Conference Advisory Action # 10

The following material comes from a presentation given at the June 13, 1992 Southern Minnesota Area Assembly, presented by their Panel 41 Delegate. This is included as background material to aid the Nominating Planning Visionary sub-committee. Conference Advisory Action # 10 referencing the Delegate's letter is pertinent to the General Structure inventory process.

The reasons for this presentation were to "provide the best possible preparation for the trusted servants yet to come; to help resolve any problems we present-day trusted servants leave unsolved, as well as readying Alcoholics Anonymous for the future beyond their own horizon. To also prepare AA's future a point of reference in our past. A point which allows for a relatively clear view of those lessons we have learned well, and those we have blindly passed by - or perhaps, ignored.

A.A.'S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: Presentation by Mike Alexander, General Service Conference 1992
a. Excessive spending  1. Computer  2. Office renovation  3. AA history book
b. Reduction in literature pricing  1. 25% reduction  2. $700,000 loss in 1988  3. $1,200,000 in 1989
c. Unwilling, or unable to change attitude
 a. Restored literature prices.
 a. General Manager reporting (temporarily?) to the GSB b. Appointed Audit Committee c. Appointed Executive Committee d. Appointed Policy Committee
a. Literature sales declining
b. Contributions not keeping pace with budgeting as in the past
a. Relieving AAWS Board of responsibility for GSO for a period of nine months
b. Change noted as a regular business practice of other corporations and non-profit organizations
1) GSO has been in trouble for the past 6-12 years.
2) General Service Board required to initiate corrective measures
3) GSB has attempted to address issues
4) Ongoing problems
5) More concerted actions seem necessary

a. Would be limited to 9 months and experimental
b. Would need to be formally reconfirm by the 1993 Conference
c. Board would report to the Conference next year and make any    recommendations it felt necessary
6) Proposal
CONCLUSION OF Michael Alexander's Presentation -

Bill Wilson's Recommendations (1962)
1. Bill's - "Seven Points to Insure the General Service Board's Future (original name).
2. This was presented to the 1962 General Service Conference along with the Twelve Concepts.
3. It appears that these concerns grew out of Bill's writings on the Twelve Concepts along with several longer term concerns -- such as "trustee-ratio"
4. Bill's main concerns:
a. The ration of alcoholics to non-alcoholic trustees needed to have alcoholics in the majority.
b. Too large a "New York" influence on the General Service Board.
c. There needed to be a small representative group of AA's with business experience.
d. The General Service Board Chairperson needed to have better communication and more influence with the General Service Office.
e. The way we chose and induct our world level trusted servants were biased and produced candidates that were not representational.
f. That the Conference has no legal authority over the General Service Board.
g. That there needed to be clearly determined leaders for our movement in order to avoid open and disguised attempts for power following Bill's death.

Bill's Proposed Actions
1. No legal ratio required.
2. Chairperson of the General Service Board to be Alcoholic Trustee.
3. Add three more "area" (Regional) Trustees.
4. An alternative method, other than Third Legacy, of electing Regional Trustees which gave the GSB Nominating Committee the power of 'first choice' in selecting a regional trustee.
5. Addition of three 'at-Large' trustees.
6. That the GSB appoint the 'at-Large trustees.
7. That the Vice-Chairperson of the GSB be a New York resident.
8. That the Vice-Chairperson be a non-alcoholic
9. That the Vice-Chairperson be present at all meetings of the General Service Office, even if this means some financial compensation.
10.The Trustees' Nominating Committee include someone from each element of the General Service Board and GSO Staff.
11.That the Trustees Nominating Committee have written procedures for selecting staff, trustee, and Trustee Committee members.
12.That there be written procedure for reorganizing the General Service Board.
13.That we consider some means of legally connecting the Conference to the General Service Board.
14.That we consider the General Service Board Chairperson as the primary world service and spiritual leader for the Fellowship.
15.That we consider the General Service Board Vice-Chairperson and the AAWS Chairperson the secondary leaders of AA.
16.Addition of an "in-town" (General Service) Trustee.
Although since Bill proposed the ration change, it has happened, we are still suffering from part of what Bill was concerned about. He knew that we needed to be in charge of our own affairs for several reasons. First of all - we needed to learn responsibility as a Fellowship. Secondly - because AA meant life or death for us, we would be less likely to experiment with its basic understanding of how the principles might be applied to the problems facing us. Thirdly - we needed to be able to clearly demonstrate to the world around us that we could actually act on the faith we said we had. (perhaps it was our failure to do this that resulted in several years where most of our direction seemed to come from professionals outside AA. Had the world seen a demonstration of our faith -- perhaps they would have listened more closely to the "AA approach" in recovering from alcoholism.)

One trustee comment still is a viable concern/problem today. This General Service Conference tried to address the problem of too much of a concentration of one professional area on the Board. It failed to accomplish "turning the corner" on this. (the 1992 GS Conference Trustees' committee left one of the names of a Class A Trustee off the slate when it presented the slate to the GS Conference for their 'approval'-the reason for removal of this name was it was felt, by the Delegate's Trustee Committee that there were too many Class A Trustees already on the GSB with a background in Alcohol Education. Many of the Trustees would not accept this; the 'discussion' on the matter was turned into an 'emotional' issue. A sad event in Conference history-it proved the fact that the GSB wanted the Delegate's Trustees Conference Committee to be a 'rubber stamp, only.)

For a number of years now there has been an erosion of the confidence in and support of the General Service Office. When the discussions are held as to why this is happening, eventually some of the discussion comes to the "New York" influence that Bill addressed. This concern continues to grow.

With regard to this portion of Bill's proposal, the trustee responses shed some light on what we might be experiencing some of the problems that we do today. First-when business expertise if foremost, the group conscience suffers. Secondly-that the regions could decide, by election, how much expertise is needed-or it could be obtained through consultants.

The presentation that has been written and given would not be happening had the Conference and Board addressed this problem when Bill asked them to. It is the central problem Mike Alexander has tried to address.

A great deal of the difficulty between the Delegates and Board has to do with Bill's concern about written procedures. We have only recently discovered that there have been few, if any, real procedures in the past. It is felt that this has led to people being elected, hired or appointed who were not the best qualified.

Bill's two points here are still very much a concern. Should the Board continue on the same course as in the recent past, this will become more and more of a concern.

Bill, through his own experience as well as a study of other societies knew that if future leadership was not determined in some manner while he was alive that there would be obvious and not so obvious struggles for power and control. Perhaps it is just this that results in the problem between the General Service Board, AAWS Board and General Service Office.
Bill saw the need for a "single vision" that could only be decided by one person. It appears he felt it better to risk getting a poor vision then to attempt to develop it on a board or committee. Today our Fellowship seems to be taking a 'multivision' approach to our future.

In all his efforts, Bill sought to provide adequate "checks and balances" in order to insure that personal ambitions and politics could not invade and disintegrate Alcoholics Anonymous.

His willingness, and ability, to acknowledge those desires within himself gave him an exceptional vantage point with respect to the future actions and need of both our trusted servants and Fellowship.

His concerns and almost with exception, his proposals still stand today as a reasonable, if not the most proper, course of action for the Fellowship he so dearly loved.

Michael Alexander's Presentation -
1. In Mike's presentation he mixes the actions of the GSO with those of AAWS.
2. In listing the items of concern, virtually all the items were the result of the AAWS Board actions. How does removing the office from their direction solve the problem?
3. Basic approach is one in which the General Service Board is saying to the rest of the AA Fellowship; "We know things are not as they should be. We think the AAWS Board is at fault. This is a General Service Board problem and we will take care of it."
Bob M's Presentation -
1. Although "Fund Accounting" can be used to determine how an organization conducts its affairs, our own arbitrary assignment of the General Service Office costs, in the AAWS statement, is a clear example that they don't always state the exact situation.
2. An additional "side issue" to his presentation is that there has been growing concern over the past few years that the progressive combining of our financial statements was an early warning that there would be an attempt to combine the three corporations (AAWS, Grapevine & GSO).
Desmond T's Presentation -
1. The point is made that because the trustees had control over the services (i.e. GSO) Bill set out to devise a Conference that could hold them responsible-yet Desmond failed to recognize that his presentation was asking the Conference to give up the structure Bill felt strongly enough about to go on the road and sell the Fellowship.
You have now seen and heard the request that was made to change our General Service Structure, by the Chairman of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.
You have seen and heard about the concerns Bill Wilson had when he completed the writing of our Twelve Concepts for World Service, and how he thought these concerns might be remedied.
Hopefully this information will leave you with a clearer understanding that these are not new problems, or new solutions. This should result in a broader [perspective on both the assets and potential or actual liabilities of our Fellowship.
The hoped for result is that you become an even more diligent student of our Fellowship and its principles. On the shoulders of a significant number of you in this room will rest the future decisions that Alcoholics Anonymous will make with regard to these and other problems.
Panel 41 - Area 36 Delegate Rochester, Minnesota June 13, 1992