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Motorcycle Riders Seek Justice over Boston “Noise” Ordinance
News Release - for Immediate Release (June 30, 2009) -
 
For more info, contact
Paul W. Cote, ClaimsCote@aol.com - 978-535-8222 (Days)
Subject:  Motorcyclist advocates to make noise - and sue City of Boston

(Boston)  A group of motorcycle advocates and activists are putting the final touches on a lawsuit they expect to file this week in Suffolk Superior Court, asking the Court to restrain the City of Boston from issuing $300 tickets to motorcyclists and declare a recently rushed through "noise" Ordinance invalid.

Paul W. Cote of Amesbury, Bill Gannon of Quincy, Vince Silvia of Haverhill, Mike Longtin of N. Easton, and Larry Cahill of Medford, have joined together to rally riders and fight the City of Boston's Docket No. 0658 Ordinance, passed by the Boston City Council on June 3, and signed by the Mayor June 9th, which reads, 

(a)1) No person shall park, use or operate a motorcycle, within the City of Boston, manufactured subsequent to December 31, 1982, that does not bear the required applicable Federal EPA exhaust label pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations Title 40, Volume 24, Part 205, Subparts D and Subpart E. 

2) All violations of subsection (a)(1) shall be punishable by a fine of three hundred dollars and no cents ($300.00).

3)  Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, or his or her designee, shall have the authority to enforce subsection (a) of this section.  

Section 2, - The provisions of this section shall be effective immediately upon passage.
(see http://www.cityofboston.gov/cityclerk/hearing/search.asp?id=21975 - click for more info)

Cote said the Ordinance was filed by Councillor LaMattina on May 6 and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.  A public hearing was held May 26 and the Committee released the Ordinance on June 1 with an "ought to pass" recommendation.  The full Council took up the matter June 3 and put it on the Mayor's desk which he signed June 9th. 

"There was an obviously rush to keep this under the radar screen, - it is so flawed, abusive, and puts the safety of law enforcement in jeopardy, having to crawl under motorcycles looking for some stamp," claims Cote.
 
"The City of Boston, via their traffic enforcement division, has perfected procedures that rape the wallets of it’s citizens and tourists alike, as well as hard-working commuters employed in the city." said Bill Gannon.  "They're attempting to solve their financial crisis on the backs of law-abiding motorcyclists with $300 fines on legally inspected motorcycles, in conflict with a sufficient state statute."

Mike Longtin said, "an easy review of the referenced EPA standard shows its a 'manufacturer's standard,' not a consumer standard, that contains an "acoustic assurance period" that the exhaust standard meets the decibel requirements, that is only required for 1 year or 3,730 miles."  So people are supposed to get rid of their motorcycles after a year or 3,730 miles? Someone didn't think this through."

"Its nothing by Government sanctioned theft," said Silvia.  "I expect Boston Police to stand on their feet combating crime in the City, not get down on their knees or on their backs, looking for EPA labels on exhaust systems, this is crazy."

Several years ago Cahill, owner of the BostonBiker.com web site, encouraged riders to 'boycott' Newburyport businesses when its police issued over 300 noise citations to riders - who were later found to be in compliance, due to their flawed interpretation of state testing requirements and procedures. 

"A lot of law abiding citizens spend money and lost time from work just to prove themselves right and law enforcement wrong.  This Boston Ordinance is wrong.  The City should use the existing state laws and procedures, and the boycott worked." 

"If this Ordinance doesn't get declared invalid, I'll be recommending riders save the dollars they'd be spending in Boston's restaurants and other businesses to fight these tickets in a Court of law like we did in Newburyport."   

Cote said an e-mail to the President of Boston's Chamber of Commerce sent ten days ago has gone unanswered.  "I told him this Ordinance has the potential of affecting its business members, but he hasn't replied yet."

Gannon said the suit will challenge the City's authority to sidestep the state laws, which carries a $35 or $50 fine, not $300.  "People shouldn't have to know what ordinance this city or town has or doesn't have - they should be free to ride the Commonwealth's roads knowing their bike is legal in every town or city after it has been inspected."
 
Collectively, the group of motorcycle activists and advocates don't support offensively loud motor vehicles but claim at least over 95% of the more than 180,000 motorcycles inspected this year complies with existing state requirements. 
 
In a similar proposed Ordinance in New York City last year, local riders visited 6 or 7 shops and dealerships, looking for the EPA label on the exhaust, finding on 65% of the new motorcycles inspected the EPA label was not clearly visible or required dismantling equipment to find it.  

Riders interested in helping fight this Ordinance are encourage to contact Cote at ClaimsCote@aol.com.

Motorcycle Riders Seek Justice over Boston “Noise” Ordinance

 

 (July 10, 2009 -- Boston, MA) – Yesterday Suffolk Superior Court Judge Geraldine S. Hines, heard arguments today for a Motion seeking to temporarily restrain Boston’s Law and Traffic Enforcement Agencies from enforcing City of Boston Ordinance Docket Number 0658, which calls for $300 fines on (only) motorcycle exhaust equipment not displaying a “readily visible” stamp that the system is approved by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

 

 Judge Hines stated she would take their arguments under advisement and issue a decision soon. 

 

Until her decision is rendered, the ordinance remains in effect. 

 

If you ride, or even park your motorcycle in Boston and the EPA labeling is not readily visible, you remain liable for a $300 fine.

 

Attending the 2:00 p.m. hearing proposing the Motion for Injunctive Relief filed on July 3rd were Plaintiffs Paul W. Cote of Amesbury, Bill Gannon of Quincy, Vince Silvia of Haverhill, and Mike Longtin of North Easton, Massachusetts.  The quartet, calling themselves the Massachusetts Riders for Justice Committee were joined by long time motorcyclists' advocate Betsy Lister of Medford, Massachusetts.  Plaintiff Larry Cahill was unable to attend the Hearing but gave his full support.

 

Following a noontime telephone briefing from American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) Government Relations Specialist Imre Szauter and ongoing communications with Motorcycling Blogger Bruce Arnold, the Riders For Justice retained Motorcycling Attorney Joseph S. Provanzano of Peabody, Massachusetts who passionately argued the position of the plaintiffs.   

 

Provanzano has successfully overturned more than 300 “excessive exhaust noise” citations against motorcyclists in court systems throughout Massachusetts.

 

"This is not about noise as much as it is about the local ‘Crown’ over-imposing unwarranted authority on citizens," claimed Plaintiff Cote`.  "Over 235 years ago the citizens of Boston told the British Government “no way!”  Today we are doing the same by seeking the Court to declare this Ordinance to be “the rubbish it is,” claimed Cote`

 

"I attended today to be part of the solution," stated Plaintiff Longtin," and this Ordinance discriminating against motorcycling is wrong and I'm there to say so!"

 

 

Plaintiff Vince Silvia of Haverhill, who rode into the Boston Hearing with no EPA imprint on his bike’s exhaust systems, said, "It's crap." “My motorcycle has passed State inspections and five voluntary sound tests with the sound meter donated by the AMA.” 

 

"This Ordinance is nothing but the City of Boston trying to make a buck off of riders. At $300 of pop, 100 bikes equal $30,000 to them, a 1,000 bikes equal $300,000. This ordinance,” Silva continued, “is designed to discriminate against, as City Council Salvatore LaMattina testified, ‘those people’ to keep riders out of Boston. This is ‘revenue enhancement’, in its purest form. Add onto the ticket the costs of exercising your right to due process which will cost you as much as the original ticket, not to mention that parked or not it will be a moving violation which will just jack up your insurance rates. To me that equals government sanctioned theft."

 

Attorneys representing the City Boston were accompanied by a Sergeant of the Boston Police Department.   He did not offer any testimony during the hearing.  He later conferred with Plaintiffs Cote` and Gannon stating "They dragged me in just for show.   I have nothing against motorcyclists."


Observer Betsy Lister of
Medford, Massachusetts was impressed by Provanzano’s representation of the Plaintiff’s position. 

 

Lister stated, “Attorney Provanzano was armed and dangerous exuding passion and commitment to the cause while adeptly citing chapter and verse basically illustrating how the Boston’s new noise ordinance usurped and superseded both federal and state statutes and was totally repugnant! 

 

“Provanzano threw out more legal challenges than an 'all star' pitcher in a series baseball game with each statement being a perfect strike” Lister continued.

 

Recently, Cahill, Cote, and Lister visited the Boston Harley Davidson™ dealership and examined all new motorcycles on the showroom floor.  Because of varied production styling and components, in most cases the activists could not view the EPA stamp unless the motorcycle is partially dismantled.

 

Riders For Justice Committee Members are patiently awaiting Judge Hines ruling on the temporary restraining order while their lawsuit to permanently overturn the ordinance was filed on July 3rd and prepares to go to a trial before the Suffolk County Superior Court.

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