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

2017 Black Rock City Official Numbers (via BLM)

We received this heavily redacted document from a trusted source today

Official tickets sold: 76,580

Official ticket revenue: $41,825,941

BLM fee: $1,254,778

Paid Participants: 69,596

Peak Population: 79,638

Staff/Workers/Volunteers: 10,042

 

We are waiting for the official IRS Form 990 for 2017, which will reveal more financial details.

“The Org Shows Its True Colors Once Again”: Staff Ticket Scandal

A post from Cranky_Monkey at Reddit:

The Org shows its true colors once again.

Fucking greed. Pure, unadulterated greed.

The Org has once again oversold the event, after coming within 60 attendees of the pop. cap last year. But as they say, actions have consequences:

This time the Org pulled earned tickets from departments. As in, people they bargained free labor last year in exchange for a ticket this year are being told AS THEY DRIVE IN to turn around and go home. These are people that were submitted on staff lists months ago. I’ve personally seen the confirmation emails from two list submittals to the Org.

Evidently, last Thursday the Org notified departments of their “oversight” and that they would not be honoring many staff tickets. DPW, Gate, ESD among others were all affected. Hundreds of workers for the event left holding the bag, many while enroute.

Keep it classy, Burning Man. First you hoodwinked so many to work for free, now you’re actually costing them money lost to preps, fuel, etc for an event they’re not even allowed into. To work. For you. For free.

What a fucking joke.

Feel free to give Event Director a piece of your mind: charlie.dolman@burningman.org

EDIT: No, I cannot share emails and texts. Most are coming from participants, and the emails they would share come from their department leads. Sharing them would immediately out them to their department.

You shouldn’t ONLY listen to me, but if you know anyone from any of the departments listed, feel free to reach out and ask “Hey, heard something is up with tix for staff & volunteers in Org departments” and see what they say.


This was then confirmed by tistrue1:

Completely true. The ORG oversold the event and now they are not honoring staff tickets and credentials earned last year. If your WAP/ticket was put into TicketFly in a timely manner and you have an e-mail from them; then you are good. If your department manager or the person they instructed to put the info into TicketFly didn’t for whatever reason (dropped the ball!) then you’re screwed. Even if you told them you would be attending and they confirmed.

I personally know at least 20 Gate personnel this affected. They are/were on their way to the event and were told to go home.

Here’s the e-mail from the personnel manager of Gate sent yesterday (8/21) at 3:30pm.
This is a tough message.
It is very hard to say this but very important to get the word out. Last Thursday every department at Burning Man was told that there were no more tickets of any kind available. This includes staff credentials, reduced price tickets, and gift tickets. Over the past few days we have been trying to see what kinds of resources we could muster to address the shortfalls we know we have. In most years we are able to continue issuing credentials and tickets up to the day before the event opens, and we can catch the persons that fell between the cracks.
Please check to see if you have an email confirmation from Ticketfly that has the words STAFF CREDENTIAL in it. If you can’t find one it is quite possible you do not have a ticket to Burning Man this year, and for that we are very sorry to disappoint you and break the promises we have made. This is the hardest message I have ever had to put on announce, and I fully expect to hear about it and will field all questions about this.


some other comments:

Tickets 2017

Image: thomashunt.com

Registration is open now for Burning Man tickets. As with the past few years, you have to create a Burner profile and register for the sale to be eligible to enter. Do that by noon Friday. Then next week you have to log in within the first few seconds after 12:00:00 on Wednesday, and watch a little dude crawl across the screen for up to 2 hours without knowing if you won the lottery arrived in time to secure a place in the ticket queue.

If someone would have asked me at the end of Burning Man 2016 what my prediction for ticket prices would be, I would have said there will be more VIP tickets, less low income, prices will go up, and they will find some sneaky way to raise prices further like increasing the vehicle pass price or the handling fees. Don’t be surprised if the population cap increases too. This is pretty much my default prediction for every year now.

Sure enough, all of that is true. The good news is, more tickets: 4500, “approximately”. The bad news is, predictably, prices went up, from $397 to $437. Handling fees were $7, now they are $12 – for EACH ticket or vehicle pass “handled” by this computer system. Which means vehicle passes are now $92. The number of low income tickets has decreased, from 6000 to 4000. That’s 2000 extra sherpa positions created on Billionaire’s Row – thanks Trump! Prices for these have increased from $197 to $202 – low income or not, you still have to pay more. It’s a charity tax-exempt entity now, there is important work to be done making the world a better place. You think it’s cheap sending social alchemists to Costa Rica? Try sending whole teams of them.

The number of VIP tickets has increased, to 5500. Prices for these have been bumped only slightly, to $1212. The higher end VIP tickets are no longer called “Da Vinci Tickets”, they are called 1200s – a nod to the DJ crowd, perhaps? Anyway, you can load up on these still via the Burner Profile.

The number of tickets now is approximate. There are “approximately” 500 more of the expensive tickets available for sale. They “may” have 27,000 vehicle passes, or they may sell thousands more. We will never know, since this “unlikely leader in transparency” (indeed) no longer discloses such things to mere Burners. If you need 10 tickets and you don’t mind paying about fifteen grand, I would be very surprised to learn the web site rejected you.

It might seem like ticket prices didn’t change that much compared to last year, but BMorg have artfully found a way to milk another almost $10 million tax free dollars out of the community. An impressive feat of capitalism, I salute them. But I’m still scratching my head on how this rave is making the world a better place, even with all this extra dough coming in since they went “non profit”.

[Source]

Tickets are already available from Stubhub for $895 and vehicle passes from $179.

Image: thomashunt.com

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