Executive Director’s Report
by Dave Chubby Charlebois
There is something to be said about learning from experience. I don’t think it should take the place of a school education but you have to keep your eyes and mind wide open throughout life if you want to live to be a wise old man (or woman). I was reminded of how much I used to know during a recent discussion with my eleven year old son. No argument I could come up with could change his mind, he knew it all.
Remember those days? I sure do. I laughed off our argument and left him to try it his way, well knowing that he would learn from his poor decision. Whether it’s our personal history, the history of our organization, or world history, we should all learn from past mistakes and let them direct our path to the future. If we choose to close our minds and think we know it all, we have then quit learning, quit growing, and are left to wonder what went wrong. Take a good look at your life and decide where you’re at. Are you taking steps to learn anything new this year? Have you taken the time to try to show someone else what you have learned? In this world of too much information, it’s hard to use the excuse “I didn’t know” because really if you don’t know, you didn’t want to. Of course these days we view a little too much misinformation so when it comes to motorcyclist legislation, education, and safety it’s good to know that you can learn from the “motorcycle issue experts,” ABATE of Wisconsin.
In my youth much like today most of my friends rode motorcycles. Unlike today, motorcycle courses were expensive and hard to get into so if you wanted to get your M endorsement you took your temps test and signed up for a road test at the DMV and with a little luck you’d get your road test in before summer was over. I drove two summers with my temps which sucked because I always had to wear a lid and couldn’t have a passenger (insert nod and wink here). I rode with friends with more experience and read books like “A Twist of the Wrist” to gain knowledge on the cheap always working to become a better rider, or so I thought. Skip forward twenty five years or so and although I’ve never slid across the pavement, I’ve also never taken a motorcycle class to test my proficiency either. ABATE of Wisconsin Safe Rider changed all that. Several years ago I utilized our Safe Rider programs offer of a free Experienced Rider Course (ERC) to all ABATE of Wisconsin members and went with fourteen other members from SE Wisconsin to Fort McCoy to take the class. Everyone that went with me had very positive feedback after taking the ERC. I gained both knowledge and confidence that weekend. Fast forward to 2016 and I once again had the privilege of taking a Safe Rider class this time with several members of your Board of Directors and officers. By then it had changed to the BRC2, but the price was the same. A classroom element was added and although no one on hand needed it, we could have received a license waiver from the state for taking this class. Once again I learned a few things and found out I wasn’t the best rider in ABATE of WI. I’m sure I’ll be trying to improve my final score soon. Maybe you’ll join me?
If motorcyclists’ rights are a passion for you and you’re just not sure how far you want to take things, I would suggest taking in the Heartland STEAM conference. The Seminar to Educate and Motivate is run by the seven Heartland states of WI, IL, IA, NE, SD, ND, and MN. This year it will be held in Minnesota March 23-25. Borderline riding weather at that time but it’s nice to attend national conferences when they’re close. All of the states will offer advice on all aspects of a States Motorcyclists Rights Organization (SMRO) with breakouts on a variety of topics mixed in with biker fun for all. This event is also a fundraiser for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) so monies raised go to a worthwhile cause. Look for more info in this newsletter. If you’re looking to broaden your perspective on motorcyclists’ rights, I’ll see you there.
Although I always enjoy learning from the success and mistakes of other rights organizations at national conferences, nothing keeps it real like attending ABATE of Wisconsin Officer Training. This year it will be held at the Hotel Mead in Wisconsin Rapids February 9-11. Unlike the MRF conferences this conference is exclusive to ABATE of WI regional officers and spouses. I often speak of using the tools that we give you to help fight off unfriendly and discriminatory laws against motorcyclists and this is the place you get that toolbox. The entire structure of our organization is presented at this training and it’s a must for all regional representatives and their officers. ABATE of WI has been one of the most successful rights organizations in the U.S. for a number of years now and this training is what keeps us on top. We have several new presentations this year and a new format to make things more enjoyable. We are looking at revealing the progress and timeline of our strategic plan for the future of our organization. This may not be your typical biker party, but it’s not all work and like any biker conference the social aspect is almost as important as the content in breakout sessions. I started attending Officer Training when I became a state officer in 2005 and although I’m normally presenting or helping run the event, I never leave without learning something new. I appreciate all who attend and look forward to gaining some knowledge about how to positively move our organization forward this year.
ABATE of WI Share the Road (STR) program has been instrumental in reducing right of way violation crashes and fatalities since its inception almost two decades ago. We have continually revised the program and are currently looking for volunteer instructors. Training and information for STR will be available as a breakout at our Officers Training this year but more training is possible with enough inquiries. Drivers education training is continually evolving so we must constantly adapt and learn how to do better. If STR interests you, or you feel that you could help arrange classes, please contact Bill Kingsley for more information. (Contact info elsewhere in this newsletter) You may learn that you have the ability to reach out to people and help them develop driving habits that protect motorcyclists on the road.
The meat and potatoes of our organization is legislative action. We have worked incredibly hard over the last forty-four years at being the most professional and productive grassroots lobbyists in the state. This means our members not only need to know our issues, but need to know how our government functions at all levels. We will be holding training sessions at our Officers Training again this year, and both traveling sessions and Madison training will be possible if we receive enough requests for it. Don’t rely on Fox News and CNN to teach you how our government works learn from the experts and positively influence legislation that benefits motorcyclists. Contact our legislative committee chair, Steve Panten, or your regional representative for more information on these training sessions.
Just think, thirty- five years ago I was just like my son. I knew everything. Now after almost five decades on this planet I believe that I will never have enough knowledge. I can open my eyes and see that others can teach me if I’m willing to listen. Learning doesn’t stop when we finish school, it just begins. Again, I can’t teach you about life, love , or money but if you want to know about freedom you’ve joined the right organization. In our March 1992 newsletter the Directors Desk column written by our Executive Director of that time, Gary Klinker, “When it comes to trials and hearings you hear a lot about expert testimony. This could be anything from doctors, accountants, farmers, and auto mechanics to scientists. Well, when it comes to motorcycle issues, we are the experts. When the legislators want expert advice or information they should contact the motorcyclists, not the insurance companies or the medical industry.” Learn from the experts and you will be an expert. Until next month…Ride Free