Monday, May 25, 2009
My trip to DC
While I was on this trip I became far more aware of how this issue will affect others. Before the trip I was only thinking about how this affected people like me who have current liability lawsuits against Chrysler. I hadn't fully grasped the potential this issue has to affect everyone. The current plan will free Chrysler from liability on any vehicle sold before the bankruptcy. That means that, going forward, Chrysler will not be liable for any injury caused by a defective Chrysler vehicle that is on the road today. If GM follows suit, which they will, then no one will be liable for any injuries caused by the majority of American made vehicles on the road today. What kind of car do you drive? If it's a GM or Chrysler product you may as well slap a label on it that says "drive at own risk"!
Please understand, our money is being used to absolve Chrysler of any present or future injury caused by it's vehicles that are on the road today, and unless the Administration changes the plan before this Wednesday, we will pay for GM's absolution as well! This use of our taxes will cause direct harm to approximately 300 people who have current Tort (injury) claims against Chrysler, but it has the potential to harm every American citizen. Even if you decided never to ride in a GM or Chrysler vehicle again you could still get injured by a vehicle that hits you due to a defective part! Our government has a responsibility to use our taxes in a manner that does not cause harm to the American people. Financing a plan with our tax dollars that relieves Chrysler, or any other manufacturer, of liability is irresponsible, unethical, and immoral! I'm not saying that we shouldn't finance these bankruptcies, I'm just saying that if our money is being used then the plan should reflect our best interests and protect us in the process!
When I learned that I would be testifying I hoped that I would be able to deliver this message. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the hotel the situation had changed. I was no longer going to be allowed to testify. For whatever reason (political pressure) the focus of the committee hearing had changed from the impact of the bankruptcy on victims of design defects in Chrysler vehicles to the impact on the dealerships, more specifically the minority owned dealerships. Consumer Advocates Ralph Nader, Clarence Ditlow, and Joan Claybrook would be speaking about the liability issue. (I got to meet them and they were all very nice!) Instead of testifying I would have the opportunity to speak at a press conference before the hearing. We thought this actually might be a better situation because it would get the issue on to national television which would have a stronger chance of getting the Administration's attention.
Unfortunately, the press didn't show up for the press conference. I did have the opportunity to have my statement recorded on video, but I'm not sure what will happen with that video. I believe the hope was to send it to the national media, but I'm just not sure where it will go. I did attend the hearing and was introduced to the committee, but I was only allowed to stand up and thank them for holding the hearing. My testimony was never heard. Later, after the hearing was over I was told that my presence in the room was extremely important and that it had an impact on the congressmen on the committee. The committee decided that it would send a bi-partisan group to the White House the next day to raise the issues with them.
I didn't get home until about 1am on Friday morning. After I woke up (around 10:00am Friday morning) I called the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee's office to ensure that they were still going to the White House and to ask that they please include the liability issues when they spoke to the administration. Unfortunately the plan had changed again and they were not taking a bi-partisan group to the White House after all. However, I was assured that they were still bringing these issues to the Administration's attention and that (even though it did not get attention during the hearing) the liability/tort claim issues were extremely important and would not be forgotten.
The political high point of the trip for me was visiting Senator Lugar's office to thank him for expressing concern about this issue and forwarding my story on to the President's Automotive Task Force. He was in a meeting when I visited, but I did get to meet the staff person who has been communicating with me. Hopefully someday I will find myself in a position where I can thank the Senator personally.
I have made several attempts to contact CNN and the national offices of ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX News. As of yet the only responses that I have received are automated. I want to thank all of you who have reached out to your Legislator's, I truly appreciate your assistance. With any luck we will manage to get this on the national media before Wednesday. If not, I can only hope that we have done all we can and that the message has gotten through!
Love ya..this time we go for ice cream..
See ya soon..
I have contacted a friend of mine at Channel 8 news. I will let you know what or if she responds. I am just so sorry that I didn't think of it earlier. Hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend with friends and family. Regards, Mary
Debby Knox from Channel 8 will be in contact with you, since I don't have a phone number for you, i am going to give you her number...956-8563.