Capitol Defense
By: Dave Breakiron

Motorcycle Awareness Ride a SUCCESS!

Thanks to everyone who rode to Dover May 22nd.

As Ski put it, “We rocked”. Everyone between New Castle and Dover were “aware” of us as 75, or 80 depending on who you ask, road south. And thanks to all the other riders from Kent and Sussex who rode in to the Capitol to and estimated turn out of 350 to 400 riders, again it depends on who you ask.

Pete Mazzella and I met with Rep. Bruce Ennis and the Rider Education Committee Tuesday, June 16th and we recapped the event and started planning for next year. Everyone on the committee thanked ABATE of Delaware for the great turn out. What more can I say? “We rocked”!

Can’t wait to see how we do next year. We’re thinking about a parade from a remote site from Legislative Hall, maybe Dover Downs, and really raise the public’s awareness. That’s what it’s about. Letting know we’re out there. Runs from all three counties, from dealers and shops headed for Dover and then the “Ride to the Hall” with live music, more of that good BBQ and bike games.

Any one with any comments, good, bad or indifferent, on how we can make it better next year, give me a call.

Pete Mazzella – Legislative Coordinator

I’d like to take a few minutes to introduce Pete Mazzella to the members. Pete assumed my duties as Legislative Coordinator last year when I stepped aside so I could concentrate my efforts on Federal issues that affect us as riders and affects our State Legislature as Delaware’s representative to the Motorcycle Riders’ Foundation (MRF).

Pete served 26 years as a US Public Health Service Officer before retiring October, 2000.  For the first ten years of his career, he provided clinical social work services around the United States in hospitals and clinics to merchant seamen, US Coast Guard personnel, Native Americans and persons suffering with leprosy.  The remainder of his career involved the supervision, management and administration of those programs and the people that provided those services. 

The last three years of his career saw him representing the Department of Health and Human Services on all issues that affected US Military Services Members, Veterans and their families.  These matters included: Gulf War Illnesses, Agent Orange, The Armed Forces Retirement Home Board, the VA’s Committee on Minority Affairs, just to name a few. Pete has prepared testimony for and testified before the US Congress and Presidential Commissions.

Pete has ridden motorcycles since 1970 but had the usual interruption while raising his son and daughter.  He is a Life Member of the American Motorcyclist Association, a member of MRF and a six year member of ABATE (first in Maryland and now in Delaware).

This guy’s is one of “us” and he knows how to work with “Them”. I see Pete taking what I’ve done in Dover to a whole new level. This guy’s got the fire in his belly that we need. I’ll still be on the Legislative Task Force but Pete will lead us. Please give Pete the same support you have all given me over the years and we’ll keep this thing of ours alive and kickin’. 

Janklow's Deposition

On August 16th, 2003, Bill Janklow, former US Congressman from South Dakota, was involved in an accident that killed motorcycle rider Randy Scott of Hardwick Minnesota.  A jury found Janklow guilty of second-degree manslaughter in December.  After that, Scott's family filed a civil lawsuit against Janklow that they want to be heard in a state court.  But, the federal government says because Janklow was on official business at the time of the crash, the lawsuit should be in federal court.  To sort it out, Janklow and his chief of staff Chris Braendlin gave depositions on May 28, 2004 detailing what led up to that crash.  We now have our first look at what was said behind closed doors.

If the lawsuit filed by Randy Scott's family stays in federal court, the government and the taxpayers will pay.  If it goes back to a state court, Janklow himself will pay the damages.

In a deposition, Janklow testified under oath that he was on his way home to Brandon from an event in Aberdeen on August 16th.   He says he turned off I-29 because that route puts on him a county road that takes him within a couple miles of his house.  He also said he turned off the interstate because he was going to stop and say hi to his mom because that's what he always did.  But Janklow doesn't remember if he stopped by her house that day.

His aide Chris Braendlin testified in his deposition that they drove right by it.  Braendlin also said that even though he slept most of the trip, the two did not make any personal stops after leaving Aberdeen.

Janklow testified that he wasn't in a hurry to get home that day.  And although he took that route often, he wasn't sure of the speed limit on the road where he collided with Scott.

The lawyer for the Scott family disagrees with Janklow's testimony.   Ron Meshbesher says Janklow did stop at his mother's house on August 16th and that means Janklow was not on duty at the time of the accident.  A federal magistrate will now decide whether the case stays in federal court or is moved back to state court.

ABATE of South Dakota is closely following the case.

Ride safe and ride smart!

Dave Breakiron

(c)All Information contained in this release is copyrighted.  Reproduction permitted with attribution.  The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based, national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington, DC.  The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time presence in Washington, DC, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider.  The MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom.