Defense Department/Navy Specialist in Organized Crime and Drugs to Run Burning Man

He will be responsible for the largest event on public land in the US as the new Winnemucca District manager for the Bureau of Land Management, the agency within the Department of the Interior that manages the annual Burning Man event. He replaces Gene Seidlitz, who was abruptly shunted out of his position during the Chocotacogate debacle.

From the Reno-Gazette Journal (emphasis ours):

drewjustin-nnb-people-121916The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has hired a former U.S. Department of Defense official as the new Winnemucca District manager.

The position will certainly provide a change of scenery for Justin Drew, who will begin his new role in February. Drew formerly dealt with illicit drug and weapon trafficking networks in the Caribbean, Central America and South America as the managing director of the U.S. Navy’s Counter Transnational Organized Crime Division for the Southern Command.

As the director of the Winnemucca office, he will manage 8.4 million acres of BLM-administered high desert throughout Northern Nevada, including the Black Rock-High Rock National Conservation Area, two field offices and eighty-three full-time employees.

He also will be responsible for issuing Burning Man’s $3 million to $4 million special recreation permit, the largest in the country…

One of the BLM’s greatest tasks in overseeing Burning Man is providing law enforcement resources to ensure that security protocol are followed during the weeks before, during and after the event. Burning Man executives have taken issue with some law enforcement procedures, such as the use of K9 units, the increase in traffic violations and overall , in recent years, cited in the arts nonprofit’s $2.8 million lawsuit against the BLM filed in July. The BLM also is responsible for environmental, health and safety standards at the annual, weeklong event.

Drew’s predecessor, Gene Seidlitz, was reassigned to the BLM state office in 2015 after the BLM came under fire for its unprecedented request that year for a VIP compound at Burning Man, information revealed in a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation in June 2015. Since Seidlitz’s reassignment, the BLM has enlisted several acting officials to oversee the Winnemucca office, including Kenneth Collum, William Mack and Robert Towne.

Drew has little to no experience in land management or geology, but has held various management positions in the U.S. Navy throughout his career. He served as the executive officer for the U.S. Navy’s Southern Command Joint Intelligence Operation Center as well as an Intel officer and an enlisted aviation electronics technician.

Drew received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. In April, he also received a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University. In addition, Drew volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity and the Humane Society. He also trains dogs for general obedience and to work as service animals for veterans.

[Source]

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The position required a Q Security Clearance from the Department of Energy, the highest level – equivalent to TOP SECRET/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information in the military. That would have been no problem for this career Naval Intelligence officer who managed hundreds of personnel in inter-agency teams with the CIA, DIA, DEA, NSA, FBI, BATF, Treasury and others.

Does he seem a little overqualified to manage a desert rave?

Has he been to Burning Man? Did he partake of the sacrament? Do you think he knows there are people on drugs there? Hopefully his interest in animal welfare will encourage him to stop the torture of Police K9s in these abominably dusty and dry conditions, just to entrap a few $1000+ citations to fill the Pershing County coffers while ruining the lives of innocent psychedelic enthusiast Burners.

He is a Freemason, which will not be surprising to anyone following my Shadow History series. He is also Alpha Phi Sigma.

Interestingly, his rank is not revealed.

“I will be reporting to my next “duty station” in February 2017″…sounds more like he was assigned this post, rather than spontaneously deciding on a career change. It is curious that his resumé says he’s been in the role since February 2016.

His former boss, head of SOUTHCOM General John F Kelly, has just been named by President Donald Trump as the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, taking over from Jeh Johnson.


From his public LinkedIn profile:

• Increasing degree of responsibility and technical expertise over tenure with United States Navy
• Responsible for the comprehensive supervision and administrative oversight of multiple programs & projects within the global intelligence community / operational & managerial oversight, and assessment of processes and policies
• Facilitated the development and implementation of improvement plans and development of policies and procedures designed to increase efficiency, streamline processes and ensure quality
• Skilled in all aspects of Human Resource Management / supervision & training / scheduling / interviewing / assessment / documentation & compliance / supervised 300+ direct reports
• Innate ability to collaborate and communicate with stakeholders across all departmental, and organizational levels on global scale / advanced interpersonal abilities
• Fostered open communication in cross-functional teams to drive progress while balancing a high volume of competing demands and deadlines / goal driven project management
• Acted as liaison between projects & directives and leadership in the dissemination of highly sensitive intelligence information
• Prepared and presented extensive reporting & documentation to leadership regarding analytical assessments of policies, procedures, and outcomes / prepared & presented briefings to military and other government agency officials / dignitaries both foreign and US
• Aligned training and procedural efforts to goals and increased multi-departmental efficiency and productivity through the implementation of best practice policies & protocol
• Expertise in budget development & strategic planning / asset allocation & prioritization

Experience

District Manager

Bureau of Land Management

February 2016 – Present (11 months)Winnemucca, Nevada

I will be reporting to my next “duty station” in February 2017. I couldn’t be more excited about starting a new career in such a fantastic organization surrounded by natures beauty.

…[snip]

Managing Director

US Navy

February 2013 – July 2015 (2 years 6 months)Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area

Managed new team created to accomplish USSOUTHCOM Commander’s (4-Star) highest priority of combating transnational organized crime. Applied my knowledge, subject matter expertise, tradecraft, and technical competency to formulate a new product line utilizing link analysis charts and current information that directly supports interagency partners such as, but not limited too: Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Customs and Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Security Agency, and Treasury Department), and other 3 letter strategic-level consumers. This ultimately led to the seizure of millions of dollars in assets.

Making tough decisions, created an environment for effective prioritization of work that increased productivity by 300%. Openness to team members led to increased collaboration with peers, interagency partners and seniors alike. Encouraged a skilled set of team members within a high OPTEMPO environment to participate in problem solving to enhance productivity. Delegating priorities and providing clear written and oral communication led to his team leading the organization in productivity and setting a organizational standard of 100% completion rate of all required tasks.

Meticulous Organizational skills; with exceptional attention to detail, created and prioritized the counter transnational organized crime branch’s fiscal year 2014 Budget of $1.2 million. Expertly managed all administrative aspects of his team to include being the certifying official and releaser of $153,625.49 of travel funds. As a mentor and leader, facilitated teams 400% increase in production and 600% increase in evaluations of daily information reports. During this production surge, quality daily information briefs and information assessments continued to receive praise throughout highest levels of leadership. Leadership skills are beyond reproach.

Joint Intelligence Operation Center Executive Officer

US Navy

February 2012 – February 2013 (1 year 1 month)Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area

Ran operation center with 5 divisions consisting of a total of 322 personnel from all branches of department of defense armed forces, contractors, army civilians, and defense civilian personnel system employees. Ensured unity of effort through effective oral and written communication, which resulted in all requirements being completed on time and at or under budget. I am a senior executive product review guru; as the Microsoft Office and staff product subject mater expert, I provided solutions and mentoring as needed in order to ensure all staff and informational products were of the highest standards and complied with all applicable guidelines; this kept USSOUTHCOM senior executive leadership with clear situational awareness to make informed decisions for future planning. Maintaining superior situational awareness, I led senior executive working group in prioritizing $750,000 in travel authorization funds. Prioritized and developed 84 travel plans, authorized as certifying official $240,000 worth of travel funds, and provided oversight to the remaining travel funds with zero accounting discrepancies resulting in resources being maximized and all critical travel properly allocated and resourced.

Project Director

US Navy

March 2011 – January 2012 (11 months)Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area

Managed 4-star General’s number one priority team. Led multiservice team of Department of Defense, Government Service, and Contractors in successfully collaboration with interagency partners to include Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defense Agency, Central Agency, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Security Agency, and US Treasury in combating global priority per POTUS directive. Shows particular aptitude for supervising civilians, Department of Defense contractors, and collaborating with senior officers in a joint, interagency senior executive staff environment. Effectively used creative thinking to leverage limited resources and established a new tracking database which provides an exponentially greater monitoring and tracking capability; result was teams’ productivity level was increased 400%. Created a new bibliography product line used to nominate individuals to the Extraterritorial Criminal travel Strike Force to get global prioritization for limited and critically needed assets into USSOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility.

Held title and executed duties of division training officer ensuring all programs and requirements were met with resounding success. Top mentor in peer group; provided motivation and insight in continued educational programs resulting in three sailors and two soldiers meeting their academic goals. Liaised with National “I” University to get the first ever-video teleconferencing education program at USSOUTHCOM. These efforts have led to multiple degrees being obtained at both the Bachelors and Masters level for many fellow associates.

Project Manager

US Navy

March 2010 – February 2011 (1 year)Bahrain

Provide all source Indication and Warning and informational products in support of fleet operations. Served as Naval Information Officer for El Basrah Oil Terminal in support of Command Task Group-Iraqi Maritime Forces. Developed numerous threat briefings and informational reports, supporting Operation New Dawn. Led five-person regional analysis division providing indications and warning on over 20 countries and provided all-source analysis for over 30 theater security engagement events. Voluntarily reorganized Naval Central Command’s “I” Directorate’s data entry operating procedures for the Defense Readiness reporting System; resulting in a more accurate reflection of the operational readiness of the N2 directorate’s operational readiness; briefed at the highest senior executive service level.

Department Manager

US Navy

February 2008 – February 2010 (2 years 1 month)Jacksonville, Florida Area

Developed and executed over 15 operational briefs to increase executive awareness and readiness for upcoming events. Established the command’s classified material program including accepting, cataloging, and tracking over 160 pieces of classified material. Managed intricate details in formulating a 3-day training exercise focusing on specific target acquisition and weapon execution procedures. Planned and developed a multi-country problem integrating multiple assets and real time informational injects with 15 sorties and 30 mishap free flight hours. As the command security manager, supervised the flawless transition of over 200 pieces of classified material during a transition to a new hangar. Supervised the initial installation of all SIPR access for the squadron ensuring security protocols were met, security standards met or exceeded, and over $10M in assets accounted for with zero discrepancies.

Student Researcher

US Navy

April 2007 – February 2008 (11 months)Florida

Attended Officer Training Command Pensacola’s Officer Candidate program which develops civilians, enlisted and newly commissioned personnel morally, mentally, physically and imbues them with the highest ideals of honor, courage and commitment for service as Naval Officers.

Also attended 21-week Naval “I” Officer Basic Course that I satisfactorily completed. I was an active and enthusiastic participant during this course, and consistently demonstrated a strong desire to learn the vast amount of information presented.

Human Resources Training Manager

US Navy

November 2006 – April 2007 (6 months)Jacksonville, Florida Area

Maximized resources and expeditiously reduced AIMD’s Training program discrepancies by 50 percent per last conducted Quality Assurance audit. Assisted in the verifying of command Enlisted Distribution and Verification Report on Naval Enlisted Classification qualifications, consequently updating 38 personnel with correct Naval Enlisted Classfication’s for assigned command billets. Efforts resulted in the alignment of billets at command for greater productivity. Utilized knowledge and experience in assisting personnel in preparing Officer Candidate School and Seaman to Admiral packages and preparations for the boards giving outstanding insight to peers and subordinates alike. Revamped the Safety, NAVOSH, General Maintenance Training, and in-rate training requirements for over 800 personnel through proactive Monthly Training Plans, spot-audits, and flexibility in meeting immediate needs of the command. Developed and implemented a new electronic training jacket program reducing man-hours needed to log training by 500 hours quarterly.

Department Manager

US Navy

April 2005 – November 2006 (1 year 8 months)Jacksonville, Florida Area

Managed three teams of personnel consisting of a total of 47 people in the diagnosis and repair of circuit cards at the micro/min level and fabrication of electronic cable bundles consisting of upwards of 1,000 wires on a regular basis with zero discrepancies. Proactively implemented a cross training curriculum that led to the qualification of six new collateral duty inspectors, a 40% increase in total personal qualified and increased productivity within all three teams. Mentored and contributed to the professional success of peers and subordinates by providing training and instruction that improved in-rate advancement by 60 percent.

Team Manager

US Navy

April 2004 – April 2005 (1 year 1 month)Kauai Hawaii

Supervised 7 personnel in the completion of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of five UH-3H aircraft. Secondary duties included Avionics Collateral Duty Inspector, Electrostatic Discharge Petty Officer, and Supply Petty Officer. A recognized expert of the UH-3H aircraft avionics systems; one of only six Non-Pilot Turn Qualified maintainers performed the task of starting the aircraft so maintenance could be performed over 150 times. Trained three coworkers to perform Non-Pilot Turn Qualification, a task paramount to the support of aircraft maintenance and troubleshooting. Ensured the continued success of the Avionics Department by motivating work center personnel to accomplish a goal of zero avionic discrepancies on every aircraft. This leadership directly impacted mission readiness enabling PMRF to execute all critical Pacific Fleet training missions.

Duties: Repaired over 276 aircraft discrepancies, completed 77 non-pilot engine turns, and was a key player in the removal and replacement of 3 UH-3H main gearboxes. His exceptional knowledge of the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program maintenance procedures as well as his meticulous attention to detail were crucial in the completion of six work center audits as well as twelve program audits, ensuring all programs were compliant with all applicable regulations and up to date with documentation. Obtained Electronic Mechanic Journeyman certification through US Department of Labor via US Military Apprenticeship Program.

QA Manager

US Navy

April 2003 – April 2004 (1 year 1 month)Kauai Hawaii

Perform audits on seven work centers consisting of 200+ personnel performing scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on six UH-3H aircraft. A proven technical expert and team player in the Quality Assurance Team. Demonstrated outstanding trouble-shooting skills from day one. Onboard less than a month, I repaired three major avionic discrepancies and three wire connector repairs consisting of over 50 wires each; restoring two aircraft to fully mission capable status and enhancing overall mission readiness. Achieved exceptional results in Quality assurance, which culminated in Pacific Missile Range Facility’s safe execution of 568 missions, over 800 mishap free flight hours in support of a myriad of exercises and two ballistic missile test launches. As a true team player, assisted Airframe shop in the fabrication of a full set of “rig pins,” allowing rapid test and evaluation of aircraft flight control systems and savings of $2500 to the command.

Other duties included Compass calibrator, explosive egress program monitor, and electro-static discharge program manager.

Avionics Technician

US Navy

September 1998 – March 2003 (4 years 7 months)Jacksonville, Florida Area

Managed and lead team of 8 associates who performed scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on commination, navigation, and computer systems on 8 aircraft. Recognized expert on all avionics systems whose knowledge of complex avionics and ability to troubleshoot and repair difficult discrepancies resulted in intensive repairs on 3 computers, 8 radar systems, and 4 communication improvement program modifications. These repairs were instrumental in restoring aircraft to full mission capable status. Personally selected to repair 3 elusive avionics discrepancies with over 100 man-hours of repair time already invested. All 3 repairs were personally diagnosed and repaired within 24 hours. Poised professional whose dedication to the command and ability to motivate subordinates had an immediate and positive impact on the command’s morale and readiness. Conducted numerous training sessions for junior personnel, resulting in an increase in work center personnel qualifications. Contributes to work center production, maintenance safety, and program compliance.

Other duties included: Support equipment petty officer, electro-static discharge petty officer, training petty officer, and moral welfare and recreation petty officer. Completed tasks in a timely manner with minimal supervision. Repaired numerous avionic system repairs reduced workload by 30% for Avionics work shop. During critical manpower shortages in the work center, recognized by leadership for going above and beyond to ensure all requirements were met.

Education

Boston University

Master’s Degree, Criminal Justice, 3.64

2016

MET CJ650 TERRORISM B
MET CJ725 FOREN BEHAV ANL A-
MET CJ702 ANALYTIC METHDS A
MET CJ602 CRIMINOLOGY B
MET CJ625 VICTIMOLOGY A-
MET CJ631 YTH CRIME PRBLM A
MET CJ632 WHITE CLR CRIME A-
MET CJ703 RESEARCH METHDS A-
MET CJ710 DIGTL INVSTIGTN A

Activities and Societies: Alpha Phi Sigma – Criminal Justice Honor Society

(Open)1 organization

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

BS 3.9/4, Professional Aeronautics

2003 – 2007

Bachelors degree, Professional Aeronautics, Graduated Summa Cum Laude

Activities and Societies: I was an active duty service member in the US Navy working full time while attending classes.

[snip]

 

Volunteer Experience & Causes

Shelter Manager

US Navy

April 2003 – November 2005 (2 years 8 months)

I was certified by the Red Cross.

Judge

JROTC Foundation

August 2011 – Present (5 years 5 months)Children

Judge competitions and provide mentorship to high-school level cadets.

Food Preparation

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida

March 2008 – Present (8 years 10 months)Poverty Alleviation

Prepare and serve meals on a quarterly basis along side my fellow Masonic Lodge members.

Supervisor

Habitat for Humanity International

July 2004 Poverty Alleviation

Organized and led a group of volunteers to renovate a community building used to host non-profit group meetings to include AA, NA, and other civic minded groups. Renovation took 4 days and over 200 man hours. Renovation included new roof and screens installation. Re-painting and pressure cleaning was also done of this 1250 square foot building.

Big Brother

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

March 2011 – February 2013 (2 years)Children

Provide mentoring and of an at risk

Causes Justin cares about:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Disaster and Humanitarian Relief

Organizations Justin supports:

Certifications

OSHA 30

OSHA-Training.com

Starting July 2015

2M Microminiature Technician

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), License TRMA 6570

Starting March 2006

A Crash Course in Data Science(Link)

Coursera Course Certificates, License CHD72DPC3TSY

Starting November 2015

Building a Data Science Team(Link)

Coursera Course Certificates, License T7R5Q79NJWHM

Starting November 2015

Managing Data Analysis(Link)

Coursera Course Certificates, License QMAKHJUWD32F

Starting December 2015

Organizations

Mason

Senior Warden

Starting September 2007

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Lifetime Member

Alpha Phi Sigma – Criminal Justice Honor Society

Life Member

Starting March 2016


This RAND Corporation document describes the relationship between the Department of Defense, the Southern Command, and the other agencies tasked with the “War on Drugs” – aka CTOC (Counter-Transnational Organized Crime):

 

 

Why We Burn: Jungle, Mayor of Kostume Kult

(Youth is wasted on the young, but is the playa wasted on the seasoned? Not according to Jungle. One of the most visible, Falstaffian leaders of Kostume Kult, I was honored to speak to him about Kamp Konstruction, Leadership at Kostume Kult, and how the playa has changed since his first Burn in 2007. Interview by Terry Gotham and music by David Kiss)

Jungle1

1. Favorite Burning Man Memory?
There are lots of them. I’ve spent the better part of my time at Burning Man MC’ing where Kostume Kult gifts the gazillions of costumes to the fine citizenry of Black Rock City. That gifting (and helping build the KK community) is the primary driving force for me attending. I get to live out all of the 10 principles, I get to see people transform into themselves v2.0, I get to see smiles a lot and get to interact with lots of folks. I see lots of folks who are friends from NY, from elsewhere & folks I’ve met while MC’ing in prior years. Out of all of the experiences there, the one that is burned into my conscience is as follows:

I pester folks (tourists) to get them to participate, not just watch. One year, there was this guy on a bike. I guess he forgot what he was doing, because he wasn’t wearing any clothing. so I started ‘pestering’. I suggested that he get a costume, perhaps even merely get something to ‘accessorize’ his dick. After a little bit of time with no movement on his part, I began to deal with others. A short time later, however, I noticed him walking down the runway with a smile, wearing a necklace and a top hat. When he got off the runway, I thanked him for participating; he said that he wanted to thank me for ‘encouraging’ him to participate, as he had Parkinson’s and was very self conscious about his shaking; hence, he never gets off his bike. He said that my pestering motivated him to do it, and that he didn’t shake at all walking down the runway. I really don’t recall anything else about Burning Man that year. There are lots of snapshots like that at our runway.

Continue reading

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.

rainforest

Wickermanlarge

Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Great Public Land Heist Has Begun – Are We Part Of It?

Image: Outside Online

Image: Outside Online

“Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Call me a conspiracy theorist – if you must – but a lot of stories have been hitting my news feed lately related to our favorite little patch of Northern Nevada that surely can’t all be unrelated.

First we had the announcement of a zoning change around Gerlach, that seemed to enable the Temporary Autonomous Zone concept so favored by Larry Harvey and Peter Lamborn Wilson, aka Hakim Bey. That seemed possibly related to Billionaire Burner Larry Page’s BMOrg-endorsed vision to have all kinds of new testing grounds for Google. Not just a TAZ – also a PAZ and a SPAZ (Permanent and Semi-Permanent).

Next, the town of Empire – a “quasi-ghost town in Burning Man’s back yard”, with its abandoned Gypsum mine and potential associated site contamination issues – was sold for $11.38 million.

Then, BMOrg breathlessly announced the long awaited closure of their Fly Ranch deal, with details “coming soon” (of course). Donors put up the money for the purchase of “Nevada’s Coolest and Least Known Attraction”, but they’re not telling us who yet (or, quite possibly, ever). The Burning Man Project (as far as we have been led to believe, that is the owning entity) now has a 3800 acre ranch in an area where the local government just approved groups of up to 500 people to do whatever they want, with very minimal oversight from the authorities:

“Unless somebody comes in and points a finger and says, ‘hey they’re doing that,’ we’re not out there driving around looking for it,” [County Planner Dr Eric] Young said. “We will have an occasion to be out there from time-to-time for various inspections, (but) there are certain things like that where there’s not going to be a county person standing there looking at it.

Online pundits say the De Haviland Dash-8 is the new aircraft of choice. Image: simairline.net

Online pundits say the De Haviland Dash-8 is the new aircraft of choice. Image: simairline.net

Next, we heard that BMOrg have created their own commercial airline, with planes carrying up to 30 passengers at a time. Burner Express Air is imagined to be carrying 2500 passengers per day in and out of Burning Man. Assuming that they only fly passengers in daylight hours, and every flight is full, that’s a minimum of 84 flights per day. Assuming planes start just after sunrise and stop just before sunset, that’s 12 hours a day – or one new planeload every 8 minutes. That’s their vision. $995 per person for a round-trip flight from Oakland, $495 from Reno. A couple of million dollars per day. Fossil fuel and noise pollution be damned! No spectators be damned!

Like most of the aviation world, the flights will be subcontracted out to other operators. Prime contractor Advantage Flight Solutions are hiring 50 new employees to cope with the anticipated load – which sounds like a lot for a week, but more realistic for something that is anticipated to be year-round.

Also in the area just recently, a long-standing case between Burners and a powerful local land-owner (whose $7 million boat, the biggest one on Lake Tahoe, mysteriously sunk at the dock) was finally settled. The court ruled that the abandoned art car, which had not been to Burning Man in at least 4 years and was in a state of disrepair, was not a valuable piece of art work worth $1 million. The Burners lost and had to pay the other side’s legal costs: about $50k.

Remember this Burning Man founder’s claim that it’s because of them that Elon Musk and Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof built their Gigafactory in Reno, in one of the world’s biggest free trade zones.

Screenshot 2016-01-28 11.38.13

He recently got a tour of the Gigafactory with Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Councilman David Bobzien.

Apple also just announced plans to build a $1 billion data center in the Reno free trade zone.

Is there some Billionaire Burner version of Atlas Shrugged going on, Galt’s Goodell’s Gulch in the world’s hottest new tax haven? A utopian occult colony? A Monte Verita or Woodstock for the 21st Century? Or just “Esalen in the Desert”?

Whichever way you look at it, that’s a helluva lot of dots. I see connections between all of them. Others are pointing some of the dot-connections out too, including Burning Man Founders and the first-ever full time Burning Man beat reporter. YMMV; maybe we’re all wrong. Still, there are a few more dots to come yet in this post.

That recap of recent goings-on brings me to last week’s story from Outside Online (who previously did a must-read oral history of Burning Man called Hot Mess):

The Great Public Land Heist has Begun

Last week, the House committee on Natural Resources voted to adopt HR 3650, the summary of which reads:

“This bill directs the Department of Agriculture, through the Forest Service, to convey to a state up to 2 million acres of eligible portions of the National Forest System (NFS) in it that it elects to acquire through enactment by the state legislature of a bill meeting certain criteria. Portions of the NFS conveyed to a state shall be administered and managed primarily for timber production.”

It’s not just about timber. This sets the precedent for wilderness being sold to developers. Hillary Clinton has been accused of cashing in on this, as has Harry Reid. Donald Trump is opposed to it.

Why is private ownership of vast tracts of land you currently own bad? Well, it’s historically been demonstrated to reduce public access, and moves the land out of any unified, managed or regulated conservation program. Yes, there is a significant financial gain to be had by selling these lands, but that’s a one-off instance of profit from lands that currently contribute massively to local, state, and the national economy. The outdoor recreation industry alone, which relies on land access to exist, employs 6.1 million Americans and contributes $650 billion to the economy annually. The land where you and I currently go to camp, climb, cycle, hike, hunt, fish, and paddle is under threat. 

The Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership—an organization of hunters and fishermen—called the bill an “overt attempt to undermine public land ownership.” Its president and CEO, Whit Fosburgh, went on to state, “Make no mistake, these are the first votes on legislation that would legitimize the wholesale transfer or sale of America’s public lands.”

In fact, the heist is so blatantly anti-American that even Donald Trump opposes it. “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do,” Trump told Field & Stream. “I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”

[Source]

Federal lands, might get handed to the States and sold off to raise money? Hmmm, wonder if there are any possible connections between BMOrg and that?

Well, we have BLM Special Agent Dan Love, the head of security for the Federales at Burning Man, leading from the front lines in the Bundy Ranch stand-off with Cliven and his family. Harry Reid was forced to back down when his family connections to a Chinese solar plant planned in the area were exposed.

bundy cattle trespass solar

bundy cattle 2

Recently, though, the Bundy family got caught up in another stand-off with the BLM in Oregon at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge – this one linked to Uranium, the Clintons, and the Russians. It turned fatal when the Feds assassinated a patriot Lavoy Finicum before he could meet with a local Sheriff, Cliven turned himself in for arrest and is locked up without bail in Federal prison awaiting trial. About a week ago the BLM announced they were resuming their operations on the land.

Then we have Love again as the alleged main instigator of ChocoTacoGate. BMOrg pulled some big strings, bringing in former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in what the Washington Post called “a trippy alliance”. They hired Reid’s hand-picked former head of the BLM Bob Abbey to help smooth the waters with the many Government Agencies involved in Burning Man. Long-time BLM official Gene Seidlitz was moved out of the way. BMOrg fought the law, and BMOrg won.

I also noted last year the last-minute decision of the BLM to not allow access over one of their roads to Further Future 1. That land was also involved in a BLM land grab dispute, related to a nearby mine. From what I gather, there is a very large new gold mine quite close to Black Rock City and the Fly Ranch site.

Let’s recall too the ditching of local EMS provider Humboldt, for big commercial festival provider CrowdRX. Looks like they were in the right county for Burning Man (Humboldt), but the wrong one for the Burning Man Project (Washoe).

One last set of dots connected to all of this is in the form of Burning Man founder Will Roger Peterson. From his web site:

WILL ROGER PETERSON

BORN 1948

CURRENT POSITIONS:

FOUNDING MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, BLACK ROCK CITY LLC

(BURNING MAN)

    DIRECTOR, NEVADA RELATIONS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS

FOUNDING MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, BLACK ROCK ARTS FOUNDATION   CO-CHAIRMAN, CIVIC ARTS COMMITTEE

MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, FRIENDS OF THE BLACK ROCK/HIGH ROCK    VICE PRESIDENT

MEMBER, SIERRA FRONT-WESTERN GREAT BASIN, RESOURCE ADVISORY COUNCIL (RAC)   CHAIRMAN

    REPRESENTING DISPERSED RECREATION

MEMBER, NEVADA RECREATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE (REC RAC)

MEMBER, BLACK ROCK-HIGH ROCK-EMIGRANT TRAILS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA RAC SUB GROUP  CHAIRMAN

Looks like he sits on several of the boards that would be making recommendations to government about what land is ripe for sale…

My gut instinct tells me, something big is afoot. Are we headed for the ultimate version of Brexit: the BURNEXIT? When the tech industry all vanish off the face of the map, and move to tax havens in the desert where they can take LSD every day for weeks to “increase productivity”? 

2015 (Almost) Final MOOP Map Released [Update]

Inspection tools. Image by @Shalaco

Inspection tools. Image by @Shalaco

This year, the BLM approved Burning Man’s “Leave No Trace” status a full week before the MOOP inspection could be completed. This seems a little strange – as does “we passed with a visibly wide margin” in light of the amount of red on this “almost final” map posted yesterday. Is this a sign that the volunteer MOOP inspectors are now being more zealous than the actual MOOP inspectors? DPW scored a few reds and yellows, and there is a giant big red for The Man. A few camps with red have been specifically named, including Ibiza Camp, Distrikt, Emergency Services Station 3, and the dead-eating nun-fuckers at the Totem of Confessions. Celtic Chaos and Ooligan Airways get named and shamed for large amounts of red, while White Ocean is the biggest red of the whole map and yet somehow manages to avoid a direct link to it.

2015 Moop-Map-2015_Day-9

The “final” map is still several months away, according to VOBM.

This is NOT the final map. The final is still being created, and will be released in a few months, along with detailed information about what was found where. If you’re wondering about what happened, and you’re a placed camp, you will hear from your Placement representative in a few months with more information

Apparently, the delay is simply in getting the data into the graphics, not doing the sweeps:

we have finished line sweeping our way through the streets of Black Rock City …However, it takes us several days to produce the Moop Map images…Sorry for the confusion. Have you ever tried computering in this desert? It’s a slow process [Source]

Here’s how the BLM inspection works:

The BLM can’t inspect the entire 4.5 square mile event site in a single day, so 60 randomly-selected points throughout the city are chosen as a sampling. Each inspection point is one tenth of an acre. They cover all parts of the city, from the streets, to the Man and art sites, to the open playa.

In order to achieve success, there must be less than one square foot of moop found per acre. Therefore, each inspection point must produce less than one tenth of a square foot of moop. That’s a 3.8 inch wide square. It’s small.

And yet, once again, we passed with a visibly wide margin. Do you know how big a deal that is? It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s something we all did together, as the community of Black Rock City. [Source]

It’s great news that we passed. It’s just a little confusing that “passed by a wide margin” is the same as “large amounts of red and yellow all over the map”.

Congratulations to all the camps who scored a green. Anyone who scored a red must live with the public shame for months, without any information about “what” or “why”, and no chance to defend themselves. Surely there could be a better way. Why not just sweep the whole site on the Wednesday following Burning Man, taking photos with GPS co-ordinates? They could post any red marks online and let the camps who care come and explain themselves, apologize, or ask how they could have done it better. Dealing with this more publicly could help educate the whole community together; this system of “we say its red and that’s that and you won’t even find out why for months” seems to help the NPD social capital brigade more than it helps the global community of Burners.

And while we’re at it, what about an abandoned bikes map?

Thanks to Gary Justgary for posting these from previous years:

moop 2014 moop 2013 moop 2010


[Update 10/14/15 11:09am]

Adam La France has shared a couple of photos of MOOP left behind this year.

2015 wood left behind adam la france

Abandoned timber is gathered in one place and burned. Image: Adam La France via Facebook

2015 abandoned bikes

Many of these bikes were stolen before being abandoned. Image: Adam La France via Facebook