June, 28, 2013
It is a shame that you did not make any effort to sit down and talk with me when I came to California for the three meetings at the end of May. I was at each meeting and so were you. I wish you had shared your thoughts with me first rather than to just posture for our members and the public.
In the interest of being somewhat brief, I am not going to address every error or point in your “open letter.”
We agree that Grange leaders serve the membership, however your ending comment “not to dictate” is a direct accusation. Leadership does not dictate in the Grange, we set the example by following the rules that we are obligated to enforce. Dictating implies a personal agenda or choice of the Grange leader over the organization, which goes against all Grange philosophy.
I have stated numerous times, and will continue to say in spite of your stated disbelief, that this conflict is not about you or I. It is about the rules of the organization that each of us has pledged to abide by. As a new member, upon each successive degree taken, and each time that we stand to be installed as an officer of any Grange, we place our hand over our heart and publicly pledge our honor that we will faithfully follow the rules. This is the simple and direct answer to why there is a current conflict. I am pledged to enforce the same rules that you are, and I have kept my obligation.
If you will review the letter of revocation, you were not kicked out as you claim; you left the broad framework of our Grange structure voluntarily and willfully. Our lawsuit asks the courts to merely enforce our rules on the California leadership, not judge our rules, not judge you, but to follow the rules that both the National Grange and the California State Grange agreed to.
You chose to use the California Courts to delay your opportunity to tell your side of the story. The Charges against you are serious, and contrary to what you have repeatedly claimed, have nothing to do with Sister Stefenoni. Grange law prohibits me from speaking to the charges, but you were given the chance to explain your actions before your suspension occurred.
You accuse me of persecution of the officers of the California State Grange. Yet it is you, and your supporters, who have removed from California State Grange office four officers where the “charge” was apparently to disagree with you. That action was not enough, as you then permitted improper attempts to terminate several of their memberships. It is also you and your supporters that have posted charges and many accusations against me on websites contrary to all Grange law. As you know, such charges have been found to be meritless.
I came to California expecting hostility and hospitality at the end of May. I did receive both. I stood in front of all members who cared to come. I listened to their comments, answered their questions, and explained why the National Grange has acted and in what ways. I appreciate that you and your supporters were not vulgar or coarse, but the disrespect clearly showed. Others asked questions or just listened. I am thankful for the attendance of each member, regardless of their opinion.
I do question your statement that you’re “tired of standing on this soap box,” and when you wish to rejoin the Grange and accept the rules of the Order as yours, I will hold my hand out to you. Your current actions and your legal arguments would spell the end of the Grange as a viable national and state organization. If we allow you to set the precedent, no one would have to follow any rule unless they wanted to. Without structure the Grange would follow the path of so many other organizations and slowly disintegrate into oblivion.
I remain dedicated to the principles of the Grange, those concepts and beliefs imbedded deep throughout our rules, and the integrity and honesty of the people who simply place their hand over their heart and promise to do the best that they can.
When you are ready to sit down and talk, I and all the members of the National Grange Executive Committee will be waiting for you. We are prepared to begin the healing when you are willing to recommit to the rules and structure of the Grange family. Our Constitution and By-Laws have carried us through many trials and tribulations; they have ensured our survival through the toughest of times, they will guide us through this challenge.
Ed Luttrell, Master
The National Grange