first term, asking if a person who prided himself on being a thorn in the side of politicians could successfully make the transition to what he viewed as the dark side. Apparently not. His fitness for office remains in question. However, his unique brand of outrage informed wholly by his assumptions remains unscathed. The 40 Acres and a Pool fiasco should have made the voters of South Miami question his ability to serve. It did not. Neither did the Commissioner’s vitriolic and mendacious screeds about political candidates during recent and past elections. Now he demeans the Girl Scouts by leveling charges of racism, and it would appear, general wimpy-ness for not “picking up a chainsaw” to maintain the land leased to them by the city. What next? I suggest a reprieve of his long-standing role as Bicycle Bob, private citizen.

  7. Donna Shelley | April 18, 2018 at 7:58 am | Reply

    That’s reprise of his long-standing role. Not reprieve.

  8. Sharon McCain | April 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Reply

    To South Miami Community Newspaper….. what happened to the (2) comments provided by Mayor Stoddard, oops, I meant Randall Hillard, as well as Mr. Cody’s comment, and Michael Miller’s response to Mr. Hillard>>>>>>>>>>>>Why did they disappear?

  9. Mikolay Plater-Zyberk | April 18, 2018 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    We have to restore the native pinelands at the Girl Scout property. It’s in disarray with exotics taking over. I had a chat with Comm Welsh and that is his only intention. Since the GS leadership basically told him to mind his own business, I agree for the city to look into getting this property back if they are not proper stewards.

  10. michael miller | April 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Reply

    Sharon,
    Keep looking for those comments, they’re still there. They are not hiding under a rock

  11. Mikolai, that is not true. The CEO of the Girl Scouts asked them for a meeting and instead they chose to barge in while our troop was having a meeting. This is not allowed for obvious reasons, anyone visiting Little House has to be approved ahead of time. We suspect they barged in so they could be asked to leave and then claim they aren’t being allowed on property, which is not true.

  12. The only reason South Miami wants to get the Girl ßcouts off that land is to to sell it to a housing developer of which we are already losing green space in this county. Shame on this so called commissioner and he needs to step down and has No place in ANY CITY, COUNTY,or STATE GOVERNMENT.

  13. Donna Shelley | April 23, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Reply

    To Mikolay Plater-Zyberk: First, I think reasonable people can agree to do what is best for the site’s native vegetation and Scouting. Second, how do you explain or excuse Commissioner Welsh’s racist observation that Scouting is “too white?” As I wrote in the first sentence, cooler, calmer and more productive people can make this entire issue into something positive. There is absolutely no need to begin a war with the Girl Scouts of all people. Also, I would point out that some diligence about invasive exotics growing all over the City of South Miami require the same dogged attention from Mr. Welsh. Until that happens, this reads like someone looking for an excuse to break the Girl Scout’s lease.

  14. Ramesh Nyberg | April 23, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Reply

    I grew up in South Miami in the ‘60s. I saw the ugly sides and the positive sides. The Girl Scouts, many of whom attended school with me at S. Miami Elementary, a very short walk from the Little House, represented what was good about South Miami. They taught, as Grant pointed out so well, girls how to empower themselves, and still do.
    If you want to overcome racism, my mother taught me (she was the Principal at South Miami Middle School), better YOURSELF. Mr. Welsh, try that, instead.

  15. As a resident of South Miami, I would like The Little House open to all of South Miami residents. It shouldn’t be primarily available only to GS. An arrangement can be set up with GS and any other group that wants to use The Little House, but we should definitely not grant them another 99 year lease. It needs to be available to all our children and residents!!!!!

  16. Antoinette Fischer | April 27, 2018 at 3:32 am | Reply

    Does anyone remember the Parks Master Plan Workshop process? This was not the first attempt to hijack the property and disrespect the lease. Too bad Bob is such a misogynist. I have not forgotten how Yvonne Beckman and I were treated like criminals because we asked to see the city’s former arborist’s (Doug Baker) certification because it had evidently expired years before Mr.Baker retired. Multiple requests to view his arborist certification were never honored. Finally we were shown some other papers, but never the certificate which has to come from the Worldwide Arborist Assoc.. Bob abused his role as a commissioner by giving Yvonne a very public dishonorable discharge from the Planning Board as a very spiteful form of revenge. Yvonne served with honor but she (and I) violated some code of his own creation that Bob thinks we should be forced to abide by. And now this disrespect of a most respectable and beloved institution and the lovely girls and ladies who comprise the membership. I do not forget. The Girl Scouts will not forget. These are ethics violations and more.

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