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.

Sheriff Takes Family on Raven Trip to Burning Man

raven washoe 5155

Who said Burning Man is not a rave? The Sheriff of Washoe County took his wife and kid on a joyride official police business trip to Burning Man in the company chopper. The name of the military grade, electronically souped up aerial enforcer? RAVEN.

Anjeanette Damon at the Reno Gazette-Journal has the scoop:

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen hitched a ride on a preplanned RAVEN helicopter flight to Burning Man last year, and brought along his wife and adult son.

Allen said he had to attend a multi-agency meeting at the annual arts celebration in the Black Rock Desert 110 miles north of Reno on Sept. 5 and didn’t want to make the two-hour drive that often ends in a traffic jam. So, Allen said he asked the department’s chief pilot if he could jump on the flight planned for that day.

“Yes, I did include my wife and son,” Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday. “I can do that as sheriff.”

“I checked to make sure I wasn’t breaking any of my own policies,” he added.

The policy that governs the sheriff’s office helicopter program does not specifically address civilian ride-alongs. It has a section, however, that limits “non-RAVEN affiliated personnel” who are authorized to ride in the helicopter.

“Police, fire, REMSA, (Search and Rescue), county, city, state, military and federal employees actively involved in public safety missions may be carried on RAVEN aircraft in accordance with public law,” the policy reads.

The sheriff’s office Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit was formed in 1996, when the department obtained four helicopters through the U.S. Department of Defense’s surplus program. The unit’s primary mission is to respond to crimes in progress, search and rescue operations and drug enforcement surveillance missions…

Allen said he saw the trip to Burning Man no differently than if his wife went along with him to a department function in “my vehicle assigned to me.”..

Allen said his undersheriff and a chief deputy also brought their wives along on a previous flight to Burning Man…

Allen needed to make the trip to Burning Man to meet with Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, as well as Bureau of Land Management personnel. Burning Man staff also gave him a tour of the 70,000-person Black Rock City. Allen said he also greeted all of the Washoe County deputies working the event and attended a dinner, which included other law enforcement personnel and their spouses…

The day Allen and his family traveled to Burning Man included the celebration’s pinnacle event of the burning of the man.

Read the full story at the Reno-Gazette Journal

What is RAVEN? It’s the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit.

In 1996, The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain four helicopters through the Department of Defense’s excess property program. The four aircraft that were delivered to the county were hulks that need quite a bit of restoration and overhaul before being transformed into useable assets. Building two flyable aircraft from the original four, the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, or RAVEN, was born. In addition to the two Kiowas that the unit operates, RAVEN is the proud operator of the very first of only 30 manufactured HH-1H Huey helicopters, originally built by Bell for the United States Air Force for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) purposes. The two Kiowas and one Huey are all in outstanding mechanical condition thanks to the dedication of the full time and part time maintenance personnel assigned to the unit, and were acquired and refurbished using drug forfeiture money rather than taxpayer dollars.

Originally staffed with part-time pilots from the local Army Guard helicopter unit, RAVEN has become a self sufficient aviation unit that has dedicated deputies assigned both full and part time to flying duties.

[Source]

The RAVEN unit operates both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. They use the OH-58 Kiowa, which is a 2 seater surveillance chopper; and the HH-1H Huey, which is a USAF Search And Rescue variant of one of the largest passenger capacity helicopters ever made. The standard model can take 14 troops as well as the 2 pilots. I’m guessing the Sheriff and his family rode in on the Huey; were there other civilians with them on this flight?

The story has this to say about the logistics:

The Reno Gazette-Journal obtained a flight log from the sheriff’s office that listed three RAVEN flights to Burning Man last year on Sept. 3, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. However, no public records apparently exist to document the family members’ flight or whether any other civilian ride-alongs have occurred in the past.

According to the log, the helicopter departed Reno at 10:50 a.m. and returned at 11:20 p.m., reporting a total of three hours of actual flight time.

Allen said the flights were not “joy rides.” Rather, they were pre-planned missions that were able to accommodate the extra passengers.

“I would have to stress, yes, it was a scheduled mission,” he said. “I would never encourage or even allow someone to go on a joy ride.”

He said his wife and son stayed with him the entire day and did not travel to participate in the Burning Man event itself.

“My wife and son shadowed me the entire time,” he said.

[Source]

Even though they watched the Man burn (presumably from a VIP position), and attended a fully catered dinner, the Sheriff takes pains to stress that they didn’t participate in the Burning Man event. This is similar logic to BMOrg’s claim that 80,000 people sitting down to watch a 30-minute uninterruptible performance with hundreds of fire dancers, followed by an hour+ pyrotechnics show when they burn the Man, does not in any way constitute live entertainment.

It doesn’t sound like these civilians needed tickets. Glad to hear that the LEOs can entertain their families by spectating on all the participants. Hey, if they can’t have bottomless Chocotacos, at least they can perv on some titties and shirt-cockers, and laugh at all the freaks they’re looking down on.

washoe sheriff huey1

Read more about the Washoe RAVEN unit at Vertical Magazine.

 

Burning Man Pays For More Cops

The Reno Gazette Journal reports that Burning Man will be spending an additional $105,000 this year so that Washoe County can have more police officers on the road, looking to arrest protect Burners. There is no legal requirement for them to do this, but they have agreed to it on the request of the BLM.

Burning Man organizers have agreed to pay the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office up to $105,000 for the cost of increasing patrols in the northern reaches of the county during the week-long counterculture celebration in the Black Rock Desert.

The Washoe County Commission approved the contract Tuesday, which continues the voluntary commitment by Black Rock City, LLC to share the cost of the law enforcement demands created by more than 65,000 event participants.

Washoe deputies aren’t responsible for law enforcement activities at the event, which is held just across the county line in Pershing County and is jointly patrolled by the Bureau of Land Management and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office.

But the influx of 65,000 people to the sparsely populated corner of the county means more work conducting patrols and traffic control near Gerlach and on the roads leading to the event.

Under the contract, the sheriff’s office will use the money to pay for the salaries of additional deputies needed in the area, as well as their lodging, daily food expenses and vehicle cost reimbursements.

According to the contract, no state law or local ordinance requires the sheriff’s office to be reimbursed for the costs. But Burning Man as part of its agreement with the BLM agreed to help Washoe County with its law enforcement costs.

[Source: RGJ]

No word yet on if they get to eat the chocotacos, or if those are VIP wristband-only.

OUTBREAK? Burners Warned of Virus Risk

They say bad luck comes in threes. This year Burning Man faced an unprecedented closure on Monday and Tuesday, followed by an unfortunately fatal art car accident on Thursday.

It seemed like Burning Man might have sneaked home past the nasty Third Fate. The Diplo/Skrillex incident picked up a lot of press attention worldwide, but it was hardly a headache for BMOrg. Just more free publicity, and maybe even further justification for Larry Harvey’s ban on music guides. Exodus was one of the smoothest ever, with almost no significant delays reported by Burners.  More than 10,000 people left the festival before the Man burned, and the official population cap was down from the previous year, keeping the BLM happy.

Alas, ’twas not to be. The mainstream media is reporting on the danger of a potential outbreak of the lethal West Nile Virus, which yesterday killed a man in Long Beach. Officials say anyone who attended Burning Man this year could have been exposed to the virus.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

mosquitoMosquito traps set near Gerlach just before the annual Burning Man counter-cultural festival have tested positive for West Nile Virus, the Washoe District Health Department reports.

The traps were checked Aug. 22 and were sent to the state lab on Aug. 25 and they got the state results on Tuesday, said health department spokesman Phil Ulibarri.

On Aug. 6, the health department announced it found the West Nile Virus in the Kiley Ranch area of Spanish Springs, the first West Nile Virus case this year in Washoe County.

The Gerlach General Improvement District will take measures this week to kill the mosquitoes, Ulibarri said.

“We decided to help them with surveillance this year,” Ulibarri said. “We didn’t have the funding to go out there and do abatement.”

A person has tested positive for West Nile Virus in Clark County this summer. Nevada health officials have identified positive mosquito pools in Clark, Washoe, Elko and Mineral County, the county health department said. With so many pools with the virus, the state said other West Nile Virus cases are expected in humans.

From MyNews4:

RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — For the second time this year, mosquito samples in the Washoe County area have tested positive for the West Nile virus.

The Washoe County Health District says mosquitos caught in nine traps that were set in the Gerlach area tested positive for the virus.

The health district says this is the first time they’ve set mosquito traps in the Gerlach area. As a precaution, officials say anyone who attended the Burning Man Festival could have been exposed to the virus.

Gerlach does border the Black Rock Desert, but officials say the chances of mosquitoes traveling from Gerlach onto the playa is minimal.

The first human case of the West Nile virus in Nevada this year was reported in Clark County Wednesday afternoon — but officials say it’s not a very common virus.

“West Nile virus is very serious, but people need to know only about one percent of those people bitten by mosquiotes that carry West Nile Nirus will become seriously ill. Seventy to eighty precent of people bitten by mosquito with West Nile will show no signs … or any symptoms,” said Washoe County Health District, Communications Manager Phillip Ulibarr

From EliteDaily:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 70 to 80 percent of victims do not show the usual symptoms of fever, headache, vomiting or rash, but no one from the festival has tested positive just yet.

Nine people have died from West Nile in Nevada this year, with 129 total cases confirmed.

There is no known cure for the infection.

The Gerlach General Improvement District is seeking to eliminate the virus by hunting down all infected mosquito traps beginning this week.

Mosquito traps in three other Nevada counties have also tested positive for the virus, and more human cases are expected to emerge.

 

Normally the Playa is not a place where you need to worry about mosquitos, but the large amount of rain this year may have encouraged their spread. The world is on heightened alert for bio-disasters as international health authorities scramble to contain an outbreak of another deadly virus, Ebola.

westnilevirus

 


 

[Update 9/5/14 9:25am]

KOLO TV has a video story, they say that 6 traps in Gerlach initially tested positive, then all 9 did.

Huffington Post says there’s no reason to be alarmed, because a local press person said it was fine.

just because West Nile was detected in Gerlach doesn’t mean it made its way to your painted van. The Huffington Post reached out to Washoe County press contact Phil Ulibarri who verified that, despite the positive traps in Gerlach, there is no chance the Burning Man desert was infected. “Zero,” he said when asked about the odds of such an occurrence.

So there you have it. The slowly gentrifying hippie-fest, while potentially still your worst nightmare, was at least not infected with a deadly mosquito virus.

HuffPo does not share with us Ulibarri’s qualifications as a virologist. The same spokesperson admitted to the RGJ that they lack funding to do an adequate study. If it helps you sleep at night, believe them, but if you have any of the symptoms, we suggest you get them checked out, just in case.

From SFist:

anyone who was at Burning Man and may have been bitten needs to be on the lookout for symptoms. As Mic notes, those include fever, headache, vomiting or a rash, however 70 to 80 percent of those infected are asymptomatic. Only about 1% of people develop serious symptoms, like meningitis or encephalitis, and those most at risk are people with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease.

 

[Update 9/5/14 1:12pm]

Alayna’s friend is being treated for suspected West Nile virus after returning from the Burn:

Friend returning from the burn is being treated right now for west Nile but waiting on spinal tap results to confirm….flu symptoms followed by sudden seizures….So it may or may not be a real concern to most, but be aware of your body’s signals, if you are sick go to the doctor to be safe. Could be a coincidence but i figure it can’t hurt to be extra cautious

 [9/5/14 11:44pm]

On Facebook Pip Squeek from Vegas has said she has been confirmed with West Nile virus, and came down with its symptoms right after returning from the Burn. There is no other confirmation of this yet:

I have been confirmed for West Nile, though not confirmed that’s where it came from. I got sick about 24 hrs after returning from the Burn. I as pretty near death and it was horrifying. Please don’t just shrug this off. Get medical attention if you start to have symptoms of meningitis. I have reported to the CDC so we will see where this goes

Victory! But for Whom?

by Whatsblem the Pro

Nevada State Assemblyman David Bobzien (D)

Nevada State Assemblyman David Bobzien (D)

The Nevada Assembly passed AB374 in a 26-15 party line vote today.

The bill, which prohibits county commissioners from imposing fees or regulations on festivals operating under a federal license or permit, was sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien (D). The version that passed this morning is the second rewrite since our last report on March 30th of this year.

Opponents of the bill sought amendments to remove county liability and responsibility of prosecuting crimes, due to the high costs of providing law enforcement at Burning Man. Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks said the bill would undermine the county’s authority, and make funding law enforcement difficult. In response, the bill was amended to give the counties the right to contract with and charge the Burning Man organization (and other event promoters) for law enforcement services. The new provision reads as follows:

2. A board of county commissioners may:

(a) Enter into an agreement, with a person or organization which has been issued a license or permit by a federal agency for an assembly, event or activity occurring on federal land, for the county to provide reasonable and necessary law enforcement services for the assembly, event or activity and to receive compensation for the provision of such services; and

(b) Regulate or license, or require any type of permit or fee for organizing, managing or attending, any assembly, event or activity occurring on federal land that is the subject of a:

(1) Lease between the Federal Government and the county; or

(2) License for recreational or other public purposes from the Federal Government to the county.

What this means is that while the corporation that holds the trademark on Burning Man will be more profitable thanks to the elimination of the necessity to pay county authorities for permits or other fees, the Org may still choose to contract with the counties to bring their law enforcement personnel to Black Rock City. It’s possible that this won’t even be a choice; one of the “special stipulations” of the 2012 BLM permit, after all, was this:

23. BRC shall complete formal agreements with all affected parties e.g. Pershing County Sheriff’s Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, Nevada Department of Public Safety-Investigations Division, Nevada Highway Patrol, and Nevada Department of Health and Human Safety for the purpose of addressing concerns and impacts associated with social services e.g. law enforcement and emergency medical services and physical infrastructure e.g. transportation systems and human waste disposal. Written evidence of these agreements showing compliance with this stipulation must be provided to the BLM by BRC 30 days prior to the start of the event.

Since special stipulation #23 demands compliance but doesn’t spell out what compliance actually involves beyond “complete formal agreements,” we’re left to speculate. Doesn’t this put huge leverage into the hands of Washoe and Pershing counties? They can simply demand that one or both of them be contracted with to provide law enforcement services – and be paid for doing so – or threaten to take their ball and go home; no formal agreement means no BLM permit.

It remains to be seen how the Burning Man Org will actually handle this; they could demand a renegotiation of the special stipulations, given that the terrain has changed significantly in the wake of AB374. Given their track record, however, I predict that nothing in particular will get better for those who attend the event. The Org will become more profitable, as is their apparent primary goal always, and the rest of us will be graciously allowed to eat whatever cake we can find in the middle of the desert. The only question is if the Org will be willing to bend over so far backward to county law enforcement that the heavy increase in on-playa officers continues at the alarming pace of the past few years.

How happy I would be if I turned out to be wrong about that.