Posts Tagged ‘Lodges’

Former Arizona Grand Lodge Jurisprudence Committeeman’s Letter to the 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

Statistical Report for MasonicLeaks

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:

  1. We received over 30 corroborated reports of abuse and more than  50  reports submitted.
  2. There were 17 states in the United States and other three countries affected by the received reports.
  3. 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:

  1. 79,690 unique visitors visited the website for at least 2 minutes each.
  2. An average of 4.79 minutes was spent on the website by unique visitors.
  3. 5,279 people subscribed to the RSS feed.
  4. Visitors reviewed the website in 20 different languages.
  5. Just above 80 percent of our visitors hailed from just  four countries.
  6. 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.

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.)