| From Maine|
TO: Chairpersons of the 50th Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Conference Committees
DATE: February 14, 2000
RE: What Proposed Agenda Items You Won't Be Seeing On The Conference Agenda
We shall soon see a list of Agenda Items to be discussed at the 2000 General Service Conference handed out by the Area Delegates. The Agenda Items will be fluff and light. The Trustees' Conference Committee, to make the delegates feel they are doing important business for AA, will give them harmless items. The truth is that the Conference will be a tremendous waste of AA money. Over three-fourths of a million dollars will be used to pay for the delegates going to New York, residing in a luxurious hotel, dining in opulence an arm's length away from the Broadway shows that many will visit on Friday evening at the end of the General Service Conference. All of this is so the delegates can make important decisions on three-ring binders, reviewing countless Conference Kits, Workbooks and such.
The General Service Conference should be addressing items that affect AA as a whole. That should be a given but it is not. The delegates are not allowed to review the requested agenda items brought before the Trustees' Conference Committee that affect AA world wide because a handful of members on our Board(s) make the decision that all important matters affecting AA as a whole will be managed by a few and never allowed full discussion on the General Conference Floor, nor even as Floor Actions (as the first proposed agenda item will attest).
Here is the list of important agenda items that were refused a place on the Conference Agenda and the Trustees' Conference Committees' reason why they will not see the light of day:
| to revisit deleting the sentence, "All floor actions will be heard unless there is a motion that the Conference decline to consider a proposed Floor Action, which is not debatable and will require a 2/3 vote to carry" in the handout "Summary of Conference Procedures."|
The Trustees' Conference Committee agreed with the previous committee action taken at the October 30th meeting declining to delete the sentence, "All floor actions will be heard unless there is a motion that the Conference decline to consider a proposed floor action, which is not debatable and will require a 2/3 vote to carry" in the handout "Summary of Conference Procedures." The chair will write and inform the member of the committees' decision and thank the member for a second letter. As a formality, any changes or amendments to the "Summary of Conference Procedures" will be addressed at the opening of the Conference, when mechanics of the Conference are reviewed and discussed. If any Conference member wishes to change a procedure, including one about floor actions, it may be addressed and voted upon at the time the procedure is stated. (Note: WHY WASN'T THIS DONE WHEN THE PROCEDURE WAS INCLUDED! This whole issue should have been sent to the Conference Policies and Admissions Committee. Also notable is that the delegate who had sent in this request has rotated. The lack of continuity is on the side of the few who 'run' our General Service Conference. This is the item I was referring to above. This ployto stop the 'discussion' of Floor Actions that were of a controversial nature from being discussed was first suggested on the Conference floor by Michael Alexander, Trustee Emeritus in 1995. At that time there were four (4) Floor Actions waiting to be presented by three (3) delegates and one Regional Trustee. These four (4) pending Floor Actions were so called 'controversial' and every attempt had been made to keep them from the Conference floor by the Trustees' Conference Committee. As a 'last resort' to keep them from being heard, a delegate asked if there was any way to keep from discussing these four (4) Floor Actions which were about to be introduced. Michael stated that one could vote to, "not discuss." The result of this can be seen in the 1995 Final Conference Report under 'Floor Actions.' This gambit has been used ever since to disarm any and all issues a delegate(s) might bring before the Conference floor that oppose any present AAWS/GSB policy(s). This parliamentary maneuver was placed in the "Summary of Conference Procedures" to ensure a spotlight would shine on it. The use of 'Floor Actions' used to guaranty that if an Area's request, or any important request, for that matter, regardless of where it came from, was refused placement on the Conference Agenda, a member of the General Service Conference could then bring it to the Conference floor in the form of a 'Floor Action for full Conference debate in keeping with our 4th Warranty.' The inclusion of the statement, '…decline to consider…which is not debatable…." in the "Summary of Conference Procedures" was put in there by a few without Conference approval. It was not presented at the beginning of the 1998 or 1999 Conference to vote to include it in 'Summary of Conference Procedures.' It was just placed in there by a few. (By the way, it was originally "refused to discuss" and NOT "decline to consider." There is a big difference between these two; "decline to consider" wouldn't have to be included in the Final Conference Report.) It was put in there to further control the General Service Conference so important items wouldn't be discussed on the Conference floor, and it is an insult to our Fourth Warranty. Ah, someone will bring up that at the last Conference (1999) a Floor Action was graciously allowed discussion. The only reason for this was that the outcome was assured. In fact, this 'allowed discussion' will be held up as an example that indeed 'all is right' with Floor Actions. All is not right when a Conference has to contest the rules and then congratulate itself for doing what it was supposed to be doing in the first place.
| asking that the 50th General Service Conference discuss litigation, whether to continue or not continue on with litigation.|
The Trustees' Conference Committee considered a request that "the 50th General Service Conference discuss litigation, whether to continue or not continue on with litigation" noting that this topic had been addressed and discussed at several other Conferences where the Conference consistently voted not to instruct the trustees on how to operate. The Committee declined to pass this item forward asking the chair to write to the member stating this would not be appropriate since litigation is handled on a case by case basis and goes to the heart of delegated authority. Conference members will get an update on litigation at the Conference and can ask questions at that time.
(Note: First, the statement regarding 'the Conference consistently voted not to instruct the trustees…" is a down right lie! NO CONFERENCE HAS EVER VOTED NOT TO INSTRUCT THE TRUSTEES ON HOW TO OPERATE! Mentioned elsewhere in their report, the Trustees' Conference Committee had stated that NO CONFERENCE IS BINDING ON ANOTHER! Then, they use the 'excuse' written above. Also, why would it "not be appropriate" to discuss whether or not current practices of AAWS go against our principles? Warranty Five, Warranty Six and Tradition Ten come to mind here.)
| asking that the word "subsidy" be removed from the General Service Board policy statement that was ratified by the 49th Conference, regarding the acceptance of discounts and subsidies. Also in regard to International Conventions of Alcoholics Anonymous that "The practice of contracting monies from outside sources in the form of subsidies cease immediately" be considered during the 50th General Service Conference.|
The Committee felt that in regard to International Conventions of Alcoholics Anonymous that "the practice of contracting monies from outside sources in the form of subsidies cease immediately," not be considered during the 50th Conference. The Board policy on these issues has been reaffirmed several times and the Conference spent many hours discussing the topic in the last few years. The chair will write a letter to the district. (Note: Again, what was stated by the Trustees' Conference Committee about "no Conference is binding on another? The General Service Conference is an ongoing process. Any item can be brought back, year after year, if necessary, if some feel that the issue(s) haven't been resolved. As one hears so many times in service, "Nothing is written in granite." One only has to look at AAWS' tenacity in bringing back issues, over and over, till they have them resolved in their favor. This can be seen in reviewing past Final Conference Reports under Advisory Actions and/or Additional Committee Considerations on such issues as the GSO Video, the Little Big Book, the Self-Support Pamphlet regarding the removal of the Pie Charts and, especially, the 4th Edition of the Big Book, to name just a few cases.
| that the Trustees' Committee on the General Service Conference provide background summaries for all proposed Conference agenda items to area delegates after the January Board meeting.|
It is also interesting to note that it seems that any item which may not be in the best interest of AAWS or those items which question AAWS' policy(s), aren't placed on the Conference Agenda. Also, to note, the Chair of the Trustees' Conference Committee is also a member of the AAWS Board; the nominee for the next Chairperson of AAWS is also a member of the Trustees' Conference Committee; another AAWS Board member is also a member of the Trustees' Conference Committee. In the past, 2/3rds of the Trustees' Conference Committee members were also members of the AAWS Board. This has been the 'way' of the Trustees' Conference Committee for a good number of years now.
The committee considered a request that the Trustees' Committee on the General Service Conference provide background summaries for all proposed Conference agenda items to area delegates after the January Board meeting and declined this request because any summary of an agenda item could be biased and incomplete. The Conference process enables delegates to submit their thoughts re: agenda items to their districts and groups and leaves interpretation up to area autonomy. A suggestion was made to bring this idea up at the Conference What's on Your Mind? Sharing session. (Note: What this is really saying is, no information is accepted except that which comes directly from GSO and/or the Board(s). No background material needed, no background material wanted, pure and simple. This is ludicrous. In order to have an informed group conscience on an agenda item, all the background material available is necessary. It is in the delegates' best interest to be fully informed on agenda items that are to be presented to the Conference. How can one proceed with an agenda item without knowing 'why' it was asked to be placed on the Conference Agenda in the first place? What information are the delegates going to give their Areas when presenting agenda items? Did the agenda items just blow in with the breeze? To say the summary/background material that accompanies a requested agenda item could be biased and incomplete is just plain arrogant. How can an Area 'have' an 'interpretation' on any given agenda item if they haven't a background base to begin with? For that matter, how can a delegate have 'thoughts' on a blank agenda item? Furthermore, I've never read in The A.A. Service Manual the description of the "Conference Process" as it is written above. This is called 'controlling information' and is based on fear that the delegates may read something that GSO doesn't agree with.
| Is there anyone awake out there?|
| There must be because of the important questions being asked in the way of Conference agenda item requests.|
| When are the delegates going to stand up and demand that control of the Conference be wrested away from a few and be put back into the hands of ALL those responsible and accountable for the so called, 'effective voice' of AA as a whole?|
| When is "Why We Need A Conference" by Bernard Smith, as seen in The A.A. Service Manual, taken to heart by the members of the General Service Conference?|
We have a Conference because we have legal entities. This is explained quite well in The A.A. Service Manual under "A.A.'s Legacy of Service" written by Bill W. under the paragraph, "Fellowship Ready for Responsibility." Today, we no longer have a Conference that insures our legal entities are made responsible and accountable to the Fellowship they serve.
We now have a Conference whose only duties, it seems, are to insure three-ring binders are in order, workbooks are scrutinized 20 different times, and such. The very thing the Conference should have its emphasis on isn't allowed on Conference Agendas. No one is allowed to 'question' our legal entities, let alone make them 'responsible' and 'accountable.' For whatever reason, many of the delegates that go to the Conference are only comfortable reviewing the sparse plate the Trustees' Conference Committee places before them. Those few delegates that try to present issues are shut down, either at the level of the Trustees' Conference Committee, by their peers on the Conference Committees and, perhaps worst of all, by the 'uninformed' and 'uninterested' Conference members when floor actions are introduced then voted, 'not to discuss.' The General Service Conference has become a travesty or, at best, an amusing anachronism.
This year's 'travesty' at the hands of the Trustees' Conference Committee isn't by any means new. Over the past 7 years Areas have requested agenda items to be placed on the Conference Agenda only to have those requests turned down by the Trustees' Conference Committee. These Areas represent a large majority of AA members whose 'voice' is no longer taken seriously.
| We need to start making our delegates responsible to see that the General Service Conference becomes that 'effective voice of the Fellowship.'|
| We need to start asking our delegates to address the issues that don't make it on the Conference Agenda and find out the 'real' reasons 'why' they are set aside, time and time again, by the powers that be.|
| We have to start questioning those that say the members that 'ask' the hard questions and 'demand' the answers are trying to destroy AA's Unity.|
| We shouldn't accept frothy, emotional appeal that we have to have 'unity' for the sake of unity without discussing what it 'is' that we are supposed to be uniting behind in the first place!|
| The General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous should be uniting behind the 12 Concepts for World Service and 6 Warranties. They are no longer doing this.|
Panel 41-Area 65
CC: Alternate Committee Chairpersons
Trustees' Conference Committee
Greg M. – General Manager GSO
Secretary of the Trustees' Conference Committee