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.

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

New Permit Allows For More Tickets To Be Released

WeHavePermit_Cartoon

It looks like BMOrg gains an extra $420,000 in ticket sales, instead of having to pay that much extra in to the BLM in the increase to the Infrastructure part of their budget.

A huge thanks to A Balanced Perspective for this guest post.

 


 

I penned a few notes in regards towards the Burning Man 2015 Special Recreation Permit Stipulations signed on Friday night 7 August.

Burning Man Event Gates Open

“7. Gates are permitted to open at 10:00 AM on Sunday, August 30,” and no fun is permitted prior to 6:00 PM participants are required to focus their activities on camp location setup prior to 6:00 PM on Sunday, August 30. The fun event shall end at 6:00 PM on Monday, September 7, and for the purposes of participant egress the main gate will be opened until 12:00 PM on Tuesday, September 8.

Population and Tickets

“1. The maximum authorized population (also referred to as the “population cap”) at any point in time during the 2015 event is 70,000 paid participants. The population cap does not include volunteers, government personnel, emergency service providers, vendors, and contractors.” This is of the meaning of the BMOrg is permitted to sell over 1,000 tickets more than the priorly stated 69,000 tickets, of which, the tickets sold for $30.5 million.

The BMorg social media crew, in a most unofficial manner, states a manner to obtain tickets is to construct an art project, or labour upon an art project. Thusly, might a Burner be doing so, converse with your art project lead, and with the Artery, purposed to buy a ticket. In the same manner, might a contributing theme camp, or a mutant vehicle crew, or a donor of cash towards the Burning Man Project, be of the need of a small number of tickets, converse with the BMOrg, purposed to buy the needed tickets.

Missing from the 2015 Permit

Missing from the 2015 permit is requirements upon the medical of that BRC LLC, dba Burning Man, must pay for ambulances to transport Burners to hospitals in Reno. My belief is this is a most important item purposed for the safety of Burners.

In addendum, missing from the 2015 permit, is any mention in regards of what the BRC LLC is required to provide towards the BLM, and towards the BLM police, in regards of constructing their huge police compound, of providing their cafeteria, their housing, and of their other luxuries. In addendum, missing from the 2015 permit is any mention in regards of the BLM is required to provide towards the BRC LLC of a statement of costs for the Cost Recovery Fee, or of the amount of cash to be paid in due of the cost recovery fee. Their is no rationale of the BLM, and of their police, desire a cafeteria separate from the BMOrg staff cafeteria, other of the BLM, and their police, do not desire to associate with the enemy unwashed Burners.

The Police State

In regards of the police state, my belief is the BLM, and their police, desire control of BRC, and of ‘compliant participants’, and desire of the ability of cancellation or of temporary suspension of the event. Their rubbish rationales of this might be a forecast of rain, wind, or the most important concern of the prior Pershing County Sheriff, whom desired to bring 12 riot control horses to the playa, social unrest.

“27. BRC and BLM, and other agencies as shall be mutually deemed appropriate, shall cooperate in the development of a Unified Command (UC) structure … for the management of available safety, security and infrastructure resources in the event of an emergency incident … as well as in the event of an emergency threshold event as defined in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). … All UC operations will be managed from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located at the BLM Headquarters…”

“31. BRC shall develop and cooperate in the implementation of contingency plans for operations of critical health and safety services under adverse conditions, including those that could cause cancellation or temporary suspension of the event. Such causes may include adverse weather, natural or human caused disaster, or social unrest.” In addendum of “ii. BRC and the BLM will monitor forecast weather conditions. If weather forecasts suggest a high probability of adverse weather conditions that may result in disruptions to the event, … In the event of natural disaster or civil unrest appropriate strategies and actions will be initiated immediately after any disaster or unrest occurs”

In addendum in regards of the police state, the Closure Order for the playa, states Disorderly Conduct is illegal, and it is a crime with levies and, perchance, jail time. I was of the belief the purpose of Burning Man being in the most horrible desert was Disorderly Conduct.

Other Stipulations

In regards of other stipulations, “44. No more than 1,000 vehicles per hour shall be released from Black Rock City during the exodus “. A new item, it was desired, by the BLM, within their rubbish 20 points, “23. … Participants who are stopped by BRC Rangers for violating established burn perimeters shall be promptly turned over to BLM Law Enforcement“. “54. Event speed limits shall be posted on both Gate Road and the 12-Mile/Point 1 Road. … Will-call area shall have an organized layout including signage.” “56. Environmental Compliance Team”, the BLM desires to send wankers valued employees, and VIPs, to the playa to have a paid vacation and stare at tits monitor environmental compliance.

In addendum, the BLM is requiring of rubbish new costs, upon the BRC LLC, of “35. BRC shall station a specialized emergency firefighting vehicle at the airport during all times that the airport is open. BRC shall provide modern industry-standard technical rescue, extrication and high-angle rescue capabilities and equipment throughout pre-during-and post-event”

Burners, what might be your opinions in regards of the 2015 Burning Man Permit Stipulations?

BREAKING: Seidlitz Sidelined! BLM Temporarily Reassigns Burning Man Supervisor

Gene Seidlitz runs the Winnemucca Field Office for the Bureau of Land Management. He has overseen Burning Man successfully for many years. This year, in the wake of Chocotacogate and the ditching of Humboldt General for CrowdRX, he has been transferred to Siberia the minerals program while Burning Man happens. A former 40-year Veteran of the BLM has come out of retirement, to run what will be his first Burning Man.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

With only a month before Burning Man, the BLM official usually tasked with overseeing the event’s permitting process has been reassigned temporarily.

Gene Seidlitz (L) talks to Special Agent Dan Love (R). Image: Boing Boing

Gene Seidlitz (L) talks to Special Agent Dan Love (R). Image: Boing Boing

Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz began a 120-day assignment as acting deputy state director for minerals in the BLM’s Nevada state office in Reno on Monday. He will return to his role in the Winnemucca office after November, according to a BLM statement early Monday evening.

Robert Towne, a 40-year veteran of the BLM, started as the acting Winnemucca District manager. He will be in charge of BLM operations outside of law enforcement at this year’s Burning Man, which is scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 7.

The Winnemucca office each year is charged with issuing Burning Man’s more than $4 million special recreation permit, the largest in the country. The permit allows 68,000 people to attend the celebration of arts and free expression in the Black Rock Desert during the week leading up to Labor Day.

Seidlitz will continue to work on the permit in an advisory capacity. It will be the first time that Towne, who is coming out of retirement to take the temporary position, will work on the Burning Man permit and event

State BLM officials and Burning Man organizers were supposed to meet throughout July, though neither organization’s representatives have disclosed whether the state office has revised the BLM requests…

Robert Towne, coming out of retirement for his first Burning Man.

Robert Towne, coming out of retirement for his first Burning Man.

Towne began his federal career in Coeur d’Alene National Forest in Idaho and then with the Salem, Eugene, and Prineville BLM Districts in Oregon. After serving five years as the Spokane District Manager, Towne became Deputy Assistant Director for the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in Washington, D.C. In 2014, he also served as the interim District Manager for the BLM Eugene District.

He retired recently and since has been living in Spokane, Wash.

During Seidlitz’s temporary reassignment, he will supervise the solid and fluid minerals program for the BLM throughout the state of Nevada. BLM Nevada has the largest mining program of any state BLM office, with 49 percent of the BLM’s mining claims nationwide.

“All of us in the state office appreciate Gene’s willingness to support the minerals program,” said Acting Nevada State Director John Ruhs. “His experience will be a valuable asset as we continue to search for a permanent deputy state director. We also look forward to having Robert Towne’s leadership and expertise in Winnemucca in the meantime.

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The BLM Press release suggests Seidlitz will still be keeping a keen eye on things at Burning Man:

During his assignment in the Nevada state office, Seidlitz will continue to work on the BLM’s Special Recreation Permit (SRP) for the Burning Man event, currently scheduled for late August and early September in the Black Rock Desert. Seidlitz will serve in an advisory capacity to the SRP team while Towne, as District Manager, serves as BLM’s leader for civilian operations during the event.

What the heck is going on over there?

BLM Want Their Own Million Dollar Compound With Popsicles and Donuts [Updates]

Jenny Kane at the Reno Gazette-Journal breaks an exclusive story “BLM Wants VIP Compound at Burning Man” . It’s about the unprecedented, eyebrow-raising last minute demands from the Bureau of Land Management, which need to be met before a permit for this year’s event can be issued.

That’s right, Burning Man starts in about 60 days, but the permit has not been issued yet. No permit, no event. The negotiation stakes are high, and the big guns are being shown at the table.

Some have speculated that the permit may be held up this year due to complications with festival stalwart CrowdRX taking over the medical responsibilities from proven local team Humboldt General Hospital. Whether that is a real issue or not, the latest problem that needs to be settled before the permit gets issued is this: VIPs need ceramic toilets, goddam it!

Read the full story and watch the video at the Reno Gazette Journal. Emphasis is ours.

Image: Boing Boing

Image: Boing Boing

The largest event on Federal land is turning into quite the luxury camping adventure for the hundreds of government workers paid to go to Burning Man.

BLM officials contend that their staff can no longer stay in the “primitive” accommodations available in Gerlach, which is about 20 minutes from the event location.

“We’re very concerned about where we put people that are part of our staff and that are part of the support and permitting,” said BLM Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz.

Recently the BLM spent $3 million building these so-called primitive Gerlach accommodations, which feature hot and cold running water, flushing toilets, refrigerators, and other amenities. These are no longer sufficient for the $30 million+, 70,000 person billionaire’s safari experience that is Burning Man 2.0. Perhaps we should be glad that they’re not asking to spend the $1.2 million on facial recognition technologies and x-ray vision that can see through tent and RV walls…or maybe they already did that…

The BLM already gets $3.5-4 million in fees from Burning Man for the annual permit, as well as a 3% cut of the gross revenues of any of the 100+ vendors out there every year.

Screenshot 2015-06-27 20.24.36

BLM fees from Burning Man
2011: $858k
2012: $1.4 million
2013: $2.9 million
2014: $4 million
2015: About $5 million.

[Source: Burn.Life]

BMOrg convinced a BLM Director to come across to the corporate world and lobby for them. Now it seems that the BLM are demanding perks. More perks.

Details of the request were included in an email exchange obtained by the RGJ between a Burning Man official and Bob Abbey, the former BLM director who is now a consultant for Burning Man organizers.

Having been a career BLM employee, I expect agency employees to behave competently and professionally in their interactions with the public,” Abbey said in his email. “I don’t see these traits being applied in their dealings with (Black Rock City).”

The proposed layout of the camp, published by the RGJ, shows 8 double VIP rooms. So as many as 16 unnamed VIPs are coming. Could this have anything to do with BMOrg’s recent trip to Washington DC? They were there to meet with bigwigs in the BLM, Department of the Interior, and State and Federal Government representatives.

BLM Winnemucca manager Gene Seidlitz seems to think so:

As to who will be included in the VIP crew making its way to Burning Man this year, Seidlitz said that he likely will not know until the day of the event.

Right now, I don’t have the exact names. But there are those in upper leadership at the state level of BLM and the national level of BLM,” Seidlitz said. “Based on the issues and concerns of last year, it does have the interest of the Department of Interior.”

Seidlitz said that Washington, D.C., officials are concerned about upholding the standards of the “American public” and they will be coordinating visits to Burning Man while making other stops in the West.

“Burning Man is on everyone’s list. They come out to see the event, and to meet with everyone from BLM

Yep, it’s on everybody’s bucket list now. Great. Swell. Neato.

Image: Charles Doyle/Facebook

Image: Charles Doyle/Facebook

The VIPs don’t have to participate very long. They can just come, get in a couple of quick rounds of Burner Bingo, enjoy the spectacle put on for them by the freaks, then be on their merry way.

None of the VIPs will be staying the entire period that the Blue Pit compound will be set up, from Aug. 27 through Sept. 11. Many will be popping in for a day, maybe a half-day, Seidlitz said.

Special Agent Love is the bloke responsible, says the RGJ. Is this from Love, or above? Who is next up the chain of command? It definitely isn’t Harry Reid.

BLM Special Agent Dan Love of Salt Lake City was cited multiple times as the person behind many of the BLM requests, according to the emails. He did not return requests for comment. Love also led the BLM operation against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy that ended in a standoff with Bundy’s armed supporters.

Is this really just coming out of the blue from the local team, who have all been working with BMOrg for decades? Perhaps they suddenly decided that if the Founders are handing the reins of Burning Man over to a new non-profit – while they and their Directors and staff are staying in luxury camps that have all these amenities – that maybe it’s time for the BLM boys to retire and enjoy the good life too. Maybe – but that still doesn’t explain the mysterious VIP units. They also have 4 private medical units in the VIP compound. What sort of contingencies are they preparing for?

It’s worth noting that the “Blue Pit” – the name for the BLM’s Caravansicle – is not even at Burning Man.

The VIP encampment, called the Blue Pit, is a new request this year. It is in addition to the more bare-bones accommodations for the employees who will be staying at the BLM’s headquarters, which houses up to 150 working staff during the main event.

That’s 1 BLM agent for every 453 Burners. And this is in addition to the Pershing County Sheriff’s department, and other agencies such as the FBI and DEA. These 150 staff are already styling, compared to most Burners who are forced to use Radical Self Reliance, Participation, and Leave No Trace:

The headquarters also are expected to have trailers with flushable toilets and sinks, though no showers or washers and dryers are requested. The headquarters will be located at the end of the 12-mile playa entry road, 12 miles north of Gerlach. The Blue Pit compound is about two miles past the playa on County Road 34 near an old gravel pit.

The RGJ obtained a number of documents, including this brochure of the bathtroom units. No port-a-potties for these guys.

portable restroom trailers

Image: Documents Obtained by Reno Gazette-Journal

This is the layout of the “Blue Pit”. It does not say where the stripper poles are located, that is left up to your imagination.

blue pit rgj

Image: Documents Obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal

The BLM says that they are concerned about safety after the tragic death of a Burner last year, and that extra security people need to come now to assess things.

The request, unprecedented in Burning Man’s history, has turned into a point of contention as organizers negotiate with the agency for their annual permit to stage the event in the Black Rock Desert. No permit has been issued for this year’s event, which runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 7. Typically permits are issued in early August.

Burning Man has refused to comply with the BLM’s request, which the federal agency submitted on June 1, according to Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham. “We want to work this out. We’re getting close to the event, but we feel that there are more common-sense and cost-effective solutions,

Look, I fully support officers of the law and servants of our Federal government working in nice conditions and safety. We Burners pay several million dollars a year for their “services”. It’s for a week, not life. Surely they can find cops from around the world who would volunteer to come to Burning Man for free and take care of their own accommodation? Or, spend their own budget on this stuff. Don’t make Burners pay even more – because you know that is what BMOrg is going to do. They won’t be eating this expense themselves – that’s why we have this latest “leak the email chain to the media” move. Permit be damned! We’ve got Harry Reid!

Except that Harry has retired recently. Maybe no-one got that memo. Still, Harry’s written a strongly worded letter to the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell – is she on the list for 2015?

Harry Reid, 75, is retiring this year. He injured himself using exercise equipment on New Year's Day Image: Yahoo

Harry Reid, 75, is retiring this year. He injured himself using exercise equipment on New Year’s Day Image: Yahoo

Reid wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, an avid outdoorswoman and former head of REI, saying the BLM needs to get over itself about asking for flushing toilets and other amenities. The BLM is in charge of permitting the annual event, which takes place this year from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7.

“While I agree that the BLM should take its permitting duties seriously and work with Burning Man to both guarantee the safety of its participants and the protection of the environment, providing outlandishly unnecessary facilities for the BLM and its guests should be beyond the scope of the permitting requirements. Part of Burning Man’s philosophy is self-reliance and living with the elements is part of the experience. Flush toilets and laundry facilities can be found about ten miles away in Gerlach, Nevada, if BLM’s employees need such amenities,” Reid wrote, noting that he was an author of the legislation that designated the area a federally protected space. [Source: Roll Call]

The RGJ has published the full rider here. Some readers have had problems accessing this story due to the RGJ’s login system. I have reproduced the rider below, presumably this is public information and not some sort of classified state secret. RGJ have filed FOIA requests for more information and we will bring you updates to this story if we hear anything more.

Jenny’s story has also been picked up at reason, boingboing, Roll Call, Fark, the LA Times, Yahoo News, CBS LocalUSA Today, and Reddit – where one wag likened the BLM to the IOC (or FIFA).

Dr Yes at Burn.Life thinks this is “attempted extortion”. He has created a petition against this.

Image: Burn.Life

Image: Burn.Life


[Update 6/28/15 8:38am PST]

The BLM’s Black Rock Administrative Station in Gerlach. Image: Bureau of Land Management

Thanks to our reader A Balanced Perspective for providing links to the documentation for BLM’s existing facilities, which opened in 2011 at a cost of $3.5 million – or about a year’s worth of Burning Man’s annual fee payments to them.

From the BLM press release:

Black Rock Station was constructed utilizing almost $ 3.5 million authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The contract provided jobs for about 50 construction workers over a 10-month period, which helped the local economy by making purchases at the local restaurant, gas station and motel

The facility will be open seasonally from March through November and will be staffed by BLM personnel. A BLM fire crew will operate out of the facility from July to September.

[Update 6/28/15 4:40 pm PST]

Reader Grey Coyote has alerted us to some online ill-will towards BLM Special Agent Dan Love, who ran the failed Bundy Ranch standoff operation last year.
Meanwhile, the BLM have disputed the $1 million cost for the Blue Pit Compound, saying that the event’s organizers are exaggerating.


[Update 6/29/15 8:26am]

Fox News has picked up the story, with further quotes from the BLM. They’re now saying the $1 million cost estimate is “robustly exaggerated”

Burning Man organizers have refused the request, saying amenities such as flush toilets, washers and dryers, showers, air conditioning and refrigerators at the bureau’s on-site camp in the Black Rock Desert would cost $1 million and hike its permit fees to about $5 million.

Gene Seidlitz, the bureau’s Winnemucca district manager, said Sunday that the cost of the portable units is being “robustly exaggerated” by organizers. The compound will offer basic amenities only for top agency officials who oversee the quirky art and music festival event held on public land the week leading up to Labor Day, he said.

The number of Bureau of Land Management personnel on hand at the festival has doubled to 160 over the last five years as the peak crowd size has soared to nearly 70,000, he said, and the bureau has run out of places around the nearby town of Gerlach, Nevada, to house employees. Most of the agency’s employees stay at a motel or rental properties in the tiny town.

“A lot of folks think we’re like participants in that we are out there to enjoy the event and party,” Seidlitz told The Associated Press. “But my staff and I have to be rested, well-nourished and accommodated to the bare minimum so we can ensure health, security and safety at the event.”

Organizers stand by their cost estimates for the amenities and their position that bureau fee increases have outstripped the festival’s crowd growth significantly in recent years, spokesman Jim Graham said.

For example, he said, the crowd for this year’s event is expected to grow by only 2,000 participants over last year, yet the agency’s infrastructure costs will climb by roughly $500,000 to $1 million.

“They include construction of an entirely new facility, and we maintain they have not considered more cost-effective alternatives,” Graham said in a statement. “We look forward to working with BLM on solutions that meet everyone’s needs.”

[Source: Fox News]

I’m inclined to agree. The “million dollar compound” seems to be coming from BMOrg, rather than BLM saying “give us another million”.

If you’ve ever built your own camp, you understand that it doesn’t cost $1 million to rent 10 trailers and 12 containers for a week. However, if your experience of Burning Man is limited to plug-n-play accommodations like Caravancicle and First Camp, with an army of thousands of volunteer and paid workers to do your bidding, it might be harder for you to keep in touch with real world expenses.

As for the Bureau fee increases outstripping the festival’s growth, 5 years ago Burning Man’s ticket revenues were $13.5 million and this year we estimate them at $30.5 million, an increase of $2 million+ just from 2014. 2010 attendance was 51,454; this year 68,000 tickets have been sold to paying participants (as well as another 3000 or so volunteers, and a few thousand children who get in free). This represents a population increase of at least 32%. Part of the BLM fees relate to Outside Services Vendors, and there are now more than a hundred of those.

This issue has now gone to the Bureau of Land Management’s Washington DC spokesman. The food requests are identical to last year’s rider, and apparently the Blue Pit Compound is “not really for VIPs” – those containers labelled “VIP containers” in the map should really have said “high level officials containers”. These officials will be roughing it like they’ve been deployed to a war zone.

Seidlitz acknowledged the bureau erred by billing the encampment as a place to house VIPs. Actually, it would only be for 15 to 20 top state and national Bureau of Land Management officials charged with ensuring safety and security and environmental compliance at the festival, he said.

“When you hear ‘VIP,’ it’s like they’re coming out on the government dime and bringing out friends,” he said. “But I have nowhere to put these senior leaders for a good night’s rest. They come out to interact … and ensure what I’m doing is meeting their intent.”

Most will spend no more than a couple of days at the festival, and the compound would save time because of its location only a mile from the festival and not 15 miles away in Gerlach, he added.

The amenities are similar to what the military provides soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what federal agencies offer crews fighting wildfires, bureau officials said.

The bureau also is asking organizers to provide them mandatory food items for three meals a day and snacks during the festival. The food choices are identical to those provided under a contract with organizers last year, said bureau spokesman Craig Leff in Washington, D.C.

“We have every expectation that these issues will be resolved,” he said. “We have very good working relations with (organizers), and we want to continue to have good relations. We’re working hard with them to finalize the permit for this year’s event.”

[Source: Fox News]

Sounds like someone in DC has been told “fix this”…

U.S. Representative Mark Amodei, a Republican representing the part of Nevada where the festival is held, said in a phone interview the requests raised ethical questions and appeared to demand “the Black Rock Desert version of the Four Seasons hotel.” [Source: Reuters]

BMOrg are waiting for a response from the BLM today. On Sunday, they told the Reno Gazette Journal that they stand by their cost estimates, and that Burning Man is NOT Afghanistan.

Burning Man officials stood by their estimates of the BLM requests on Sunday. The organization has asked for an official response from the BLM by Monday, according to a letter from Burning Man addressed to Seidlitz.

“We stand by our estimates to accomplish what the BLM has required in the statements of work,” Jim Graham, Burning Man spokesman, said in an email Sunday to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“They were submitted well into our production cycle for this year’s event, they include construction of an entirely new facility, and we maintain they have not considered more cost-effective alternatives. We look forward to working with BLM on solutions that meet everyone’s needs.”

Graham also questioned a comparison made by a federal BLM spokesman in the RGJ report that likened the amenities requested to those provided by the military to soldiers in Afghanistan.

“Burning Man is not Afghanistan,” Graham said.

[Source: RGJ]

 [Update 6/29/15 1:27pm PST]

The BLM have said they are reviewing the request:

Update 12 p.m.: BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis issued the following statement Monday…”I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event. Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation, and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada Desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety.”

[Source: RGJ]


[Update 6/29/15 3:31pm PST]

The LA Times said Harry Reid’s fuming:

The BLM — the Department of the Interior agency that oversees permitting for Burning Man — has reportedly asked for a VIP compound to house staff at the festival’s Black Rock Desert location before it issues a permit for this year’s event.

And that has made Reid angry. Withhold-gifts angry. Leave-a-trace angry. Burn-something-in-effigy angry.

Gotta love the LA Times. Using emotional language to make a dry story more entertaining, and rile up their readers a little while they’re at it.

Screenshot 2015-06-29 15.30.15

At the Grateful Dead last night, the Burners from Playa Slumlord told me they only have a few nice trailers left. The BLM should just rent those for their VIPs senior officials. They can park them at the Blue Pit if they like, but to really experience Burning Man on our Civic Responsibility public dime, we should encourage them to Participate Immediately and get amongst it! Especially if they’re only coming for one bingo day.


Bureau of Land Management: Burning Man Rider

Mandatory Items for Breakfast

• Butter and margarine, instant hot cereal, jelly or jam, peanut butter, salt, pepper, sugar, cream (or substitute). These items shall be individually packaged. Mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, salt and pepper shall be provided in approved dispensers or original bottles in the dining trailer area.

• Salsa, hot peppers, brown sugar and raisins or other dried fruit shall also be made available, in appropriate serving containers, not individually packaged.

Mandatory Items for Hot Lunch/ Dinners

• Butter and margarine, jelly or jam, peanut butter, mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, cream (or substitute), tea and hot chocolate. These items shall be individually packaged. Mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, salt, and pepper and other large scale condiments shall be provided in approved dispensers or original bottles in the dining tent area.

• Salsa and hot peppers shall also be made available, in appropriate serving containers, not individually packaged.

• A variety of dessert will need to be served with each dinner.

• Salad bar should be available for both lunch and dinner.

Hot meals between scheduled meal hours (These items are only available during non-meal hours. Please see Attachment 3 for meal times and more details)

• Grilled Cheese Sandwich

• Quesadilla

• Deli Sandwiches

• Hamburger

• Hot dogs

• Grilled chicken

• Chicken fingers

• Veggies

Mandatory items for 24 Hour Service Bar

• Hot Regular Brewed Coffee (regular and decaffeinated). Flavored coffee may be served in addition to regular coffee at the Contractor’s option.

• Hot Water

• Hot Chocolate

• Chilled 100% Fruit Juice

• Brewed Coffee

• Tea Bags (regular and decaffeinated)

• Cold Drinks (Coke Products)

• Iced Tea (regular and decaffeinated)

• Assortment of Dry Cereal (Golden Grahams, Fruit loops, Raisin Bran and 1 other flavor)

• Oatmeal

• Chobani Greek Yogurt

• Yogurt

• Bread both white and wheat

• English muffins

• Milk – Both white and chocolate milk shall be available

• Milk alternative (almond, vanilla, and soy)

• Including but not limited to the following: Personal pizzas, Hot Pockets, burritos, noodle cups, M&Ms, Snickers, Payday, Skittles, licorice, jerky, meat and cheese snacks, cookies, brownies, protein bars, nuts, chips, popcorn, fresh fruit, apples, oranges, bananas, etc.

Ice Cream: This needs to be in a standalone freezer for ice cream available all day long

• Drumstick

• Choco Taco

• Individual served ice cream assorted flavors

Popsicles

• Ice cream sandwiches

And here’s a list of meal suggestions by BLM:

Hot/Cold Breakfast

• Eggs – 2 fresh eggs (3 when scrambled) or 6 oz. of liquid eggs (no egg product).

• Meat – 4 oz. (raw uncooked weight).

• Bread or Hot cakes or French toast or Waffles – or equivalent starch (equal to 3 (1 to 1½ oz.) slices of bread.

• Potatoes – 6 oz. or equivalent starch

• Fresh Fruit

• Muffin(s) or equivalent – 3 oz.

Lunch and Hot Dinners

• Steak -10 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in), or Beef – 10 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in), or

• Beef and Pork Ribs – 10 oz. (boneless) or 18 oz. (bone-in), or Pork – 10 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in),, or Poultry – 8 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in), or Ham – 8 oz. (boneless) or 12 oz. (bone-in), or Fish – 8 oz.

Non Meat Protein – 4 oz.

• Vegetables – 4 oz.

• Potatoes – 6 oz. or equivalent starch.

• Bread – Two 1 to 1½ oz. slices or equivalent starch.

• Dessert – 4 oz.

Self-Service Salad Bar shall contain:

• Five salad toppings

• One tossed green salad with equal amounts of three types of leafy vegetables

• Three types of salad dressings (regular and/or low/non-fat)

• Three salad condiments.

Sack Lunch

• Regular and vegetarian sack lunches shall be provided as ordered by AJ Ramos. Vegetarian sack lunches shall be prepared for the Ovo-Lacto vegetarian classification level and shall consist of the same quantities and items as regular sack lunches.

• Definition: Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian – This is the most common form of vegetarianism. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians do not eat meat, chicken, fish or flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products. Sub categories are Ovo vegetarians that eat eggs but not dairy products, while Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs.

• NOTE: Pre-prepared sandwiches shall not be frozen. Sack lunches shall consist of the following items:

Entree 1 – One Meat Sandwich (or Sandwich with Non-meatSubstitute for Vegetarian)

• The sandwich shall be wrapped in plastic wrap or plastic bags.

• The sandwich shall contain two 1 to 1½ oz. slices of bread.

• The meat sandwich shall contain 3½ oz. sliced whole muscle meat or a combination of sliced whole muscle meat and cheese or equivalent vegetarian substitute.

• Appropriate individually packaged condiments shall be provided and not be put directly on the sandwich.

Entree 2 – Variety Item

• Fruit – The fruit shall be one apple or one orange or other fresh fruit of comparable size.

• Factory-Wrapped or Resealable Individually Wrapped Snack – Two (2) or more snacks with a combined minimum nutritional value of at least 600 calories. It is preferred that these snacks be high in complex carbohydrate content. All ingredients shall be identified and attached to the product for easy identification.

• Condiments – Four individual factory-wrapped packets of condiments appropriate for the entrees being served.

• Paper Napkin and Pre-Moistened Towelette

Menu Variety

Menu items shall provide variety on a daily basis as to the types of meat and bread used in sandwiches, other sack lunch entrees, snacks, juices and other meal items served. Menus may include a wide variety of recipes. The following are examples of variety options.

• Meat

• Beef

• Steaks – rib, loin, T-bone, New York, sirloin, cubed, filet and pepper steak.

• Roast – Prime rib and sliced roast.

• Short Ribs – baked, broiled and barbecued.

• Ground Beef – lasagna, tasty meatloaf, meatballs in spaghetti sauce and ground beef patties.

• Pork

• Chops – loin cut, spare-ribs, country style ribs and barbecued.

• Roast – sliced and tenderloin.

• Ham – sliced.

• Sausage

• Chops – grilled and barbecued.

• Roast – sliced.

• Poultry

• Sliced, or whole pieces or parts (such as breast, thigh or leg).

• Fish – grilled, baked fillets or steaks.

• Processed Meat Items – pastrami, Polish/Italian sausage and corned beef.

• Breakfast Meat – ham, bacon, sausage, steak and pork chops.

• Eggs – Fried, hard-boiled, poached, omelets or scrambled.

• Bread and Equivalent Starches – wheat, white, 7-grain, rye, pumpernickel, French, garlic, biscuits, muffins, rolls, croissants, bagels, cornbread, donuts, sourdough, tortilla and pita pocket.

• Dry Cereal – Varieties of flaked, toasted, or baked cold cereals and granola.

• Hot Cereal – Oatmeal or grits, Cream of Wheat®, etc.

• Fruit – oranges, tangerines, apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, grapefruit, or melons.

• Dried Fruit – apricots, cherries, dates, mango, pineapple, pears, banana chips, peaches, prunes, raisins or other dried fruit.

• Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, corn, peas, green beans, mixed vegetables, etc.

• Non Meat Protein – BBQ beans, vegetarian patty, vegetarian hot dog, Tofu, beans, soybean product, bean burritos, peanut butter, cheese, tempeh, quinoa, hummus.

• Potatoes and Equivalent Starches – baked, mashed, fried, boiled, scalloped, rice, stuffing, pasta, sweet potatoes, or yams.

• Juice – orange, tomato, grape, V8type, apple, cranberry, or pineapple.

• Sandwich Meat and/or Cheese – ham, corned beef, roast beef, turkey, pork, beef pastrami, chicken, cheddar, Swiss, or other natural cheese, excluding American processed cheese.

Salad Bar

• Salad Toppings – kidney, garbanzo or pinto beans; carrots, mushrooms, celery, cauliflower, green/red bell peppers, broccoli, cheese, cottage cheese, beets, peas, tomatoes, eggs, cucumbers.

• Prepared Salads – macaroni, carrot and raisin, potato, pea, gelatin, coleslaw, fruit, rice or pasta salads.

• Tossed Salad Greens – romaine, endive, iceberg, green leaf, red leaf, butter, spinach, or cabbage.

• Fruit – melons, peaches, grapes, bananas, strawberries, pears, applesauce or seasonal fruit.

• Salad Dressings – regular and low/non-fat French, Ranch, Italian, vinaigrette, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, etc.

• Salad Condiments – croutons, wheat nuts, sunflower seeds, crackers and taco chips, bread sticks, olives, pickles, or other fresh pickled or marinated vegetables.

• Dessert – cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, puddings, pastries or ice cream.

• Tea – black, herbal, green, and spiced. Flavored tea may be served in addition to regular tea at the Contractor’s option

• Milk – white, (Whole, 2%, Skim), and Chocolate.

• Milk alternative

• Snack Varieties – Candy bars, bagged candy, trail mix, cookies, and brownies. Granola bars, energy bars, fresh vegetables, pretzels, shelled nuts. Factory packaged meats such as dried meats, sausage, pepperoni, jerky, etc., are acceptable. Processed cheese and cheese food products are allowed for this item only. The Government retains its full right to reject any product offered under this paragraph if the quality of the product is rejected by users. For variety two different products shall be used each day.