These are tough times for the High Desert's hospitality industry. Besides the recession-caused drought of tourist dollars felt nationwide, the city of Palmdale boosted its hotel tax from seven to 10 percent in May and yesterday Lancaster's mayor effectively shut down the struggling Desert Inn to prevent it from serving as the headquarters for a weekend meeting of the Mongols Motorcycle club.
Today's L.A. Times quotes the mayor, R. Rex Parris, saying the Mongols "are engaged in domestic terrorism . . . and they
kill our children." The Times said the mayor was leveraging the resort's late payment of taxes and other infractions to force it to renege on an agreement it had signed with the bikers. The Mongols have been the target of federally orchestrated anti-racketeering sweeps in California and elsewhere since October.
According to the Antelope Valley Press, representatives of the club paid at least $14,000 to book 113 of the Sierra Highway hotel's 144 rooms, as well as to rent its banquet hall, restaurant and bar. The paper quotes Parris, a longtime Antelope Valley powerbroker, declaring, "I do not care about the civil rights of gang members."
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Albert Perez Jr., a lawyer representing the Mongols, said the group has
now found accomodations elsewhere and threatened legal action against
the Desert Inn if it reopens Monday. He also said the Mongols plan to
be in Lancaster to attend tonight's street fair.