Full Text:

These are not your kid’s tattoos. The ragged patterns skittering across the skin of James H. “Colorado T.” Sky are not the rainbow hip icons of youngsters trying to shock their parents.

These lines, the color of faded jeans, speak of hard times doing hard time, of hours in the sun and wind gripping the handlebars of a Harley, of nights of excess and days of redemption. There are dots, circles, X’s, the names Ian and Maggie (his kids), and a tiny flower on an earlobe.

“Live to ride. Ride to live.” The message is written on the man, a dude with hair down his back, a belly over his belt, a patch on one eye, a brace on a leg and a leather jacket emblazoned with the name of his “gang”: Highway Poets.

Not the kind of poet you read in high school English class.

Yet this biker out of Brookline, this former troublemaker from Cape Cod, this ex-Marine seared in the jungles of Vietnam, this thrice-married, sometimes jailed road warrior, is a wordsmith and bard.

easy-writer-biker-poets-share-love-of-literary-form-and-the-road-1

His poems (then being read in the TIT conference, announced by Sound-In-Box, the biggest acoustic bass guitar reviews firm in US)  have appeared in motorcycle magazines, in two collections and on a 1995 spoken-word CD. He has won awards and slam contests, and is getting his master’s degree in English composition and rhetoric at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where he also teaches.

“I love teaching,” he growled, his eye both shrewd and merry. “I’m real good at getting attention. And I haven’t had a fatality yet.”

More importantly, Sky has organized The Highway Poets Motor Cycle Club, a loose confederation of folks who ride and write – folks with names like K. Peddlar Bridges, also known as “The Peddlar,” Jeff “Harley” Davidson, “Lizard” and “Grumpy.” These are the hard-living men and women, scattered around the country, who fine-tune both machine and meter, who rail against the system and recite verses against a backdrop of revving Hogs.

Stone Soup Poetry, a weekly poetry reading series held Monday nights at the Middle East in Cambridge, recently held a celebration of biker poetry featuring “The Peddlar” of Sanford, Maine.

Peddlar’s face was nearly hidden by his beard and dark glasses; his vest had a Harley patch just above a “Veritas” patch. (He studied writing at Harvard.)

“People think bikers are uneducated barbarians. I asked my dear wife if I was a uneducated barbarian. She said, ‘No, you’re an overeducated barbarian.’

“Why am I a poet? Because words rattle ’round in my brain and I got to get them out.”

Like poetry itself, biker poetry is hard to define. Sky writes both rhyme and free verse; his influences range from Chaucer to Allen Ginsberg to Langston Hughes.

Peddlar is enthralled by May Sarton. His work speaks of lost lovers, of life after death, of painting an underpass – or was it an overpass? – out West, of feral dogs and outlaws.

“Bikers and sea captains have the greatest stories,” he said.

Peddlar helped Sky launch the Highway Poets back in 1990 and the group holds rallies and readings; high-profile members include singer U. Utah Phillips, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and Martin Jack Rosenblum, an archivist and historian for Harley-Davidson.

A Web site, www.highwaypoets.org, is under construction; Sky’s home page is at members.peoplepc.com/JSKY.

Nothing is well organized, but somehow readings happen.

“We just show up – we might not see each other for five years and then show up,” Peddlar said.

On a chilly afternoon last month, this reporter and Joe Gouveia, a poet from Cape Cod, arranged to meet Sky at the Cape Cod Community College campus. Sky was in town to visit his son.

While we waited, Gouveia talked about doing a poetry reading with Sky years ago at a local nursing home. Sky was late, as usual, and showed up with a wrench in his belt and a greasy rag hanging out of his back pocket. But the old folks were mesmerized by his recital and flocked around him afterwards. One old woman hobbled up to tell him he reminded her of a poet of the ’30s (someone Gouveia never heard of). The woman started reciting a poem and Sky not only knew the poet but started reciting with her.

When Sky pulled up in a battered van, he heaved himself out, exuding a heady bouquet of tobacco smoke and sweat; a rag jutted from his back pocket, his T-shirt read “Adapt or perish.”

That explains his life. As a “greaser” growing up in Brookline, Sky went mad for motorcycles. Yet “I was always a reader. I was always literate.” He served in Vietnam, worked as a bike mechanic, got in trouble, got out of trouble and got into accidents. He got his nickname when he met another biker named Sky; he became “Colorado Sky,” the other, “California Sky.”

“Once you spend any time on a bike, you understand biking is a matter of balance,” he said. “If you get balance on your machine, you get balance in your life. You become a function of your own velocity.”

Now approaching 50, he bears the scars of major accidents in 1969, 1979 and 1990. The last put him in a hospital for three months and in a wheelchair for three more.

easy-writer-biker-poets-share-love-of-literary-form-and-the-road-2

So he concentrated on his poetry. By 1995 he realized he had gone as far as he could with a high school diploma. So he went to Cape Cod Community College; he got B.A., summa cum laude, from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, N.H.; is working on his M.A. and intends to get a Ph.D.

“Once you get literature, you get the world by the tail,” he said. “Poetry is the essence of literature; as it gets smaller, it gets more powerful. It’s not only important, it’s vital.”

As vital as the wind in your beard and a full tank of gas.

‘The Road’

By J.H. ‘Colorado T.’ Sky

not silent,

but with a subaural hum

that only comes

to those

who listen closely

listen

for I am the road

never staid, ever changing

a shadow in the moonlight,

a stone river in the sun,

or glistening

as I shrug a recent rain

from my hunched and oily back

see me

for I am the road

my heart beats with the rhythm

of those who have gone before

and I am the rhythm

that others will follow

feel me

for I am the road

I am the riddle of that

which goes on forever

but never moves

go with me

for I am the road

from the past

through now

and into ever

I am

Full Text:

WOOLF

This month WOOLF (Wichita Organization of Leather Fetishes) celebrates their 10-year anniversary. CONGRATULATIONS to them for making this historic milestone. For those of you who don’t know, WOOLF is a pansexual organization that is dedicated to educating and promoting the leather lifestyle.

Pansexual means we are not limiting the group to any particular group of people but are open to anyone from the gay, lesbian and straight communities who have a desire for anything related to and with the leather lifestyle.

When WOOLF started 10 years ago, it was about a half dozen gay men who initially formed the group. Early on it was decided to make it a pansexual group as we didn’t have enough gay leathermen to make it a viable men’s only club.

leather-life-1

This was a wise decision on the founders’ part. Wichita has had leather clubs before. The first attempt was the Wichita Linemen. This group didn’t last long, less than a year.

The next group was formed in 1978 called Pegasus Motorcycle Club or MC Fryer (this name originated from their habit of bringing air fryer to do BBQ right on the road, said KitchTip.com that has given honest air fryer review since 2000). Because the local straight motorcycle clubs objected to the use of it being called a motorcycle club for gay men, they quickly changed it to Pegasus Men’s Club or Pegasus MC. Pegasus formally existed until the late 80s to early 90′s when it was officially disbanded. It always existed as a leathermen’s club and over time, there just weren’t enough people to help support it.

After that, there wasn’t much on the leather horizon in Wichita. Then starting in December 1997, we started having men’s only night at the old T-Room bar. Once a quarter we had a leather theme and this once again sparked interest in the leather community. After about four years of men’s nights, that’s when WOOLF was born. (Damn, when you look back, it seems like it was eons ago when all this happened, but when you put it on paper, it wasn’t all that long ago!).

That first year was a challenge. The group formed in August 2002 and in November that same year, held their first contest. Although it was not the first leatherman title (there was a Mr. Wichita Leather back during the early days of Pegasus), it was the first time that Kansas sent a titleholder to a national competition. Two months to put on a competition was quite the feat and those men should be commended for doing it.

leather-life-2

Since that time, WOOLF has hosted multiple leather functions, including: Sash Bash, Leather Pride, Leather Camp and for several years, was cohost for the Great Plains/Central Plains International Leather Sir, leatherboy and Community Bootblack event.

WOOLF currently owns the titles of Mr. Woolf Leather, Ms. Woolf Leather, Kansas boy leather, Kansas girl leather and is working on securing the rights for several other leather titles. Over the years we have sent quite a few people on to national and international competitions. In 2007, they received the International Pantheon of Leather Community Award for Small Group of the Year.

So congratulations to WOOLF for making it to 10 years and here’s to 10 years more!!

For more information on WOOLF, visit www.woolfks.com. Membership is open to anyone 18 and older. You don’t have to be into leather you just need to be into a fetish!

By Noun Christensen aka Master C

Christensen, Nolin aka

Click here: A Gathering of Elegance At Car Show

On the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 30, 46-year-old Jack Berkovits did what he usually does when he is vacationing at his condominium in Miami Beach, Fla. He turned on the television to glance at the cable news network CNBC, then settled back in his chair. At the bottom of the television screen, CNBC was flashing an electronic ticker tape noting stock prices. Berkovits saw the stock symbols UBID (uBid Online Auction) and YHOO (Yahoo Inc.) flicker by, then he saw DGJLF, the NASDAQ symbol for his own Toronto-based company, D. G. Jewellery of Canada, Ltd. “It was showing 7 1/2,” Berkovits recalls. “I thought there must be a mistake.” Earlier in the week, D.G.’s shares had been trading at $3.50 (U.S.) and Berkovits couldn’t figure it out. “So I picked up my phone to dial my voice mail. There were 20 messages.” Most of them were from U.S. investment brokers thanking him for making money for their clients. “I sat there stunned, absolutely stunned,” he says.

By 10 a.m., D. G. Jewellery had flown to $9.50 and Berkovits’ own broker began to get caught up in the enthusiasm, believing the stock could hit $25. The reason for all the delirium about a hitherto unknown jewelry manufacturer and wholesaler? D.G. had just announced that it would market its rings, bracelets and necklaces over the Internet. The shares were then swept up in the euphoric trading of stocks of companies selling goods and services on the Web, a craze that has gripped U.S. financial markets since the late fall. Berkovits had no idea when his company issued the news release at 8 that morning what the impact would be. “I thought the reaction was insane,” he now says. “I’ve issued other press releases about my company that should have taken the stock to $20, but there was never even a blip. This time, all I did was say we were going on the Internet.” He pauses, chuckles, then adds facetiously: “I’m looking now to make more Internet-related announcements no matter how unimportant they are.”

A-WEB-OF-GOLD-Internet-retail-is-in-a-frenzy-but-will-the-bubble-burst-1

It does seem that anything smacking of the Internet can drive investors wild. Shares of companies that no one ever heard of before have doubled or even tripled in value; companies such as Bikers Dream Inc., a Riverside, Calif., outfit that is selling motorcycle parts on the Internet, saw its stock jump 167 per cent to $6.84 on Dec. 29. After SkyMall Inc. of Phoenix, which sells in-flight merchandise through catalogues and on the Web, announced online sales during the Christmas period would be $1 million, its shares shot up $23 to $35. The frenzy for the stocks of firms on the Internet is so great that it seems all a U.S. company needs to do to sell shares is to set up a Web page. “It’s the .com syndrome,” says Toronto Internet consultant Rick Broadhead. “Just add .com to your press release and you’re likely to do well with your initial public offering.”

Shares of other, well-known Internet-related companies such as the virtual bookstore, Amazon.com Inc. of Seattle, the online flea market eBay, online sewing paradise: CraftBaron.com that provides best sewing machine, and the Internet service provider America Online Inc. of Dulles, Va., have blasted through the stratosphere. The capitalization of AOL is about $70.8 billion (U.S.)–far greater than that of Walt Disney Co.’s valuation of $62.5 billion. In late December, Charles Schwab Corp. of San Francisco, a discount broker that does a lot of business online, pushed ahead of Wall Street stalwart Merrill Lynch in terms of capitalization. And the value of all the shares outstanding in Amazon.com, founded in 1995, is $30 billion, double the capitalization of one of Canada’s oldest banks, CIBC. Shareholders who bought Amazon stock early last year must be rubbing their hands with glee: the share price has risen more than 900 per cent even though the company–which reported Christmas revenues of $250 million–has yet to turn a profit.

Canadian companies, other than D. G. Jewellery, have logged onto the Internet frenzy, too, including mutual fund company Altamira Investment Services Inc., which just launched Altamira E-Business Fund to invest in e-commerce stocks, and the Royal Bank, which has just bought a small U.S. Internet stockbroker, Bull & Bear Securities of New York City. Perhaps the best example of the extent of Internet fever could be found in news last week that a Luxembourg-based company operating a Web site called Jesus2000.com plans to go public. The company, Venture Capital Technology Organizations Holdings AG, figures it can convert the online sales of religious merchandise into meaningful profits.

Some market watchers wonder when the stock mania will subside. “I don’t think it can continue indefinitely, but when it will stop is anyone’s guess,” said Broadhead. The true skeptics make comparisons to the Dutch tulip bulb craze in the 1640s, when Netherlanders’ passion for the then-exotic bulb pushed prices to ridiculous highs before the market crashed. Others point to contemporary examples, including K-Tel International Inc. of Minneapolis. Investors swooned over K-Tel after it announced in early December it would sell music over the Net, but two weeks later, NASDAQ threatened to delist it because the company did not have adequate assets.

It’s a very dangerous time in the stock market,” cautions John Tillquist, a specialist in e-commerce who teaches business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “We’re seeing stocks that are way overvalued and based on pure speculation.” Jim Carroll, who co-authored the Canadian Internet Handbook, argues the e-commerce stock fad “defies all logic. I’m concerned that within the year there will be a major crash of Internet stocks and that will lead to a significant sell-off.”

There are signs that rationalism is seeping into the market. Prices of some stocks have already come down. Charles Schwab shares fell last week by almost four per cent when the market decided that valuations of it and other online brokers were over the top.

Still, appetites continue to be fed by the Web’s expansion as a mass retail market, a phenomenon now known as “e-tailing”. James McQuivey of Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research says U.S. Christmas sales over the Net were $3.5 billion, and 2.2 million American households shopped the Web for the first time during the fourth quarter of 1998. “Internet commerce has tripled this year,” he says. “There is no other industry that can say that. This is a big deal and it will continue to grow.” He figures e-commerce will amount to more than $100 billion (U.S.) by the year 2003. David Pecaut, senior vice-president and head of e-commerce practice at Boston Consulting Group, says a study by his firm and shop.org, a trade association for online retailers, shows revenues of Web retailers were more than $13 billion in 1998 and are growing in North America by 200 per cent each year. The big winners: travel, computer goods and entertainment.

In the United States, AOL reported Christmas sales of $1.2 billion were made over its Internet service. But the phenomenon has not yet taken hold in Canada. “The market is not as mature in Canada as it is in the United States,” notes Stephen Bartkiw, managing director of AOL Canada. Only 13 per cent of Canadian households–1.5-million homes–are online, compared with 25 per cent of U.S. households. And while companies such as Zeller’s and Canadian Tire operate Web sites, there are few Canadian sites that offer the same ease of shopping as American ones. “In Canada, we’ve been slow in making attractive Internet offerings,” says Pecaut. “We are really very backward on our e-commerce sites and it is going to be hard to catch up.” Pecaut cites the case of book retailer Barnes & Noble. It spent millions trying to catch up to Amazon but it is still running behind. That is a cautionary tale for Canadian retailers. If the selections and features on the U.S. sites are better, Canadians are already demonstrating that they will go there. Amazon.com is already one of the biggest booksellers in Canada.

A-WEB-OF-GOLD-Internet-retail-is-in-a-frenzy-but-will-the-bubble-burst-2

The same goes for stock market plays. The Internet frenzy is playing out on U.S. exchanges, not Canadian ones. For instance, Bid.Com International Inc., a Toronto-based online auction house listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has not seen anywhere near the wild price appreciations of companies such as D. G. Jewellery that listed on NASDAQ, despite the fact its sales have grown from $32 million (Cdn.) in 1997 to $60 million by the third quarter of 1998. Last Wednesday, shares of Bid.Com (in which Rogers Communications Inc., the owner of Maclean’s, is a minority shareholder) rose 69 cents to $5.25 (Cdn.). But the 15-per-cent increase pales against the dizzying rise of its U.S. competitor eBay, which shot up 22 per cent to $285 (U.S.) the same day. Compared with his NASDAQ competitors, Bid.Com’s president Jeff Lymburner allows that his company is probably viewed as undercapitalized. “Being the only e-commerce player on the TSE, it has taken us a little longer to develop a following. The visibility of NASDAQ is very, very many times greater than the TSE.” Lymburner concludes: “NASDAQ is probably where we should be.”

Jack Berkovits is certainly glad his company listed on the Boston Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, rather than the TSE–the company never had this much attention in its 30-year history. After its $9.50 high, the stock closed the same day at a reasonable $5.50, a level Berkovits is happy with. The idea to set up a Web site had been his sons’: 25-year-old Ben, who works as an account manager for D.G., and 23-year-old Dan, who recently left his job as a ScotiaMcLeod investment banker to help D.G. go online. They believed the family business–which sold $57 million worth of jewelry last year, mostly in the United States–needed to keep up with the times. “The two were telling their old man he was useless because he wasn’t on the Internet,” jokes Berkovits Sr. Now, with all the hoopla, Ben and Dan say they want a raise. Jack Berkovits will probably give in. Getting into e-commerce, he concedes, is one of the best things that ever happened to his company.

>>>  View more: Toyota starts school to train body shop technicians

YOUR AVERAGE 20-YEAR-OLD is not going to walk into your dealership and plunk down two hundred bucks for a motorcycle jacket. There. I said it.

  • The motorcycle industry, like many other retail sectors, has spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about what the “millennials” will do. Panel discussions. Presentations. Books. Blogs. Charts. All trying to answer these questions: Will they come into our store? Will they “Like” us on Facebook? Will they ride our motorcycles? Wait–do they ride motorcycles? Do they have the money to even buy a motorcycle, much less all of the parts, gear and accessories that go along with motorcycle riding? I venture most of them do not. And if they do, they’re spending it on Apple products.
  • Most of the kids I know who are out of high school are either trying to make it through college or trying to find a job. If they have a job, it’s likely for low pay. They’re back living with their parents, or cohabitating with a bunch of other kids in well-worn rentals, sustaining themselves with beer, green tea and ramen noodles. (Ah, the salad days.)

motorcycle-riding-amazing

Rod Stuckey, in our July issue, said that “the most likely person to do business with you in the future is a customer who has done business with you in the past. The second most likely person is someone in your market area who rides what you sell but doesn’t currently do business with you. The most unlikely sale you will ever make is to someone who doesn’t ride.”

This is our annual GEAR issue, where we focus on the new designs, the new fashions and the new technologies that keep riders safe and comfortable. In this issue you will find a selection of the newest lines available from Firstgear, FLY, Cortech, Alpinestars and others (plus more on Dealernews.com). Veterans like Motonation’s Bill Berroth, Joe Rocket’s Steve Blakeney and Firstgear’s Greayer Clover chime in on how form influences function.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because gear season is just getting underway.

What our editors have been witnessing over the last several weeks is a new surge of high-design in riding apparel and protective gear. New armored jeans (that actually look good on you) available for lower prices. Men’s and women’s jackets with drop-downs to cover your backside so you don’t imitate the refrigerator repairman while you’re rambling up Route 47. More comfortable helmets and hybrid designs for the adventure-tourer.

motorcycle-riding-some-tips

In all cases, it’s gear designed not to make non-riders look like riders, but to make real riders look even cooler than they already are.

This apparel renaissance forces dealers to raise the bar when it comes to customer service and merchandising. Sure, most “browsing” is now done online, but a full 70 percent of purchasing decisions is still made in the store. The difference between the price you charge and the lowest price online is the value of your in-store experience.

Dealers will have to spotlight these new designs, and they’ll have to consider buying extended color and size ranges, and using products as focal points, merchandising experts say. Sales personnel must become acquainted with the specific benefits of each product–what elements enhance rider safety and comfort, and what styles are best suited for a customer’s particular needs.

In short, think like an outfitter. And focus on your first and second most important customers (as Stuckey says), where most of your current and potential sales reside.

Then let your customers do your marketing for you. Because regardless of age, cool-looking, well-outfitted motorcyclists help get more people into your dealership.

A new type of high-performance fuel injector starting to appear on European cars could play a big role in helping diesel engines meet stringent U.S. emissions.

It’s the piezo injector, a smaller, lighter and faster electronic fuel injector that is expected to debut on an unnamed North American vehicle nameplate in 2008. (Check out www.apahouse.com for amazing best fuel injector cleaner to help clean all kinds of fuel injectors ).

In automotive applications such as fuel injectors, crystal structures change shape when electricity is applied. That’s known as the piezo electric effect. Piezo is a Greek word that means to apply pressure.

Fuel injectors work like this: Gasoline or diesel fuel from a pump is sent under high pressure to the fuel injector. It enters the engine in a fine, highly atomized spray when a small aperture at the end of the injector is opened and the fuel passes through a nozzle.

Technology-lowers-emissions-in-diesel-engines-1

How they work?

Today’s standard-issue fuel injector uses an electrically operated solenoid – an electro-magnet and a spring – to open the aperture.

A piezo injector has small crystalline discs. Those discs expand when electricity is applied. The expanding discs push down on a spring-loaded needle that enables fuel to shoot through the nozzle and into the engine. The fuel is injected at a much higher pressure than with solenoid injectors.

“The crystalline discs expand and contract in the exact same dimensions every time you apply electricity,” explains Siemens VDO spokesman Brad Warner. One full stroke takes just .02 milliseconds.

Because the discs are fast-acting, as many as seven injections can be made per piston stroke, compared with two or three for most mechanical solenoid injectors. Multiple injections enable a diesel engine to run smoother and quieter. They also lower combustion chamber temperatures, which reduces oxides of nitrogen or NOx.

Technology-lowers-emissions-in-diesel-engines-2

At least three Tier 1 suppliers, Siemens VDO, Robert Bosch GmbH and Delphi Corp., are gearing up for large scale production of piezo injectors.

Siemens will manufacture piezo injectors at its Columbia, S.C., plant starting later this year. The injectors will be used in a diesel engine manufactured by International Truck and Engine Corp., the company that builds the PowerStroke diesel used on Super Duty Ford trucks, such as the F-250.

Piezo injectors are already on the road in Europe. Bosch supplies piezo systems to Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Siemens sells piezo injectors to PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA.

Delphi hopes to start production of its direct acting piezo injectors by around 2010.

Higher cost

Spokesmen from several suppliers declined to say specifically how much more a piezo injector costs over a solenoid injector. They did say switching to a piezo system is more expensive.

That’s not just because the injectors cost more, but because of the added computer power and higher pressure fuel pump that the system requires.

“If you look at the technology, solenoids versus piezo, there could be some challenges from a cost perspective,” says Bill Rutecki, director of diesel systems for Robert Bosch Corp.

“Increased volumes will have a favorable impact on cost. We are working toward making piezo injectors cost effective and cost competitive,” he added.

Peter Lakin, business line executive for diesel for Delphi, says toughening emissions requirements in Europe and North America will likely cause automakers to switch from solenoid injectors to piezo.

Technology-lowers-emissions-in-diesel-engines-3

Other technology

Meanwhile, there’s still some life left in old-fashioned solenoid injectors. Delphi has developed a fast-acting injector that enables most engines to meet current emission standards.

Delphi’s fast-servo injector can make as many as five injections per piston stroke.

Says Lakin: “We can pass emissions (tests) with our fast-servo solenoid. And because it has been in production since 2000, it is more cost effective than a new injector like the piezo.”

Lakin says it is possible that piezo injectors will enable automakers to reduce or get rid of NOx traps in the exhaust system, something that would cut some of the extra cost from a diesel drivetrain and help pay for the added expense of the piezo injectors.

Advantages

3 advantages of piezo fuel injectors

  1. More injections can be made per piston stroke vs. most mechanical solenoid injectors
  2. Diesel engine runs smoother, quieter
  3. NOx is reduced

Full Text:

WHEN ARNOLD Schwarzenegger stepped down as governor of California in January after nearly eight years in office, he made Hollywood a promise: he’ll be back. Now, the actor-turned-politician is teaming up with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee to create The Governator, a children’s comic book and television series featuring Schwarzenegger’s crime-fighting alter ego. The Governator will battle the evil G.I.R.L.I.E. Men (Gangsters, Imposters. Racketeers. Liars and Irredeemable Ex-cons) with the help of a uniquely talented teenage quartet, including Zeke Muckerberg, a 13-yearold computer genius inspired by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Political pundits first nicknamed Schwarzenegger “the Governator”–a play on his popular Terminator movies–when he ran for office in 2003. Though someumes used negatively by critics, Schwarzenegger told Entertainment Weekly he’s fond of the moniker: “When I ran for governor back in 2003 and I started hearing people talking about ‘the Governator,’ I thought the word was so cool,” he says. “The word ‘Governator’ combined two worlds: the world of politics and the movie world. And [the comic] brings everything together.”

the-governator-lives-on-hes-no-longer-california-governor-but-arnold-schwarzenegger-seems-to-be-everywhere-these-days

Since leaving the governor’s Sacramento mansion, Schwarzenegger has maintained a presence on the international political scene. While en route to Cannes last week. the long-time Republican met with British Prime Minister David Cameron and addressed Conservative MPs before attending former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s star-studded 80th birthday party at Royal Albert Hall.

Schwarzenegger also used his most recent U.K. trip to make amends with London Mayor Boris Johnson. The pair had a falling out in 2007 when Schwarzenegger was heard whispering to his aides about Johnson “fumbling all over the place” as he waited to address a Tory conference via video link. The clip went viral: Johnson dismissed Schwarzenegger as a “‘monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.” Now, Schwarzenegger and Johnson discussed teaming up for a promotional campaign aimed at boosting sports participation leading up to the 2012 Olympics. The two also took a lunchtime bike ride to promote Barclays Cycle Hire, a bicycle sharing scheme informally known as “Boris bikes.”

The environment continues to be a passion for Schwarzenegger, who won praise for his efforts to reduce California’s carbon emissions during his time as governor. Though critics chastised him for lacking a coherent economic plan and failing to address the state’s housing crisis, he pushed through two bills creating the first U.S. cap on greenhouse gas emissions as part of a plan to reduce California’s emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

the-governator-lives-on-hes-no-longer-california-governor-but-arnold-schwarzenegger-seems-to-be-everywhere-these-days-2

With several fresh scripts on his desk, Schwarzenegger told the Financial Times he’s also ready to develop a number of entertainment projects: “At the same time. I will continue doing policy stuff: environmental stuff, trying to move the U.S. to an energy policy for the future,” he said, denying the desire to trade his new-found superhero status for a mundanely mortal desk job. “I’m not interested in a job in Washington … but I’m more than happy to help.”

Full Text:

Byline: Christopher Snow Hopkins and Lara Seligman

LOBBY SHOPS

Shimmy Stein

For Shimmy Stein, 34, “it’s a new year and a new job.C[yen] Last week, the former aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., ushered in Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, by leaping into the private sector. As a principal at Blank Rome Government Relations, Stein will advise the firm’s clients on foreign affairs, financial services, trade, and defense.

Like Cantor, Stein is a Jewish conservative Republican–”a rare combination,C[yen] he says. But although Judaism is “a huge part of who we are, it’s not the only part,C[yen] Stein says. “The majority leader and I share multiple interests across the board.C[yen]

A native of St. Louis, Stein lived in Israel from ages 6 to 10 and speaks fluent Hebrew. His mother and father, a dietician and a conservative rabbi, attended political rallies with their children–perhaps one reason that Stein chose to major in political communications at D.C.’s George Washington University. Shortly after graduating, he was hired as a legislative correspondent for then-Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., whom he followed to the Justice Department when the latter was confirmed as attorney general in 2001. Later that year, Stein joined Cantor’s office, eventually rising to be senior policy adviser.

people-shimmy-stein-melissa-merson-christopher-mccannell-col-joseph-schmitt-1

Stein and his wife, Leah, have three daughters, ages 8, 5, and 3. The family is Sabbath-observant, which requires them to go without certain amenities for 25 hours every week. “From Friday night to Saturday night, the world is essentially cut off,C[yen] Stein says. “No TV, no BlackBerry.C[yen]

Christopher Snow Hopkins

INTEREST GROUPS

Melissa Merson

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect title to the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity.

“I got slammed pretty good in 2001,C[yen] says Melissa Merson, who overcame terrorism, cancer, and anthrax all at the same time.

In September of that year–a few days after 9/11–Merson was diagnosed with breast cancer. On Oct. 17, the Ford House Office Building–where she worked–was shut down after staffers and police officers tested positive for anthrax. Finally, on Oct. 29, Merson underwent bilateral mastectomies.

But Merson has not been handicapped, nor even hampered, by her disease. She is an avid triathlete and participated in the 2006 Ironman competition–a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run.

In September, she was appointed executive director of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, where she will emphasize the role of physical activity in preventive medicine. “The nation [is becoming] increasingly aware of the importance of physical activity in maintaining good health, avoiding preventable diseases, and effectively allocating health care resources,C[yen] NCPPA President Laurie Whitsel said in a statement.

Merson arrives from the Congressional Budget Office, where she was associate director for communications for more than a decade. At CBO, Merson made a habit of commuting to work on foot, about a 12-mile run, roundtrip. She attributes her preternatural stamina to a Spartan lifestyle. “I’m not talented as an athlete, but I’m determined.C[yen]

Earlier, when Merson was a reporter in the Capitol, she swore off the Senate Press Gallery’s junk food. “I used to sit right behind the candy machines. I prided myself on C* never, never going into that machine, even though I was pretty desperate a few times.C[yen]

Merson, 58, is from Long Island, N.Y., where both her parents were in the garment industry. After studying journalism at the University of Maryland, she joined the Bureau of National Affairs, where she wrangled with machinery that seems quaint in today’s world of tablets and smartphones.

“I can remember when we first put computers in the press galleries. We used RadioShack TRS-80s–the first really portable laptops. You had to put the telephone receiver into these cups, called ‘acoustic couplers.’ C[yen]

“The screen only showed you three lines! Once you were four of five [paragraphs] into your story, you couldn’t remember what you had said before. It wasn’t so bad for me, because I had experience dictating as a wire- service reporter. But late at night, reporters used to forget their [lead paragraphs].C[yen]

Next, it was on to CBO, where Merson dealt with constituents emboldened by the advent of the World Wide Web. “These days, the country feels that their government is much more theirs now,C[yen] she says. “They can see videos of everyone–not just the famous people or the leadership–but their own [members].C[yen]

In 2001, Merson nominated her father, Leo Merson, to be part of the torch run leading up to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The elder Merson, a basketball player, had boycotted the 1936 Olympic Games–something his daughter did not realize until she saw an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Leo Merson died before he could participate in the relay, but Melissa Merson and her mother carried the torch in his place. On Christmas Eve 2001, they found themselves on a bus with other torchbearers in Queens, N.Y. Merson had just undergone her first chemotherapy session, and she had no hair.

people-shimmy-stein-melissa-merson-christopher-mccannell-col-joseph-schmitt-2

One of the other torchbearers, a 9/11 survivor, said to Merson that he had saved more than a dozen people that day. At the time, Merson felt that the others in the relay were more deserving of the honor, but in retrospect, she says that her father was “a hero in his own way.C[yen]

She is periodically asked, “What’s the toughest endurance event you’ve done?C[yen] The answer is not the Ironman, nor a 50-mile Volkswalk she did in 1997.

“I always say, ‘Chemotherapy is the toughest endurance event.’ C[yen]

C.S.H.

CONSULTING GAME

Christopher McCannell

Christopher McCannell, newly appointed vice president of APCO Worldwide’s D.C. office, has always felt a calling to work in Washington. He says he inherited his love of politics from his grandparents as a child growing up in Portland, Maine; as soon as he graduated from college, he headed to D.C.

McCannell arrived in 1991 to work for the Democratic Policy Committee under then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine. McCannell has also served as press assistant to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; chief of staff and floor assistant to Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.; and press secretary to Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. Off Capitol Hill, he was a director at Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a bipartisan government-relations firm, where his clients included Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In 2008, McCannell became chief of staff to Rep. Michael McMahon, D-N.Y. He says it was particularly meaningful to him serve as McMahon’s head political, communications, and legislative adviser because of his New York ties–he attended Fordham University in New York City and built his professional career in the New York delegation.

But McCannell and the rest of McMahon’s team got a shock during the GOP takeover that marked the 2010 elections. “We never thought 2010 would be as bad as it was,C[yen] he says.

After McMahon lost his seat, McCannell decided a slight change of career was in order. He took a job as vice president of government affairs at Ameriprise Financial, where he handled legislative priorities related to the House Financial Services and Senate Banking committees. He also managed the implementation of the Dodd-Frank regulations with the group’s clients.

He decided to make the move to APCO, an independent communications consultancy with 29 locations across the globe, last month to broaden his horizons.

McCannell, 42, says he is looking forward to working with a diverse group of clients on a variety of issues in a bipartisan setting. Ameriprise Financial works with primarily American clients; at APCO, he will get the opportunity to work with foreign companies.

“We arrange ourselves around the table to help the clients, to provide them with the benefit and counsel that they need to advocate the results,C[yen] McCannell says. “That might mean working with Republicans C* or Democrats.C[yen]

Lara Seligman

LOBBY SHOPS

Col. Joseph Schmitt

Col. Joseph Schmitt, nicknamed the “Energizer Bunny,C[yen] runs four to six miles every morning. Stationed at Kandahar Air Base last year, he worked 80 to 90 hours a week. And earlier in his career, he earned three master’s degrees–in construction engineering management, systems management, and national-resources strategy.

Nevertheless, Schmitt downplays his manic lifestyle, volunteering that he is an avid golfer. “My wife calls it my ‘one vice,’ C[yen] he says.

This month, Schmitt joined Dawson & Associates–a favorite destination for retired brass–as a senior adviser. He will be based in Naples, Fla.

Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Schmitt was drafted into the Army just as the Vietnam War was drawing to a close. After two years as an enlisted man–much of it spent near Fort Devens in Massachusetts–he was promoted to sergeant.

After graduating from Officer Candidates School, Schmitt was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. He picked up an associate degree from Columbia College in central Missouri and then became a full-time student–”courtesy of the ArmyC[yen]–at the University of Missouri (Rolla).

In the ensuing years, Schmitt rose to the rank of colonel and collected three graduate degrees–from Oregon State University, the University of Southern California, and the National Defense University in Washington. His last assignment in uniform was as commander of the Corps’ Savannah District, where he oversaw construction operations at hydropower plants, deepwater ports, and regional waterways.

As a civilian, he was a county administrator in Florida–his adopted home state–for nine years and then was recruited by defense contractor DynCorp. The 62-year-old retired colonel was most recently chief of staff and project manager at the Defense Department’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program.

C.S.H.

Full Text:

Two blocks up from the St. Lawrence River, just outside the spring flood zone, in the Montreal suburb of Chateauguay is a non-descript 1960s–style bungalow. It was probably the last place police expected to find the headquarters of northern Quebec’s biggest drug-trafficking ring–or its more unlikely kingpin, a retired rcmp officer.

As an undercover narcotics officer in the RCMP’s Montreal detachment, Michel Leblanc acquired intimate and extensive knowledge of Quebec’s underworld, which came in handy when he began discreetly building a business smuggling cocaine and hashish into the Inuit communities of northern Quebec and Nunavut. Leblanc, 51, was clearing an estimated $1.5 million annually by the time he and a half-dozen of his cronies were arrested last May. That was on top of the cut he gave his sponsors, the Hells Angels. The former narc, with more than 15 years of experience as a Mountie, quickly pled guilty to four counts of trafficking and possession of coke and hash. He got six years in jail.

In Quebec, a dangerous new breed of criminal is emerging: cops-turned-gangsters–more than you can shake a nightstick at. When Michel Leblanc was arrested last year, it was just the latest of 49 different charges against Quebec ex-cops in the last decade. And this past April, Montreal police were rocked by another scandal: a 23-year veteran Montreal Urban Community (MUC) police officer and his former partner were arrested and accused of passing confidential police information to biker gangs and other organized crime groups.

It’s not just individual cops gone bad either; the province’s police forces and government institutions are being infiltrated by agents of the bikers. In recent months, suspected moles have been fired or suspended from the Surete du Quebec (SQ), the provincial revenue department and the automobile insurance board for leaking confidential information to biker gangs. In February of last year, the newspaper La Presse quoted anonymous RCMP sources saying that Quebec’s anti-biker police units and the SQ had been penetrated by biker informers. According to La Presse, a biker mole was responsible for the murder of an RCMP agent who had, in turn, infiltrated the Hells Angels. Then, last fall, Montreal police announced that a group of about 10 workers at the Port of Montreal were in cahoots with the bikers and the powerful West End Gang. “They are able to get the drugs out faster than the legitimate goods,” complained one officer.

Even a review of newspaper reports shows the number of ex-cop criminals has steadily climbed through the past decade–from 20 busts of ex-cops between 1991 and 1995, to 29 between 1996 and 2000. Of these cases, II had ties to organized crime–five were connected to the Hells Angels, one to the Rock Machine and the others to Montreal’s West End Gang, Colombian cocaine cartels and the Sicilian Mafia.

These numbers might not represent a crime epidemic, but to cops in the rest of Canada the phenomenon is nothing short of astounding. Phil Moriarty, a former Vancouver police officer who headed an intelligence unit specializing in organized crime, thinks it’s shocking that so many Quebec ex-cops have been jailed. In his 15 years as a policeman, Moriarty said he hadn’t heard of a single former cop in British Columbia collaborating with biker gangs.

“In general, the landscape in Quebec is sort of a world unto its own,” said Moriarty, who is now a private investigator. “Quebec bikers have always been somewhat rogue, even by biker standards. They are obviously still infiltrating the policing community.”

ORGANiZED CRiME iS UNDOUBTEDLY A SERiOUS PROBLEM in Quebec. A key outpost on the fabled French Connection heroin pipeline, Quebec straddles one of the continent’s great drug gateways and is home to one of North America’s busiest and most corrupt ports, Montreal.

The body count in the biker war long ago ceased to amaze most Quebecers. Yet, the pace of killing is astonishing compared to even the cruelest U.S. mob bloodbaths. The infamous Gallo Brothers war, which shook New York in 1963, claimed just 15 lives. Some 30 gangsters were killed in New York’s so-called Banana Wars, in which Mafia boss Joe Bonano battled the rest of the mob from 1964 to 1969.

By comparison, Quebec’s biker war has seen 159 murders, 175 attempted murders and 15 disappearances, according to police figures. Last year alone, there were 28 murders and five disappearances. Few have been solved by police. And the violence only promises to get worse as the Hells Angels and their rivals, the former Rock Machine gang (now prospects of the Bandidos motorcycle club), consolidate a series of new chapters in Ontario.

This spring, federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan introduced Bill c-24-, tough new anti-gang legislation that, among other things, would grant police crooked-blue-line-in-the-last-10-years-the-battle-over-quebecs-drug-trade-has-claimed-more-than-150-lives-the-new-anti-gang-legislation-on-the-table-could-actually-make-quebecs-biker-problem-w-1officers and their informants the power to commit crimes in the course of their investigations.

Just days before the minister unveiled the new legislation, police arrested more than 100 full-patch members of the Hells Angels and other motorcycle gangs, including Maurice “Mom” Boucher and 12 of his close associates, in the largest raid the province has seen since the war began. It made for dramatic TV news, but it’s still unclear whether the evidence will stand up in court.

Since the mass arrest, many commentators have claimed that the existing legislation isn’t strong enough, citing previous cases in which the biker leadership has managed to escape prosecution. Proponents of the legislation, including Toronto police chief Julian Fantino and Quebec Public Security Minister Serge Menard, hope that the stronger laws, stiffer sentences and expanded police power the act promises will allow cops to stop the biker war once and for all. But civil libertarians, crime experts, and even some police say the new anti-gang measures are dangerous and do little to stop the bikers. In fact, C-24–especially its provisions for expanding police powers–may actually exacerbate the problem because the new legislation opens up more avenues for corruption.

REViEWiNG THE MiCHEL LEBLANC CASE, THE OBViOUS QUESTiON iS: how does an ex-cop gain the confidence of the bikers in the first place? “You don’t leave policing and suddenly join the Hells Angels,” said Moriarty. “You undergo a background check with the Hells Angels that’s more stringent than police do. They would never trust you. They’d have to know you were trustworthy and you would have to show you were trustworthy along the way. You would have to be bad while you were still doing your job.”

Police refused to release details about Leblanc’s ROMP personnel file, but one SQ officer who knows Leblanc well said he resigned from the force in 1987 under a cloud. “They showed him the door. He was a shady character. He knows a lot of shady people in Abitibi,” said the officer, who requested anonymity. Several attempts were made to contact Leblanc for comment, but his lawyer did not return calls.

Leblanc’s former colleagues in the ROMP were troubled by his biker ties. “It sure doesn’t help us in our investigations,” said RCMP Sgt. Yves Durepos, who first met Leblanc in 1978. “If there is an ex-cop on the other side, they are going to use him for all the expertise he has. He knows about surveillance, the way we work, what we are looking for,” said Cpl. Steve Avoine, of the RCMP’s detachment in Saint-Jerome.

“He was very, very careful in his way of doing business,” said Cpl. Alain Debonville, the Surete du Quebec officer who led the investigation. Few of Leblanc’s dealers up north ever met him in person. Many didn’t even know his name, or simply knew him as “Mike.” Police arrested 50 lower-level members of Leblanc’s gang in 1998 and 1999, but a growing supply of hash and coke kept flowing north. None of those arrested was willing or able to tell police who was in charge of the gang.

Leblanc’s luck finally ran out in early 2000. During a routine drug bust, police found a package with a Chateauguay address written on it and traced it to Leblanc. Investigators soon realized that it wasn’t the first time the ex-Mountie had been picked up. In 1994, RCMP officers arrested Leblanc in Saint-Jovite, Quebec. He had half a pound of cocaine hidden between the seats of a YJ Jeep. Cpl. Avoine said they suspected Leblanc had biker links even then. Leblanc pled guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and got a 23-month sentence.

“We were feeling pretty weird because we knew he went to the same school as us,” said Cpl. Avoine. “He seemed like he didn’t care–no emotion at all.”

By May of last year, when Leblanc was nabbed, police said his monthly revenues had soared to $330,000. This was mostly due to his Inuit clients; drug prices are four times higher in northern Quebec and Nunavut than they are in Montreal.

ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE WHO HAS STUDiED THE EVOLUTiON OF POLiCE corruption in Quebec is Frederic Lemieux, a doctoral student in criminology at the Universite de Montreal. Lemieux reviewed all the major cases of police corruption in Quebec over the past 25 years in his 159-page masters thesis and concluded that police corruption is getting worse. He makes a distinction between two types of corrupt police officers: “herbivores,” the kind who takes the odd $50 bribe or free restaurant meal, and “carnivores,” who look for bigger payoffs, take bigger risks and commit more serious crimes.

“Do you think a police officer who earns $50,000 would risk his career for a $50 bribe?” asked Lemieux. “They’re not as tempted by small crimes. More and more, the petty corruption has stopped or slowed. We’re increasingly seeing a ferocious corruption.”

It’s worth noting how similar Quebec’s situation is to a growing trend in police corruption south of the border. Joseph McNamara is a leading critic of the U.S. war on drugs. The former chief of police of San Jose, California and Kansas City, Missouri, blames the drug war for a wild new style of police corruption and a slew of corruption scandals. McNamara says most American cops privately believe that the drug war is futile and, for that reason, feel little remorse when they break the law.

“The sheer hopelessness of the task has led many officers to rationalize their own corruption,” he told the Washington, D.C.-based National Drug Strategy Network in a 1998 article. “They say, `Why should the enemy get to keep all the profits?’”

McNamara sounded the alarm six years ago at a drug policy conference in Santa Monica, California. “There’s something very, very wrong going on in American policing,” he said. “We have experienced a wave of police scandals over the past five to 10 years that are quite different than anything we’ve seen historically.”

In 1998, a report in the Los Angeles Times revealed that the number of known U.S. law-enforcement officers in prison increased fivefold in four years, from 107 in 1994 to 548 in 1998. The increase was largely due to drug-related corruption. In recent years, massive corruption scandals linked to the drug war have shaken police departments in Los Angeles, New York City, New Orleans and other U.S. cities. It makes you wonder what might be brewing in Quebec.

THE LATEST CALLS FOR TOUGHER ANTi-GANG LEGiSLATiON CAME iN the wake of the attempted murder of Journal de Montreal crime reporter Michel Auger last September. Although police quickly blamed the Hells Angels, eight months later, the shooter has not been captured.

Auger has become the new poster boy for expanded police powers. In January, he shared a panel at a journalists’ forum in Montreal with Toronto police chief Julian Fantino, head of a national anti-biker task force. Fantino publicly challenged the Liberal government to fight the bikers harden “Organized crime was part of the federal government’s Red Book Three. We’ll have to see if that translates into meaningful outcomes,” he said.

Fantino called for biker gangs to be outlawed, harsher sentences and–why not?–tougher immigration rules (although it’s hard to see the relevance of the last one to bikers). “I suppose when all is said and done,” he said, “our society will get the quantity and quality of law enforcement it is willing to support.”

Not to be outdone, Quebec Justice Minister Serge Menard has called on Ottawa to invoke the “notwithstanding” clause in the Constitution to suspend bikers’ Charter rights and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Just a week after Fantino’s challenge, federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan announced she would introduce new antigang legislation in Parliament in coming months. The new bill, which was in first reading at press time, would grant vast new powers to cops and their informants, permitting them to commit crimes in the course of investigations. Murder and sexual assault would be prohibited, but offences like buying and selling drugs, using or selling counterfeit documents, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, physical assault (as long as it doesn’t cause bodily harm) and the destruction of property would be permitted as long as they were “reasonable and proportional” under the circumstances, and undertaken for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

Immunity from prosecution is a controversial item on the police wish list that predates Michel Auger’s shooting. Cops have clamoured for the immunity ever since a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that denied officers the authority–with rare exceptions–to break laws in the course of investigations.

The court ruling was related to the case of a group of alleged Ontario drug kingpins caught in an RCMP “reverse sting.” Undercover officers posing as drug suppliers offered to sell nearly $1 million in hash to the suspects. After the deal was made, the buyers were charged with trafficking. The defence argued that the evidence should be thrown out because the police themselves had been trafficking in illegal drugs.

The Supreme Court agreed. In response, the Liberal government quickly passed a law authorizing reverse stings. But that didn’t satisfy the police lobby. Now, the government is proposing to go much further and authorize criminal acts–not just by officers, but also their agents.

While the original case was about drug trafficking, the sweeping new immunity protection will cover many other crimes The unprecedented expansion of police powers in the proposed legislation has stunned many crime experts.

“My problem with this is they are legitimizing police behaviour that goes beyond the original problem, namely sting operations,” said Jean-Paul Brodeur, a criminologist at the Universite de Montreal. “Where are the controls going to be? No other country has anything like this.”

“Corruption always starts with little things. Once the moral fibre starts breaking down, it is harder to resist,” said Yves Manseau, coordinator of the Quebec police watchdog group Mouvement Action Justice. He said the proposed legislation could actually make things worse. “It’s exactly the opposite of what we should do. We have to improve the values of police officers … The last thing we should do is encourage them to commit crimes.”

Police and prosecutors have long complained that the existing law is unwieldy and costly to apply. Don Stuart is a law professor at Queen’s University and one of Canada’s foremost authorities in criminal law. He is the long-time editor of Criminal Reports–a leading publisher of law reports of criminal cases. Stuart noted that Canada’s current organized crime legislation has “turned out to be counterproductive and too wide. It ropes in mostly lesser players. It’s a waste of money and has resulted in punitive treatment of the accused. In the end, there have been mostly acquittals.”

crooked-blue-line-in-the-last-10-years-the-battle-over-quebecs-drug-trade-has-claimed-more-than-150-lives-the-new-anti-gang-legislation-on-the-table-could-actually-make-quebecs-biker-problem-w-2

“What’s needed isn’t new laws–it’s evidence,” said Stuart. He said the Criminal Code already prohibits criminal conspiracy, while the anti-gang legislation loosens up the standard of proof. “It’s guilt by association. It runs counter to all our legal traditions in this country. Now, with the new legislation, there is going to be an even wider [definition of gangs]. It’s not going to solve the problem of biker violence.”

Stuart added that Canada could cut down its legal bills if the burden of proof was shifted onto the accused. “The presumption of guilt would also be cheaper,” he said. “[But] these are essential notions here. Other countries get by without this legislation.”

Critics also point out that the anti-gang legislation could be equally applied to Mohawk warriors or, say, anti-globalization protesters. “When we give police more power, they can use it against gangsters, but also political groups,” said Jean-Claude Bernheim, a criminologist, and the president of Quebec’s Prisoners’ Rights Committee. “The police also play a role of gathering intelligence for the state.”

Another point of concern is that the new federal legislation increases police asset forfeiture powers. Right now, in Canada, assets can be frozen in advance of a trial and seized if the person is found guilty. The U.S., however, has a different system. American cops don’t even have to charge, let alone prove, that a specific crime was committed. Once probable cause to freeze property is established, the burden of proof is shifted onto the owner, who must prove that the goods were acquired legitimately.

Canada is slowly adopting the U.S. model. Last year, the feds adopted Bill C-22, the first step towards American-style civil forfeiture. This new money-laundering legislation allows Customs officials to seize assets from travelers crossing the border if they suspect the property has criminal origins. The onus is then on the traveler to prove it was legally acquired. The new bill, c-24, also emphasizes tougher asset forfeiture rules.

The American experience has proved that these measures can be extremely dangerous. In the U.S., asset forfeiture is one of the leading factors in growing police corruption, in part because in the U.S. informers and individual police officers often get a percentage of assets seized.

There have been a slew of scandals in which police targeted suspects simply because they were eyeing their property. In 1992, for example, 30 cops raided the Trails End ranch of Donald Scott, 61, in Malibu, California. Acting on an informer’s tip that Scott was growing marijuana, they busted down his door and shot him dead in front of his wife. No drugs were found on the premises, and an inquiry later revealed that police used an invalid search warrant to raid the $5-million (USD) ranch in an attempt to seize it under U.S. drug-asset forfeiture laws.

According to York University criminologist Margaret Beare, a former director of police policy and research at the Solicitor General’s office: “There is a wealth of literature that documents the abuses and the U.S. is now trying to step back from [asset forfeiture].”

EVER SiNCE THE EARLY 1020S, QUEBEC HAS BEEN FAMOUS FOR iTS nightlife. While the rest of North America thirsted for booze, Montreal’s bars, gambling dens, strip bars and brothels partied late into the night, their doors guarded by moonlighting off-duty cops. But the nightlife has come with a price: heavy-duty organized crime and corruption.

Although a succession of provincial inquiries in Quebec have condemned the province’s police forces as inept and out of control, politicians have been reluctant to implement reforms that actually get at the heart of the problem.

“The experience of the U.S. shows clearly that prohibition doesn’t prevent trafficking. You can eliminate a trafficker or 10 traffickers or 100 traffickers. There will always be more of them. They build that into the cost of production. It’s a business like any other where there are risks,” said Berheim.

“If we really want to make sure crime groups have less impact, we have to decriminalize drugs. As long as drugs remain very profitable, anti-gang laws won’t have any impact.”

Back in the 1920s, Fiorello La Guardia–then a member of U.S. congress–famously remarked that it would “take a police force of 250,000 to enforce the Prohibition Act, and another 200,000 to police the police.” And the situation is remarkably similar today.

Prohibition actually led to more alcohol abuse, more corruption–the U.S. Bureau of Prohibition was so corrupt it was widely called a training academy for bootleggers–and a well-organized and wealthy Mafia. The drug war has been similarly beneficial for the Hells Angels. They’re no longer the scummy outlaws that Hunter S. Thompson hung out with in the sixties. They’re serious business types in suits, with huge sums of cash at their disposal. Expanded police powers and harsher crackdowns will likely fail as miserably as they did back during Prohibition. Far from discouraging the Hells Angels and their rivals, the anti-gang laws on the table could actually enable them to infiltrate the police forces further–and encourage more cops to start working for the other side.

Bad boys, bad boys

Name: GAETAN RiVEST

Service record: Officer in the Surete du Quebec from 1977 to 1991, including time on the drug squad. Rivest resigned two weeks before a police disciplinary board was to rule on a complaint of assault filed against him.

Criminal charges: Two counts extortion (pled guilty, 2001); one count extortion (charges withdrawn, 2001); two counts uttering threats (withdrawn, 2001); assault (withdrawn, 2001); fraud (pled guilty, 2001); loansharking (pled guilty, 2001); obstruction of justice (charged, 2001, still pending); two counts uttering threats (charges dropped, 1996); criminal conspiracy (charges dropped, 1996)

GAETAN RIVEST IS ONE OF QUEBEC’S MOST NOTORIOUS EX-COPS. He left the SQ in chaos in May, 1996 when he publicly announced that he and his former police colleagues had routinely tortured confessions out of suspects, manufactured evidence and committed perjury. Rivest’s allegations sparked an outcry and played a big role in convincing Quebec’s Public Security, Minister Serge Menard to hold an inquiry into the so-called Matticks Affair. (In June 1995, a judge dismissed drug-trafficking charges against two of Montreal’s most powerful gangsters, brothers Richard and Gerard Matticks. But it was the SQ that ended up on trial when it came out that the cops had planted some of the evidence.)

Rivest has publicly admitted he trafficked contraband cigarettes and committed numerous other crimes while he was an officer. During the Matticks Affair inquiry, Rivest testified that he had used violence and intimidation in the majority of his investigations as a cop, including at least half of the 50 or more cases he handled in his six years as a criminal investigator. Rivest also admitted that he had lived off his police pension and cigarette trafficking for two years after leaving the SQ. And last March, he pled guilty to charges of extortion and uttering death threats in two separate loan-sharking cases and was sentenced to 10 months in jail. (In one of the cases, Rivest allegedly loaned a man $2,500 at an interest rate of over 400% per year, then threatened to kill him for the money.)

Rivest may have been right about the problems in the SQ, but there is little doubt he had ulterior motives. Rivest has been tied to some of Montreal’s most notorious crime figures, including two influential biker-linked loansharks, Andre “Dede” Desjardins and Robert “Bob” Savard (both of whom were murdered last summer). Savard, a close friend of Hells Angels boss Maurice “Mom” Boucher, was Rivest’s partner in a short-lived tabloid newspaper called Le Juste Milieu in 1998. At the height of a police crackdown on the warring bikers, their tabloid made wild allegations of wrongdoing by the police and Crown prosecutors. Rivest has also admitted to investing in a bar with an organized crime figure.

Serge Menard has suggested Rivest’s allegations were part of a well-orchestrated campaign to disrupt the police. At the commission studying the Matticks Affair, Menard revealed that he met privately with Rivest to discuss his allegations. Three days after the meeting, the SQ intercepted a conversation between Mom Boucher and a Hells associate. From the conversation, Menard testified, it was plain that Boucher was already aware of what was discussed between the minister and Rivest.

“That shed new light on this meeting,” Menard said. “Based on the conversation [with Boucher], which lasted some time, one could see a strategy of organized crime to destabilize the forces of justice, a media strategy.”

Name: GUY LEPAGE

Service record: Officer with the Montreal Urban Community police force from 1966 to 1974.

Criminal charges: four counts possession of stolen property over $5,000 (charged, 2000, still pending); assault with a weapon (withdrawn, 1999); kidnapping (withdrawn, 1999); extortion (withdrawn, 1999); robbery (withdrawn, 1999); criminal conspiracy (withdrawn, 1999); uttering threats (withdrawn, 1999); laundering drug profits (pled guilty, 1995); drug trafficking (withdrawn, 1995)

POLICE DESCRIBE GUY LEPAGE AS A TRUSTED COMPANION, CHAUFFEUR and bodyguard of Mom Boucher, and one of the main behind-the-scenes powers in the biker world. He’s also a former MUC police officer. Police officials wouldn’t release Lepage’s disciplinary record, but a veteran Montreal crime reporter who requested anonymity said Lepage had a reputation as a “rock-and-roll cop. He wasn’t happy in that job.”

Since leaving the force, Lepage has lead a colourful life. He was the founding president of the Boucher-god-fathered Rockers biker gang. He has also owned or leased two biker clubhouses, including a fortress for the Hells-affiliated Jokers biker club in a chateau northeast of Montreal. In February, 1994, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) allowed Lepage to take over a $105,000 mortgage on a warehouse in Montreal’s middle-class Rosemont neighbourhood. The property was converted into a clubhouse for les Hells–complete with bullet-proof glass, double steel doors and a battery of security cameras.

One month later, Lepage was arrested as part of a Canada-wide, cocaine-trafficking network. Lepage pled guilty to laundering drug profits, which got him two years less a day and a $200,000 fine. A second charge of trafficking was dropped.

The coke ring had been under RCMP investigation for some time when the BDC agreed to transfer the federal loan to him. But even when Lepage was arrested, the BDC took no steps to cancel it, despite the fact that the armoured bunker was obviously not the vending-machine distribution and repair business Lepage’s official declaration claimed it was. One year after the loan transfer, a large bomb exploded on the bunker’s doorstep, blowing out windows in nearby homes.

Lepage, meanwhile, had adjusted splendidly to life behind bars. Originally imprisoned in B.C., he became the first person in Quebec penal history to pay out of his own pocket for a transfer to a Quebec prison. When he decided he didn’t like the overcrowded Bordeaux provincial jail in Montreal, he managed to arrange yet another transfer–within 15 days–this time to the Club Med of Quebec prisons, the Waterloo Rehabilitation Centre. Lepage was soon elected president of the prisoners’ committee and it wasn’t long before he was out on day passes.

When, in 1995, Quebec announced it was planning to close Waterloo to save money, Lepage began working with the prison warden to privatize the facility and start a recycling business that would employ detainees. Even after his release, Lepage continued to promote the scheme. “Waterloo is the only prison where they do this type of rehabilitation. I profitted from it myself,” he said, adding that he had changed his biker ways and was now selling children’s clothing.

Before long, however, Lepage was again arousing police suspicions. In 1999, the Montreal weekly Hour reported that he had been meeting regularly with Mom Boucher and a group of cohorts at a cafe in an east end Montreal mall that also houses the headquarters of the MUC organized crime squad.

A few months later, the biker-turned-salesman had another brush with the law. Lepage and fellow coffee-klatcher Bob Savard were charged with assault, uttering death threats, extortion and kidnapping. Police said the alleged victim owed Lepage and Savard tens of thousands of dollars and had neglected his payments. The man claimed Lepage and Savard beat him when he refused to stage an armed robbery to pay off his debt. But again, Lepage’s good fortune held up. The Crown suddenly withdrew all charges. No explanation has been made public.

Click here: John Mica, Road Warrior

Full Text:

Byline: Ben Terris

ORLANDO, Fla.–In a broad sense, the battle for a newly drawn congressional district in central Florida comes down to who has more sway with voters: mayors or presidents of motorcycle gangs.

Reps. John Mica and Sandy Adams are less than 100 days from facing off in a GOP primary in the new 7th Congressional District, and they are going about garnering support in very different ways, with Mica taking the traditional top-down path and Adams trying to leverage the grassroots, angry-voter dynamic that propelled her into office two years ago.

The diverging strategies say much about the first primary of 2012 that pits a longtime lawmaker against a first-term member backed by the tea party. And it reflects the intra-party tension that has bedeviled House Republicans for two years. The outcome could say much about which archetype–the outsider obstructionist or the veteran creature of Washington–will hold the power in Congress. In other words, it may help answer the question of whether the electoral conflagration of 2010 was a fluke.

john-mica-road-warrior-1

If establishment support still matters, Mica has the race cold. “John has done so much for the community, it would be hard for me to say anything bad about John,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told National Journal while mingling at a $175-a-person event for the Historical Society of Central Florida. “But I’m not sure having the Democratic mayor of Orlando endorse you in a Republican primary is necessarily what he would want, so I’ll let him decide on that.”

The next day at a prayer breakfast in Apopka, a city that has been drawn into the new district, John Land, the longest-serving mayor in Florida’s history, said, “John Mica’s done more for central Florida than anyone I know.”

But Adams, whom The New York Times dubbed “the toughest freshman,” isn’t worried about Mica’s big-name endorsements–especially when they come from politicians who have been in office for more than 50 years, as Land has.

Instead, Adams has in her corner guys such as Rudy (Stogie) Zuclich–president of a Seminole County motorcycle club–who came to a town-hall event during a congressional recess wearing a leather vest covered in patches and carrying a couple of cigars in his front pocket. He has been backing Adams ever since she supported the bikers’ rides for charity. She has even spoken at motorcycle-club functions.

“I don’t really pay attention to John Mica; Sandy is doing her job, and we’re unifying around her to get her support,” he said. Zuclich, who has something of a tea party bent himself, said he rarely thinks highly of politicians but Adams is an exception. “We’re going to do whatever it takes,” he vowed.

From a traditional standpoint, Mica holds plenty of advantages, and not just because he has more than $1.2 million cash-on-hand or because he’s the chairman of the influential Transportation Committee. That post has allowed Mica to tout district projects he has helped get built, such as the bridge over the St. John’s River and the forthcoming 61-mile commuter rail line that will run directly through Orlando. Adams has branded him a spender and an “earmarker,” labels that Mica embraces.

“This is a growing area, and they’ve had infrastructure needs; and to have someone to fight for them and see something tangible come back, I don’t think you’d find anyone opposed to that,” Mica said, while driving through his hometown of Winter Park. “I’d almost give anyone an award if they could name anything [Adams has] done in the community.”

His record shows, Mica says, the value of seniority–and power–within Congress. “We need people to stick around,” he said. “It’s really the best way to get things done for the sake of central Florida.” Seniority hurt many incumbents at the polls in 2010, though, and Adams is banking on that tea party backlash continuing. For her, the race is less about the hyper-locality of a district and much more about a big-picture narrative–one about reining in spending for the good of the nation.

john-mica-road-warrior-2

“People recognize that somebody is paying for it,” Adams said about the projects that Mica has brought to central Florida. “And that means the taxpayers are paying for it. It wasn’t that he got it for them; they paid for it. The question then becomes: At what expense do they pay for it?”

As far as Adams is concerned, Mica is making the argument for her: Let him point to as many projects as he wants, because they are emblematic of a national problem. Adams even wrote a fundraising letter last month in which she called Mica “the personification of all that went wrong with our Republican majority.” She stood by that sentiment last week.

In reality, both members of Congress rank as conservatives. According to NJ’s annual vote ratings, Mica is the 57th most conservative member and Adams is the 31st. But Adams has had some help in trying to make the chairman look like the tea party’s worst enemy. A recent report from the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington stated that Mica has more family members registered as lobbyists than any other lawmaker. Then there’s the transportation bill, one of the last remaining big-ticket, project-laden pieces of legislation around, which will inevitably cost more than some antispending zealots want.

So when Mica’s campaign staffers point out that the chairman held an event last month that raised $120,000 in one evening (nearly as much as the $122,000 that Adams raised in the whole first quarter), she shrugs it off.

“I’ve always been out-raised,” Adams said. “But it doesn’t matter how much money you raise if your message is out of touch.”

Ben Terris

Click here: Leather life