Posts Tagged ‘heart attack’

A Case Study of Contemporary Masonic Cronyism and Inequity

The article below was posted on a Masonic website in 2004, by Arkansas Mason Maxwell D. “Doug” Simmons, a Past Master of Blocher Lodge No. 247, in Booneville.

Headed for Disaster!

Thread started on: Jul 27th, 2004, 09:06am

During the past few years, I have witnessed some of the most asinine, un-thinking, cruel-minded petulant children masquerading as FreeMasons in every Lodge I have visited, and every Grand Lodge Communication I have attended in Arkansas.

This Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Arkansas has degenerated into a social club lacking even the simplest rules of good conduct. Not many of the members I see are following the tenets of Friendship, Morality, or Brotherly Love. There is little old-fashioned courtesy or respect displayed in most Masonic communications I have witnessed or taken part in.

In reading recent email messages circulating among some of our Brothers, concerning the death of our Grand Master and the assumption of his duties by the Deputy Grand Master, I was ashamed of the lack of character displayed by nearly all of the participants in those messages. I have not seen such vicious back-biting, back-stabbing, and even outright lies from friends, acquaintances or neighbors, and it is particularly shameful to see it coming from those who pretend to be correct and upright men and Masons.

The sad fact is – we have done this to ourselves! We have failed to live up to our own standards, and we have failed to honor our several obligations, sworn to in good faith, in the presence of God.

Through negligence, apathy, fear of dwindling membership, and lack of desire to participate in the decisions of our Lodges, we have neglected our duty to properly investigate prospective candidates or petitioners for affiliation who wish to join our Lodges. We have allowed individuals of low character and morality to permeate our Fraternity and they have undermined the integrity of this institution.

We have lost our focus; we have lost our character; we have lost our morality. And worse, this has gone on for so long the damage may be irreparable. It may now be so in-grained in our Fraternity that it can’t be corrected.

Focus: We have forgotten that our Lodges exist to promote the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Our duty includes charity – to our Brothers and to our communities. We have allowed our Lodges to conduct fund-raising activities to pay their bills! We’re supposed to be givers of charity, not takers. Is it right or proper to ask our friends and neighbors for money to pay our operating expenses, instead of raising our dues to cover the costs?

Over the years, our Lodges have become ‘coffee clubs’ populated mostly by old men who have little interest in the current world or its current affairs. We prefer to live in the past, and yearn for the ‘good old days.’ We moan about our declining membership but we refuse to face the problem: we have nothing to offer the young men in our communities. I don’t know any young men who would want to join a group of old cronies who have no real interest in today’s world, and don’t even have the courtesy to provide a meaningful Masonic education to those who would join. A few of us (less than 10% of our Lodge membership) gather at our Lodges once or twice a month, plod through our ritual with almost total indifference, pay a few bills, and then go drink coffee and join in the gossip.

We have forgotten that Lodges exist in this State only by Charter of the Grand Lodge. Our charters are issued by that body, and can be removed by that body. The Grand Lodge does not exist to ‘serve’ our Lodges; we are ruled and governed by the constitution and by-laws of that body. The Grand Lodge owes us nothing but the right to operate, and then only in accordance with the rules and regulations established by the Grand Lodge officers and Delegates. Our Grand Lodge is the guardian of the Landmarks of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, and we are not allowed to promulgate rules, laws, or regulations that are not in compliance with those Landmarks.

Character: We made a number of promises when we were initiated into this Fraternity, and we are failing to honor those promises – all of them! We criticize and nit-pick everything the Grand Lodge officers do and say… we petulantly refuse to do anything those officers suggest… we constantly accuse them of various

plots and schemes that will eventually bring this institution to ruin, without ever wondering why they might want to do that.

When we asked the Grand Lodge to look into the possibility of an ‘umbrella’ insurance plan, a questionnaire was sent to all Secretaries to gather the necessary information required by various insurance providers in order to provide quotes. This generated an outcry that the Grand Lodge was taking an inventory in preparation for shutting down and taking over various Lodges!

When our Deputy Grand Master announced that he was going to honor the election and installation of the Grand Master after his death, and act as the Presiding Officer (as provided by our Constitution and By- Laws), the DGM was accused of trying to steal two years as Grand Master! And it gets worse: The Deputy Grand Master, Presiding has been the target of vicious character assassination attacks; he has been the subject of cruel, personal attacks on his motives, business affairs, personal affairs, and even his competence.

At our last Annual Communication, the main topic of conversation among the Delegates was childish, spoiled-brat complaints about the lack of coffee and doughnuts, and some of those spoiled brats were heard to comment that because there were no doughnuts or coffee, they were not going to vote for the per capita dues increase!

Morality: We no longer live by the standards of morality we swore years ago to uphold. Adultery is an accepted fact among our Brothers unless we get singled out for special condemnation by those with axes to grind; We don’t offer much help to our wives, widows or orphans; We don’t look for men of good character, or those who possess a higher standard of morality than others around them… we just look for more members.

Every year at our Grand Lodge Communications we are faced with attempts to lower our standards for the sole purpose of increasing membership.

We begrudge almost every dollar donated to charities or worthy causes, and criticize the Grand Lodge officers for picking the ‘wrong’ charities.

All this from men who call themselves Masons! I don’t wear my Masonic ring any more – I’m ashamed to be associated with a group of selfish, un-caring, petulant children.

Due to lack of interest from anyone this site was designed for – other than my few notes, nobody has posted much of anything here – I’m shutting down this Board on August 15th until this Fraternity comes to its senses and returns to its honorable principles established so long ago… if it’s possible.

I have a deepening dread that it’s too late for redemption, and I’m afraid Freemasonry will disappear in Arkansas within the next 5 – 10 years.

Doug Simmons

Simmons hosted the Masonic website on which the article above appeared, but he shuttered it as his rise in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas began.  It’s a matter of speculation whether his condescending attitude, and his opinion that Masons exist only to serve their Grand Lodges, was a factor in his many subsequent Grand Lodge appointments.

In recent years, Simmons has served on almost all of the politically motivated trial committees appointed by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. As an example, he was one of five members of the Grand Lodge trial committee that convicted and suspended every officer of Sebastian Lodge No. 706 in Ft. Smith (as reported in the first Masonic leak published on this site), then immediately thereafter, he was appointed special Grand Lodge “overseer” for the convicted brothers’ lodge!

Simmons later served as one of five members of a Grand Lodge trial committee that convicted and expelled five Past Masters of various Arkansas lodges, including retired US Marine veteran Otis D. Burtcher, who was convicted in absentia after he suffered a heart attack at his Masonic trial and was rushed away in an ambulance to undergo emergency surgery (see: last week’s Masonic leak).

As unbelievable as it seems, after that and similar displays of “morality and brotherly love,” Simmons was presented the Grand Lodge of Arkansas’ highest Masonic award, the “Medal of Honor, Category #1″ for “distinguished service to the fraternity!”  His state’s Grand Master Ronnie Hedge, Deputy Grand Master Gene Warren, and Grand Secretary James Weatherall, traveled more than 200 miles to personally present the award (see: http://blocher.westark.net/trboard.htm ).

Despite his Grand Lodge’s prohibition against electronic Masonic communication, adopted in February 2010, Simmons has continued posting public commentary like the following on “The Burning Taper” blog:  Arkansas Grand Lodge resignations confirmed.  Furthermore, he apparently created, copyrighted, and maintains his current lodge website, while many other Arkansas lodges have been forced to dismantle or drastically alter their similar sites (see: Blocher Lodge No. 247 , Sebastian Lodge No. 706 ).

Even though Simmons has indisputably and repeatedly violated his state’s Masonic by-laws, as well as his own Master Mason’s obligation in numerous ways, the only action taken as a result, has been to heap additional honors and awards upon him.

It appears that Simmons has successfully ascended to a level in Arkansas Masonry that’s exempt from the rules and regulations applying to ordinary Masons, who otherwise meet upon the level of equality, and act by the plumb of rectitude.

Please, review all reference materials and evidence:

Review the archived Grand Lodge of Arkansas website as seen in 2008

Review previous article discussing Simmon’s involvement to expel a brother who had a heart attack during the trial

(Contains 2 attachments.)

Brother Suffers Heart Attack at Masonic Trial: Expelled in Absentia

The following “leak” is indicative of a few of the many wrongs perpetrated against the “regular” Masons of Arkansas by their Grand Lodge.

The letter (at the end of this release) is from Past Master Otis D. Burtcher, a retired US Marine veteran, who was ordered by his state’s “Deputy Grand Master, Presiding,” George R. Franks, Jr., to appear at his own blue lodge and re-take his Master Mason’s obligation as means of punishment for asking why Franks refused to be installed in his deceased predecessor’s office as Grand Master.

Like most Masonic constitutions, the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas requires a Grand Master, and says that if a Grand Master dies in office, the Deputy Grand Master is to succeed him.  When Deputy Grand Master Franks steadfastly refused to do that, brother Burtcher and several others gained permission from the majority (11 of 20) of the state’s living Past Grand Masters, to charge him with un-Masonic conduct.

As soon as Franks became aware of the action, he summonsed a meeting of the living Past Grand Masters at a time so inconvenient as to prevent the most aged ones from attending.  He then named one of his supporters as temporary “chairman” of the group, and in that capacity, the new chairman declared that no votes would count, except from members physically present.

As the complete vote was shrewdly circumvented and the majority fell short at the called meeting, Deputy Grand Master Franks declared all of the Masons who attempted to charge him with un-Masonic conduct “suspended pending trial.”  He then appointed 5-member trial committees to try those brothers, and he ordered that the trials be held in a back room of the Grand Lodge offices in Little Rock, not in the brothers’ own lodges, not with their own brothers to judge them, and not with any audience or witnesses except those specifically called to testify.

Brother Burtcher showed up to defend himself at his scheduled trial, but before the proceeding began, he suffered a heart attack and nearly died.  While local emergency services were in route, a brother from a different jurisdiction offered him some nitroglycerin tablets to alleviate his pain, but withdrew them when the ailing brother reached for one, saying: “we’d better not do that, we might get in trouble.”

Paramedics subsequently administered two maximum-dosage units of nitroglycerin while transporting the stricken brother to the nearest hospital.  His cardiac surgeon reported that he suffered cardiac arrest, and immediate surgery was required to save him.  The surgery was successful, but the 35% permanent loss of heart function he suffered, might have been lessened or prevented if the visiting brother hadn’t denied him the medication.

Finally, to add insult to injury, “Mr.” Burtcher was informed by a member of his Grand Lodge Trial Committee, that the trial had been a mere formality, and no defense would have made any difference in its outcome.  Apparently, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas sees no need to allow an accused brother to rebut evidence against him, or to introduce exculpatory evidence, as is typically offered in any other court of law and equity.

A few weeks later, at the Grand Lodge’s next annual communication, the majority of voting members voted to uphold the unjust expulsion.  They were misled into doing so, however, because they were told that brother Burtcher “failed to appear” in answer to his summons to trial, and was declared expelled as a result.

One member of the trial committee who expelled brother Burtcher (and many others while serving on similar Grand Lodge Trial Committees), Maxwell D. “Doug” Simmons, was later awarded the Grand Lodge of Arkansas’ highest award for “service to the Masonic fraternity.”  Another member, Robert L. Jackson, subsequently entered the state’s “grand line,” and is on track to be the state’s Grand Master next year.

The following is a letter written by PGM Arthur J. “Buddy” Mhoon (Grand Master in 1985) discussing the mockery being made of Freemasonry in Arkansas after this and other expulsions.  It was written to PGM Garry C. Jones for his actions under the guise of his title:

January 3rd, 2005

M.W. Gary C. Jones, PGM, Gr. Treasurer
17810 Middle Ridge Road
Ozark, AR. 72949

Dear Brother Gary,

I have always had a high reguard for you dedication and devotion to Masonry in Arkansas, as you have served in several capacities in your Masonic Career. However, I think you should step down as Chairman of the Masonic Law and Usage Committee for the following reasons:

1. There is no provision in the Digest(Sec. 2170) for selecting a Chairman for the Committee on Law and Usage, so your election was neither ill-legal nor legal. It has been my experience that when no law exists, Ancient Usage is applied. Ancient Usage tells me that Brother Quinn Lafarge should be the Chairman if he is able. If not, he should appoint someone to fill that station.
2. You have demonstrated that you are not impartial on matters coming before the committee. When Brother Quinn Lafarge handed you a packet of papers to be presented to the Committee, you simply glanced at them and placed your judgment over and above the collective judgment of the Committee. None of the committee has been given any of this information. You did not even read aloud the contents of this packet, much less appoint a committee of investigation. You made the decision to do the thinking for the committee and not to share it with the Committee.
3. You will have a conflict of interests, when you preside over the deliberations of the committee on any recommendations that you make as Treasurer. How could you not be impartial over your own recommendations.
4. There have been presented several Resolutions from your own Lodge which you as Secretary signed. A couple of which, if passed, would fly against the face of tradition in this Grand Lodge (14 Year olds may be made Mason’s) (Grand Lodge Officer’s only to be allowed to vote in Grand Lodge) If you remain as Chairman of the Law and Usage Committee, you would preside over the deliberations of these resolutions. Will you make the decision for the Committee or will you allow input from the rest of the committee? I do not believe any Past Grand Master who holds an elected Office in the Grand Lodge should be allowed to preside over the deliberations of the Committee on Law and Usage.
5. Brother Gary, I hope and pray that you will do the Honorable thing, relinquish the Chairmanship of the Law and Usage Committee, to the rightful Chairman. If not, I will be very disappointed in You.

Fraternally and Sincerely

A. J.”Buddy” Mhoon, PGM

Copy To PGM’s, Brothers:
Bill A. Jones
Quinn D. Lafargue, Jr.
Marty D. Byers
Frank A. Smith
Kevin L. Hatfield
Jack B. Stockburger
Dickey J. Fortner
Paul C. Bush
Dick E. Browning
Monroe Robinson
John H. Kidwell
Joe C. Smith
Bobby D Pope
Hayden P. Davis
James L. Weatherall
Danny R. King

Here’s a personal letter from this expelled brother to other befallen brethren:

Dear Brothers,

I spoke with Mac [Past Master Malcolm R. McHughes] on the phone this afternoon.  He and Charles [Past Master Charles Baker] had just left a conference with an attorney.  Mac told me there were two attorneys present, and you can contact him if their names are important.  It seems the attorney Mac first consulted, asked another attorney to meet with them, as the other is more experienced in slander suits.

At the meeting, the attorneys told Mac and Charles they had a “slam-dunk” case against Franks [Grand Master George R. Franks, Jr.] for slander, specifically referring to the letters Franks sent in which he made accusations of them telling lies and such.  Those letters were copied to third parties, and according to Mac, the lawyers said that a suit with that evidence would be successful.  Other comments made by Franks while addressing the craft could, should — and would also be perused, but the letters alone were enough for a case.

The lawyers went on to point out that if the case was successful and a judgment obtained, it would probably be of no financial avail.  The court can’t take Frank’s house, car, and certain other properties.  They also pointed out (as did I) that if a judgment was forth coming, Franks could — and would in all probability — file bankruptcy, thereby avoiding any financial loss.

Based on that probability, they were unwilling to take the case on a contingency basis, as a judgment that’s un-collectable, doesn’t put beans on the table.  We can all see their point there.  Thus, they would require an upfront retainer.  Mac was of the opinion a sum in the range of $5,000 to $8,000 is needed.

All should be aware that a “slam-dunk” is their opinion, and may be the case, but there’s no guarantee, and the money spent — whatever the amount, will be non-refundable.
Mac also said there were many throughout the fraternity who said they’d be willing to help with finances, but I seriously doubt that even a fraction of the necessary amount can be raised.  Men who were unwilling to stand up to what they all privately professed to be wrong, were the same men who failed to come forward and let their strength of numbers be known.  I doubt they are any more willing to thrust their hand into their pocket in an effort to see justice done now.

As I strolled down to my garden to harvest tomatoes this evening, I contemplated some of the above.  I asked myself what is to be gained.  Face?  I haven’t lost face.  I still think as highly of myself as before, actually a little more.  I was along with you doing the right thing.  We, to the man, counseled each other in an effort to do things by the book.  We did them by the book, the same book that the Grand Lodge flat ignored, so in my view, I have no loss of face to be regained.

Rid a Fraternity of people like Franks?  I ask you and myself, to what avail?  What benefit is to be gained if Franks is kicked out of Masonry?  What benefit if a judgment goes against him and he files bankruptcy?  I’m out money up front on lawyers who say the case is a “slam-dunk,” but if it was so open and closed, I would think the lawyers would expect to be able to obtain some kind of remuneration from the successful prosecution of the case.

As I strolled back from my garden, I recalled that we’ve already made an effort to inform the craft of the wrongs being committed.  I personally devoted more than two days and one all-night session in that endeavor, and we collectively spent over $500.00 mailing evidence to every lodge in the state, but to what end?

We thought the men we called “brothers,” the men we’d gone to such great lengths to warn about the wrongs being committed, the men we were putting our Masonic careers on the line for, would prove themselves to be men who’d display their strength of character.  Ha!  What a joke that turned out to be!  The same people we tried to uphold the principles of a fraternity for — and with, proved to be as disinterested in those principles as I am disinterested in those men today.

I’ve come to the conclusion they deserve to have the likes of Franks within their ranks.  They were unwilling to assist us in our effort to see right done within the fraternity, and then were unwilling to come to our aid.  Now, I’m unwilling to go further to rid them of the cancer that’s eating away at their Fraternity.

Masonry is an idea conceived of, perpetuated by, and sustained by men.  The majority of those men have proven to be less than men in my eyes, and my tomatoes are more important to me now.

As for me, I’d rather not pursue the matter additionally, but I joined in this venture with all of you, and as you’ve stood by me, I’ll continue to stand by you.  I think highly of each and every one of you.  None of you, nor I, have done anything less than we should have, and were obligated to do.  In keeping with those principles, I’ll match any of the brother’s individual financial contributions.

I am,

Otis Dean “O.D.” Burtcher

Please remember that there are MANY more documents and evidence provided as attachments of this article.

(Contains 21 attachments.)