BMOrg vs BLM: You Took Too Much

Sally Ho from the Associated Press reports that the Burning Man Project are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the Bureau of Land Management.

From the Washington Post:

Burning Man organizers are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the federal government…The festival takes issue with the Bureau of Land Management’s discretion over the weeklong counterculture celebration, claiming that the authority has been overstaffing and overcharging without fully explaining the tab…“If they can’t explain all of it, than we’re asking for all of it back,” said Ray Allen

…the case also pulls back the curtain on the logistical hurdles and an evolving backstage power struggle behind an event once considered an extreme camping experience that has now achieved widespread popularity with millions in revenue.

The BLM said Burning Man officials were provided with a detailed summary of costs with receipts and that “(f)ederal government agencies are obligated to recover the full cost of providing a special benefit…”

The Court case is likely to take more than a year:

The festival is taking the issue to the Interior Department’s internal appeals court, where an administrative law judge will decide on the case. This arbitration process, which could last more than a year, is commonly used for challenges related to grazing or mining uses and fees.

We get an official number for BLM cops in 2015, 84. Plus Pershing etc.

BLM contends that Burning Man demands year-round planning and an unparalleled response to protect the public lands given its scope and nature. The 2015 event required 84 law enforcement officers

BMOrg thinks that’s too many cops, and wonders what they’re all doing:

The festival argues that that many officers aren’t necessary given that more than a thousand Burning Man volunteers also patrol the event and that it has a clean record of taking care of the land. Burning Man said in its appeal that more than half the BLM bill was to pay for labor costs, but that the paperwork lacked specific information about the duties they actually performed.

Ray Allen, the lawyer, seems to be working off a different set of books than the After Burn accounts:

In recent years, a more openly adversarial partnership has surfaced between the festival and the increasing number of local authorities assigned to oversee it. Allen said Burning Man has been stomaching dramatically increasing costs since 2011, when its permit was $730,000.

2011 Afterburn: $1,552,000

It’s not all bad news, things are running pretty smoothly. BLM is going down. Let’s hope this doesn’t throw a spanner in the works:

Both the federal authority and Burning Man organizers said planning for the 2016 festival has been going smoothly. The new state director John Ruhs said BLM staffing numbers are expected to go down this year because communication between both sides are now much improved.

Read the full story  at the Washington Post.

Chocotacos were too much, cops were too much, and now BMOrg are asking the Federales to explain exactly what the money was spent on. Or, to be specific, just what all those cops were doing. Maybe now they will release the arrest information like they used to in the Transparency 1.0 era.

Recent revelations in the Reno Gazette Journal have featured both Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and  Sheriff Chuck Allen taking their families on joyrides important police RAVEN missions to extravagant 18 course meals on the Playa. Sponsored by Krug, perhaps. Most definitely sponsored by First Camp, and their wealthy patrons at the Burning Man Project.

There’s no spectators, unless you’re the cops or the media, then come on in! Look at the freaks! Have some air-lifted lobster.

raven washoe 5155

Now they can cut costs and fly in on the Burner airline. 3% of the revenue from that presumably goes to the BLM too, so in the future we might get lucky enough to see how well that little sideline monopoly is doing, through the magic of FOIA.

The BLM did accede to Burning Man’s demands to increase the population size from 50,000 including everyone to 70,000 paying plus 10-15,000 volunteers or workers.This has seen revenues go from $13.5 million in 2010 to at least $37 million this year. BLM fees have increased from $1.9 million in 2012, to $2.8 million. This is about what Burning Man’s entire payroll was in 2010. To me, it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.

This Federal take is about the same as the estimated State windfall from the 9% Live Entertainment Tax. This was imposed on all outdoor festivals. BMOrg passed it straight onto Burners. The money sits in their bank account for half a year or more earning interest, before they have to hand it over to the Government. Not to mention all kinds of weirdness with the “9% of $3 of the $7 handling fee” or whatever all that was.

Do the hundreds of BLM workers involved with Burning Man take their frustration about this complaint out on any BMOrg personnel, who are dealing through lawyers and media spokespeople? Or do they take it out on DPW and Burners, trying to make their budgets instead of getting their hours cut…with sniffer dogs and citations?

Maybe they should just let the government take their share, the same way we do when we accept the ever-increasing  ticket prices. It’s the Government’s land, in the same way that it’s Decommodification LLC’s brand. You wanna use it, you pay rent.

“Transparent” Burning Man should provide their own figures, since they are demanding the Government do the same. We want to know where the money goes too. It’s us that are funding the whole thing, on both sides. At least, it was until Flysalen…now we have very little idea where the money’s actually coming from.

Why things are so tight, when ticket prices and demand are so high, and they no longer have to pay any tax?

If only the money and energy that they put into lawyers and accountants went into waste management, reduced carbon footprint, and reforestation.

rainforest

Wickermanlarge

Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Tickets 2016: What’s the Latest? [Update]

Remember back a couple of months ago, in December 2016? BMOrg needed us to send money. They were fighting against the Burning Man Tax. They’d bring us an update in mid-January.

waiting alien

And then in mid-January, they said they’d let us know what’s happening by the end of the month. Well, now it’s February. tickets.burningman.org says (3:27pm on Feb 1st):

 

Screenshot 2016-02-01 13.21.46

 

In the comments to the blog post, they did make an announcement today. Unfortunately, it’s not very helpful or informative; instead, they chose to chide Burners for their excessive creativity:

Screenshot 2016-02-01 13.08.52

Here’s the latest – as of 3pm Feb 1st, 2016. What’s the story? Coming soon.

Screenshot 2016-02-01 15.14.47

2014 ticketing costs: $2,111,716; for that, they can’t even be bothered to figure out the price of tickets they’re not selling, that most of us won’t be able to buy anyway (unless we’re virgins).

Burners are, predictably, not being entertained by these shenanigans – which in a way proves BMOrg’s argument. They are NOT providing entertainment, because we are the opposite of amused.

Screenshot 2016-02-01 14.00.33
Screenshot 2016-02-01 14.03.18 Screenshot 2016-02-01 14.02.54 Screenshot 2016-02-01 14.02.11 Screenshot 2016-02-01 14.03.55
Screenshot 2016-02-01 14.01.37 [Source]

The Man burns in 215 days. Which means it is now 150 days since Burning Man – 5 months. Does anybody else get the feeling that every year they come up with some new way to fuck with us? Lotteries, Dance Music Zones, bugs, tax…what next? Somewhere, somebody’s laughing at us.

Image: Philou Elmon, Facebook

Image: Philou Elmon, Facebook

 

 


[Update 2/1/16 8:31pm]

I think BMOrg may have revealed what the true reason for the hold-up is.

Screenshot 2016-02-01 20.30.18

[Source: Burning Man Journal]

See the problem? Their decision-making process is to listen to the stream of ideas coming from the community and then debate them. Including some (many?) that are impossible and illegal. Large community, lots of ideas, misinformation in abundance, huge amount of time spent talking – not enough time spent doing. Someone over there needs to show some leadership and make some decisions.

I’d like to see BMOrg make some moves that are a benefit to Burners, that the community can all get behind and get excited about. Things that add more goodness, more art – not more bureaucracy. Saving $34 is really not that big of a deal.

Burn the Endangered Species! [Updates]

high tech hunterA month or so ago, I let you know that I was cutting guest writer Whatsblem the Pro loose. You can now find him here. I hope it’s clear now, this is my blog. If you read the tag line it says “Me, Burners, and the Man”. It’s for free, I don’t make money from it, I don’t ask you to give me money, it’s entirely up to you if you want to read this. Hey, if you don’t, then don’t – no skin off my nose.

I’m constantly amazed by the criticism I get, from people who think this free blog should suit their needs better. They don’t want to click the links to stories I’ve already spent hours to write, they just want me to make it simple for them by constantly re-writing the content for the sake of simplicity for the casual reader. For free, of course…“gift me this!”

steveirwin-754402Well, those ignoramus Burners can get fucked. If you’re still with me, I’m going to use this platform to share my opinions, just like I did when I only had 3 Likes on Facebook. And my opinion is, the most important thing in life on this planet is Habitat Preservation. Steve Irwin style. He’s been dead for 8 years now, and no-one has put their hand up to take his place, to lead the youngsters into a world of respecting the environment.

Forget Leave No Trace® – a registered trademark of the BLM who take $2 million/year from Burners, to generously grant us a permit to throw a party in the desert. They spend that money on dogs and night-vision goggles, all the better to bust us with.

We’re talking about the “fight to save the environment”…That’s what we’re leaving for future generations. If we don’t stand up for Mother Nature, who else will? Oh, you care about “Leave No Trace”, but you don’t care about the environment? WTF is wrong with you? If we turn a blind eye, or think that simply by going to Burning Man, we’re somehow making a difference, then the future of this planet is doomed.

black rhinoSome of you might disagree, thinking that “happy cows can get fucked”, or crazy judge rulings or new “environmentally friendly”  taxes from BMOrg are the best things in life. Fair enough, if I can borrow a phrase from the BMOrg-affiliated online trolls warriors who hit up this site all the time: “if you don’t like it, start your own”.

Right now, what’s got my goat is Corey and Amber Knowlton. They just paid (well, he just paid…who knows what sort of pre-nup agreement she got…) $350,000 to murder an endangered black Rhino in Africa.

corey knowlton

amber knowlton

Corey Knowlton has hunted widely on 6 continents taking more than 120 species, including a Super Slam of wild sheep and the big five in Africa.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2537833/Dallas-Safari-Club-auctions-permit-HUNT-endangered-black-rhino-Africa-says-money-rhino-CONSERVATION.html#ixzz2qNyG3TNX

It’s not just Corey: his wife Amber gets in on the mass slaughter too. Check out these murderers conservationists Christmas card!

knowlton christmas card

Yep, these butchers have two daughters. I hope Santa takes a huge dump down their chimney. These people are scum. The world needs to be made aware of them. They need to be shunned. If I ever see them, I’m going to give them a stern talking to (an understatement!) I hope they never show up at Burning Man, or any other Burner event worldwide. Can you believe that they have a spare $350,000, and what they want to do with that money, is slaughter black rhinos, a species with less than 5000 members on earth?

why do you need camouflage, when you have telescopic and laser sights?

Corey Knowlton leads a “hunting party”. Why do you need camouflage, when you have telescopic and laser sights?

The take for Burning Man of BMOrg’s new, genius invention of a “vehicle tax” that is supposed to help the environment, is $1.4 million. That’s what the Jacked Rabbit told us, anyway – it’s for our own benefit! Surely it must be true, if it was in Jacked Rabbit.

Last year, there were 35,789 cars at Burning Man, and this new tax will keep 789 cars off the road.That’s about 325 tons of CO2 emissions avoided, or the equivalent of the Man Burn plus fire art burn. For $1.4 million! Really saving the world! These numbers are calculated from the site Jacked Rabbit points us to, coolingman.org. This site was developed in 007 when the theme was “The Green Man”. They claim that if 70% of Burners offset 1 ton of carbon emissions, this could be the world’s first carbon neutral city. Now that seems like a worthy goal!

No matter what I say here, the haters are going to accuse me of being a hater, but this seems like a valid, and easy to realize, objective. BMOrg could set a goal for us all to do that, instead of “keep the number of cars the same, and pay us more”. If we achieved this goal, suggested first 7 years ago and totally ignored by BMOrg ever since, we’d be leading the world environmentally – a zero-net carbon city, which Leaves No Trace® – without us  even needing to chip in another $1.4 million to their non-profit for “environmental reasons” (P.S., they really need our donations too, because the party just doesn’t cover it, even with this extra take!)

Imagine if they cut a quarter of those cars out, and took even a tenth of their $30 million+ receipts from their main event…to actually try to benefit environmental causes. They could really make a difference to the world. For a mere $350k, about 1% of Burning Man’s revenues…is one endangered rhino worth as much as 437 cows? It’s only a quarter of their latest tax on us. Make the new tax $50 instead of 40, our money could save this beautiful black rhino AND BMOrg could still bank all the extra buck$ they need from their new tax.

Here’s what Jacked Rabbit has to say:

Burning Man is under pressure from the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Department of Transportation to reduce the number of cars entering the event. Highways 447 and 34 are at max capacity during the event and we’re being asked to pay for road damage caused by participant vehicles. Road travel represents 60% of the carbon emissions related to the event...Clearly, it’s critical we address the traffic issue — and we can only solve this problem by working together as a community.

…Our community has always policed itself — and changed its behavior when necessary — through awareness. That’s how we became the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, against seemingly impossible odds

Errr, impossible? It’s not impossible to ask the local tribes to collect trash from the Exodus line, or during the event. Odds are, this would be a win/win/win for everyone if they introduced it.

If you ask me, pollution is the problem, not people using motorized vehicles to get to a remote location. Does $1.4 million in”bonus” vehicle tax to BMOrg, help Planet Earth – in terms of pollution, senseless waste, rainforest degradation, habitat preservation, saving endangered species? Does it help the environment in any way – seriously, do you think it does? Please share if you can see how it does. Is it even going to get any cars off the road at Burning Man? Surely, our non-profit Burner funds could be spent in a better way to help the environment. $1.4 million for 857 cars? Really? They couldn’t just ask, and get 1000+ cars off the road for free?

Like coolingman says, we could become an exemplar city for the environment, without any new tax, just with some encouragement from BMOrg to Respect The Environment. I know, I know, the Sacred Principle is “Leave No Trace”, which we took from the BLM …but, really? “Respect the Environment” is evil?

I would rather see 1% of Burning Man’s budget – or even merely 1% of the new vehicle tax- going to the crowdsourced BitCoin assassination market, to send a message to these hunters that Black Rock City respects environmental values, and we are against the murder of endangered species. If the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is only worth $90,000, what should the price be on Mr and Mrs Knowlton, and their $350,000 murder prize?

[Update 1/17/2014]

The Endangered Species Assassin is such a Big Dick Man, he’s alerted the FBI and the Las Vegas SWAT team to complaints against his intended murder. According to CNN anyway. He claims that assassinating Endangered Species is in the name of “science”. 5000 black rhino left on earth is a “surplus”, says Corey.  He tries to relate his slaughter to “The Price is Wrong Bitch”, and British Agent Piers Morgan’s moves to attack the Second Amendment.  I guess it’s all a big joke to him. How come Adam Sandler and co aren’t out there murdering endangered species? The dick acts all “surprised” that now his wife and kids are threatened by snipers. Ummm….duh! Give the rhino a fighting chance, don’t shoot it with a high-powered laser scope. That’s fair, right? Texas rednecks ain’t no endangered species, last time I checked! It’s just like shooting cows…it’s cool as long as you eat them! You gonna eat that Rhino boy? You and your wife gonna take that rhino horn?

What do you think, Burners? Do you even care?

Does Burning Man Need a New Home?

by Whatsblem the Pro

Whither goest thou, Man, in thy arty car in the night?

The struggle to allocate dollars for education and road projects has been heated between Northern and Southern Nevada in this session of the State Senate, and now Burning Man has come to the government’s attention as a ripe plum to contend over.

With over 60,000 participants annually and a ticket revenue of some 30 million dollars, “That Thing in the Desert” has become a sought-after cash cow for local and federal agencies.

Nevada State Senator David Parks

Nevada State Senator David Parks

State Senator David Parks, a Democrat representing the 7th District (which includes Las Vegas), made strong overtures toward the Org’s lobbyists after a committee meeting in which a presentation was given on the economic and cultural boost that Burning Man brings to Nevada.

“We have a lot of dry lake beds in Southern Nevada,” purred Parks seductively to the the lobbyists. “Have you ever contemplated, perhaps. . . off I-15, we’ve got the Ivanpah Lakebed.”

“It is definitely bringing people into our state,” said Black Rock Solar representative and lobbyist Tom Clark in reference to Burning Man. Clark also mentioned that a Regional event was at one time held in the desert outside of Las Vegas, but had to be canceled when the federal government began demanding permit fees for the event.

Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed

Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed

It remains to be seen how the Org intends to handle the problems presented by keeping the event in the Black Rock Desert. The cost of running the event has risen significantly as more and more city, county, state, and federal agencies have come to the table with their hands out, demanding larger and larger slices of ticket revenue.

We’ve also got a law enforcement problem on the playa; the number of on-duty officers from various agencies tripled on the playa between 2011 and 2012. Radical expression being arguably the most important of the ten principles, this is a situation that cannot be ignored for long.

Clearly, Burning Man needs to move. . . but where? Relocating to the Ivanpah Lakebed could be just the thing, or it could be going from the frying pan to the fire. There has been talk of purchasing Fly Ranch in the Hualapai Valley, but like Ivanpah, there are some serious challenges with that plan, not least of which are environmental. Private property, however, does seem to be in our future, given the decreased fees and increased freedom that holding the event on private property would bring.

But when?

Fly Ranch, Hulapei Valley - Photo by QPY

Fly Ranch, Hulapei Valley – Photo by QPY

Moving Burning Man would be good for all of us in many ways. Given the inroads made on our freedom to express ourselves and have a good time by the rapidly-growing law enforcement presence on the playa, you’d think this would be the Org’s top priority. . . but do they even care? They don’t seem to mind wasting literally years worth of our collective time with half-baked ticketing schemes, even though that problem could be (and should have already been) solved easily. Does the Org feel the pressure to move, or is that just our problem? They make their money either way; tickets will be in demand either way. . . but if we stay on BLM land, the rank-and-file burners will continue to find it increasingly difficult to find true freedom at Burning Man.

Fly Geyser - Photo by Jawsh

Fly Geyser – Photo by Jawsh

Relocation would also, I think, tend to invigorate our culture. People are highly prone to regarding things as sacred once they become traditional, and this is a corrosive influence. It starts with angry shushing at Temple Burn, and ends with Burning Man transmogrified into the Rainbow Gathering. Moving the event to new digs would help, for a while, to break that unwanted bond of holiness some of us seem so prone to forming with alkaline dust.

What would the downside of moving the Man be? The main reason we are tolerated at all by harrumphing officialdom is because we are a cash cow. If we move to private property and sidestep all those fees and permits, how will that affect, say, the way that police and highway patrol units treat us on our way in, or during Exodus? Local municipalities will continue to love us and our influx of dollars no matter where we go, but moving could have a chilling effect on the way State and federal authorities view burners. Would we rather be interfered with and potentially harassed on the highway coming in and out of Burning Man, or on the streets of Black Rock City itself? That may be the choice that must be made.