General Assembly Notetaker's Guidelines

This document describes the process of recording, compiling and distributing meeting minutes as the official transcript of the General Assembly. 

Obtaining an accurate record of decisions made, and the process of deciding, is an important function for both legal and practical reasons.  It is always a challenge to entice someone to volunteer for this vital job.  These guidelines are meant to clarify what is needed, and specifically how to do it, in hopes that people will feel less intimidated about helping with this task.
Basically, there are three main qualities a good notetaker should posses: 
1.   Be a good listener.  Can you listen to someone objectively and hear what they are saying without personal interpretation?  Can you summarize the main points of a rambling speaker?  
2.   Be competent on a computer or with a writing pad.  Can you keypunch or write at a reasonably fast speed to keep up with a conversation?  
3.   Familiarity with the Green Party meeting process.  Anyone who has attended a few meetings—at the local or state level—should be familiar with how we run meetings.  
Many people have these skills and could do this job.
Traditionally, notetakers get paid for their service.  The amount of payment has been handled on an individual basis with the fees coming out of the funds raised for the plenary session.  The fees have ranged from $100 to $250 depending on the amount of work and the number of notetakers.
Typically, the weekend-long plenary is divided into morning and afternoon sessions. Ideally, we would like to have a new notetaker for each sessions so one person does not get overloaded.  The notetakers must decide among themselves how the workload is divided.
In general, the notetaker will record the proceedings during the plenary sessions of the meeting. (A "plenary session" is when all delegates are together in one meeting.)  However, not every item on the agenda is an official decision by the plenary body that needs recording, sometimes they are only presentations and discussions. This is discussed below.
After the plenary, the notetaker will transcribe all the notes into a coherent set of meeting minutes—including a summary of decisions. Ask the agenda committee for a reference to previous minutes that serve as good examples. The completed minutes should be given to the Agenda Committee contact or the host Local's CC Regional Rep.
What To Record
I. Preliminary Information
A. Date and Time – Typically, the state meeting occurs on Saturday and Sunday with each day divided into morning and afternoon sessions.  The notetaker should record which session they are working.
B. Session Officials – Each plenary session is officiated by facilitators, vibes watcher, time keeper, notetaker, and (occasionally) scribe.  The names of these volunteers should be recorded.  Normally, a new officiating team is selected for each session.
C. Agenda – The actual agenda frequently changes from the proposed agenda in the agenda packet.  The changes are to be recorded.  It is also common to revise the agenda, or extend agenda times, as the meeting progresses.  These changes should also be recorded.
II. Decisions made by the plenary body.  This includes formal proposals that have been distributed in the agenda packet, and unplanned issues that sometimes arise.
A.  Formal Proposals
1. Since the proposal is in the agenda packet, the notetaker need only record the title of the proposal, the page number from the agenda packet, the proposal presenter(s), and the starting time.
2. The process for presenting a proposal includes dealing with clarifying questions, friendly amendments, points of information, and concerns.  All of these affect the definition of the proposal and decision process.  All of these elements must be recorded.  This is probably the most difficult part for the notetaker since it can involve lengthy discussion that can diverge and digress in many directions.
3. The final outcome of the decision process should be recorded.  Frequently, the presenter will restate the proposal—as modified by amendments and clarifications—just prior to calling the question.  This final version should be recorded.  If the proposal is approved by consensus, that should be recorded.  If there are outstanding concerns / stand-asides, they should be recorded. If a vote is required, the final "yes/no/stand aside" count should be recorded.  
B. Unplanned Items
1. These items have not been circulated to the counties so the exact proposal should be recorded.
2. The decision process is the same as for a formal proposal, so the information stated in the preceding section 'A' also applies here.
C. Points of Process  – Sometimes a presentation is halted due to an objection over the process.  The nature of these interrupts, and their resolution, should be recorded.
III. Announcements – At every plenary time is allotted for people to make announcements of events, causes, services, etc.  The presenter and a brief summary of the announcement should be recorded for future reference so people know who to contact.
What Not to Record
Ideally, it would be nice to have a direct transcript of every word uttered at a meeting, but, in practicality, this is not possible.  Notetakers are encouraged to record as much as possible, but not all items are essential for the meeting minutes:
I. Presentations – It is common to have guest speakers address the plenary on subjects of interest to the Green Party.  These are informational presentations only, not issues requiring a decision.  The presentation does not have to be recorded.  However, the presenter's name and subject should be recorded.  The notetaker is encouraged to record the main points of the presentation. If a presenter wants their full presentation included in the minutes, they should provide a written copy to the Notetaker.
II. Housekeeping and Logistics – Announcements regarding housekeeping, site logistics, events, etc. do not have to be recorded.
Notetaker's Bill of Rights
The notetaker has the right, even an obligation, to pause the facilitators (as in a point of process) if the discussion gets ahead of him/her, a statement needs clarification, or any other question regarding how the proceedings should be recorded.
The notetaker has the right to perform the job free of side conversations or other distractions.  No one should be allowed to have a conversation in the vicinity of the notetaker; no one should talk directly to the notetaker during the floor discussion.  The facilitators should be alerted if these situations occur.
The facilitators are responsible for the orderly progression of the session that they are facilitating.  This responsibility includes ensuring the notetaker, time keeper, and vibes watcher are performing their tasks, and providing support to these persons when needed.