Monday, February 25, 2019

Sturgis campgrounds may face fees

Sturgis, S.D. USA (February 25, 2019) BSB — The city of Sturgis is proposing fees — as high as $5,100 in some cases — that would have to be paid in advance by campgrounds outside city limits if they want ambulance service at this year's Sturgis motorcycle rally. The proposed fees range from $300 to $5,100 and are based on the number of ambulance calls to the campgrounds during the 2018 rally, Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said at a Feb. 19 special meeting in Sturgis with campground owners.

Motorcycles and people fill Main Street on Aug. 5, 2015, after a group photo was taken. 
Barry Amundson / Forum News Service

Under the proposal, campgrounds that had no ambulance calls last year would be assessed a $300 fee to cover this year’s rally in August. Those with one to four calls last year would pay $650, those with five to nine calls would pay $1,850, and a fee of $5,100 would be charged to those that had 10 or more calls during the 2018 rally. According to listings on, there are more than a dozen campgrounds in and around Sturgis.

Ainslie said services provided to campgrounds inside the city limits are covered by city sales-tax and property-tax revenues. The city’s proposal is set for discussion before the Sturgis City Council on April 15. If approved, the fees would have to be paid by May 15. Campgrounds not paying the fees by that date would no longer receive city ambulance service.

At the Feb. 19 meeting, Ainslie said during the 2018 rally the city ambulance service responded to 60 calls from campgrounds, amounting to 17 percent of total calls during the rally. Of those calls, he said, 33 percent of patients refused transportation to a hospital after the ambulance arrived and of those transported only 23 percent of the amount billed was paid, creating a more than $25,000 shortfall, he said.

“We travel the distance out there and either we bandage the person up or give them the immediate aid they need and they refuse transport to the hospital, or other times we go all the way out there and no one’s there. That’s a significant cost that there’s absolutely no reimbursement for,” Ainslie said. Ainslie said reimbursement for ambulance services by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance coverage is limited.

Medicaid reimbursements, for example, only cover 20 percent of the cost of an ambulance call, while Medicare covers 50 percent of ambulance services and private insurance covers 60 percent of a call. According to the city, calls for ambulance service have essentially doubled in 10 years, from 1,076 in 2009 to 2,070 calls in 2018. Ainslie said in 2018 the city provided $277,201 to the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department and Sturgis Ambulance Service.

He said the total losses for the ambulance service in 2018, including building maintenance insurance and equipment replacement, was $250,798. Calls to a number of campground owners around Sturgis revealed some who were unaware of the Feb. 19 meeting. Others voiced strong opposition to an upfront fee. “They basically have told us if we don’t submit and pay, they’ll deny us ambulance services and we’re not OK with that,” said R.J. Ludwick, of No Name City Campground, located between Sturgis and Tilford along Interstate 90.

“We all pay taxes, and we have higher taxes because of our businesses, and we all feel that’s not right,” Ludwick said. Buffalo Chip Campground owner Rod Woodruff said the campground has a full staff of EMT-trained security that will verify the legitimacy of an ambulance call and take a patient to a pickup point to minimize the time for an ambulance run from Sturgis. “We’re doing that just to help the ambulance service to keep their costs down and eliminate the false calls,” he said.

SOURCE: The Dickinson Press

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Harley-Davidson factory hits the market

Milwaukee Wisconsin, USA (February 12, 2019) BSB — Ahead of its closing later this year, Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) put its Kansas City factory on the market for $26.5 million. The 507,729-square-foot plant is located at 11401 North Congress Avenue in the Northland.

It sits on 314 acres about five miles east of Kansas City International Airport. The list price includes a paint booth system that originally cost $30 million. Cushman & Wakefield is handling the sale for Harley and could not comment on the listing. The plant currently has a 600-person skilled workforce until May, and those people would like to keep working at the plant, according to a LinkedIn post.

It "could be a real bargain for the right business," Kerr said in the LinkedIn post. The plant has been the center of controversy since Harley's surprise announcement in January 2018 that it would shutter its Kansas City operations and lay off its 800-person workforce. The closing has kicked off several public disputes with the union representing the plant's workers as well as the Trump Administration and local officials.

As part of Kansas City Business Journal's Top Area Manufacturers List, the union representing workers at the Kansas City plant reported that employment at the manufacturer had fallen by 251 — the largest drop on this year's List. That leaves just 432 workers as the plant heads for a permanent shutdown in the third quarter of this year. The plant was built about two decades ago for roughly $85 million.

At the time, the city of Kansas City, Platte County, the school district and private contributors put together a $6.3 million package. That included a crucial pledge by then-Mayor Emanuel Cleaver to cover about $3 million in state-mandated environmental controls. The state also approved Enhanced Enterprise Zone grants that could have provided as much as $20 million in tax credits.

SOURCE: Kansas City Business Journal

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Outlaws MC member fired for being in club

Tampa, FL (February 5, 2019) BSB — A federal arbitrator says Hillsborough County was justified in firing a Fire Rescue medic who belonged to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, noting the negative attention his membership brought the county.

Clinton Neal Walker, 35, of Bradenton, was fired a year ago after an internal investigation concluded he had “unwavering loyalty” to the Outlaws, long considered the state’s dominant motorcycle club.

He was the first Hillsborough employee to be investigated for gang activity under a series of county ordinances that prohibit membership in any organization the state or federal government considers criminal, including the Outlaws St. Petersburg Chapter where Walker was a member.

Arbitrator Charlotte Gold released her ruling in mid-January, ending a year-long fight by the local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters to save Walker’s job. Her report provided new insight into biker gang culture within the county’s fire department and throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“HCFR employees, including chiefs and a fire medic, attended MC (motorcycle club) events,” Gold wrote, and “many of its members were ex-military.”

Walker earned a Bronze Star, among other medals and awards, while in the U.S. Marine Corps. And as a county firefighter he was awarded a Medal of Valor.

But Walker also had a long disciplinary history and “conducted himself in a manner that was detrimental to the department,” Gold wrote.

“The conclusion is inescapable that he affected the county’s standing in the community,’’ Gold wrote in her report. “His behavior ultimately reflected poorly on the county and his profession in general.”

Walker testified he had resigned from the Outlaws in October 2016, before the county issued a directive prohibiting all employees from “being a member of or voluntarily participating with any outside gang, as defined in the FBI’s 2015 National Gang Report.” 

The ban came two months after Walker was arrested in Key West for throwing the first punch in a bar fight that left two employees injured and involved as many as 15 other Outlaws, one wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it and others who used racial slurs.

Walker ultimately negotiated a plea deal for the Key West fight and received a paid suspension from the county for 30 days. He was still serving that suspension when now-retired Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Captain James Costa, then president of the Outlaws St. Petersburg chapter, was shot by members of the rival 69ers Motorcycle Club while riding his motorcycle in south Hillsborough in July 2017.

According to the report, Costa fired back. The shooting has since been tied to the shooting death of another Outlaw, Paul Anderson, in December 2017.

Walker was one of about 10 Outlaws who got a call from Costa and another Hillsborough County Fire Rescue medic telling them that Costa was being taken to a medical center in Manatee County with bullet wounds.

Though he wasn’t on duty, Walker dressed in his Fire Rescue uniform and accompanied Costa into the hospital, taking his motorcycle vest with Outlaw insignia and initially refusing to turn it over to law enforcement.

“By wearing his HCFR t-shirt at the hospital, he gained favor for himself in violation of the county’s uniform regulations,” Gold wrote in her report. “He then proceeded to place the interests of a friend and mentor — an individual who continued a strong relationship with a motorcycle gang — over and above those of law enforcement.”

According to the report, Fire Rescue management has known about both Walker and Costa’s membership in the Outlaws since about 2008. Costa joined the Outlaws in 2002, and recruited Walker while working as his supervisor in Sun City Center’s Fire Station 28.

The new rules, and the ensuing investigation into Walker’s conduct, happened as a wave of bar brawls, bad behavior and execution-style killings between rival biker gangs swept across the Tampa Bay area, implicating firefighters in Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties.

SOURCE:  Tampa BayTimes

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Mongols Motorcycle Club vows a fight in trademark loss

Los Angeles, California (February 2, 2019) – The federal government said they're a convicted criminal gang, and Hells Angels consider them enemies. They call themselves the Mongols Motorcycle Club - and they're one of the largest Motorcycle Clubs in the world.

 "It's about honor, respect and pride," David Santillan said.

But for this East L.A.-born brotherhood, the last few years have been a fight for survival. They've been under federal indictment for the last decade. And recently, a federal jury in Santa Ana convicted the national club of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy for murder, attempted murder and drug dealing.

Related | Mongols motorcycle club stripped of their logo

More than 75 of their members were convicted - including their former president Ruben "Doc" Cavazos. But the biggest blow of all - hit them where it hurts the most, they lost the rights to their trademarked emblem.

"What the patch means to me and to all my brothers when we ride, it's like a ring in a marriage. It symbolizes our loyalty and commitment to the Mongols Motorcycle when we're out there riding together as a club." Santillan said. Santillan, known as "Little Dave" by club members, is the new national president of the Mongols.

He's been on the front lines of the group's fight against the government, to keep the rights to their sacred symbol. "This is a lifestyle. A culture. A way of life for us. To me, it's a lifetime commitment. I've been in this club going on 23 years," he said.

 The infamous patch is a caricature of the founder of the ancient Mongol empire, Genghis Kahn. Prosecutors argue, in order to get or keep their patches, members are encouraged to commit crimes. It's why they've been fighting for years to strip the club of their logo.

There's still a lot of secrecy around the patches and how members obtain them. But if there's one thing club members, their lawyers and prosecutors agree on -- the symbol is a pivotal part of the club's identity.

"If they take away our patch, they can take away everyone else's. It would be a domino effect if they take the case in law for the future, so I don't see us going anywhere. We're just going to continue fighting until the wheels fall off," Santillan said.

 U.S. District Judge David O. Carter also doesn't seemed to be fully convinced about stripping the club of their logo. He's invited civil rights groups, first amendment lawyers and trademark attorneys to weigh in on the implications. "Never before in U.S. History has the government come and tried to ban a symbol. Think about that for a second.

How many symbols are there in the United States, from wedding rings to religious symbols? All kinds right? If the government can take and ban a symbol, where does that leave everyone else? And who's next? That's really what we have to look at. That's a really slippery slope," said Mongols general counsel Stephen "Bow Tie" Stubbs.

This case is getting the attention of other motorcycle groups. It's even rumored that their arch-rivals Hells Angels, despite their checkered and deadly relationship with the Mongols, are donating money to fight the cause.

Santillan said the club has spent more than $1 million over the past decade, through fundraisers, donations and club dues, and they won't stop fighting until they win.

 "It's a matter of principle at this point - and pride. We're not going away and they're not going to kick us to the curb. Like I said before, we're going to do this until the wheels fall off. We don't care, at any cost," he said