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Sturgis rally talks begin in confusion

January 9, 2013


The Sturgis Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to hold a workshop Feb. 12 to develop a counterproposal to the Sturgis South Bike Rally Board’s 2013 motorcycle rally proposal, with an alderman liaison set to ask the rally board to meet jointly with the aldermen once the counterproposal is ready.

The decisions came after a debate among aldermen and Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner about the terms under which the city board agreed to discuss a new rally proposal in the first place. At the start of discussion, Turner said rally board president Donny Hanson had declined a joint meeting between the two boards that aldermen had proposed.

“I talked to Donny; he didn’t see any reason for a meeting,” Turner said. “He said, ‘Just use last year’s (rally proposal.) Nothing’s changed.’”

The only change, Turner said, was the date of the rally, set for Aug. 16-18, 2013. Alderman Keith Parker said the circumstances of the proposal were inconsistent with a motion the board made in December to consider the contract.

“That’s not what that motion says,” Parker said. “It says the press will not be notified until a date has been set for a meeting between the two boards. (Hanson) hasn’t even met with his board. Until we get a meeting set between the two boards, (nothing needs) to be said about the rally. In order to be legal, we have to go by what this paper says.”

In a December Starkville Daily News report, Turner said the board would look at a 2013 rally proposal in January. McCool said he is concerned about multiple media outlets reporting on the new rally discussion, but Turner said he has only spoken with SDN reporters.

McCool said he also questioned Turner’s decision to approach Hanson himself about a rally proposal instead of letting Alderman Mike Collins make that contact.

“I thought we had an agreement,” McCool said. “We elected (Collins) to that position to be able to take care of the business between the two boards so there wouldn’t be any confrontation, and now all of a sudden it (has blown) up like it has the last two years. Everybody’s running around all over town, (saying) we’re (going) to have it. We haven’t even discussed it yet.”

Alderman Amanda Page also questioned Turner’s decision.

“Why did you approach (Hanson) and not leave it to Mike?” Page said. “Mike is the liaison. Leave it to him to find out the facts and bring it to the board.”

Collins said several people asked him about the rally last week after Turner’s statements went to print, leading him to call Hanson himself Friday.

“(Hanson) didn’t know a thing about the proposal at that time. He told me he had not met with his people yet,” Collins said. “I asked him if he had mentioned any of this to the media; he told me no, that they hadn’t even met yet. He was waiting until after the holidays to get his group together.”

However, Collins said he also spoke with Hanson Monday, and Hanson told him about submitting the 2012 proposal again through Turner. He said he and Hanson shared a specific concern about further rally discussion.

“Twice in two years we’ve turned their proposals down, but we have never actually (written) up a counterproposal to let them know what we want,” Collins said. “He (doesn’t) want to actually sit down and meet until we’ve got something that we want (written) down and they’ve got what they want (written) down. Then, we can compare notes.”

Turner then said he would approach Hanson about a joint board meeting, and several board members immediately protested, saying Collins should approach Hanson instead. Parker then suggested the city hold a workshop to develop the counterproposal.

“Let’s get something we can not shout about,” Parker said.

McCool said he agreed, and he wanted to avoid the confrontations the aldermen have seen in previous rally discussions.

“We don’t need to push and rush on this, not again,” McCool said. “That’s the way it’s been the last two years.”

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