Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’
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
We wrapped up the leaks for Round #1 last week. The statistics and data flow have been overwhelming and should set off alarms with all Grand Lodges that their actions may be next. The experience is telling. Our fraternity is wrought with abuse and a large majority of members fear standing up and facing reprisals for doing so. Other members would prefer to ignore the indignant actions because it would mean losing access to the “Social Club” Freemasonry.
If you’re curious what numbers of leaks we saw, here are some numbers:
- We received over 30 corroborated reports of abuse and more than 50 reports submitted.
- There were 17 states in the United States and other three countries affected by the received reports.
- Only 10 states were discussed by our published leaks from February to May 2011.
Visitors, subscriptions, and other statistics to the website were through the roof:
- 79,690 unique visitors visited the website for at least 2 minutes each.
- An average of 4.79 minutes was spent on the website by unique visitors.
- 5,279 people subscribed to the RSS feed.
- Visitors reviewed the website in 20 different languages.
- Just above 80 percent of our visitors hailed from just four countries.
- The website was processed and cached over 200,000 times by search robots including Google and Bing.
Our website sought to remind the leadership and other Masons that these abuses have gone too far. The Fraternity requires us to respond to the profane abuses of obligations. Some disagree with publishing the information, but there is no other method to ensure communication flows to the wider body of Masons. We all have a responsibility to ensure that Freemasonry can flourish.
When will Round #2 begin? That is a great question. We’re not putting an exact date on it. We are open to continuing to work for the bettering of Freemasonry.
Would Round #2 be all negative? We support the good of Freemasonry. Should any good stories be submitted by Masons, showing that Freemasonry and its leaders are doing great things to correct past injustices, we would gladly work with the reporting Mason to get a story published.
MasonicLeaks appreciates all of your support. Whether it’s good or bad publicity, we must accept the past and repair it for good of Freemasonry. Otherwise, our future will be immeasurably bleak.
The Mike McCabe story reverberated around Masonic circles including a Masonic e-publication, but there is more than what meets the eye. In an effort to provide more details with evidence, this article contains the chronological story recounting the malicious conduct of the Grand Lodge and its Officers. Please, review the attached evidence which supports this candid account of abuse.
At a Masonic Trial held on November 15, 2008, I was convicted of 2 of the 3 counts of unmasonic conduct leveled against me by John Foreberger, (the immediate Past Master of the USS New Jersey Lodge No. 62), and Steven Preissman, (the then District Deputy Grand Master for the 18th Masonic District.) I was found guilty of allegedly ignoring Orders given to me by these 2 individuals. While this drama has played out for almost 2 1/2 years now, I will attempt to present the facts leading up to my expulsion from New Jersey Masonry as objectively as possible, leaving it to your judgment to decide if:
- The Charges made against me were warranted?
- Either the Masonic Trial or Penalty Phase of the proceedings met the due process requirements of New Jersey’s Grand Lodge Constitution?
- The expulsion sentence meted out was Constitutional, let alone appropriate?
An entire Chapter of New Jersey’s Grand Lodge Constitution (Section 13 Charges – Code for Trials) is dedicated to Masonic jurisprudence and insuring that the accused Brother receives due process during Masonic judicial proceedings. Section 13’s Preamble affirms that “proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the following…” (13-04) As I shall demonstrate Section 13 was violated at every phase of my Masonic Trial process.
Some might consider 1 or two, or 5 violations of Section 13 a minor oversight. However, when the number of violations exceeded 20, I personally began to question whether those individuals responsible for conducting and overseeing my proceedings were actually Master Masons. (My Oath had required me to “…stn t @ ab b +I byls, ruls, @ rglns… also +I cnstn, byls, gnrl rglns @ edcs %…), or had the belief that the ends justified the means infected the Grand Lodge hierarchy’s thought process. While preparing for my Appeal, via email, I inquired of the Grand Secretary (Larry Plasket) and Grand Lodge Legal Counsel, (Howard Kanowitz), for the names of the 5 Trial Panelists that had heard my case. The Grand Secretary He informed me that as he wasn’t there, He did not know and to ask the Grand Lodge Legal Counsel. The Grand Lodge Legal Counsel response: “he did not know who they were because he was not a member of the Trial Panel and he took no notes.” (Isn’t this a curious answer to receive from a Grand Lodge Official responsible for overseeing those proceedings?)
There is an old adage that a man who represents himself will have a fool for a client. My biggest problem was being forced to represent myself. New Jersey’s Constitution requires that any attorneys participating in a Masonic Trial be Master Masons. Once it was learned (informally) that William Berman, the Deputy Grand Master (and within 6 months Grand Master), was going to testify against me, for various reasons most begged off (some never bothered to call back.) Consequently, I was forced to represent myself.
The Specification of the Third Charge noted that 2 unidentified “members of the Lodge” had allegedly witnesses me in “possession and or control a number of Masonic Aprons which are the property of the USS New Jersey Lodge No. 62,” which had been reportedly stolen. I believe the circumstances surrounding how this Charge originated and was adjudicated, is illustrative of how the entire Masonic Trial process was conducted against me.
Despite two written requests, the Lodge refused to provide me with those 2 unidentified members’ names, as a part of the discovery process (which turned out to be nonexistent, as I was informed by the Grand Lodge Legal Counsel.) It was only after the hearing began, that I actually learned my accusers’ identities (the DGM and another future Right Worshipful.)
My defense against this Charge was simple. As the Aprons had never been stolen from the USS New Jersey Lodge, and had been in the possession and control of the USS New Jersey Lodge, the last time I had been there (months earlier), they could not have possibly have been in my apron case. Fortunately for me, a former member of the New Jersey Lodge, (Wor. Bro. John Hunsberger) came forward and testified in my behalf. During the proceedings, the Trial Panel actually stopped the trial to go look for the missing Aprons in the Lodge’s preparation room. (Surprisingly, conveniently they were nowhere to be found.)
Section 13-29 of the Grand Lodge Constitution states “…the Charge shall be signed by the accuser… .”
First: The individuals responsible for signing all 3 of the Charges against me, (Mr.’s Foreberger and Preissman) refused to testify in support of their allegation (my being in possession of stolen property), when officially called upon by the Trial Panel to do so. Instead, they admitted to the Panel) that they had not been present to witness the alleged incident; and that 2 other individuals, (Mr.’s. Berman and Garrison) had actually witnessed the alleged offense, and were prepared to testify in support of the allegation.
Second: While testifying, those individuals acknowledged that they were responsible for making the allegation which the Charge was based on. However, neither of those individuals had signed the Charge leveled against me.
Shouldn’t the Grand Lodge Legal Counsel have recognized this for what it was? The Master of the USS New Jersey Lodge had allowed a Masonic Charge to be brought against someone based entirely on second hand (hearsay evidence.) In the process, permitted Section 13-29 of the Constitution to be violated. Shouldn’t the Charge have been dismissed right then and there? Yet this Charge was permitted to be adjudicated. Suppose I did not have a witness to corroborate my testimony? Suppose I had been found Guilty, in what would have amounted to a nothing more than a swearing contest? Is this what New Jersey Masonry has become? (I had to join the Masons to be called a thief.)
I was found Not Guilty of an allegation that had accused a 6 time Past Master of criminal conduct even though Deputy Grand Master Berman had testified in support of the Charge.
How would most New Jersey Masons feel, if it they had known that the next Grand Master had made an unsupportable allegation that besmirched a Brother’s name and reputation, and had violated the Grand Lodge Constitution to do so. While my current status (expulsion) conveniently prevents me from redressing this abuse masonically. I think it very unlikely that this Grand Lodge would ever address this matter on its own (as should be done.) These actions violate every precept and principle we supposedly stand for. Unfortunately, I do not believe that this is the first time the corrupting influence of absolute power has seduced a member of the Craft. Would this Charge would have ever been leveled against me had I not sent that letter?
The USS New Jersey Lodge, No. 62, Chartered in 2005, was the byproduct of a forced consolidation of 3 Lodges (Ionic, Trimble and Universal), that had each been in existence for well over 100 years. These 3 Lodges were co-equal owners of a building and property (the West Jersey Masonic Center / WJMC ), that was worth several million dollars (due to its location.) Late in 2004, all 3 Lodges were given the right to vote and decide whether they wanted to become a part of the new Lodge to be named in honor of America’s most decorated warship, (which had only recently been moved to a new home on the Camden waterfront, or remain as they were.) The two fiscally sound Lodges (Universal and Trimble) voted overwhelmingly against any merger or consolidation (18-8 and 49-2 No respectively.) After Trimble’s members voted No, the then District Deputy (William Krassen) approached the East, and while the meeting was still in progress, confiscated Trimble’s Charter, and announced that this Lodge is closed. (Universal’s Charter was removed from a closet during a Lodge rehearsal several days later.) Only Ionic Lodge, which had the most to gain by any consolidation, voted to turn in is Charter. (Only months earlier, Ionic had unsuccessfully lobbied to have the other 2 Lodges to agree to sell the building and divide the proceeds.) Chartered in December of 2005, the newly created USS New Jersey Lodge No. 62, not only had gained a valuable asset at no cost, but also Trimble’s sizeable investment portfolio, bequeathed to it by a departed benefactor.
The results of the USS New Jersey’s 2005 Annual Election of Officers were quite unexpected to the powers that be at both the USS New Jersey Lodge and the Grand Lodge. With one exception, all of the USS New Jersey Lodge’s elected officers and trustees (put into office with Grand Lodge’s blessing), had been replaced after the elections results were tabulated. The lone office holder not to suffer that same fate only survived because of an intentional misapplication of a provision (30-06) of New Jersey’s Grand Lodge Constitution, which permits the removal of a candidate’s name from the hat who is running for an elected Lodge office (in this particular instance the Master’s Station.) The name removed from the hat was mine. Those election results were a total repudiation of Grand Lodge’s duplicitous, actions.
Several weeks later at the Annual Installation of Officers, Grand Master Sheridan publicly scolded the Brethren, and called them childish because they had dared to vote for the candidates of their choice. His words received a standing ovation from the usual suspects. As I wrote him later*, those children had liberated Europe, and Japanese held islands in the Pacific, fought the Cold War in the jungles of Southeast Asia, flew aircraft off of rolling flight decks, and navigated nuclear attack submarines. None of which is kid stuff. (When viewed in that context, maybe it’s understandable why Grand Lodge was not inclined to respond as forcefully to these violations as they had in the past and would afterwards.)
Those violations included:
- Failing to turn over the Lodge’s primary operating checking account to the new fiduciary officers. All information, (monthly statements and checkbook) about this particular account, was intentionally withheld. These Officers only learned of the account after I informed them of its existence. (It would be another year before it was realized that over $7,000 had never been turned over to the new fiduciary officers and instead deposited into that unsupervised Lodge account.
- Allowing an unauthorized individual to continue to have unfettered access and control of the Lodge’s primary operating checking account, and continued to write checks, on the lodge’s behalf even though he was not permitted to do so. (Who else at the USS New Jersey Lodge and Grand Lodge knew of these activities yet permitted it to go on?) At least $17,000 in unauthorized financial transactions occurred with Lodge funds. All of these transactions had occurred without the knowledge, or signatures of either of the Lodge’s duly elected and installed fiduciary officers. As none of these checks had been issued or signed by the lodge’s current office holders, they were not valid.
- Intentionally failed to notify the Bank that new fiduciary officers had been elected and empowered to sign checks on behalf of the Lodge. The failure to keep the Lodge’s Resolution with the Bank current violated the Bank’s written policy on Resolutions. The Bank would have never honored any of those checks had it known that the instruments lacked the authorized officers’ signatures
- Intentionally failed to turn Lodge funds to the proper fiduciary officer. In January of 2008, it was discovered that three (3) unauthorized deposits (a total of 91 checks and over $7,000), had occurred after the new Secretary and Treasurer were installed. Those monies were never properly recorded or dispersed. Those funds helped to cover much of the $10,000 in unauthorized checks.
- Because the minutes of the USS New Jersey Lodge’s 2004-2005 Masonic year had never been turned over, it was never determined that the members of the Lodge had ever voted to expend those funds.
- As of August 2007, neither the 2005 nor 2006 Annual Audits had been completed.
Our financial rules are quite specific. They require that:
- All Lodge funds turned over to the Secretary (so they can be properly recorded);
- Transmitted to the Treasurer for their proper disposal.
- All Lodge funds are spent according to the will of the Lodge’s members after a recorded vote on the same.
For almost 2 years (April 2006 – March 2008), authorities at both the USS New Jersey Lodge, as well as certain elected and appointed members of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, knew of these violations, yet refused to address the matter. Grand Lodge’s normal response (both before and since) was to immediately suspend those accused of such actions (without the benefit of due process or a Masonic Trial.) Yet in this particular instance, the entire matter was just ignored.
This controversy could have been easily resolved at anytime, if the then Master of the Lodge, Glenn Latshaw (now also a Right Worshipful), the District Deputy, or the Grand Master (Ryan) had Ordered that all Lodge records be turned over immediately. (Why wasn’t this ever done?)
At the USS New Jersey Lodge’s November 2006 meeting, the Treasurer (Wor. Bro. Downes), using that very same information, that a year later I would be accused of not turning over or explaining), gave a detailed presentation about the unauthorized checks. However, the members of the USS New Jersey Lodge present that evening, were either seemingly content to ignore those violations of our rules, or just weren’t listening.
Only after the authorities at the USS New Jersey Lodge refused to address these violations did I contact Grand Lodge about the matter. I spoke to the then Grand Secretary (Ray Bellini) on 2 different occasions – approximately one month apart, and informed him of what had occurred. The Grand Secretary informed me in both instances that he would have the Grand Lodge Legal Counsel contact me about the situation. (I am still waiting for that call!)
Grand Lodge had an obligation to investigate this matter, not ignore it. The following questions have never been answered. Instead, Grand Lodge has permitted the messenger to be attacked and vilified I wanted to know:
- Why there was a complete lack of financial accountability that the Fraternity normally demands?
- Why violations of our rules were disregarded, by Grand Lodge officers (both elected and appointed?)
- Why even have rules if they can be ignored by some with impunity?
- Why did Grand Lodge refuse to investigate the matter, or respond in its normal fashion?
- Why did the then Grand Master allow a Charge to be made against me on an issue he know (or should have known) was resolved in December of 2007?
- Why would Grand Lodge allow Charges to be made against someone for informing them of a potentially serious problem?
- How could the Lodge’s books and records have been inspected during the 2006 Official Visit, if they had never been turned over?
I sent 2 private communiqués – (an April 2007 email and a private letter dated August 15, 2007) to then Grand Master Ryan, and personally made him aware of this situation. While he responded to my initial email, he never responded to my August 15, 2007 letter*.
It was not until January of 2008, that I discovered that Lodge funds had deposited into that checking account, instead of being turned over to the Lodge Secretary. While Lodge authorities had steadfastly attempted to diminish the importance of the issued checks, the diverting and depositing of Lodge funds (without the fiduciary officers knowledge) was an entirely different matter. The dates on the Bank deposit slips told all*.
I contacted the District Deputy about my finding. He said he would get back to me the next day about it. After waiting 2 days, I called him back. It was during this second conversation, that the District Deputy gave me the ultimatum, too either present Masonic Charges by February’s meeting or forget the issue. (Doesn’t logic dictate, and Justice require a thorough, impartial investigation to be first held, to determine exactly who was, and was not responsible for these abuses of our rules? Only then should the issue of Charges be considered.) He further remarked that he did not believe that the Lodge would even vote to accept my Charges. The message was clear, presenting Charges would be a waste of time. After he imposed his time frame, I asked him “since when is there a statue of Limitations for violating Masonic Trust?”
I sent the Grand Master a final letter in March (even though he had not responded to my previous letter.) This time I sent copies to every member of New Jersey’s elected Grand Line.* While that letter included earlier details found in the first letter, this correspondence included the new information about the unauthorized deposits of Lodge funds. Burlington was now fully aware of the controversy.
Grand Lodge never investigated (or refuted) the information contained in the letter. Instead, a week later (April 5, 2008) three (3) Charges of “unmasonic conduct” were signed against me by Mr.’s. Foreberger and Preissman. And at the May 19, 2008 Regular Communication of the USS New Jersey Lodge, members voted to accept those 3 Charges. (I only learned of the allegations against me after I received the Lodge’s Official notification, that Masonic Charges had been lodged against me.)
While waiting for the constitutionally required appeal process to begin (that still has yet to be held), I discovered that both of Orders, I was convicted of ignoring, were specifically prohibited by specific sections the Grand Lodge Constitution. (As both of the Charges made against me were unconstitutional, perhaps this helps explains Grand Lodge’s reluctance to begin the appeal process1?) This leads me to ask; was there no one in the Grand Lodge hierarchy conversant enough with our Constitution, to recognize these obvious conflicts?
What follows is a condensed version of both of those Charges, along with the corresponding section of our Constitution that nullifies each of those Charges.
First Charge: Michael McCabe “did blatantly and continuously disobey an Order by the Worshipful Master John J. Foreberger as well as requests by other authorities to produce and explain the alleged evidence. At no time did Michael McCabe ever surrender these documents.”
Section 29-27: “A Lodge cannot deprive a Brother of his civil rights, nor compel him to first submit his complaint to the Lodge for its action”
Even if I had “blatantly and continuously disobeyed the Order of the Worshipful Master”, as the Charge alleged, my actions, or inactions would have been supported by Section 29-27 of the Grand Lodge Constitution. (However, that is not what occurred.2)
Second Charge: “…was Ordered by the Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master Steven M. Preissman not to bring up any further allegations against members of the (USS New Jersey) Lodge unless he were to prefer formal charges against them at the Regular Communication in February. Brother McCabe, in direct disobedience of the Order of the District Deputy Grand Master did, send a correspondence to the Most Worshipful Grand Master … on March 22nd 2008 again stating the same allegations without bringing up formal charges against the members.”
Section 16-02: “District Deputy Grand Masters have no authority to…decide questions of Masonic Law.”
A District Deputy can only issue an Order pertaining to Masonic Law, while acting under the Grand Master’s specific instructions. The Deputy acted on his own when he issued his ultimatum, and imposed a deadline (for me to prefer formal Masonic Charges by the February 2008 meeting, or ignore the violations.) Nowhere, in his formal Charge, or his subsequent testimony at my trial, did he ever suggest that he was acting under the then Grand Master’s direction (at the time he issued me his Order.) His words do not even begin to support that supposition.
As both of the Orders that I was accused of violating were in direct conflict with the Grand Lodge Constitution, they were unconstitutional, invalid, and unenforceable. How can someone be charged with, or convicted of “unmasonic conduct” for failing to obey such Orders? Since when is a Master Mason required to follow Orders:
- That violate the New Jersey Grand Lodge Constitution;
- That demands a Brother to ignore violations of our financial rules (and a Federally Chartered National Bank’s policy on Resolutions);
- That conflicts with one’s Master Mason’s Obligation or the dictates of one’s conscious?
1Even though I received a letter from New Jersey’s Grand Secretary, dated December 9, 2009, (and post marked 3-26-2009), that acknowledges his receiving my Appeal of the Trial Panel’s November 15, 2008 verdict, the constitutionally mandated appeals process still has not taken place. Grand Lodge keeps insisting that my Appeal has not been filed yet.
2The “alleged evidence” that Lodge authorities claimed that they did not have, was a spreadsheet that listed every check issued by the USS New Jersey Lodge during the 2004-2005 Masonic Year (also the unauthorized checks written during the first few months of the 2006 Masonic Year.) Contrary to what the First Charge attempts to portray, Lodge authorities were well aware of the controversy. As noted earlier, the then Lodge Treasurer had used that information to prepare his November 2006 Report to the Lodge.
A year later, in mid-November of 2007, I received a letter from the Master of the USS New Jersey (Foreberger) that ordered me to return “any copies of financial records in any forms in which they may exist that I had in my possession.”* I contacted the District Deputy several times about the letter. Contrary to the Master’s letter, the Deputy permitted me to keep copies of the documents and had me mail the information to him instead. During our other conversation, the District Deputy informed me that Grand Master Ryan had instructed him to take my Blue Card from me, if I did not turn over the information. Which is what I did during early in December 2007 (via certified mail.) This entire episode occurred 5 months before that Charge was ever made against me.
If I had not complied with the Order, I am quite certain, then Grand Master Ryan would have made good on his threat and pulled my dues Card? Or the Master and District Deputy could have legitimately filed this Charge against me. I even alluded to the Grand Master’s threat to remove my dues card in the last paragraph of my March 2008 letter.
“I believe that the threat I received to have my dues card taken (if I failed to turn over my evidence – the copies of the bank statements), was akin to shooting the messenger.”
When questioned about this incident at my trial, the District Deputy affirmed that I had complied with the Order (and turned over the information to him.) The Trial Panel obviously erred when it rendered its verdict on this particular Charge. It did not place the sufficient weight on that portion of the Deputy’s testimony that had affirmed my testimony.
This would be the second time that I had provided that very same “alleged evidence” to the D.D.G.M.* (Whatever became of that information? Why was nothing done then to investigate the controversy then? Why were Charges now brought up, months later, on a non issue that had been resolved months before? Why did the Grand Lodge permit such a contrived Charge to be made?
Both before and during the Masonic Trial and Penalty Phase of my trial, numerous violations of Section 13 of the Grand Lodge Constitution routinely occurred.
While the above information should clearly refute the two Charges I was convicted of, I believe it necessary to provide glimpses of how my Masonic Trial, primarily how the Penalty Phase (sentencing phase) was conducted. Much of my initial appeal was based on the violations of that Section that had been permitted to occur before, during and after my Masonic Trial. These various violations, besides denying me due process, and the fundamental fairness expected in such a process, violated my personal Civil Rights. Two of the more glaring violations of Section 13 occurred during the Penalty Phase and dealt with how the sentencing process was conducted.
Section 13-80: Requires that all members of the Lodge to receive a summons, written in a proscribed form, summoning them “to attend a regular communication of the lodge…” for the purpose of determining the Brother’s penalty.
The members of the Lodge were never summoned.
Section 13-83: “All proceedings relating to suspension, expulsion…must be held at a regular communication.”
The By-Laws of the USS New Jersey Lodge state that Regular Communications are held on the Third Monday (Except July and August.) The Penalty Phase of my Trial was held on Monday July 13, 2009, at a “Regular Communication by Dispensation.” I informed the current Master of the Lodge that the Penalty Phase was actually being held at an Emergent Communication, (in direct violation of 13-83), and furthermore, that no listing for a “Regular Communication by Dispensation” existed in the Grand Lodge Constitution. The Grand Lodge Legal Counsel later informed me (via email) that “since he (the Grand Master) grated that dispensation, I don’t see any issue. The hearing will take place this evening as planned.”
The Penalty (Sentencing) Phase of my Masonic Trial was held in direct violation of 13-80 & 13-83 of the Grand Lodge Constitution. It was a deliberate attempt to deny me the due process procedures enumerated and guaranteed (by Section 13) to every Brother. Why were these obvious violations of our Constitution permitted to occur? Who is accountable for permitting these violations to occur? Don’t the members of Grand Lodge also take Oaths & Obligations to stand to and abide by our Constitution?
Believing that my attendance could be viewed as my tacitly approving of these abuses, I refused to attend and was sentenced in abstencia. In reality, my expulsion was a foregone conclusion.
After my November 2008 Masonic Trial had concluded, the then Deputy Grand Master (now Past Grand Master Berman) informed me that “I was a pariah”; that “I have no friends at the New Jersey Lodge” and that “nobody here likes you.” He also called me a “punk” and a “faggot,” (almost as if he was trying to provoke a fight (I thought I was in grade school again momentarily.) (Under those circumstances, I never expected anything other than the most severe punishment possible.)
This past June, I provided the Grand Secretary with a copy of an email that I had received from the District Deputy on 10/27/2007. That email clearly proves that both of my accusers (Brothers Preissman and Foreberger) had reviewed the alleged evidence (my spreadsheet), discussed its contents with each other, and reached conclusions based on the information contained in that spreadsheet. All of this had occurred seven months before they alleged that I had failed to turn over my “alleged evidence” to them. In an accompanying note, I informed the Grand Secretary that because of corrupted files in my email account, I was unable to access this email, or use it as evidence at my trial.
Based information, I believed that Grand Lodge certainly should have then realized that serious doubts over one of the Trial Panel’s verdicts existed, and that further review was required on this new. The Grand Secretary had responded to me that he had forwarded that information to the “appropriate parties.” I later learned from by the Grand Secretary that the then Grand Master (Berman) was the only “appropriate parties” that information had been forwarded to. I am at a loss to understand how the Grand Master, who is a member of the USS New Jersey Lodge and was present when my expulsion sentence was issued, could have remained silent or permitted the Penalty Phase for this particular charge to even go forward? Let alone be present and endorse those actions.
I have always believed that there were much more fundamental issues involved here. Grand Lodge was not pleased with the results of the USS New Jersey’s November 2005 Election of Officers. Many of the newly founded USS New Jersey Lodge members were hurt by the heavy handed tactics that the Grand Lodge employed when it first created the USS New Jersey Lodge (in 2004.) These Brothers used the democratic process to attempt to nominate and elect Lodge Officers of theirs (and not some former Grand Master’s) choosing at 2005 Annual Election of Officers. By rejecting Burlington’s preselected candidates, the Brothers repudiated much of Grand Lodge’s earlier actions. As I played an active role in that action, I obviously drew Grand Lodge’s ire.
At the USS New Jersey’s December 2005 Annual Feast of St. John, the then Grand Master publicly chastised these same Brothers for exercising their Constitutional right to vote for the candidates of their choice. He chided them and even called their actions “childish.” His remarks drew an almost unanimous standing ovation (primarily from the Burlington sycophants in attendance.) I later wrote that Grand Master about his remarks, and reminded him that some of those “children” had liberated Japanese held islands in the Pacific, freed Europe from Nazism, fought the Cold-War in the jungles of South East Asia, flew jet aircraft off of rolling flight decks, and navigated nuclear attack submarines. None of which was child’s play. (Not surprisingly, that Grand Master never responded.)
What Grand Lodge has completely lost sight of is that civil society, democracy and the Rule of Law are only held together by a thin veneer. Our Gentle Craft supposedly supports these ideals. Don’t we take pride in being bound to those Brothers who once pledged their live, their fortunes and their sacred honor to foster those very same ideals? How could we have strayed so far? We were Free Men before we were Free Masons!
Since October of 2004, I have asked myself many times, what is the point of having elections, if Grand Lodge can just ignore the results, if they do not turn out as Burlington wants them too? It’s bad enough that our annual elections at Grand Lodge Convention more often than not, resemble banana republic elections (with only a single predetermined candidate’s name on the ballot for Junior Grand Warden.) Several names were improperly removed from the hat because of the intentional misuse of 30-06 that same evening, (the Grand Lodge Officers present just ignored that violation.) Otherwise, I would have been elected Worshipful Master of the Lodge that evening, and none of the violations or abuses of our rules would have been tolerated, and the USS New Jersey Lodge would have had a chance at becoming a lodge of Freemasons, and not a lodge of a few Masons. (104 members were suspended for nonpayment of dues in one evening.)
With that as the starting point, it becomes easy to see how some who have their own agenda, could turn their back on what occurred at the New Jersey Lodge, and not support the upstarts’ Secretary or Treasurer, even if that meant not enforcing their rules. Whatever victory Burlington has enjoyed will be fleeting at best, and certainly not worth the cost of what has been lost. This Society once was founded on such principles as Truth, Brotherly Love, Morality, and respect for the Rule of Law. (Don’t we still expect that of all new initiates?) It now appears to be based only on the despotism enforced by absolutism. What is the authority that empowers the New Jersey Grand Lodge to disenfranchise its members of every American Citizens most precious Right (Their VOTE?) Where is that authority given in our Grand Lodge Constitution?
The genesis of all this abuse of authority can be directly traced to New Jersey’s Third Landmark. While the Masonic Jurisprudence Committee’s report on the “10 Landmarks” were presented (and approved) at the 1903 Grand Lodge Convention, the Wallis Committee never recommended that our Constitution be amended to include them. Sometime after 1903, they were surreptitiously included into our Constitution, and eventually given supremacy over every aspect of our Masonic Rules, Regulations and Constitution. Some in Grand Lodge knew that those Landmarks were never voted on by the members of the Grand Lodge (as our amendment process requires.) Our ignorance is their power! While there are other recognized factors that further prove their illegitimacy (not being universal or time immemorial), the fact remains that they have no legitimacy or force of law. Directly quoting a Past Grand Secretary, who acknowledged Grand Lodge’s dirty little secret: “We have adhered to them even though there was no official acceptance by the Grand Lodge.”
Even though the “Landmarks are illegitimate, several recent Grand Masters have routinely employed the power derived from Landmark No. 3, (which gives a Grand Master, near dictatorial Masonic power.) Based on what I have personally observed over the past few years, that Landmark is nothing more than a tool that allows a Grand Master either exercise almost unlimited arbitrary power, or abuse a Brother’s Civil Rights. While I cannot recall it being used for the good of the Craft in the past few years I have seen:
- Judicially recognized trustees of a non-profit corporation suspended for “unmasonic conduct.” Their unmasonic offense was abiding by the Laws of the State of New Jersey governing Corporations (that specifically require corporate trustees to protect the assets of a multimillion dollar corporation from harm or face potential civil penalties.)
- Other Brothers denied due process without the benefit of trial, their constitutionally mandated protections ignored.
- In my particular case: sham charges; trial panelists not sufficiently conversant with our Constitution, coupled with the Penalty Phase’s Star Chamber proceedings, where both the Grand Lodge Constitution and my constitutional protections were knowingly disregarded.
- A representative of the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency informed me that once the USS New Jersey Lodge filed a formal complaint with that Federal Regulatory Agency, they would launch an investigation, as one appeared warranted.
In 2004, an attorney for Grand Lodge argued (successfully) in a Camden County court room that Master Masons are not entitled to be treated fundamental fair by the Grand Lodge. No Brother I know joined the Masonic Fraternity to become a second class citizen. Is that how you view yourself?
“The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”
It’s of valuable note that the financial audits for 2005 and for 2006 had yet to be completed at the end of 2007 by the Grand Lodge. It is unclear if those audits were ever completed.
(Contains 10 attachments.)
Recent reports indicate that the Grand Lodge of Nebraska is in turmoil.
John Parsons, Grand Master of Masons in 2010, is refusing to yield his office to Grand Master David Watts, who was regularly elected Grand Master in 2011, and several Past Grand Masters appear to be supporting Parson’s effort to maintain control.
A Nebraska Mason wrote about the situation demanding that PGM John Parsons be put on trial:
PGM John Parsons, the most recent Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska does not hold the title of Grand Master by the By-Laws of the Grand Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. Many Masons in Nebraska feel Parsons is a good man who let power of his office go to his head.
PGM Parsons while still in office took upon himself [with the encouragement of numerous other Past Grand Masters] to remain as Grand Master illegally to inhibit and to stop the duly elected Grand Master E. David Watts from being duly installed.
This breach of power will hurt the Nebraska Masonry for years to come. The continued lack of respect and proper transfer of duly elected representation has caused total unrest in the Masonic Community.
George Washington could have been king, but sought to have a smooth transition in an elected office. Washington too was a Mason; one would do well to practice what history has taught us, if there is to be a Masonic Trial, let it be as called for in the Nebraska by-laws, not a which hunt. Condemning a brother and trying to keep him from an elected office is unheard of, more so what will be said when the courts drop charges!
. . . Hang him, Give him a fair trial, then our consensuses will be clear! Right? or does the Nebraska Mason, the membership see through this?
PGM John Parsons most likely will face numerous charges the worst being the abuse of power and un-Masonic activities including causing damage to the reputation of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. His self-serving action has caused a division in the already weakened membership.
PGM John Parsons actions while illegal were basted on a situation involving the then Grand Master elect E. David Watts. The situation involves accusations that E. David Watts was involved in domestic violence as reported by an employee of the Lincoln Police department.
There were many discrepancies in the reported news release, including firing of a handgun which was found not to have been discharged and the purported request to leave a residence by the assailant’s mother. The actual finding will eventually show that two individuals, one banishing a machete attacked the Grand Master elect E. David Watts and severely beat him as can bee seen on several website. A call was made to the police department by the assailant and charges were made against Grand Master elect E. David Watts. This, while on the surface is damaging, the fact that what Masons pride themselves on the most, honesty, not guilty until proven guilty are all but lost in Nebraska by the actions of a self-serving egotistical PGM [Parsons] who still thinks he is Grand Master!
Grand Master E. David Watts was properly installed as Grand Master in accordance with the By-Laws of the Grand Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska AF& AM.
This is what Parsons and a company of followers were attempting to stop. Since the news of the installation, Parsons is now saying that the Oldest living Grand Master and the Grand Custodian along with all members of the installing lodge are “clandestine Masons”. Now Parsons is bringing unfounded Masonic Charges against some of the most notable Masons in Nebraska to overturn this installation. We believe the date to be March 16th 2011.
Let us look at a very realistic scenario: All the charges against E. David Watts are dropped, he is found innocent. What will become of those who caused such a divide in Nebraska? Will David Watts file a libelous law suit against Parsons? Who is really behind the discord, will the members of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska be properly informed.
The similarity of current events in Nebraska to those in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, as reported here in previous articles, is impossible to ignore. Parsons appears to be following the example set by Arkansas Grand Master, George R. Franks, Jr., and if that course remains true, mass expulsions of Nebraska Masons who question his behavior, will soon be the result.
A former candidate for Nebraska’s state legislature wrote the following about the ongoing events:
The fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons teaches its members the virtues of honesty and truth. The Bylaws of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Nebraska require “Masonic Trials” to be conducted by commissions which are fair, honest and unbiased. It has become obvious this has not always been the case in the Nebraska. PAST Grand Master John Parsons has and is exhibiting conduct contrary to the teachings of Freemasonry. The fraternity has long been noted for its high level of honorable and civil decorum. Such is rightfully expected of all Masons including Parsons. He should either “shape up” or be “shipped out.” Additionally, he has time and again violated both the letter and the spirit of Masonic Laws as set forth in the Grand Lodge’s Constitution and Bylaws. Serious consideration should be given to taking steps to expel him from the fraternity!It’s time for ALL Nebraska Masons to know what has been going on “behind their backs” In some areas of government, it might be called “back channeling” or clandestine dealings outside of prescribed and lawful avenues. It appears the Grand Lodge of Nebraska has been taken over by a self-appointed group of Past Grand Masters and their cronies reducing all honest and trusting Masons to being nothing more than a source of funding to support their wishes and whims. Most of the evil doers are attorneys.
Years ago, a Past Grand Master told another that “ONLY LAWYERS ARE QUALIFIED TO BE A GRAND MASTER.” Aside from the fact he was an honorable judge who did a lot of good for Freemasonry, he was a member of the self-protecting bar of Nebraska – he was a rather arrogant attorney. So it follows that many Masonic attorneys believe non-attorney Masons are incompetent to lead the Grand Lodge. For the record, there are an abundance of honest and honorable lawyers who are Masons, they are just sometimes hard to find!
Several years back, a group of conspiring attorneys created the position of “Deputy Grand Master” and designated the man also as “Grand Master Elect.” This meant the man elected would be available for two years rather than one for the bad guys to get their hooks into him. Here is how it is done.
The “Jurisdiction Committee” which is habitually dominated by lawyers has maneuvered itself into making Nebraska Masons believe it is the last word on Masonic matters. Further its members believe they can control the seated Grand Master. Many of those holding the top office have been beaten down by the overpowering lawyers on the committee to the extent they have essentially abdicated control of the fraternity to that committee. That’s were they are wrong, for the Jurisdiction Committee is only ADVISORY to the Grand Master. Thus, the newly installed Grand Master, David Watts may choose to pay little or no attention to the committee particularly since its members appear to be “spring loaded” against him.
Here’s the latest. On the evening of 17 February 2011, before the close of a duly opened Lodge of Master Masons in Wood River, Nebraska (Cement Lodge #211), the oldest living Past Grand Master of Masons in Nebraska, Donald Swanson, properly and formally installed David Watts as the new Grand Master replacing Parsons.
Careful attention was given to the installation being done in strict accordance and compliance with established procedures and within the scope of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Grand Lodge. There were 14 members present, two of which were Past Grand Masters. This was done in spite of the fact Parsons had sent a letter to all Past Grand Masters telling them he would have them expelled from Masonry if they participated in installing Watts. I forgot to mention, the installation had to be done by a Past Grand Master. Swanson was the only one willing to thumb his nose at Parsons and see the deed was done without interruption.
The following Saturday, Dave Watts, the newly installed Grand Master, traveled to Alliance, Nebraska and installed the other “elected” officers of Grand Lodge. He thereafter went directly to Denver, Colorado to attend a regional conference of Grand Masters as Nebraska’s representative.
Past Masters Dean Skokan, John Parsons and Dwight Smith showed up with what they thought was a “grand plan” to take over the installation according to our sources, but were stifled by the fact Watts had already been installed. Watts and Past Grand Master Scott Krieger (who had also been formally installed by Swanson two nights before as Grand Custodian”) conducted the installations without interruption. For those unfamiliar with Masonic terminology, the “Grand Custodian” and his deputies regularly check the ritual work being done in each of the lodges to insure uniformity.
What evidence exists that Parsons acted in collusion with other to rig the “election” of officers of the Grand Lodge? Parsons circulated far and wide a mailing including a letter above his signature, such being dated October 2010. The letter in part stated, “After the close of Annual Communication on Saturday, the Installation of the 2011 Grand Lodge Officers will be held, set to begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception following. The Installation is open to all who wish to attend.” Note this was FOUR MONTHS BEFORE THE GRAND LODGE MEETING. The mailing included a schedule of events showing there would be an ‘ELECTION OF OFFICERS…” which was to take place on 5 February 2011 after 8:30 a.m. Additionally, the mailing contained an invitation to attend the “Installation of the 2011-2012 Officers” of the Grand Lodge who were all named in the invitation. THUS, THE SO CALLED “ELECTION” HAD BEEN DECIDED FOUR MONTHS BEFORE IT TOOK PLACE. It therefore follows conclusively, that all Masonic delegates to the “154th Annual Communication” (convention) of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska were LIED TO and the “ELECTION” WHICH HAD BEEN RIGGED BY PARSONS AND OTHERS WAS MEANINGLESS.” SIMPLY PUT, THEIR VOTES DIDN’T ACTUALLY COUNT!
Finally, the most serious of all of the offenses committed by Parsons has been the RIGGING OF MASONIC TRIALS. Parsons spent decades in the United State Air Force and reached a fairly high rank in the officer corps before retirement. Thus, it is presumed he had to be able to read and understand laws, military, civilian and also Masonic. It has long been known that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for committing a crime. Rigging a civilian court case by paying off a judge with money or an appointments to a position of importance IS A CRIME! Similarly, rigging a military tribunal could get one a dishonorable discharge. RIGGING A MASONIC TRIBUNAL is no less serious and in my opinion, the penalty for being involved in such should be no less stringent.
The Grand Master and he alone appoints the members of every Trial Commission placing him in a position, if he chooses to do so, to exert influence and pressure on his appointees so as to RIG the outcome of trials. He also appoints members of the Grievance Committee which is the appellate body in the Nebraska Grand Lodge. By keeping the findings of both the Trial Commissions and the Grievance Committee secret, evil doers have the ability to keep all of their dastardly deeds from Nebraska Masons. It can therefore be manipulated to become a closed circle of evil which can KEEP ALL OTHER NEBRASKA MASONS FROM EVER KNOWING THE CLANDESTINE DEALINGS OF A CAREFULLY SELECTED FEW.
On 18 August 2010, Parsons sent the top officers in the line of Grand Lodge the following message. “As a further update, AJ is about ready to close out his trial, and I think Dean is pretty close as well. I’ll get on Lynn Alexander’s case (that’s been dragging on too damn long). Patrick McCormick has started his as well. As a side note, I’VE ASSEMBLED COPS AND RETIRED MILITARY GUYS FOR DEAN’S AND PATRICK’S COMMISSIONS. WE’LL GIVE THE SOB A FAIR TRIAL BEFORE HIS HANGING. I want to get commissions appointed and trials concluded before the year is over…..” [emphasis added]
It is believed the “Dean” referred to in the communications to be none other than Past Grand Master Dean Skokan, former Fremont Nebraska City Attorney. If so, one might one suspect Skokan could have possibly engaged in corrupting justice in a similar manner in his former public position. One wonders how many innocent people might have been the victims of corrupt practices of a public attorney! Did Dean Skokan and Patrick engage in collusion with Parsons to rig “Masonic Trials”? You be the judge!
If that happened, I believe the “SOB(s)” victimized by fraternal corruption may have civil recourse in a real court of law!. In any event. JOHN PARSONS FLATLY ADMITTED TO ENGAGING IN CONDUCT DESIGNED TO RIG ONE OR MORE MASONIC TRIALS.”
In another communication we have learned “Parsons says he is going to expel Swanson and pull the charter from Wood River Lodge for allowing the installation” of Watts. Further, we have learned Parsons “has also given orders to the Grand Lodge office” that Watts “can have no access to any services.”
Frankly, we believe Parsons and his Gold Chain Gang cronies don’t have the “scrotal capacity” (balls) to take on Swanson who is known and respected in Masonic circles around the world.
An interesting questions now arises. Past Grand Master Russ Reno has joined Lancaster Lodge #54 in Lincoln and has been elected its Secretary. In that lodge are also Past Grand Masters James Brown and Don Swanson. Since “Masonic Charges” have to originate in the lodge to which an alleged offender is a member and must be preferred by a member of that lodge, will Brown be stupid enough to throw rocks at Swanson who is a significant benefactor of the University of Nebraska where Brown is a professor? Or will Reno be stupid enough to take on Swanson when he, Reno, was not able to rid the fraternity of FOUR SEX OFFENDERS during his term in office. One of those was charged three times with Sex Offenses. He was convicted and incarcerated for two of those three crimes. In the first case, he was found guilty for having sex with a NINE YEAR OLD GIRL? That certainly is a crime involving moral turpitude which is an “enumerated offense.”
Had it not been for this writer getting word to Reno the Sex Offender was about to be installed as Master of Liberty Lodge #300, that man – who is still a Mason – would have presided over my own former lodge. By the way, the secretary of Liberty Lodge is Bruce Watkins who has for a number of years BEEN GRAND SECTARY OF THE GRAND LODGE!!!! Watkins participated in making the Sex Offender a MASTER MASON and was present in lodge over the years when the man was passing up the latter nearly reaching the top position.
Master Masons of Nebraska you owe it to the fraternity to DO ALL YOU CAN TO ASSIST THE NEWLY INSTALLED GRAND MASTER DAVE WATTS IN PUTTING MASONRY BACK ON TRACK. Dave is a rock solid Mason and a successful business man. He knows how to make a business grown and he can bring that knowledge and willingness to serve to the fraternity in an outstanding manner during the next year. Join with him and many others who want to promote civility and to cast out the corruption which currently exists in the Masonic Fraternity in Nebraska!
In conclusion, I’ll use the words of a famous Master Mason – Paul Harvey, who incidentally was a graduate of Tulsa Central High School many years before me…….”AND NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY.”
Recent reports have claimed that the newly elected Grand Master resigned, but such accounts appear to have been fabricated. Although the situation is still unfolding, it’s apparent that corruption and malice are continuing to grow in “mainstream” American Freemasonry, where virtue and morality once reigned supreme.