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Archive for November, 2010

Lane Splitting in California

I’m not talking about bowling.

California is the only state where it’s legal for a motorcyclist to pass between lanes of cars when vehicles are moving slow or stopped in traffic.  The practice is referred to as ‘lane splitting.’  Some believe the practice violates the core safety principles of motorcycle riding while others believe it helps reduce traffic congestion.

Meanwhile in Oregon, the 204,800 endorsed motorcycle riders have an opportunity tonight to attend a public meeting with the Governor’s Advisory Committee who will be discussing a statewide opinion survey on the topic of lane splitting in Oregon.  The committee wants to hear from the riding community about this topic and this is a chance for you to express you views.

The meeting starts at 6:30pm at the Kaiser Permanente Town Hall Ballroom (3704 N. Interstate Ave; Portland Or.)

According to The Oregonian there were 133,800 registered motorcycles in 2009.  Of those 21,000 were owned in Multnomah County and 14,000 in both Washington and Clackamas Counties.  There are very few statistics on crash risks of lane splitting, however, there was a report in 1981 from California called the “Hurt Report” conducted by Harry Hurt which showed lane sharing might actually reduce motorcycle collisions.

I’m of the viewpoint that Oregon legislators would never approve this practice and Governor-elect Kitzhaber has already proven a number of times his willingness to invoke a medically conservative position for protecting motorcyclists.

Photo courtesy of SFO Citizen.

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Harrah's - Laughlin, Nevada

It was like any typical early morning in the Nevada desert with gamblers enjoying the casino and all its entertainment glory.

Then gunshots broke out and a gang melee ensued. Bystanders started running, dodging around and falling to the floor, fearing for their life – cameras caught the activity as some pulled weapons to shoot, others getting shot, or stabbed and in some instances bystanders watched as wrenches were used to beat down individuals.  It was a terrifying ordeal as many feared for their life.

I’m talking about the Saturday, April 27, 2002, Laughlin River Run brawl with guns, knives and wrenches which left three motorcycle club members dead — two Hells Angels and one Mongol — and injured at least 12 others at Harrah’s Laughlin. I first blogged about this HERE with updates HERE and HERE.

The skirmish between Hells Angels and the competing Mongol biker club fuse was lit when Metro broke up a fight between the Hells Angels and Mongols at a T-shirt stand earlier in the day.  Metro police and club leaders initiated a meeting to defuse tensions between the groups, but the members walked out of the meeting. Three hours later members of the Mongols HAMC stormed Harrah’s, where the Hells Angels Mongols were staying, and the casino floor erupted.

More than 8-years later with five federal lawsuits and at least one California state lawsuit against Harrah’s Laughlin who argued (and won) in legal motions that the casino wasn’t liable for the criminal acts of the bikers… for the first time this week were found liable in the incident.  In addition, rather than wait for a jury to determine damages Harrah’s quickly reach a settlement and one of the terms of the negotiated settlement is that the amount would be kept confidential.

The seven clients seeking damages from Harrah’s Laughlin for injuries suffered during the motorcycle club battle are: Michael Bower, Robert Garcia, Noi Lewis, Kathy Fuller, Steven Fuller, Andrea Daniels and Dean Daniels.

I’m speculating here, but it’s a pretty safe bet that fear of motorcycle clubs will pay well for these seven individuals.

What about the motorcycle club members and their legal disposition, you ask?  You may recall that forty-two members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) were indicted on federal racketeering and firearms charges.  Charges against 36 Hells Angels were dismissed in 2006.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reported Frederick Donahue (34) was a fugitive for five years before surrendering in Las Vegas in July 2008.  He was the seventh Hells Angels member sentenced in the fatal Harrah’s casino shootout and is serving 30 months in federal prison.  Jorrg Maykopf of Germany remains the only fugitive in this case.

I can remember back in 2001 staying at the Pink Flamingo (now Aquarius) during the Laughlin River Run watching HAMC prospects do bagger wheelie’s in the valet parking area.  Not these days.  The Laughlin River Run has forever changed…

Photo courtesy of Harrah’s Laughlin

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Tomorrow, on Veterans Day, my heartfelt thanks is extended to all veterans and their families.

This is not a day of celebration, rather a day of reflection to honor those who currently serve in harms way and have sacrificed on our behalf.

You are not forgotten.

Photo taken at Wanker’s Corner Saloon during Sept 11th celebration.

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Way back in 2009 I posted a blog about H-D’s restructuring and management looking at moving from the York, Penn. plant due to inefficiencies, cost structure and a major problem with absenteeism.

At the time H-D was looking at four other possible sites including moving operations to the Kansas City facility.  I even wrote a tongue-n-cheek letter to CEO, Keith Wandell stating Oregon was open for business if they wanted to consider the west coast for relocation.  Concessions were made to keep the plant in York, changes in work culture and a new attendance policy were negotiated as part of a multi-year restructuring deal and the York plant continues on.

Then earlier this year I posted about H-D management giving it’s Milwaukee workers an ultimatum… approve a new labor agreement or risk losing/moving jobs out of Milwaukee (PTO and Tomahawk) to the Kansas City plant or to another state.  Ratification of a new labor agreement occurred on September 14, 2010 which meant fewer employees and a whole host of other changes to generate about $50M in annual operating savings.

And speaking of Kansas City, Harley-Davidson management has told its KC plant employees this week that they must accept wage and other concessions or the plant could be closed or move.  The company stated the plant would be merged with one in York, Penn.  The company said: “that recent internal studies show significant cost, efficiency and production flexibility gaps in the Kansas City operations,” which must be addressed.

Talk about déjà vu… all over again!

Is it about the “Art of Negotiation” or is management truly committed to closing the Kansas City plant?  Probably a little of both, as we’ve seen in the past the recession favors management and puts more pressure on workers to agree to the demands.  In fact, in each of the previous cases the company has obtained nearly all the concessions ask.

Adding to the KC efficiency insult was the company statement of how it would make a final decision in Q1, 2011.  Gives the workers something to think about over the holidays.  Just stay classy H-D!

Photo courtesy of web.

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