Posted below, Professor Falco’s with permission, is an open letter he sent today to the Board of Directors of the AMA and the AMHF.
July 18, 2012
Open Letter to the AMHF Board of Directors
Dear Board Members,
As you approach your next Board meeting later this week, it is important to realize that whether or not Nobby Clark should be in the Hall of Fame is not the problem. It is only a symptom of the problem. The problem is with AMA/AMHF management. Management created this problem, failed to manage the still-ongoing PR disaster, and assigned blame to everyone else for the problem they caused. According to the AMA’s July 13 press release, the three responsible managers are Jeffrey Heininger, Rob Dingman, and Stan Simpson, all of whom are on the AMHF Board.
Make no mistake, this issue is much bigger than Nobby Clark. The depth and breadth of the emotion expressed by a wide range of motorcyclists over the past two weeks shows a widespread distrust of AMA management. Apparently, this was festering under the surface until this latest incident caused it to erupt, because many people who are incensed with the AMA’s handling of this have never met Nobby Clark. They are incensed with the AMA, not over whether or not Nobby Clark is offered a medal (which, of course, he should be, because he won a proper election; whether he accepts it at this point is entirely up to him and should have no bearing on offering it to him).
Think of recent prominent crises in the news: Fukushima reactors, BP oil spill, and Penn State. They all share two common factors. In each case people at the top lost their jobs because they screwed up. But, also in each case the CEO was out front right from the start dealing with damage control to the institution. The managers of Fukushima (Tokyo Electric) did a bad job of their PR damage control, and as a result the Japanese public are now demanding all the reactors in the country remain shut down. BP faired better thanks to their effective PR, despite a truly massive disaster (although the CEO lost his job). The President of Penn State also lost his job, but the damage control they implemented, which included appointing a trusted outsider to do an independent investigation, went a long way toward salvaging the reputation of the institution despite a disgusting situation. This PR disaster created by the AMA has been going on for almost three weeks, but so far I have not seen a single word from either the AMA’s CEO or its Board Chair.
Nobby Clark was properly elected to the Hall of Fame in a duly constituted and democratically conducted election by 250+ experts, so the first order of business at your meeting in a few days should be to vote to reverse the improper action taken by management. However, at your meeting you also will have to decide which is more important: managers keeping their positions, or you taking the necessary steps to begin to salvage the reputation of the institution? In the current case, I sincerely believe the choice is between one or the other, but not both. If Jeff Heininger, Rob Dingman, and Stan Simpson have not resigned from the AMHF Board by the time of your meeting, each of you will have a decision to make. You can do nothing, and assume personal responsibility for the ongoing consequences of actions they have taken, or go on record with a vote of No Confidence in their management of AMHF activities.
cc AMA Board of Directors