Open Letter to A.A. Members

This article is written by nationally recognized historian and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K. in early 1998.

[Mitchell K. Library]

Dear Fellow AA Member:

As the 1998 General Service Conference rapidly approaches we take this opportunity to make an urgent plea for assistance.

For over a decade now, the AA World Service Board of Trustees has been involved in several court cases or has given their approval for several others. AA members have been incarcerated and have met with severe financial hardship. AA World Services has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of OUR money in legal fees including consultation. There is currently a court case pending in Germany that threatens an AA member with jail and financial ruin.

All of these cases were in order to "protect AA's property." This property is our copyright on Literature and Trademark. Unfortunately, the Board of Trustees let the copyright lapse on both the First and Second Edition of the Big Book. Both of these editions are now in the public domain and anyone is free to reprint them. AA World Services has spent over $118,000.00 alone just in the failed litigation regarding the "Circle and Triangle" Trademark infringement case.

According to Warranty 5 of Concept XII in the Twelve Concepts for World Service we should take no action which is personally punitive, nor should we take matters into the public courts inciting public controversy. The Board of Trustees has chosen to either ignore the Twelfth Concept, or interpret it according to their own agenda.

We are asking that each AA member contact their respective Delegate to the 1998 World Service Conference to ask the following:

That a moratorium on all current and pending litigation be immediately put into place until the Conference can be able to develop an informed group conscience so that they may be able to vote upon whether or not this litigation is, or is not, in violation of Warranty 5, Concept XII.

That the World Service Conference, representing the membership of Alcoholics Anonymous be empowered to make decisions regarding litigation, if any, in the future.

That a complete and independent audit be undertaken to determine the EXACT cost of legal expenses authorized by the Board of Trustees and other World Service entities.

That this audit be undertaken by a completely impartial accounting firm that has not had, currently or in the past, any affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, The AA Grapevine or the Stepping Stones Foundation. There have been several members of the Board of Trustees and other Service Personnel, including AA's Accounting Firm and other officers who have been affiliated with the Stepping Stones Foundation, an outside enterprise which has been the recipient of over $10,000,000.00 in Royalty payments from AA literature.

That the General Service Conference call for a two-third's vote of all registered AA Groups to either void or enforce Warranty 5 of Concept XII.

That a General Service Conference Committee ( NOT a Board of Trustees Committee) be empowered to look into any conflict of interest relating to legal matters and expenditures to ALL Legal Firms, Consultants and AAWS Staff, past and present, including ANY connection to the Stepping Stones Foundation.

That a report be generated by this General Service Conference Delegate's Committee and be made available to the ENTIRE FELLOWSHIP so that an informed Group Conscience Vote may be taken at next year's Conference.

The Statement of Censure was addressed to the General Service Board and requested their response. The General Service Board never answered to that Censure. Instead, the General Service Board neglected their Duty, Responsibility, and Accountability to those they serve by sending the Statement of Censure off to a Conference Committee so as to not have to answer it themselves. We request that the General Service Board answer that Statement of Censure now.

That the incentive payment made to AA, and approved by the AAWS Board of Trustees by the City of San Diego, California for hosting the 1995 World Service Convention be returned to the City of San Diego due to its being in violation of our Seventh Tradition of accepting money from outside enterprises and remaining fully self-supporting. The total amount of money accepted from this municipality as an incentive payment for hosting the 1995 Convention was $250,000.00. There are plans to accept $100,000.00 from the host city of the year 2000 convention.

We urge ALL AA members to copy this request and pass it along to their Delegates, Service entities, any other AA members and WEB SITES relating to Alcoholics Anonymous for posting. Only a grass roots effort made by the Fellowship will get the attention of the Board of Trustees and the General Service Conference. The time is now! the general service conference will be held in april, 1998!

Several requests to the Board of Trustees relating to the above stated concerns have either been ignored or swept under the carpet. Several requests for the names and addresses of Delegates to the Conference have also been met with failure. The Board cited confidentiality as their reason.

It is up to you as a member of alcoholics anonymous to bring these important votes to the general service conference. Only you can contact your conference delegate as the board of trustees refuses to allow us to do so.

If you want A.A. to remain as a spiritual entity rather than a government the time to act is now! If you believe in the steps, traditions and 12 concepts for world service, the time to act is now! If you believe in the future of A.A. so that it may continue to save lives, the time to act is now!

Thank you for your time.

Mitchell K.