05NR33 - ABATE of Colorado News Release

Motorcycle Riders Foundation
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Contact: JD DePaolantonio, MRF Director of Communications and Information
jd@mrf.org (e-mail)

December 12, 2005

#05NR33 - ABATE of Colorado News Release

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is issuing the following release at the request of ABATE of Colorado.

ABATE of Colorado
News Release
Colorado Blocked on Rider Ed Curriculum Choice!

ABATE of Colorado is this state’s largest Motorcyclists Rights Organization including its premier Rider Education and Training Division, which trains the largest percentage of new riders in Colorado. In keeping with our mission and tradition of providing excellence and quality delivery of rider education and training for the motorcyclist, ABATE of Colorado remains keenly aware of the evolving trends in training & educational curricula. We believe the ultimate value of a curriculum is in the merit of its comprehensive content that ultimately benefits the rider, and should be evaluated as such.

Historically, there has been a sole, non-option curriculum provider to the state administered program, and while the curriculum has served well, ABATE of Colorado is aware of other developed and field-tested curriculum that is at least the equal of the traditional offering. CO ABATE has an interest in the Team Oregon Program (TOMS) curriculum as an additional training resource to offer the beginning rider, based upon positive feedback, national recognition, and our own independent “see it for ourselves” evaluation that included the range training in action. We have over a period of many months sought to have the TOMS training evaluated and approved for use in Colorado. We have encountered much resistance.

The historical and singularly recognized entity that currently maintains a curriculum monopoly in this state, and so many others, must think it has a prerogative to do so. Let us also not forget that this entity is funded by corporate motorcycle manufacturer-managers. This entity is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF.) What is evident now in Colorado is the influence from this entity to short-circuit the approval process of TOMS while keeping its own curriculum here as sole.

ABATE of Colorado’s request for evaluation and approval of the TOMS curriculum was denied via a letter delivered to us on November 30, 2005. Administrators in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) advised us of this, based upon a legal opinion proffered by counsel in the Colorado Attorney Generals’ office. Prior to this, in a meeting on 23 November with ABATE of Colorado, CDOT officials offered that they were aware of a possible legal action pending between Team Oregon/Oregon State University and the MSF based on allegations of plagiarism, and other assertions of “misappropriation of MSF curricular products.” We responded that we were also aware of this, and we stated that any issues “will be resolved”, and that should not delay the process of the TOMS curriculum evaluation and approval here “based upon the merit of its content.” (our words.) After this, CDOT officials “looked into whether Team Oregon/OSU are involved in a legal dispute with the MSF.” A Washington, D.C.-based legal counsel for MSF provided “insights” of a coercive nature to CDOT. According to the letter we received, MSF’s counsel “…confirmed in writing, that MSF will pursue the same legal claims against states, entities, or persons that use ‘misappropriated BRT curriculum outside of Oregon.’” Obviously, this was enough to have the decision-making people in Colorado become squeamish, and back off. “…CDOT’s counsel at the Office of the Attorney General…have advised us to discontinue review and consideration of the Team Oregon curriculum until all legal matters are resolved. Based on this advice from counsel and on communications with (MSF counsel), CDOT will not consider or adopt the Team Oregon/OSU curriculum until Team Oregon receives a clean bill of health.” It’s likely that MSF is gleefully enjoying this opinion.

There’s another problem evident, though. According to our friendly sources in Oregon, there is no legal action in place there, none filed, nor enough substantive grounds for one, and it’s been that way for over three years. Therefore the issue, and tactic, becomes one of MSF obtaining a reaction to a threat, the perception of legal issues carrying-over to the rider education stakeholders in other states, and stalling the adoption of a viable, alternative and additional curriculum.

ABATE of Colorado believes that this activity, and those who facilitate it, are enabling a monopoly to continue to flourish; that it stifles by design the choices that should be available in an open, fair, and competitive rider training and education marketplace; that by having our choices limited, we are being denied the free exercise of our business interests and future autonomous direction; that the student-motorcyclist is also being denied the opportunity to free-market choices of training curriculum, and that quality training according to best practices is preferable to quantity training for profit and control.

Input from other states and SMRO’s is encouraged…
Contact: ABATE of Colorado State Office; Terry Howard – State Coordinator
4725 Paris St., Suite 250, Denver, CO 80239
303-789-3264 or 303-341-1186 (H)
Dave Christy – ABATE of Colorado Legislative Affairs Specialist


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(c)All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based, national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington, DC. The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time presence in Washington, DC, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. The MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom.

The MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American riders' rights movement among its leading members. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulations, motorcycling safety education, training, and public awareness. The MRF provides members and state motorcyclists' rights organizations with direction and information, and sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists rights activists, as well as publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.

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