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Posts Tagged ‘Greed’

Since the first day when Federal Agents raided the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) back in September 2003, the ‘steroids scandal’ has engulfed some of the biggest names in sports and brought increased scrutiny to the illegitimate nature of pharmacy law.  This link provides more information on the MLB debacle.

Now we’re learning from Times Union about a connection with James M. D’Amico, a dentist from Cape Coral, FL., who had a revoked dental license while prescribing “nutritional supplements” a.k.a. steroids and human growth hormones.  This case, prosecuted in South Florida has ties to a steroids-distribution investigation launched four years ago in Albany and recently brought to light one of Mr. D’Amico’s high-profile clientele as none other than Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Chopper (OCC) and ‘American Chopper’  fame.  According to Mr. D’Amico’s seized records, Paul Teutul Sr. received 73 prescriptions at a cost of over $51,000 from August 2, 2002 to October 3, 2006.

Now I’m not a dentist, but clearly there must be a lot of legitimate uses for steroids in a dental practice for 73 prescriptions?!

Maybe Paul Sr., was overwhelmed in the fiercely competitive custom motorcycle business and realized it’s not enough to be smart and charismatic — you need to have bigger, stronger and faster moving biceps than all the other also ran’s — and as a result looked to nutritional supplements to build the one-of-a-kind choppers in record breaking time.

According to the Albany NY based Times Union web site article, the D’Amicos prescriptions to Teutul were processed by Orlando’s Signature Compounding Pharmacy, whose operators remain under felony indictment in Albany.  Robert G. Calson, a Sarasota, FL., physician who pleaded guilty in Albany three years ago to insurance fraud for his role in that case, also prescribed supplement drugs to Tuetul through Signature.

In connecting the dots it wouldn’t be a big leap to assume that some of that ‘American Chopper’ yelling for prime time was more related to “roid rage” and it’s possible that this doping scandal is truly the end of the road for the Teutul dynasty.  Translated: The threebie that isn’t.

More blog posts on the “Ragin Teutuls” HERE.

Photo courtesy of Automated Trader

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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The title is a reference to an interview process which is called voir dire, a French phrase translated as “to see and speak the truth.”  Another way to say it is democracy in action.

I’m talking about Paul Teutul (Sr.) and his son Paul M. Tuetul (Jr.) of OCC/American Chopper fame.  Like rock stars, they are.  A key part of building the custom motorcycle scene for mainstream America.  They weren’t in it for momentary good times, they wanted world domination from the outset.  I’ve blogged about them previously HEREHERE and HERE

But their working landscape turned toxic, and rather than resolve the dispute they remained lockjaw-ed, rigid, corporate minded and took the low road of “I’ll get mine and F you” kind of thinking.  The problem, me thinks is greed.  The perpetual rock throwing finally hit the White Plains, NY., courthouse where an oral argument before a four-judge panel on Paul Junior’s appeal from a lower court ruling against him, enforcing Senior’s “option” to purchase Junior’s 20% interest in Orange County Choppers (OCC) for an amount to be determined by the court in an appraisal proceeding.

For the uninitiated here is a recap, in January 2009, after a nasty, made for TV, on-air power struggle in which furniture somehow became airborne, Senior fired Junior.  The two entered into a letter agreement that allowed Junior to continue working at OCC and avoided cancellation (and breach of contract) of their television deal with Discovery Channel, which owns The Learning Channel on which American Chopper is aired.   Junior rejected the option exercise, following which Senior brought suit to enforce it.  In April 2010, Orange County Supreme Court Justice Lewis Jay Lubell ruled in Senior’s favor (read the decision here). It’s a complex issue about fair market value and when it comes to valuing shares of close corporations for which there is no ready market, requiring agreement as to basic assumptions such as the date of valuation and the applicability of discounts.

Whatever your impressions are of the TV show and the Teutul’s antics, I’d think sitting in a courtroom and watching the legal experience unfold to determine your monetary fate separates the men from the boys.  Having had my disproportionate share of legal issues I’d never predict the outcome of an appeal, but it’s likely a decision will be handed down before end of year.

I personally like my custom bike builder hero’s to take me above this worlds problems!  That’s why I quit watching anything Teutul and instead was riveted by the rescue of the Chilean miners.  Everybody threw in together.  I was impressed by the technology, the fortitude.  We applauded the human spirit and believe that problems can be solved.  But not in Teutul land.

For those interested in learning more about the case, here are links to the appellate briefs:

Junior’s main brief (36 pages)
Senior’s opposition brief (25 pages)
Junior’s reply brief (15 pages)

Links courtesy of the excellent New York Business Divorce Blog and attorney/author Peter Mahler.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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U.S. Stock Market

U.S. Stock Market

Many of us have attended some type of motorcycle rally.  They are a gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts who come together for the camaraderie and socialization.  It doesn’t matter if you ride ‘slick back’, are part of a riding association or MC.  The rallies can range from the mild corporate-sponsored Honda Hoot to Sturgis or the infamous Hollister.

Rallies can be large or small, and one-time or recurring. Notable annual rallies with attendance in the thousands from all over the country include the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Laconia Motorcycle Week, and Daytona Beach Bike Week. There are many smaller, regional rallies including the annual BMW MOA international rally, the Oyster Run in the Pacific Northwest, the Golden Aspen Rally (formerly Aspencade) in the Southwest, the Laughlin River Run and Street Vibrations in the West, and Americade in the Northeast.  There is also the Harley-Davidson anniversary rally in Milwaukee every five years.  Some rallies are ride-in events, whereas some like the Iron Butt rally involve days of riding and an actual gathering only at the end of the ride.

But my friends, the motorcycle winds of change are blowing and it’s not a nice smell.  As the song states… “For The Times They Are A-Changing…” – Bob Dylan.  After attending one major and 3 regional rallies this year I can report they are rumbling a lot less louder these days and here’s my extremely broad and completely unscientific, yet infinitely wise reasons:

1. Economy: in case you haven’t noticed it’s down.

a. Market investor gloom persists… see above charts with a 500-point loss brings the Dow’s two-day slump to nearly 900 points.

b. Harley shipments are down and the company has laid off workers

c. Japan’s four major power sports vehicle manufactures (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha) are down 26.8% this year compared to the same 8 months of 2007.

d. Gas prices. Escort rigs or trucks hauling trailers consume lots of fuel.

e. DealerNews reports that the Sturgis attendance was down 18% this year. Turnout was reported at 414,917 which compares to 507,234 in 2007 or down from the 633,000 in 2000. It’s been a steady decline pretty much the past eight years.

f. Laughlin River Run was down approx 10,000 from 2007. Attendance estimated at 60,000.

2. Demographics:

a. Repeat attendees which is not officially tracked is down. Fewer people going consistently year over year.

b. Aging population are making the most of their free time and have other forms of entertainment.

c. New riders don’t ride the same cruiser bikes or value the heritage of these events and don’t attend. No fun riding a sport bike when the Black Hills are full of motorcycles.

d. Competition for the major vs. local rallies have people making closer to home priorities. We’ve seen this with all the local Indian Casinos who have taken a bite out of Las Vegas.

3. Legislation:

a. The new Denver sound ordinance for motorcycles prevents rally attendance unless you have stock motorcycle exhaust.

b. Don’t drive to a rally in New York City’s high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. They banned motorcycles from HOV lanes and are ticketing. Never mind that Federal law stipulates that HOV lanes must allow motorcycles.

c. Myrtle Beach will never be the same…they approved a property tax increase earlier this year to fund efforts aimed specifically at eliminating motorcycle rallies. There are now 3 independent lawsuits filed against the city in hopes to limit the city counsel.

4. Policing: large numbers and aggressive preemptive measures being taken.

a. LEOs stop bikers heading up the Adirondack Northway before the start of the Americade motorcycle rally at Lake George.

b. Breath check stops outside Oatman, AZ during Laughlin River Run.

c. Street Vibrations ’08 SWAT teams highly visible, armed w/ para-military gear in show of force.

5. Greed: in search of the big $$

a. Rallies have been artificially expanded in length by vendors to capture more customer $$. 3-day events are now 5-day and many of the big rallies are 10-days or longer.

b. Motel’s often triple room rates and have instituted longer minimum night stays. Try to find a motel in Sturgis for a couple nights. Same for Laughlin River Run or Street Vibrations. The motels have forced earlier arrivals which up’s the ante for any event.

c. High prices for vendor space, basically merchants rent space for as much as they can get/gouge people.

6. 1%er Clubs: make city officials nervous and they over react with a lot of police presence at events.

a. Laughlin River Run feud/shooting (HAMC and Mongols) at Harrah’s.

b. First Sturgis shooting (Iron Pig and HAMC) in 20 years at a downtown pub.

c. Street Vibrations (HAMC and Mongols) had numerous citizens calling police concerned about a biker war given the killing of Mark “Papa” Guardado.

7. Repo Rates:

a. Little dark secret of the industry and hardly ever reported on is that repo rates have ballooned due to the mortgage/credit crisis. Go to the Spokane auctions and see all the bikes. A lot of folks used home equity loans to buy toys. When the interest rate skyrocketed so did the payments for the toys and the number of loan defaults has increased.

Just a few examples and any one of these wouldn’t be an issue in of itself, but the combination of problems are having a profound impact on the industry.

So are Rallies as we’ve known them over?  I believe so.  I can remember a few years ago being able to walk casino-to-casino in Reno during Street Vibrations with a beer in hand.  No more, the RPD stopped numerous folks this year.  I can remember 5 years ago staying at the Pink Flamingo (now Aquarius) at the Laughlin River Run watching HAMC prospects do bagger wheelie’s in the valet parking area.  Not these days.  All you’ll see is 20+ motorcycle police.

The real problem is that many of the “industry’s customers” won’t demand attention or seek corrective action to the problems. They have no will or united voice on the issue.  And we all know what happens to the squeaky wheel.  HD and so many other companies at these rallies are simply a corporation that makes money selling motorcycles and motorcycle accessories. The corporate officers want you to believe they are biker’s best friend, but at the end of the day it’s all about business and what will bring them the best return on their investment.  I get the capitalism gig, but where does it end?

Maybe when we’re all sitting around the motorcycle lift watching TV in the garage and toasting the “good-ol-days” when people ACTUALLY went to a rally rather than just watch them on the Discovery Channel?  Maybe it ends when more states do what Montana has done…tourism officials actually target motorcyclist as a demographic they WANT in the state and doing things (special web site, special MDT road reports, and suggested rides) to court us rather than legislate ways to ban us, limit noise, curtail events and hold public relation meetings evangelizing the negative media coverage against bikers.  It will change when state tourism officials recognize that clinging to the overturned lifeboat in a storm and hoping that somebody (the customer) finds them is inadequate.

So, slip off those steel-toed boots or $520 Ferragamo loafers and plan your next rally!  Besides, who cares what the destination is, as long as the route is awesome.

Photo courtesy CNN and Motorcycle Dairies web sites.

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Money Vault

Money Vault

I’m not an advocate for bailouts.  I think it means responsible people (like me!) will L-O-S-E and end up giving my hard earned money to gamblers, cheats and liars.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been paying your mortgage….it’s now YOUR job to pay for others lack of responsibility. 

It’s reckless and we need to shout out the windows that we’re “mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore“. 

I’m not a cynically deranged “motorcycle enthusiast” ranting revelations or some guy discussing male menopause on The View with Barbara Walters…but folks the BS resonates louder and sounds truer today than ever.  It’s really become crazy!

Can I now expect the federal government to bail me out of my poor stock investments, my poor choices in 401K mutual funds…it’s only fair

Harley-Davidson Ad

Harley-Davidson Ad

And I’d like a little more “chrome” money for the Harley so, how about bailing me out of my “cage” loan?  While you’re throwing around a few billion here and there, my school district wants to put a bond on my home (via property taxes) to help balance the bloated operating budget…could you bail them out too?  Better yet, can you bail me out of my job so that I can shine the chrome and just blog?

Somewhere today a child was born who will spend an academic career figuring out what the effects of the this bail-out week are and what in hind sight should have been done.

And speaking of stock.  A $100 investment in Harley-Davidson at the end of 1986 was worth $15,687 at the end of 2007.  For you mathematicians that means a $10k investment would have grown to be worth $1.569 million in twenty-one years!  Who would have predicted that in 1981 when execs at Harley HYPEN Davidson purchased the company from AMF it would be around for the 105th anniversary?

And did you see Harley-Davidson ask the government for a bailout?  No!  It’s true that in 1983 they requested and received additional tariffs on all Japanese motorcycles when it was determined they were “dumping” to buy market segment share.  President Reagan imposed the tariffs on motorcycles 700 cc or larger.  But, Harley petitioned the ITC for early termination of the five year tariff in 1987.  They succeeded as a private company with improved manufacturing and quality as a new image was formed.  Independent of any government bailout.

Instead of all this talk of tighter regulations by the sleazy politicians, which is clearly pissing in the wind, I say piss on the financial institution graves when they go under for their self-imposed mess.   While we’re at it let’s have a public hanging for the obscene payment of CEO’s who wrecked the companies they worked:

Washington Mutual – CEO Killinger exits package worth $23.5 million

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac – CEO’s Mudd and Syron combined exit packages worth $24 million

Merril Lynch – CEO O’Neal exit package worth $160 million

Countrywide Financial Corp – CEO Mozilo took home $120 million

Citigroup – CEO Prince got $39.5 million in stock, options, bonus and perks.

And if that doesn’t make you angry note that at:

Fannie Mae – CEO Mudd’s predecessor, Franklin Raines, received an annual pension of $1.37 million when he retired from Fannie in late 2004. Raines was also in line to receive $5.8 million in stock options and $8.7 million in deferred compensation to be paid through 2020, according to a U.S. regulatory filing.

Freddie Mac – Former CEO Chief Executive Leland Brendsel received a pay package of more than $50 million.

And both of these CEOs left their companies during a massive accounting scandal.  Yeah, we should all be happy about bail-outs.

It seems to me that most of these greedy, corrupt people don’t know the difference of oversees from oversights!

I need to ride…

Photos taken at and courtesy of HD Museum.

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