Conclusion of Cal-Sportbike Domain Issue
As many of you know on 4/13/2005 I went public with what I believed to be an intentional hijacking of our business domain name. This was based on not only an altered registration record at Network Solutions (easily seen in WHOIS records) but on what I was told by Network Solutions when I contacted them and opened a domain dispute ticket. It was also my understanding having registered and managed in excess of 100 domains since 1998 that you can't just have a domain name accidentally come into your possession and not have to have taken at least 2-3 proactive steps to do what appeared to happen in this case with the shift of master user acounts and the overwriting of our registrant information. I was told that their legal department would be sending me documentation showing me this could not be accidental and that was faxed to me last Thursday (4/14/2005). It stated that not only would someone have to have access to both my account and Michael's but also that a person with such access would have had to actively select to overwrite our ownership registration with Michael's name and address and email. It also stated (as did the final resolution email dated 4/15) that the domain was transferred on 1/25/2005 when the accounts were "consolidated" (NOT transferred in November 2003 with the sale of PTT as alleged by Michael in his first response). Did this lead me to believe at that time that his response was based on potentially fabricated information? Sure. This is why I did not publish a retraction until further information was provided to us on Friday(4/15/2005).
Since the loss of ownership of our primary business domain name meant that at any moment our domain could have been redirected to any other DNS server on the internet (after domain propagation occurs) and killing our ability to conduct business, I made the choice to go public with my issue and appeal to our riders as I had not received a response from my email to Michael. YES, I admit that I did not give him adequate time to respond, as pointed out to me by the more level-headed members of his home forum who also know me and have the true best interest of the industry at heart. I concede that he did not have adequate time to respond and his failure to respond should not be an implication of guilt in this situation.
But the fact remains that I was acting on public domain records and on information provided to me by one of the internet's most "core" entities' legal departments when making my statements. No, that does not mean I was correct in speaking on this issue predicated on what proved to be faulty information, and I have freely admitted that having gone public and having to find out that Network Solutions now says they do not show any fraud on our account, makes me look like a jackass.
Do I regret my strident verbiage and characterization? Of course. People who know BOTH Michael and I well enough to carry some weight have taken proactive steps to help mitigate this situation and have assured me that Michael would not have stooped this low as to intentionally try mess with our domain. I accept that Michael must have thus been unaware of this issue and thus the retraction, clarification, and apology below wholly apply and I still will apologize to him for my initial characterization of him. From the time of my first public post to my posting the retraction and clarification (beginning with Michael's home forum "B.A.R.F.") only 48 hours had passed, and my retraction was posted within a half hour of when I received information that stated there was in fact no finding of fraudulent activity on our account at Network Solutions.
Now we get to the ongoing issue...the continuation of the issue here just today...
1) I did indicate in my retraction that I would post this text anywhere I saw my original thread. I apologize that I did not catch it here until today's date. Mea Culpa. If YOU members see this on ANY other place on the internet, I do ask that you link to this thread. If the impetus for the continued posting about this issue here was to spur me to post the retraction, that I totally understandable and I assume such postings would now cease, although I doubt it will change much.
2) The people now here bashing me for my running of Pacific Track Time before it was sold to Michael would not know what went on internally in the running of that business. At the time we (my partners and I collectively, btw) tried a 4-group day, the largest SoCal track day provider was running 4 and 5 group days (and I was at a 6 group day of theirs once). Since Laguna has a cap of 25 riders on course at any time, our goal was to keep a larger instructional staff in each group without lowering revenue too much by only selling 55'ish spots total.
The 4 group format proved to be very unpopular with our rider but not "beyond the pale" in this industry at that time. We learned a lesson in groupings and never again repeated that format.
3) We contracted the SAME EXACT ambulance service used by the other track day providers (I believe it was Halls but I could be wrong...may have been Monterey County or AMR). Yes, we had one downtime of approx. 90 minutes due to a transport and it sucked because they didn't get a replacement ambulance to us and we could not (for insurance purposes) and would not (for obvious safety reasons) run without ALS on site. We also always asked for track venues to assure of an adequate number of corner flaggers to always have excellent visual coverage at each venue, unlike some organizers who still run with too few flaggers. This hardly smacks of a lack of concern for people's safety.
Also, unlike many providers who use each track's pass-through policy...as PTT was on the road to financial solvency I went to K&K insurance and had a $5 Million PER PERSON policy issued for all our events to make sure that no rider would be left underinsured (or us as the provider or the track venue vicariously underinsured). Again, this is documentable proof that can be checked with K&K Insurance records.
4) Did I run PTT into the ground? Let's look at that one. After being WAY behind in cash flow from running several early money-losing events in 2001-2002 as we established a customer base, as of spring 2003 the firm was making up the deficit and selling out several events. At the time of my auto accident I was traveling to a well booked out event at Thunderhill in the peak of summertime heat and humidity. At this time, I was the managing partner, and the person with SOLE responsibility to find a way to cover any losses, and the primary marketing and PR person working up until the night before each event to get riders to attend (not that my partners didn't help...please note the term "primary"). When I was nearly killed in the crash the company started to immediately go downhill as I was injured and laying in bed for months recovering from a skull fracture and other serious injuries which left me unable to put in the "leg work" to get events booked out. The fact that my partners chose to sell it to Michael Earnest was their choice, but I hardly deserved the verbal trashing that I got (and am obviously still getting) over the whole issue. So if you call getting hurt and being unable to continue to pump business volume "running it into the ground", then you have an odd view of business in my opinion.
5) There has been talk about libel and slander. But someone can come here and speak as if armed with inside knowledge of the partners' business and safety decisions at PTT, yet now they are now guilty of the same thing they accuses me of doing to Michael. Is it different if I acted out of an attempt to defend our family's income and they are acting out of malice? I think so. I acted under what appeared to be solid information from Network Solutions on top of Michael's name showing ownership of MY business domain AND I have apologized for going public when faced with exculpatory data that fails to support wrongdoing on Michael's part. Should I expect a retraction from these people to be forthcoming? With all the stuff flying around the industry between vendors and competitors and former partners and former associates and affiliates of all walks, we can all start suing each other for slander or libel and clog the courts but that is not going to help this industry at all and that point was made clear to me during this whole issue by several people whose judgment I trust when they heard me talking that way. I personally think this industry is that much better for some really sage people who will speak up to help mitigate unpleasant situation.
So some people feel better as they continue to take shots at me, even though a lot of people who support me have done the stand up thing and sent Michael emails of apology which I encouraged. Do I expect Michael to tell his supports to back off from hammering me? No. I understand that he'd be pissed and he doesn't "owe" me that. But some people talking trash here need to think about their making wholly unrelated accusations that can now be viewed as a proactive attack on my ability to conduct business, IMHO becoming exactly what they are condemning.
Guys...when I have to take a beating, I'll man up and take it until it people just get to speaking out of such blatant ignorance like I'm reading here. Dislike me all you want for offending your friend. I respect that. But don't expect me to roll over and let you gut me without a response.
I want to point out to the members here that I have treated you with ethical and forthright dealings to the best of my abilities and this is the FIRST time you've seen me step in it deep, and even then I went to Michael's home forum right away and post a retraction when presented with more data, AND accept my lumps in spades.
Last time I checked, that was what you did if you're a stand up guy. Not that you NEVER make a mistake in life, but that you try to resolve your mistakes with honor and that is part of what makes you a person of character. If members here who truly know me feel I have not done the right thing at this time, then they will stop doing business with me, and I will respect their personal choice 100%. If they decided that the time I have spent with them and the service I have given them means that we can get past this and move on, then I will continue to serve them as well as the rest of Fireblades.org members.
This is to clarify the resolution, as Network Solutions has now sent Michael and I both a further clarification that they have found no fraudulent activity on our account.
I am willing to apologize to Michael for my characterization of him as unethical and for taking our domain intentionally. The document I received yesterday from their legal department (I will send Michael a copy) showed that he or his staff would have had to KNOWINGLY take our name off our domain and put his on it.
The circumstances looked completely damning to Michael at that time and it appeared to be a very clear issue of domain hijacking.
I apologize for reacting in the manner I did. When I was faxed documents of clarification that completely belied his earlier press release, I acted under what would have been a correct assumption that his statement about the November 2003 change was untruthful. That is still incorrect, but I will concede that Michael did not intentionally jack our domain.
Guys...when I'm wrong, I will say it, and I was wrong to speak about Michael in that manner. When I react extremely negatively to bad information from Network Solutions that appeared to make Michael a liar, I am willing to retract my statements now that he is proven to have not had personal knowledge.
The fact remains that SOMEONE (not me) approved the consolidation and actively removed our name from the account and chose to overwrite Michael's name to our account according to the letter which I will provide to Michael at this time.
Michael...I assumed the worst of you based on what looked like you did something really horrible to us for no reason, and I apologize. I'll take my lumps for this but hope that the riding community will understand that I was acting on what appeared to be serious illegal activity and we have been giving conflicting information by Network Solutions which circumstantially made Michael look like he was guilty.