Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quiet 4th of July weekend bad for business

Quiet Weekend Great for Law Enforcement, Bad for Business

The quiet Fourth of July weekend made law enforcements job easier but it didn’t add any desperately needed funds to the coffers of local business or government. Johnny’s history makes us a favorite biker destination and I am grateful for the folks that came in to eat, drink and soak up some history. However, if I did a small fraction of the business that I would do during a rally how disappointing was it for the rest of the businesses that benefit from one? Many suffered a loss, hundreds of unemployed missed out on a least some temporary work, and non-profits didn’t earn any money for their charities. The First Methodist church has counted on their Biker Breakfast for a huge chunk of their annual income for years and it has all but vanished. I’m past being angry and am sad and disgusted. The city council needs to understand that we can’t afford not to have a rally. It doesn’t take a math wiz to see the loss to our city, our county and even the entire state of California.
People came from all over the world to attend our rally. If they are riding down from Washington and Oregon or up from Arizona and New Mexico they need to travel through much of California to get to our sleepy little town. As a biker I know that on a long ride we make several stops to rest our tired back sides and they almost always constitute purchasing gas, food, and beverages. In this lousy economy many motorcycle enthusiasts could not afford to go to Sturgis or Daytona and we could have been a vacation destination for tens of thousands of them.
The loyal bikers that did show up were tailgated on San Benito Street by law enforcement who hoped to find a reason to site them. They had a quota to meet. I’ve never gotten confirmation that quotas exist but if you don’t believe they do I have some ocean front property in Phoenix for sale. Many citations were issued for things that are ignored all year long. Welcome to Hollister. Since there was no rally the stabbing down town was not considered an incident. It didn’t involve bikers or Johnny’s patrons but I assure you if there had been a rally the incident would have been mentioned and even associated with it.
Most people understand that mine is not a selfish struggle. Hollister needs our rally. Without the rally we are not a tourist destination. We have many wonderful wineries, a chocolate factory, the Pinnacles National Monument and very scenic countryside. None of that draws more than a hundred thousand people to our county. Because of our undeniable place in history a motorcycle rally does. And guess what? Once they are here they find out about all of the wonderful things our area has to offer and a lot of them come back to visit again, not just on Fourth of July weekend.
What is it going to take to get the Hollister City Council to take off the blinders and see the big picture? If a hundred business owners and residents would show up at a council meeting and address the council during its public comment portion they could not ignore us. Many people want the rally but they don’t care enough to do anything about it. Take a few hours out of your Monday night and support something that you believe in. You don’t like to speak in public? I don’t either, but I got past it. All you need to do is state your name and your address and say, “I want our rally back.” How hard can that be? Standing by idle and complaining will not fix this problem. I beseech all of you who care to show up at city hall on Monday August 2nd and tell your council members how you feel. Sincerely, Charisse Tyson