|01-15-2007, 01:19 PM||#1|
Ride hard, Shoot straight
Humboldt Co, CA
Harley Dyna/ Honda ct110/Bandersnatch
Join Date: Feb 2005
Kinetic Sculpture Race is on the ropes.
Thought this might of interest since some have seen the race or might have been planning to.
Kinetic race hits the brakes
Ann Johnson-Stromberg / The Times-Standard
Eureka Times Standard
Article Launched:01/12/2007 04:30:09 AM PST
Lawsuits and strife may sink sculpture tradition
ARCATA -- After a year-long battle over ownership rights of the Kinetic Sculpture Race, it appears that a North Coast tradition for more than 30 years may end.
The owner of the race for the past five years has been the Humboldt Kinetic Association, a volunteer board made up of nonprofit community organizations. The self-proclaimed “glorious founder,” Hobart Brown, sold the rights of the race for $84,000 to the HKA, said board advisor Charlie Jordan.
At first, the board secured a $15,000 loan through the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission and paid Brown around $1,000 a month toward the purchase price, but soon realized that the race could not support a mortgage of that size.
So they restructured a payment of $101. Jordan said that a little over a year ago, Brown became enraged when he saw an article in the newspaper that said Wells Fargo donated $1,000 to the HKA. She said he misinterpreted it to mean the HKA donated money to the bank, demanded more money, and threatened lawsuits because he wasn't being paid what he was owed.
A suit quickly followed, naming not only the nonprofits but the individual current and past volunteer board members. Jordan, on behalf of the HKA, said that rather than drag all the nonprofits and volunteers into a battle with Brown, the board has chosen to rescind its rights to the race and return it to Brown.
The condition to that Brown must pay back the $23,412.04 he has received. Part would go to repay the loan to RREDC. The remainder would be divided among the HKA nonprofit agencies that have never been able to make money for their organizations from the race: the Arcata Endeavor, HIV Kids, Humboldt Mediation, the Kinetic Lab, College of the Redwoods Foundation League, and World Shelters.
Brown told the lawyers and the HKA that he doesn't have the money, but said he would sign over a deed for proceeds of a house for sale in Ferndale -- when it sells. Jordan said the house is owned by Richard Ferguson, the man to whom Brown has indicated he intends to give the rights to the race. The house has been on the market for six months.
The result is that the HKA will not put on a Kinetic Sculpture Race in 2007. And until Brown pays for the race rights, he cannot put the race on, either. On top of that, Brown would have to pay or secure donations of approximately $30,000 -- which is what it costs to put on the race every year, Jordan said.
On Wednesday, Brown told the Times-Standard that, despite rumors to the contrary, “there is going to be a Kinetic Sculpture Race this year.”
He agreed to go into more detail when he was feeling better, but was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday night. His condition was unknown Thursday night, but longtime friend and race associate Duane Flatmo said Brown's battle with rheumatoid arthritis has escalated. Over the past several months Brown has been in and out of the hospital and St. Luke Manor care facility.
”Everybody was wracking their brains trying to figure out a different outcome,” Jordan said. She added that on several occasions the board considered fighting Brown, but his ailing health, the costs of going to court and the drain on the organizers was too high a price for the race. “It just didn't seem like the right thing to do.”
Flatmo said he has seen Brown pull the rug out from under race organizers every couple of years, “which is why the race never flourished.” That also is why Flatmo makes a free poster for the three-day Memorial Day event every year, and builds and races a kinetic sculpture, but has not been will never be a race organizer.
”I have watched so many people over the last 25 years pour out all their time, money and resources only to have Hobart come along (and sabotage) their efforts,” he said. “He feels like everybody is going to take (the race) away from him.”
Flatmo said that Brown was always expecting that the race would make him rich. About 12 years ago, out of frustration, Flatmo said he drew a picture of Brown standing on top of one of the racers in his signature top hat with dollar signs in his eyes. The title said “For the Glory,” with glory crossed out and the word “money” written above it.
In retrospect, Flatmo said he regrets having drawn it because he has true affection for Brown. But said he constantly finds himself grappling with Brown's actions and his own love for the Kinetic Sculpture Race.
Considering Brown's health, lack of money and a lack of support for Ferguson's by the racers and volunteers, Flatmo said, he doesn't think it is possible to “pull together a whole organization to run the race” this year.
However, he added, that a world without the wacky, street-legal, human-powered sculptures that Brown inspired will never exist.
”It will always go on,” Flatmo said. “It might not be sanctioned and have souvenirs and T-shirts you can buy, but there will be artists riding machines. And it will really be for the glory then.”
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