Rally Promoter Randy Burke issued the following statement:
The city council of Hollister, CA voted 3-2 to cancel the Hollister Independence Rally for 2018. Roadshows, Inc was proud to produce the rally in 2016 & 2017. We would like to thank all our sponsors, vendors and participants for helping to make these past years a great tribute to the independence of our country and the celebration of Hollister as depicted in the movie, “The Wild Ones”
The City Council made it obvious it does not want bikers in its town.
On May 5th the Hollister City Council decided unanimously to not award $78,000 to cover funding for the rally.
After that the Council awarded $400,000 to a local group to find more tourists for the city. The council then voted 3-2 to cancel the rally.
Randy Burke, promoter of the rally claimed he had lost several big sponsors and felt it was unlikely to secure new ones. Marty Richman said he reluctantly supported the resolution to cancel the rally, although he did the same thing last year. Stating that the city did not have adequate insurance, the risk of putting on the rally was too great. Not in operation but liability. That’s when Richman showed the issue was not the bikers but the MC’s. “We’re always one gunfight from being put out of business.”
Despite him being an advocate for the rally, Councilman Ray Friend asked that the resolution to cancel it be added to the agenda. He said he wanted the public to know why he had it added to the agenda. “I’ve supported the rally from day one, but one of the stipulations was it would not cost the city any money,” Friend said. “As Marty pointed out, there is a lot of liability, and it costs the city $180,000. If I heard from the majority of the city residents that they were willing to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars to have the rally, then we’d do it ourselves. But I’m not hearing that.” He then stated that the money was for outside law enforcement agencies to send officers to the event. “That’s got to be number one, the safety of everybody here,” Friend said. “We dodged a bullet a couple of times. I’m not in favor of the resolution because I love the rally, but I can’t put the city in jeopardy just because I like to ride around on my motorcycle.”
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Council member Karson Klauer were not diplomatic in expressing their displeasure.
“I’m going to be blunt; I don’t like any of this,” Velazquez said. “I don’t understand how we don’t spend a dollar on the motorcycle rally, which would bring in 50,000 tourists, then turn around and award $400,000 for a local group to find more tourists. I think it’s bad financial planning. I think there has been some good that has come of it, but not enough for this.” “It’s a shame,” Velazquez said. “This is history for our community. I was hoping we could find a non-profit group to take ownership, but nobody does.”
Councilman Jim Gillio voted to cancel the rally stating, “If the rally was fiscally neutral I could support it,” he said, “and if I had a recommendation from the police department on how they could come up with the staff. But what the recommendation from the police department was we were way past the deadline to get the staff from other agencies to come. Plus, everybody else is busy and they need the police officers for their cities.”
The biggest expense for the rally is due to outside law enforcement. From 2006 to 2008 the rally cost between $360,000 and $400,000, primarily due to the cost of bringing in outside law enforcement. That cost was cut in half by using surveillance cameras but the city still has to assume the officer’ workers comp claims if something happens which could be millions.
Avera said the formal cancellation is important because the city can start letting the world know there will not be a rally. Even without a rally, though, he said people who want to come to Hollister during the 4th of July time frame are more than welcome. He said while there won’t be a strong showing of law enforcement, the city will be prepared for whatever number of people do come.
Mike Corbin, of Corbin Motorcycle Seats and Accessories, told Benito Link it doesn’t matter to him if there is a rally or not because many people come to his business that weekend no matter what. He said this year is the 50th anniversary of the company and there will be a major celebration.
Avera had an issue with the mayor’s contention that the rally will not return if canceled.
“We’ve done this three or four times now,” Avera said. “It’s been around and it stopped a number of times. That’s what’s disingenuous to me. It was disappointing last night for the mayor to say the rally is dead forever. That’s simply not the case. The past has proven that it can be resurrected in any given year. People like coming and if you give them a reason to come, they will come.”