Saturday, April 27, 2019

United Bikers of Maine Parade Cancelled

Augusta, Maine, USA (April 27, 2019) BSB — The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report April 3 on a fatal 2017 crash during the Toy Run parade, a charity ride organized by the United Bikers of Maine.

The event has taken place for roughly 40 years with as many as 3,000 motorcyclists gathering and joining with the cost of admission being a toy that’s then donated to a child in need. But the Sept. 10, 2017 tragedy has caused UBM to pause and reassess the event for the second year in a row.


In 2018, the group changed the route of the ride to exclude the stretch of Interstate 95 north in Augusta where the crash happened. In 2019, after the release of the report, UBM announced it would cancel the parade indefinitely.

“If it’s too big to manage, then we need to take a look at it,” said Sandy Lyle, the public relations director for UBM.

The 15 page NTSB report outlines that the one of the motorcyclists, 25-year-old Aaron White-Sevigny of Windsor suddenly crossed from the right to the left lane of the highway and smashed into a pickup truck driven by William Nusom. The truck then spun across the highway, killing another motorcyclist, 58-year-old Jamie Gross, and injuring six other people.

UBM and the Augusta Police Department are cited by the NTSB in its report for not mitigating safety risks like having a state trooper present for the parade.

In past years, a state trooper had been present to manage the highway portion of the ride where Augusta Police have no jurisdiction, but in 2017, there wasn’t one.

“If a state trooper had been there or wouldn’t have been there, that’s Monday morning quarterbacking,” said Lyle. “Safety is paramount.” This year, UBM says it is proceeding with an abundance of caution and will only collect toys at the Augusta Civic Center.


The group’s president, Dave Hasey, says bikers can come and go on their own as they please, but there will be no formal group ride. “The safest move for motorcyclists all the way around was not to have the parade,” said Hasey. “It was a very hard decision.”

The bikers say there is a small chance that a better safety plan could bring back the parade in years to come.

Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills released a written statement earlier this week on the NTSB report saying the department “has the utmost respect for NTSB” and “their best practices will be applied” to city procedure going forward.

SOURCE: NECN

Friday, April 12, 2019

Indian Motorcycle Factory Catches Fire

Spirit Lake, Iowa, USA (April 12, 2019) BSB — Spirit Lake Fire Chief Patrick Daly said crews responding to a Wednesday morning fire at the Polaris Indian Motorcycle factory were immediately confronted with heavy smoke, but the actual fire was relatively minimal.

Firefighters were paged at around 10:15 a.m. the chief said, and entered the building soon after arriving.

"At that time, we called in Arnolds Park/Okoboji, because we knew we needed more manpower and more (self contained breathing apparatuses) to get into the smoke," Daly said. "The building's so big, and you only have so much air. They came up to help us, and we finally got to the source of the fire."


He said crews typically send firefighters in to situations in pairs, with another pair waiting outside in case something should go wrong. Wednesday's operation was large enough that Daly called the AP/O Fire Department for mutual aid and additional manpower. The fire chief said the flames were largely contained to the paint booth area of the motorcycle manufacturer's plant.

The paint booth was being removed and the process sparked the fire as work was being done on the chimney section.

"This morning, a minor fire occurred in a vacant section of our Spirit Lake facility," Polaris spokesperson Jess Rogers said, thanking the Spirit Lake Fire Department for its fast response. "The facility was evacuated. There are no injuries to report, and the facility will resume normal operations tomorrow."

Spirit Lake firefighters responded to a fire at the Polaris manufacturing plant in Spirit Lake Wednesday afternoon. The crews called for mutual aid from Arnolds Park-Okoboji Fire and Rescue, due to heavy smoke and the size of the facility. Photos by Seth Boyes

Daly went on to say the fire spread into the styrofoam insulation in the facility's roof, and firefighters ultimately cut a hole in the roof to stop the damage from spreading.

"Once we got the styrofoam out, we could start venting the building," Daly said. "Actually, we had a really good breeze coming through there, so it was natural ventilation. Once we got in there, we could get right to the machine."

The paint booth's own fire suppression systems were triggered, according to Daly, but couldn't stop all of the flames.

"They had sprinkler system in there, but it didn't get up through the styrofoam where we were at," he said. "It put the fire out that was down below. It just made so much smoke you couldn't see anything."

Firefighters cut a hole in the facility's roof. Fire Chief Patrick Daly said the morning's gusty winds helped ventilate the smoke. Photo by Mike Ehret - Dickinson County Emergency Management

Daly said Dickinson County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ehret assisted on scene with the county's drone, which was fitted with an infrared camera. Ehret was able to provide firefighters with photos of the roof as they attacked the fire. Crews had the fire under control at around 1:30 p.m., according to Daly.

"Polaris' evacuation system worked very well. Everybody was out of the building when we got there," he said. As of Wednesday afternoon, Daly said Polaris' maintenance staff was still ventilating the building.

"It's pretty clear," Daly said. "But you can still smell it in there, so they want to make sure that's all out of there before they send their crews back in to work."

SOURCE: Dickson County News

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

DA dismisses remaining 24 Twin Peaks biker cases

Waco, Texas. USA (April 2, 2019) BSB — Almost four years after nine bikers were killed and 20 were injured during a shootout at the former Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson said Tuesday he will dismiss all criminal cases against the remaining 24 defendants charged in the midday brawl.


Johnson inherited the Twin Peaks cases when he took office in January, and said he has spent 75 percent of his time since then with a team of prosecutors and investigators trying to determine how to resolve the remaining cases.

Johnson's decision Tuesday means that no one will be held accountable for the multiple deaths or injuries or for the chaotic battle between heavily armed, rival motorcycle clubs waged in a crowded shopping center parking lot while families were on their way to lunch after Sunday church.

In announcing his decision, Johnson said it is time to "end this nightmare that we have been dealing with in this county since May 17, 2015."

"There were nine people who were killed on that fateful day in Waco, Texas, and 20 injured, all of whom were members of rival motorcycle clubs, and the loss of life is a difficult thing," Johnson said. "But after looking over the 24 cases we were left with, it is my opinion as your district attorney that we are not able to prosecute any of those cases and reach our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

About 200 bikers were arrested after the shootout on identical charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and held on $1 million bonds each. Former McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna sought indictments against 155 bikers on those identical charges and chose to try Jacob Carrizal, the Bandidos Dallas county chapter president, first.

Carrizal's case ended in mistrial in November 2017, with most of the jurors in his case favoring acquittal, and no other defendant has been tried since.

The way Reyna handled the Twin Peaks cases was the centerpiece of Johnson's campaign, and he defeated Reyna in the March 2018 Republican primary by 20 percentage points. After the primary, Reyna dismissed all but 24 of the remaining Twin Peaks cases. The special prosecutors appointed to handle four of the cases after Reyna recused his office also were critical of the manner in which the cases were handled and dismissed them, also.

Reyna sought to re-indict the remaining two dozen, mostly on riot charges. Other charges that may have been possible arising out of the melee, such as attempted murder, aggravated assault or felon in possession of a firearm, were barred by three-year statutes of limitation before Johnson took office, he said.

"Following the indictments, the prior district attorney had the time and opportunity to review and assess the admissible evidence to determine the full range of charges that could be brought against each individual who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl, and to charge only those offenses where the admissible evidence would support a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Johnson said in a statement.

"In my opinion, had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous convictions and prison sentences against many of those who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl. Over the next three years the prior district attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do not know to this day," he said.

Carrizal is among those whose cases are to be dismissed. Johnson noted that his trial cost $1 million in preparation and trial costs, plus an additional $500,000 in security and overtime pay after county officials ratcheted up security for his trial.

"To open that Pandora's Box back up and start down that road again when we don't feel that, after looking at the facts and the evidence, that we would be able to meet our burden of beyond a reasonable doubt would be irresponsible, in my opinion. Therefore, I am making the decision now to end this nightmare that we have been dealing with in this county since May 17, 2015," Johnson said.

While the criminal cases will be dismissed, more than 130 of the bikers have civil rights lawsuits pending against Reyna, former Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, the city of Waco, McLennan County and individual local and state officers who were involved in the arrests.

Dallas attorney Don Tittle represents about 120 of the bikers in their civil lawsuits.

“Maybe if law enforcement had stuck with the original plan to focus on individuals who might have been involved in the violence and let the rest of the motorcyclists go after being interviewed, things would have gone differently, Tittle said. "It’s hard to imagine that turning the operation into a dragnet wasn’t a major distraction for the investigation, not to mention a public that grew increasingly skeptical as this thing played out. All this for an ill-advised attempt to prove an imaginary conspiracy theory, which to this day there’s not a shred of evidence to support.”

Bandidos who cases will be dismissed include: Ray Allen of Krum; Jeff Battey, Ponder; Jacob Carrizal, Dallas; John Guerrero, San Antonio; David Martinez, Terrell; Tom Mendez, San Antonio; Marshall Mitchell, Longview; Jerry Pierson, no address available; Marcus Pilkington, Mexia; Glenn Walker, Copperas Cove; and Reginald Weathers, Forney.

Cossacks with cases set for dismissal include: Mitchell Bradford, Gordon; Aaron Carpenter, Gatesville; Roy Covey, Clifton; William Flowers, no address available; Rich Luther, Cossack; Wesley McAlister, Gilmer; Jacob Reese, Mount Pleasant; Owen Reeves, Bruceville; Timothy Satterwhite, Gordon; and Kyle Smith, Kilgore.

Others whose cases will be dismissed include Richard Cantu, a Machateros from San Antonio; Nathan Champeau, a Scimitar from McKinney; and Richard Lockhart, a Companero with no available address.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Biker sucker punched at stop light

Indianapolis, IN. USA (March 29, 2019) BSB – James Yacconi, a veteran of four tours of duty in Iraq, is struggling with injuries after a confrontation with another motorist. It happened on South Madison Avenue, where a moment of driver courtesy was followed by brutal road rage, all captured by a Lyft driver’s dash camera “He’s currently on a ventilator and a feeding tube,” said Yacconi’s wife. “Because they haven’t quite wired his mouth shut.“


It happened Wednesday evening, not far from Manual High School. “Great sunny day so I decide to go for a quick, small ride,” Yaconni later recalled in a Facebook post. From his motorcycle,Yacconi noticed a problem with a Lyft driver’s car and helpfully let him know. “You got a break light out on that side,” Yaconni told the driver. “Thank you. Alright," the driver responded.

Yacconi recounts: "The guy behind me was laying into his horn, came close to rear-ending and sideswiping me as he goes around and gets in front of me.“ Then, at the next red light at Madison and Pleasant Run, “I’m still behind him and I asked what his problem is. He stormed out of his car. I get off my bike I ask him what his deal was.


All I was doing was helping another guy out by telling him he had a taillight out. Next thing I know, I get double-punched by him wearing two brass knuckles. Yaconni, a U.S. Army veteran, was left with serious jaw injuries. He's in "a lot of pain" according to family. Yaconni followed the Lyft driver to get his dash cam evidence.

He later posted that the Lyft driver said he “does not know how I am still conscious.” He decribed the road rage vehicle as “junky,” a white car missing the rear bumper. Yaconni is still hospitalized, a long road ahead in healing the broken jaw. Family and friends want justice for the victim. If you have information about the incident, you're asked to call IMPD or Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.

SOURCE: WTHR13

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

World Renowned Tattoo Artist Lyle Tuttle Dies

San Francisco, California , USA (March 26, 2019) BSB — Lyle Tuttle was known as the “father of modern tattooing” and a revolutionary protagonist in the history of tattooing has died. He was born in 1931 and grew up in Ukiah, California.


He had been tattooing since 1949. At the age of fourteen he purchased his first tattoo for $3,50. He has been working for Bert Grimm and has been tattooed by him. His first shop was open in San Francisco for 35 years. He has tattooed on all seven continents and has become a legend within the industry.


Mr. Tuttle tattooed Janis Joplin, Cher, Jo Baker, Henry Fonda, Paul Stanley, Joan Baez, the Allman Brothers and many, many other notable musicians, actors, and celebrities. He officially retired in 1990 but he did occasionally tattoo his signature on a friend or acquaintance.


He also opened The Lyle Tuttle Tattoo & Museum in San Francisco. It features his own collection of tattoo memorabilia, in an effort to preserve the tattoo history for future generations. He says that “tattoos are travel marks, stickers on your luggage. Tattoos are special, you have to go off and earn them. You can go into a jewelry store and buy a big diamond and slip it on your finger and walk out. It’s not like that when you go into a tattoo shop and pick a big tattoo and pay for it. Now you got to sit down and take it.”


Lyle Tuttle died March 26, 2019 in Hospice due to complications from throat cancer, he was 87 years old.



A post shared by Lyle Tuttle (@lyletuttlecollection) on

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Arlen Ness Passes – 1939-2019

Arlen Ness, the great designer of American custom parts and motorcycles, passed away on March 22, 2019. The world of custom motorcycles loses one of their great artists. Since 1992 he has been part of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Today the world of motorcycles is a little uglier, because Arlen Ness has left us. The great American custom artist, one of the great transformers of Harley Davidson, Indian or the Victory, left us on March 22. His catalog of motorcycles is impressive and his love for motorcycles even more. In the Facebook profile of his company Arlen Ness remind him with a phrase: "for me the bikes have been like a great ride, since I have been working on motorcycles everything has been wonderful ... We have been able to go anywhere in the world and we have always met with friends, with a large family. "


For many Arlen Ness was the king of custom, his designs have gone around the world and having one of his accessories on our bikes was like having a great jewel.

Arlen Ness was born in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1939. He was a self-made man, worked in multiple trades, including furniture transporter, and made some money to acquire a Harley Davidson Knucklehead, which he transformed and achieved the first prize of the San Francisco Show Bike of 1967.


With this recognition he was encouraged to continue transforming motorcycles in the garage of his house in California, until in 1971 he set up his own shop of motorcycles and accessories.

Since 1971, his fame has only grown due to the unique style of his decorations and the development of his catalog of personalized pieces. He installed his headquarters in Dublin, California in facilities that have a small museum with 40 of his most select achievements.


Arlen Ness has several awards as the constructor of the year and is part of the "AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame" since 1992. Today his son Cory Ness is the one in charge of the Arlen Ness company in a 100 percent family business.


In addition to his creativity, Arlen Ness had a good business vision. He was one of the first to standardize a catalog of "unique" pieces that became the object of desire of the lovers of the custom.

On the style of Arlen Ness, it should be noted that he was very inspired by the world of the Dragsters, with very long bikes and impressively elongated backward handlebars. In the words of Arlen Ness: "I love the style of the 'dragbikes', narrow, elongated and very low." Some of their most famous bikes were the Ferrari Bike or the Toobad that contained two engines of a Harley Davidson Sportster. All his works were works of art. Rest in peace, American friend.

SOURCE: Moto1Pro

Friday, March 22, 2019

Bomb threat reported at Harley plant

York, Pennsylvania, USA (March 21, 2019) BSB — The Harley-Davidson plant just off Route 30 in Springettsbury Township was evacuated Wednesday afternoon because of a bomb threat. Workers were sent home for the day, according to a company spokeswoman. Springettsbury Township Police were called to the 1425 Eden Road plant about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20.


The building was evacuated while police searched it, officials said. The incident did not affect Route 30 traffic, according to a 911 supervisor. On Wednesday afternoon, Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Patricia Sweeney sent an email to media confirming there was a bomb threat. "In the interest of employee safety — which is always our highest priority — we have evacuated all employees from the York facility and asked employees to leave for the day," Sweeney wrote.

She said the plant is working with local police investigating the threat and will release updates "when we have more information." An hour later, Sweeney announced that the building and property were searched, "and no threat was found." She said employees have been contacted to return to work.

SOURCE: York Daily Record

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mongols Motorcycle Club keep trademarked logo

Santa Ana, California, USA (March 1, 2019) BSB — A federal judge has rejected the U.S. government’s unprecedented efforts to gain control of the prized patches that adorn the vests worn by the Mongols motorcycle club, ruling that prosecutors attempts to seize the organization’s trademarks are unconstitutional.

The written ruling, released Thursday morning by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, marks a setback for federal prosecutors who two months ago persuaded a Santa Ana jury to find the Southern California-based club guilty of racketeering. Attorneys for the Mongols described the ruling as a victory for all motorcycle clubs.

A Mongols Motorcycle Club vest displaying their trademarked logo 

At the center of the legal battle was control of the patches that depict the club’s name and an illustration of a ponytailed, Ghengis Khan-type motorcycle rider wearing sunglasses. “The Mongols motorcycle club was able to defend the First Amendment for themselves and all motorcycle clubs,” said Stephen Stubbs, an attorney for the Mongols.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not immediately comment on the ruling. Carter’s ruling is unlikely to stand as the final word in a case that has drawn national attention. The first-of-its-kind effort to convict the Mongols organization, rather than specific members, of racketeering in order to strip members of their well-known insignia is almost certain to make its way before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Carter upheld the racketeering conviction and tentatively agreed that the government can keep seized guns and ammunition from the Mongols.

But he ruled that efforts to take control of the Mongols’ insignia and patches violates the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and association protections and the Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines. “Not everything repugnant is unconstitutional,” Carter said. “And what does the government plan to do with the tattoos of the (Mongols’ insignia and patch) on members’ backs, arms and other body parts? …

That certain individual members of the Mongol Nation displayed the symbols while committing violent crimes or were rewarded with other patches for the commission of crimes does not justify the government’s attempts to bootstrap a conviction of the motorcycle club into censorship of uncharged members or supporters.”

Attorneys for the Mongols have described the patches that adorn members’ leather “cuts” as the organization’s “Holy Grail,” and they have said that the government taking control of them would mark a “death penalty” for the group. “I’m happy that this is not a death sentence here,” said Attorney Joseph Yanny, who represented the Mongols in the racketeering trial. “But I don’t like the fact the club has been labeled a criminal organization.”

Prosecutors have argued that taking the Mongols’ trademark is the only way to stop the “cycle of crime” committed by club members. The Mongols have countered that the crimes were committed by “bad apples” who are no longer involved in the club. In December, jurors agreed that the Mongols organization engaged in drug trafficking, vicious assaults and murder.

Much of the violence – which included attacks, some fatal, in bars and restaurants in Hollywood, Pasadena, Merced, La Mirada, Wilmington and Riverside – was tied to a decades-long rivalry between the Mongols and the Hells Angels motorcycle club. Carter noted that the government has spent more than a decade attempting to take control of the Mongols’ trademark, at one point claiming it wanted to be able to stop members of the club and literally take their jackets off of their backs. “The government is not merely seeking a forfeiture of the ship’s sails,” Carter wrote. “In this prosecution, the United States is attempting to use (racketeering laws) to change the meaning of the ship’s flag.”

The Mongols, one of the nation’s largest motorcycle clubs, was formed in Montebello in the 1970s, and is now based in West Covina. Among those who testified on behalf of the club during the recent racketeering trial was Jesse Ventura, a former Minnesota governor and retired pro wrestler who joined the group in 1973 while still on active duty in the U.S. Navy.

The case stemmed from Operation Black Rain, a multi-agency investigation that involved several law enforcement agents infiltrating the Mongols. A separate, earlier case against specific Mongols members resulted in 77 people pleading guilty to racketeering-related charges.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Sturgis campgrounds may face fees

Sturgis, S.D. USA (February 25, 2019) BSB — The city of Sturgis is proposing fees — as high as $5,100 in some cases — that would have to be paid in advance by campgrounds outside city limits if they want ambulance service at this year's Sturgis motorcycle rally. The proposed fees range from $300 to $5,100 and are based on the number of ambulance calls to the campgrounds during the 2018 rally, Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said at a Feb. 19 special meeting in Sturgis with campground owners.

Motorcycles and people fill Main Street on Aug. 5, 2015, after a group photo was taken. 
Barry Amundson / Forum News Service

Under the proposal, campgrounds that had no ambulance calls last year would be assessed a $300 fee to cover this year’s rally in August. Those with one to four calls last year would pay $650, those with five to nine calls would pay $1,850, and a fee of $5,100 would be charged to those that had 10 or more calls during the 2018 rally. According to listings on sturgiscampgrounds.com, there are more than a dozen campgrounds in and around Sturgis.

Ainslie said services provided to campgrounds inside the city limits are covered by city sales-tax and property-tax revenues. The city’s proposal is set for discussion before the Sturgis City Council on April 15. If approved, the fees would have to be paid by May 15. Campgrounds not paying the fees by that date would no longer receive city ambulance service.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, Ainslie said during the 2018 rally the city ambulance service responded to 60 calls from campgrounds, amounting to 17 percent of total calls during the rally. Of those calls, he said, 33 percent of patients refused transportation to a hospital after the ambulance arrived and of those transported only 23 percent of the amount billed was paid, creating a more than $25,000 shortfall, he said.



“We travel the distance out there and either we bandage the person up or give them the immediate aid they need and they refuse transport to the hospital, or other times we go all the way out there and no one’s there. That’s a significant cost that there’s absolutely no reimbursement for,” Ainslie said. Ainslie said reimbursement for ambulance services by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance coverage is limited.

Medicaid reimbursements, for example, only cover 20 percent of the cost of an ambulance call, while Medicare covers 50 percent of ambulance services and private insurance covers 60 percent of a call. According to the city, calls for ambulance service have essentially doubled in 10 years, from 1,076 in 2009 to 2,070 calls in 2018. Ainslie said in 2018 the city provided $277,201 to the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department and Sturgis Ambulance Service.

He said the total losses for the ambulance service in 2018, including building maintenance insurance and equipment replacement, was $250,798. Calls to a number of campground owners around Sturgis revealed some who were unaware of the Feb. 19 meeting. Others voiced strong opposition to an upfront fee. “They basically have told us if we don’t submit and pay, they’ll deny us ambulance services and we’re not OK with that,” said R.J. Ludwick, of No Name City Campground, located between Sturgis and Tilford along Interstate 90.

“We all pay taxes, and we have higher taxes because of our businesses, and we all feel that’s not right,” Ludwick said. Buffalo Chip Campground owner Rod Woodruff said the campground has a full staff of EMT-trained security that will verify the legitimacy of an ambulance call and take a patient to a pickup point to minimize the time for an ambulance run from Sturgis. “We’re doing that just to help the ambulance service to keep their costs down and eliminate the false calls,” he said.

SOURCE: The Dickinson Press

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Harley-Davidson factory hits the market

Milwaukee Wisconsin, USA (February 12, 2019) BSB — Ahead of its closing later this year, Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) put its Kansas City factory on the market for $26.5 million. The 507,729-square-foot plant is located at 11401 North Congress Avenue in the Northland.

It sits on 314 acres about five miles east of Kansas City International Airport. The list price includes a paint booth system that originally cost $30 million. Cushman & Wakefield is handling the sale for Harley and could not comment on the listing. The plant currently has a 600-person skilled workforce until May, and those people would like to keep working at the plant, according to a LinkedIn post.


It "could be a real bargain for the right business," Kerr said in the LinkedIn post. The plant has been the center of controversy since Harley's surprise announcement in January 2018 that it would shutter its Kansas City operations and lay off its 800-person workforce. The closing has kicked off several public disputes with the union representing the plant's workers as well as the Trump Administration and local officials.

As part of Kansas City Business Journal's Top Area Manufacturers List, the union representing workers at the Kansas City plant reported that employment at the manufacturer had fallen by 251 — the largest drop on this year's List. That leaves just 432 workers as the plant heads for a permanent shutdown in the third quarter of this year. The plant was built about two decades ago for roughly $85 million.

At the time, the city of Kansas City, Platte County, the school district and private contributors put together a $6.3 million package. That included a crucial pledge by then-Mayor Emanuel Cleaver to cover about $3 million in state-mandated environmental controls. The state also approved Enhanced Enterprise Zone grants that could have provided as much as $20 million in tax credits.

SOURCE: Kansas City Business Journal

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Outlaws MC member fired for being in club

Tampa, FL (February 5, 2019) BSB — A federal arbitrator says Hillsborough County was justified in firing a Fire Rescue medic who belonged to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, noting the negative attention his membership brought the county.

Clinton Neal Walker, 35, of Bradenton, was fired a year ago after an internal investigation concluded he had “unwavering loyalty” to the Outlaws, long considered the state’s dominant motorcycle club.


He was the first Hillsborough employee to be investigated for gang activity under a series of county ordinances that prohibit membership in any organization the state or federal government considers criminal, including the Outlaws St. Petersburg Chapter where Walker was a member.

Arbitrator Charlotte Gold released her ruling in mid-January, ending a year-long fight by the local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters to save Walker’s job. Her report provided new insight into biker gang culture within the county’s fire department and throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“HCFR employees, including chiefs and a fire medic, attended MC (motorcycle club) events,” Gold wrote, and “many of its members were ex-military.”

Walker earned a Bronze Star, among other medals and awards, while in the U.S. Marine Corps. And as a county firefighter he was awarded a Medal of Valor.

But Walker also had a long disciplinary history and “conducted himself in a manner that was detrimental to the department,” Gold wrote.

“The conclusion is inescapable that he affected the county’s standing in the community,’’ Gold wrote in her report. “His behavior ultimately reflected poorly on the county and his profession in general.”

Walker testified he had resigned from the Outlaws in October 2016, before the county issued a directive prohibiting all employees from “being a member of or voluntarily participating with any outside gang, as defined in the FBI’s 2015 National Gang Report.” 

The ban came two months after Walker was arrested in Key West for throwing the first punch in a bar fight that left two employees injured and involved as many as 15 other Outlaws, one wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it and others who used racial slurs.

Walker ultimately negotiated a plea deal for the Key West fight and received a paid suspension from the county for 30 days. He was still serving that suspension when now-retired Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Captain James Costa, then president of the Outlaws St. Petersburg chapter, was shot by members of the rival 69ers Motorcycle Club while riding his motorcycle in south Hillsborough in July 2017.

According to the report, Costa fired back. The shooting has since been tied to the shooting death of another Outlaw, Paul Anderson, in December 2017.

Walker was one of about 10 Outlaws who got a call from Costa and another Hillsborough County Fire Rescue medic telling them that Costa was being taken to a medical center in Manatee County with bullet wounds.

Though he wasn’t on duty, Walker dressed in his Fire Rescue uniform and accompanied Costa into the hospital, taking his motorcycle vest with Outlaw insignia and initially refusing to turn it over to law enforcement.

“By wearing his HCFR t-shirt at the hospital, he gained favor for himself in violation of the county’s uniform regulations,” Gold wrote in her report. “He then proceeded to place the interests of a friend and mentor — an individual who continued a strong relationship with a motorcycle gang — over and above those of law enforcement.”

According to the report, Fire Rescue management has known about both Walker and Costa’s membership in the Outlaws since about 2008. Costa joined the Outlaws in 2002, and recruited Walker while working as his supervisor in Sun City Center’s Fire Station 28.

The new rules, and the ensuing investigation into Walker’s conduct, happened as a wave of bar brawls, bad behavior and execution-style killings between rival biker gangs swept across the Tampa Bay area, implicating firefighters in Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties.

SOURCE:  Tampa BayTimes

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Mongols Motorcycle Club vows a fight in trademark loss

Los Angeles, California (February 2, 2019) – The federal government said they're a convicted criminal gang, and Hells Angels consider them enemies. They call themselves the Mongols Motorcycle Club - and they're one of the largest Motorcycle Clubs in the world.


 "It's about honor, respect and pride," David Santillan said.

But for this East L.A.-born brotherhood, the last few years have been a fight for survival. They've been under federal indictment for the last decade. And recently, a federal jury in Santa Ana convicted the national club of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy for murder, attempted murder and drug dealing.

Related | Mongols motorcycle club stripped of their logo

More than 75 of their members were convicted - including their former president Ruben "Doc" Cavazos. But the biggest blow of all - hit them where it hurts the most, they lost the rights to their trademarked emblem.

"What the patch means to me and to all my brothers when we ride, it's like a ring in a marriage. It symbolizes our loyalty and commitment to the Mongols Motorcycle when we're out there riding together as a club." Santillan said. Santillan, known as "Little Dave" by club members, is the new national president of the Mongols.

He's been on the front lines of the group's fight against the government, to keep the rights to their sacred symbol. "This is a lifestyle. A culture. A way of life for us. To me, it's a lifetime commitment. I've been in this club going on 23 years," he said.

 The infamous patch is a caricature of the founder of the ancient Mongol empire, Genghis Kahn. Prosecutors argue, in order to get or keep their patches, members are encouraged to commit crimes. It's why they've been fighting for years to strip the club of their logo.

There's still a lot of secrecy around the patches and how members obtain them. But if there's one thing club members, their lawyers and prosecutors agree on -- the symbol is a pivotal part of the club's identity.

"If they take away our patch, they can take away everyone else's. It would be a domino effect if they take the case in law for the future, so I don't see us going anywhere. We're just going to continue fighting until the wheels fall off," Santillan said.

 U.S. District Judge David O. Carter also doesn't seemed to be fully convinced about stripping the club of their logo. He's invited civil rights groups, first amendment lawyers and trademark attorneys to weigh in on the implications. "Never before in U.S. History has the government come and tried to ban a symbol. Think about that for a second.


How many symbols are there in the United States, from wedding rings to religious symbols? All kinds right? If the government can take and ban a symbol, where does that leave everyone else? And who's next? That's really what we have to look at. That's a really slippery slope," said Mongols general counsel Stephen "Bow Tie" Stubbs.

This case is getting the attention of other motorcycle groups. It's even rumored that their arch-rivals Hells Angels, despite their checkered and deadly relationship with the Mongols, are donating money to fight the cause.

Santillan said the club has spent more than $1 million over the past decade, through fundraisers, donations and club dues, and they won't stop fighting until they win.

 "It's a matter of principle at this point - and pride. We're not going away and they're not going to kick us to the curb. Like I said before, we're going to do this until the wheels fall off. We don't care, at any cost," he said

SOURCE: ABC 7

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Member of a Pagan's Motorcycle Club gunned down

Spring Hill, Florida (January 17, 2019) BSB – Pasco County sheriff’s detectives say a member of the Pagan's Motorcycle Club was murdered in Spring Hill. His body was discovered in his home's driveway Wednesday morning.



Detectives say 32-year-old William James Earl died of a gunshot wound. His body was discovered in the driveway of 14383 Glenrock Road in Shady Hills.

The sheriff’s office says it’s not known if the murder had anything to do with Pagan's Motorcycle Club activities. A local leader of the Pagans, Glenn Buzze, wouldn’t appear on camera but said he was saddened by Earl’s death. “My best friend was murdered,” said Buzze.

He said Earl was a Navy veteran and got engaged on Christmas Eve. Buzze said he doesn’t know why someone would kill Earl.


Neighbors we spoke with told us there is known drug activity in the neighborhood and they often hear gunshots in the night.

“When I hear the guns my grandchildren run in the house because i tell them to come in when they hear the guns. You never know where the bullets going to go,” said a neighbor who didn’t want us to use her name or show her face. So far the sheriff’s office hasn’t named any suspects as the investigation continues.

SOURCE: FOX 13 News

Bikers commemorate father who died after accident

Gauteng, South Africa (January 15, 2019) —  “Enough is enough.” This was the moving message echoed by hundreds of bikers from across Gauteng on Isando Road on Saturday morning, where they gathered in honour of their fallen friend TC Frankenberg.

Clr Simon Lapping estimates that around 200 to 300 bikers were present in honour of the fallen biker, father and husband

The 32-year-old biker, father and husband died on December 26, after being critically injured in a motorcycle accident at unmarked road works on Isando Road on December 14. He was returning from Primrose, where he had visited his parents when he hit a sandbank.

There was a sombre atmosphere as the bikers arrived in their masses to commemorate him. No sound, except for their motorcycle engines, could be heard.


On their black leather jackets, they wore the message ‘TC Frankenberg, loved by all’.
According to Clr Simon Lapping, 15 accidents were reported to have occurred on Isando Road because of the unmarked roadworks. “There’s been no apology [from the City] and no condolences. This can’t go on.”

“His death will not be in vain,” Member of Parliament Michael Waters (DA) told Express, metres away from where Frankenberg had crashed.

“Through national Parliament and the local council, we will ensure that the contractors are held accountable, as well as the council. They cannot just wash their hands off of this.”


A memorandum has been signed by family and friends of Frankenberg, as well as members of the public, that gives the City 60 days to investigate the work done on Isando Road from July 2018 to date.

“An audit must be done of all contractors working for the municipality, and all unqualified contractors must be removed and blacklisted,” the memorandum read.

Frankenberg is survived by his wife Charmaine and two-year-old daughter Raven. Charmaine could not hide her tears as she placed a rose on the wreath and cross next to her late husband’s accident scene.

SOURCE: Kempton Express 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

City cancels 10 year old motorcycle event

Middletown, CT, USA  (January 12, 2019) — The city’s Middletown Motorcycle Mania, which for 13 years drew up to 12,000 people to the historic downtown and restaurant row, enjoyed its last year in 2018.

A half-mile of Main Street, from Washington Street/Route 66 to Union Street, including the South Green, are usually closed off for the four-hour event once a year, usually held on a Wednesday.


“(It) has grown so large that the cost of providing security has grown to an unsustainable level,” Mayor Dan Drew said in a Facebook post Friday morning.

Within seven hours, his post garnered nearly 280 comments.

“It was a very, very tough decision,” Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh said. “It just got so big. We felt it was best to drop an event of this magnitude.”


For the first couple of years, Motorcycle Mania drew between 400 and 500 bikers and between 1,000 and 1,500 spectators. By the third year, numbers had doubled, McHugh said. Last year, the event saw about 12,000 people in attendance, he said.

So many people traveling through the city’s downtown corridor during rush hour overwhelmed city resources, officials said.


“It’s difficult. Once that happens, it’s a different ball game,” McHugh said. “I feel bad for the restaurants. It was done primarily for them during the summer.”

Touted as “the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England,” the event featured custom and vintage motorcycles, and was held in memory of Dan M. Hunter, one of the event’s founding sponsors, who was killed in a motorcycle accident.


Motorcycle Mania benefited city youth programs, with proceeds supporting the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation and Community Services Department Youth Programs and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program.

City and business officials and other stakeholders will be meeting soon to come up with a replacement event, said McHugh, who added “we have two or three options” which could take place in the summer at about the same time.


Coordinating police, fire, public works and other services — and the costs of safety measures — became unwieldy by the final years, Drew said.

“To run a big event, we have to have a lot of security,” McHugh said. “It’s very, very important because of the environment we’re all living in today. The bottom line is, pulling 12,000 people downtown, we want to make sure people feel safe.”


Over the course of its existence, very few problems arose, McHugh said, save for a “few minor, minor, minor things.”

By the end of August, stakeholders decided it was time to go out on a high note. The final decision was made Dec. 31, McHugh said.


Annual sponsors included Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter family and Haymond Law Office. Numerous awards were given out for best vintage American, British, European and Japanese bikes and mayor’s choice.

“It’s a huge event in a small space with specific security considerations,” Drew said.


A few years ago, the city had SWAT team members in full gear posted at the event, which elicited criticism, the mayor added.

“Now people are saying to pay whatever it takes for security,” he said. “No one is ever happy with decisions like this, but instead of thinking solely about how you feel, think about the reality of the city’s responsibility to keep all participants safe, and what that means in practical terms. It’s not a fun decision but, believe me, it’s the right one.”

Kathy Chirsky of Middletown said couldn’t believe the news when she heard of the cancellation.


“It’s a shame. More motorcycle clubs help Toys for Tots, cancer research, Alzheimer’s research and diabetes causes — sad to see it go,”said Chirsky. “People from all walks of life went: kids, doctors, lawyers, accountants, physician’s assistants, men, women, old and young.”

Chirsky looked forward to the family friendly event every year, she said.


“It’s a positive thing,” said Chirsky, who would bring her grandchildren downtown to ogle at the bikes, paint jobs and other things, as well as enjoy food truck fare and live bands. She was especially happy to see female bikers — including grandmothers: “Why take it away?”

She fears the negative connotation some members of the public have toward bikers, often portrayed on film, may have been a factor.


“You never know, (a biker) could be saving your life the next day or (helping out) when your kid falls down the stairs and needs stitches,” Chirsky said.

She said she would like to see the event relocated.


“Maybe it’s not suited for Main Street,” she said. “Put it in a field, where there’s more land. I don’t see any trouble. They all get along, they’re all laughing, having a good time. If you can’t have things like this to keep people in Connecticut, they’re pushing people out.”

Last week, another staple for motorcyclists in the region closed its doors: the Red Dog Saloon in Middlefield. It had been open since 1981 on Route 66.


Mongols motorcycle club stripped of their logo

Santa Ana, California, USA  (January 12, 2019) — A federal jury in Santa Ana found Friday that the U.S. government can seize the Mongol Nation motorcycle club's trademark logo featuring a Genghis Khan character on a bike, along with various items of personal property such as leather jackets and weapons, in a closely watched case that has first First Amendment implications.  



The verdict came in the forfeiture of assets phase of the case against the club, which was convicted by the same jury on Dec. 13 of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Now the trial moves to a third phase, in which U.S. District Judge David O. Carter will decide how the forfeiture is carried out. But he has previously said the issues in the novel case will likely wind up being decided by a higher court.

"You're both setting yourselves up for an appeal that will go to the Ninth Circuit and then to the U.S. Supreme Court,'' Carter told the attorneys last month.

Until the verdicts, Carter said he lacked jurisdiction.

"Now the constitutional issues are ripe,'' Carter said after the verdicts.

The attorneys in the case will file legal briefs arguing whether the verdicts should be tossed out legal technicalities or on constitutional grounds. Carter will hear oral arguments on Feb. 28.

Las Vegas attorney Stephen Stubbs, who represents the Mongols, told reporters after the verdicts, "This is the first time ever in U.S. history where the government is banning symbols... It's a sad day for this country, but the fight continues.''

The main items at issue are three trademarks, including the logo bearing the Genghis Khan character. But there are many other items of property seized by authorities such as guns, ammunition, leather jackets and documents of membership lists that could be taken away.

Authorities do not intend to try to take away leather jackets from members, for instance. Under trademark law, however, the government will have to use the copyrights in some way or another so they don't lapse into eminent domain.

If Carter blocks the government from seizing control of the trademarks, the club could still face a $500,000 fine for a racketeering conviction.  

Stubbs told reporters after the December verdict that the club, which was formed in late 1969 in Montebello and has members nationwide, is not a violent criminal organization. He said all of the alleged crimes discussed in the trial occurred under the leadership of past president Ruben "Doc''
Cavazos, who was ousted.  

"The Mongols recognized he was doing things that were inappropriate and they kicked him out,'' Stubbs said then. "The Mongols are not a criminal organization and gang.''

In the racketeering verdict, jurors found that the club was guilty of dealing cocaine and methamphetamine as well as one attempted murder and a murder. The jurors deadlocked 10-2 for "not proven'' on one attempted murder and "not proven'' on two murders.  

But under the conspiracy conviction, the jurors validated multiple alleged incidents of violence, including murders and attempted murders as well as drug dealing.

Under the racketeering count, the jurors did not find the government should have the authority to seize the assets, but they cleared the way for it under the conspiracy count.

"I feel it was clear it was a compromise verdict,'' Stubbs said.

During the five-week first phase of the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Welk argued that the patches Mongols wear on their leather jackets -- depicting a muscle-armed, ponytailed Asian man on a motorcycle -- are meant to be "messages and signals'' to rival gang members and even the general public that Mongols should be feared.

Welk noted that Mongols are instructed to not wear their leather jackets with patches in a car, and when they drive a car they are taught to fold them in a way to conceal their affiliation with the club from police.

"It's all about protecting themselves because they are a paranoid organization,'' Welk told the jury. "They're fearful and deeply suspicious of the government.''

He presented testimony in an effort to show a "lengthy parade of cruelty'' by the club's members. Welk argued that the club's members commit a range of crimes from drug trafficking to murder, all in service to the organization and at the direction of its leaders.

And he said when club members commit murder, they wear a specific skull-and-crossbones patch like a badge of honor.  

But the club's attorney, Joseph A. Yanny, accused the government of going after the organization for racial reasons.  

"I believe this group has been targeted because they have a lot of Mexican-Americans in there,'' Yanny said during his closing argument last month.

Yanny argued that the members who have committed crimes were kicked out for violating "zero tolerance'' policies against illicit activity that draws the attention of law enforcement.  

Yanny accused federal prosecutors of taking the "wrongful acts of a few individuals'' and escalate it to a "group conviction.''  

"These are ordinary people,'' he said of his clients. "They are hardworking people. You don't see the Hell's Angels here. You see the Mongols and minorities are easy to pick on and they typically don't fight like these guys do.''

Among the people who testified during the trial was former pro wrestler and ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who joined the Mongols in the 1970s.

Ventura told City News Service that he considered the government's attempts to seize the club's trademark as a threat to the First Amendment.  

"This is bigger than the Mongols club,'' Ventura said last month. "You've got the government... telling you what you can and cannot wear.''

He added, "The First Amendment is to protect unpopular speech. ...  Some people may think the Mongols are horrible, but they still have equal rights under the Bill of Rights. ... Who's next? The Shriners? Where does it end? It's a First Amendment issue top to bottom.''

SOURCE: KTLA5

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Harley-Davidson Surges Forward

Milwaukee, WI  (January 8, 2019) BSB — When you hear the sci-fi howl of the LiveWire electric motorcycle, you might mistake it for a fighter jet or a Pod Racer from Star Wars—but you’d never mistake it for a Harley-Davidson. And yet, the LiveWire bears Harley-Davidson’s legendary badge.


In July 2018, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle company announced the release of its first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, which is set to hit dealerships in August 2019. It’s the first of a fleet of electric bikes Harley-Davidson plans to bring to market by 2022 to convince a new generation of riders to swing their legs over Milwaukee iron.


The effort is fueled by the inevitable decay of their core customers, who are increasingly aging out and hanging up their helmets. Additionally, millennials largely aren’t fully interested in buying Harley’s burbling, throbbing, air-cooled V-twins.
Harley has reported declining revenue from motorcycles and related products every year since 2014, and US retail sales dropped 13 percent in Q3 2018 compared to Q3 2017. The American brand further announced plans to shut down a Kansas City plant, eliminating 350 jobs and relocating others.

The Motor Company’s plan to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles begins with the LiveWire, which is designed to be a nimble urban bike that is easy to ride and even easier on the environment.

As the first mainstream American motorcycle manufacturer to release an all-electric bike, the LiveWire could be the beginning of a renaissance for Harley-Davidson and a massive shift for the motorcycle industry at-large.

Because electric motorcycles do not require gas or oil to operate, they don’t produce CO2 or other fumes that pollute the air. Conventional gas motorcycles on the other hand aren’t the green machines many think they are.

Zero Motorcycles’ VP of Strategy and Sustainability Jay Friedland said in a Plug in America interview that they actually belch out loosely regulated amounts of pollutants like unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and oxides of carbon. If electric motorcycles are the future, it seems wise for Harley to make inroads now.

But Harley faces a unique roadblock when it comes to releasing an electric motorcycle. Harley is defined by what their bikes have represented: rugged individualism, a cowboy ethos, and leather-clad masculinity.

Its motorcycles’ powerplants are perched at 45 degrees, drumming a uniquely syncopated rhythm into the riders’ spines as they lumber down the open road in defiance of popular culture.

The quintessential Harley guy (yes, most are white male boomers) is more likely to see himself as an anti-hero or counter-culture outlaw than an avid environmentalist looking for a reliable commuter to ride to his cubicle and work for the man. Will the old guard see the LiveWire as a flagrant departure from the iconic bikes and gas culture they hold so dear?
“I think the purists will have a hard time with it,” says Brad VanHecker, a Harley rider and enthusiast since 2007. “After 115 years of the iconic Harley, change will be hard within the group.”

And this group is not known to take change lightly. Take the V-Rod for example, which was released in 2002. Sporty styling and Harley’s first liquid-cooled, overhead cam engine (co-developed with Porsche) was a bold departure from the classic hog.

Breaking the mold to attract new riders, the V-Rod stood for everything that is decidedly un-Harley and quickly became a black sheep for purists of the brand. After a 16-year run, the V-Rod quietly vanished from the lineup in 2018. If Harley riders couldn’t accept the V-Rod—an unconventional but fun-to-ride gas bike—the LiveWire could be even trickier to bring to market without alienating the more traditional riders.

In effort to gauge the potential of an electric motorcycle, Harley toured a prototype called Project Livewire through 30 US cities in 2014 where more than 6,800 riders had the chance to test the bike. Many riders were enthused by instant torque at the flick of the wrist and a respectable 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. But not all feedback was flattering.

“It has a top speed of about 92 mph. Which is OK, I guess,” groaned Jay Leno on an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Worse, Harley’s prototype was only capable of a 55-mile range in economy mode. Switching the bike over to power mode offered a small horsepower boost at the expense of a reduced 28-mile range, begging the question as to why this mode even exists.

While Project LiveWire’s range is expected to improve for final production, it would have to get a lot better to really hang with the hogs. It isn’t uncommon for riding groups to put upwards of 200 miles a day on Harley’s big bore baggers and touring bikes. VanHecker puts that kind of mileage on his 2009 Road Glide Custom when out with his friends, stopping occasionally on longer rides for fuel and snacks.

“But if [the LiveWire] required waiting some time to recharge,” he says, “they would probably be left behind.”

And then some Harley guys still won’t be able to get past the looks. Its sporty and athletic streetfighter styling is about as far as you can get from the classic cruiser design. “It’ll be a very small niche machine until several issues are overcome like…better styling,” says an hdforums.com user who goes by TwiZted Biker. “It’s just too Buck Rogers-looking for the old school guys.”

Longtime Harley rider VanHecker admitted he actually likes the idea of the LiveWire. “Just like solar panels, I like the direction they are heading. People love engines and the wheels that move them,” he said.

But when it came down to actually buying one, he had a few stipulations. “Either a raise or winning the lottery by the sounds of it,” he joked. “I would still keep or have a gas bike, though.”