During interviews with People Temple members in Guyana after November 18, 1978, the FBI asked questions about the Planning Commission (PC, as it was called), especially who had served on it in Jonestown. The reality was, however, that PC wasn’t much of a presence in Guyana and was rarely mentioned in Edith Roller’s Journals.
The PC managed activities in Guyana only in its early years. Temple records that the FBI recovered in Jonestown include PC minutes only from December 1977 and January 1978. Several successor entities – the Analyst Committee (which grew out of the Agricultural & Livestock Commission), Steering Committee and numerous Departments under the responsibility of various ACAOs – began meeting then, and seemed to cover what PC had handled. While few records from the fall of 1978 have surfaced, the Roller Journals show a change from January 1978 to July 1978 to a wider departmentalized process. Other surviving minutes and memos give an idea of the tasks being done in January and then in July-August. The notes and follow-up sheets give a sense of how things were dealt with. Steering Minutes of Oct 8 outline future plans.
1. PC Notes: 5 December 1977 & 19 January 1978
2. ACAO Minutes and Follow-up — July 17, 27, & 31, 1978
3. Analysts Meeting Minutes, 5 August 1978
4. ACAO Minutes and Follow-up — August 7, 14, 22, 24, & 29, 1978
5. Steering Committee Minutes 8 October 1978
Agricultural planning was done through the Analysts Meetings.
In the US, the PC had served as the body where concerns were discussed, decided and planned, always under Jim Jones’ complete control. Meetings were held weekly, starting at 9 pm and lasting almost always past midnight and sometimes almost to dawn, depending on what needed to be done or resolved. When PC met in SF and LA, it was usually after a service on Friday or Saturday night. In Guyana, notes have been found for only two PC meetings: December 5, 1977 and Jan 19, 1978. The December notes indicated meetings every two weeks.
By July 1978, ACAO, Steering Committee and Agricultural reports in Rallies reflected managing of activities in Guyana. Each department activity had an “Analysts” group to evaluate feasibility and costs. Many of the same people from accounting and the Steering Committee had active parts in several departments of Jonestown.