MRF December Update
By Andy Kelly
Recently Megan Ekstrom, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Relations, for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) sent out an email about an actual case in California about profiling. As I briefly tell you about this particular example of profiling you may be thinking that it happened in California and that’s on the other side of the country and California does have the most reported cases of motorcycle profiling. But, according to the Motorcycle Profiling Project the five top States with the most reported cases of profiling are, California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and coming in fifth is Pennsylvania.
“Professor Blade” a member of “the Chosen Few” was at a party being held at a bar they all patronized regularly. When Professor Blade arrived at the party that was being held for a friend in the Marines he could see the police staked out across the street. When he left the party, as soon as he turned onto the street he was pulled over for loud pipes. The pipes were in compliance with California law and could not be heard on the police dashcam but he was still stopped.
Professor Blade was not given a citation for the pipes but was questioned about the leadership in his club and then arrested for possession of brass knuckles (three rings including his wedding band on his left hand) and a deadly weapon (24 inch decorative whip zip-tied to his handlebars). His motorcycle was confiscated and his bail was set at $125,000.
The one thing I forgot to tell you is that “Professor Blade” is a Middle school teacher and also a College Professor without any criminal record. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor for possession of the decorative whip which caused him to lose his right to own a gun for three years and affected his background check and promotions at the Community College.
A 2015 report from the FBI on gangs identifies Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (an FBI Term) as a concern stating that they have evolved from “bar room brawlers” to “sophisticated criminals”. You cannot say that a criminal element does not exist in the motorcycle world however, in the same report, when looking at gangs and gang members as a whole, 88% are attributed to street gangs, 9.5% to prison gangs, and only 2% of the sophisticated criminals are motorcycle gangs. But still according to Vox Media, a recent survey showed that 14% of law enforcement officials identified motorcycle gangs first among the most problematic gangs in their jurisdictions.
Now the crap gets deeper or whatever you would like to call it in Washington D.C. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt, met with Senators from the CORN states of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas for almost an hour in October. In this meeting, they discussed the issue of ethanol and the campaign promises that were made and they want the administration to make good on them. I can only guess that this is more than just a coincidence but some of the Presidents picks to head various departments and positions within the EPA was slated to be confirmed in the Senate that week, BUT GUESS WHAT, just a few hours after the meeting, the vote for these confirmations was postponed. It was said that Sen. Chuck Grassley from Iowa is threatening to hold up several EPA nominees if the EPA doesn’t start providing more support for ethanol. Well within a week or so Mr. Pruitt released a letter stating that the EPA is going to “actively explore” whether the agency (EPA) has legal authority to grant a waiver allowing year-round sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol. Right after Mr. Pruitt’s announcement the President’s nominees to the EPA were given approval from the Senate Committee.
The U.S. Department of Transportation last month released their new and improved “Vision for Safety 2.0”. These guidelines update polices issued last fall concerning automated vehicles and discuss safety and performance rules for these types of vehicles, as well as the recommended role for state and federal policymakers. The thirty-six (36) page document FAILS TO MENTION MOTORCYCLISTS.
Please take the time to go to the MRF web site and let your legislators in Washington, D.C. know how you feel about the issues. It is fast and easy as I explain below.
1. Go to the MRF Web Site
2. Click on Legislative near the top, and a pulldown menu will appear
3. Click on Legislative Action Center and another pulldown menu will open to the right
4. Click on Federal Legislative Issues
5. Scroll down to Take Action for Motorcycle Riders
6. You will find the four issues in blue
7. Click on the first Issue which is “Stop Motorcycle Profiling”
8. An information box will appear which you must complete. At the bottom of the form are two boxes which say “Remember Me” and “Email Opt-in”. You should definitely check the “Submit” button at the bottom right hand of page.
9. When you hit submit, the letter you are submitting will come up automatically, then you hit submit AGAIN at the bottom of that page.
10. Go to the top of the next page that comes up and click on “Engagement Home” box in blue.
11. It will take you back to the four issues. You can do the same procedure to submit a letter on the other three issues.
12. When you have submitted the letters you will get a notice from the MRF thanking you and hopefully one from your elected official.