By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
In porno parlance, to "snowball" someone is to swallow a guy's semen, then kiss him and deposit the gunk in his mouth. Why do we bring this vile practice up? Only 'cause Michael Scott Kerr insists.
Kerr, you'll remember, is the man behind Snowball Express, an organization that flew into Orange County this weekend the widows and children of soldiers who lost their lives in our War on Terror. As we pointed out before (see "A Snow Job Success," Dec. 7), we found it strange that a guy so concerned with helping out other kids doesn't care much about his own family—to the tune of $50,000 in back child support payments and an outstanding child support arrest warrant in Arizona.
Kerr dismissed our article as "old news," "untrue" and having been produced by "a local smut paper selling porno and the like" to an Oregon-based blog. But last Friday, just as hundreds of Gold Star families descended into Orange County, Kerr issued a press statement confirming the Weekly's story. He blamed his problems on drugs.
"Is it bad to be a person who has made mistakes and is now trying to do the right thing?" Kerr's statement asked. "Would it be a better story if I had just given up?"
But it was too late. The Snowball Express received mucho media coverage, but all the outlets—from National Public Radio's All Things Considered to ABC's World News Tonight to the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register—also reported on Kerr's unsavory past, in some cases uncovering more of Kerr's inconsistencies. Kerr responded by snowballing anyone and everyone he could. The short list includes:
The Saywitz Company: This Newport Beach real estate brokerage firm hired Kerr earlier this year as a senior real estate consultant before the two parted company in the fall for reasons unknown. Kerr's Saywitz bio stated he is a "licensed real estate person" in California and Arizona with a bachelor's degree from the University of California Santa Barbara. But according to the California Department of Real Estate's website, Kerr's license expired in 1993, while Arizona's Department of Real Estate website shows that the real estate license of one Michael S. Kerr expired in 1998. And NPR reporter Howard Berkes reported that UC Santa Barbara officials don't have a degree on file for Kerr. Kerr told Berkes that Saywitz botched his resume, and he told the same thing to the Register; a Saywitz spokesman told Berkes they merely posted what Kerr provided.
Karen Spears Zacharias: The Oregon resident originally volunteered for the Snowball Express as a grief counselor. It was on Zacharias' blog (spearszacharias.bravejournal.com) where Kerr originally responded to the Weekly's story. Zacharias told the Times Kerr "outright lied to me" when she asked about the Weekly article. In return, Kerr banned her from Snowball Express events after the Times story hit.
Debbie Gregory: Gregory owns militaryconnection.com, a website directory of services for veterans and soldiers. She was an early supporter of Snowball Express, securing coverage in military publications. But Kerr banned Gregory from Snowball Express events after she questioned his background and Snowball's finances.
Kerr's own children:In an Oct. 12 story in the Register's San Clemente Sun Post News community weekly, Kerr told reporter Fred Swegles he resided in Laguna Niguel with five children—three of his own, and two from his new wife. Kerr lied. One son lives in Santa Barbara, while his other two children haven't seen their father in seven years, according to sources.
The children of the fallen: By all accounts, the Snowball Express itself was a resounding success. About 920 family members of soldiers who died in the War on Terror enjoyed a weekend filled with Disneyland, an Anaheim Ducks game and much love provided by volunteers. The focus should've been on them. But thanks to Kerr's snowballing, the Snowball Express will probably be remembered more for the man behind it and the overuse of "snowball" by reporters to tell his story.