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Stop What You Are Doing, and Don't Exercise Your Constitutional Right!

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

S.K. Tom Tsirimokos, Chairman of the Grand Encampment Committee on Jurisprudence, Sends Letter Condemning Constitutional Right to Call to Conclave

On Sept. 26, 2021, S.K. Tom Tsirimokos, Chairman of the Grand Encampment’s Jurisprudence Committee, issued a letter aimed to “dispel some of the misconceptions and outright falsehoods propounded by the instigators of the so-called ‘Call to Conclave’.”

The letter attempts to excuse S.K. Michael Johnson’s excesses of office while disparaging the constitutional rights of the Sir Knights to call a Special Conclave in review of S.K. Michael Johnson’s apparent conflicts of interest underlying his Decisions and to determine whether S.K. Michael Johnson abused his office in removing S.K. David Kussman without cause. You may read S.K. Tsirimokos’s letter here:

Response to Call to Conclave_Redacted
Download PDF • 183KB

The letter appears to posit a confused understanding of the law. The letter claims that the principal allegation levied against S.K. Michael Johnson is that he acted unilaterally to overturn the actions of the voting delegates at the 68thTriennial.

But the principal allegation against S.K. Michael Johnson is ultra vires acts in toto – that is, abusing his office and acting against the interests of Templary per se. S.K. Tsirimokos is complicit by constructing the Constitution to excuse these abuses of office (S.K. Tom may have a vested interest in the CBCS issue as well, since he is (or was) most likely a member of the clandestine version brought over by Billy Koon in 2010-11. See below.)

One of the manners in which S.K. Michael is alleged to have abused his office is indeed by contravening the voting delegates’ decision at the 68th Triennial to end S.K. William “Billy” H. Koon II’s absurd feud with an organization he was not invited to join.

This while Billy Koon attempted (and apparently continues to attempt) to establish a clandestine version of the same order but under his own control. It is alleged that S.K. Michael Johnson is (or was) a member of this clandestine version, too, and that S.K. Michael Johnson’s Decisions are based on a manifest conflict of interest here.

S.K. Michael Johnson’s unjust and unprecedented removal of the Deputy Grand Master for actions taken by the Deputy Grand Master before S.K. Michael was in fact Grand Master, without cause cited and without any sort of hearing, are also of issue and grave concern.

These actions are troubling because they override the will of the deliberative assembly – the elective power – that properly constitutes the Grand Encampment. That is, the Sir Knights in Grand Conclave assembled.

These acts should be troubling to any Knight Templar who cares about freedom of conscience and the vows of Knighthood. We vow to support and defend the good name of all Knights Templar. Presently, S.K. Michael Johnson is defaming S.K. David Kussman publicly, in emails, and at Department Conferences by accusing him of malfeasance. This is a legally actionable term. (See here for more information on that issue.)

Note, a Grand Master cannot simply contravene the majority will of all Knights Templar – when he does so, he does so at his own peril. Since a Grand Master stands to order before the Grand Encampment when in Conclave assembled, he serves at the will of the body that elected him. If they do not agree with him, his Decisions are not adopted. If they call a special election, he can be replaced.

In S.K. Trisimokos’s reasoning, though, a Resolution (which has the stronger effect and is included in the Rules and Regulations of the Order) lacks precedence over a Grand Master’s Decision. In other words, according to Tsirimokos, the Grand Master's word is more powerful than a majority vote of the Grand Encampment!

This unsound reasoning fails on at least two grounds.

First, a Grand Master’s Decision isn’t the pronouncement of a law (as S.K. Tsirimokos seems to prefer), it is, properly speaking, an interpretation of written law.

Second, the Resolution (which has the force of law upon adoption by the assembly) is the controlling regulation – not an underlying decision that the Resolution was adopted to implement.

Repeal the law, you repeal the decision the law codified.

S.K. Tsrimokos confuses the order of precedence when he writes “[s]ince Resolution No. 2021-21 was silent concerning Koon Decision No. 2 [2010], it was not overruled and remains settled, Templar law.” But this is backwards. If a Decision and Resolution are in conflict, the Resolution controls. Just like if a Resolution conflicts with the Constitution, the Constitution governs.

According to S.K. Tsirimokos, though, if a master of the lodge had decided to host a banquet on Monday night, say, but the lodge then voted at the stated meeting that all banquets had to be on Saturday, the motion would be invalid (even if unanimous) because it didn’t expressly mention the master’s previous decision or discuss Mondays. This is just puerile reasoning; a clear attempt to position an agenda – an agenda subject to a manifest conflict of interest, no doubt, because all these men are invested in supplanting the lawful CBCS with a clandestine version under their own control.

The above notwithstanding, consider that even if what S.K. Tsirimokos states is correct (which is dubious), the spirit of the 68th Triennial Conclave was nonetheless clearly to put this issue to bed.

No one cares about Billy Koon’s feud with some organization that he wasn’t invited to join. Denying that spirit – ignoring it – inventing grounds to rebuff it – are clear contraventions of the voting delegates’ will and pleasure. It is like a train driver suddenly announcing to his passengers, “I don’t care if you want to get off in Manhattan! I don’t care what the map says! This train is going to Cheyenne!

The will of the majority (and in this case, a super-majority of 77%) governs. Not the arbitrary dictates of a single man who has a conflict of interest in supplanting a lawful order with a clandestine version that he and his friend, Billy Koon, brought back from France in 2010-11.

Thus, to extend the above analogy, we are now pulling the emergency brake.

It’s time to stop the train. We need to talk with the driver, remind him we're the passengers he's meant to be driving home - not stealing away to his own house. The Call to Conclave is not a vote to take action – it’s a vote to convene the deliberative assembly to consider what (if any) actions need to be taken.

Thus, it’s important to note, that rather than discount or undermine the rationale for a Special Conclave of the Grand Encampment, S.K. Tsirimokos’s letter actually impels it.

Since the Grand Encampment is the voting delegates in Conclave assembled (and not some omnipotent Grand Master, as S.K. Tsirimokos somehow contends), S.K. Trisimokos is in fact stating grounds for a Special Conclave to be convened: A Decision must be adopted by the Sir Knights in Conclave assembled. Rather than wait three years, the Special Conclave is instead called now to review Grand Master Michael Johnson’s Decisions early, before further damage is (or may be) done. One of the Grand Master’s Decisions includes his conflicted interpretation propagated by his interested Jurisprudence Chairman that repealing a Resolution somehow does not also concurrently repeal the underlying Decision the Resolution in fact implemented as law. Another is his unprecedented decision to remove an elected officer – who serves the electorate – without cause.

Understand that S.K. Kussman was unanimously elected to represent the Sir Knights as Deputy Grand Master. He’s our representative, not an appointed officer serving at the pleasure of the Grand Master. He serves at our pleasure, not the Grand Master’s. If the Grand Master is able to simply remove an officer that we, the voting Sir Knights, elected to represent our interests (which may include mitigating and subduing overreach of his superior), then what is the point of having an election at all?

What’s next, a Grand Master Decision that the Grand Master now serves ad vitam?

The Grand Master has power, according to the Constitution, to remove an elected officer for “malfeasance,” “misfeasance,” or “nonfeasance.” These are terms of art that have particular meanings. (Read more here.) There must be a hearing where the accused officer can respond to the allegations levied. Here, however, S.K. Kussman was simply removed for following the orders of the previous Grand Master and because S.K. Michael Johnson does not want to allow the CBCS to exist. And probably because he has designs on a clandestine version under his and Billy Koon’s control.

S.K. Trisimokos provides an odd and troubling rationale to excuse these manifest abuses of office (and abuse of the Sir Knights’ elective power).

S.K. Tsirimokos bangs a tired drum claiming that S.K. Kussman was negotiating some pact with the CBCS to somehow give them jurisdiction over the Craft degrees of Masonry. This is so absurd as to not warrant any response. (Read more about it here if you want.)

S.K. Trisimokos again relies on the preamble of Section 23 of the Constitution (while ignoring all the rest of it, apparently) because the preamble states that the Grand Master has the “power and authority to do and perform all such acts as he may deem for the interests of Templary” (emphasis by Tsirimokos).

But again, this doesn’t undermine the rationale for the Call to Conclave… It underscores it.

If S.K. Michael Johnson actually believes he is acting in the interests of Templary by removing his Deputy for following the direction of the previous Grand Master, and overturning the election by the voting delegates in Conclave assembled, then clearly a Special Conclave is warranted to see if he is, in fact, correct.

Personally, the author of this post finds that claim untenable. How can an act be in the interests of Templary when it goes against 77% of the voting delegates? If our leader deems such an act is in the interests of Templary, then we need to know how and why that is the case. And if in fact it is not in the interests of Templary, and he continues to maintain that it is - against all the members‘ outcry - then he needs to be removed because he is, in fact, not acting in the best interests of Templary!

Remarkably, this is what S.K. Tsirimokos believes: “[t]he Call to Conclave is, in short, an ill-founded and unwarranted distraction from the important work of the Grand Encampment and our Grand, Constituent, and Subordinate Commanderies.”

It’s odd to me that the Chairman of our Jurisprudence Committee somehow believes the right to call a Special Conclave is “ill-founded” and “unwarranted.” In fact, Conclave is the work of the Grand Encampment.

Apparently, in S.K. Trsirimokos’s understanding of Templar law, the Grand Master is omnipotent, creates the law as he speaks, can override the elective and deliberative assembly that actually is the Grand Encampment. In other words, Sir Knights, you are not the Grand Encampment – we work for the Grand Master, he does not work for us. S.K. Tom and S.K. Michael Johnson are the Grand Encampment alone and they can do whatever they like, your interests in the institution be damned! This is not a representative government: You are simply fodder for their designs; the hands necessary to uplift their throne! The election is just for show - it doesn't really mean anything at all!

The rest of S.K. Tsirimokos’s letter appears equally longwinded in attempt to excuse the Grand Master’s overreach and some misguided, bloviated sense of supremacy of the Grand Master’s office. S.K. Tsirimokos should probably just become a monarchist and give up those license plates that read “Live Free or Die!”

Why not exchange them for a pair of crowns? That way they can rule their party of two while we all go and do something else.

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