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Archive for January 21st, 2009

olympia_capitalIf you’re anything like the rest of the motorcycle world, how the economy will perform in 2009 weighs heavily on your mind as well as how the legislators plan to regulate motorcycle issues.

After a successful election season the Washington State elected officials return tomorrow (January 22nd) for the new legislative session.  “Black Thursday” is the motorcycle enthusiasts opportunity to show representatives in the State Capitol that motorcyclists will stand up, be counted and work together to make a difference.

My friends over at Northwest Cycle Report have an excellent post which provides a lot more details.  You can read it HERE.   Also ABATE of Washington will be in the upper concourse by the George Washington Statue (3rd Floor) and has more information HERE.  Lastly you can watch for future legislative updates and other interesting news from the Washington Confederation of Clubs (WACoC) web site HERE.

This is a great opportunity to expand visibility of our challenges and be heard.  It will be a tough year — program cuts are already happening and we need all hands on deck to send a strong message to the Washington legislature. Please join the hundreds of motorcyclists from across Washington State for a day of lobbying to ensure motorcyclists have a voice.

No experience necessary – just a desire to make a difference.  A shout-out to “Griz” for raising visibility of the event.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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money_stackBarack said yesterday that I should sacrifice, but I need to ask myself to what extent am I willing to go.  And as it turns out the ultimate discretionary item — Harley-Davidson — is in the same situation…determining how willing they are to sacrifice or jeopardize their company! 

I previously blogged about Harley’s inability to securitize motorcycle loans HERE the delinquency rates HERE and the five quarter earnings decline HERE.  Obviously not good times for the company.

But, like a lot of things these days related to financial issues they change weekly.  On behalf of Harley-Davidson, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.,) wrote a letter on Jan. 16th to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Sheila Blair, saying Harley-Davidson recently inquired whether its financing company and subsidiaries — Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. and Eaglemark Savings Bank — are eligible for the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP).  The TLGP guarantees a corporation unsecured debt against defaultA bailout?

The Harley Springettsbury Township plant is the largest of the company’s manufacturing facilities and employs more than 2,800 workers as well as supports approximately 1,500 jobs at Harley dealerships in Pennsylvania.  It’s easy to see why Sen. Casey is supporting the eligibility for TLGP due to the potential negative impact to his state’s economy.  And it’s “pile on” season in reference to the challenging economic environment, lower consumer confidence and banking sector meltdown so why not jump on board.

Demonstration Against UK Gov Bailout

Demonstration Against UK Gov Bailout

This sounds a bit like the ‘ol… “It’s not my fault” redirect the blame to the economy trick?  Do you think this a problem of people not being able to get loans to buy motorcycles?  I have no insider information, but I’m inclined to believe it has more to do with delinquency rates and processing bad loans on the part of Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS).  Sure the economy and financial markets being reluctant to fund higher risk loans contributed, but don’t forget about the MV Augusta acquisition which has been described as an over reach by the company execs. 

Also we should not forget the sudden “personal” decision of Sy Naqvi (HDFS President) two weeks ago to immediately resign.  Mr. Naqvi was HDFS president for 23 months when Harley announced that Tom Bergmann (CFO Harley-Davidson) would assume the the additional responsibilities of HDFS president.  Naqvi joined HDFS from DeepGreen Financial, Inc., an online home equity lender, where he was CEO.  DeepGreen was acquired by Lightyear Capital and had a somewhat sorted history with operations in Cleveland while Naqvi worked out of Chicago.  Efforts to turn DeepGreen into a brick and mortar bank failed.  Is HDFS next?

But let’s think positive.  If Harley obtains eligibility status from the FDIC it (really taxpayers) will guarantee unsecured corporate debt against default.  In addition, Harley would get federal funds if a customer defaulted on his or her motorcycle loan.  Nice!  How do I sign up?

It will be hard to calculate Naqvi’s impact on/at HDFS or what role if any he played in its current set of troubles.  I wonder if the company is “positioned appropriately” for the faltering economy or if it’s another bailout on the list of so many?

Harley-Davidson is expected to report fourth-quarter results this Friday and I’m not hopeful of Q4’08 results.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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Jay Dobyns

Jay Dobyns

It’s a popular saying and loosely defined as life is so unfair that a person is more likely to get into some sort of trouble than be rewarded if they attempt to do a good deed.

That might be what Jay Dobyns has on his mind these days.  Who is Dobyns?  I posted an article previously on his soon to be released tell all book “No Angel” which detailed his years working undercover as an ATF Special Agent who penetrated the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC).  Dobyns was the lead agent in Operation Black Biscuit which resulted in the gathering of 1,600 pieces of evidence, the seizure of 650 guns, more than 100 explosive items including grenades, napalm and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.  Fifty people were indicted as a result of the undercover sting.  In Arizona alone, the government assembled 800 hours of bugged conversations, 92,000 phone calls and 8,500 seized documents in an effort to prove that the HAMC is a criminal enterprise. Dobyns received a top cop award by the National Association of Police Organizations.  CNN has a video snippet with more information HERE and HERE.

The news is the Arizona Republic is now reporting that Dobyns is suing the ATF for failing to protect his family from various death threats. The dispute and subsequent filing of a $4.5M claim against the ATF seems to be supported by an Inspector General’s finding late last year that the ATF has a pattern of agent neglect and failed to provide security or fully investigate a series of threats against Dobyns and his family.  If these facts hold up it’s a sad testimony on the ATF as he put a lot on the line and deserves better!   On his own dime Dobyns has moved himself and family several times to elude people who’ve threatened to kill him or harm his family. He filed a claim with the ATF for the emotional stress and financial burden he’s endured.

It would be easy to speculate that when the press spotlight faded on “Biscuit” the ATF somehow didn’t have the motivation, funds or struggled to deal with the complexity of undercover work and how to best manage agents when they’re back in the LE world.  However in 2004 the agency received indefinite annual funding for the establishment of the Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) which was designed to reduce homicides and other firearm-related violent crimes in 20 cities. In 2006, the VCIT/ATF received $20M to identify, target and arrest the “worst-of-the-worst” offenders.  Is funding really an issue?

I’ll follow the Dobyns situation and provide updates as appropriate.

UPDATE: February 5, 2009 – Good interview and summary written by Leo W. Banks of the Tucson Weekly.

Photo courtesy Jay Dobyns and AZ Republic.

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