Fact-checking the BLM Fact-checking

See also: BURNILEAKS 2018 BLM Cost Recovery

Do we really need Burning Man to be bigger? Longer lines at the Gate, Exodus and Porta-potties, more traffic on the way in…for what? Sure, it is tens of millions more dollars for the Org, but it’s not like they are using all that money to do anything of significance for the community. A few thousand gets handed out here and there, while millions get spent annually on internationally self-aggrandizement.

More people will be harder on the environment and the local community, that’s a simple fact.

So what’s in it for Burners?

Easier to get tickets if there are more of them – well the Org are saying ticket prices will have to increase $265, 62%. Demand is likely to still outstrip supply, the shitshow that is the ticket sale will just get bigger (and shittier).

More gifting? Great, it you can keep convincing new people to be participants and not tourists/consumers. Otherwise, it just means everyone will need to bring more gifts. Way more.

More hot chicks? Well, there’s something to be said for that!


BMorg recently posted at their blog “Fact Checking BLM”

Here is a local response, “reviewing Burning Man’s fact checking BLM”

Burning Man’s “Fact Checking BLM” is short on fact checking and long on opinion replete with unsupported allegations, overstatements, and misstatements lacking in factual support. However BRC continues with its use of hyperbole right from the start of their rapidly crafted response. BRC relies heavily on volunteer labor to support and then credits erroneously that (BRC) pays for EVERYTHING. Reviewing the Draft EIS there is no supporting the statement. “Fact Checking BLM” is rife with complaints of increasing BRC’s costs, while ignoring the cost to the Communities that are adversely impacted or “volunteered” to clean up after Burning Man. Ignoring the Anti-Environmental impacts of the party or “this thing we have in the desert” using copious amounts of fossil fuels for visual indulgences and creature comforts not including the “…, increased greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of flatbed trucks transporting large, heavy loads, and increased fuel consumption” to create a Brigadoon on the Playa.   BRC seems to be oblivious of its vulnerability to acts of Domestic Terrorism and the detrimental effect to the importation of illegal drugs and newly created criminals in the County where the event is held, both unwilling to address and unable to confront these issues. BRC’s only identified effort for crime reduction has been stated as “having a Radio Station and Newspaper” is clearly ineffective.   As is a plastic “trash fence” to insure security from the numerous media covered Mass casualty tragedies that can act as inspiration for both Domestic and International Terrorists either group or Lone Wolf. 

Read the full review here:

Reviewing-Burning-Man-Fact-Checking-BLM

See also : Rural Nevadans tired of Burning Man trash, but side with Burners against BLM vehicle searches


There are 5 scenarios being discussed:

  • A – increase population to 100,000 participants by 2022
  • B – reduce population to 50,000
  • C – move the event to the North, still in Pershing; grow to 100,000
  • D – stay the same, 80,000 max population
  • E – deny Burning Man its Special Recreation Permit

The deadline for comment submissions is April 29, 2019.


It seems even the local Sheriff – no fan of Burning Man, at all – thinks the Feds are going too far with their proposed private contractor security searches of vehicles for drugs and guns.

From the Lovelock Review-Miner:

BLM suggests dumpsters, universal vehicle searches at Burning Man

Debra Reid, News4Nevada
  Wednesday, April 17, 2019 1:00 AM

Last week’s Lovelock public hearing on the Bureau of Land Management’s Draft EIS for Burning Man’s ten year Special Recreation Permit attracted plenty of local interest. The comment deadline is April 29 with the Final EIS expected this summer before the event starts August 25.

The Lovelock audience was quiet compared to the reportedly raucous, standing-room only crowd at the Sparks Nugget the night before. Some local leaders,however, later shared strong opinions of the BLM’s Draft EIS, proposed mitigations and five alternative plans for the event.

In a rare agreement with festival organizers, Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen told the Lovelock crowd that the BLM’s proposed security searches of all vehicles for illegal drugs and firearms might not provide the required probable cause and therefore could be unconstitutional.

Pershing County Commission Chairman Larry Rackley, who is not a fan of the festival, later said he agreed with Sheriff Allen’s assessment of blanket searches of all vehicles entering the event.

“As far as entry searches, I agree with Jerry that this is going a bit far,” Rackley said in an email.

Rackley also opposes the proposal for trash dumpsters and heavy concrete barriers on the playa due to the impacts on an aging county road. He also opposes Alternative A that would allow the festival to grow from 80,000 to 100,000 participants as proposed by event organizers.

“I do not agree with the concrete barriers because of the weight, in and out, on the road,” Rackley said in the email. “Burning Man of course does not contribute to road maintenance or repair. I do not agree with expansion of the population for the same reason. BRC (Black Rock City) does not pay their way and takes advantage of Pershing County.” 

Rackley also criticized a BRC official who said law enforcement contributes to the trash.

“In the BRC response to this by Marnee Benson, she spoke about the loss of business to others who pick up the burner trash and included the statement that law enforcement contributed to the trash,” he said. “Really? And then they (BRC) wonder why people feel the way they do about them. She often speaks on items or makes statements to make others look bad and Burning Man look like they are better than others.”

Lovelock resident and longtime Burning Man critic David Skelton said he spoke up at the Lovelock hearing. Contrary to an earlier news report, he estimated the crowd at about 90 people. He decided to share his concerns after feedback from a Burning Man participant.

“I spoke due to the efforts of a Burner that I had talked with at the meeting that felt our local issues should be heard,” Skelton said in an email.

Skelton said he supports the BLM’s proposal for dumpsters on the playa and “concrete barriers-terrorist-vehicle-barriers” surrounding the event perimeter. And, he “ABSOLUTELY” supports the agency’s proposal to search all incoming vehicles for illegal drugs and firearms.

As for the BLM’s five alternative plans for the event, Skelton said he supports “E then B.” Plan E would deny the Special Recreation Permit. Plan B would cap the event at 50,000 participants. 

“Burning Man costs Pershing County per the Draft EIS. There is no economic benefit,” he said. “Burning Man has created by their own actions a hostile relationship with Pershing County resulting in the current condition. If Burning Man left, there would be no adverse effect (for Pershing County). Instead, there would be a cost savings benefit.”

Alternative A would allow the event to grow to 100,000 participants by 2022. Alternative C would move the event to the north but it would stay in Pershing County and attendance would climb to 100,00 people. Alternative D would maintain the current population at 80,000 participants.

The BLM document confirms Sheriff Allen’s ongoing assertion that the festival impacts public safety throughout the region. If BLM allows the festival to grow, public safety services could be stretched beyond capacity especially when there’s a major emergency such as a large wildfire.

“First responder resources, including fire, emergency medical services and law enforcement, are drawn down during the event as personnel from across northern Nevada support the event,” states the Draft EIS. “Communities across northern Nevada are left with reduced emergency services staff, particularly in Pershing County.”

In the BLM analysis of Alternative A, the proposed festival population of 100,000 participants “would require an increase in law enforcement to approximately 50 percent of all BLM law enforcement nationwide reducing the BLM’s ability to execute other agency missions.”

“Additionally, this increase would negatively affect public health and safety in Pershing County as a whole due to a drawdown on first responders available to the remainder of the county.”

The BLM outlined environmental concerns with an expanded population including increased debris left on the playa despite intensive annual cleanup efforts by BRC after the festival.

“An event population of 100,000 would likely expose the public and environment to solid waste. Despite being based on Leave No Trace Principles, a time series analysis from 2006 through 2018 (Hall and Rorex 2018) for the City Grid indicates that there is a trend of increasing debris and litter left behind each year of the event.”

The BLM document reveals other public health concerns on the dark side of Burning Man.

“The ‘gifting culture’ of the event results in participants accepting items from other participants, potentially ingesting substances unknown to them,” states the Draft EIS. “Participants who believe they are ingesting one substance, only to find out they have ingested something completely different, could overdose. Foods, such as dried apricots and breath mints laced with illicit substances, have been located at the event. In addition, law enforcement responds to combative or assaultive subject calls due to illegal controlled substance abuse.”

BRC claims the BLM’s proposed mitigations threaten the festival’s future and would force tickets prices to increase by about $286. The “main” ticket price for this year’s event was $425. BRC asked Burners to send comments to BLM “if you fundamentally oppose this draconian response by the BLM to a peaceful, responsible, recreational steward of public lands.”  

“If you feel strongly that concrete or plastic barriers at the fence line would impact your experience at the Burning Man event, that Leave No Trace is an important principle for you and the culture to continue to embody, or that new search and seizure operations by BLM’s private security company would be problematic, leading to increased wait times, traffic and civil rights violations, we strongly encourage you to formally submit a comment to BLM.”


One proposed solution to helping the local community bear the year-round social, environmental, and budgetary costs of a 30% larger Black Rock City is to enforce the existing room tax for motels and camgrounds on people staying in motorhomes.

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

Burning Man 2017 Financial Analysis, Decommodification and Flysalen [UPDATE]

Every year we bring you a look at Burning Man’s financial performance.

This year we’re also going to take a deeper look at their major assets Fly Ranch and Decommodification, LLC.

Burners.Me Previous Financial Coverage: 2012201320142015, 2016

2017 Burning Man IRS Form 990

2017 Burning Man Annual Report

Some highlights:

  • Revenue from Burning Man event $42.8 million, up over $5 million from 2016
  • Annual Surplus (Revenue less Expenses): $3,733,876
  • Donations received almost $1 million
  • salaries (including contractors) increased $2.1 million
  • Cash and receivables: $11.75 million, up from $9.5 million in 2016
  • Total assets: $27.8 million

Sales of inventory was $1,605,516. That’s a lot of ice and coffee. Ice cost $596,177.

Medical expenses were $649,000.

Their stock donation program seems to be working, with a donation of $26,517 in marketable securities.

Most of the key personnel got pay rises in 2017, though some went down:

Overall payroll including contractors is $18,703,754 = 42% of revenues.

Grants as a % of revenues = 3.8% . Note this includes the cost of building The Man, the base structure, and partial funding of Playa art projects including the Temple.

The list of grant recipients contains many familiar names.

Burners Without Borders made 4 grants, totalling $4,900. [* this is for grants outside the US and has been disputed by BWB director Breedlove. See comments. I have asked him to provide the correct information, I will add it to the post – Ed.]

The annual Artumnal gathering took in $629,404 in 2017. About $100,000 of this went to pay for the use of the facility:

2017 Fundraising Event

This is a substantial increase on 2016:

2016 Fundraising Event

Commentary

A huge thank you to A Balanced Perspective, DS and Anonymous Burner for their contributions and thoughts.

  • Artists receive less than 2% of the budget (approx $800,000)
  • Regionals receive about 4% of the budget ($1,717,766)
  • About 9% of the budget gets piled up in the bank account as cash.

Anonymous Burner says:

The art funding is constantly presented as a central tenant of the event, but is actually getting funded like an afterthought.  Artists are the face and the creativity of the core of the event, but have to carry their art on their own backs while others claim credit for making things so great for them

What does an organization trying to “make the world a better place” through art need with so much cash, into the tens of millions of dollars? Why do they spend such a tiny amount of the money given to them by Burners every year on art? Why do the ticket revenues increase 10% a year but the art budget seems to keep proportionally shrinking?

How can they justify spending $1 million a year on insurance without providing insurance for the 10,000 or so workers on site building the city, art installations and camps? Would it really kill their vision to make $3.5 million a year instead of $3.9 million, and look after their workers better?

Why does the main “charitable” organization have to spend more on the Regional Events than they give out on grants? It’s about double the art budget. Is the purpose of Burning Man to spread Burner culture around the world through art, or is it to expand their inefficient bureaucracy? Can’t the Regional events support themselves?


Population Summary (note: includes 2018)

The number of paid participants according to calculations in the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office report was 69,493.

I filed a FOIA request to get the 2017 vendor list: 84 companies selling things other than ice and coffee.

DS has also been filing FOIA requests for information about Burning Man. He was able to get this heavily redacted information for 2017, the calculations used to pay the Bureau of Land Management’s 3% fee.

Why the need for such secrecy?

The bulk of the $4,349,723 in Permits, Taxes and Fees appears to be the 9% Nevada Live Entertainment Tax. [* see comments – Ed.]


Decommodification

One of the interesting things in the 990 is the listing of “related entities”. It includes Decommodification LLC, but the share of end of year assets is $0.

Decommodification LLC is the organization that was created at the same time as the non-profit Burning Man Project, to hold all the intellectual property. As far as we can tell, it gets paid $75,000 per year in royalties from the Burning Man Project for use of their trademarks. We have no information on what other royalties it earns, for example from sales of the documentary “Spark” or the “lines around the block” Smithsonian exhibit. Google recently commissioned Burning Man to design a $2 million art installation for their campus: where does this money go? Five lucky artists will get a share, most likely the “big names” who appear in the grants list on a regular basis. Is there a royalty component to deals like this?

Decommodification LLC made two filings to the California Secretary of State on January 16, 2019. One was that “nothing has changed”, and another one requested that the company registration be canceled. It seems strange to me to file “no change” and “cancellation” notices on the same date, if anyone has knowledge of how this process works please leave a comment.

The current state of the company shows “cancelled” at the S.O.S. web site.

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, the trademarks were transferred from Decommodification LLC back to the Burning Man Project on 28 April 2018 – the day Larry Harvey passed away.

The “nunc pro tunc” is a retroactive assignment to correct an earlier ruling. Was this something to do with Larry’s estate?

What happened to the rest of the intellectual property, including the rights to future royalty streams?

Were the trademarks assigned back to the Burning Man Project for free, Decommodification LLC dissolved, and the accumulated cash of 6-7 years of royalties distributed to the members? Or was some of that $12 million cash hoard used to purchase them?

These transactions occurred in 2018, so perhaps will get covered in next year’s IRS Form 990. There is no mention of them on the Burning Man web site, despite this being perhaps the most significant thing BMorg have done since spinning off their non-profit in 2012. BMorg like to claim they’re a “leader in radical transparency”, but Decommodification Inc has always been a mysterious black box.

The 2017 Form 990 values the Burning Man Project’s intangible assets at $4.23 million, but this was before the trademark transfer. This amount first appeared on the books in 2014. We believe it represents goodwill on the acquisition of Black Rock City, LLC from the Founders.

For a good read related to Intellectual Property and Burning Man, see Culture, Capital and Copycats in a Globalizing Burnerverse by Ian Rowen, which was the keynote address at the 2018 Australia and New Zealand Burner Leadership Summit.

The “Burner Look” is not trademarked, so anyone can put an art car in a desert and appropriate our culture for “cool factor” and financial gain

Flysalen

In 2016 BMorg bought a 3800 acre parcel of land known as “Fly Ranch” with big donations and paid $6.5 million. This is why the 2016 donations were more than $8 million.

Around 42:30 in the above video, they start talking about “community ownership of land”. The communist social justice component of this vision is that “living off the land is a version of Universal Basic Income”.

Five minutes into the video, they reveal that the land has been sub-divided into 53 different parcels.

Who gets a permanent Burning Man lot? Presumably the 6 5 Founders and the millionaires who put up the $6.5 million. Will the rest be auctioned off to the highest bidder, or handed out to the most favored staff, artists, and camps? I’m tipping Dancetronauts are not on the short list.

This reminds me of an earlier post, Get Your Timeshare Slot in the Sultan. There, I postulated that the “ironic timeshare sales” brochures being handed out from a booth at the Man base was actually Burning Man’s way of bringing that in as a future reality.

The Occidental Oasis “ironic” timeshare sale was going on at the same time as very real hotel sales on Billionaire’s Row

The same thing happened with hotels, where BMorg director Chris Weitz opened an “ironic hotel” at Ashram Galactica, which paved the way for the proliferation of luxury Plug-N-Play hotel camps today.

Petit Ermitage, a boutique hotel in West Hollywood, were still advertising the pop-up Burning Man hotel they created with Cirque Gitane long after the event
People now pay up to $20,000 for hotel rooms at Burning Man with flushing porcelain toilets
Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

Fly Vision

Some information about the original intention for Fly Ranch is available thanks to the Wayback Machine

You can see from the plan above that the property is adjacent to another playa. Hualapai Flat is land administered by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Image: americansouthwest.net

The Bureau of Land Management is planning to dispose of some of its lands.

Source: BLM Winnemucca District Program Overview 2017, Page 7

From the January 2018 report, it looks like this deal is close to being done:

Source: BLM Winnemucca District Program Overview 2018, Page 6

Who else would want empty desert playa?


The original vision for the Fly Ranch site was a sustainable community of one acre lots for employees and affiliates, with its own airstrip. This plan talks about 9 parcels of 5 acres, each with their own access roads; and 73 parcels of 1 acre each.

Village and Residential sites

The two communities are based on Burning Man’s Ten Principles, and this will be it’s first year-round expression. Employees and affiliates may build on a ‘Homestead’ basis, or rent or buy into the Village community at the project’s north end. For others, one acre lots may be bought for home construction in the project’s central development (and separate H.O.A). These areas will be allowed to grow incrementally, with roads and utilities phased as required. Geo- thermal electricity will serve all the lighting and cooling needs of residents (and possibly the valley’s ranchers as well), and hot water will provide all heating.

Organic vegetable farming will be developed as an economic base for the village community. Geo-thermally heated greenhouse organic farming will be operated for local needs, and for transport and sale. This can supply Reno with organic vegetables throughout the year, while creating a wholly independent economy for the community.

Source: willroger.org, via Wayback Machine

Land Conservancy

Even with limited use, the grassy banks of the vernal pools are being sloughed in by bathers, the pools gradually churned into shallow mud holes. Bathers also leave tanning lotions, insect repellants, and
other contaminants behind to ill effect. The pond waters contain a species of pupfish which are isolated by the underground source and terminal outflow.

A nature preserve requires control and enforcement, accordingly this area must be properly fenced to admit access only to indigenous animals, but excluding horses or cattle which trample wetlands. Human access must be highly regulated, with trespass, hunting and public use of existing pools and hot springs banned.

Anticipating the utter destruction of too much love, together with the projected costs of controlling and insuring against increasing liability, it is suggested that a Land Conservancy that is affiliated with Burning Man be created to manage the Geyser and wetland area.

Source: willroger.org, via Wayback Machine

Restaurant, Lodge and Conference Center

Fly Lodge and Conference Center

This will epitomize the style of Fly Ranch, and become a beacon for the greater community. A restaurant, rooms and services will be available. Fly Lodge will be available for public and corporate use, while also serving as World Headquarters for Burning Man’s Regional organizations around the globe.

Source: willroger.org, via Wayback Machine

Burning Man Board Member Chip Conley’s experience with luxury boutique hotels and AirBNB would come in handy for a plan like this.


How Much For That Oasis In The Desert?

Burning Man’s balance sheet shows land, buildings and equipment of $11.9 million; net of depreciation, $9.9 million. Schedule D, Part VI lists the value of land as $7,233,545 and buildings at $979,870. In 2015, before the Fly Ranch purchase, land was $198,000 and buildings $979,780.

According to Nevada property records, Fly Ranch only cost about $2.6M. The Washoe sales records record two transactions for $2.377M and $0.240M. The water rights came under two different transactions and appear to not have specific value attached to them. The water rights transactions gave the prior owner only about 64 acre feet of water for livestock.

There were four transactions in 2016:

1)      sale of 3,381 acres that was the majority of FR,

2)      another 276 acres that was part of the FR with the geyser

These sold the mineral rights but not the water but referred to other linked sales of water rights.

3) transfer of water rights with a carve out for the prior owner for item 1).

4) transfer of water rights with a carve out for the prior owner for item 2).

Water rights in California and Nevada are fresh on my mind after all the research I did for my last podcast episode, CryptoBeast #17 – Fire, Water, Trains, Space Lasers: California Burning. It’s an arcane subject, but if you’re interested there’s a good overview here: History of Water Rights in Nevada and the Western States. This particular statement seems to be key:

Surface water rights initiated by applying water to beneficial use prior to March 1, 1905, and which have been perpetuated or continuously used through the years are known as vested water rights

The main water rights for the hot springs, Cottonwood Creek and Little Cottonwood Creek are the rare and highly coveted “vested water rights”, granted before 1905.

My source tells me that the Burning Man event draws 12 million gallons of water per year from this property (27 acre feet).


Setting Boundaries

We recently published discussion from the Washoe County Commissioner’s meeting about the possibility of redrawing district boundaries so that Burning Man would be part of Washoe County (which gets the economic benefits from event-related tourism) instead of Pershing County (which gets a massive spike in crime rates with no economic benefits).

Fly Ranch is next to Hualapai Flat. Burning Man was held at this location once, in 1997. Hualapai Flat is where Pershing, Washoe, and Humboldt Counties meet. Fly Geyser is in Washoe County.

Is the proposed Washoe Boundary move related to long-standing plans to purchase Hualapai Flat? Is BMorg sitting on $4 million from the Fly Ranch donations to acquire this land?

I guess time will tell.


[Update Feb 7, 2019 2:11pm]

The plot thickens, with this post saying that Burning Man was under contract to purchase Fly Ranch in 2009, and real estate developer Build SF helped organize their corporate restructuring to provide “personal financial security” for the 6 Burning Man founders.

In 2009, the BUILD partners were introduced to Larry Harvey and his partners at the Burning Man Organization. Burning Man was in contract to acquire a 4,000-acre ranch in the Nevada desert on which they planned to move the annual Burning Man event as well as develop a desert art center. 

BUILD facilitated a transaction that allowed Burning Man to adjust its corporate structure, manage tax requirements, protect trademarks, establish a permanent office, and provide personal financial security for the six Burning Man partners. Real estate provided an elegant solution for these complex, multi-dimensional challenges, while preserving and honoring the basic precepts of Burning Man. We are proud of the part we played as advisors to Burning Man in establishing a clear path and solid foundation for everyone’s long-term benefit, including the event itself.

I have another trusted source who drew the “intellectual property in a separate company” structure on a napkin for CEO Maid Marian. I will ask their opinion on this.

[Update Feb 13. 2019 4:06pm]

Breedlove head of BWB has updated us with some more detail:

It’s interesting to see the difference between Part III 4c & Schedule F Part 1. I don’t quite understand how they split the difference between those two sections.

What I can provide you with is that we gave 4 grants through our Civic Ignition Process coming out at 4,900$ and 21 grants through our Annual Community Micro-Grant Program coming out at 18,800$. Between the two programs that totaled $23,700.
(https://www.burnerswithoutborders.org/projects/bwb-community-grant-winners-2017)

We also provided grants for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief at $21,317.12

There was also a series of Fiscal Sponsor funds that were raised and given out. One of those being the $30,363 for the Camp Epic Santa Rosa Fire Relief (which is in one of your screenshots above)— but I don’t have the ability to pull up all those numbers at this time.

I’m also realizing while going through my data that it isn’t the easiest to find some of this stuff unless you know where to look. So taking a note on improving our reporting systems for the future– I appreciate the opportunity to look at how we can do better at reporting in a more transparent and better to find way.

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.”