by Thomas Day

Dakota County Deputy in Court Again

February 9, Joshua James Williams, a Dakota County corrections deputy who was on probation after killing a motorcyclist in 2007 found himself in court, again. This time, Williams was plea-bargaining his 2008 DWI and probation violation down to a misdemeanor. For this episode in his dangerous driving history, Williams received a year of probation for driving drunk and a $500 fine. August 31, 2007. Patrol deputy trainee Joshua Williams made a sudden “left turn from the bypass lane on the far right side of the road” and slammed into Bill Wallace’s Harley, killing Wallace. The 58-year-old Vietnam veteran was struck just three blocks from his destination, his sister’s house in Farmington. Witnesses said the squad car’s lights were not flashing. Williams’ trainer, Deputy Daniel Michener, was in the car at the time of the incident.

In 2005, a federal appellate court ruled that law enforcement officials responding to an emergency can’t be sued for traffic violations unless “they intended to harm someone.” With that ruling to protect him, Williams didn’t contest the facts presented in court and he didn’t have much reason to fight his sentence: one misdemeanor count of careless driving, 40 hours of community service, and a $380 fine. His employer, the Dakota County sheriff, suspended him for 30 days and a year of courthouse duty.

Williams has a history of dangerous driving habits: a 1998 North Carolina drunken driving conviction, a careless driving conviction from the Wallace death, and this most recent DWI conviction in Dakota County. While about halfway through his probation from his conviction from the 2007 fatality, he was arrested by a fellow employee of the Dakota County sheriff’s office for driving 68 mph in a 55 mph zone. The arresting officer smelled alcohol on Williams and found a open container can in his back seat. He tested with a blood alcohol of 0.09 (the legal limit is 0.08). Williams was charged with two counts of DWI and a violation of the state’s open bottle law.

Obviously, this was a serious violation of his probation. Scott County Judge William Macklin reduced William’s DWI charge to a misdemeanor. The other charges were dropped in the plea bargain. Williams was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 89 days put on hold, and credit for a day served. “The prosecutor didn’t even offer anything to us — tell us what was going on or anything,” said Joe Geror, Bill Wallace’s brother. “They did everything behind closed doors. They never got the cop for violating probation. … They let him walk.” Bonnie Pitsenburger, Bill Wallace’s sister, said, “I’m hoping, with this conviction, he won’t be [employed in law enforcement]. If he isn’t, I’m tired of living in Dakota County. I don’t want to pay that guy’s salary. … Basically, as far as I’m concerned, he walked when he killed my brother, and he walked on a DWI. He got nothing. … He makes the whole department look bad.”

Beat the ‘Busa

In 2009, Suzuki’s fired off the Busabeats campaign. The top five songs had 67,000 listeners and got 37,000 votes. The winner, a Northern California MC named JPIGG, won a custom bike and went on tour with the International Motorcycle Shows.. So, here’s the deal for 2010, log on to busabeats.com, use their on-line recording interface to record your verse praising the amazing Suzuki Hayabusa. When you’re done, Busabeats voters will listen to your prose and, if they like it, vote for you. The MC with the most votes wins a brand new Nick Anglada custom Hayabusa . R

ide Free on the Lake Express

One of the coolest ways to go from here to all points east is to skip Chicago and ride the Lake Express from Milwaukee to Muskegon, MI. It takes 2 1/2 hours and you don’t have to deal with toll roads or crappy Illinois freeways. This May and June, the ferry is free. Book early because once the 12 motorcycle slots are filled (per trip), you’re out of luck. Book your trip on line (http://res.lake-express.com/) or call 866-914-1010.

Is Harley on the Auction Block?

I don’t have the answer to this question, but neither does Wall Street. However, rumours that Harley Davidson may be acquired by private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, drove the stock price upwards for the company’s stock first positive movement in a while. Neither company would comment on the speculation, but that didn’t stop speculators from actively trading the stock. Trading was 3x the normal volume for HOG. Harley’s $218.7 million fourth quarter losses caused more than a few investors to keep an eye on the company’s future.

Target Field Motorcycle Hostile

The word is, the new taxpayer-financed Target Field has no motorcycle parking. There are 300 bicycle spaces and light rail makes the field a stop, but motorcycles are not in the plans. Sounds like a good reason to let your opinion be known with MLB. Write the Twins: Minnesota Twins 1 Twins Way Minneapolis, MN 55403 Call the Twins: (612) 659-3400.

Budget Cuts & OHV Trails

The most recent FY2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Capital Improvement and Maintenance budget includes $100 million in cuts to Forest Service roads, trails and recreation infrastructure. As the plans were being developed, OHV enthusiasts were told they lacked funding for maintenance of existing trails, let alone new trail creation.

Decline in ATV Injuries

The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) statistics show continuing decline in fatalities and injuries. 2008 injuries were 10% lower than 2007, with 16-and-under injuries declining 6%. Vehicle use has increased more than 300% since 1998.

Finally, Truck Texting Banned

The U.S. Transportation Department has, finally, banned texting for commercial truck drivers. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the federal rules that “expressly prohibit texting by drivers of commercial vehicles. Drivers sending and receiving text messages have their eyes off of the road for an average of 4.6 out of every 6 seconds while texting. Text and drivers are 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who don’t do incredibly stupid things.”

Myrtle Beach City Council and the State Supreme Court

The Myrtle Beach City helmet law was tested and is being tried in court. In a reaction to complaints from residents about motorcyclists, the Myrtle Beach City Council passed an ordinance (“administrative infraction”) requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets in the city limits. South Carolina state law does not require helmets for riders over 18. Last March, riders participated in a “Helmet Freedom Ride” and collected 63 $100 tickets from the Myrtle Beach police force. The bikers and some local businesses took the city to court and, now, are waiting the court’s decision. A ruling is expected sometime this fall.

Mototaxi Junket

“The Mototaxi Junket launches from Cuzco, Peru in August this year and finishes in Asuncion, Paraguay about 4000km of adventure later. 60 amateur teams from around the world will battle across the Andes mountains, trudge through the Bolivian jungle and traverse the Gran Chaco desert in northern Paraguay all in the humble Mototaxi . . . Designed for short trips on flat terrain in urban areas, this four-stroke mechanical genius looks like a cross between a moped and a sofa, and handles like the latter” I don’t know what more to say about this. Check it out at http://mototaxijunket.theadventurists.com/.

Best Beginner Motorcycles

Here is a great site for information about becoming a motorcyclist: http://www.bestbeginnermotorcycles.com/. Articles, gear reviews, bike reviews, and arguments about everything from helmets to bike size. What better way for new motorcyclists to become acquainted with the rest of us than to read about all of our disagreements? Wait, you can do that in MMM.

Ridley Motorcycle Company Changes Hands

On February 16, 2010, 2 Wheel Ventures, LLC. announced it would purchase Ridley Motorcycle Company and that company’s significant assets. 2 Wheel Ventures acquired the Ridley’s manufacturing plant and key personnel. E

x-AMA Chairman Behind Bars

Ex-AMA Chairman of the Board, Dal Smilie, is taking an eight month trip to prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from the motorcyclist organization. Smilie will serve an additional two years of probation after serving his prison term. Smilie pled guilty “to felony counts of grand theft by deception and of receiving stolen property.” I’ve got much to apologize for, and many people to apologize to, including AMA members, AMA staff, my fellow board members and volunteers,” Smilie told Judge Chris Martin. “I’ve let them down.”

New Harley Jump Record

On March 1, Seth Enslow broke 157 foot “Harley-Davidson jump record,” twice. He and his tricked-out HD XR1200 jumped 175 feet the first time and 183.7 feet the second. Robbie Maddison’s “world motorcycle jumping record” of 322 feet, 7 1/2 inches was not in danger.

AMA PRO Racing & the XR1200 Series

AMA Pro Racing and Vance & Hines announced the new AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series. The five race series features Harley-Davidson XR1200 motorcycles with modification kits supplied by Vance & Hines. “The kit will consist of a Vance & Hines XR1200 exhaust system, a Fuelpak fuel management system, race bodywork including number plate, single seat tail section and belly pan, 17-inch front wheel with matching front fender, steering damper, oil cooler relocator and race decal package. The cost for the complete kit will be $3500.” MMM

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