Reimagining "Share The Road" - Without Bike Florida, Inc.
Because No Government Agency Exists Exclusively to Monitor Non-Profits...
|Key numbers... Forms 990||Year 2015||Year 2016||Year 2017|
|BFI Reported Fundraising, Part VIII, lines 1a,b,c,d, dues, fundraising events, campaigns, etc.||All Lines Blank||All Lines Blank||All Lines Blank|
|BFI Revenue less Expenses, Part I, line 19, (after all STR subsidies and government grants)||Loss||Loss||Loss|
|Annual STR Subsidies, Schedule B, Part 1, (does no include all government grants)||$114,334||$106,650||$105,751|
|BFI Salaries, Other Compensation, Employee Benefits, Part 1, line 15||$133,302||$122,312||$83,098|
|"Pre-Collected" Income, Schedule D, Part X (perhaps now used to fund another mission)||$94,760||$195,270||$195,969|
Direct link: Florida Check-a-Charity (Note: after opening page, click on "+" at upper left to expand list of filings.)
BFI's "new" mission (June 2019) "to help Florida communities improve their economic health, bicycle infrastructure, and safety through bicycle tourism." (from new website, "new" mission reported, June, 2019)
BFI's mission (stated 2018) "to help Florida communities improve their economic growth, bicycle infrastructure, and safety through bicycle tourism." (One of 2 missions in before-exposed" website, No 990 filed for 2018)
BFI mission (stated 2017) "to help Florida communities increase their economic health, bicycle infrastructure, and safety through bicycle tourism." (IRS form 990, 2017)
Web content is rarely removed completely.
https://web.archive.org/web/20151217012354/http://bikeflorida.org/share-the-road/ Some STR program history once appeared on the BFI website, but later removed.
https://web.archive.org/web/20180913070626/https://bikeflorida.org/about-us/ BFI "About Us," 09/2018. (Site sometimes busy, may take a minute or two to load.)
Facebook page BEFORE: screenshot from July 2019: (About: “Bike Florida organizes bike tours all over the state and raises funds to support cycling in Florida.”
Facebook page AFTER: direct link - https://www.facebook.com/pg/BikeFL/about/?ref=page_internal
League of Michigan Bicyclists (lmb.org) Non-profit, similar mission to STR, $1 ride programs, micro-grant programs, open application, etc..
FS 617.0834 Officers and directors of certain corporations and associations not for profit; immunity from civil liability.
(1) An officer or director of a nonprofit organization recognized under s. 501(c)(3) or s. 501(c)(4) or s. 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or of an agricultural or a horticultural organization recognized under s. 501(c)(5), of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, is not personally liable for monetary damages to any person for any statement, vote, decision, or failure to take an action, regarding organizational management or policy by an officer or director, unless:
(a) The officer or director breached or failed to perform his or her duties as an officer or director; and
(b) The officer’s or director’s breach of, or failure to perform, his or her duties constitutes:
1. A violation of the criminal law, unless the officer or director had reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was lawful or had no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful. A judgment or other final adjudication against an officer or director in any criminal proceeding for violation of the criminal law estops that officer or director from contesting the fact that his or her breach, or failure to perform, constitutes a violation of the criminal law, but does not estop the officer or director from establishing that he or she had reasonable cause to believe that his or her conduct was lawful or had no reasonable cause to believe that his or her conduct was unlawful;
2. A transaction from which the officer or director derived an improper personal benefit, directly or indirectly; or
3. Recklessness or an act or omission that was committed in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property.
(2) For the purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Recklessness” means the acting, or omission to act, in conscious disregard of a risk:
1. Known, or so obvious that it should have been known, to the officer or director; and
2. Known to the officer or director, or so obvious that it should have been known, to be so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow from such action or omission.
(b) “Director” means a person who serves as a director, trustee, or member of the governing board of an organization.
(c) “Officer” means a person who serves as an officer without compensation except reimbursement for actual expenses incurred or to be incurred.
FS 617.0830 General standards for directors.
(1) A director shall discharge his or her duties as a director, including his or her duties as a member of a committee:
(a) In good faith;
(b) With the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances; and
(c) In a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the corporation.
(2) In discharging his or her duties, a director may rely on information, opinions, reports, or statements, including financial statements and other financial data, if prepared or presented by:
(a) One or more officers or employees of the corporation whom the director reasonably believes to be reliable and competent in the matters presented;
(b) Legal counsel, public accountants, or other persons as to matters the director reasonably believes are within the persons’ professional or expert competence; or
(c) A committee of the board of directors of which he or she is not a member if the director reasonably believes the committee merits confidence.
(3) A director is not acting in good faith if he or she has knowledge concerning the matter in question that makes reliance otherwise permitted by subsection (2) unwarranted.
(4) A director is not liable for any action taken as a director, or any failure to take any action, if he or she performed the duties of his or her office in compliance with this section.
Excerpts from 617.0304
(2) A corporation’s power to act may be challenged: ...
(c) In a proceeding by the Attorney General, as provided in this act, to dissolve the corporation or in a proceeding by the Attorney General to enjoin the corporation from the transaction of unauthorized business.
Wording of entire BFI announcement:
(copied from "new" BFI website on 06/24/2019, underlines are my own):
"A Toast to Bike Florida: Past and Future... 25 years ago, a group of visionaries dreamed up the idea of an event with the purpose of raising funds and awareness for cycling in the state of Florida. Following the model of similar tours around the country, the annual Bike Florida Spring Tour had its inaugural ride in the summer of 1994. As time went on the Bike Florida Board of Directors began to examine whether or not our organization was meeting its full potential. What is the best way we can use our talents and expertise to serve our communities and our state? How does the Spring Tour, with all its benefits and challenges, help or hinder Bike Florida? These questions resulted in a new mission: to help Florida communities improve their economic health, bicycle infrastructure, and safety through bicycle tourism. As we take time to fully explore how we will carry out this mission, the Spring Tour will be taking a break in 2020, after which time we will assess its long-term future. I know for many of you this event is the only reason you are involved with Bike Florida, but when we release our 2020 event calendar I am positive you will find something just as exciting and fun to do. We have already begun collaborating with towns across Florida to put on festivals that feature not just bike riding, but also concerts, carnivals, kayaking, hiking, and more. Our off-road tours offering is going to keep expanding so we can meet the growing demand of gravel grinders and mountain bikers. We are working on a tour that will be exclusively in state parks. We are becoming more involved with the development and promotion of the Coast to Coast bike trail. On top of all of that, we are hosting the first annual Florida Bicycle Tourism Conference in 2020. As we go forth into the next chapter of Bike Florida’s story, we recognize that we would not be here without the visionaries of 1994 who put Florida on the map for bicycle advocates, educators, and tourists. Through their passionate work they have improved the awareness, safety, and quality of bicycling in Florida. The face of Bike Florida is changing, but at its heart we will continue their legacy. So let’s raise a glass to the last 25 years, and another to the 25 years to come!"
The Attorney General could argue that the money previously raised by the organization is dedicated to history and that the organization would have to raise new funds for its "new purpose." Or, it might be argued that the wording in BFI's public communications was misleading (see Exhibit B) in view of BFI's actual business operations.
Quotes from an interview with the Executive Director of Bike Florida, Inc.. Names in the transcript have been removed.
So, what's the other way that you actually make money? You have the tag, and then, how else are you supported?
BFI Exec: Well, one of our things is, we try to make our events and tours as inexpensive as possible. You wouldn't think, for example, that a luxury tour at $2,500 dollars is expensive, but if you look at similar touring companies, they're more like $3,500, $5,000, So, as a non-profit, we do whatever we can to minimize the expense for the participant. However, we are dependent on participant fees, and we do actually have some partners that we've been working with. Alert Today Florida has been a huge help, and we're starting to work with other state-wide organizations, but really the tag is the thing that enables us to be able to put on these tours at such a low cost.
Later, BFI Exec adds... Oh, there's a daily happy hour, so at about four o'clock everyday, we've got free wine and beer.
Host: So, you and I didn't talk about this. There's two major bicycle organizations in Florida, which would be the Florida Bicycle Association,
and Bike Florida, but they don't have the same mission, they don't do the same things. You don't have memberships.
You don't have people that join you for annual memberships like the FBA does.
BFI Exec: Right.
Host: The two are connected in an unusual way because of the I Bike tag program, right?
BFI Exec: Yes.
Host: So, one of the ways that Bike Florida is funded, and the Florida Bike Association is funded, is through the tag program.
BFI Exec: Yes.
BFI Exec: So, we kind of consider ourselves sister organizations. So, the FBA does more grassroots work with individual clubs and advocacy, and, yeah, we do the tourist side to bring in, as we've talked about before, more of Florida's communities to get on board.
Section (1)(b) "Any changes to the information submitted to the department pursuant to paragraph (2)(d) on the initial registration statement or the last renewal statement must be reported to the department on a form prescribed by the department within 10 days after the change occurs."
BFI announced a "new mission" on its new website soon after 06/06/2019: https://bikeflorida.org/blog , but to date it appears that BFI has NOT reported a "new mission" to the State as required under FS:496.405 (see Check-a-Charity ) Why is this?
It is unlawful for any person in connection with the planning, conduct, or execution of any solicitation or charitable or sponsor sales promotion to: (1) Operate in violation of, or fail to comply with, the requirements of ss. 496.401-496.424. (2) Submit false, misleading, or inaccurate information in a document that is filed with the department, provided to the public, or offered in response to a request or investigation by the department, the Department of Legal Affairs, or the state attorney. (3) Make misrepresentations or misleading statements to the effect that any other person or organization sponsors or endorses such solicitation, approves of its purpose, or is connected therewith, when that person or organization has not given written consent to the use of its name. (4) Represent that the contribution is for or on behalf of a charitable organization or sponsor or to use any emblem, device, or printed matter belonging to or associated with a charitable organization or sponsor, without first being authorized in writing to do so by the charitable organization or sponsor. (5) Use a name, symbol, emblem, device, service mark, or statement so closely related or similar to that used by another charitable organization or sponsor that the use thereof would mislead the public. (6) Falsely state that he or she is a member of or represents a charitable organization or sponsor, or falsely state or represent that he or she is a member of or represents the United States Air Force, United States Army, United States Coast Guard, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, the National Guard, or a law enforcement or emergency service organization. (7) Misrepresent or mislead anyone by any manner, means, practice, or device whatsoever to believe that the person or organization on whose behalf the solicitation or sale is being conducted is a charitable organization or sponsor, or that any of the proceeds of the solicitation or sale will be used for charitable or sponsor purposes, if that is not the fact. (8) Represent that a charitable organization or sponsor will receive a fixed or estimated percentage of the gross revenue from a solicitation campaign greater than that identified in filings with the department pursuant to ss. 496.401-496.424, or that a charitable organization or sponsor will receive an actual or estimated dollar amount or percentage per unit of goods or services purchased or used in the charitable or sponsor sales promotion that is greater than that agreed to by the commercial co-venturer and the charitable organization or sponsor. (9) Use or exploit the fact of registration or the filing of any report with any governmental agency so as to lead any person to believe that such registration in any manner constitutes an endorsement or approval by the state. However, use of the statement required in s. 496.411(3) or s. 496.412(1)(c) is not a prohibited use or exploitation. (10) Make misrepresentations or misleading statements to the effect that the donation of a contribution or the display of any sticker, emblem, or insignia offered to contributors will entitle such other person to any special treatment by emergency service employees or law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties. (11) Solicit contributions from another person or organization while wearing the uniform of an emergency service employee or law enforcement officer, or while on duty as an emergency service employee or law enforcement officer, except where the solicitation is for an organization exempt from federal income tax under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or except when soliciting contributions to benefit an emergency service employee or law enforcement officer who has been injured in the line of duty or to benefit the family or dependents of an emergency service employee or law enforcement officer who has been killed in the line of duty. (12) Solicit contributions on behalf of another person or organization using any statement that the failure to make a contribution shall result in a reduced level of law enforcement services being provided to the public or the person solicited. (13) Employ in any solicitation any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud or to obtain a contribution by means of any deception, false pretense, misrepresentation, or false promise. (14) Notify any other person by any means, as part of an advertising scheme or plan, that the other person has won a prize, received an award, or has been selected or is eligible to receive anything of value if the other person is required to purchase goods or services, pay any money to participate in, or submit to a promotion effort. (15) Fail to provide complete and timely payment to a charitable organization or sponsor of the proceeds from a solicitation campaign or a charitable or sponsor sales promotion. (16) Fail to apply contributions in a manner substantially consistent with the solicitation. (17) Fail to identify his or her professional relationship to the person for whom the solicitation is being made. (18) Fail to remit to a charitable organization or sponsor the disclosed guaranteed minimum percentage of gross receipts from contributions as required under s. 496.410(7)(c) or, if the solicitation involved the sale of goods, services, or tickets to a fundraising event, the percentage of the purchase price as agreed in the contract or agreement as required under this chapter. (19) Commingle charitable contributions with non-charitable funds.
"Supplemental" trademarks are subject to abuse.
For example, BFI attempted what some refer to as "trademark bullying," by implying that BFI had an enforceable "need," which it clearly does not (see links below).
Here is BFI quoted from emails to this "fellow" safe biking advocate (www.BikeFlorida.net ).
“Please be aware that our organization has trademarked the name Bike Florida (see attached) and I am hoping we can resolve this without the need for legal action." (Executive Director, Bike Florida, Inc.).
Then from BFI... "Thank you for getting back to me. I'd like to send you some more information regarding the trademark. Can I please have your mailing address?" (Executive Director, Bike Florida, Inc.).
Note: sometimes, the mere mention of "legal action" does the job. And few people realize that a "supplemental" trademark (primarily intended for international trade) is virtually impossible to defend as implied (see "When a Trademark is Not a Trademark" and other links below). Nevertheless, it does give BFI "standing," or the ability to sue (regardless of merit) in Federal Court, presumably using its government funding!
Then from BFI 6 weeks later (after many requests for some sort of clarification)... "#1, Bike Florida has made no threat against you or any member of the public regarding our Trademark Registry. #2, It is acknowledged that Bike Florida staff did make email contact with you advising of our Trademark Registry and requesting dialogue; followed by a subsequent email requesting your mailing address, should future follow-up be needed (neither of which constitutes a threat)." (BFI Board President).
What kind of non-profit would do this? The answer is Bike Florida, Inc. - self-proclaimed as "Florida's Premier Bicycle Touring Company" - existing on government grants (see Exhibit A) and publicly stating "our primary mission is to promote safe bicycling in the state of Florida" (see Exhibit B).