New York Past Grand Master Neal Bidnick was expelled permanently from Freemasonry on Tuesday, this time by a vote of the Grand Lodge.
From a Brother who was there:
I thought it would be of interest to other Brother that at yesterday’s final day of the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of NY, PGM Neal Bidnick’s case was brought before the Grand Lodge and about 2 hours of debate and accusations ensued. I hope, as interesting as it was, that I never have to witness such and event again.
Personally I found it to be a sad day for Freemasonry. It began with the report from the committee on Jurisprudence delivered by PGM Fitche and PGM Hino, first just laying out the case that the trial commission was in fact correct in finding PGM Bidnick guilty of financial improprieties and disobeying a directive from the then GM Libone. Then went on to openly rebuke the actions of the current GM Sullivan for his actions in restoring PGM Bidnick and lifting his suspension and the letter send by the GM to all Lodges informing them of the reason why.
The motion to accept this report was tabled until the Commission on Appeals was heard. The Commission on Appeals did not find that PGM Bidnick was innocent of the charges, but that the punishment of expulsion was too harsh. Instead they recommended a reprimand.
The GM opened the floor to comments and many Brothers rose to speak to the points that were made, both in favor and against PGM Bidnick. What I found most telling was they many who would see PGM Bidnick expelled most often quoted the obligation. I would ask them if they had forgotten the 5 points of fellowship. I don’t know PGM Bidnick personally, but I know many Brothers that do and the circumstances surrounding his alleged transgressions and subsequent suspension pending trial were highly questionable to say the least. To many this seemed to ‘political’... I don’t know if we will ever really know what happened in this case. What has been released by the Grand Lodge on the details of this have been ambiguous and contradictory at best.
A vote was taken that the Commission on Appeals report be accepted and that passed by a large majority, to the second question which was should the Commission on Appeals recommendation of a reprimand be accepted, the vote was split by only 6% in favor of rejection of this motion to accept. In effect upholding the trial commissions original judgment and sentence of expulsion. PGM Bidnick was then escorted from the Grand Lodge room, head held high.
After this vote the Committee on Jurisprudence amended their report to remove the accusations leveled at GM Sullivan. But to me what was stated cannot be taken back and I feel for GM Sullivan who by all reports is a fair and true Brother of the Craft.
What was most ironic to me was the high note that the session of the first day ended on with the Distinguished Achievement Award going to Br. Howie Damron and after which Br. Damron sang his Masonic Ring ballad for the Brothers assembled. It was almost a kumbaya moment into itself.
In the end I am sure the Grand Lodge will survive and some semblance of normalcy will return after this 2+ year ordeal.
The vote was 54-46. For background on this story, see here and here.