News

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HARLEY MIGHT CLOSE YORK PLANT

harleydavidsonyorkfacility Company blames cost of doing business in York County. Harley-Davidson is considering moving its local operations out of York County as a possible option to getting the local manufacturing hub’s cost structure right.

Spokesman Bob Klein said Tuesday the company has found that the York operations are “not competitive long-term as they are currently structured,” and might consider moving those operations to “alternative U.S. locations.”

Moving the Springettsbury Township plant is not the only option the company is considering.

Harley-Davidson until recently employed more than 3,000 workers locally but the number has been dwindling as sales have slumped. The total now stands close to 2,650.

Although Klein would not compare local numbers to other locations within the company, Klein said the number of employee hours it takes to make a motorcycle at the Springettsbury Township operations is not cost-effective.

In Hanover, at least two local businesses could be affected if the plant were to close.

Leonhardt Manufacturing, 800 High St., manufactures parts for Harley-Davidson, and Stambaugh Metals, 802 High St., does metal polishing for the plant. Spokesmen for the firms could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Harley employees were told of the possible move at meetings Monday.

A study assessing the options for the York County operations and the best options for the company is expected to come out this fall.

When asked whether the company would seek to renegotiate the terms of the union contract,

Klein said the contract was due to expire in 2010, so contract issues will come up soon regardless. Klein also said the company would “work closely with the union, with our union partners in York” to find options.

Harley-Davidson is already doing consolidation at its Milwaukee facilities, and Klein said the manufacturing operations in Kansas City were built in the mid- to late 1990s with efficiencies in mind.

A spokesman for the union representing workers at Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury Township operation said Monday’s meetings had some question-and-answer format to them and the consolidation or moving options got the most attention, although more options were discussed.

“It was just one of dozens of possible scenarios discussed,” said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

As part of the current wave of job cuts announced earlier this year, the company said it could cut production jobs through production line slowdowns to make fewer motorcyles and by consolidating some currently separate aspects of production into a single location on site.

Mike Smeltzer, executive director of the York-based Manufacturers’ Association of South Central Pennsylvania, was dismayed by the Harley news.

The impact wouldn’t just be on Harley employees, he said, but would also be on workers in other businesses that supply the plant with everything from sheet metal to office furniture, and on people in service jobs such as the restaurants where Harley workers eat.

“Oh my gosh! It’s hard to measure the impact.”

The good news, Smeltzer said, is that the skilled workers from Harley would almost certainly be employable in the current economy.

The bad news is that it would likely take a while – a year or more – for all of them to find jobs. Smeltzer likened it to pouring another gallon of water on a sponge that’s already wet. They would be entering a market where plenty of other people are also looking for jobs.

– By BRENT BURKEY
For The Evening Sun

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Etiquette for Outlaws

outlawetiquette “Never mind the salad fork, this is Etiquette for Outlaws,” brought to you by the editors of the Los Angeles magazine Caffeine, Rob Cohen and David Wollock. Advising on badass behaviors from body piercing to fetish clubs to Harley protocol to getting in with “the professionals” rock star, porn star, dominatrix, gang-banger these hipsters, in a markedly unhip and risky moment of generosity, welcome readers into the cognoscenti. In a delightful blend of irony and gravitas, Cohen and Wollock reveal, at long last, the secret recipe and ingredients for cool. Photos.

Sarah Palin To Paul Teutul Sr. Let’s Ride….

paulteutulsarahpalin Paul Teutul Sr. went to Alaska to research building a bike to honor the State 50-year anniversary of being a State. And his work of investigation took him to the bearskin couch of Governor Sarah Palin for an “historic” meeting with her. I hear they talked about Alaskan weather, snowmobiling and fishing. What else to talk about? After inviting the OCC crew back for the summer months, she suggested having fun Alaska style, saying, “We’ll ride the bike to the fishing hole” Quite an offer…Not sure the Governor knows how to ride (a sidecar would work) and Tina Fey is rumored to be jealous (photo TLC).

End of the Road for America’s Biker Culture in Myrtle Beach?

mbbw009600x450 Murrells Inlet, S.C. – As the women at the SBB biker bar here greet the six o’clock hour by jiggling to a blaring version of Kid Rock‘s take on “Sweet Home Alabama,” Bob Johnston leans back, flips his flip-flops off, and ponders the state of America’s biker culture.

The party inside the saloon notwithstanding, the news ain’t good, he says.

Just up the road, Myrtle Beach, S.C. – the site for 68 years of the world’s largest Harley-Davidson rally, drawing nearly half a million riders annually – has effectively tried to shut down the event this year. Inside the city limits, a local helmet law and a ban on noisy tailpipes is likely to keep most riders at bay.

As a scaled-down Bike Week begins this weekend outside the city limits, the question is whether Myrtle Beach has gone too far in cordoning itself off from the dinosaur growl of a straight pipe, an unshaven chin, and free-blowing hair.

For Harley riders like the prodigiously goateed Mr. Johnston, Myrtle Beach’s crackdown is like Mecca kicking out its pilgrims – yet another blow to the independence of an outlaw “element” increasingly segregated from a squeamish American mainstream.

But for many Myrtle Beach residents, including the majority of its elected officials, the moves are a form of self-defense against what they call nonstop civil disrespect – a month-long May invasion that has outgrown its destination.

For bikers, “it’s all about trying to find some independence here in America,” says William Dulaney, a consultant to National Geographic‘s upcoming “Outlaw Biker” series. “Why bikers don’t like helmet laws and pipe laws, it’s all about choice: If states came out and required bikers by law to ride without a helmet, they’d all wear one, it’s that funny.”

The problem, he says, “is that there’s hardly any common ground for the public and bikers to understand each other’s perspective.”

Cut to Myrtle Beach, the lumberman’s retreat that grew into the 89,000-hotel-room jewel of the “redneck Riviera.” Last year, citizens groups began a “Take Back May” campaign that saw families and children at city council meetings holding signs that said, “We want our beach back!” What had begun nearly seven decades ago as a three-day weekend rally had become drawn out to nearly a month, with organizers failing to self-police the events, city officials say.

The city’s attempts to address issues of noise, lewdness, and massive congregations of bikers resulted in a lawsuit by the NAACP, which claimed that the rules unfairly targeted one part of the festivities: the younger, mostly black sport-bike rally known as “black bike week.”

The city’s answer was to “throw everybody into one big basket and say, ‘We want none of it,’ ” says Carol O’Day, a mom-and-pop hotel owner who has filed a civil suit against the city over the helmet law.

City officials concede that there is some truth in Ms. O’Day’s assessment. “Let me be clear: We’re not against riders, we’re against the rally. We don’t want to be the center of the motorcycle universe in May,” says city spokesman Mark Kruea.

Simply put, residents had had enough, says Mayor John Rhodes. For one thing, students in schools along 29th Avenue couldn’t hear their lessons for the roaring of bikes outside, the mayor says.

“All we’ve ever asked of bikers is to respect people in community, treat it the way you would treat your own neighborhood or city, and if you can’t do that, why should we have to tolerate that?” Mr. Rhodes asks.

Tom McGrath, the Harley-riding lawyer who has filed suit against the city to overturn both the pipe and helmet law, has a different take. “What’s noise to some people is music to others.”

Mr. McGrath is also representing participants in a “Freedom Ride” that took place shortly after the helmet law went into effect, where police ticketed 50 of the protesters for helmet law violations. There’s now a chance that all 50 could go to jury trial in municipal court. [Editor's note: The original incorrectly represented Mr. McGrath's role in the event.]

At issue is whether a city can trump state law and make its own helmet laws. South Carolina does not require an adult to wear a helmet. For many riders, that’s just too big of an affront to bear.

The result is that, for now, many bikers are likely to scatter to the four winds and attend smaller rallies. New Bern, N.C., is expecting as many as 5,000 riders in response to the Myrtle Beach crackdown.

Meanwhile, organizers here in the Grand Strand region are still throwing a rally, including in Murrells Inlet at the SBB, but the problem is that most hotel rooms are in Myrtle Beach proper, where police are waiting, new noise meters in hand, to see whether some riders will test the new laws.

On a recent weekday, however, the most noticeable two-wheeled vehicles in Myrtle Beach were rented scooters driven by skinny teenagers.

For all the problems that riders bring to Myrtle Beach, the city might end up regretting its decision, especially since today’s Harley riders fit into “one of the highest disposable-income demographics you can find,” says Mr. Dulaney, the consultant to National Geographic.

Riders have been run out of towns before, including North Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Daytona Beach, Fla. A few years after getting rid of “the element,” as the bikers are often called, those places began welcoming the rallies back.

“They’ll miss us when we’re gone,” says Johnston

photoid45408 New Montana Gun Law Signed

This is the headline story in the Kalispell InterLake Newspaper for Thursday, April 16, 2009! It’s great to have a PRO-GUN governor that isn’t afraid to admit it and/or is willing to fight for his Rights!

“I like big guns, I like little guns, I like pistols, I like rifles, and I would like to buy a gun that’s made in Montana.” Brian Schweitzer Montana Governor

Sovereignty Bills Have National Scope
Gun Law One Of Many Proposals By States To Curb Federal Power

HELENA (AP) — Gov. Brian Schweitzer has signed into law a bill that aims to exempt Montana made guns from federal regulation, adding firepower to a battery of legislative efforts to assert states’ rights across the nation. “It’s a gun bill, but it’s another way of demonstrating the sovereignty of the state of Montana,” Democrat Schweitzer said. Because the law applies only to those guns that are made and kept in Montana, its effect is limited. The state is home to just a handful of specialty gun makers, known for recreating rifles used to settle the West, and most of their customers are out-of-state. But supporters of the new law hope it triggers a court case testing the legal basis for federal rules governing gun sales. “What we need here is for Montana to be able to handle Montana’s business and affairs,” bill sponsor Rep. Joel Boniek, a Republican and wilderness guide from Livingston, told fellow lawmakers during the bill’s House debate.

THE MEASURE is one of many introduced by state lawmakers across the nation seeking to confront what some see as a federal overreach into state matters that will be extended with the national stimulus plan. Along with the gun bill, Montana regislators are considering a resolution that affirms the 10th Amendment principle that the federal government only has those powers that are specifically given to it by the U.S. Constitution. “The whole goal is to awaken the people so that we can return to a properly grounded republic,” Rep. Michael More, R-Gallatin Gateway and the Montana resolution’s sponsor, said at a House committee hearing Wednesday. As many as 15 other Legislatures have also been mulling resolutions that buck federal control in states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina, Missouri and Oklahoma. “The balance has swung far to the extreme to the empowerment of the federal government, and to the harm of the individual states,” More said.

OPPONENTS OF the state sovereignty bids, however, warn they could give legitimacy to the kind of anti- government ideas that fueled the militia movement in Montana and elsewhere. “When you really actually get in and look at it there is a lot of what we feel is very dangerous, very anti-government language that reads very similar to posters for the militia movement in the 1990s,” said Travis McAdam, the interim director of the Montana Human Rights Network, a group formed to oppose racism and extremism. One of the few state senators who voted against the gun bill — Sen. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena — is that group’s director when the Legislature is not in session. She ties the bills’ proliferation to fears about the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama and stimulus spending. “I do think that there is a kind of renewed vehemence to this kind of right-wing rhetoric being spewed by conservative talk show hosts to rile the troops and they are using the fact that we have a Democratic, black president as one of their rallying calls,” Kaufmann said. The Montana bills are being sponsored by freshman legislators who ran as part of a broader effort to oust more moderate Republicans in last spring’s elections. House Resolution 3, the one sponsored by More, follows another states’ rights declaration that deadlocked in the same committee earlier this session, though the committee’s chairman said it may have a shot on its second try.

HOUSE BILL 246, the Montana-made gun bill, cleared the Legislature easily before reaching the governor’s desk. Its supporters next plan to find a “squeaky clean” Montanan who wants to send a note to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives threatening to build and sell about 20 rifles though federal dealership licensing. If the ATF says it’s illegal, the gun bill’s backers plan to file a lawsuit in federal court with the goal of launching a legal showdown that lands in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Montana Shooting Sports Association, which drafted the bill, has said it will raise the money to pay for any legal costs. “It doesn’t cost us any money and I like guns,” Schweitzer said after signing the bill. “I like big guns, I like little guns, I like pistols, I like rifles, and I would like to buy a gun that’s made in Montana,” Schweitzer said.
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MO – Lawmakers Back Change in Motorcycle Helmet Law

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Legislation modifying Missouri’s motorcycle helmet law is on its way to the governor.

The bill would allow those 21 and older to ride without helmets on all Missouri roads except interstate highways.

The House gave the bill final approval Wednesday on a vote of 93-65. It cleared the Senate earlier.

Proposals to repeal the mandatory helmet law have been controversial in the past. But this year’s measure, to simply modify the law, received little debate in either chamber.

Supporters of Missouri’s existing helmet law say the protective headgear keeps motorcyclists safer during a potentially dangerous activity.

But some motorcycle enthusiasts contend it’s more fun to ride without a helmet. They’ve argued that the state should micromanage their lives.

michelinman1 HARLEY-DAVIDSON OFFERS $50 BONUS FOR MICHELIN TIRE PURCHASE– Harley Chrome Cash Bonus Offer Ends May 31.

MILWAUKEE (April 10, 2009) – Harley-Davidson will reward a $50 Harley Chrome Cash bonus check to customers who purchase a set of Michelin-branded and Harley-Davidson approved tires from a participating Harley-Davidson dealer before May 31, 2009. Michelin Commander front and rear and Michelin Macadam 50 rear tires have been tested and validated by Harley-Davidson for fitment on a wide range of Sportster , Dyna, Softail and Touring models.

These tires offer custom styling, precise handling and long mileage demanded by serious riders. To participate in this Harley-Davidson Ready to Ride promotion, customers must purchase a set of front and rear Michelin tires from a participating Harley-Davidson dealer, and have them installed by that dealer. The customer will then receive by mail a $50 Harley Chrome Cash bonus check from Harley-Davidson, redeemable for merchandise or services at participating, authorized Harley-Davidson dealerships. See a Harley-Davidson dealer for complete program rules and details.

For additional information on Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Accessories, see your local Harley-Davidson dealer or visit the Harley-Davidson Web site at www.harley-davidson.com. To find a dealer near you, call toll free 1-800-443-2153 in the U.S.A. or Canada.

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CALIFORNIA SMOG TESTING PASSES FIRST HURDLE– SB 435 Passes Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

SB 435 (Pavley), the bill that adds motorcycles to the Smog Check program, passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee today with only one member voting in opposition. During the presentation of the bill by the author and the primary sponsor, it was stressed that motorcycles emit “14 times more pollution than cars per mile of operation” and that tampering with emission controls causes emissions to be further increased “up to 10 times”. The author stressed that surveys indicate catalysts are being removed from 38 to 87% of new motorcycles and that Smog Checks are needed to address this problem.

Under the procedures used by this Committee, only two people are allowed to testify in support or opposition. If more than two people wish to testify, they are directed to only state their name, the organization they represent, and whether their organization’s position is support or oppose. Opposition testimony was allowed only from the California Motorcycle Dealers Association and ABATE, and it was not effective. Neither witness made the point that a biennial inspection will be ineffective in reducing tampering. Instead, they argued that motorcycle emissions are not significant and that the cost of Smog Check would discourage the sales of new motorcycles. When I had the opportunity to speak, I bent the rules a bit and stated that MIC hoped to work with the bill’s sponsor on alternative language that would be much more effective.

After the hearing, I was able to spend 10-15 minutes talking with the bill’s sponsor, Bonnie Holmes-Gen from the American Lung Association, and one of Senator Pavley’s staff members. I briefly explained MIC’s concerns with the bill and received a commitment from them that they would meet me at my office at 11 a.m. tomorrow for a more thorough presentation of MIC’s position. It is notable that neither ARB nor the Bureau of Automotive Repair was represented at the hearing. This indicates that the Administration does not yet have a position on the bill.

The way the legislative process works in California, little can be accomplished in public hearings. Parties with specific concerns are denied the opportunity to speak to those concerns at a public hearing when more than two parties are in opposition. The only effective way to communicate MIC’s concerns with the bill will be through meetings with individual members or their staff.

This will be an uphill battle given the current make up of the Legislature, which is why it is probably important to have an attractive alternative that the author might be able to go along with. It might be useful to try to bring ARB and BAR into this. At the staff level, both ARB and BAR agree that the enforcement of a noise standard would be more effective in reducing catalyst removal. ARB could easily claim the same SIP credit for sound testing and remove Smog Check from the SIP.

– Tom Austin
Motorcycle Industry Council