One black ball? Is this the answer?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by owls84, Aug 31, 2011.

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In your opinion where is the largest break down in the candidate election system?

  1. Election Method (ie One Black Ball Rejects)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Investigation Process

    15 vote(s)
    65.2%
  3. Censorship in Lodge (ie not being able to discuss candidates in open Lodge)

    8 vote(s)
    34.8%
  1. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    With the discussion on changing the vote back to one ball rejects, I would like to create a new survey and ask the following.

    Is the flaw with the investigation process, the balloting, or how we censor ourselves in Lodge?


    I would like to analyze the whole process and see what the "members" think? What are you seeing? What if anything do you think could be changed to deliver the better result of protecting membership quality.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  2. Brent Heilman

    Brent Heilman Premium Member

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    I would have to agree with you Brother. It would appear that there is a flaw in the system. It is my opinion that we should not censor ourselves in Lodge. Open discussion would help to alleviate some problems in the process. It seems that the whole system has many small flaws which tend to make one larger one. I cannot speak to how your investigation process in Texas goes but I know from my experience in Oklahoma it can be a little lax. Granted I had nothing negative to hide nor was there a single thing in my past that would have ever, at any point, disqualified me for the degrees. It just appeared to me that the entire interview was little more than a "get to know you" sort of thing. If the interview process was tougher that would start weeding out some of the people not fit to join our Fraternity. Also, I feel that discussion and balloting go hand in hand. What is the purpose of voting for something you are not allowed to discuss? What if we applied the same logic to other areas as well? The Lodge needs to spend $10,000 for a building repair, would we not discuss it first before voting or would we just vote and hope for the best? I don't think that voting for a candidate is much different. Just my thoughts for what they are worth.
     
  3. Brent Heilman

    Brent Heilman Premium Member

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    I would like to add to what I said earlier also in context of this poll. I believe we have to start at the beginning for reform. So to me, while there needs to be correction in the whole process, we have to start at the investigation. If the investigation really does what one is supposed to do it relieve the pressure on the rest of the system. I know when I went through the investigation for my security clearances the person doing the investigation really dug deep and by deep I mean talked to people I have not been around in years. I am NOT saying we should be like like that, but there are lessons to be learned there. Just as long as we pay attention to the past mistakes we can learn from them and improve. I say start at the beginning and make the proper changes there and then move forward correcting as we go.
     
  4. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    I believe if the investigation committee really takes their time and does a thorough job then requiring three black balls is just fine. There also wouldn't be any need to discuss the candidate because the committee would likely learn anything that would disqualify him.
     
  5. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    While I voted for the investigation process, I almost voted censorship for this reason right here. Balloting is perhaps the most important vote the lodge ever takes, and its the one vote we can't discuss. It makes little sense.
     
  6. Brent Heilman

    Brent Heilman Premium Member

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    I voted for investigation also, but I too almost went for the balloting option. It does make little sense not to be able to discuss it. There is a larger part of me though that thinks that as one takes care of each step in the chain the rest will stat to fix themselves. Of course I could be wrong, as is know to happen. Just ask my wife.
     
  7. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally, I'm not opposed to allowing discussion providing we can identify why this was made illegal in the first place and then determine if these reasons are still relevant today.

    Why would they create a law that seems to strange at first glance? I'm sure it was for a valid reason, although I admit I don't know what that reason is or was.
     
  8. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    I don't know, but I imagine it was made illegal so the group doesn't trash someone in open lodge, and then word gets back to said person, possibly after they are initiated, and you end up with disharmony in the lodge.

    That said, if the discussion leaves a professional, fact oriented direction, I think you have greater issues in the lodge. We should be responsible enough adults to objectively discuss and pros/cons about a specific candidate.
     
  9. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Brother Benton, your post got me thinking.

    Perhaps this rule was put in place for the same reason balloting is secret? For example: If a new brother found out who black balled him then it could create a rift or a grudge could it not? Now what if you were to find out that brother X didn't think you had the right kind of character or morals to be a mason? Wouldn't that create the same problem?

    We can be idealistic about it if we want and expect everyone to approach such discussions maturely without any fear of the candidate/brother learning about what was said down the road but I'm just not sure it's very realistic.

    My opinion has always been that if a brother has a concern or information about a potential candidate then he should approach a member of the investigation committee about it, who can then determine it's validity. I don't know if this is legal either, but it seems better to me than open discussion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  10. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    And word could still get back to the potential candidate. Probably less likely, but easily possible.
    There is a provision where, before the initiation itself three brothers can go to the WM and protest the ballot. From the law book:

    Article 423 When and By Whom

    Any member of a Lodge in this jurisdiction may protest, either orally or in writing, a candidate for any degree, either before or after his election. In each case, the protester must give clearly his name and the name, number, and location of his Lodge. More guidelines that you can look up yourself.
    To be effective as to any petitioner for a degree, protests must be made after the petition is received by the Lodge and before conferring the degree has begun.

    Article 425 Effect of Protests

    A protest shall have the same effect and value and be counted as a blackball under Art 418. Three protests, or a combination of protests and blackballs with a combined total of three shall reject for one year. Four protests, or a combination of protests and blackballs totaling four shall reject the petitioner for two years; More rules you can look up yourself.


    So there is a protest. And once again, one that could easily get back to the candidate if a candidate's buddy is supporting the candidate, and the protesters are staunchly against the candidate.

    The censor on discussion also prevents positive talk regarding a candidate. So if the general vibe is that a petitioner is going to get blackballed for an unjust reason, but you have some important, positive things to say about a candidate, you can't do anything about it.

    I know I'm speaking in hypotheticals. But I think it's worth discussing.
     
  11. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    Keep in mind also that any candidate can be protested. Even an EA or FC. Just takes 3 protests. Some people think once you're in you are in but that is not true. We have means of further protecting our Lodge's membership but we have to educate ourselves on the the proper way to place a protest to ensure it is done correctly and our officers need to know how to properly handle a protest when it is received. Again, it boils down to education.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  12. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    Let me further ask this, do you feel that because some members can't behave as they should that we have altered our laws to protect them? Case in point is the fact that we can't have open discussion, good or bad, about a candidate in open Lodge when, as Masons, we should be able to hold a discussion on the topic without fear of someone's feelings being hurt or word getting back to an individual that may hold a grudge or cause disruption. Perhaps it was that fear that would cause a candidate not to be elected to begin with and with that I would say the process worked.

    All of this being said I find it odd that our members find more important weaknesses in the process than that of the number of balls to reject. To the GLoTX defense they have published an investigation process recently and I feel strides are being taken in the right direction.
     
  13. Raymond Walters

    Raymond Walters Premium Member

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    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  14. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    Respectfully, that's not fair, and doesn't include every situation.

    Suppose I miss one meeting. Just one. And that's where a petition is read, and an investigation committee formed. I come to the business meeting the next month, being busy with life and somewhat out of the loop, and find out that old Joe Bob has not only petitioned, but the investigation committee reported back favorably. How could they do that! They obviously don't know Joe Bob like I do, don't know about x, y, and z about him. I am, at that point, obligated to vote my conscience for the good of the lodge.

    I didn't withhold one shred of information. I simply was out of communication because of my obligations to God, family, or my usual vocation. When I came back in the fold, I did what I thought was right.

    There's was nothing cowardly about it. And remember, in Texas we cannot, "step up to the altar and inform the lodge of any petitioners shortcomings, whatever they may be," as you suggested. We cannot discuss a petitioner openly in lodge. It's a rule.

    Not trying to be rude or belligerent, and I hope I didn't come off that way. I just think there's another side that ought be considered.
     
  15. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Agreed, Benton.

    In addition, there are special circumstances where an objector cannot speak up, even in a jurisdiction where that's permitted. Suppose you're a cop, and you know about an undercover investigation of a seemingly-respectable petitioner? Suppose you're a priest, and a petitioner has told you something dreadful in the confessional? In either case, your profession requires that you keep your mouth firmly shut. And surely there are various other circumstances where you might know something you can't admit to knowing. Perhaps rare, but certainly possible.

    This is why we still need to have the option of an anonymous blackball as a last resort, even in jurisdictions which allow discussion.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  16. confedhiram

    confedhiram Registered User

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    Here in NC if one single black ball is found, we vote again. If two or more are found them the vote ends. It seems to be working for us. The bigger issue for me is concerning investigating and signing petitions. The brothers in the lodge should take the investigation report at the value reported. However, the petitioner can't be discussed in the lodge. But if you have personal knowledge of him then you can speak with the investigators before the report is given. Our grand lodge conducts criminal back ground check on all who petition a lodge in NC. That helps a lot! What concerns me is when a stranger petitions a lodge and someone ask you to sign a petition when you don't know him! I have been bitten by this before and have learned my lesson!
     
  17. mrpesas

    mrpesas Registered User

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    Another possible change to consider:
    Could we do a candidate interview at called meeting? Make it a group interview like many work places are going to. Any member of lodge could attend. Open lodge, call it to refreshment, bring in the candidate and ask him some questions, then discuss it once the candidate leaves. This could give the investigation committee info for a more in-depth search later. Just a thought
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  18. rhitland

    rhitland Founding Member Premium Member

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    One black ball is a good thing for reasons such as Huw mentioned. The whole process can use some mending there is no arguing that but I think it goes deeper than our processes it is our mindset. I think allot of masons feel we are dyeing and the only cure or fix-all is to replenish the membership numbers with the quickness. That very mind set kills us from the get go. Masonry does not need us we need it.
     
  19. Nate Riley

    Nate Riley Premium Member

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    I agree, I would like to know all of the reasoning behind the law before jumping on board with an open discussion. With that said, it makes some sense to discuss it. A story I heard either here on MOT or at lodge, was that a certain man was mistaken for another man of the same name. At some point in the future he was elected to receive the degrees, as the brothers who voted against voted differently. No one is at fault here, it was a bad situation all around. I can't blame the Brothers for voting their conscience, wrong guy or not. I don't know all of the details, maybe the voting brothers should have been able to tell from the petition that the petitioner was not who they were thinking of. A little bit of discussion might have cleared this up.

    But there is no doubt that our investigations need to be ramped up. Note that the Grand Lodge has a "guidlines" book posted on the website that is a good starting point. That was my vote.
     

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