FWCLA - 10 News Neglected Facts and Mischaracterizations Lead to Wrong Conclusions - Hillsborough County Florida
In May, 2010 award winning investigative journalist Barbara Haiss Martin's news blog called The Locksmith Investigator presented a 3 part article covering the Florida West Coast Locksmiths Association (FWCLA) involvement with the Florida legislature while trying to pass locksmith licensing. In her investigation she questions the accuracy of statements being made and positions of the public officials who were being petitioned to regulate the hardworking locksmiths of Florida. One of the sponsors of the licensing bill was Senator Victor Crist (R).
Earlier in 2009, WTSP 10 News in Tampa Florida, a Gannett company began to run a news story where they claim to have exposed "locksmiths" who engaged in a classic bait and switch. However, these were not and still are not "locksmiths". They are scammers "posing" as locksmiths, there is a huge difference! At the time as I reviewed the news reports from 10 news I felt there were several mischaracterizations and a lot of missing information regarding the issue being reported. So it was refreshing to see Barbara Haiss Martins honesty and assessment of the facts.
Accurate answers? Part 1: Just what did FWCLA and ALOA tell the Florida legislators about Florida locksmiths?
Accurate answers? Part 2: FWCLA and ALOA’s flawed evidence about Florida locksmiths continues
Accurate answers? Part 3: Neglected facts and mischaracterizations lead to wrong conclusions
Fast forward today in 2013 and we see the FWCLA once again presenting a case to regulate the locksmiths and 10 News staking a claim that "they helped change locksmith standards". This title in a recent news article caught my attention, since it was odd that a news reporting service would take such a position, especially when considering that the repercussions and legacy that may come with it since it could potentially damage a locksmiths livelihood. I also questioned what standards?
While reading the article and viewing the video, I couldn't help but remember where Barbara called into question the accuracy of things being told to public officials. It was like deja vue! Could the FWCLA, 10 News and Hillsborough County Commissioner be doing it again? It looked that way to me, so I began my own investigation to find out why the mischaracterizations and misinformation continues and what I discovered is disturbing.
The Florida West Coast Locksmiths Association President Steve Wyman stated in the written online article that there are thousands of complaints each month, yet a call to the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency revealed that this was not true. A communication was sent to the FWCLA President to clarify his statement and he expressed in an email that he never said such a thing, When pressed further he stated he was "mis-quoted". A subsequent communication to the 10 News investigative team resulted in their "standing by their story" and the quote!
So who is telling the truth and why do we seem to witness the proponents of regulating and licensing of locksmiths always being mis-quoted, and the news always failing to investigate and produce any evidence that locksmith licensing has proven effective in combating these phony locksmiths anywhere. The SOPL has presented many examples of this repeated manipulation of the facts or stretching of the truth and the excuses that follow when those involved get caught. So if the news media is always mis-quoting these people - why speak to them unless that is your intent?
Legislators review many bills each year and cannot be expected to know and understand how every industry works or what its needs are. One way they obtain information is to rely on proponents of a bill to provide them with facts, and then they should investigate if these facts are true and complete. Many of these people claim to be experts yet they fail to present relevant facts that when not provided will lead to wrong conclusions. In Hillsborough County Florida we see that they believe the locksmiths are to blame for what those "posing as locksmiths" are doing, and they state that they are going to change the "industry" standards and have backup from those who "speak for the industry".
Hillsborough Board Chairman Ken Hagan appears to be supporting the same wrong conclusions arising from misinformation, dis-information and manipulation from those who have no right to claim the "industry" wants licensing and regulations. The FWCLA is not the industry, and if Mr. Hagan and others would do the proper research and consult with other professionals, they would learn that in every example of licensing of the locksmiths, it is a failure that has ultimately harmed and burdened the locksmiths while cheating the consumer. In the news reports there is a repeated claim that the industry (FWCLA) came to the regulators "wanting regulation". This is very important as you will see later.
Ex Senator, now County Commissioner Crist goes so far as to say that the locksmith industry is a totally unregulated and that licensing will "ensure" to the consumer that they are getting a bonafide craftsman. Really? Has Mr. Crist or any of the experts paid attention to the SOPL news article belows? He should!
Definitive Proof that Locksmith Licensing is a Con Job - What Your Not Being Told!
Arizona Law Review references the Society of Professional Locksmiths - Fighting Deceptive Marketing in the Twenty-First Century
Has anyone in Hillsborough County political machine or the FWCLA even reviewed Barbara Haiss Martins results analysis?
If the Hillsborough County Commission thinks they have their backs covered by industry experts, they better think twice and question why they were not told about these relevant facts. Because from the looks of it the only ones being swindled will be them, while the consumer is sold a false sense of security and the good hardworking locksmiths who have done nothing wrong will be penalized. Remember, the locksmiths have not done anything inappropriate, it is scammers posing as locksmiths. This too is important as you will see later!
As a result of the SOPL investigating the remarks of the FWCLA President, I found the typical contradictions and game play going on, and it is cause for concern. Proponents of licensing of the locksmiths are often found incapable of maintaining or responding to simple common sense logic and often confuse themselves, double talk, and ultimately resort to outright lying. It is a pervasive sickness that exists among those in the "industry" who have ulterior motives and they can't keep up with all their contradictions, and it leaves you scratching your head wondering if these individuals are sane or not.
When I first questioned the claim of thousands of complaints in an email on June 21st, I was told by the FWCLA President that I was ignorant and had my foot in my mouth because it was never said. Then I was told on June 23rd, it was a misprint and no such comment was made and that the consumer protection agency may have said it. Also on June 23rd, the FWCLA President made the following request to me when he realized I was not ignorant, nor did I have my foot in my mouth - "You own a magazine / radio company, interview me, or are you afraid your readers / listeners will find my argument more convincing then your own. "
According to 10 News Reporter Noah Pransky, they are standing by their story which implys the FWCLA President said exactly what they printed. Also remember an earlier call to the county consumer protection agency revealed this claim is untrue. Communications to the FWCLA President were not intended to be an interview of any kind, but he felt he wanted an interview! So I am giving him all the attention he asked for. In a display of vanity he even sent me a picture of himself to included! Be careful what you ask for, I guess.
I then asked the FWCLA President if he could produce any evidence that locksmith licensing has proven effective in combating these phony locksmiths anywhere and to produce the resource that reflects thousands of complaints a month. I also pointed out how in every instance where licensing existed has hurt the locksmiths, and that honorable mobile locksmiths are now being discredited alongside scammers and that he did not speak for the "industry" when he makes the claims he has. So why say such a thing?
No evidence or proof was provided to the question ask above. The same question was asked of 10 News, and sent to the Hillsborough County Committee along with Mr. Crist and there also was no answer was provided.
As I pressed on with my communications with the FWCLA President I was shocked to learn that he was not really for licensing, but he would "win" either way and that he believed his ordinance is going to happen because the people with the power want it to happen. The locksmiths are not as important to him as his customers are.
The locksmiths, law makers and consumers are being told the "industry wants it", so who is telling the truth and who are the people with the power? Licensing may in fact pass in a hyper local political arena, but the fact remains that not one person can produce any evidence that locksmith licensing has proven effective in combating these phony locksmiths anywhere or protected the consumer beyond existing laws which are not enforced. As far as the FWCLA Presidents feelings towards other locksmiths outside his organization, which he refers to as "hillbillies with an axe to grind" in an email sent to the consumer protection agency, leaves me wondering if they would agree that the he speaks for the "industry".
There will be an open meeting on Thursday evening July 18th at 7:30 pm. held at Temple Crest Center, 4242 Miller Ave., Tampa Florida for all locksmiths in the Hillsborough area, but I would suggest other locksmiths in adjacent counties attend because you may be the next victim of licensing.
As a result of my investigation into the accuracy of the claims made, I have been falsely accused by the FWCLA President of being on the wrong side of the issue and that I wish to train criminals. I find this a serious allegation if it were not so damn funny and all part of the playbook by which these proponents follow. When they can't answer relevant questions, they drop back and make wild accusations as if they are being threatened. Considering the FWCLA President tried to dangle a carrot for the SOPL to cash in on a proposed mandatory Life Safety class online for the locksmiths to get and to maintain a license in that area, I guess they all must be criminals in Hillsborough County if the SOPL is to teach them according his prior accusation!!
The SOPL provides support as needed, if needed. Any participation in occupational license training is and has been focused on supporting our peers. If anyone needs a life safety reference, here ya go - http://www.sopl.us/fire--life-safety-codes.html
The SOPL and I will not be bought and our organizations mission statement is pretty clear. The FWCLA President must have the SOPL mixed up with another national organization! The SOPL actually cares about the success and future of the locksmiths and offers the honest locksmiths every possible resource to do so, without picking their pockets.
Summary - Mr. Wyman, President of the Florida West Coast Locksmiths Association has stated that "there are NO scammers, only good locksmiths and bad locksmiths." If this is the case then he is legitimizing the scammers who are not locksmiths at all, which explains why after "hundreds of statements given to reporters" he has never made it a point to make sure the media and lawmakers stop identifying the scammers as locksmiths and call them what they are. If he did, then they could not create the mischaracterizations that are being presented to the consumer in order to create an emotional response to justify their agenda for licensing. Rather then educate the consumer, the proponents of licensing use the media to drive their agenda even when it has been proven not to protect the consumer or stop the scams. In addition, tax revenues will be lost when the hardworking locksmiths are affected by the financial burdens added to their already struggling businesses. Meanwhile, those posing as locksmiths will continue their activities since licensing does not offer any assurances as Mr. Crist has stated.
If I had a crystal ball I would say Hillsborough County locksmiths will find themselves licensed, consumers will experience higher prices, there will be a lack of alternative services, reduced quality and longer wait times for service. The county will not have the revenues need to enforce any ordinance, and there will be little to no enforcement due to lack of funds. Several locksmiths will go out of business, or become unemployed and the state will lose tax revenue. The FWCLA and Mr. Wyman will have the legacy of what will come from it further down the road. Just be careful, because Hillbillies with axes to grind have a long memory!
Of course, we have been told this is all about protecting the consumer......is it?
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Additional Reading -
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Arizona Law Review references the Society of Professional Locksmiths - Fighting Deceptive Marketing in the Twenty-First Century
Texas Auditors Afraid of Licensed Locksmiths - by T.F. Stern
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