BMOrg vs BLM: You Took Too Much

Sally Ho from the Associated Press reports that the Burning Man Project are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the Bureau of Land Management.

From the Washington Post:

Burning Man organizers are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the federal government…The festival takes issue with the Bureau of Land Management’s discretion over the weeklong counterculture celebration, claiming that the authority has been overstaffing and overcharging without fully explaining the tab…“If they can’t explain all of it, than we’re asking for all of it back,” said Ray Allen

…the case also pulls back the curtain on the logistical hurdles and an evolving backstage power struggle behind an event once considered an extreme camping experience that has now achieved widespread popularity with millions in revenue.

The BLM said Burning Man officials were provided with a detailed summary of costs with receipts and that “(f)ederal government agencies are obligated to recover the full cost of providing a special benefit…”

The Court case is likely to take more than a year:

The festival is taking the issue to the Interior Department’s internal appeals court, where an administrative law judge will decide on the case. This arbitration process, which could last more than a year, is commonly used for challenges related to grazing or mining uses and fees.

We get an official number for BLM cops in 2015, 84. Plus Pershing etc.

BLM contends that Burning Man demands year-round planning and an unparalleled response to protect the public lands given its scope and nature. The 2015 event required 84 law enforcement officers

BMOrg thinks that’s too many cops, and wonders what they’re all doing:

The festival argues that that many officers aren’t necessary given that more than a thousand Burning Man volunteers also patrol the event and that it has a clean record of taking care of the land. Burning Man said in its appeal that more than half the BLM bill was to pay for labor costs, but that the paperwork lacked specific information about the duties they actually performed.

Ray Allen, the lawyer, seems to be working off a different set of books than the After Burn accounts:

In recent years, a more openly adversarial partnership has surfaced between the festival and the increasing number of local authorities assigned to oversee it. Allen said Burning Man has been stomaching dramatically increasing costs since 2011, when its permit was $730,000.

2011 Afterburn: $1,552,000

It’s not all bad news, things are running pretty smoothly. BLM is going down. Let’s hope this doesn’t throw a spanner in the works:

Both the federal authority and Burning Man organizers said planning for the 2016 festival has been going smoothly. The new state director John Ruhs said BLM staffing numbers are expected to go down this year because communication between both sides are now much improved.

Read the full story  at the Washington Post.

Chocotacos were too much, cops were too much, and now BMOrg are asking the Federales to explain exactly what the money was spent on. Or, to be specific, just what all those cops were doing. Maybe now they will release the arrest information like they used to in the Transparency 1.0 era.

Recent revelations in the Reno Gazette Journal have featured both Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and  Sheriff Chuck Allen taking their families on joyrides important police RAVEN missions to extravagant 18 course meals on the Playa. Sponsored by Krug, perhaps. Most definitely sponsored by First Camp, and their wealthy patrons at the Burning Man Project.

There’s no spectators, unless you’re the cops or the media, then come on in! Look at the freaks! Have some air-lifted lobster.

raven washoe 5155

Now they can cut costs and fly in on the Burner airline. 3% of the revenue from that presumably goes to the BLM too, so in the future we might get lucky enough to see how well that little sideline monopoly is doing, through the magic of FOIA.

The BLM did accede to Burning Man’s demands to increase the population size from 50,000 including everyone to 70,000 paying plus 10-15,000 volunteers or workers.This has seen revenues go from $13.5 million in 2010 to at least $37 million this year. BLM fees have increased from $1.9 million in 2012, to $2.8 million. This is about what Burning Man’s entire payroll was in 2010. To me, it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.

This Federal take is about the same as the estimated State windfall from the 9% Live Entertainment Tax. This was imposed on all outdoor festivals. BMOrg passed it straight onto Burners. The money sits in their bank account for half a year or more earning interest, before they have to hand it over to the Government. Not to mention all kinds of weirdness with the “9% of $3 of the $7 handling fee” or whatever all that was.

Do the hundreds of BLM workers involved with Burning Man take their frustration about this complaint out on any BMOrg personnel, who are dealing through lawyers and media spokespeople? Or do they take it out on DPW and Burners, trying to make their budgets instead of getting their hours cut…with sniffer dogs and citations?

Maybe they should just let the government take their share, the same way we do when we accept the ever-increasing  ticket prices. It’s the Government’s land, in the same way that it’s Decommodification LLC’s brand. You wanna use it, you pay rent.

“Transparent” Burning Man should provide their own figures, since they are demanding the Government do the same. We want to know where the money goes too. It’s us that are funding the whole thing, on both sides. At least, it was until Flysalen…now we have very little idea where the money’s actually coming from.

Why things are so tight, when ticket prices and demand are so high, and they no longer have to pay any tax?

If only the money and energy that they put into lawyers and accountants went into waste management, reduced carbon footprint, and reforestation.



Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


11 comments on “BMOrg vs BLM: You Took Too Much

  1. Pingback: Burning Man – irlansyah1

  2. Pingback: Analysis: Burning Man Project 2015 Financials | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. The Borg are only in it for the money and control, all else is BS. Hoping for them to make good on their publicly stated goals if delusional folly.

    Having recently spoken with several Borg insiders (people who get comp tkts), it is apparent that the Borg is only in it for themselves. They see the NV burn as their private event, not an expression of the burners that attend. They are explicitly seeking virgins (“I am sure it is OVER 40%”) to maintain their oversold status, so they can call all the shots. There is no interest in letting the burners have actual input. This is obvious from whom they put on their BoD, as just one example. A new Bohemian Grove for the elite is their intent.

    It is clear that transparency and other feigns to be open to burners are purely for effect, propaganda as they have admitted by the title of that office, to keep up the demand so they can curate and exploit those followers who still believe the Borg has burner interests in mind.

    Anyone thinking otherwise is simply being fooled by explicit intent, by the Borg and by themselves.

    • One method of control is now, obviously the comp ticketing. Only those who tow the line get those comp tickets, and if you don’t do the right thing, your ticket is at risk. Rather than discussing a new ticketing method, the chosen ticketed parrot the same line about getting into the DS system – admittance directly chosen by the caprice of the Borg.

      While none of these suspicions are new, direct dialog confirms this, and that hoping for change is the drug they readily dispense to those who are addicted.

    • It is clear that the Flypaper Ranch will be their Bohemian Grove, with low-volume/high-priced attendance, and the chosen art, theme camps and art cars as the entertainment. This will get them out from under the BLM. This is all part of the plan to maximize their capital as they shake down the burners and find out what the candidate entertainment will put up with. Any concern expressed by the Borg for the burners is Kabuki theater until the NV burn shuts down in the near future.

      What happens until then? The wise have moved on to burner burns. The sad keep playing the assimilation game to get tickets to the audition.

  4. The BLM confiscated an innocent care package addressed to me on the playa because it had writing and burning man pictures on it. At first they claimed that dogs alerted on the package for marijuana. Then the officer claimed that it was on a pallet and that the dog alerted to the entire pallet, not my individual package and that they were looking for cocaine. They contradicted themselves several times. Because the package was already opened on one end, I did not give them permission to search. They sent it to the lab and destroyed the contents and then returned the useless package,valued at $100 roughly, to the sender. This is a violation of the fourth amendment and an unfair targeting of the people from whom they are collecting so much revenue. Something should be done to put them in check.

    • The sender of the package should fill out the USPS complaint form, checking the “Non-Delivery of Mail” box. Interfering with delivery of US mail is serious stuff by federal law. Get some paperwork generated on this! Otherwise, you are accepting what they did. They are betting you will just roll over and play dead.

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