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Chat about high-tech drug busts at Wakarusa Festival with concert promoter Brett Mosiman

September 22, 2006

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Brett Mosiman

Hidden, high-dollar equipment helped police crack down on drug dealing at this year's Wakarusa Festival. A new article in a trade journal, Government Security News, describes the roughly $250,000 worth of hidden-camera, night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment used by police throughout the festival grounds. The equipment was courtesy of a California company that agreed to give a free demonstration of its wares for marketing purposes. Organizer Brett Mosiman has come under fire from concertgoers since the news <a href="http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/sep/15/police_used_hightech_surveillance_festival/">was reported last week in the Journal-World.</a> He takes your questions at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Moderator:

Welcome Brett Mosiman,organizer of the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival.

Brett Mosiman:

I'd like to thank the LJW for the opportunity to chat.

The_Original_Bob:

Brett - Good afternoon. The one question that would clear up doubt in my mind... When did you know about the high tech spying equpiment? During the Festival, sometime after, or when you read about it a few days ago in the LJWorld? I will take as word that you had no prior knowledge.

Brett Mosiman:

I personally found out about the hitech surveillance stuff when I read the article last friday.
I'd like to say though that we feel we should take responsibility for the everything that happens at Wakarusa. We will work hard to be involved more in these areas in the future. We see ourselves as stewards of a great event and take that very seriously.

alm77:

I have two quesions for Brett. First, have you considered holding the festival on private property and hiring a security company like Bonaroo and Phish's end-of-tour festivals?

Secondly, what are your plans to gain the trust and interest of fans once again?

Brett Mosiman:

We have considered other sites and private sites but I'd like to point out that Wakarusa became the second or third biggest camping festival at this site for a reason. It's a great great site and our first choice is to work thru these issues with the folks who had the vision to let it happen in the first place. We have also been working on our own securrity plan and that may very well include new security companies and procedures.
We hope by communicating directly with the fans they'll know we always have their interest at heart. It's why we are.

Wakarusasucks:

Not one person on the festival staff saw the police or someone else installing these hidden cameras at the site in the days/weeks leading up to the fest?

Brett Mosiman:

Actually there is so much going on I don't think that seems as far fetched as it seems. When we found out about the security trailer - we all had seen it, I thought it was a communication post that I had been told about from KDOT and one of our staff thought it was a Lawrence Freenet post. So it didn't occur to us to look for cameras or shadow the Law enforcement officials.
We have learned a lot from this experience and hope to continue to get better at what we do.

Wakarusasucks:

when did it "quickly become apparent that law enforcement's primary mission wasn't the safety of the festival goers?"

Brett Mosiman:

I should give some backround. We had found graffiti and the law enforcement officials had found cash and vehicles after year two. So the park and the festival concurred that increased enforcement was in order to make the festival safer/and more fun in the long run. Had we not made that determination the festival would have ended period. We still support the mission of getting rid of illegal profiteers. What we may have uncovered is that we differ on the methods. We hope to come to a reasonable compromise on that issue.
In looking back, I think we would have been much better served to notify everyone that there were surveillance throughout the park and that would have accomplished the mission of chasing away the profiteers. Law enforcement chose to follow a different path.

planetwax:

Brett, It seems you've bitten the hand that feeds you. Knowledge about the equipment used on the grounds gives me a sick feeling for everyone, regardless of any criminal intent. You've become "big brother" watching over us and using our music as a way of character profiling our behavior. You can rationalize spying on your neighbors all you want, but we know it's really about your bottom line. Part of the problem is that concert-goers are willing to be subjected to such rude treatment. Pay over a hundred dollars for a weekend show and then submit to being searched. We LET this happen.

Brett Mosiman:

First, I despise profiling - which I think went on here to an extent. Second, we didn't use or condone the use of the equipment. I have stated before that I think it was unecessary nor justified. Keep in mind that we do this at the pleasure of the park and they too feel like we have bitten the hand that feeds. We walk a tight rope to keep all parties happy. This clearly did not help our bottom line. I also point out that you or anyone else hasn't been to an outdoor ampitheater without getting your purse, blanket or backpack searched for the last couple of decades.

DB:

The fifteenth item in the Kansas Bill of Rights states that, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons and property against unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inviolate; and no warrant shall issue but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or property to be seized. "

My question is this: In your opinion, Mr. Mosiman, were these rights upheld by the overbearing police force during Wakarusa?

Brett Mosiman:

I am not a lawyer. I do not know if legal rights were broken. I do know that for most Americans actions like this don't sit well and don't pass the smell test. This is a societal issue and if you are uncomffortable with these kind of things -0 don't complain about it, do something about it. Write, vote and raise hell.

Wheat_Thin:

Is there any way, realistically, for fans to come from out-of-state and assure they won't be 'profiled' on the way in?

Brett Mosiman:

I have to admit that law enforcement around the country has deemed that you and these festivals are "low hanging fruit." The good news is that after 5 days, hundreds of officers and lots of equipment; I am unaware of any major cash siezures or felony convictions. Bottom line, they figured out that this is a calm, peaceful courteous crowd that is there to have a great time not break the laws or ruin society.
Answer, I would think LE would move to greener pastures like people who hurt others.

The_Original_Bob:

Waka takes a lot of planning. Have you started planning for next year and if so, how has this affected your plans?

Brett Mosiman:

We actually have notes throughout the event for the following year. We have been in planning since. This controversy has been a distraction but we hope it hasn't hindered what should be an incredible event next year.

oldgoof:

Has the Kansas Highway Patrol yet responded to the Open Records Request detailing the amounts spent on this drug dragnet?

Brett Mosiman:

I am totally unfamiliar with this issue. Don't know.

bluzbill:

Brett - it became apparent that the state park's "no glass" policy was being abused by law enforcement officers to confiscate glass ware from vendors. Why was this allowed to happen? I am sure that every other weekend of the year that just means no bottles. Did you not have any control over what was happening on-site?

Brett Mosiman:

Actually no we didn't have much say there. The park and law enforcement makes the decisions on what priorities they will
key on. I do think that unlicensed vending was a key issue for the park and the glass issue had more to do with that. This is an area we hope to visit with officials about. I think there can be a compromise here. We get visitors from all 50 staes and many are not aware of some of the special nuances of the rules they will face.

logrithmic:

According to the Lawrence Journal World article of June 12, titled "Police Presence Dampened Festival Campers Say," your spokesperson, Heather Lofflin, was aware of the "heavy police presence," and said "we have to support the police: the police have been here for people in trouble as well:." She went on to say that instead of focusing on the police, people "should be focusing on the music." Interesting that you now claim to have been unaware of this "heavy police presence." Also I'm aware that TV and newspaper reports pointed this "heavy police presence" out. Please explain how you could be unaware.

Brett Mosiman:

There has been several attempts to clarify that we did know of increased law enforcement presence. In fact, we supported that and have said so throughout. We simply did not know of their methods. We had no idea they were privy to this free technology. We didn't see it because we weren't looking for it.

WAKA06_Survivor:

Have any sponsors pulled out of the next festival? Also have any artist expressed to you that they will not play the festival in '07?

Brett Mosiman:

No this has not effected either of those areas and hopefully it won't. We look at the sponsors as partners and there are lots of great things planned for the future like a sustainability village and speakers on conservation etc. They support these kind of things. As for bands, Wakarusa is a special event for them to play to their fans in a unique environment and that won't change. We like to say, Wakarusa is a festival for music fans by music fans and we think that gives it a very different feel from most events.

jackl2400:

Can the police point to any instance where the high-tech equipment solved a crime of violence of the festival that we would all agree is a crime and would have justified such surveillance, such as people stealing from other folk's tents or cars? Or was it all just about cracking down on victimless crime like drug sales and use?

Brett Mosiman:

I am not personally aware of any instances such as you speak. Could have happened but I am unaware. I also understand that none of the surveillance has been used in any prosecutions either.

TheRealDecider:

Would you care to go on record and tell everyone how much you profited on this year's festival?

Brett Mosiman:

The festival was profitable this year and we are very proud of that. We lost several hundred thousnad dollars our first year but it was apparent that Wakarusa was a very special event that deserved to continue. We think that today.

Noweigh:

Brett,
The Wakarusa Festival is another reason Lawrence is such a popular draw for tourists and visitors from all across the country. Please respond with the economic impact the festival has for local merchants. The chamber of commerce should be all over this. Doing business in Lawrence is tough enough already. Wakarusa Festival seems to be a real help to merchants in a tough market.

Brett Mosiman:

Wakarusa did fill the hotel rooms in town and does obviously have a multi-million dollar impoact on the whole KS economy. Further, it benefits dozens of charity and NFP organizations. It is without a doubt a great event for Lawrence and KS.

Wheat_Thin:

Have you thought about taking '07 off? (One of the major UK festivals does this). Would this allow time for a thorough examination of what went wrong this year and for the park and community to realize the potential loss of income?

Brett Mosiman:

Great question. We have discussed moving, moving to private land, moving from KS, and taking time off. Our desire is to work with the officials in the state that have had the vision to give Wakarusa a great home. If that for some reason doesn't go well, then we will investigate all of the above. Hopefully the support in the community will allow for leaders & politicians to realize what they would be turning their back on.

Moderator:

Thanks to Brett Mosiman for chatting. Any final thoughts on the festival, Brett?

Brett Mosiman:

I thank everyone for their questions and for caring. Wakarusa became one of the country's three largest camping festivals by doing a lot of things right. The learning curve is steep when you become that popular that quickly. We feel as if we are constantly learning and work hard to make Wakarusa a better experience each year. We thank everyone for their support and understanding as we continue to work toward fixing our mistakes and getting better at what we do.

Comments

regularjohn 7 years, 6 months ago

"HEY ITS COOL SMOKE YOUR WEED AT HOME YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHOW OFF IN PUBLIC or do you? like nobody really cares, especially if your the fuzz. you got some meat wagon or rice rocket with KILL A COP or anti war crap BUMPER STICKERS. you are FRESH MEAT. LIFE GOES ON welcome to lawrence support your local drug dealer he sells the same junk to your kids"

"beaner, get your head out of the bong"

Macon, you appear to be one smart fellow. Keep up the good work

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Pauly 7 years, 6 months ago

He's just bangin' and bangin' away at that ol' noggin again. I wondered what happened to all of my pots and pans.

Don't listen to the racist. He's just trying to get a rise out of ya.

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The_Original_Bob 7 years, 6 months ago

I knew Macon had a racist streak in him.

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macon47 7 years, 6 months ago

beaner, get your head out of the bong

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Mr_Ramirez 7 years, 6 months ago

dude, what the hell are you talking about ?

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sandysslick 7 years, 6 months ago

SORRY EDITING Lazy ass liberal pot smokers.....YYYAAAAWWNNNN!!!!!!!! ya ya ya big brother, the man and all the other nonsense is just crap you all make up, as you always have, so that you have something to talk about. So that you can justify why you all can not make it in American society!

What sorry lonely little lives the liberal have!

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macon47 7 years, 6 months ago

HEY ITS COOL SMOKE YOUR WEED AT HOME YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHOW OFF IN PUBLIC or do you? like nobody really cares, especially if your the fuzz. you got some meat wagon or rice rocket with KILL A COP or anti war crap BUMPER STICKERS. you are FRESH MEAT. LIFE GOES ON welcome to lawrence support your local drug dealer he sells the same junk to your kids

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sandysslick 7 years, 6 months ago

Lazy ass liberal pot smokers.....YYYAAAAWWNNNN!!!!!!!! ya ya ya big brother, the man and all the other nonsense is just crap you all make up, as you always have, so that you have something to talk about. So that you can justify why you all can not make it American society!

What sorry lonely little lives the liberal have!

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jackl2400 7 years, 6 months ago

Bad_brad: It may sound like whining to you but the issue is police priorities and methods.

OK, so let's leave pot-smoking out of it. Let's say all of that surveillance and zero tolerance enforcement related to OTHER illegal but PETTY activities that didn't involve the socially contentious issue of drugs, say, jaywalking, littering and use of cuss words in public. Now let's blanket the festival night and day with high tech disguised cameras and microphones and 60 cops to interdict all cussers, gum wrapper and ciggie butt droppers and folks not using cross-walks. Let's say now 160 people are arrrested for those offenses.

Now do you see anything wrong with this picture? When Americans talk about having "freedom", what does this mean. In Singapore, people are flogged for illegally chewing gum, which the authorities have put off limits. It's the law and those are the penalties. Does that kind of society appeal to you?

BTW, you probably meant to say "heinous", but I get what you're saying. Does any comment here sound like that parody? Do you really know anyone who talks like that?

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logrithmic 7 years, 6 months ago

No. It's about harassment and a police state. This is coming. And when Big Brother pulls you over, don't say you haven't been warned.

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ReachAround 7 years, 6 months ago

Is it just me, or does this whole issue sound like ... "duuuuuude ... it's like, totally non-heinous that those cop dudes, like, won't just let us smoke our weed and stuff."

Perhaps some of that is true, but if the same security and surveillance were employed at Rockfest, the Country Stampede, or even regularly at the boat docks or Bloomington Beach at Clinton, we'd get a better consensus on how much the public agrees with this practice.

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ReachAround 7 years, 6 months ago

I've summed up Macon's intelligence into one demonstrative graphic:

http://webspace.ringling.edu/~dgibson/turd.jpg

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Bad_Brad 7 years, 6 months ago

Is it just me, or does this whole issue sound like ... "duuuuuude ... it's like, totally non-heinous that those cop dudes, like, won't just let us smoke our weed and stuff."

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sandysslick 7 years, 6 months ago

Lazy ass liberal pot smokers.....YYYAAAAWWNNNN!!!!!!!!

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logrithmic 7 years, 6 months ago

Kudos to all of those upset about spying.

And no, I don't believe Mosiman should get off by saying he was unaware of what was happening to his paying customers. This is ridiculous in my way of thinking.

And has I pointed out in my question, the festival spokesperson said she was aware of the "heavy police presence," and yet Mosiman denies knowing about what was going on.

I spoke with some kids who had attended (I almost went out myself and I'm glad I didn't - not because I would've done anything illegal, but because I would have been infuriated at the cop presence) and they indicated that tents were searched while their occupants were away and that, if you wore sunglasses, cops would ask you to remove them so they could look in your eyes. This is complete harassment.

I also know of many who will not be coming back to this festival, which is exactly what law enforcement wanted - to kill another great thing in Lawrence. Thank you AG Kline!

I don't believe Mosiman when he says he was unaware of the surveillance taking place. Many stories were circulated about police pulling people over on I70 and introducing them to their dogs.

As I stated in a post on the intial story, if it was a KU game or the Nascar track, and cops were recording the license tags of attendees who were drinking only to stop them at dragnets upon leaving the game to force them to a take a breath test, you'd hear a lot more outcry. That's why the cops did it here - easier and cheaper to prosecute.

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sandysslick 7 years, 6 months ago

Lazy ass pot smokers.....YYYAAAAWWNNNN!!!!!!!!

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

why all the drug chatter? honestly. just bc some of us have dreadlocks or bc we have a grateful dead sticker on our vw bus doesnt mean we do drugs. get over it.

having out govt spying on us without a search warrent is ILLEGAL. the Patriot Act is ILLEGAL.

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lazz 7 years, 6 months ago

Cue the Law & Order theme music -- if law officers were secretly surveiling tents and camp areas, are those entirely public or is there a reasonable expectation of privacy, to some degree? My guess is the courts would chew on it pretty good ...

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commuter 7 years, 6 months ago

I guess people feel their rights were violated by having the cameras there at the festival. They should be- Not. You are out in public. Get over it.

By they way, I'm hungry go any funguns?????

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jniccum 7 years, 6 months ago

For DB, I moderated the chat and there was no "editing of questions." The questions can't be edited. They can either be posted verbatim -- with spelling errors intact -- or not posted at all. Now if your questions didn't get posted, that's because there were still about 75 of them left in the system when we decided to finish the chat.

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jackl2400 7 years, 6 months ago

Well, my longer finger-pointy question about whether the Park manager or law enforcement would similarly step up to the plate like Mr. Mosiman and face the citizens they protected and served wasn't asked, but I did get in the hopefully helpful question of whether any REAL crime like theft was solved by the high-tech eyes in the sky. (For the record, nada on that front).

But the question remains for the LJW: any of our other public servants with the cojones of Mr. Mosiman who want to take citizen questions in a live forum justifying their overzealous policing. Especially from the Kansas State Police and DEA: want to comment on Mr. Mosiman's "low hanging fruit" observation and justify that as having anything to do with public health and safety? Or the all time high 750,000 pot busts last year in a supposed time of post 9/11 "terra"?

I just double dog DARE you, ya faceless monitor watching cowards!

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

tkofford: good call. if they want to bust underage kids drinking beer maybe they should go to Country Stampede!!!

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lazz 7 years, 6 months ago

Good arguments, and yes, Brett is the face of Wakarusa and he does have to take the heat, and he's a veteran of the business and he knows it. But in this case, the Law Enforcement Agencies aren't all that faceless. And our elected representatives aren't all that faceless. I'm only concerned that the venom this issue has generated is taking on a life of its own and turning into something of a mob that is becoming angry for anger's sake. These issues are societal. Brett didn't invent pervasive surveilance by law enforcement, and I'm concerned that we're walking a line where this mentality might cause us to lose one hell of a great music festival. Lots of folks need to take a deep breath, let Brett up for air, and channel this energy into some really important issues that go far beyond Wakarusa. Cops with cameras are here to stay, and if it makes us this mad, we'd better address it, because they're coming to a downtown street corner near you, and they'll be in your life a heck of a lot more often than four days every June. In the meantime, let's not trash Wakarusa beyond repair.

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Mr_Ramirez 7 years, 6 months ago

"Oh, and ignore Macon. He's like your fat little nephew that just sits in the corner and bangs pots on his head to attract attention."

-Comedy!!

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

macon47: drop it dude. im not upset for the people who were smokin' crack in plain view and got busted. im talking about the major issue of the govt and various law agencies spying on us! if they setup cameras all over town so they could monitor your activies in real-time, wouldnt you be a bit freaked out?

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tkofford 7 years, 6 months ago

I went to the waka this year for the 1st time, but only for Sat night, so I missed the big dragnet going in.

The waka was the best laid out, organized, and planned outdoor concert event that I've ever been to. At least for as large as it was. In the main stage area, I never had to wait in long beer lines and it was great having the 2 main stages so close together. I had a really good time and the music was simply fantastic.

Too bad the KBI and like agencies decided to put it under a microscope, but I think they also learned something about the crowd. Maybe they'll go to RockFest next year so they can justify their expenses.

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Pauly 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, nice post, lazz. And I'll go ahead and start the petition for PNUMA TRIO to headline next year :-)

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

lazz: i totally understand where you are coming from. i for one had no problems with the law enforcement at the festival. i am a loyal wakarusa atendee of all 3 years and really treasure my time at Clinton Lake every June. The issue of course is that I feel all of our rights were violated, even if we didnt have any personal encounters with the law enforcement. The reason we need to address Wakarusa & Brett Mosiman specifically is because they are the face of the festival. If you buy a pair of jeans from Target & they wear out on you right away, do you take them back to Target or do you contact the sweatshop that they were made in?

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macon47 7 years, 6 months ago

folks .. i had to learn the hard way a long time ago i got caught and didnt whine like a baby about my rights i found out pretty quick if i do not go out and break the law in public i do not have to keep looking over my shoulder and worry about being caught don.t whine if you have to do the time for doin the crime, you admit you are adults act like it, and not some doper

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The_Original_Bob 7 years, 6 months ago

lazz - The various law enforcement agencies are faceless. Easier to pick on one guy. Good, bad, right, or wrong... that's how it works. Nice post.

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DB 7 years, 6 months ago

Honesty my friend. I was censored to a ridiculous degree. At least four or five very detailed sentences were removed, and even the question that they allowed to be in the chat was chopped in half. I'm awestruck, seriously...

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romeo 7 years, 6 months ago

brett you did a great job. people need to relax and lust have fun. thank you for the vision that you had. can't wait for the next WAKA mccoy

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lazz 7 years, 6 months ago

Just out of curiosity, why is all the anger directed at Brett and the Wakarusa Festival and not the various law enforcement agencies who cooked these schemes up?

I attended all four days of the festival and had an absolute fantastic time. I know lots of other people did, too. Too bad more people don't come out and say that.

These surveilance issues are really serious, but Wakarusa didn't set that trailer up or install the equipment, and as far I experienced, the Wakarusa folks organized a fantastic festival that was absolutely filled the brim with fabulous music, great times, good food and drink for reasonable prices, and a safe environment.

Problems that come to light afterward shouldn't trash the whole festival. So I'll step up and say that while I sure hope these problems don't persist, I also want to say I really enjoyed all the great and varied music and performances (bring back YARD DOGS ROAD SHOW and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR!) and I sure hope the festival is here again next June and for many summers to come.

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Pauly 7 years, 6 months ago

romeo, you can go to www.wakarusa.com to fill out an incident report.

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The_Original_Bob 7 years, 6 months ago

Hey, Pauly, Ryan, and DB. I have a different handle on the Waka board.

Oh, and ignore Macon. He's like your fat little nephew that just sits in the corner and bangs pots on his head to attract attention.

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

DB: honestly? they edited your question? thats real lame. give me a break LJW! either answer it fully or don't answer it at all! not one of my many questions were answered.

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Pauly 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, I was irritated that some people got to ask multiple questions while others didn't get to ask any. :-(

All three of mine went unanswered.

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romeo 7 years, 6 months ago

High Sierra Music Festival felt the heavy hand of the law and the festival promoter took the pro active approach to get on stage and let patrons know and asked them to fill out incident reports to document the activities of the authorities for good and for bad. It seemed to be a great action to me. Didn't happen here at Waka.

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DB 7 years, 6 months ago

No kidding ryan! They (LJW) totally edited my question, sucking it down to some walk in the park question that he just conveniently skirted around.

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

macon47: honestly?!?! no point for you to be in here with that attitude.

pauly: good to see you were in here man! sounds like we get to keep out waka.

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local_support 7 years, 6 months ago

No surprise that Macon is the first to post his negative freedom-hating drivel. You are completely clueless as to the real issues here, namely whether or not people can be watched without being informed of it. Keep in mind that law enforcement has not used any of the footage for prosecution and yet everyone is still pissed. Do you know why? Because most of these "dopers" are college-educated, hard working members of society who do not wish to have the government spy on them while they're on vacation!

Go back to Iran.

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ryangetz 7 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm. Wish some more of the probing questions we sent him were addressed.

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TheRealDecider 7 years, 6 months ago

Everyone who has been to all three Wakarusas (as I have) will tell you that the first one was, without a doubt, the best one of the three. The vending in the campgrounds is half of what makes these kinds of festivals enjoyable and what attracts people from "all 50 states." Does it really cut into your bottom line so much that you have to ruin it and try to commercialize it so much? Admit, you are a capitalist and you want to make as much money as possible for yourself off this venture. And what the hell does "We had found graffiti and the law enforcement officials had found cash and vehicles after year two" mean and why would that cause such a crackdown?

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Pauly 7 years, 6 months ago

Anybody notice that the advertisements on this page are for infrared and thermal imaging cameras?!? lol

Just a little ironic humor for your Friday.........

Nice chat. Glad to have some very valid questions answered. I love this festival and I hope that by discussing what happened and taking measures to fix what went wrong will allow Wakarusa to flourish in the future.

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macon47 7 years, 6 months ago

Did ya ever notice the armchair quarterbacks That know how to run your business better than you And are more than willing to tell you? Poor brett did a nice CYA job He should get into POLITICS (of course he had some pretty stupid questions to try to answer) AND NOSY ONES. LIKE HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU MAKE? Whose business is that anyway? Is it just me, or does anyone else get a chuckle out of A bunch of whiney dopers who openly go out into public And break the law, but cry like a baby when they get caught? (cause The cops didn't play fair and follow the dopers rules!) They all act like they are still in 3rd grade Most of them should just be spanked and set to bed With out their supper.

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