News Item: No Banner Welcome for Bikers
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by MJF
Wednesday 21 June 2006 - 11:06:02

Hollister Free Lance
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
By Brett Rowland

Hollister - The canceled 2006 Hollister Independence Rally is shaping up to be vastly different from the biker invasions of the past nine years - this year motorcyclists won't even get a welcome sign from the city.

City officials will welcome visitors to Hollister this year with a large banner stretched across San Benito Street, but the sign won't mention anything about the city being the birthplace of the American biker. Hollister Mayor Robert Scattini had wanted the banner to read, "Welcome to the birthplace of the American Biker," but council members and city officials weren't responsive to the idea, fearing it might put the city on the hook for additional public safety costs. Scattini was disappointed that the banner won't be biker-specific.

"The bikers are coming, and this is their day. Every year we've had a banner welcoming them," he said. "I think it would take the edge off, make them feel welcome and help law enforcement. It's really said to see the way this is all coming down. Everybody is working against it."

Instead the banner will read, "Welcome to Hollister, Happy 4th of July," said Hollister City Manager Clint Quilter. Council members didn't vote on the issue during Monday's meeting, but gave directions to city staff regarding what the banner should say.

In February the City Council voted 3-2 to cancel Hollister's motorcycle rally, the city's signature event, for 2006. The majority of council members cited financial reasons - the 2005 rally stuck the city with a $360,000 public safety bill - when they voted to cancel the event.

Despite the cancellation, many in the city anticipate thousands of bikers will still descend upon the city during the Fourth of July weekend. The city has started planning for the "unofficial rally" by recruiting help from law enforcement agencies throughout the area and surrounding counties, talking with local business owners and designating locations to place portable toilets and trash cans.

Quilter had advised council members that welcoming the bikers could be seen as a sign that the city endorsed the event and increase law enforcement costs.

"We could jeopardize our ability to get mutual aid without paying for it," Quilter said.

Quilter did not no how much the banner would cost or when it would be put up.

Mutual aid agreements dictate how law enforcement agencies work together. By deciding not to host the annual biker rally, the city cannot be held responsible for the costs of public safety.

"It's not because we're against the bikers," said Councilwoman Monica Johnson. "We don't want to end up with a $700,000 bill for public safety."

Brett Rowland covers public safety for the Free Lance. He can be reached at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or browland©

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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