Expletive Deleted: Fool Me Once
Friday, December 14, 2007
Originally published Friday, December 14, 2007
It's Christmas, man. This is the peace to all men time of year, when people you don't know wish you good cheer. This is when you shovel your neighbor's sidewalk for them or, if you live in a warmer climate, let your neighbor know that her top has inadvertently slipped down whilst sunbathing. It's the least you can do.

Sadly what you're about to read isn't in the Christmas spirit.

I wish I could summon more empathy for the recently fired staffers of the AMA, but I'm afraid I can't. I have thought long and hard about the changes at the AMA and tried to see all viewpoints on the subject. I still come around to one core feeling. It is this:

I couldn't care less.

Longtime AMA guys Greg Harrison and Bill Wood no longer work at the AMA.

Honestly, I wasn't aware that Greg Harrison was actually still employed at the AMA. I thought he had long retired, but a guy like Harrison, who seemingly had little day to day interaction with the racing sect, was not a man who was going to be on my radar, frankly. He did send me an e-mail a few years ago when he learned that my favorite movie was Local Hero, as he had visited the area of Scotland where it was filmed. So we'll always have Local Hero, Greg.

Bill Wood, who also recently lost his AMA job after something like 400 years, meanwhile, I do know. But only on an acquaintance basis, because we say hello to each other at Daytona and then share some minor chit-chat, every year. He seemed to be a nice man; and very dedicated to the AMA. I also sensed he was apologetic about his near towering height, which from my perspective I appreciated.

Some now say that Bill Wood was some kind of vindictive bad ass at the office, which I find laughably absurd. I actually know he is a nice man because one year at Daytona, at a swanky Yamaha dinner, Bill forgot his camera at our table when he booked back to the AMA hotel to catch some sleep. Always willing to help out, my Soupadres and I took this opportunity to do a little freelance work with Bill's forgotten camera. These candid shots included us sticking the lens down our pants and clicking away, and also taking frame after frame of Susan's (clothed) chest. So, I know he is not a bad man, because later when he developed the film he wasn't that angry.

Honestly, he always seemed a whole lot more with it than many of the AMA magazine jackasses we see occasionally at the track.

Seriously, though, I'm not really to up to date with current events at the non-racing side of the AMA nor how the organization's non-race personnel are faring for one notable reason:

I am not a member of the AMA.

The AMA has not counted Dean Adams as one of their members for at least ten years, maybe fifteen. I know we're all supposed to dutifully belong to the AMA, we're told, even if we disagree with what they're doing because it's an all-for-one-and-one-for-all-deal. If we don't belong, then they'll outlaw motorcycles and the world will end. I don't actually buy that, as you might imagine.

After being an AMA member for a year or two in the eighties, I was surprised when my friend Keith Patti showed me how the association is, time and again, actually using membership dollars to help fight helmet legislation. I wear a helmet every time I ride. Also, I encourage people to wear a helmet when they ride. Call me an alarmist, but there's aspects of a potential massive head injury which I find disagreeable.
Some now say that Bill Wood was some kind of vindictive bad ass at the office, which I find laughably absurd. I actually know he is a nice man because one year at Daytona, at a swanky Yamaha dinner, Bill forgot his camera at our table when he booked back to the AMA hotel to catch some sleep. Always willing to help out, my Soupadres and I took this opportunity to do a little freelance work with Bill's forgotten camera. These candid shots included us sticking the lens down our pants and clicking away, and also taking frame after frame of Susan's (clothed) chest. So, I know he is not a bad man, because later when he developed the film he wasn't that angry.
I recognize that multitudes of people do not agree with me on this subject, sometimes vehemently. There are associations dedicated to fighting helmet laws—these are the people who feel adequate head protection begins and ends with a bandana, I think. This is fine, live and let live, gaping head wound or not, I say. It's just that nobody is going to use my money to fight helmet laws. And the AMA does this, although they do stress people should wear helmets and their fight in that quagmire is part of a larger scope because I assume, they feel one day it's mandatory helmet laws and then the next it's mandatory 55 mph maximum speed for a motorcycle, or some nonsense. They have their irrational fears, and I have mine. I don't ask them to financially support my kooky views and they don't count me as a member. No problem.

Beyond the helmet issue, I was very disappointed in how the AMA handled the Edmondson lawsuit in the 1990s. I'm not going to dredge all that up again, but suffice to say I was somewhat intimate with many of the details. I believe that the AMA could have settled that matter for a lot less than three million dollars, and also could have saved a lot of time and money in the process. I can't imagine what the AMA's legal bill was for that one court case. If I were a member of the AMA, I'd be wondering where the money came from to fight that lawsuit, and to eventually pay out three million dollars. It came from membership dues, I assume.

So, I am not a member.

The aspect of that Edmondson situation that really put the pepper spray in my boxers was that the AMA loyalists and apologists that were somehow left with jobs after the Edmondson debacle actually had the gall to infer that all was indeed well, because they had budgeted three million to settle the case anyway. To me, it was like they were spending someone else's cash. Which, in fact, they were: it was your money, if you were a member. And to top it all off they never even apologized to the membership for being on watch when the Exxon-Valdez of AMA cash disasters happened. I mean, why would they, right?

It's my opinion that the reason some AMA employees act like they don't give a rat's ass about the views of their membership is because they really don't. If you read the association's bylaws, you'll find some support for the argument that the AMA is a membership association which gives its members very little power in how the association is run.

The non-racing side of the AMA reminds me of some kind of wacky religion. If you're intimate with it, maybe work there or are on a committee, then you protect the AMA like a family member, taking offense if someone says something bad about it, reacting like someone just insulted a deity. If you're outside of the AMA, however, you may see these people as loonies, unable to see the forest for the trees, unable to free themselves from 1978.

When Scott Hollingsworth and his ilk were removed from AMA Pro Racing and then the board given their walking papers, one person who was intimate with the coup called me and asked what I thought of these massive changes and how things would now be "better now". I replied that what I felt was apathy. Because I knew that the AMA had been dredging up this "all changed now" crap on a reoccurring schedule for more than thirty years.

By the sounds of it, a serious case of the real world has recently hit the confines of the AMA. There's a new sheriff in town and guess what—he seems intent in actually changing things on the membership and more benign areas of the AMA. Employees, who some view as gallant, loyal heroes to the AMA cause, (First one over the membership desk boys! Nobody lives forever!) are losing their jobs. More long-time employees will probably lose their AMA jobs in the coming weeks. Why? Maybe these people have a differing position from the current administration's view for the future. In the real world, if you're not on the same page as your boss, a lot of times you get your walking papers. Good and loyal people who are standing in the way lose their jobs every single day in the real world.

Hey don't get me wrong, there are still good people working at the AMA. Connie Flemming, for example, AMA Racing's longtime PR person, has done a fine job from the viewpoint of someone in the media who needs to contact the racing department and get info on a regular basis. She returns our calls. She gives us all the information she can find. If there are issues, she helps us in any way she can. Have you tried that in other areas at the AMA? I wish the rest of the association worked as well as Connie does.

It's always struck me as amazing that the AMA administration has again and again proclaimed A NEW DAY HAS DAWNED but the same core group of employees are there, month after month, year after year. Can that actually work? Isn't it a basic tenet of business that you don't let the guys who caused a crapload of problems try to find innovative ways to fix them?

If things continue at the AMA as they have for the past few weeks, a time will come when most of the well-known and long-standing faces at the AMA will no longer be working there.

I wish I could muster up some Christmas spirit, wish I could be of good cheer and show sympathy. But quite honestly if that happens, and more AMA people are forced out, all I can say in response is this: good.
— ends —
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