Shriners lament takeover of club; Members of Dorchester group say new leaders harm mission
DORCHESTER SHRINE CLUB MAKES HEADLINES
The public was first made aware of problems at the Dorchester Shrine Club last year after the Charleston Post and Courier published "Shriners Lament Takeover of Club: Members of Dorchester Group Say New Leaders Will Harm Mission" on Sunday, December 31, 2006.
"It felt like a raid," the article described what some called a "Gestapo-like takeover."It continued by describing how the potentate of the Omar Shrine Temple swept into a DSC meeting last August with police at his side, and announced he was taking over.
One Shriner of 20 years, Dick Pollard, "asked the potentate about the reasons for the changes in authority." Pollard is quoted as saying "His answer to me was 'Dick, I am the potentate. I can do it.'"
According to the article, the Dorchester Shrine Club raised $1,800 for Shrine hospitals in 2006, yet financial documents indicate that only $276.05 was actually sent to the charity. The same document shows that the club somehow came up with over $44,000 that went towards paying off their mortgage. A second article followed five days later and quoted potentate Jimmy James as saying he was forced to replace the officers because of complaints that they violated club bylaws and failed to obey his orders. The former officers were, according to James, "abusing their privileges and demonstrating conduct unbecoming of a Shriner."
There was no further follow-up by the Post Courier, so here we are, picking up where they left off.
On August 17, 2006, potentate Jimmy James issued a statement that explained that:"the bylaws of the DSC were suspended and the club "is now under his control. He then wrote that :
"ALL officers, Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and Appointees are removed from office and that all funds including check books, cash advances to the club and cash on hand will be turned over to the temple treasurer IMMEDIATEY and that the potentate shall appoint" all officers and committee chairmen."
"Nobles," James wrote, "We are distressed that the morals of some have caused these orders" and that "you have been forewarned over and over about the breeding grounds of drugs, excessive drinking, fights and the language" and that "the Club officers have totally disregarded Shrine Law."
"The temple has received letter after letter and phone call after phone call complaining about the immoral conduct that exists. THIS WILL STOP OR ELSE OTHER MEASURES WILL BE IMPLEMENTED. (Article 37, 337.3) – (1986 Proceedings) The Potentate having control over a Shrine Club may, during his term in office, terminate its existence, and he may authorize the formation of a new Shrine club. (Article 30, 330.1) 'A Noble is subject to discipline by the Temple of which he is a member, or by the temple within jurisdiction he resides, for conduct unbecoming a Noble of the Mystic Shrine or for violation of Shrine Law.'"
James apparently thought it convenient to rely on county sheriff's for his protection when he removed the DSC officers, yet embraced Shrine law, instead of the law of the land, by failing to prosecute these alleged crimes. In the matters of the drugs, drinking and fighting reported by James, the Dorchester County Sheriff's Department stated that "No one has made any written reports as to what Mr. James is claiming."
According to a statement from the past president who was thrown out, Gordon Brown:
"This was done abruptly, without even the human decency of a fair and reasonable notice and with the additional insult and attempted intimidation of an array of several law enforcement officers accompanying them."
"As reasoning for the removal," he continued "the Potentate cited that an alleged stack of 'complaints' against the President and club were piling up at a rate of about 16 a week. When we were removed from office we were given no chance to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations. "
Then, there is the question of who Okayed the potential suspension of Dorchester Shrine Club whistleblower, Dick Pollard. He claims he was threatened with suspension at a meeting called by appointed club president, Bill Ackerman because "he talked too much." Pollard claims he was told that the threat of suspension came down from the potentate. According to current potentate Jack Thompson, he had no idea that Pollard was threatened with suspension and that "Bill Ackerman had acted on his own."