8 Ball In The Wind

Friday, July 10, 2015

Propaganda In Waco Being Mirrored In Washington?

It has been seven weeks since the tragic deaths in Waco.  Yet people are still sitting in jail on trumped up bonds of $1 million dollars each.  The charges of 'participating in organized crime' based on a generic 'fill-in- the name' warrant with no probable cause to base it upon.  Beyond of course the fact that those arrested were all present at the scene of a tragic shooting.  A shooting where; beyond the fact that almost half the victims were shot by police, the Waco PD have only released contradictory and inflammatory comments regarding the shootings.  The City of Waco, and McLennon County have fought to keep video from inside the Twin Peaks restaurant from being used in bail reduction hearings for those who have been incarcerated for seven weeks now.  Due Process was thrown out of Waco in this instance.

The mainstream media had barely even made note of the fact that Waco PD, acknowledged at least 4 of the 9 shooting victims were killed by police.  Or that the Waco PD barricaded the local Harley Dealership for several days following the tragedy.  Even though it was over a half mile away from the scene of the shooting.  Little is mentioned of the fact that Waco PD released word for all motorcyclists to stay off the streets in Waco for their own safety.  Because police are "unable to tell between law abiding motorcyclists and those intent on criminality."  Was that really the case, or was it they didn't care to make the differentiation?

From reports that have been released since the shootings.  It is becoming more and more clear that law enforcement in Waco, and McLennon County, paint all motorcyclists with the same broad brush.  It appears that they perceive all motorcyclists as criminals of the lowest kind.  Seeing only their twisted vision of criminality on two wheels.  There is no room for divergence from their paradigm of motorcyclists being criminals and "gang members".  Why else would the City of Waco fight against a subpoena demanding the release of the internal video recordings from Twin Peaks restaurant?  The video does not show the parking lot, or what transpired there.  But it does show individuals inside the restaurant not taking any part in the violence in the parking lot.  The video is reported by Associated Press reporters to show the opposite.  People moving away from the front of the restaurant and taking cover in the bathroom and kitchen.  The very opposite of how Waco PD first described the incident starting.  But, not surprisingly, the main stream media have deemed to play down that fact.

Now the Fox channel in Seattle has broadcast a report on the biggest "biker gang" in the state.  Connecting the Waco tragedy to the Bandidos here in Washington.  With repeated, but vague references to the shootings in Waco, and 9 dead, the report makes it appear all the dead were at the hands of the club members at Twin Peaks.  The report attempts, in the reporters view it appears, to be a balanced report.  Although repeated references to "biker gangs", and relying on the words of a "gang detective" in silhouette to give credence to the threat of the Clubs here in Washington.  Feeding the reporter the same tired old lines about the violence of "biker gangs", and how retribution for Waco will come.  The same fear mongering that led to the denial of Due Process in Waco, is apparent here.

Here is the video report from Fox's Q-13 in Seattle.  Watch it, and decide for yourself if this is further fear mongering, or just a lackadaisical effort of reporting.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Symbols and Perceptions

Recently there has been a violent reaction by many people as to what the confederate battle flag symbolizes.  Sadly, this has all boiled to the surface after a shooting in a black church by a lunatic who posed in photos with the flag.  Because of those photos, the debate on what the flag symbolizes has focussed not on what the flag symbolized during the Civil War, or what many Americans see it as a symbol of today, but on what the politicians in the 1960's saw the flag as a symbol of.  The maddening head long rush to remove this "symbol of hate" is turning people against each other.  Factionalization is rearing its head on this matter.  Bringing intolerance from both sides, and leaving little in the way of compromise on the issue.  

Political Correctness has seized on the issue of the Confederate battle flag as being evil.  People caving in to peer pressure and attempting to remove the flag from the public eye.  Even to the point of removing a television program because the heroes car has the flag on its roof.  Even though that program was not an evil program, nor were any of the protagonists in it.  It is the symbol that is suddenly so evil it must be removed from society.  The very fact that this is about what that flag 'symbolizes' is divisive.  It means different things to different people.  No one can tell another what a symbol means to them.  Because no one else knows how another person perceives the symbol in their own life, and what their experiences have shaped their own opinions to be.

If one individual places certain symbolism to a thing, that many others cannot agree with, that thing does not suddenly become a hate filled symbol for everyone.  Were that truly the case, then the flag of the United States would have long ago been labeled as an evil symbol.  Groups have over the years draped themselves in the American flag while espousing hatred and racial inequality.  Yet Americans realize that it is only symbolic of such things to those groups and individuals.  But because of the outrage connected to the shooting of the members of a black church by a white racist, emotions are overwhelming logic.

To me, the flag that is stirring up all this debate is actually more than one flag.  The square flag with the red background and the blue "X" with white stars on it is the battle flag of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.  The rectangular flag of similar design is the flag of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  Some see those two flags especially, as symbols of Americans fighting and dying for causes they believed in.  There were several causes wrapped up into what are commonly called the "Rebel" flags.  Racism was only a small part.  

Today, many people look at those flags as a symbol of resistance to the control of a centralized Federal power over reaching and trampling on the Civil Rights of its citizens.  Others see it as a symbol of having a self-sufficient rural independent lifestyle.  Others still see it as a symbol of defiance against the establishment, and yes there are some who view it as a racist symbol thanks to the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups who have usurped it over the years.  None of these perceptions is wrong.  Just as none of the perceptions of it representing hatred and evil are wrong.  They are personal perceptions of a symbol.  What is wrong is trying to control how others see a symbol.

It is also rather amusing to me, that many of the same people who are so vociferously denouncing the symbol of the "Rebel" flag as a symbol of evil and hatred think nothing of wearing a Chez Rivera t-shirt and calling him an revolutionary worth admiring.  Chez was a communist strong man who had no qualms about imprisoning, or killing, any one he deemed to be 'counter-revolutionary'.  He trampled the Civil Rights of the citizens with total disregard.  Ordered the execution of thousands of his own citizens.  Yet his image is one to be raised up as an example of a admirable person by many of the same people pushing to remove the "Rebel" flag from our society as symbolizing hate and racism.  I wonder how many citizens would approve of their children being taught history by teacher who openly praise and glorify a communist mass killer?  To many, Chez is a symbol of the counter-culture held over from the 1960's.  To many of the liberal left, the 1960's counter-culture is still something to be idealized.  Reusing its symbols in the modern day amongst younger generations who have no idea of the meaning of the symbols from before.  They place their own meaning to those symbols, and have no issue with doing so, as the symbols are held to be their own.  However to even suggest that a symbol can have a different meaning to citizens now than it did in the 1960's will bring contempt and verbal attacks upon ones intelligence, or morality. 

 The double standards of many in this hostile dispute about the symbols of American history simply amazes me.  To suggest the symbols that some do not support or agree with should be removed, such as the "Rebel" flag on the capitol campus in Charleston (even to the point of insisting the flagpole is somehow tainted and must also be removed), only further aids in the dissolution of Civil Rights of the individual.  There was an option to put it to a vote of the citizenry whether to remove the flag from the capitol campus.  Those Democrats so hurriedly trying to remove it strongly opposed the option of letting the citizens voice their opinion on the subject.  The citizens couldn't be trusted to vote the way the politically correct zealots in South Carolina's legislature wanted?  Is that the reason, or was it simply a disregard for anything other than personal feelings of their own?  

Either way, I will continue to fly the "Rebel" flags I own from time to time when I deem it appropriate to do so.  Just as I will continue to keep the Nazi flag my father brought back from World War II.  I do not see it as a symbol of evil, but with the two bayonet slashes across the swaztika I see it as a symbol of freedom defeating an evil regime.  It is all in the perception that makes a symbol a symbol.  Good bad or indifferent.  The more we try to nail the sandals of conformity onto the feet of those who think differently from ourselves, the more we will continue to fracture.  The more we fracture and factionalize the further we move from the nation Dr. King spoke of on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that morning in Washington DC.

Catch you on the road sometimes...

Friday, July 3, 2015


There are those who think that if you oppose mandatory helmet laws it means that you are; ignorant, reckless, foolish, or a combination of all three.  But when you introduce facts about the law and the motorcycle helmet standard, many of those same people turn to denigration of your information without really looking at it.  Or try to change the discussion into a personal attack.  Either you attacking their position, or vice versa.

I will offer up a few questions here regarding mandatory helmet laws, and motorcycle helmets.  Think for yourself, do your own research into what I say, then answer for yourself the questions I ask.  If more people start asking the questions, then perhaps more people will come to understand why the majority of states in the US allow riders the choice whether to wear helmets or not.

1.  If motorcycle helmets are the safety panacea many pro-helmet law supporters claim, why is it the number of fatalities have dropped significantly in Michigan since repeal of the mandatory helmet law there in 2012?

2.  As motorcycle helmets "break-in" and begin to better conform more to your head, why do manufacturers suggest they be replaced every 3 to 5 years?

3.  Can law enforcement tell by looking at a motorcycle helmet if it will meet the federal standard?

4.  Why is it laughable to suggest that occupants in automobiles be mandated to wear helmets when studies show significantly more people, both in real numbers and percentages, suffer head injuries during accidents in those types of vehicles?

5.  Why is it that Washington State mandates motorcyclists to wear
helmets that are rated to attenuate an impact of 13.4 mph, but doesn't require bicyclists to wear helmets as well?

6.  Why is it that the "Social Burden" argument is often raised to support mandatory motorcycle helmet use, yet other activities that are repeatedly shown to have much more of a "Social Burden" than motorcycling are condoned (smoking and alcohol use are just two examples)?  

There are more questions to be sure.  These few are enough to make a good start.  This is just skimming the surface, and much more data exists for those who wish to look.  Here is a fact you may find interesting, especially since Washington States helmet use fluctuates between 90 to 100 percentile.  81% of all helmeted motorcycle fatalities die from non-head related injuries.  

Think it over, and decide for yourself where you stand on whether or not individuals should be allowed to make the choice for themselves whether to wear a motorcycle helmet.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Profiling: The Trampling Of Our Rights

When authorities, usually law enforcement, use a generalized concept that members of a particular group or class are more likely to commit crimes, that is profiling.  Everyone, I am sure would admit that singling out any group or class of people to be monitored because they are more likely to commit a crime than another group is wrong.  To claim that; Hispanics are more likely to be thieves.  Blacks are more likely to be drug dealers, or Catholic priests are more likely to be pedophiles, is not only wrong but violates our nations Constitutional liberties.  I don't think anyone would agree that it is wrong to condemn an entire group, or class of people for the wrong doings of a few individuals.  Stereotypes are not how law enforcement should be managed and maintained.  Being a member of a group does not make you a criminal.

However, it seems there is still in America, one group that main stream media and law enforcement have no problem stereotyping and profiling because of their appearance. Because in forty-nine states in the Union, it is still legal to do so.  Also, it raises broadcast ratings.  Even though doing so violates the First Amendment Rights of Freedom to Associate, and Freedom of Speech.  What group is that you ask?  Bikers.  Many in the media and law enforcement throw all motorcyclists into the same basket as the characters from the television show Sons Of Anarchy.  Anyone riding a bike, wearing leather vests with patches on them is a "gang member", or belongs to a "motorcycle gang".  It doesn't matter whether the person riding the motorcycle is a minister, a fire fighter, a nurse, or even a state legislator.  If you are riding a motorcycle you are perceived by law enforcement as a criminal.  Not for any action or deed, but because of what you wear and ride.  Thankfully, in Washington State this has been illegal since 2012 when the nations first motorcycle anti-profiling bill was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

However, despite this law there are still incidents of  profiling in Washington State.  Although reports of such incidents have dropped by almost 90% since 2012.  Other parts of the country however are still subject to discrimination and bias among law enforcement.  With many agencies making no distinction between; independent motorcyclists, motorcycle ministries members, armed forces and veterans motorcycle clubs, and so called "outlaw" or 1%er motorcycle clubs.  All are under suspicion not because of deeds, but because of appearance.  Appearance is not a just cause for law enforcement to have probable cause for stopping, detaining, or arresting an individual.

Since the May 17th "incident" at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, many law enforcement agencies have become much more open in their profiling of motorcyclists.  Whether they are able to even distinguish between an independent rider and a member of a motorcycle club is irrelevant.  Membership in an organization does not mean you are committing a crime, does not mean you are a criminal, does not mean you are a violent person.  As an example, after the shootings in Waco, the police there issued a warning to all motorcyclists to stay off the streets.  Why?  Because police could not tell the difference between "law abiding riders" and criminals.  So everyone on a motorcycle was to be treated like a criminal.  Even the local Harley-Davidson dealership was barricaded and the street closed for several days as a safety measure by police.  That would be like closing the local Chevrolet dealership because there was a shooting at a General Motors car enthusiasts political event.  No one would have accepted such a closure without some form of due process.  But motorcyclists are being portrayed as a criminal class by law enforcement and main stream media it seems.

In other states, outside of Texas, law enforcement has begun to use this incident to put pressure on establishments that host motorcycle club gatherings and events.  Adopting policies to coerce business owners to no longer allow club "colors" or association membership patches in their establishments.  This has met with mixed results across the country.  Law enforcement has even used the public misconception of motorcycle clubs promoted by media such as Sons Of Anarchy, and other Hollywood productions based on imaginative story telling, to encourage citizens to report any sighting of motorcycle club members.  Law enforcement is now painting all motorcycle club members, and all motorcyclists in general with the brush of dangerous criminality.

Most citizens have no knowledge of the motorcycling community in general, and the motorcycle club community in particular beyond what they see on television and in the movies.  Alerting citizens to report any motorcycle club member they see to law enforcement will do little more than create an climate of informantism among the population.  Which further degrades the Right to travel freely which every American claims  for themselves.  Yet bikers are different, bikers are violent criminals who need to be caught and convicted.  Even if that means trampling on the Constitution to do so.  If law enforcement attempted to use such tactics against virtually any other class of people in America, the hue and cry would be loud and vociferous.  

What would happen if law enforcement agencies began publicly issuing warnings to citizens to report any sightings of Asians for example in their communities?  If law enforcement is successful in their attempts to profile motorcyclists as they have begun to do more blatantly since the incident in Waco, are any of our Constitutional Rights truly safe?  While no one who wasn't there in the Twin Peaks parking lot really knows for sure what happened, but what sort of lunacy is it to say that everyone of the 177 people arrested after the incident were involved.  It is just as false to assume every member of a motorcycle club, especially those with thousands of members to be a criminal.  

Sadly, almost every group in society has members who are criminals.  But to profile the entire group based on the actions of a few members is ludicrous.  Should all Naval aviators be considered sexual predators because of the action of a few at a Tail Hook Association convention in Las Vegas a few years ago?  Or should all Catholic Priests be forced to register as sex offenders because of the highly publicized actions of some of Catholic clergy?  

All these concepts are profiling.  All go against the most American of precepts that state that a person is innocent until proven guilty.  That a person cannot be guilty due to their association is a cornerstone of our society.  Profiling, in all its various forms; racial, gender, sexual orientation, or associative are all wrong and tramples upon all of our Civil Rights.  We must unite against the efforts of those who would so misconstrue and misinterpret the laws against any class or group.  As soon as they are successful doing so to one group, all the others who the government or law enforcement sees as a threat or undesirable, will soon find themselves the target for profiling.

Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone say bikers are criminals.  Or bikers are this, or that.  Insert the name of any other class or group of people in those claims, and see for yourself just how degrading and ridiculous those claims are.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Helmet Impact Velocities Not What They Seem

DOT helmet test impacts & velocities

Take a look at the diagram above.  It shows the impact velocities that a DOT motorcycle helmet needs to attenuate in order to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.  Take a close look and think about what the image shows.  

FMVSS-218 requires two impacts onto a "spherical anvil" at a velocity of 11.62 mph.  That impact velocity is obtained by dropping the helmet from a height of 54.33 inches.  In real world equivalents; while you are sitting on your bike, at a stand still, fall over and strike your helmet on the curb.

FMVSS-218 also requires two impacts onto a "flat anvil" at a velocity of 13.4 mph.  That impact is obtained by dropping the helmet from a height of 72.05 inches above the "flat anvil".  In real world equivalents; you pull your helmet off the six foot high closet shelf, and it slips through your fingers, falling to the floor.

That is the extent of impact protection a DOT helmet is required to provide.  Yet an extremely high percentage fails to do so every year.  Part of the problem is that there is no requirement for helmet manufacturers to test their helmets prior to being allowed to "self-certify" that their helmets meet the requirements of FMVSS-218.  The DOT allows manufacturers, virtually all of whom are from outside the U.S., to "self-certify" that their helmets meet the standard with only the a "good faith belief" that their helmets would pass testing.  

In other words, the motorcycle helmets the legislature of Washington State forces motorcyclists to wear only depend on the "good faith belief" of foreign manufacturers that their helmets will indeed perform as required.  Only if the make and model of helmet is randomly chosen for testing by an independent laboratory, will it be known whether or not it actually meets the standard.  Between 1980 and 2008, over 61% of helmets that manufacturers had "self-certified" as meeting the DOT FMVSS-218 standard actually FAILED to do so.  Out of 1,540 helmet models tested during that period, 945 FAILED to meet the standard.

To quote Ed Becker from the SNELL Foundation; "Our standards call for impacts with a velocity of about 17.3 mph followed by a second impact at the same point on the helmet at about 14.8 mph.  A helmet that can take one of our headforms through these two impacts unscathed could probably* handle a single impact somewhat greater than 17.3 mph, but certainly no more than 23 mph.

DOT tests apply two impacts as well, both at around 13.4 mph, implying a single impact capacity greater than 13.4 mph, but certainly no more than 19 mph."

Those impact velocities do not take into account any forward velocity of the motorcycle.  If a fall from 72 inches (6 ft) equates to 13.4 mph, it would only require an increase to about 120 inches (10 ft) to reach the 19-23 mph that SNELL feels is the maximum impact velocity a motorcycle helmet is able to withstand.

Again quoting Ed Becker from SNELL; "Most head strikes are glancing blows.  The most common accident is the biker is thrown from the bike. falls to the road surface and scrubs off his cruising speed sliding along the roadway.  The impact velocity is not his cruising speed, but but just the downward component picked up in the fall."*

So, for glancing blows while "sliding along the roadway" helmets may be of benefit in protecting the head from abrasions and injuries attirbutable to "sliding along the roadway".  However, for direct impact velocites, helmets are recognized not to be nearly as effective.

To quote Professor Harry Hurt (author of probably the most in-depth traffic safety study of the 20th Century, the "Hurt Report"); "When impact speeds get up to 25-30 mph, there isn't a helmet in the world that is going to save you."

Washington State needs to join the majority of other states in the nation, and allow its citizens to exercise their right to choose for themselves what is the proper amount of protection for riding at any given time.  It does not mean you will always have to wear a helmet, or that you won't be allowed to wear a helmet.  Simply that each individual will be allowed to decide for themselves if they wish to wear a helmet on that particular ride, or not.  Think about it, and let your legislators know how you feel, with the facts to back up your statements.  I'll be posting more information in the coming weeks.  Together we can make a change in the way
we ride.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

* emphasis added by this writer to drive home the point being made in the statements provided.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Civil Wrongs In Waco

I have been trying to understand what is going on in Waco, Texas.

It is true, I do have questions about the shootings there.  However the information that has been released by law enforcement is much too vague, and contradictory to give any real picture of what happened.  The actual shootings, and what triggered them is of much less concern to me than the aftermath.  While I have my own ideas of what may have occurred, I wasn't there, and do not know for sure.

What concerns me most, is the ongoing incarceration of well over 100 people on extraordinary bond amounts.  This is now five weeks since the incident.  It seems quite strange that there has been so little movement into the investigation of who was involved.  The idea that 177 people arrested that day prior to a publicly promoted political meeting, during a drag net mass arrest, all were engaged in a criminal activity is mind boggling.  Where is the evidence that provides probable cause for an arrest?

A statement made by the Prosecuting Attorney that those arrested aren't "acting like victims" because they chose to exercise their Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent, only adds fuel to those voices that say law enforcement in Waco that day was extremely overzealous and is now trying to control all information relating to those arrested.  If an innocent person suddenly finds themselves in the right place, at the wrong time, and is caught in a mass dragnet arrest the first thing law enforcement should tell each person placed under arrest is that they have; "...a Right to remain silent.  Anything you say can, and will be used against you in a court of law."  .Under those circumstances I would exercise my Right to remain silent as well.  It isn't what you say, but what the law enforcement officer puts in their report that you said, or captures on audio/video recording (where possible), that they use against you.

Information I have obtained from members of the National Coalition Of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and the Confederation Of Clubs (COC), there has not been any violent incident like this in the multi-decade history of the organizations.  Yet law enforcement was pressuring the management of Twin Peaks days prior to the meeting to  refuse to hold it there.  Instead of understanding and accepting that the Confederation Of Clubs & Independents in Texas was a political/legislative organization, they continued to claim it was merely a front for a meeting over 1% Club recruitment and turf disputes.  Which is not at all what the COC is about.  I have been to a few COC meetings here in Washington, and inter-Club business is left outside the door.

I find the fact that law enforcement was on scene (with SWAT members) prior to the incident, and expecting trouble, where trouble had never occurred before more than a bit troublesome.  It would appear their "intelligence" bordered on clairvoyance.  Yet it is still taking more than a month and a half for them to gain an understanding of who was truly engaged in criminal activity, and who was just on the scene?  That in itself I find troubling.

To give a less vitriolic picture to the concept of what has happened, let us change one factor in this equation.  Instead of motorcycle club members, imagine rival NFL team fans, getting into a heated dispute that somehow turns deadly, resulting in 9 deaths ("at least" 4 of which police admit to causing themselves).  Then 177 others in the area are all arrested for being involved in the deadly criminal activity because they were fans  and were wearing identifying insignia.  Would you find that an intolerable violation of Civil Rights?  Guilt by association is wrong, we all know it.  But that is what appears to have been at the root of the mass arrests in Waco.

The First Amendment Right to freely associate is a fundamental Right of all Americans.  As well as the First Amendment Right of Free Speech.  These are just a few of the Rights that Waco law enforcement seem to be disregarding, and trampling on.  Also, the Fourth Amendment Right to be secure from search and seizure without a warrant.  A "fill in the blanks" form should not be considered a proper warrant for an individuals arrest.  Using the fact that citizens exercised their Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent against them is counter to the reason the Fifth Amendment was written in the first place.  Then there is the Fourteenth Amendments "Equal Protection" clause.  This was also ignored, as only motorcyclists, on scene for a publicly promoted political event were arrested and giving an extraordinary bond of $1 million.  Clearly this was done with a punitive purpose.

The fact that Waco law enforcement continues to refer to those arrested as "gang members" also seems to add weight to the contention that this is a massive profiling incident.  That everyone was arrested because they were a motorcyclist.  Whether they were a minister, retired law enforcement, an attorney, fire fighter, EMT or housewife doesn't seem to make a difference...they are all being called "gang members", and being treated like members of a street gang.  It is better to allow some criminals to escape justice than to incorrectly incarcerate one innocent person.  Yet this basic premise seems to have completely eluded the law enforcement community in Waco.

I simply cannot imagine the American people standing for such outrageous violation of Civil Rights as we have seen over the last six weeks in Waco.  Especially when the vast majority were only on scene to attend a political event.  For one more example of how disturbingly overzealous law enforcement has been regarding this matter; within hours of the incident at Twin Peaks restaurant, the law enforcement in the area barricaded the Harley Davidson dealership.  Forcing its closure for three days.  Even though it was not even near the location of the shootings.  Talk about complete anti-motorcycle bias.  I cannot even comprehend the rationalization that must have been twisted to shut down a business in that manner.

Think about it.  Are your Freedoms secure?

Catch you on the road sometime...

Spring Opener 2015

The 37th Annual ABATE of Washington Spring Opener is now in the history books.  With great weather almost all weekend, it was a blast to remember.    Even dealing with a couple of bikes that were having issues, all in all it was a good time.  North Kitsap Chapter did an outstanding job with the bike show.  Even though I won 1st place in the Rat Bike class, I'm not at all biased.  Two of our local ABATE chapter members also cam in 2nd place in each of their classes.

Tacoma Chapter hosted the bike games, which were both fun and exciting.  The brought in several different games this year.  All of them were a kick to watch.  Even the slow races were exciting, as Coski won showing some true skill keeping that old Shovel from moving even after the competition had already lost out..

The music was as good as usual.  With Hells Belles rocking the bowl Saturday night.  The bottom of the bowl was filled with dancers, as the sides we filled with spectators enjoying the show.  After they finished rocking out, the raffles took place.  Someone named Jean in Vancouver won the 2015 Street Glide Special, and the two Ruger .45's went to another member of Elk Country who only bought one ticket.

It was a good time for sure.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
The "Shot Ski"

Olympia Chapter meets the "Shot Ski"
BSA 250
Shovelhead Chopper
custom Sportster
1997 Wide Glide
Gypsy Rose in the Bike Show

(Left to Right)  T 2nd place Rat Class, 8 Ball 1st Place Rat Class, Jim 2nd Place Touring Class.
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Keg Roll
Hot Dog Bite
Hells Belles rocking the house!!
Maybe we'll see you at the 38th Annual ABATE of Washington Spring Opener.  i know i am already planning on being there.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Washington States Motorcycling Anti-Profiling Law Needs Some Teeth

The situation in Waco, Texas, has really brought home how desperately we here in Washington State need to put some teeth into our Motorcycle Anti-Profiling Law.  The widespread and blanket arrests of virtually anyone wearing motorcycle "paraphernalia" in Waco should be an eye opening shock to all those who think the law passed here in Washington in 2012 doesn't matter.  Many in Washington law enforcement consider the Anti-Profiling law to be meaningless.

That is why they still think it is alright to ban Americans wearing "motorcycle club/association, and support patches and clothing" from events.  As was done at the Smoke Out/Choke Out in Yakima, Washington last July.  That is, until enough of a hue and cry was raised across the state that the City's Police Chief finally backed down, and rescinded the ban.  That is why, county and state fairs, and other "public events" will take the admittance fee from "bikers", then once they are inside security will come and tell them to remove their vests and any Club paraphernalia, or leave.  With no refund of their admittance price.  The only reason they are being told to vacate the premises is because they are wearing motorcycle club insignia, and patches.

Or stopping every rider in a pack riders, then photographing club patches and attempting to gather 'intelligence' against the Clubs as they run each person for wants and warrants, and detaining the entire group on site.  Until finally releasing those that aren't wearing any Club insignia stating that law enforcement was conducting an "investigation", but not stating what the investigation was in regards to.  The only reason those individuals were released was, as they were told; "We don't have anything to hold you on."  Yet eventually all the members of the group were released, and allowed to proceed as they were.  However only the Club members in the group were given a citation for some vague, minor traffic infraction.

While our Anti-Profiling Law states it is illegal to "profile" an individual because of several characteristics.  There is no real motivation for law enforcement to obey the law.  If they break it, there is nothing that is going to happen to them beyond a possible slap on the wrist.  Only a long drawn out Civil case is left as a recourse against the law enforcement agency and officer who violated the law.

Photo by Rod Aydelotte, Waco-Tribune Herald

In Texas, more than 170 bikers were arrested for no reason other than attending a publicly promoted political event, when violence broke out.  Even though almost half of the fatalities were cause by law enforcement.  The real reason they were arrested?  They were bikers, and to Waco PD, that meant they were members of 'criminal biker gangs'.  Members of 'organized crime', bad people who exercised their Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent, and "didn't act like victims".  All because they were bikers and wore cuts and patches.  Washington State needs to put some teeth into its "Motorcycle Anti-Profiling" law so that this sort of thing cannot happen here.  Take a look at this photo above.  That is only a small part of those arrested in Waco.  Can any of you imagine what it would be like if there was violence at some event here in Washington, and every biker there was questioned and then arrested felony charges because they were bikers?

If you are like me, and want to see Washingtons motorcycle community better protected, then contact your legislators and tell them you want our Motorcycle Anti-Profiling law to have some effective deterrence to law enforcement violating the law.  Even though the law was passed with relatively great fanfare in 2012, many law enforcement agencies in Washington ignore the law because it won't do anything to them if they violate it.  That is why there have been incidents like the ones in Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Puyallup, and elsewhere.  As it is now, at worst, law enforcement is liable to receive a slap on the wrist for violating the Anti-Profiling law.  When law enforcement pays little or no attention to a law, and continues to violate it because they feel it "doesn't mean anything", it is time to put some meaning into it.  If that means replacing a slap on the wrist with a hickory axe handle to the kneecaps, so be it.  May, just maybe, law enforcement in Washington will begin to actually abide by the laws they are sworn to enforce.  It is up to us to get our legislators to move forward on this issue.  Without the motorcycle community pushing them, they will be happy to sit on their laurels and be proud of passing the first Motorcycle Anti-Profiling Law in the US.  Now we need to give this toothless law some dentures so it has enough of a bite that law enforcement will take it seriously.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Waco...Questions But No Answers

It is more than a little troubling.  The more I look into the events and stories surrounding the Waco tragedy, the more ominous things appear.  There is a familiar, consistent pattern that is being repeated again in Waco.  So many questions remain unanswered, and don't make sense compared to the way things normally have happened over the years.  At least, not without some major spin-work going on.

I keep going back over  the facts that Waco PD was given 'intelligence' about a brewing war between the Bandidos MC and the Cossacks MC, from an unnamed outside law enforcement agency.  Already that has at least one red flag raised.  Anytime law enforcement tends to refer to 'intelligence' from an anonymous agency, it has in my experience been highly suspect.  If not completely, at least partially fabricated by the "outside agency".

I am not a law enforcement officer, but I have friends and family who are career law enforcement.  I also have some military background, and am a life long student of history.  Here is the first question I have, that I have yet to be given, or been able to find, an answer to:
If the Waco PD, and the Texas Department of Public Safety were worried about a problem between the Bandidos and the Cossacks, where was the police vehicles following or helicopter surveillance that usually follows a large pack of 1%er Club members?

I mean the reports are between 50 and 70 Cossacks just rode into town and no law enforcement was following them?  Even though approximately two dozen officers were waiting at the Twin Peaks restaurant in case there was a violent incident?  One would expect law enforcement to at least want to have knowledge of the direction and number of possible participants in any expected confrontation.  But no, as far as I have been able to uncover, there was no surveillance of the Cossacks pack as it rolled into Waco.

Here's another thing that seems quite strange to me.  In this day and age of omnipresent security cameras, and phone cameras, no actual video showing the parking lot where the confrontation took place has come to light.  Part of this can be explained by the fact that 170 people were arrested, and their phones were seized.  No doubt any images or videos have been viewed by law enforcement.  As have their address books within the phones.  Law enforcement could easily acquire any footage showing the parking lot and restrict it due to the "ongoing investigation".

A third odd detail, is the Washington Post story quoting, in detail, a high ranking officer of a Cossacks chapter that was in the heart of the fighting.  What seems most odd about this, is the fact that if he was in the center of the fire fight, he didn't get wounded, and most oddly, didn't get arrested.  Did he somehow flee and elude arrest, while people who were already on the other side of the building were rounded up and incarcerated?  The possible reasons he wasn't picked up are many.  Including, he wasn't there, he wasn't actually a Cossack, he was a law enforcement informant, or worse yet, an undercover member of law enforcement (which would explain the way his side of things  sounds so much like a police report).

There isn't enough evidence one way or the other to discuss the events that led up to the shooting.  Including who fired the first shot, how long after it began did Waco PD open fire, how many of the dead and wounded were shot by law enforcement, etc.

What I do want to make a few points about is what has happened after the shooting.  Law enforcement knew this was a Texas Confederation of Clubs & Independents meeting.  So they knew it would be well attended by the Club community.  The fact that the security cameras inside the Twin Peaks showed police with "assault rifles" entering the front door within two minutes of the confrontation starting shows just how prepared they were.  They seized every person wearing a cut and a patch that was at the scene.  Each was charged with participating in organized crime activities, and given a $1 million bail.

These last two facts are the most disturbing.  But in my mind for different reasons.  This is the familiar pattern used by law enforcement when they are desperate to create a major case, and their evidence is limited.  The Federal authorities are the most practiced at this, but many local agencies have learned the lesson well.  It can be very profitable for law enforcement, and who doesn't love a load of money?  What is the pattern?  Create a situation, where there becomes a reason for an arrest.  Then overcharge the defendant, and set a punitively high bail.  Then after putting the pressure on while incarcerated, offer a plea agreement.

When you look at even a partial list of the Clubs that have members being detained, it seems as if ministers and veterans are an especially heinous threat to law and order.  Not exactly your typical "organized crime" types.  Not to mention the community service and family oriented clubs caught up in this.  It has been eleven days now, as I write this, and no one has been released or had their charges dismissed.  Something just isn't quite natural about not even one dismissal out of 170 Americans arrested.

Here is what I think, and this is solely my personal opinion, the COC&I meeting is where this all went down.  Experience has shown the government over decades it is difficult (though not impossible) to get a 1%er patch holder to turn rat and testify against his Club.  The vast majority of those arrested were not 1% Club members.  Could law enforcement be trying to squeeze some testimony from a member of another Club that could be leveraged against all of them, or just the COC itself?  If enough people cave in to a plea agreement and state they ran drugs for such and such a Club, or committed any number of offences (whether they did or not) it is possible that this could be used to bring the entire COC nationwide under some similar legal issues as the Mongols Nation is currently fighting against.

Whether this is happening in Waco, I cannot say.  But it certainly shows all the usual traits of a Federal based case building investigation.  Not about a shooting, or the deaths of nine Americans, or the injury of eighteen others.  But someone in law enforcement trying to prove that all motorcycle Clubs are illegal street gangs.  Whether they have to violate law, and shred the Constitution in the process.  Take a look at what is going on in Waco, and think about it.  Do you  REALLY believe 170 people all went to the Twin Peaks restaurant to participate in "organized crime activities" that were publicly promoted as a political meeting to discuss legislation and laws that affect the motorcycle and particularly the Club community?  Something just doesn't smell right.  With Waco PD in control of any news coming out on the story, the spin is still off track and suspicious.  Research this for yourself, and then you decide for yourself.  The Right to peacefully assemble, and to freely associate is a fundamental Right guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Think it over, I am waiting to hear what you think too.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

WTF Is Going On In Waco !?!

I just learned this morning, that the Waco PD is conducting the investigation of their own "three or four" officers who fired on the bikers at the Twin Peaks restaurant.  Instead of having an outside department do so.  It appears also, that those same "three or four" officers are still on active duty instead of some form of 'administrative leave'.  The Waco PD's own spokesman can't even seem to admit how many officers opened fire on May 17th, or how many of the wounded and dead were shot by law enforcement bullets.  The more I look into this situation, the more heinous the behavior of the Waco PD seems.  170 Americans are being held on trumped up charges of "participating in organized crime",and given punitive bail of $1,000,000.00 each, simply because they were at the scene, and wearing leather and a patch.  There is no due process, just blanket arrests because you as a 'group' were deemed unworthy of Civil Rights by law enforcement.  This is WRONG, by any standard I was brought up by.
THIS IS AMERICA!!  We have a thing called the Constitution that applies to all citizens.  The Bill of Rights, and the other Amendments to the Constitution provide ALL AMERICANS with certain 'unalienable Rights'.  The right to peacefully assemble has been addressed by the US Supreme Court to be equal to the Rights of Free Speech, Freedom of The Press.

What follows is an excerpt from the blog "WICKED BITCH, BY BIKER AUTHOR AMY IRENE WHITE".  I have included photos from her blog, and you just need to click on the title of her blog site for the link to see the entire post.  Which I think is more than worth reading.

"Distorted MC is a new mom and pop motorcycle club in Texas. “Mom and Pop” means they are family oriented, all very close knit and loving and most club events are okay to bring the whole family. They are proud of their seven members and five ol ladies, who spend one hundred percent of their club time and money doing things to help children in need, clothes drives toy runs, and sponsoring families at Christmastime. The fact that this MC is very much NOT one of the hardcore clubs is that it allows women to become full patch wearers. Everyone in the biker community knows that women absolutely never under any circumstances are allowed to join clubs such as the Bandidos or the Hells Angels. That MC stands for “men’s club” in their opinions. Distorted is indeed a baby club, born only six months ago. They hadn’t even had time to wear the shine off their patches when their lives changed unexpectedly.

They all went to just another CoC meeting on another bright Texas Sunday afternoon. Julie Perkins, a full patch member, left her ol’ lady at home not feeling well and joined several of her club brothers, while Morgan English decided to attend the meeting at the last minute with her husband. The Distorted members were not in the immediate vicinity of the altercation or the shooting, by two separate accounts when they heard shots fired. They heard someone yell for them get down. Julie saw her friend from the Line Riders go down. The cops came in like swat with AK-47s and made them lay on the floor face down for quite some time. They were then taken outside where they had to sit around for several hours. Around 8 p.m. Julie messaged Kamala that they would be taken to a convention center to answer a few questions and then she would be home. This was the last she heard from Julie that night. The next morning it was on the news that the bikers had all been arrested. Over half of Distorted MC has been behind bars for over a week, including the two women, Julie and Morgan. They have all lost their jobs, vehicles, and reputations. Their club would have to gather an accumulative 6,000-6,000,000 to get them all out on bond. Morgan and her husband are both in jail, which has to be having a detrimental effect on their home and life."

Is this the America I grew up in?  The America whose Constitution I swore an oath to defend?  This sounds more like the actions of a totalitarian government which America has spent virtually her entire history opposing and seeking to destroy.  The more I look into this situation, the more incredulous I become.  If even a layperson like myself can see the injustice, and harm this incident has caused to American citizens exercising their First Amendment Right to peacefully assemble, why can't the Waco PD?  Surely there has been enough time in the nine days since this happened to be able to realize not everyone wearing leather and a patch is a criminal.  Or has this become a face saving exercise for Waco PD?

Research this yourself.  I urge you to make contact with officials in Texas to get those innocent of anything but being "a biker" released.  Call, Email, or Fax the following people, demanding the immediate release of all these innocent families, friends and patriots that are being held unlawfully in Waco, TX.:

White House of the Unites States  - Comments: 202-456-1111  Switchboard: 202-456-1414
TX Governor Greg Abbott - Phone - 512-463-2000 -  Email – governor@state.tx.us and general@gregabott.com  Fax – 512-463-1849 
TX Lt. Governor Dan Patrick - Phone – 512-463-0001 - Comment Line:  512-463-5342 Email – dan.patrick@ltgov.state.tx.us - Fax – 512-463-8668 
TX Secretary of the Senate Patsy Spaw - Phone – 512-463-0100 - Email – patsy.spaw@senate.state.tx.us - Fax – 512-463-6034
TX Supreme Court - Main Phone – 512-463-1312 - Fax – 512-463-1365
Texas Senator Brian Birdwell - Phone - 254-772-6225 - Fax 254-776-2843 - Email - brian.birdwell@senate.state.tx.us
Waco, TX Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr  - Phone – 254-299-2489 - Email – wacomayor@wacotx.gov - Fax – 254-750-8032
Waco, TX City Manager Dale Fisseler - Phone – 254-750-5640  Email – dalef@ci.waco.tx.us  Fax – 254-750-5880
Waco District Manager - Shelly Verlander - Phone 254-772-6225 Fax 254-776-2843
Waco Sheriff Parnell McNamara - Phone – 254-757-5000 - Email – McNamara@co.mclennan.tx.us
Waco Police Department - Phone – 254-750-7500
Waco Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna - Phone – 254-757-5084 - Fax – 254-757-5021
Waco District Judge Ralph Strother (19th) - Phone 254-757-5081
Waco District Judge Matt Johnson (54th) Phone 254-757-5051
Waco District Judge Gary Coley (74th) - Phone 254-757-5075
District Judge Jim Meyer (170th) - Phone 254-757-5045
District Judge Vicki Menard (414th) - Phone 254-757-5053

Together we can show the world, and ourselves, that America is still "The Land of The Free, and The Home of The Brave."

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Monday, May 25, 2015

"Gang" Definitions

With all the talk about 'gangs' in the news this past week, I decided to look into what constitutes a "gang".
Before anyone jumps up and says I may not be giving the 'legal' definition, I am starting with the linguistic definition.  Or actually, 'definitions', because there are several in dictionaries.  As I looked through these definitions, it made me realize that depending on the definition, we could almost all be given the tag"gang member".  Here are some examples of what I mean:

According to Merriam-Webster, there are several definitions.

1. A group of criminals.  (This is rather vaguely what everyone thinks of when they hear the word. But how do you identify by looking at them if a person is a criminal?)

2. A group of young people who do illegal things together and who often fight against other gangs.  (This may be a fairly good definition of a youth 'street gang'.  But there was a broad spectrum of ages who were arrested both inside and outside of the Twin Peaks restaurant on May 17th.  So that definition doesn't quite work.  Also, don't you hate when a definition of a word uses another form of the same word to help define the meaning of the original word?)

3. A group of people who are friends and who do things together.  (Damn, that sort of describes a lot of the people who are reading this.  Don't we all, or most of us, have a group of people we are friends with and who we do things together with?  I must be a member of several 'gangs' then.  Because I know I have several groups of friends I do things together with.)

4. A group of persons working together.  (If you go by this definition, the Waco PD was another 'gang' in attendance at the Twin Peaks on May 17th.  As was all the members of the COC in attendance, and all the employees of Twin Peaks restaurant.)

Yahoo Dictionary has a couple of other definitions:

1.  A group of people who associate regularly on a social basis.  (Sounds like the Elks, the Moose, the VFW, the NRA, and so on could be considered 'gangs'.  They had better be careful or they might find themselves charged by law enforcement.)

2. To attack as an organized group.  (I don't know about you, but this would appear to describe the Waco PD during the incident at Twin Peaks restaurant.)

According to the National Gang Center a "criminal street gang' is:

“An ongoing group, club, organization, or association of five or more persons—
(A) that has as one of its primary purposes the commission of one or more of the criminal offenses described in subsection (c);
(B) the members of which engage, or have engaged within the past five years, in a continuing series of offenses described in subsection (c); and
(C) the activities of which affect interstate or foreign commerce.” 18 USC § 521(a)

So it appears the prime definition of a 'gang' is (according to Federal law) that their criminal offenses and activities affect interstate or foreign commerce? If that is the case, then how does a motorcycle club of vintage custom bike builders in Waco, TX affect "interstate or foreign commerce"?  Yet their members are among those arrested and held on $1 million bond on 'participating in organized crime" charges.

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) defines a gang as:

 “A group of three or more persons with a common interest, bond, or activity characterized by criminal or delinquent conduct.”

Depending on how tightly the NCIC and law enforcement wishes to consider 'criminal' conduct, this definition could include a wide range of groups.  Forty-three states and Washington DC have legal definitions of 'gangs'.  Thirty-four states define a gang as consisting of three or more persons.  Twenty-seven states include a common name, identifying sign, or symbol as identifiers of gangs in their definitions.  Thirty-six states refer to a gang as an “organization, association, or group.”  Every definition includes criminal/illegal activity or behavior.

This again brings out the question: "What illegal activity were the various Clubs present at the Coalition Of Clubs meeting to be held at the Twin Peaks restaurant participating in that they were ALL arrested and held on $1 million bond?"

The way law enforcement throws around the word 'gang' these days, it has begun to appear that if you are an organization that law enforcement (whether Federal, State, or local) deems to be a problem could find itself on a list of "criminal gangs", and their members stripped of their rights.

The US Supreme Court has recognized that Freedom of Association is equal to, and every bit as important as Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of The Press.  We must be ever vigilant, that the concerns over 'public safety' are not allowed to trample on the individuals right to associate with whoever the wish.  Or else the government may use some of those definitions in the dictionary to come after those who oppose its policies.
Think about it, and consider the ramifications of the definitions of a 'gang'.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Justice In Waco?

By now, most of you have heard about the tragic shootings at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco, Texas.  Ever since I first read reports, there were some glaring facts that just didn't seem to add up sensibly.  The more I read and understand a bit more of what took place, I find myself growing ever more troubled by what appears to be excessive over zealous law enforcement actions.

Reports of how the Waco PD was given "intelligence" from another law enforcement agency (who was never names in the reports that I read) stating that there was a possible turf war brewing between the Bandidos OMG and the Cossacks MC, several weeks ago, somehow led the Waco PD to make a show of force around the site of a previously planned and publicly promoted political event.  A Coalition of Clubs and Independents meeting at the Twin Peaks restaurant.  The police show their anti-motorcycle bias from the start by describing the COC&I meeting variously as; a "party', a "barbecue", and a meeting to work out turf" issues.  From the start, any motorcycle club patch holder was described as a "gang member".  With no differentiation between veterans clubs, christian clubs, family oriented clubs, or the 1%er clubs.  If you were wearing a club patch, you were in a "biker gang".  Which made you a criminal "gang member".

The COC&I is a decades old organization dedicated to legislative and political efforts to safeguard the lifestyle of the motorcycle community, with no history of problems prior to this incident.  Since the meetings are bi-monthly, and therefore planned in advance, the Waco PD's assertion it was a meeting to resolve a dispute over turf, doesn't seem to hold water.  What does seem strange, is that the police were at the scene prior to any violence breaking out.  In numbers, and heavily armed, yet they seem to not have time to recognize who were the belligerents and who wasn't.  The police also admit to firing at "armed bikers" but seem to be unable, or unwilling to state how many of the dead or wounded were shot by law enforcement.

As reported by the Associated Press, the internal security cameras  of the Twin Peaks showed, within two minutes of the first shots being fired, law enforcement was coming through the front doors brandishing military style rifles.  Since the police were there prior to the outbreak of violence, and watching the Twin Peaks, it seems strange that the would report to the media that the violence broke out in the bathroom of the bar, and then spilled out into the parking lot.  When the cameras appear to show quite the opposite to be true.

After the shooting, the Waco PD arrested 170 motorcyclists who had been present at Twin Peaks on felony "participating in organized crime" charges. Their bail set at $1,000,000 each.  In this one fact, it would appear that the Waco PD threw out the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.  Does simply being at the site of a violent happening make one a participant?  To quote a Call To Action put out by the Texas Coalition Of Clubs & Independents;
"So, for example, how can a mother, father, and son setting up a public safety booth for a political gathering be guilty of organized crime when violence erupts around them?  It is not a crime to be present when a tragedy occurs.  But that is how the majority of the 170 arrested are being charged and characterized.  There are veterans, ministers, and former law enforcement, and everyday working Americans that are being denied their freedom and having their reputations tarnished because they were being responsible constituents and participating in the democratic process."

Also, a strange response to this situation, and one that to a motorcyclist like myself seems quite bizarre, are reports that the Waco PD ordered the Harley-Davidson dealer to shut down for the day, and publicly broadcast warnings for motorcyclists to stay off the streets of Waco.  Was this an attempt to use this tragedy to gain control over the entire motorcycling community in Waco?  Or just a further example of Waco PD's profiling of all motorcyclists as criminals?

In Washington State, we are the only state (currently, but Texas was one of a number of states following Washingtons lead) that has a "Motorcycle Anti-Profiling" law.  This law would have made much of what law enforcement in Waco did AFTER this incident illegal.  Although, in Washington it may be illegal, the law doesn't carry much of a bite.  There already have been some law enforcement agencies in the state claim the law is meaningless.  After seeing the lengths to which law enforcement in Waco have gone to crush the motorcycling community under it's heel (170 individuals arrested on felony participation in ORGANIZED CRIME activities while attending a publicly promoted regularly scheduled political event, and all their motorcycles seized under 'forfeiture' by law enforcement), perhaps we here in Washington State should work hard at putting some bite into our "Anti-Profiling" law.  We must do something to prevent such tragedies from happening here in Washington.

I hope you are all looking forward to a resolution to this tragic stripping of individuals Civil Rights simply because they at the location to attend a political event when violence broke out around them.  Remember that the shooting started outside in full view of law enforcement, and law enforcement admits to shooting at armed "gang members".  So far no video footage has been brought forward showing the parking lot at Twin Peaks to show how the shooting began, and who fired the first shot.  Yet even those inside the restaurant were arrested and given $1 million bail.  This isn't justice, "It's Just Us."

Catch you on the road sometime...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Now Comes The Big Show

I am amazed that both bills we are running now have gotten a hearing.  The Lane Filtering Bill, SB5623 had one on Tuesday, and it went pretty good.  I hope to hear it is going to Executive Session in the Transportation Committee soon.  The main thing though is our Helmet Bill, SB5198 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, Feb. 9th at 3:30.  That is the bill I have been trying to keep myself focussed on.   It is great that we have made enough progress over the last few years, that we are truly being taken seriously, and it ahs led to only the second hearing on the helmet issue in many many years.

This is the bill I want most of all to make it out of the Transportation Committee, and then out of the Rules Committee for a vote on the Senate floor.  This is the bill that was the reason I accepted the LAO position with ABATE.  To keep this fight going, and not just stop fighting.  You don't get anywhere doing that.  in fact, you end up losing ground.  I didn't want to lose ground and have to regain the credibility the motorcycle community has fought so long and hard to secure.

Getting a hearing on the lane filtering bill was great, and from the sounds of the support I keep hearing for it spreading, I am hoping for good things with that bill.  But it is, and always has been the helmet bill that is the focus of this fight.

I am planning on testifying at the hearing on Monday.  But I want to have my thoughts in order before I do.  To find one perspective, one point to drive home to the Committee.  With the Lane Filtering hearing there was a lot of redundancy in the testimony.  It helped to drive home the key points of the bill, but there were other opportunities that were missed.  That is why I want to have what I want to say laid out, and well rehearsed so it flows more easily. Over the next day or so, I am going to put my thoughts into a cohesive form.  The question I am trying to answer now is which aspect of the helmet issue do I want to push, and feel most comfortable drawing up the facts for.  Once I make that decision, the rest should flow much more easily into place in my mind.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

They Surprised Me

As we went about pushing ABATE of Washington's bills in the legislature on Black Thursday on the 22nd of January, I was focused on the Helmet Law Amendment Bill.  Getting a hearing on the helmet bill was my goal, and it is what I was spending most of the week I spent at the Capitol pushing for.  But on Black Thursday I was surprised.  While waiting to go into a meeting with my Senator, I received a phone call saying that the President of the Senate was interested in being the Prime Sponsor of the Lane Filtering Bill.  He just wanted to see a copy of the language first.  I raced down from the 4th floor to the 1st floor to see if there was a copy in my briefcase.  There was, but I couldn't find it at the time...go figure.  So I made a quick trip down the hallway to the Legislative Information Office and had two copies of House Bill 1515 copied, then shot back up to the 3rd floor to deliver the language.  Well in the mean time, Senator Sheldon's Legislative Assistant downloaded the language of the bill and he sent it to the Code Reviser's Office to be turned into a bill.  While doing all this running around to get this language copied and delivered, I missed the mass ride in, and the group photo on the Capitol steps.  But I am OK with that.  Because I guess when the President of the Senate wants a bill to go ahead it goes on the express track.

Photo by Irish McKinney

A week and a half after Senator Sheldon sponsored the bill, it will have a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee.  Two of the members of the committee are among the sponsors of the bill.  I wasn't expecting this bill to really do anything this session.  But with all the support it seems to be gaining in the motorcycle community, and even the press is mentioning it, this has become the bill I have to work to get passed now.  All the documents for the helmet bill are ready.  I wasn't ready for this bill to come up in committee so fast.  

So over the weekend I have put together a presentation package with information from recent studies in California put together with the help of the California Highway Patrol, that actually shows lane filtering using the guidelines in the bill is at least as safe if not safer than riding a motorcycle in general.  I used excerpts from the MAIDS study in Europe, and a 2010 report by the Oregon Dept. of Transportation in the report.  Finishing it off with information from a recent University of Washington study on the ill effects being stuck in traffic has on drivers, and its link to heart disease, and heart deformation.  

Lastly, added a condensed list of the bills over the past 15 years that the Washington State Patrol stated were "dangerous ideas".
This bill is one of them.  Each of the other bills on the list passed into law, and the death rate for motorcyclists hasn't spiraled out of control.  I think the final line or so puts it best.  "If the California Highway Patrol, who has decades of experience with lane filtering believes it to be a "safe and prudent" technique; then why wouldn't the Washington State Patrol look at the data before making their knee jerk comment that it is a "dangerous idea"?

My main focus is still trying to get the Helmet Law Amendment at least out of Committee, if not passed into law.  But for my first time as ABATE's Legislative Affairs Officer, I will take getting any bill out of Committee.  It would be more than what I was expecting, but much less than I desire.  I just have to keep the faith, and keep pushing.  As well as being thankful for all the support I am being shown in the motorcycling community.  Who knows, maybe they'll surprise me again, and we can get a couple of new laws passed here in Washington State.

Catch you on the road sometime...