Black Rock City: 100,000 or 50,000?

Are rangers really Brand Protectors? That is what is being alleged in discussions in the local community. Who should decide what is sexual assault, and what gets brushed off as “unwanted touching”? Cops? Black Rock Rangers? Ummm, here’s a thought: the victim?

BMorg wants to increase the population size to 100,000, which would bring them at least another $15 million per year. The larger population size is effectively a tax on the food and drink camps, not to mention a MOOP and abandoned bike nightmare. It is a boon for the airline and bus service, and will require even more vendors licensed to sell stuff on the Playa. The tiny Pershing County, where a quarter of the population are incarcerated, is already overloaded with the year-round burden of Burning Man. They think that a 50,000 population is more realistic.

Some of our previous coverage:

Pershing County Asks to Limit Black Rock City to 50,000

Sheriff asks Org to pony up more money and officers

Local sheriff overwhelmed by Burning Man arrests

BURNILEAKS: Sexual Assaults, Missing Kids and Violent Crime

Recent story from Reno Gazette-Journal Are Nevada’s Small Towns Ready For Burning Man To Hit 100,000 people?

Black Rock City’s Law Enforcement Liaison Roger Vind presented to Pershing County Commissioners yesterday. We are publishing his statements as well as our source’s notes on them. You can download the 2017 PCSO Post-Mission Synopsis here.


From DS:

I have attached a copy of the comments made by Roger Vind BRC’s Law Enforcement Liaison and presented to the Pershing County Commissioners yesterday.

2018 BRC letter 8-15-18

DS:

Below are my comments submitted to the LRM reporter. I expect an article in our local paper next week. I will forward a copy when available.

Please note the authorization for traffic stops on the Playa comes from BRC with the signed SRP. The 2013 Settlement Agreement specifies Integrated Command.

Prior to 2014 the BLM LEO agency(s) used the Federal Court and most of the drug citations were dismissed with a $500 traffic fee or so I believe. With the significant reduction  of fees paid to Pershing County due to the 2013 Settlement Agreement’s INTEGRATED COMMAND as insisted by BRC. Which has shifted to Pershing County the prosecution of crimes on the Playa. A consequence of Integrated Command.

I always marvel at BRC’s chutzpa  in trying to alter reality.


Here are my comments after reading the text of the statement for the record by R. Vind. I have sent by previous e-mail a copy of the BRR Manual and inserted some excerpts below.

I see the Rangers as BRAND PROTECTORs not Law Enforcement assets for either Black Rock City (BRC), the BLM or Sheriff though BRC tends to use them as though they are a Law Enforcement offset. Having read the Sheriff’s 2017 Post Mission Synopsis (PMS), the published text of the District Attorney’s EIS/SRP comments, I can find no validation of BRC’s complaints or their alternate reality unsupported by actual facts. I have included Unified Crime Report (UCR) graphs below.

 


Roger Vind (NHP Lt. ret.) BRC Law Enforcement Liaison

Emma Weisman Agency Relations Manager at Burning Man

 

In evaluations of the new SRP proposal. BLM is seeking input from interested publics and local and state agencies about the potential impacts (both positive and negative) on the resources of the Black Rock Desert environment, the social services necessary to support such a large event and economic impacts associated with the event.         Comments will be considered as part of the scoping process until August 4, 2018.

 My Itemized response to Burning Man’s concerns:

  • Pershing County has never produced the (Burning Man) Event
  • The BLM Burning Man EIS SRP public comment period was open to both the Public and Cooperators and not subject to the whims or revisions of the Multi-Million Dollar San Francisco based for profit corporation (BRC). BRC has done two Public Comment meetings in Pershing County and meets frequently with the BLM.
  • The statement “In fact there are 57 instances pertaining to Law Enforcement in the 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual…” is unclear, confused, and needs clarification.
  • Additionally the following statement “the manual clearly supports law enforcement’s roles and our utilization of law enforcement involvement.” Is telling. (The manual is available online)
  • Unreported Sexual Assaults are a serious matter that BRC should finally address for the benefit of their participants/victims as our District Attorney suggests: “Anecdotal information from state and federal law enforcement officers suggests that the BRR encourages event participants to avoid reporting incidents to law enforcement in favor of resolving matters “in house” with the BRR’s assistance,” Shields states in the letter. “Such stories from law enforcement seem to be credible because the 2018 Black Rock Ranger (BRR) Manual contains instructions to BRRs to ‘filter’ what is reported to law enforcement.” (The “filtering” is done in part by the BRR chain of command as indicated by the manual.) And is clearly not contradicted by Sheriff Allen as R. Vind alleges.
  • R. Vind goes on to complain about the self inflicted wound from the Settlement Agreement’s Integrated Command BRC’s cost savings bonanza.
  • Then ignorantly refers to “The County also generates revenue from the convictions it secures…”
  • BRC authorizes the BLM to perform “traffic stops” in the closure area, has done so for years with their SRP.
  • BRC’s 2017 Afterburn report might be done December of 2018. It takes over a year before its available. BRC pays ONLY for an eight day event which means the Sheriff’s PMS is done at TAXPAYER expense.
  • Are the Commissioners still waiting to receive Emergency Plans previously requested?
  • Has there been ANY community involvement in Pershing County from BRC as requested by Commissioner Rackley last year?
  • This is the first year BLM/BRC has acknowledged the legal requirement for Vendor compliance with County Business Licenses.
  • Firearm(s) found in the vehicle of a BRC employee during the 2016 Coroner’s investigation. The others had been admitted to Black Rock City after the Contraband search by BRC in 2017.

 

The voters of Pershing County will hold the Sheriff accountable for the magnificent job he is doing despite the budget limitations imposed by BRC and their untrustworthy conduct, unreasonable, and outlandish demands.

BRC has a clear financial incentive to increase the “paid population” by 30,000 at the standard ticket price of $425 or $12.75 million.

Pershing County has acknowledged the actuality that 50,000 is a more viable population cap for our limited resources.


(excerpts) 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual

Sexual harassment, as defined within the Ranger Department, may consist of, but is not limited to, any unwelcome touching, stalking, repeated requests for a date after someone has said “no,” continuing to engage in sexual discussion or banter after being asked to stop, or similar behavior. Harassment will not be tolerated, regardless of who engages in it.

What happens if I make a report?

Reports of harassment are very serious. The Ranger Personnel Manager will investigate reports of harassment and will take remedial measures when appropriate. If you have made a report and are one of the principal people involved, you will be notified of the findings when the investigation is complete.

Will my report be kept confidential?

Information about harassment reports will be kept confidential and only shared with Ranger Managers on a need-to-know basis to complete the investigation. The Rangers’ policy with regard to sexual harassment or violence in the workplace is one of zero tolerance. We strongly support and adhere to the Burning Man policy. Burning Man is founded on expectations set by the community standards inherent to it.

One such community standard is creating an environment that is free of sexual harassment and violence by volunteers, staff, or vendors. Any reported occurrences will be investigated and regarded with the utmost compassion and gravity. The investigation will follow the guidelines set by the Burning Man Board for conflict resolution. Violation of this policy may result in progressive discipline, up to and including: counseling, eviction, termination, or legal action. The full text of the Burning Man Project’s organization-wide conflict resolution protocol may be found here.

 

In approaching any situation, a Ranger’s initial default action is DO NOTHING. (The exceptions to this axiom are must-report situations [e.g., medical emergencies, lost child, etc.]). If, in the process of doing nothing, you decide that your presence would be helpful, engage by helping participants solve their own problems. If they are unable to do so, try to solve the problem for them. If the situation still needs attention, call Khaki.

Must-Reports—Situations that Must Be Called in Immediately Black Rock Rangers are entrusted with considerable flexibility in how they handle the situations they encounter in Black Rock City. Rangers are trained to rely on their own judgment and abilities, and to escalate matters (generally to Khaki who is part of the Shift Command Team) for assistance when appropriate. There are, however, situations in which the Ranger Department requires that Rangers report what they observe to the Shift Command Team immediately.

The requirement to report is in place to ensure that the Burning Man organization is aware of events that are critical to maintaining agreements we have in place with other departments and agencies, our internal reporting metrics, or legally required or advisable record keeping and reporting.

It is important to note that this policy only requires that a Ranger escalate required information to the Shift Command Team. The Shift Leads will then follow up with appropriate actions, which may be as simple as noting the event in the shift log, or may include further escalation. It is not the individual Dirt Ranger’s responsibility to contact LE or medical.

How to Report

All reports begin by calling Khaki on the radio.


Crime and Population Statistics

 

Local Sheriff Overwhelmed By Burner Arrests

Because the Sheriff arrests people related to Burning Man before the event and after the event, he is sending a bigger bill to BMorg. He’s “not sure” if last year’s bill was even paid by the $40 million festival.


Re-blogged from News4Nevada:

 

 

Debra Reid, News4Nevada

Wednesday, October 04, 2017 1:00 AM

Vito Schnabel

 

Celebrity arrests among difficulties of managing Burning Man

The arrest of a celebrity’s ex-boyfriend at Burning Man drew inquiries from the tabloid press at the sheriff’s office last week. The calls indicated how time-consuming the world-famous festival can be.

Other duties had to wait as Sheriff Jerry Allen and Undersheriff Tom Bjerke researched the case and issued a press release on burner Vito Schnabel who had been in custody for alleged drug possession.

It wasn’t the first time the sheriff’s office has been barraged with media calls about Burning Man.

“This has happened before – when the man died in the fire this year, when the model from Hong Kong was arrested in 2015, when the participant was run over this year,” Allen said. “There are times when my office gets overwhelmed with calls for information regarding events at Burning Man.”

The total criminal statistics for this year’s event have not been released as crime reports are still coming in from an event that ended a month ago. The After Action Report anticipated by county officials, festival organizers and the media could be ready next month, Allen said. With two vacancies for sheriff’s deputies to be filled, he has little time for the paperwork right now.

“We haven’t condensed all that information yet. We’re still processing crime reports and getting more information together,” he said. “I’m hoping to have the report by the end of next month. That’s if I can get my staffing up and get myself away from the deputy’s job and back to doing my own job.”

A settlement agreement limits Burning Man’s payments for law enforcement and other county services according to the number of festival participants. Last year, however, Allen said he billed organizers about $40,000 for law enforcement services on the playa outside the event’s eight-day schedule.

Allen wasn’t certain if the bill had been paid but event organizers can expect another one for 2017.

“This year, we’re going to be over budget again because we’ve taken enforcement action before the event and after the event,” Allen said. “I will submit (a bill) for those calls pursuant to the event.”

Last Minute Medical Drama

pershing-county-sheriff-office-nv

Jenny Kane in the Reno Gazette Journal brings us news of some last minute tensions between Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, who wants to use Humboldt General Hospital staff; and BMOrg, who are up in arms about a near-death last year that is just coming to light now.

A near-fatal medical incident last year has sparked renewed tension between Burning Man organizers and local authorities, none of whom can seem to agree on medical protocols for this year’s event, which begins Sunday.

Burning Man organizers last week asked Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt General Hospital officials to meet and sign an agreement that organizers believe will help to prevent any further medical accidents. The agreement intends to clarify medical personnel’s responsibilities and procedures, Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham said.

Humboldt General Hospital officials refused to attend the meeting, which was cancelled, and Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen refused to sign the agreement.

Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the agreement was a roundabout attempt to prevent him from hiring Humboldt General Hospital paramedics, whom he wishes to hire as special reserve, or temporary, deputies for this year’s event.

“We remain unclear as to what protocols those (hospital) medics follow when administering care to patients. We do not have a commitment to standardized … hand-off of patient care should those (hospital) medics treat a patient,” wrote Burning Man executive Harley Dubois in an Aug. 17 email to the Humboldt General Hospital Board of Trustees.

So what is the incident that Harley is so upset about?

Organizers were outraged when CrowdRx employees informed them of an incident on Sept. 6, when a Humboldt General Hospital staff member injected a Burning Man patient with ketamine because she was resisting officers, Dubois wrote in the email to the hospital board. Ketamine is a general anesthetic sometimes used for sedation and pain management.

The participant subsequently went into respiratory failure twice and nearly died. Burning Man’s medical staff saved her life. Ketamine is a dangerous drug, especially when mixed with alcohol, and the participant – a 110-pound female – had been drinking,” Dubois wrote in an email to the Humboldt General Hospital Board of Trustees.

The hospital employee, emergency medical services Capt. Monique Rose, injected the woman with the drug while serving as a special reserve deputy under Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, according to contracts with the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. Rose, who remains employed at the hospital, declined comment on Tuesday. Chicago medical malpractice attorney believes that no wrong was done here.

Read the whole article at the Reno Gazette Journal – but it may not be the whole story.

Cutting their contract with Humboldt is one thing, but forcing the local sheriff to never deal with medical personnel he wants to work with sounds like Burning Man promoting disruption in the community, not harmony. These people have to live and work with each other all through the year, not just when Burners are there for a week partying participating in social engineering experiments.

Anti-Burner Judge Gets Spanked by Appeals Circuit for the SEVENTH Time

0511-0709-0620-2149_Judge_With_His_Gavel_clipart_imageBurning Man announced today they won their appeal. Burners were left scratching their heads, without Propaganda Czar Will Chase there to put the usual spin on things. What does it all mean? Who’s suing whom? And will this affect ticket prices?

Here is the full text of the ruling. And here’s a summary in one paragraph:

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Basically, Pershing County wanted Burning Man to pay for their police presence. BMOrg said no, we pay the Feds, we pay Washoe. Pershing said pay up, and we don’t like nudity around children. Burning Man said “fuck you! free speech! We demand nudity!” and sued Pershing. Pershing responded by making life very difficult for Burners, partnering with the Feds for an unprecedented police crackdown. Sniffer dogs were brought in from the Mexican border. This was the beginning of “we’ll pull you over for the slightest thing and the dogs will search your car”. Burners were understandably pissed. Some of the more vocal DPW crew formed a group called RIOT and threatened to strike. BMOrg decided that maybe they should just pay the extra hundred grand or so to the cops. They agreed a deal, and both parties took it to the judge. The judge went apeshit and threw it out of court, telling the prosecutor to go back to law school. Near the end, romors of a negligence and malpractice law firm in Chicago getting involved pro bono, but the case settled before it could get that far.  It seemed like it was all sorted it out, but it obviously wasn’t because of this appeal. The one judge sounds a little loco, and his Boss Judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seem to agree.

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This has nothing to do with Burning Man’s other matter, objecting to the Live Entertainment Tax. So no effect on ticket prices. They will probably keep going up, and new things like Vehicle Passes and handling fees on Vehicle passes will be introduced to drive revenues further.

Here’s our previous commentary on what’s been going on in the case, in reverse chronological order. The headlines kind of speak for themselves:

http://burners.me/2014/02/04/radio-interview-with-pershing-da/

http://burners.me/2014/02/03/reno-gazette-journal-covers-pershing-county-cops-settlement/

http://burners.me/2014/01/13/judge-backs-off-pershing-roadblock-deal-is-done/

http://burners.me/2013/11/29/absurd-illegal-mealy-mouthed-more-on-judges-ruling-on-burning-manpershing-dispute/

http://burners.me/2013/11/29/go-back-to-law-school-judges-nukes-pershing-deal/

http://burners.me/2013/11/14/associated-press-misreports-pershing-county-fees/

http://burners.me/2013/11/11/breaking-burning-man-reaches-deal-with-pershing-county/

http://burners.me/2013/08/23/pershing-county-cops-and-federal-agents-integrated-and-synchronized/

http://burners.me/2013/08/22/busting-man-riot-calls-for-general-strike-at-burning-man/

http://burners.me/2013/05/07/failed-to-even-make-a-facial-pershing-county-claims-huge-defeat-over-burning-man/

http://burners.me/2012/10/11/pershing-county-hits-back-at-burning-man/

http://burners.me/2012/08/17/county-cops-duke-it-out-with-feds-for-burning-man-buck/

Today’s coverage by Scott Sonner (AP) in the Sacramento Bee was much better than the BJ or Burning Man in-house reporter Jenny Kane’s sales pitch for Will’s job piece at the RGJ.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned another ruling by the same conservative federal judge in Nevada, criticizing his unorthodox handling of a Burning Man lawsuit and taking the extraordinary step of ordering him off a case for the fifth time in two years.

U.S District Judge Robert Clive Jones had no legal basis to reject a deal lawyers for Burning Man and Pershing County reached in 2013 to settle a dispute over security costs and First Amendment rights at the annual counter-culture celebration in the desert about 100 miles north of Reno, the appellate court ruled on Wednesday.

Jones — who recently shifted to senior status on the Reno bench — inappropriately mocked the lawyers during a hearing, accused both sides of malpractice, described one lawyer’s comments as “mealy-mouthed,” suggested another should return to law school and “noted his own laughter on the record,” the three-judge panel said.

“We have in the past expressed concern over the district’s court’s handling of a number of cases that have reached this court, and we unfortunately must do so again here,” Chief Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas wrote in a unanimous four-page memo issued Wednesday in San Francisco.

Thomas said in granting the Burning Man lawyers’ appeal that he was remanding the case back to district court and instructing Nevada’s chief U.S. district judge to assign the case to a different judge. He listed six cases in which the 9th Circuit reluctantly has issued similar orders involving Jones since 2012 — five in just the last two years.

Read the rest of the story at the Sac Bee.
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Although the case has to go before a different judge again, given that both parties have agreed a settlement and are getting along swimmingly in the new integrated Tier 1 Unified Command and Control structure, that should be just a formality.
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How can this Judge tell lawyers to “go back to law school” when he gets slapped down unanimously by the Appeals Court – 7 times in 4 years? He must have some powerful friends in the Wild West of Northern Nevada. Pantsless Santa tells me that Federal Judges are appointed for life, and it would be no surprise if one was part of the old boys network.
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Masks in the Cibolo Creek hunting lodge, where Bohemian Grove spin-off the Order of St Hubertus hosted Burning Man-connected Judge Antonin Scalia's mysterious demise. Image: Wayne Madsen Report, via Fellowship of the Minds

Masks in the Cibolo Creek hunting lodge, where Bohemian Grove spin-off the Order of St Hubertus hosted Burning Man-connected Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s mysterious demise.
Image: Wayne Madsen Report, via Fellowship of the Minds

Arrests, Citations Up

The new Pershing County Sheriff promised to get the arrest count up from last year, and he’s already delivered – 12 arrests and an unknown number of citations. At least one Burner has been reported sitting in a jail cell after dogs discovered all his stash in a search of his vehicle.

A highway patrol crackdown on I-80 also netted a lot of valuable citations for the under-funded police.

From the Reno Gazette Journal:

Pershing County Sheriff’s deputies have made about 12 arrests so far since Burning Man opened its gates Sunday morning, with some arrests made and citations issued even before the festival started.

“Its kind hard to track because we’ve had so many as we speak,” Pershing County Undersheriff Tom Bjerke said Tuesday. “There were some before that. Most of it at this point is for controlled substances and maybe battery witnessed by the officer.”

…Bjerke said he absolutely expected more arrests as the festival continues. Details on the arrests made were not immediately available.

“We’ve seen a much, much bigger crowd earlier in the event this year,” Bjerke said. “The information system is being overloaded because of a combination of factors.”

That includes bad communication between deputies at the playa and officers at the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t have the best equipment in the world here, and we’re trying to communicate with a lot of outdated stuff,” Bjerke said…“We’re making more arrests because we have more officers out there,” he said. “We’re issuing citations for personal dope and seizing the dope and going on with the event.

Most Burners arrested on drug-related charges “made a life mistake,” Bjerke said. Those mistakes shouldn’t take away from the event, he said.

“You have a choice a lot of the times to arrest someone or issue a citation and a lot of the times it’s easier to issue a citation.

[Source: RGJ]

Read the full story at the RGJ.

What sort of stuff are they trying to communicate with? Did their radios stop working? How hard can it be to write up a citation or put handcuffs on someone and drive them to jail in your car?

At least they have enough technology now to make life easier for their dogs.

[image published in Daily Mail removed at request of photo subject]

The Nevada Highway Patrol have been cracking down on Burners, too. The RGJ again:

A crackdown on speeding and traffic violations along Interstate 80 ended with 245 traffic stops from the California state line to Lovelock, the Nevada Highway Patrol said Tuesday.

Eleven state law enforcement agencies finished the three-day effort to eliminate fatalities across the 2,900 mile long Interstate 80 on Monday. Authorities focused on enforcing the I-80 corridor throughout the weekend.

A total of 119 drivers were cited from the California State line to Lovelock, NHP spokesman Trooper Duncan Dauber said in a news release.

Authorities conducted 245 traffic stops, gave 111 warnings and inspected 21 commercial vehicles. A total of 12 crashes were reported and two drivers were cited for seat belt violations.

Thousands of vehicles traveled across I-80 over the weekend to attend Burning Man, about 110 miles north of Fernley.

The Nevada Highway Patrol released the following statement on the increase in traffic:

“The goal of the I-80 Challenge is simple: saving lives. Saving lives starts with a change in driving behavior. With local media assisting in the distribution of the message and its importance, the weekend here in Northern Nevada concluded fatality free.”

Although this year’s I-80 Challenge has concluded, the state wants to reiterate that every day is an opportunity to focus on driving safe and staying alive.”

State wide, 18 crashes were reported. A total of 182 traffic citations were issued, plus 294 speeding citations. Authorities also arrested eight drivers on a driving under the influence charge and four on drug-related charges.

At a glance

Northern Nevada traffic stops:

Number of Crashes:  12

Number of Fatal Crashes:  0

Number of Fatalities:  0

Number of Speed Citations:  62

Number of Seat Belt Violations:  2

Number of Traffic Citations:  119

Number of Warnings:  111

Number of DUI Arrests:  7

Number of Drug Arrests:  0

Number of Stops:  245

Number of Commercial Vehicle Inspections:  21

Mileage Driven:  8057 miles

Statewide traffic stops:

Number of Crashes:  18

Number of Fatal Crashes:  0

Number of Fatalities:  0

Number of Speed Citations:  294

Number of Seat Belt Violations:  11

Number of Traffic Citations:  182

Number of Warnings:  359

Number of DUI Arrests:  8

Number of Drug Arrests:  4

Number of Stops:  840

Number of Commercial Vehicle Inspections:  21

Mileage Driven:  20105 miles

Source: Nevada Highway Patrol

[Source: Reno Gazette Journal]