Ossining Eagles 1545!
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THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOUR AERIE!
In May, 2009, we at the Ossining Aerie No. 1545 learned that our charter had been suspended, a charter in existence since 1906.
State and Grand Aerie officials closed the Ossining Aerie, removed all of our elected officers and trustees and appointed others to fill those positions. We ceased to be a member-directed organization and our members collectively have had no say in the organization for over a year and a half. A timely appeal of the charter suspension was filed by our president, supported by dozens of members and that appeal was, and continues to be, ignored by both the Grand Aerie and its Grand Tribunal. We believe these actions were done in violation of
Since our charter suspension, the Grand Aerie and its agents and appointees incorporated our Aerie without a vote, the consent or knowledge of the membership and demanded that we sign a Grand Aerie affiliation agreement. We opposed these and other actions by the Grand Aerie and its agents and appointees, with even some appointed officers in opposition, and matters have continually deteriorated since.
Since the charter suspension, many memberships lapsed, with individuals who had been Eagles for many years deciding they would rather leave the club than be part of an organization in which they had no voice. The Grand Aerie has responded with internal tribunal complaints brought by the commissioned agents against those members who dared to challenge their authority.
Our lodge has been closed for months and has fallen into financial decline. Last fall, the Grand Aerie commissioned agent Thomas L. McGrath stated his intention to revoke our charter and commenced seizing our property for what we believe is its sale.
After nearly two years under the control of the Grand Aerie commissioned agent, the Ossining Aerie is shuttered and in heavy debt, with our property in foreclosure and the taxes unpaid. It is worth noting that prior to the Grand Aerie taking over control of our organization, the club was financially healthy, solvent and donating approximately $10,000 to $12,000 annually to local charities. What remains of our membership now fights for the survival of our organization.
As a result the members of Aerie 1545, by unanimous vote at a series of meetings organized by and for the members of the aerie, determined to take action during the fall of 2010. We had been shut out of our own club, with the last scheduled meeting canceled by the commissioned agent on October 7, 2010. Even though the club was in lockdown, a couple of dozen committed members vowed to move forward and save our aerie. Working within the Eagles Statutes and the Laws of the State of
This was not the first time such a tactic was used. In May of 2010, the secretary appointed by the commissioned agent insisted that a twenty-six year member/twenty-year officer-trustee be arrested, after an on-the-spot suspension by the appointed secretary, at a horseshoe tournament held at the aerie. Because of allegations made by the appointed secretary to police, who was seemingly in touch with officials higher up in the hierarchy of the FOE at the time, this member was strip-searched and detained in jail for four hours. (A simple trespass charge usually merits no more than issuance of an appearance ticket). The appointed officer also obtained a stay-away order of protection, which was utilized to keep the accused member from taking part in club meetings.
Rather than submit to this oppressive action and enter into a plea agreement, the member defended himself in court, hiring counsel at considerable expense. On April 11, 2011, the District Attorney, after eleven months and a dozen court appearances, withdrew the complaint. (A withdrawal is a tacit admission by the prosecutor that the entire matter is without merit and renders the charges a nullity; there is nothing against the member remaining on the record). This incident typifies the administration of the Ossining Aerie since its charter was suspended.
In November, 2010, the Grand Aerie filed a lawsuit requesting that the New York Supreme Court issue a declaratory judgment that the Grand Aerie had title to the Ossining Aerie’s real property. The Ossining Aerie answered the complaint and in early 2011, filed a lawsuit against the Grand Aerie, its commissioned agents and their appointees for waste, mismanagement of and breach of duty to our aerie. Since then, the Grand Aerie retaliated against members actively taking part in the attempt to save the Ossining Aerie with complaints to be heard before a trial officer of the Grand Tribunal for taking part in an organization not recognized by the Grand Aerie. One member had been expelled from the order for this alleged offense after a Grand Tribunal hearing held in December of 2010.
In a surprisingly rapid decision, the New York State Supreme Court on the basis of the papers filed in the suit relating to the ownership of the real property issued a decision on March 17, 2011 which found, among other things, that the charter suspension was unlawful, that the appointment of the commissioned agents and their appointees was unlawful and that the Ossining Aerie held title to its real property. The expelled member was also reinstated and the Grand Tribunal actions against those twelve other members facing expulsion was permanently enjoined. The Grand Aerie has since filed a notice of appeal, indicating that they wish to take this matter to a higher court. The Ossining Aerie will continue its fight for justice.
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