In recent years, there has been an increased presence of law enforcement, largely due in part to the BLM’s planning for drug-related “instances”. Last year, the BLM had to run with their tail between their legs as they withdrew a request for upgraded amenities (flushing toilets, Choco Taco ice cream, the list goes on…) for the employees forced to nine day, sometimes grueling and always enduring music and arts festival; which was aptly denied.
You can wonder a bit why the head honchos over in San Francisco are a little skeptical. The BLM claims Burning Man demands year-round planning due to it’s special one-of-a-kind permit, the large-scale forces used to ensure public lands are protected and a number of other specifications that were required in 2015, including 84 law enforcement officers.
The BLM’s formal response on the subject was that Burning Man officials were provided with a detailed summary of costs with receipts and that “federal government agencies are obligated to recover the full cost of providing a special benefit…”
The festival’s argument, which will be heard in the Interior Department’s internal affairs court with the presiding administrative law judge, will decide whether or not that many officers are necessary – seeing that more than a thousand volunteers, whom are also Burners themselves, patrol the event and to continue to keep the clean record of preserving 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.
“If they can’t explain all of it, than we’re asking for all of it back,” said Ray Allen, the San Francisco-based Burning Man organization’s lawyer.
The partnership between the two has become more jagged, displaying no synchronicity whatsoever. Allen stated that Burning Man’s costs since 2011, when its permit was $730,000, has gone up significantly with themselves picking up most of the tab. However, there have been changes in the BLM leadership and both parties are now saying that working together for 2016 has been much smoother than in previous years, due in part to the count of federal employees seemingly decreasing due to improvements in communications.
“We want to work collaboratively with the system,” Allen said. “New BLM leadership will help us long term. We just need to get over this speed bump. We want the policies clarified moving forward.”
Source: The Big Story (AP)