DENIED: No Growth, and Drug Screenings [UPDATE]

The cozy relationship the extreme Far Left Progressives of San Francisco’s Burning Man Organization enjoyed with the Federal Government under Obama doesn’t seem to be playing out quite the same way under President Trump.

Last year saw massive amounts of Burner cars being pulled over on the Paiute Indian Reservation and searched for drugs, as part of the President’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. See Indians Promised They Will Shut Down the Roads – and They Delivered.

This year we had threats of a concrete wall being built to concentrate the Burners, the horrific idea of trash dumpsters at the exit gates, and private mercenary armies conducting drug searches – while on the other hand, Burning Man asked for a population increase from 80,000 to 100,000. See BMorg Outraged at $10m Bill For $42m New Revenues.

No extra $40 million for you! The growth has been denied, but the private security doing drug searches is still on the table – maybe for this year, maybe 2020.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Burning Man won’t be growing this year, but there could be at least one major change upon entry: drug screenings

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday issued the final environmental impact statement for Burning Man, denying the Burning Man organization its sought-after growth to 100,000 people but granting it more time to address a number of environmental and security concerns.

The federal agency may, however, hire a private security firm this year to conduct drug screenings. Or, it might wait until 2020, according to BLM spokesman Rudy Evenson. 

As for the growth of the event, the population cap will remain at 80,000 people … 

“The BLM and cooperating agencies could not support the event growing. The city of Reno, Nevada Department of Transportation, Nevada Highway Patrol as well as the Bureau of Land Management could not support the growth particularly because there are other events going on during Labor Day,” said Evenson.

One third of BLM law enforcement officers nationwide are required to patrol the event at the current size, but one half would be required if it grew to 100,000. Transportation agencies also want to find ways to alleviate the congestion on area roads before the BLM allows any growth of the event, Evenson said… 

In an effort to make the event safer and more secure, the BLM plans to hire a private security firm to “screen” Burners for drugs and weapons prior to entering the event, according to the report. 

In public meetings, Burners called the suggested drug searches unconstitutional.

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette-Journal

Is Trump going to build a wall at Burning Man?

Well…sort of.

No statement yet at the BJ, but some more detail was posted in the comments to this post:

Alternative D has been selected:
The event will occur with no population growth during the ten year period. This means that a total of 80,000 people will be allowed onsite until at least 2028.

In the final EIS the BLM has updated many facets of the mitigations. Listed below are some of the most contentious ones.

NAT-2 Dumpsters: This mitigation has been completely removed from the EIS. Yay.

PHS-1 Private Security at Gate: They are still requiring private security. However the contracting will be done through the BLM, not BRC. This security force will report “banned or illegal contraband” directly to law enforcement. Federal agency contracting out private security to conduct their unconstitutional searches.

PHS-3 The Wall Around BRC: The requirement has been shortened. It now just reads, “BRC will be required to implement physical perimeter barriers and controls to reduce the risk of unauthorized entry to the Event.”

PHS-4 Building Inspections: This one was loosened up a bit, fortunately. Now structures over 10 feet must only be inspected if they are for lodging and aren’t tents, RV’s, or motorhomes. Also, the inspection will be done by BRC staff, not “Nevada-certified building inspectors.”

VIS-1 Lighting: They’re letting us point our lights towards the sky. However, the BLM is going to monitor us to make sure we don’t spew too many photons.

Look for updates to this post as the story unfolds.


[Update June 15 2019 11:30am]

Volume 1 of the Environmental Impact Statement

Volume 2

Reddit thread

Some are saying that High Rock Security will be doing the drug searches.

Seems like some lucrative private security contracts will be going the way of long-time BMorg personnel

Private searches offer an interesting loophole for the government to get around the Fourth Amendment, as discussed in this 2017 Yale Law journal article:

Under the private search doctrine, once a private party has conducted an initial search independent of the government, the government may repeat that search, even if doing so would otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment. The private party’s search renders the subsequent government “search” not a search in the constitutional sense.


Currently Burning Man has a peak ticketed population of 70,000 and is allowed 10,000 staff and volunteers. They have missed out on 300,000 tickets over the next ten years, which is potentially more than half a billion dollars. I predict VIP ticket prices will increase above $2000 before the end of this period – in the past I have predicted that for 2020. We’re getting very close already: with vehicle pass, handling fees and taxes, this year’s VIP ticket is $1703.50.

BURNILEAKS: 2018 Bureau of Land Management Cost Recovery

Thanks to our source for obtaining this paperwork. Once again, the details of ticket sales are completely redacted. Why is this considered a State Secret?

BLM are expecting their 2018 costs to increase by half a million. BMorg want to know why.

Both the 2017 and 2018 events were oversold by several thousand tickets.

Charts and Tables


Pershing County generates 7,300 cubic yards of waste in a year. Burning Man generates more than that every day.

CRA-Decision-Signed-03262019

2018-BM-CRA-Closeout-Summary-Table_Final

BLM-2018-CRA-Phase-1-Planning-BRC-Signed-Phase-1-document-and-Cover-Le…

07062018_BM_CoverLetter_CRAPhase2-1

BM-Phase-1-2018-CRA-Est._Signed-BRC-BLM

07062018_Signed_2018-CRA-Estimate_Operational_Phase2_MainDocument_BM


BMorg Outraged at $10m Bill for $42m New Revenues

The government wants to build a 10-mile fence to keep the Burners in a pentagon-shaped concentration camp.

The Burning Man Project wants to increase the capacity of Black Rock City to 100,000 people.

Locals object because of the trash and damage to roads and property (see Leave No Trace Has Become “Hide the Evidence”).

The BLM and local cops want more resources to handle a large population.

BMorg says the BLM’s demands would cost $10 million, and lead to “substantial” increases in ticket prices – which are already more than substantial for an event where the punters have to bring all the entertainment and facilities themselves.

The 10-year Permit for the event is at stake. This is needed for the largest event on Federal land to continue.

SFGate has a great article on it here

Among the contested changes suggested by BLM in the draft report, according to the Burning Man website, were:

— Federal oversight over certain parts of Burning Man‘s operations

10 miles of either plastic or cement barriers around the perimeter fence

Dumpsters within the city and along Gate Road for the 80,000 participants

— BLM-approved private security funded by Burning Man who would be screening for weapons and drugs for anyone entering Black Rock City.

One suggestion, labelled as “brazen” in the Burning Man staff statement, was that the group would pay for the maintenance of County Road 34, which takes participants to the entrance…

Further complicating matters is the fact that organizers are seeking a 10-year permit with BLM to continue to hold the event at Black Rock Desert, which has been “home” to Burners for 27 years. The environmental impact statement was done in part to look at the potential outcome if the event grows to hold up to 100,000 people, versus its current attendee numbers of 70,000, or not holding the event at all.

The field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Black Rock Field Office said its suggestions are “attempts at trying to solve problems” in comments to the Gazette-Journal, emphasizing that the report is not yet finalized

Source: SFGate

You can also read all about it in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

BMorg’s response is, predictably, to raise ticket prices. No matter that they are able to sell another 30,000 more tickets. At current VIP Price of $1400, that is an extra $42,000,000 revenue per year – plus handling fees, vehicle passes, and all that jazz.

Initial cost estimates for BLM’s recommended stipulations are nearly $10 million per year and would raise ticket prices substantially. Importantly, BLM would benefit financially from these increased expenses through their existing requirements to take a percentage of a permit holder’s gross revenue.

They couldn’t just keep ticket prices the same, and bank the extra $32 mil?

All the public documents are available from the Bureau of Land Management.

Burning_Man_Event_SRP-Draft_EIS_Vol1

Burning_Man_Event_SRP-Draft_EIS_Vol2

Holmes Partied at Burning Man While Theranos Burned

Image: Daily Mail

Vanity Fair has a big story on Elizabeth Holmes, the Silicon Valley “world’s youngest female billionaire” wunderkind who turned out to be a fraud. It’s by the excellent Nick Bilton, who wrote about Burning Man and the tech elite in the New York Times in 2014 (and quoted us)

Before the company’s collapse, Holmes gave speeches at universities detailing…when she started Theranos in 2003, she had resolved to never, ever give up on the company, no matter what…“the minute you have a backup plan, you’ve admitted you’re not going to succeed.”…she would stay with Theranos even if it failed, determined to see her life’s work through to the end.

Holmes had always done things her way—she hewed herself to a diet of disconcerting green juices, wore a Jobsian turtleneck, and as I recently reported, walked around the office with a dog whom she repeatedly told people was a wolf, and whom she doted on even when he shat all over the company boardroom. Indeed, Holmes spent Theranos’s final days not in mourning, but at the biggest party on earth. As Taylor locked the door at the company’s lab in Newark, California, Holmes was roughly 375 miles away, dressing in white fur, with pink bug-eyed sunglasses, prancing around the playa at Burning Man with her boyfriend.

I learned this detail, along with plenty of others, after the publication of my recent article [which] struck a nerve with former Theranos employees, many of whom say they hate Holmes like a cartoon villain. One former Theranos employee reached out to me to recount how small and petty her lies could be…Holmes’s comment about being able to quote Jane Austen in a New Yorker profile was nonsense. In public, Holmes often attempted to appear well-read and scholarly, in a dreary New England sort of way, despite her single year of college. She touted the titles of works of philosophy that she had absorbed. According to this former employee, however, it was all fiction. Colleagues who questioned her about the canon found that Holmes’s intellect was mostly superficial. For this person, it was a harbinger of what was to come. “How is it that you can remember every word of Jane Austen but you say ‘I don’t remember’ 600 times during a deposition,” the employee asked me rhetorically, referring to Holmes’s now infamous pattern of response during a series of depositions with 12 attorneys from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Read the full story by Nick Bilton at Vanity Fair

https://www.wired.com/story/elizabeth-holmes-downfall-has-been-explained-deeplyby-men/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6756663/Elizabeth-Holmes-engaged-hotel-heir-Billy-Evans-works-driverless-car-start-up.html

BMorg Finally Wakes Up To Culture Disaster: Is It Too Late?

Image: Business Insider, 2015

Ticket prices have gone up to $1400.

To distract us from that, there’s a huge blog post by Burning Man’s CEO Marian Goodell Cultural Course Correcting saying that after listening to several thousand people’s responses to a survey, they’ve learned that some Burners have concerns that Principles like “Radical Self Reliance” seem to be getting left by the wayside as the event catapults to celebrity superstardom.

As CEO of the nonprofit Burning Man Project, I do a lot of listening. People enthusiastically share their Burning Man experiences, ideas, and concerns with me. Lately, participants have been talking about some alarming changes in the culture of Burning Man in Black Rock City, and their speculation as to who and what is causing them…

After Black Rock City 2018, our Communications Team compiled examples of commodification and exploitation of Black Rock City and Burning Man culture. The report is 55 pages long. We’ve been observing some troubling trends for a few years, but this report stunned me.  

We have been sounding the culture alarm here for 7 years now, and so have many other Burners. Finally that message has filtered its way through the self-absorbed BMorg holocracy to the people at the top.

The solution? Keep VIP tickets, but increase their price even further, to $1400. Reduce the number of low-income tickets. Only offer 23,000 tickets (less than 1 in 3) to the general public, while beefing up the Directed Group Sale World’s Biggest Guest List to more than half the total tickets.

Here’s the 2019 ticket distribution.

Even with the price increase and all taxes and fees, it doesn’t get up to last year’s event revenue. Seems to be millions of dollars of stuff that’s not ice or coffee being sold out there, either that or thousands more tickets.

Note that every number is “approximately” and they have now admitted they oversell the festival by perhaps 7,000 tickets a year. So how “approximate” the limitation of 4000 VIP tickets is may never be known: seriously, the government is redacting that information in response to FOIA requests. How many VIP tickets Burning Man sells is a state secret…ponder that.

The camp “Humano” was named and shamed as having too much money and too many women who were both good looking and bored looking at the same time. Tickets to their hotel rooms were going for up to $100,000, and allegedly came with entertainment.

They had the classic “fortress camp” layout, that would have stood out like a sore thumb at Burning Man 1998.

Read the full story at Mashable

A lengthy Reddit thread devoted to Humano features various camp neighbors accusing them of “ruining multiple blocks” with MOOP and leaving trailers in areas zoned for other camps. There are also allegations that Humano’s packages were priced to include the companionship of multiple female models

Mashable was also shown unmet requests for refunds from Humano attendees who paid upwards of $130,000 for a stay in a luxury RV and didn’t get what they bargained for. 

And all this may be just the tip of the iceberg of bad camps. “There are a dozen other camps that have been sent warnings,” Goodell wrote. 


[Source: Mashable]

Burning Man Board members Jim Tananbaum and Chip Conley have previously attracted scrutiny and criticism for their opulent, exclusive, multi-million dollar luxury camps.

See this inside look at a Fancy Camp from 2015.

The #HumanoTheTribe Instagram hashtag sure has some purdy ladies. Maybe banning them is not such a smart idea. If these Instagram models are using Burning Man to promote a product, it’s hard to tell what that is because they’re not wearing very much of anything. I can’t see any brand names. I say comp them all VIP tickets. These pictures explain why Burning Man tickets are worth $1400 more than Marian’s blog post did.