Reasons for Changes in Intergroup Bylaws

Every three years, St. Paul Al-Anon/Alateen Intergroup is supposed to review and possibly revise. This has has, in fact, not occurred since 2004. For the last several months, part of each monthly meeting has been devoted to bringing the bylaws up-to-date. At the November 13 meeting, approval by Intergroup Representative of the revised bylaws will be on the agenda. We hope representatives from all greater St. Paul Al-Anon and Alateen groups will be present to vote.

The 2004 bylaws and the proposed 2012 bylaws have been posted on line.

This page summarizes the reasons for the proposed changes. There are links to the revised bylaws.

Article I
The word “Area” was dropped from the name of the organization because “Area” has a different specific meaning in Al-Anon.
Article II, Section 2.
“twenty-four hour” was removed and “internet” were added because the phones are not answered 24 hours per day and information is available on the internet.
Article III Section 1
The county names were added to make clearer the area Intergroup serves.
Article IV Section 1 and Article VI Section 6
Previously the Bylaws included Appendices with guidelines and responsibilities of officers and committee chairs. Bylaws are not a good place for such information, since it is subject to change fairly frequently. Hence having the information in the office make more sense.
Article V Section 2
Previously the bylaws specified that notification should be “through a newsletter or otherwise by mail.” In a world where technology is changing communication, it makes sense to not restrict how notification must be done.
Article VI Section 1
Previously the Office Committee was mentioned after Standing Committees. The Office Committee’s most important responsibilities were related to the hiring and supervision of paid employees. Intergroup has had no paid employees for many, many years. The office committee was described in Sections 4 and 5 which are being removed. In addition, previous bylaws included an Article VII entitled CENTER EMPLOYEES. This is being removed as no longer relevant. If we ever again have a paid employee, the bylaws can again be amended to deal with that situation.
Article VII Section 3 A
This is being changed from stating that all check signing officers must be bonded to stating that all check signing offices may be bonded.
Bonding the officers is essentially insurance against the possibility that they might steal funds over which they have signature power. This is very common in corporations or other organizations that receive and spend meaningful amounts of funds. There are good arguments both in favor and against such bonding.
Argument in favor of officers being bonded The bulk of our funds come from group contributions to maintain our services and support outreach activities. As such Intergroup has a responsibility to take good care of funds and provide for contingencies in which the funds might be lost or stolen. Insurance against theft is one way of doing this.
Argument against officers being bonded In case of theft by an officer, in order to make a claim for recovery of funds under the policy, a police report would have to be filed. This might lead to prosecution of the officer. As part of that process, people active in Intergroup might be subpoenaed and their anonymity breached. It might involve Intergroup in a public controversy. This in fact happened over 20 years ago and resulted in a very messy and unpleasant situation. Thus there is no good way to take advantage of any benefits from bonding without violating Al-Anon principles. Why pay for what we can’t use?
In discussion of this issue in Intergroup meetings, there was not a clear consensus as to whether officers should be bonded or not. The proposed wording leaves it up to those active in Intergroup in the future to choose to bond or not to bond its officers.