It appears that Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewel had a schedule conflict after all. That must be why the Bureau of Land Management dropped it’s demand for VIP boxes called the “Blue Pit” at this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada.
For the previous 25 years hardy BLM bureaucrats had no problems observing scantily clad — and unclad for that matter — female festival attendees whose burning desire to get close to nature involved extensive use of man–made chemicals as they cavorted on a barren desert.
But that wasn’t good enough this year and I speculate the change had something to do with Sec. Jewel’s desire to be a happenin’ cabinet official and attend Burning Man, without the inconvenience of sunburn.
The BLM’s sudden desire for comfort was going to cost event organizers an extra $1 million to provide 24–hour availability of Choco Tacos, private bathrooms and AC.
My earlier column on the controversy has more background hilarity and is found here
Another interesting facet of the demand is that according to the Reno–Gazette Journal the same “special agent” behind the Cliven Bundy standoff, a man named Dan Love, was also the driving force behind the VIP box demand.
Maybe he was angling for a transfer to Jewell’s personal staff.
The Bundy standoff, for those of you who don’t follow ranching news, took place a little over a year ago in Nevada. Much like President Obama, Bundy has some interesting ideas regarding the Constitution and federal jurisdiction. Rumor has it he is Donald Trump’s chief federalism and agriculture advisor.
After extensive study of the Constitution, Bundy decided that he didn’t owe the feds grazing fees for letting his cattle roam on public land. I think his reasoning was that when the Sierra Club started paying fees for the Mojave Desert tortoise that was also eating on the BLM buffet, he would pay for his cows.
“Special Agent” Love had enough of this cantankerous rancher’s ravings so he rounded up 200 other federal agents, including heavily armed rangers and snipers, and attempted to seize Bundy’s bovines.
There was a standoff as armed citizens rallied to Bundy’s cause and cows, blocking the feds from completing their mission. Since Janet Reno was no longer attorney general the only fatality was one of Bundy’s bulls.
I guess Love decided since he didn’t have much success with constitutionalists, he might do better with hedonists. Besides if he could buffalo the Burning Man folks into the building the “Blue Pit” he would get a “personal bathroom trailer.”
The Gazette–Journal reported Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who roughs it in the Ritz Carleton when in Washington, DC, described the demand as “unprecedented, extravagant and ‘outlandishly unnecessary.’"
The Washington Free Beacon found former BLM director Bob Abbey — he’s now a Burning Man consultant — who termed the demand “BS. He hinted the federal agency is using its power to approve permits to threaten the event organizers.” Which is the way the feds work in Obama’s America.
That disparagement from civilians really stuck in the craw of Gene Seidlitz, BLM Winnemucca District manager, who harrumphed to the Gazette–Journal, “It's safe to say that if you were working 14 to 16 hours a day in white-out conditions on the hot playa, you don't want them to be unrested.
Safety, security and health are paramount. That, I will not forgo." And then proceeded to draw a line in the sand.
Unfortunately for Seidlitz he’s not very adept at PR management or sensing the prevailing bureaucratic winds. The nationwide ridicule the demand generated, the testy politician’s observations and push–back from Burning Man organizers made an impression and a big one at that.
The BLM retreated faster than a Bundy cow hit with a cattle prod.
The flush toilets, washers, dryers, hot water, vanity mirrors, refrigerators, and couches that were the linchpins of “safety, security and health” and the only appliances standing between courageous BLM rangers and a lingering death by dehydration and ice cream withdrawal just a few days ago, have suddenly been rendered non–amenities.
The Daily Mail interviewed current BLM Director Neil Kornze and he stated flatly that Love’s Christmas in August list was “lavish and outlandish.”
Steven Clutter, BLM Nevada spokesman, fell right into line and in charming bureaucratese explains the reversal as, “We worked to maximize the efficiency of the operation and it’s essentially back to where it was last year.”
This means "special agent” Love will once again be using a toasty, gravity–fed outhouse when on–scene at Burning Man.
He'll be chowing down on the same grit–sprinkled catering as the paying customers.
And at night, he’ll drive a few miles to the town of Gerlach where the staff has rested in the past.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.
© Copyright 2015 Michael Shannon.