AND THE ANSWER IS, YOU BET YOUR SWEET MOTORCYCLE TAX DOLLARS!
Recently learned that ABATE of Florida, INC was happy because, and I quote "Doc notes that 2 years ago we received $500,000.00 from the sate of Florida for Safety. We didn't get it last year, but Governor Crist signed OUR bill last week for another $500,000.00. It will be available on July 1, 2007 ." (ABATE of Florida MASTERLINK, July/August o7 issue.).
Well remembering the firestorm that erupted two years ago regarding the same $500,000.00 claim, (which of course we know was not true, they never received $500,000.00 two years ago as evidenced here.) I thought I would look into it just for kicks to see if it was a rerun. As usual though I did things backwards and started at the top and since they did say Gov. Crist signed "their" bill I called the Governors office. Nope, they didn't know what I was talking about so they referred me to "legislative info", nope but if I would hold they would transfer me to "Appropriations and Budgets" nope, but they would look into it for me and then passed me on to the "Department of Highway Safety", YES, there was NHTSA Federal grant monies available to be administered by by the safety office of DOT. But according to the Activity schedule, award letters would not go out until Sept 1, 07 and they had no idea who ABATE was or where the money was going at this moment. S0 that couldn't be it, unless of course there is something else going on we are not aware of.
Ok hang in their cause stuff rolls down hill and I'm working my way downhill here.
So now I get to the Dept of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and after convincing the receptionist that there is a particular employer there that would have some idea as to what I was talking about (he didn't know who the employee was and I had to ask them to search for the person) WA-LA, I do get to someone that actually has a very good grip on the situation. And doesn't like it!
When I mentioned ABATE the person laughed and then apologized stating they needed to be "politically correct". To which I responded, well you can be, but since I don't work there I don't have to be. And something may have been said about them being a "joke" just can't remember who said it.
We had a pleasant conversation and yes ABATE did get $500,000.00 this year. But heres the thing. They ain't sure what ABATE of Fl. did with "all the" money they got 2 years ago (which again if you followed the link above you now know was not $500,000.00 which ABATE keeps printing, but no matter how often they print it, is still not true) and have no idea what they are doing with the money they are getting now??? Which they thought was a shame when there are so many "groups out there doing more for motorcycling" (GWRRA, Gold Wing Road Riders Association was mentioned specifically because they actually engage in motorcycle rider training but being a state vendor they weren't able to access the monies that came down from NHTSA to be used primarily for "Motorcycle training").
We then discussed items that ABATE gives out as promotional/awareness items and justification for such expenditures such as "air fresheners" for your MC with ABATE printed on them and little tote bags and paper soaps and little flashlights and ink pens and pocket calendars all with ABATE on them, which was met with laughter and an invitation to contact them directly if I was in need of promotional items for an event.
I related to the person that others had questioned where the money goes and that at one state meeting (hmmm could it be April before last when they also learned that their U-Haul was a "stolen" trailer) it was reported that a former treasurer had "burned the books". The individuals response, "I'm not surprised". I was then asked, "You know why ABATE changed there name don't you? So they could steal, excuse me, get money from the state. They knew the state would not give money to an Organization named "A Brotherhood against Totalitarian Enactments." (well now I had proposed that myself on one or two occasions but most ABATE members just wanted me to shut up. Alas, such is difficult).
Furthermore the individual states that two years ago ABATE of Florida was challenged to start a riders training program. They never heard back from ABATE. When ABATE was subsequently contacted by the state and asked about it, the response was they were waiting for the state to contact them. Which is weird in itself, but at that time to the best of anybody' s knowledge ABATE did not (if they have any now it's recent) have any certified MC training instructors.
Now to be fair the person did say that ABATE does do some good education in some schools (But then to be fair there are some damn dedicated people in ABATE).
The person went on to say that they had written the Governor as a private citizen and not a state employee, voicing concerns about what ABATE was doing (or not doing) with the money, with no response from the Governor (of Course many of us have experince writing our public official only to get a form letter in response). That nothing will change until enough other people write The Governor, their representative, and the DHSMV (make sure you specify this is about ABATE if you were/are so inclined, I will be doing it) and ask that ABATE be held accountable because here is the REAL KICKER. I am told by the State, SO MUCH MONEY HAS COME DOWN FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR SO MANY PROGRAMS THE STATE DOES NOT HAVE THE STAFF TO MONITOR WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING!!!!!!!! THEY CAN'T CONTROL IT!!!!
So follow me NOW, the FEDS tax the hell out of you while at the same time trying to regulate you, they then take your money and give it to the STATE (who is also taxing you and regulating you) who then gives to folk (ABATE of FLORIDA, Inc.) who change their name for the sole purpose of getting your money and then you don't know where in the hell "your" money went???????
Oh yeah, they do pay lip service to safety, I mean after all, you have to do something or the gravy train stops. But you know how you know it ain't for real? Because the same issue of the "Masterlink" on page 10 states, if I read it correctly, that they are going to attempt a cell phone ban again this coming legislative session, but advocate for exempting "hands free devices" which the ABATE membership voted against at the state meeting at Southernmost (in the keys) last year, whom the lobbyist betrayed by supporting a bill that would exempt "hands free devices". But then that may have been what he wanted all along and maybe just had to play it right until he could manipulate the membership to see it his way. After all he did say at the meeting in Naples he had to use a cell phone while driving "no doubt about it" (which is sad when the President/Lobbyist of the organization the state is giving money to, to promote MC safety, has such a poor grasp of the issues that he himself engages in one of the most life threatening activities "Bikers" face. AH, so much for "Brotherhood". SEE HERE for cell phone research re "hands free devices"). But then when much of the membership is wearing blinders and much of the membership is too afraid to hold the leadership accountable and much of the membership is willing to abandon "brotherhood" for the sake of political correctness (or "parties" or money) to such an extent they will go to any lengths to shut a "brother" up in order to perpetuate the "charade"/illusion, what can you expect?
But you must admit they are good and do justice to the phrase the "Squeaky wheel gets the Grease" cause any organization that represents somewhere around 2% of the "biker population" (depends on what dead person they count on which day maybe?) yet can cop half a million of free bucks from the STATE, some of which to spend on MC air fresheners to promote itself is damn good. Either that or the rest of us are damn fools.........Ride Free, your paying for it.....rc