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April 10, 2008: The Filing Cabinet Picture

If you have been watching the PC-Biz site with the business for the 218th General Assembly, you may have noticed some of the updates indicating that business has been "assigned" to different committees. Thus begins the distribution of the task.

I am a visual person. It helps me to organize to think in pictures. For me, the file cabinet is the best way to understand how to keep track of all the business. I am looking to see which business has been assigned to which committee. I will not remember all the nuances of the business despite the number of words I have written. What I will try to remember is the basic gist of what is involved and follow its assignment, mentally "filing" that business in that commitee.

The file cabinet image is helpful for me because of the way the General Assembly will finally take action on the business. Seventeen commissioner committees will meet Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Then, beginning Wednesday, committees report to the plenary with their recommendations. A committee "drawer" will be pulled out. Votes will be taken, one right after another. There is no pause. Then, another committee "drawer" will be pulled out and presented. Ultimately, all seventeen committees will make their full reports and the drawers will be empty. It is very difficult to keep up if you are trying to figure out how things are working at the same time the voting is taking place.

My experience has been that the earlier you begin to mentally organize the information, the easier it is to handle the volume. Switching from one drawer to another means switching topics. Each of the committees has a different set of subject responsibilities. By the time the fourth or fifth committee reports, the business begins to blur together and you see commissioners scratching their heads, rubbing their eyes, and asking each other, "What are we doing? Which report are we handling?"

Filing has begun

Let's walk through this together. If you are able to open a second browser window and have these side-by-side, it will help this explanation make sense. So, turning back to PC-Biz.

If you click on the "committees" tab at the top, it will bring up the list of all seventeen committees in the left hand box labeled "Committee List." Click on "[03] General Assembly Procedures." Under "Item" and "Item Title" you will see a number of items.

Take note: the "Item" is now the reference number for the business. For example, Santa Barbara's overture "On Amending G-9.0404d to Delineate the Use of Per Capita Funds" was previously listed in the business as "OVT-56" -- it is now [03-10].

The overture number reference is gone from the Explorer list of "all business" -- under the "Explorer's" list, it is now out of the overtures and -- scrolling down -- below the recommendations as [03-10].

If you have gotten used to thinking in terms of overture numbers, stop. Get used to looking for the "Item" number. That is your key to the filing cabinet. The first two digits [03-...] represent the commissioners committee, the last two [...-10] is the item's number in the list of business for that committee. If you are printing out material or are creating notebooks to help organize, it makes sense to divide your sections based upon commissioner committee.

What goes in the Committee 3: General Assembly Procedures drawer? Matters related to:

      1. Meetings of the assembly;
      2. per capita budget; (this is why [03-10] has been filed here)
      3. standing rule amendments;
      4. operation of the Office of the General Assembly;
      5. statistics;
      6. publishing of reports;
      7. General Assembly Nominating Committee process;
      8. special committees;
      9. commissioners and advisory delegates credentials/leaves of absence.

Unless I am selected to serve on this commissioner's committee, I am simply going remember that GA Procedures has a piece of business regarding the per capita budget. I have done my homework to know what is per capita, why it is important, and am confident I will be able to quickly understand what are the implications of whatever recommendation this committee makes regarding the answer to Santa Barbara's overture. (This is not bragging, this is a description of my process of preparation.) It is filed. Now, I can move onto other things. But you will not read about those until tomorrow.