Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

The Jurisdiction of California will be holding its annual Grand Lodge Session in May.  All other jurisdictions will also be convening Grand Lodge Sessions in similar time frames.  Grand Lodge Sessions are not just an opportunity to renew friendships and visit with Brothers and Sisters from other Lodges.   They provide a vital opportunity to consider and vote on important matters such as bills, resolutions, recommendations and elections of officers.   Following is an article written by Brother Peter Sellars, a founding member of DMC and a frequent contributor to these DMC Newsletters.  Peter is a Past Grand Master, and has served for many years as an elected Grand Representative to Sovereign Grand Lodge.   He shares his thoughts on “voting” at Grand Lodge Sessions.  I think you will find Peter’s article thought-provoking.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California

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THOUGHTS ON VOTING

 

With California Grand Lodge sessions coming up in May, this writing may be an answer for those representatives planning to attend. Normally, we see anywhere from 140 to 180 representatives. I am not sure how many are attending this year, as little information is passed along this early in the year (April).

 

Many members have asked me, “How should I vote?” when attending Grand Lodge sessions. For the most part, I resisted telling them to vote a certain way. But used a method that I thought was always fair and a way to get the members to think more about the legislation being presented, rather than what someone else was telling them to vote for or against.

 

I advise those who approach me or who attend our district meeting and any guests who wish to attend such meetings or gatherings, to vote first and foremost for the benefit of themselves and their fellow brothers or sisters. “What would benefit the members of their lodge the most?”, should be their primary concern, as each representative is representing his or her own lodge. The lodge members have elected them to be their representative – period. Secondly, they should vote for what is best for their lodge and to protect a lodge’s finances and holdings, as most have some level of a fiduciary responsibility, as most lodges if not all are corporations.

 

This usually gives a solid direction of their voting. It still comes down to each member, as their votes in recent years, since electronic voting, is private. No one knows of how someone votes, even if they tell you they voted a certain way.

 

Next, for those pieces of legislation, look at the member presenting their bill or resolution. I find that the angrier the member or the member who tends to jump up to the mic every other bill, loses. The members seem not to appreciate being treated like they are clueless. In fact, those members who represent their lodges tend to already know what is best to vote for or against.

 

No one appreciates, “The Code Expert” – that person who stands up and recites the code or stands there at the mic with an open code book in hand. This is what the Legislation Committee should be doing, as the Legislation Committee reviews all bills as they seek to amend the code. The Parliamentarian can also be asked questions. I am not saying, not to have your code book with you or to referencing the code; in fact, everyone in the session should be familiar with the code passages. I find that “The Code Expert” usually loses his or her argument. It is about respect of the Body of members representing their lodges.

 

If you have questions on the effect of a piece of legislation ask both opposing sides their opinion. It is simple enough, ask each why they think this bill or resolution should pass or fail. That should provide the voter valuable input into the decision process. Please do not simply vote “yes” or “no” on items you are not familiar with.  

 

All representatives are entitled to vote and each are required to vote. Vote within the time allotted. This helps the process move along more efficiently.

 

Two years ago, the Grand Body decided to return to voting on “reports” that come from the committees. The committee may give a “favorable” or “unfavorable” report on a billresolution, or other various annual reports.” The Grand Lodge moved away from simply voting on a these items, and using the 2/3rds vs 1/3 as a determining vote count. Now, Grand Lodge has the Body voting on the “report” by the committee. This is where it gets confusing. In my opinion, only using my many years of being part of the process, changing this method of voting did a disservice to the newer representatives who are trying to understand the process. Most of the time, the process moves quickly and members are just trying to keep up. If a “report” by a committee is a recommendation to vote “no” on a bill, but you want the bill to pass, then you would want to vote “no” on the motion to accept the “report.” With these types of confusing bills and resolutions, each should be explained clearly to the Grand Body. Everyone needs to know if their vote is supporting a piece of legislation or not. With those pieces of legislation that a committee or multiple committees cannot get a unanimous agreement, those pieces “stand on their own merits”, which are straight forward and is a vote on the piece rather than the “report.”

 

For most representatives, your lodge has offset your expenses to attend session, voted to send you to session, and expect you to protect them from legislation that would hurt the members or their financial situation. Trustees, officers, and members have sacrificed and have also worked hard to save, in order to get a greater return on their money. It is every representative’s responsibility to protect those assets.

 

I hope this helps all of you when voting at Grand Lodge. 

 

In Friendship, Love, and Truth,

 

Peter V. Sellars

Grand Representative, PGM

 

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