The above link has information regarding the current legal situation between the National Grange and the CA State Grange. Two of the pages listed at the right sidebar are copied below. I recommend reading all of the posts. And I most heartily recommend continuing to operate as we normally would, because we ARE following the laws of CA, and the laws governing our charter. If we were to do as the National Master requests, we would be breaking the law - so, carry on, don't worry we are operating completely within the law, but just FYI, here is the backup story:
On October 1, 2012 the National Grange brought a lawsuit against the California State Grange, our Master and three members of our Executive Committee. The National Grange alleges that the California State Grange Master and our Executive Committee are not abiding by Grange law. We disagree.
The National Grange sought an injunction from the Superior Court that would have given them immediate control over the California State Grange offices, operations and assets. The Court denied their request.
When we take our Oath of Obligation to become members of the Grange, we pledge to abide by the laws of our state and nation, as well as the laws of the Grange. Who would join an organization that would require its members to sacrifice the laws of their state and nation?
In all cases, when the laws of the Grange do not conform to the laws of the land, the laws of the land prevail, as they must, for any corporation to be formed and legally conduct business.
These pages will present a true and factual account of the issues between the National Grange and the California State Grange. The leadership and membership of the California Grange feel targeted by the National Master who has abandoned the founding principles of the Grange in preference to abusive authority and persecution.
A MESSAGE FROM THE CALIFORNIA STATE GRANGE
A MESSAGE FROM THE CALIFORNIA STATE GRANGE
The founding purpose of the Grange was to unite and protect small farms and farm families from abusive railroad monopolies, unfair competition by much larger agricultural operations, and indifference in Washington, D.C. We had to stick together and support each other to survive. Our structure, rules, and noble traditions were designed to hold us together and guide us, ever vigilant to outside threats.
150 years later, the Grange faces different challenges and needs. As large farms and towns replaced small farms, we lost most of our farmers, members and Granges. Surviving Granges today are mostly in rural towns and city suburbs, with very different members, interests and needs. Many are barely hanging on, with very few members. More than 25% of our states have no State Grange. Several state memberships are growing, but National membership has been dropping since the 1950′s, with no end in sight.
Can the Grange survive much longer? Most Grange members are aging and fewer young people and farmers join anymore. We may meet and have fun social events, but are no longer beehives of activity. For those of us who still nurture hope that our Grange movement can persevere, we may need to ask ourselves some important questions. How can we appeal to the new generations needed for our survival? Do we still share a common vision for the future, now that our members and Granges are so different across the country? Are we still devoted to the small family farms we were founded to protect? Are there other goals we should embrace?
In several states, new ideas and hope are emerging for the Grange. California is one example of what’s possible. As the nation’s horn of plenty for fruit, vegetables, rice, nuts, dairy products, and agricultural research, this should have been a perfect place for Grange traditions to thrive through our entire 140 years. But, every year for decades we lost members and Granges, until 2009. That year our members overwhelmingly elected a new kind of State Master, Bob McFarland, because he pledged to rein in overspending and represented a promising vision for a 21st Century Grange revival, based on renewing our traditional roots in the soil. Master Bob reached out to dozens of communities to share his vision and successfully developed local leadership that reopened, revitalized, and started 36 Granges and drew 1,500 new members to the California Grange. He also got us back to the days of balanced budgets.
Today, thousands of young people are coming back to the land here, and the Grange can be their home. Their commitment to small-scale farming is inspiring farmers markets and fresh, healthy local food in groceries and restaurants. Granges that invite them in are also drawing community leaders, teachers, health professionals, creative craftspeople, and many others of all ages. They’re enthusiastically restoring Grange halls and holding community breakfasts and picnics, dances, regional talent shows, musical and theater events, and more. They started gardening, cooking and dance classes, food banks, bartering, and seed swaps. Community elders teach re-skilling classes in weaving, home repair, canning, and pottery. The growing Granges in California and other states have stories to be shared from coast to coast.
Sadly, the National Grange has not kept pace with Granges who are giving new life to our Order, based on our original purposes. National Grange loyalties, policies and support are losing touch with the small-town/small-farm roots of our founders. The National Grange gains its legitimacy and support from state and local Granges, not the reverse. It thrives only if grassroots Granges are thriving. But, instead of getting help for Granges in need, we’re getting unpredictable law enforcement and arbitrary punishment from Washington, D.C. They’re dividing and driving away good Grangers and stifling the grassroots enthusiasm we need for our survival.
We never imagined that National Grange policies and leadership, which were created to protect and support us, would be misused to punish popularly elected State Grange leaders, support interests that harm small-scale local farming, and sow discord within our membership, even while we’re trying to sow seeds for a successful future.
Three times in a year, the National Master has tried to remove California’s State Master and replace him with our State Overseer, his longtime friend, even after our Master was elected by a landslide and re-elected last year by an 80% majority. Our Executive Committee examined the National Master’s charges and investigated at his request, but found no facts or violations of Grange law to support the charges and nothing to justify punishing our Master for his good faith actions.
We are true and loyal Grangers, deeply devoted to Grange principles and traditions. We follow the laws of our Grange, state, and nation. We respect just and proper authority. We do not understand the real reasons for this treatment of our Master.
Every Grange and Granger must follow the laws of the Grange and the laws of our state and nation. The Digest and our oaths remind us that Grange law is not above the law of the land. We pledge that we conform to and abide by the laws of my State and Nation. The Digest reads All questions and business at every meeting of a Grange, Executive Committee or Special or Standing Committee at which a quorum is present, shall be determined by a majority vote of members or Delegates present and voting at such meeting unless a different vote on any specific matter is required by state or federal law.
The National Master cannot use Grange rules against a Grange if the rules violate state law. The California Corporations Code that governs and protects our members and Granges says clearly that only our membership or Executive Committee can remove our Master from office. The National Master does not have that authority. That is the law.
But now, the National Master is trying to illegally seize control over the California State Grange. When he was respectfully informed that state law and our officers’ oath prohibit his unlawful action against our State Master, he immediately suspended our State Grange Charter! He claims that authority because the National Digest was recently amended to increase his power over state charters. But he still must follow state law. California law does not allow him to use his new powers to suspend our charter, unless our members amend our bylaws to surrender our state rights to Washington, D.C., and they have not done so. California Corporate Code
When the National Master was respectfully advised that he is again acting beyond his authority, the National Grange sued the California Grange to seize control of our state office, finances, property, and relations with our 200+ community and Pomona Granges. Dues from every Grange in the country are paying for this expensive, unwarranted lawsuit, while the California Grange fights for survival. Twice they asked the Court to block our annual membership meeting and force our democratically elected officers to step aside. Twice the Court refused. Their lawsuit has no merit. Court Order Denying Injunction
When the National Master failed to prohibit our membership from meeting, he launched a campaign to misinform, intimidate and discourage our delegates from attending, in order to prevent a quorum. Because the Court did not block our Convention and our Bylaws and state laws require us to hold an annual meeting, we met on schedule, with near-record attendance and an enthusiastic spirit of harmony and goodwill. As one Past State Master said, “In my fifty years as a Granger, I’ve never felt more at home at a Convention.” convention pictures
The National Grange keeps increasing its interference. In direct disregard of the Superior Court orders, the National Master told our community Granges to send their dues directly to the national office, in an attempt to strangle State Grange operating funds. He has repeatedly directly communicated with our members to criticize our democratically elected state leaders. The National Grange created a counterfeit California Grange web site for propaganda to misrepresent and criticize our Grange. The young lady who won our annual talent contest was even told she is no longer welcome to perform at the National Convention.
Our members and leaders have done nothing to deserve such treatment. We are good and faithful patrons of the Order, reviving our Grange, and do not understand why we are being treated with such disrespect. California’s membership and dues are about 12% of all Granges in the country. The National Master’s shameful effort to divide and harm the brothers and sisters of the California Grange is a tragedy that will be felt by Granges across the land.
We hope that the leaders of the National Grange will remember our fundamental principles of fellowship, tolerance and charity; will step back from this destructive path of court battles and fighting; and will join us in finding a path to mutual respect, understanding, and fraternal reconciliation.
It is right to ask that every state’s members, leaders, laws and successes be respected. The Grange was founded to bring us together and share our dreams for a better world. In the spirit of fraternity, we celebrate our similarities and differences, with faith, hope, and charity, and with fidelity to our founding purposes and principles. The enthusiasm of 1867 can carry us forward into the 21st Century and beyond. We can share this path together.
Join your local Grange!!!
Join your local Grange!!!