THAT WAS 19-YEAR-OLD ALEX BERLOW OF FREMONT, NEBRASKA, FOLLOWED BY by bsw17644

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									TRANSCRIPT -- WILL NEBRASKA SKATE PARKS REOPEN???

Music/Skate park sounds: 15 seconds of Skateboarding sounds with electric guitar music
up and under, fades with first actuality.

Actuality: Alex Berlow: That was the only spot we had to skate in
              Fremont where you could just skate all day long and not get in trouble. You
              can’t go anywhere in this town without getting in trouble for skateboarding….
              Anywhere. If you look, all over town there are signs, everywhere—―no
              skateboarding, no loitering.‖ They call the cops, they take you boards away,
              They’ll take your pictures.


Actuality: Senator Mike Flood #1: We, for years, in Norfolk were trying to find a
             place for kids that wanted to go to skateboard, because they were using the
             downtown areas, unsafe areas in parking lots of makeshift ramps, whatever it
             may be. And the skate park was really an answer to a problem – and that was
             making sure the kids had someplace where they could skateboard while, at the
             same time, in a safe environment and away from other pedestrians that might
             cause trouble or cause damage. And then the court comes down and reverses
             itself after 25 years, and sometimes it’s just extremely frustrating when you’re
             trying to find opportunities for kids.

My narration 1: THAT WAS 19-YEAR-OLD ALEX BERLOW OF FREMONT,
             NEBRASKA, FOLLOWED BY STATE SENATOR MIKE FLOOD OF
             NORFOLK, NEBRASKA. BOTH ARE FRUSTRATED THAT THEIR TOWNS
             HAVE CLOSED THEIR PUBLIC SKATE PARKS, ALONG WITH A HALF
             DOZEN OTHER NEBRASKA SKATE PARKS THAT WERE CLOSED THIS
             FALL, AT LEAST TEMPORARILY, WHEN THEIR INSURANCE
             COVERAGE WAS THREATENED. THIS HAPPENED WHEN THE STATE
             SUPREME COURT CHANGED A LONG-STANDING INTERPRETATION
             OF NEBRASKA’S RECREATIONAL LIABILITY ACT. SINCE THE EARLY
             1980S, IT’S BEEN UNDERSTOOD THAT, BARRING NEGLIGENCE, THE
             ACT MADE PUBLIC RECREATIONAL SITES IMMUNE FROM LIABILITY
             IF SOMEONE WAS INJURED WHILE USING THEM. WHEN THE STATE
             SUPREME COURT DECIDED THAT A WOMAN WHO SERIOUSLY
             INJURED HER ANKLE WHEN SHE STEPPED IN A HOLE ON PUBLIC
             LANDS DURING A FESTIVAL IN WESTERN NEBRASKA COULD, IN
             FACT, SUE FOR DAMAGES, THAT IMMUNITY WAS NO LONGER
             CERTAIN.


              THE YOUTH OF FLOOD’S HOME TOWN OF NORFOLK NEBRASKA
              RAISED MONEY FOR TWO YEARS TO HELP FUND THEIR SKATEPARK,
              AND THEIR EFFORTS EARNED THEM AN
       ADDITIONAL $25,000 FROM THE TONY HAWK FOUNDATION – THE
       LARGEST GRANT AMOUNT THE FOUNDATION HAS GIVEN.


       NOW SKATEBOARDERS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS, AS WELL AS
       SKATEPARK SUPPORTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY, ARE LOOKING
       TO THE 2007 NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE FOR A SOLUTION.
       ALTHOUGH SO FAR SKATE PARKS HAVE BEEN THE MOST
       DRASTICALLY AFFECTED, OTHER CHANGES CAN BE SEEN AROUND
       THE STATE – LIKE NEW RESTRICTIONS AT POPULAR SLEDDING
       SITES, AND SENATOR FLOOD SAYS UNLESS THE LEGISLATURE ACTS,
       A LOT MORE RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES COULD BE IN JEOPARDY.


Actuality, Sen. Flood 2:     I think the court’s decision in Nebraska recently puts at risk
everything from waterslides to tornado slides to skate parks to high school football and
basketball games. I’ve got school, cities, counties, natural resource districts all calling,
wanting to figure out what they have to do so that they don’t get used if something
happens.


My Narration 2:       Marin Chaloupka is the Nebraska Plaintiff’s attorney who
successfully petitioned the court to hear the case. She says the Nebraska Recreational
Liability Act, passed in the last 1960s or early 70s, and based on a similar federal act, was
originally designed to encourage private landowners to open their lands for recreational
activities, thereby saving tax dollars, by offering them the carrot of immunity from
lawsuits if someone was injured in the process. In the early 1980s, however, a Nebraska
court interpreted its protection to include public lands, and this has been the case ever
since. Chaloupka explains why she felt the court should revisit whether the act, in fact,
offered protection for public lands.
Actuality, Attorney Chaloupka #1:        The reality, and this is an observation the supreme
court had made in an earlier decision about a year ago, is that government ostensibly does
not need the motivation of immunity from liability in order to open land to the public.
Government has, for many, many years, made parks available to the public, just as a
function of governmental activities. So, the court held that it really is inconsistent to say
that a government would need to be immune in order to do this. And the other concern
that is in there is that government pays for and receives insurance coverage for exactly
these types of injuries.


MY NARRATION #3: Public skate parks are relatively new in Nebraska – the oldest
being around 10 years old – and although some skateboarders feel they are being singled
out for closings when other sports are potentially as or more likely to bring liability
lawsuits, Johnny Miller, Director of Risk Management and Insurance for the League of
Nebraska Municipalities – the consortium from whom many of these small towns get
their insurance – says that’s not the case. Miller says when small towns they insure
started considering building skate parks and inquired about whether their insurance
carriers would cover them, the League’s insurers were nervous about the perceived
liability risk of skate parks. But they agreed to cover them IF they were covered by the
Recreational Liability Act. Once the Act’s coverage of public facilities in general came
into question, Miller says his organization’s insurance of skate parks in particular was
immediately jeopardized.


HEIDI LEMON IS ONE OF THOSE TROUBLED BY THE NEBRASKA SKATE
PARK CLOSINGS. SHE’S THE PRESIDENT OF CALIFORNIA-BASED SKATE
PARK USA, A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT HAS HELPED
SKATEBOARDERS AND COMMUNITIES WITH SKATE PARKS FOR OVER A
DECADE. LEMON SAYS THE REGULATION OF PUBLIC SKATE PARKS IS
DIFFERENT THAN OTHER RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES, AND SHE SUSPECTS
A CERTAIN BIAS EXISTS, AND SHE HOPES THE NEBRASKA CLOSINGS
DON’T AFFECT SKATE PARKS IN OTHER STATES.


Heidi Lemon Actuality #1: The laws and the governing of it have been handed over to
insurance companies and the government and the police – which is ridiculous – it doesn’t
happen in any other sport. What they do is make criminals out of kids that are
skateboarding. And that’s basically what the cities use them for, too – it’s a great source
of revenue for the cities – they charge $400 fines, and they make a lot of money. Kids
can’t pay the fines, and then they get warrants out for their arrest.   It’s just all – you
know, it’s just a pattern that I see over and over and over again. Kids lobby for these
parks, they get these skate parks, the parks are successful, and then the government
comes in, and they just are not fair with this group of people. When you break down
something like this with the Supreme Court Ruling, the trial attorneys in the next state are
going to be, ―Oh Boy, now we have a precedent, and now we’re going to do this in our
state,‖ Until you turn around, and they can take this out of every state, and it’s a free for
all.‖


My Narration #4.      Doug Wyseman is a risk management consultant from Ontario who
has given workshops on skate board risk management from Hawaii to Miami. His
manual, Risk Management and Skate Parks, has been purchased by over 2000 groups and
individuals. Wyseman believes all the concern about skate park liability, with or without
immunity, is unnecessary, and he feels there are many sports that provide far greater
liability risks to communities than skate parks.


ACTUALITY, Doug Wyseman #1: Skate parks don’t have a claim history. They’ve
been around for a long time, and there are no claims – very very few claims in
comparison to other sports. There’s way more claims coming out of the development of
trails, multi-use trails across the country, and multi-use trails have very few claims
compared to most areas of a municipality. A lot of municipalities own ice rinks. I can
talk for the next 6 weeks about people who become quadriplegics or are killed playing ice
hockey – or figure skating, for that matter. Well, people in the North aren’t running
around saying, ―Oh my God, close the arenas, there are lawsuits‖, because that’s our
way of life – any more than I’d say – you know what, there’s way more injuries and way
more lawsuits coming from people playing basketball on outdoor courts in the Carolinas,
so close the basketball courts.


My Narration #4:      Plaintiff Attorney Chaloupka says it’s no surprise there haven’t
been many lawsuits on behalf of injured skateboarders. She attributes this to the
established case law of Assumption of the Risk. In fact, because of this law, she feels
much of the concern for liability for activities such as skateboarding is needless.


Actuality, Attorney Chaloupka, #2:        If there’s a finding that the plaintiff, the injured
citizen, has taken a risk that is not reasonable, and if that risk is 50% or more responsible
for the ultimate injury, that person is not going to be able to recover, and the courts would
probably not allow that case to go to trial. I can’t imagine a case where the court would
allow such a situation to go to trial because the law is quite clear. If you are 50% or more
responsible for your injuries, you cannot recover for your damages.


My Narration #5: Although the League’s Miller believes that Assumption of Risk
provides some protection against lawsuits, he believes it’s the longstanding immunity
from liability that has played the biggest role in keeping lawsuits out of the courts. He
adds that even if a plaintiff didn’t win, just going through the trial process would be
extremely costly to communities and their insurers.


Actuality, Johnnie Miller from the League of Nebraska Municipalities #1:
The immunity clause is really the one that hits them bold-face. For the last 25 years, the
courts have been saying, ―You’re right, we’re throwing this out of court, we’re not even
going to look at the level of negligence on the individual’s part – whether or not they
assumed liability when they undertook that type of recreation. We’re just throwing it out
because of the immunity.


My Narration #6: Whether or not skate parks are a liability risk for communities – with
or without immunity for public lands – for now several of them remained closed in
Nebraska. Wyseman thinks communities closing their skate parks need to think about
where those skateboarders are going.


Actuality, Wyseman, #2:       The cities that are closing their skate parks. Well, does that
mean the kids aren’t going to skateboard anymore?? I gotta think they are. I mean, I
haven’t seen a town in America that doesn’t have some kids that are skateboarding. And
the towns that don’t have a skate park – the kids skate someplace with ramps and rails –
public buildings 99.9% of the time. And I’m always telling municipalities that, Gee, if
you’re afraid of your liability from the skate park, how come you’re not too worried
when you know that the kids are out there on the ramps at the city hall or the community
center, or whatever, which is your property. And there you may not have immunity for
recreational lands, but it’s your property.


My Narration, #7:      Sixteen-year-old skateboarder Nathan Pearce skates at Robert’s
Skate Park in Omaha, which has remained open during all this uncertainty about the
Recreational Liability Act.   The City of Omaha has its own private insurance, and so far
Roberts Park hasn’t been threatened. But Pearce says even if Roberts did close, he
wouldn’t stop skating – it would just be a lot more risky.


Actuality, Nathan Pearce #1:       We just keep getting in trouble if we don’t have
       someplace to go that’s legal – we’ll just get in more trouble because, you know, they
       ticket you, you hurt people. If you don’t have someplace to go, you’re just going to be
       skating at school or on city parks or something. I got a ticket for skating at school.


       My Narration, #8, Segment Outro: Much of Nebraska had inordinately warm, dry
       weather through the end of 2006, making those closed skate parks even harder for
       Nebraska skateboarders to accept. It’s in the hands of legislators now, and many are
       hopeful that skate parks will be open again before the end of Nebraska’s 100th Legislative
       session.   From Omaha, I’m Deborah Van Fleet.


Music/Sounds: 10-15 seconds of Skate park sounds with electric guitar music up and under.

								
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