Posts Tagged ‘masonry’
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.)
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.
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:
(Contains 2 attachments.)
Expelled: Tried To Require Deputy Grand Master To Take Grand Master’s Oath According To Arkansas By-Laws
A group of brethren charged the acting-Grand Master of Arkansas, George Franks, Jr., with breaking numerous by-laws for refusing to be installed as Grand Master after the death of his predecessor. He thought he could effectively serve two years as Grand Master instead of the limit of one. The acting-Grand Master also was, by his own admission, fired for sexual harassment from his job as a top police commander in the state. His actions, both in the fraternity and in public, were in stark contrast with Masonic ideals and philosophy; those actions also broke Masonic by-laws in the state. The majority of the state’s living Past Grand Masters agreed that corrective action was necessary, and an executive council was scheduled to discuss the matter. But, the acting-Grand Master thwarted the effort by expelling and suspending numerous brothers and threatening others, thereby solidifying his reign of terror over “regular” Arkansas Masonry.
It’s noteworthy that every one of the living Past Grand Masters who served between the years of 1962 and 1989, and all but one of those who served between the years of 1962 and 1996, with the exception of the two who were serving as Grand Secretary (James Weatherall) and Grand Treasurer , signed the document to investigate and decide how to handle the abuses of the Grand Master Franks. This document is provided with the attached documents below.
Below are notes of a Brother who ultimately was expelled for doing the RIGHT thing. Following these notes, attachments are included.
Series of events Grand Lodge Arkansas:
At the February Grand Lodge’s Grand Session: questionable voting by hand count, no coffee at Scottish Rite, and no lunch available.
Less than ONE week after Grand Session, elected Grand Master dies
Deputy Grand Master will not take Grand Masters obligation:
- See sect 2100 H pg 25 ( cannot delegate to another dispensing)
- Art II set sect 4 pg 10 (shall Succeed)
March 29,2004 DGM issues letter to Lodges , that the vote on per capita will be dismissed and a new vote will take place at the next grand Lodge session.( No by-law authorizing this action)
Paul Bush PGM receives call from DGM with the threat of un-masonic conduct if he “doesn’t keep his mouth shut”. This was due to Bro Bush expressing his view that the DGM must take the obligation of GM to be within the by-laws of Arkansas.
May 27 ,20040.D. Burtcher sends e-mail to other Masons, stating the above, and talk of: resolutions on voting, masonic law, why many masons questioned the DGM not taking the obligation and possible other nominations at the next session. He included his views on the subjects.
June 1, 2004Bro. Burtcher receives phone call from DGM with threat of a masonic trial for un-masonic conduct because of the e-mail, plus the requirement that Bro. Burtcher must retake the Master Masons obligation the next meeting of his lodge.
June 3,2004 DDGM asked a Past-Master of Adoniram Lodge to re-obligate Bro. Burtcher, but the Brother refused, and then GSW Lloyd was asked to do the re-obligation.
June 3, 2004 at Adoniram Lodge # 288 Dan Lloyd, GSW, proceeds to administer the punishment and humiliation to Bro Burtcher by re-obligating him in the MM degree. At which time” ALL” members of his lodge came to the aid ofthe Brother, at the alter, and repeated with the brother the MM obligation.
June 1,2004 Bro. James Paul Vincent was summoned to Grand Lodge.
June 9,2004, when Bro Vincent arrived at The Grand Lodge he was accused of un-masonic conduct, at which time Bro. Vincent, a 33 degree Mason .said” he had all of this he wanted “and took self-expulsion.
June 19,2004 Monticello Dist. Meeting-DGM is asked by Bill Jones, why he did not take the GM oath, and was accused of “baiting the DGM”. DGM states “he does not have to follow the by-laws.” Also, states he was discharged from the state police for “sexual harassment” but someone was out to get him. At the same meeting Bill Jones was handed a Masonic Summons to appear for “Bad Mouthing the DGM” Time set, but Jones health prevented that meeting, was told he would report to next meeting to be held June 30 at Pine Bluff “or be expelled” Jones told by DGM that when he took the MM obligation he no longer had “free speech” and need to keep his mouth shut.
(Contains 16 attachments.)
Another release will follow eight days later.
The website, MasonicLeaks.Com, has now opened with the anticipation that we will reach the eyes and ears of brethren worldwide. It’s important to protect the principles of Masonry. We must stand together to ensure that the foundations are restored to their proper place in the fraternal regime that is Freemasonry.
Releases of the provided cables are imminent, so stay tuned!