The following comes from a private forum of Arizona Masons.
Will I see you at Grand Lodge?
I will be carrying four votes to Grand Lodge so I am committed to being there, but I do not know if I can actually cast the votes for the good of my Lodge and the Order. Let me explain.
What is considered good for both my lodge and the Order? To me every Lodge should have the ability to teach the values of Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, and to inspire their members to discover the secrets of the “hidden” mysteries. If I vote for Grand Line Officers whose candidacy is a result of an illegal act, am I not aiding and abetting a violation of the Masonic Constitution I swore to uphold in my Master Mason oath? How do I reconcile this, and still claim to be acting for the good of the order?
One year ago I went to Grand lodge full of hope and expectations for a great year. Today, I am full of doubts and a sense that I have been betrayed and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. A year ago I expected the new Grand Master to walk in the steps of those excellent Grand Masters whichArizonahas been blessed to have in years gone by. These were men who introduced many excellent programs which benefited the Fraternity and made me proud to be an Arizona Mason.
Unfortunately, this Masonic year fell far short of my expectations. It began with the arresting the Charter of Hiram Daylight 73 for what looked to me as superfluous and nonsensical reasons. This was a violation of the Masonic Constitution, and was followed by another such violation by returning the Lodge Charter instead of allowing the Grand Lodge to vote on the issue. The entire situation looked like a personal vendetta. When the Jurisprudence Committee looked like it would take rule against the Grand Master’s action, he replaced key members to ensure the committee would not act.
This was also the year we witnessed the Character Assassination of a duly elected Deputy Grand Master, Brother Mike Meier in order that the Grand Master circumvent the vote of the Grand Lodge and move his appointees into the top positions. By his own authority he illegally suspended the deputy Grand Master and with the help of the most recent PGM, illegally installed his new line, which brings me back to my dilemma. How do I vote at Grand Lodge for the good of the Order?
One Past Master Jack Buta, and one Past Grand master Jerry Lankin, had the courage to propose charges against the Grand Master or at least call for a special session, either of which would have prevented this latest violation of our constitution the illegal suspension of Bro. Mike Meier without a trial. Unfortunately only 8 Lodges passed resolutions falling 10 short of the number needed to force the issue. Most Lodges decided they did not wish to incur the ire of the Grand Master or considered him infallible and he knew best. Whatever the reason his illegal and unmasonic actions went unchallenged. Obviously, this lack of concern on behalf of the majority did not go unnoticed by the Grand Master. With no opposition to his actions he and his chosen men have successfully hi-jacked the Grand Lodge.
So I ask you once again, how do I go to Grand Lodge and vote for the good of the Order?
Each year I have sat in Grand Lodge and listened to the wise council of the Great Committees of our Jurisdiction render their findings on everything which affects the Grand Lodge. This year they have been conspicuous by their silence. One thing is certain, unless something changes, this is the year we, the voting members, will lose any semblance of being active participants and the year the Fraternity inArizonabecomes a Dictatorship by the sitting Grand Master instead of by our Constitutional Rules and Regulations. The precedent has been set. The AMC has been rendered meaningless, which any Grand Master in the future can choose to disregard or manipulate in any way he sees fit.
One solution would be for the voting members, Masters, Wardens and Past Masters to take back their Constitution is to stand up and refuse to accept the current proposed line of Grand Officers that has been shoved down their throats by this current Grand Master.
What would happen I wonder, if all the Voting members of our Grand Lodge remained standing and refused to take their seats choosing rather to stand in silent protest? Yes, that sounds nice, but I believe the chances of it happening are somewhere between slim and none considering the track record of the lodges so far this year, just as it is to expect any Grand Lodge Officer or PGM to display any leadership or integrity by objecting to this farce. So, at the risk of being annoying, how do I go to Grand lodge and vote for the good of the Order?
We need a Grand Lodge Officer Line with elected and appointed Officers who will serve the constituent lodges, preserve our Constitutional Rules and Regulations, and obey the solemn vows they took. We do NOT need a Dictatorship, but in a few weeks that is exactly what we will have unless a true leader emerges with the integrity to stand up for our beloved Craft and say NO!
To all of you who will be carrying votes to the Grand Lodge please tell me, how will you solve this moral dilemma? Will you stand up in silent protest, or will you do as so many have done in past years and follow the lead of the Judas goat like good little lambs to the slaughter?
Richard G.J. Skoglund
PM 63(14) & 70
This is a sad day for Freemasonry in the United States. We hoped that providing light on Arizona’s problems would encourage proper judgment and actions on the part of its Grand Master, D. Brook Cunningham. This did not occur. Instead, the Grand Lodge of Arizona is trying to outdo what was once an impossible feat set by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.
The following snippets were obtained from a private Freemasonry forum.
Phillip J. Buta 7:05 PM April 30 2012
ARIZONA GRAND MASTER SUSPENDS DEPUTY GRAND MASTER 30 DAYS BEFORE GRAND LODGE
Well, our Grand Master has once again demonstrated he is above the Arizona Masonic Code.
I just talked to Michael Meier and he relayed the following details of Today’s events.
This afternoon the Grand Master summoned the elected Deputy Grand Master into his office and in the presence of R:. W:. Junior Grand Warden William A. Garrard Jr, and Senior Grand Deacon Mike Manning, informed the Deputy Grand Master he was suspended from Masonry. The reason the Grand Master gave for this action, which, in my reading of the AMC, is in conflict with the powers given to him by the Arizona Grand Lodge, was that the Deputy Grand Master did not promptly return his apron and jewel of his office, when he relieved the Deputy Grand Master of his Grand Lodge duties, while he still served as the elected Deputy Grand Master. The meeting was brief but it was recorded to avoid any misunderstanding.
Richard Skoglund 8:21 PM 30 April 2012
I simply can not believe, after all the hubbub and disharmony caused by the Grand Master MW Brook Cunningham’s actions regarding Hiram Daylight 73 and the relieving of Bro. Mike Meier of his duties and responsibilities, that he would cause even more disharmony by suspending Bro. Meier using the pathetic excuse of not turning in the Apron and Jewel of his elected office.
This is an outrage! This is indicative of a total disregard of the AMC. An attitude of “I am the Grand Master therefore my judgment and interpretation of the AMC is error proof “. He has this attitude which indicates that who disagree with him, including those on the Jurisprudence committee, two of which he fired for being “biased” against his decisions his past year will forever be banned from holding ANY office in the Grand Lodge, elected or appointed.
A shining example of this being the recent relieving of Bro. Chadwick Burks from the appointed office of Grand Pursuivant. Bro. Chad dared to question his decisions and judgment in this forum i.e. let this be a warning to everyone! The Grand Lodge will NOT tolerate dissent or criticism. Especially this Grand Master.
Why does this remind me of the current politics and tactics that have been used for many years by both Republican and Democratic parties? Sleaze – Big Time! I dislike it intensely. To see this same type of character assassination based upon his questionable interpretation of the AMC and in violation of the 3rd degree obligation brings our sacred fraternity down to the same despicable level.
Masonry and the ideals it stands for is supposed to be above this kind of action and behavior. MW Bro. Brook Cunningham obviously does not understand this.
Therefore, before we elect anyone to the office of Grand Master in June I propose that at the Grand Lodge Communication next month in Sedona, each candidate for each elected office be asked whether they approve or disapprove of the Grand Masters actions this year. This to be done before the written ballot is taken.
Richard G.J. Skoglund
PM 63(14) & 70
Grand Master Cunningham: we humbly request that you abide by your oath and obligation. Lead the Grand Lodge of Arizona in a respectful direction for the rest of your tenure as Grand Master.
To the craft: please review and digest this letter.
Dear Grand Master,
Because you have relieved me of my duties on the Grand Lodge Jurisprudence Committee, I can now freely express what my judgments are regarding your actions of late. My obligations as a Grand Lodge Committeeman, including my obligation to act in the best interest of the Grand Lodge – at your service – ahead of the interests and information of my Brothers, have ceased.
In case, however, you have forgotten who I am, let me remind you that you appointed me to the Jurisprudence Committee this year after I successfully re-organized the entire Arizona Masonic Code, a two-year long project almost unanimously approved by the Grand Lodge. I have taught countless classes on Arizona Jurisprudence and I am one of about three men in this State who can be counted as an expert in this area. I have advised you and several Grand Masters on issues regarding Arizona Jurisprudence and will do so as long as there is breath in my body. I continue to practice law and teach US Constitution classes. I was instrumental in forming a Lodge recently, and currently serve as a Warden in two Lodges while personally coaching candidates in the old-fashioned mouth-to-ear form. I am frequently invited to speak to Lodges on these types of issues, and I am, usually, an all-around nice guy.
First, your decision to arrest the Charter of Hiram Daylight was technically justified. The Master failed to hold the June 2011 meeting, which was a technical violation of the Code and Lodge By-Laws. The problem I had with this action is that this particular Lodge traditionally failed to meet in June as their meetings are on the first Saturday of the Month. Sometimes they got dispensations to miss a meeting, and sometimes they did not. So, while numerous Past Grand Masters simply turned the other cheek on this merely technical violation (because the Lodge Officers were usually at the Grand Communication on the first Saturday in June), you chose to lower the boom. This was an excessively harsh exercise of your power, but nothing technically wrong here.
Second, I address your suspension of Lodge membership on the arrestment of that Charter. While I must concede that this is the technically appropriate thing to do (which is also harsh, but within the four corners of the Code), it is highly unusual for any suspensions to accompany the arrestment of a charter. As I understand from a review of the Grand Lodge Proceedings, since the year 2000 about five or six charters have been arrested…but in none of those other cases did any suspensions occur. Additionally, the arrestments usually happened very near the end of the Grand Lodge year. So your suspension of some members was unusual, but not, in my mind, illegal (you actually should have suspended the entire membership…if you were going to follow the Code to the letter for consistency). But again, I saw no technical violation, even in the targeted suspension of a few members. (I could, however, pretty easily be swayed otherwise.)
Third, I find your suspension of the Secretary of that Lodge particularly troubling. It is no secret that you have “had it in” for W:.Bro:. John Ruth for a long time. But not only was he NOT responsible for calling Hiram Daylight’s Lodge meetings (which was the reason for the arrestment and suspension), but his net worth to the Lodge and the Fraternity is far higher than most knew. By suspending him, two other Lodges (where he was the Secretary) and the Brothers in those Lodges lost a significant human resource. So, your decision was rash and particularly sinister (he suffered a stroke as a result of the suspension, a loss of income and other significant problems that your decision put on his household), it remains, technically legal.
Fourth, the return of the Charter to Hiram Daylight was clearly illegal (but from a warm-and-fuzzy point of view, it was the right thing to do). Regardless of the tortured reading your hired lawyer put forth, his argument is without merit. In his mind, and presumably yours, the Grand Master has some mysterious mythical power to do whatever he wants whenever he wants to whomever he wants in any way he feels is ok. This is the attitude that has, very wrongly, laid under foot the powers of the Sovereign and Constituent Lodges of this Grand Jurisdiction. The only way your authority to return the Charter to Hiram Daylight after arrestment would exist is if we ignore two clearly written sections of the Constitution. These sections, which you and your lawyer seems to omit when reading the Code, explicitly forbid the return of an arrested Charter prior to the next Annual Communication. In a vote of the Jurisprudence Committee taken onJanuary 26, 2012, your action was determined to be illegal and a violation of the Constitution. I cast a vote agreeing with that outcome.
So the score so far is Grand Master 3, his Detractors (including me) 1.
Fifth, reasonable minds can differ on what makes a good subordinate officer. You, apparently, cannot tolerate even a slight deviation in neckwear. It is then time to put to the test your three letters regarding the Deputy Grand Master (I omit the details here because most of the readers of this letter are tired of the details). To begin with, the Jurisprudence Committee couldn’t exactly figure-out if you had fired the DGM or not. This is what led the committee to ask the critical question: “If the Grand Master dies, who becomes the Grand Master?”
Sometime after thatJanuary 26, 2012meeting (where the above question was formulated by the committee and directed to you) I called you because you had avoided answering the committee’s question for three weeks. (Which I found very interesting, since you were the one to call that meeting in the first place, specifically intending to get an answer from us about your actions.) You told me during that call that Michael A. Meier was still the Deputy Grand Master, and if you died he would ascend to the Grand East.
My problem is (as I told you) and still remains; you have never communicated this clearly in writing to the Craft! Most of the Men that I know think you fired the Deputy Grand Master, Michael A. Meier. In support of this assertion, the evidence is clear…you have been charged by at least three Lodges with un-Masonic Conduct and at least eight Lodges are demanding a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge because of this intentional misunderstanding.
You are clearly not communicating well with the Craft, and it looks like you want the confusion to continue.
The legal analysis becomes quite simple on these facts: a) you have the power to manage and administer the Craft, b) you have removed the DGM’s duties and responsibilities, including his ceremonial duties, and c) Michael Meier remains the Deputy Grand Master…first in line to the Grand East when you die.
It is, therefore, my reasoned judgment that you are acting and have acted within your technical power to manage the Craft and its Officers. Michael A. Meier will succeed to the Grand East if you die and/or when he gets elected in June. Of course, had you not fired me from my post on the Jurisprudence Committee, I would have had no choice but to make the same argument I make here, and submit, that you have made technically legal decisions in this case (as I understand the facts in my description above).
Grand Master 4, Detractors 1.
So why are you making no effort to clarify to the Craft the correct state of affairs? Why are you continuing (see the latest issue of Arizona Masonry) to perpetuate the damage you are doing to the DGM by republishing your January 2, 2012 letter in our statewide publication that goes all around the World? …and this after you and your allies have quashed all discussion of these same issues at Lodge Meetings all around the State? Oh hypocrisy!
I’ll make my argument to answer these questions below, but I must mention a few things first…in fairness…
I am writing this as an open letter to you because you removed my gag. When you appointed me to the Jurisprudence Committee, I felt that my first responsibility was to maintain the integrity of the process and make certain that the Grand Lodge was well represented and well served. I maintained relatively quiet and conversed only with a few Brothers in confidence. This I did at the expense of being able to defend a friend who was under attack. However, you have now released me from that responsibility and as all true men of character should do, I am speaking-up for my friend and brother in a sincere effort to right what I consider the great wrong you continue to do to him. Michael Meier deserves much more than I have been able to give.
God forbid that I should ever feel as abandoned as he has probably felt these last few weeks.
Like I told you in theFebruary 27, 2012Jurisprudence Committee meeting – when you demanded my resignation and I refused to resign – I will not be intimidated by you.
So here is the argument I promised above…I have reasoned that you now find yourself between a political rock and a political hard-place. By not outwardly firing the DGM and replacing him (or bringing charges against him for his “outrageous” conduct), you have acknowledged quite clearly that none of his acts were truly bad enough to actually warrant his removal from office. You have not installed a replacement, because you know you simply cannot legally do so, nor is there any evidence that would support such an action. So Michael, for all intents and purposes, outside of his duties, remains the DGM and will likely be elected as the Grand Master this June. That is your rock.
I further reason that your unwillingness to acknowledge this clear fact (above) in writing is also incredibly problematic from a political standpoint…for if you do write it down and clarify the confusion, you would undermine the damage yourJanuary 2, 2012letter is intended to inflict upon Michael and his reputation. You cannot sign a statement that clarifies what needs clarification because you must continue to make Michael’s behavior look worse than it actually is. This is your hard place.
So, instead of making the clarification and bringing peace and harmony to your Brothers, you have chosen to perpetuate the misunderstanding in order to make Michael look bad in your cynical attempt to manipulate the Grand Lodge into not advancing the Grand Line’s normal course. Nice work.
You have injured my friend and my fraternity, you perpetuate the damage caused in an attempt to manipulate an election in June…and as explained above, the truth is now crystal clear…the Emperor has no clothes.
I truly love this Craft and I only want the best for our Brotherhood. While I have remained relatively quiet, I now choose to make my voice heard because you have seriously injured a good friend of mine, and you fired one of the most qualified guys in the State from a job he should be executing (and you will probably make-up some bull-$#!t excuse for that also). I take that personally, and I don’t give a hoot if you’re the Grand Master or the President of theUnited States. I won’t let you treat my friend and Brother that way without standing up.
You, Grand Master, cannot handle dissent or disagreement. You cannot fathom that any Man can think for himself if that thought is different from yours. You have proven yourself unworthy of your Office.
But, let me be clear…I don’t think you have violated the Code regarding Michael’s legal standing as the DGM. I also have indicated above why many of your Detractors are mostly wrong in their several LEGAL (from a Masonic perspective) accusations against you.
You were just too afraid of me and my judgment to let me explain my position to you in person. You just can’t handle differing points-of-view. And while I am no longer in your direct service, the chair you occupy, temporarily, still deserves and has my continuing respect.
To that end, I must close on this positive note; that, if called-upon to serve my Brothers, I will serve. If asked for advice or counsel, where my experience and know-how have value, I will give it honestly and openly. However, if you feel that this is far too harsh of a criticism of your actions, if you feel that I have insulted you and caused you some injury because I am telling you what my reasoned judgment happens to be, then I suggest you treat this forthright criticism with the same value you have treated my continuing dedication and service to the Craft…you can just throw it away.
Fraternally, Sincerely, with just a few sour grapes and All Due Respect…
Adrian P. Fontes, PM
You may review this document in PDF format: Open Letter to the Arizona Grand Master
The following document was sent in by a couple of concerned brethren in Arizona.
Comments on Jan./Feb. issue of Arizona Masonry
February 23, 2012
I just received my copy of the latest issue of AZ. Masonry today. I am having a difficult time accepting MW Bro. D. Brook Cunningham’s Message to the membership regarding Bro. Mike Meier, DGM.
In his Message he urges us to read “The Facts” as he wrote in theJanuary 2, 2012letter to the lodges. These “facts” have been proven to be incorrect or half truths “justifying” his action of removing Bro. Meier of his duties and responsibilities in violation of the AMC.
Example: If anyone bothered to call Grand Lodge and ask the Grand Secretary if Bro. Meier was ever suspended in 2009 by MWB Mike Bishop as stated in the 1/2/12 letter to the lodges, they would find out that he never was and there is no record of this “suspension”.
This one example as far as I’m concerned, destroys the credibility of the rest of the “charges” or ”facts” and impinges upon the character of a Brother Master Mason. To quote the applicable portion of the 3rd degree obligation “I will not injure a brother in his person or good name”. This was not a felony of some kind committed, but it is being treated as one in my opinion. This seems to have been over looked.
This is why I firmly believe that a Special Communication should be scheduled as soon as possible to Quote Paul Harvey and hear “the rest of the story”.
Justice delayed is justice denied and the entire issue should be settled as quickly as possible BEFORE the Annual Communication in June.
Richard G.J. Skoglund
PM Sedona 63(14) & Payson 70
View the PDF format of the document: Jan-Feb 2012 AZ Masonry