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Archive for January 7th, 2009

inauguration_hdAs you likely know the presidential inauguration is coming up on Tuesday, January 20th.    

Harley-Davidson of Frederick, MD has been busy working for months preparing 12 motorcycles that will lead the parade.  The motorcycles are part of the famous “Power V”, a v-formation that leads the inaugural parade through the streets of Washington, D.C. as folks from around the world watch.  The bikes are 2009 FLHTP Electra Glides with oversized 103 cu in motors and are the lead bikes in the 50 motorcycle inaugural parade.  The bikes are used exclusively for escort and security duty in the DC Metro Police department.

With auto sales on the skid and the ink on the General Motors bail-out loan check barely dry, President-elect Obama will be ridin’ in style with an all new 2009 armored Cadillac Presidential Limousine.  Fitted with an increased viewing area from the completely sealed interior (to ward off chemical attack), it has larger windows and better visibility for the new first family.  But I’ve digressed…

The Harley motorcycles arrived in Frederick last October as white motorcycles and white side crates.  The dealer then added sidecar, decals, lights, fans and a lot of labor to make it all work.  The price tag for the 12 motorcycles was about $26,000 for each vehicle.  They were built at Harley’s largest manufacturing facility – Springettsbury Township Plant – and customized by Frederick’s with unique radio brackets, wiring harnesses and flag brackets.  One unique data and selling point is that Harley is the only maker of police pursuit motorcycles that have sidecar attachments.

Nothing provides a symbol of Americana like a Harley-Davidson “V” formation parade.  Congrats.

Photo taken at Flamingo in Laughlin, NV.

 

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money_tankI like attending motorcycle rallies, but pretending everything is just wonderful in the “land-of-rally” is akin to an ostrich head in the sand. 

For decades municipalities have viewed motorcycle rallies as revenue generating opportunities.   They pass along all or much of the costs to the commercial entities as possible.  I’ve been to several rallies during the past year and the economic challenges have brought out fewer attendees and a lot more controversy.  New math has always confused me, but the demand any price and they will come day is over!

If you dissected expenses one could logically debate the single largest cost is law enforcement/security.  Be it extreme planning for any and all worst case scenario’s, DOJ command centers or simply aggressive personnel staffing to obtain overtime compensation….it’s become a nonsensical argument for the future.  There are fundamental economic principles at play here.   I don’t know if you noticed, but these events are being promoted more-and-more as a “shop till you drop” flea market rather than a motorcycle rally.

Under the public records request the Hollister Free Lance Press obtained the 2008 Hollister Motorcycle Rally costsSurprise!  The law enforcement expenses added up to a whopping $359,000 – an ever increasing number.  In the article, editor Kollin Kosmicki provides great comparisons with other major rallies:

  1. The City of Sturgis, which attracts about 700,000 visitors over 10 days, budgets approx $300,000 – per Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush.
  2. Laconia Motorcycle Week has about 350,000 people over 10 days, and the city spends about $140,000 on law enforcement – per Police Chief Michael Moyer.
  3. Daytona Beach, which hosts two rallies bringing in a total of around 600,000 visitors, spent about $170,000 in total this year on security for the two events — according to a city hall spokeswoman.

Hollister spends much more for security on a 3-day event (attracts fewer than 93,000 visitors) compared to any other city!  To be fair and the list would be long, the State of California mandates the use of California officers, there is a larger street gang presence and I’m not trying to underscore the ongoing confrontation between the Hells Angels and Mongols.

But there are fundamental economic principles at play and how does this end…a city in bankruptcy?  I’m not trying to second guess the strategy of Hollister Police Chief Jeff Miller, but there has to be a way to reduce the continually inflated cost of law enforcement at these events.  Biker rallies always attract a small percentage of individuals who are there to specifically commit crimes.

What happens when they hold a motorcycle rally and no one comes?

Photo courtesy Flickr

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