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Naughty or Nice

December 4, 2011

Years ago, when I first delivered Christmas gifts to children across the globe, I made lists of who was naughty and who was nice.  It was a laborious process, replete with secret surveillance, private parent and Santa conferences, and millions of second, third, and even fourth chances.  Then, as the population surged and the internet grew, tracking accolades and atrocities became easier.  Hence, discovery of a really, really bad boy from Tampa, Florida named James Anderson “Jimmy” Foster.

A September 2009 search revealed Foster’s name in a Hillsborough county data base.  Uncovered were multiple felony convictions which, as most Masons know, must be disclosed on a membership petition.  A Florida Department of Law Enforcement check revealed startling information:  three felony convictions, a 25 year prison term, and 15 year probationary period.  Moreover, Foster served 2 years in prison, reoffended and violated parole a few year later, and was remanded to a Department of Corrections mental health facility for a few more years.   

Then came the Masonic shot heard ’round the world:  AT NO TIME DURING HIS MEMBERSHIP AT HILLSBOROUGH LODGE NO. 25, AS GOVERNED BY THE GRAND LODGE OF FLORIDA, DID FOSTER DISCLOSE HIS EXTENSIVE, VIOLENT CRIMINAL HISTORY.  AND TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY TO EVERY MASTER MASON IN GOOD STANDING ACROSS THE GLOBE, HE DENIED THE CRIMINAL HISTORY WHEN IT SURFACED IN 2009. 

Wow. 

Extensive felonious history?  Check. 

No lessons learned the first time?  Check. 

Reinstitutionalized?  Check. 

Lengthy parole and probationary periods due in part to a lack of self control?  Check. 

Liar?  Check. 

Cheated and defrauded every single Master Mason in good standing across the globe?  Checkity check check indeed. 

Now, here’s the rub.  Why do a few Brothers excuse and seemingly accept Foster’s abhorent, loutish behavior? 

Forgiveness, I get.  Further, it’s something I’d willingly grant if A) Foster even remotely expressed remorse and asked to be forgiven and B) his punishment had been expulsion, not a five year suspension, as dictated by the Grand Lodge of Florida’s Masonic Digest. 

Incredulously, when finally forced to admit his felonious past, Foster allegedly lowballed his convictions to only a youthful indiscretion. 

Really?  Is he insane?  (Scratch that; he did time in a prison mental facility). 

But anyway.

Have the Fosterphiles considered that HEY, GUESS WHAT, THEY TOO WERE CHEATED, DECEIVED, AND DEFRAUDED BY FOSTER?  

Then again, I must consider the character of those men, including a one Mr. Bustin. 

Ooohhh, what a handful, that one; mostly a follower, rarely a leader.  First came a nasty little foreclosure, then multiple masonic missteps and misspeaks, and finally the day when he removed air conditioners from the lodge and oddly, a few Past Master portraits disappeared around the same time. 

Just saying. 

And Mr. Schoepf, he who aided Bustin with the, ahem, air conditioner removal.   Call him the straw that’s stirred the drink for a few years.  Sadly, Schoepf seemingly suffers from multiseasonal Scroogitis.  

And how about that Joe K. (hey, that almost spells joke)?  He openly admitted to filing false charges against an innocent Brother.  Interesting, this college educated individual has a brain for crunching numbers yet lacks the spine to stand tall; why else would he claim “coersion” at Foster, Schoepf, and Bustin’s behest to file false charges? 

Sad, bad, and not Master material indeed.

 The rest?  A mixed bag.  Some walk the straight, narrow, and nice line while others straddle the naughty side of the fence.  As a duplicitous past District Deputy Grand Master once said, “You can’t tell the players from the coaches without a program, buddy.” 

Well, the program was found:  Foster’s criminal history. 

Hopefully, this sheds light on the naughty or nice selection process.  We’ve witnessed naughtiness so now, nice.  Simply:

  • Treat Brothers and others as you wish to be treated.
  • Maintain self and mutal respect.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Remember that you’re known by the company you keep. 
  • If you can help, do it.
  • If you can hinder, don’t.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • You’re only as good as your name and your word.
  • Excuses for everything and reasons for nothing are unacceptable.
  • Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

And with that in mind, Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good night.

Sincerely,

Santa Claus

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