Our annual motorcycle rally is once again in danger of being canceled. I can’t believe we are going down this road again. Why is it that we can’t seem to get a united council on board for more than a year? I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that some council members fail to see that the rallies benefits outweigh the disadvantages by a landslide. There is no logic to their thinking, whatsoever. The fact that the event brings tens of thousands of visitors to Hollister that may not otherwise consider taking the highway 25 exit into our bedroom community is reason enough. I’ve said it before and I’d scream it from the mountain tops if I thought it would help, “The motorcycle rally and the 1947 incident of its inception put Hollister on the map.” Without it we are not a tourist destination. Yes, we have wonderful wineries and chocolate factories, but they do not and never will draw tens of thousands of visitors to Hollister.
The council members are not the only ones to blame for the problem. Businesses that profit hugely from every rally but won’t invest time to show up at council meetings or call or email their elected officials have some level of responsibility. I’ve been the only business owner, or one of the few, at more rally-related council meetings than I care to count. Hotels that raised their rates to as much as $289.00 a night with a three night minimum did real well during the rally. With the exception of the Cinderella, I’ve never seen a motel or hotel owner or manager voicing their support at council meetings. How about the gas station and liquor store owners? Don’t tell me they aren’t making bank during the rally. All of the grocery stores do a booming business, too. If a survey was done on how many people offer up space in their houses to visitors during the rally the numbers would be huge. Some people have guests for as long as a week. All of those people are eating and drinking somewhere. If it’s not in one of the city’s restaurants they are cooking at home. Just ask a Safeway manager how much busier they are when we have a rally.
The people that don’t like the noise or don’t benefit personally from the rally take the time to complain to their council members. Just ask Mikie Luna. Apparently many of her constituents told her that they didn’t like the rally because it was noisy, they didn’t get anything out of it, and actually had less business during the fourth of July weekend because of it. The fact that the rally produces extra spending money for many of the residents who benefit from part time jobs, extra hours at their jobs or more money spent at their businesses doesn’t mean squat to the complainers. They fail to see the big picture and it’s all about them. Slam me if you will, but even if my business wasn’t one of the largest benefactor’s because of the rally, I would stand rigorously behind it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the benefits the rally offers the community as a whole, or does it?
The sad thing is the negative talk from even those who purport to want a rally has been damaging. Because the city didn’t know with certainty that things were not going to work out with Convexx until late November, and the subject of what to do about it didn’t get on the agenda until December 21st , the RFP (Request for Proposal) process was hindered. I didn’t think many promoters would be lined up to work with Hollister after the last debacle, and from what I hear it was a sound assumption. Our Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Councilman Ray Friend have been accused by a vocal citizen of doing something underhanded by talking to another possible promoter when they started seeing the writing on the wall regarding Convexx. Everyone who knows anything about the rally knows who its true proponents are. The biker world is like any other tight- knit community. News travels fast, especially when it’s bad. If I was a promoter interested in the Hollister Rally who heard that the current one might be making an exit, I would have reached out to council members who support it too. I don’t view the situation as underhanded at all. Now with all of the crazy talk it’s just quite possible they will answer the call for an RFP with a devalued offer. It the city doesn’t get assurances for all the money needed up front for the cost of a rally, there will be no rally. I’m afraid that it might come down to that. Asking for another month to see if any more RPF’s come in would be crazy. Big business sponsors have decided in January where their money will be spent for the entire year and promoters won’t have time to gather the sponsorship funds needed to put on a successful rally.
The truth will be revealed at tomorrow night’s city council meeting. Council members don’t have to worry about hearing from me, though. I won’t be enduring another five and half hour meeting. Each and every member knows how I feel anyway. It would be great if the afore- mentioned business owners that do well during the rally showed up to support it, however. I’m not holding my breath. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve prayed about it and I’m casting my care. If I didn’t give it to God I’d lose my mind. I’ve already lost far too many hours of sleep over the motorcycle rally in the past twenty years. It is what it is and it will be what it’s going to be. I’m hoping for the best. If you care about the rally please let your voice be heard tomorrow night at 6:30 at City Hall.