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Sunday, 29 November, 2020

A Lesson in Political Reality

Date: 25 October, 1997

By: Chief

Imageam sure you have all heard the old adage, 'Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance'. This is also known as the '7P's'. In the legislative battle to regain our freedom to decide whether or not to wear a lid, the '7P's' have all but been forgotten.

You see it or read about it all the time. The current battle in Pennsylvania is a prime example. The lead MRO gets a legislator to author and/or sponsor a bill to amend the current lid law. The bill goes before committee. The MRO rep speaks in favor of the bill. Then, up jumps the devil. Doctors, medical associations and the like get their turn to speak in opposition. Guess what? The MRO crys foul. Can you believe it? You'd better, because that is exactly what happened in Pennsylvania. Bottom line, the MRO was not prepared! Same thing has happened in California for the past FIVE years. And I'm getting a little tired of it.

The beauty of it is that all the information we need to defeat a lid law in any state is available to us ... right on the web. All we have to do is download it, study it, collate it and present it. Yes, doing that takes a lot of time, but to me, I would rather do the job correctly the first time than have to go back and try again.

First off, we need to really look in the mirror and see what the public has been lead to believe about us. Long hair (some of us, mine is gone), beards, basically the scum of the earth. Now look at the public perception of the opposition: doctors, police officers, nurses, the 'pillars' of the community. In other words, we have a bad reputation and our opposition has a good reputation. Finally, the other side has one thing that we, for the most, part do not. Letters at the end of their names. Letters such as; M.P.H., PH.D., F.A.C.S., etc. Supposedly, that means they are smart. Politicians may not read anything that these 'pillars' write, but with those initials that paper or that testimony carries a lot of weight.

Now, how do we overcome those obstacles? As far as reputation is concerned ... we don't. I really don't care what some one else thinks of me. It's not important to me. But we can alter what a politician or a newspaper editor thinks about doctors, nurses and police. How? By using their own research papers against them! Taking their weapons and turning those weapons against those same doctors, nurses and police.

A perfect example is to read the studies conducted by Dr. Jess Kraus and Dr. Corine Peeks-Asa. Both Kraus and Peeks-Asa work at the "Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center." These are the same studies that doctors throughout the country use to block repealing of various states' lid laws. Right smack dab in one of the studies is the following statement:

". . .73% of all motorcycle fatalities are caused by thoracic injuries. . .."

Do you know what that actually means? It means that three quarters of biker fatalities are due to injuries of the chest area. Now, I'm no doctor, but would you please explain to me just how a helmet is going to protect my chest? That is just one glaring example.

You want another? No problem. How about that there is no mention, not one, of physical law and its effects contained within the base line of each of the studies conducted. WHOOOA there Nellie. How can anybody perform a study of motorcycle helmets, accidents and causes without taking into account the laws of physics? Specifically, Newton's three laws of motion? Answer: You can't ... and produce an 'honest' study. A physical law is an immutable fact, period.

Here is another one for ya. In each study, the term "head injury" is used. If you look up the term in a medical dictionary, "head injury" is external to the brain. Facial abrasions, broken nose, jaw, etc., are "head injuries." Cutting yourself while shaving constitutes a "head injury." But, where do peoples' minds go when you mention "head injury?" Straight to the brain. Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, back to the medical dictionary; brain injury is called "Traumatic Brain Injury" or TBI. A completely different kettle of fish from "head injury." TBI has long term effects, usually life time, and involves the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. Physical fact: for a helmet to protect the brain the helmet must be placed between the brain and the inner skull. In other words, the helmet would take the place of the Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF). Why? Because the brain 'floats' within the skull and thus is a movable object. That being a fact, don't forget Newton's third law of motion; "for every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction."

Those are just three examples. There are numerous other examples contained within each study. By using these weapons against our opponents, doubt is created. When doubt is created, a lack of credibility is created as well. That is critically important. Credibility, in the legislative arena, is the only thing these doctors, nurses, police, etc., have going for them. When their credibility is questioned you have a much better chance of getting a repeal bill through.

How about enforcement? Has anyone brought that into play within the legislative arena? The cost of enforcement, at least out here in California, is very high. A helmet ticket, if you are convicted, is $76.00. It remains the same whether you fight the ticket or not. The last ticket I received was in April of this year. I went to trial in October. During that six months, all kinds of motions were filed with the court. The District Attorney had to answer each and every motion. In addition, for each motion filed, a hearing was held. Not counting trial, I went to court on 5 occasions. Total cost to the State of California -- thus far -- is approximately $5,000.00! At trial I was found guilty. Since then I have filed my notice of appeal. Additionally, the fine was stayed until December 31, 1997. I will file another motion for continuance of the stay until the appeal process has been exhausted or until verdict of the trial court is over turned. How long will that take? Probably close to another year. Cost, in the neighborhood of $30 grand the State will fork out in employee time and court costs.

Another humdinger is the 'limited dollars available for health care'. The old social burden theory. Well, once again, here in California we have "Medi-Cal." You know, the state will pay for your medical bills and rehabilitation if you cannot. I have a real problem with that one. According to the law, "Medi-Cal" is for the "indigent" and "destitute." That's it. No one else is authorized under the law to draw "Medi-Cal" benefits unless they are "indigent" and "destitute." Hummmmm, the question becomes, if I'm riding my scoot and am involved in a wreck and taken to the get well quick shop, am I qualified for "Medi-Cal?" The answer is no. I cannot be qualified because I own a motorcycle, hence I am not "destitute." By the way, you can find "indigent" and "destitute" in the legislative intent for "Medi-Cal."

Furthermore, show me the contract I signed with the state allowing the state to pay for my recovery. I damn sure can't find that particular contract. Do you have one?

There is the issue of preparation and presentation. Preparation months before legislature convenes. This gives the MRO or individual time to get the language written and supporting arguments together in a neat and easily understood presentation package. Once that is done, and presented to the bill's author, final adjustments to the package can be made. Committees that will hear testimony on the bill must receive a copy of the package at a minimum of two weeks before the hearing date. Individual briefings cannot hurt either. Make sure the committee analyst has a copy and is briefed. On the date of the hearing it is quite important for that committee to realize that the legislative committee members are sitting in judgment -- a jury if you will. And juries, as we all know, decide issues of fact. Therefore, fact, not supposition, not innuendo, not an emotional plea, just fact and fact only can be considered. If the MRO or an individual has done their homework and if, and it is a big if, the committee members are honest you just might win. One thing is certain, if you go in unprepared, basically whine about 'let those who ride decide', you will lose. The legislature doesn't want to hear it and you have not rebutted a damn thing.

The '7P's', don't leave home without them.

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