Burning Man organizers cancel 2021 festival

RENO — Burning Man organizers announced Tuesday they are canceling this summer’s annual counter-culture festival in the Nevada desert for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Francisco-based group posted a video on its web site that said there are too many uncertainties to resolve in time to hold the event as scheduled Aug. 26-Sept. 3 in the Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno.

Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell said the “difficult decision” is “based on the best information available to us.”

“We know the need for community has never been stronger. And building community is what Burners do best. We also recognize the pandemic is not over,” she said. “We have decided to focus our energy on building Black Rock City 2022.”

The Reno Gazette Journal first reported the news Tuesday on its web site.

The decision was based on a combination of factors, not a single issue, the group said.

“Although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening, we are still in the pandemic, and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to resolve in the time we have.”

California recall has enough signatures to make ballot

In this Nov. 21, 2020, file photo, demonstrators shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for a recall on Gov. Gavin Newsom during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif.
AP Photo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Organizers of the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom have collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, state election officials said, likely triggering just the second such election in state history.

“The people of California have done what the politicians thought would be impossible,” said Orrin Heatlie, the retired county sheriff’s sergeant who launched the recall effort last year. “Our work is just beginning. Now the real campaign is about to commence.”

Heatlie spearheaded the signature collection effort that began last June and picked up momentum in the fall as frustration grew over Newsom’s coronavirus-related actions.

The California secretary of state’s office said that more than 1.6 million signatures had been deemed valid as of Monday, about 100,000 more than required.

An election is likely in the fall and voters would face two questions: Should Newsom be recalled and who should replace him? The votes on the second question will only be counted if more than half say yes to the first.

If Newsom survives the recall he will be up for reelection in 2022.

People who signed petitions now have 30 days to withdraw their signatures, though it’s unlikely enough will do so to stop the question from going to voters.

The recall against Newsom, a first-term Democrat seen as a possible White House hopeful someday, will be among the highest-profile political races in the country this year.

He launched a campaign to fight the effort in March alongside endorsements from Democrats including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. So far no other Democrats have jumped in to run against him.

“I am not going to take this fight lying down,” said a fundraising appeal sent by Newsom shortly after Monday’s announcement about the signatures. “There is too much at stake, and I intend to win.”

His campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, repeated criticism that the recall campaign is a partisan effort by pro-Trump Republicans that “seeks to undo the important progress we’ve made under Governor Newsom – fighting COVID, supporting families who are struggling, protecting our environment, common-sense gun safety laws.”

Republicans running to replace Newsom include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and reality TV star and former Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner, who has never run for elected office. Businessman John Cox, who lost badly to Newsom in 2018, and former Congressman Doug Ose, also are running.

“Californians from all walks of life are seizing this historic opportunity to demand change,” Faulconer said in a statement. “As the only candidate who’s won tough elections and enacted real reform, I am ready to lead this movement.”

Dozens of other candidates, serious and not, are expected to enter the race.

The only other time a California governor has faced a recall election was in 2003, when Democrat Gray Davis was voted out and replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Democrats believe Davis was hurt politically when Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a fellow Democrat, entered the race.

Newsom won election in 2018 with support from more than 60% of the voters. Recalling him will be a tough sell in the heavily Democratic state where just a quarter of the state’s registered voters are Republicans, about the same number as those who identify as having “no party preference.”

But the recall’s organizers see an opening with voters of all political stripes who were angered by Newsom’s handling of the pandemic and those frustrated by one-party Democratic rule in Sacramento.

Republicans have not won statewide office since 2006, when voters gave Schwarzenegger a second term. Recall organizers have said about 30% of the petition signers were Democrats or independents.

Newsom’s pandemic actions tipped the recall effort over the edge, especially after he was caught last fall dining at a fancy restaurant for a lobbyist’s birthday while urging residents to stay home.

Heatlie decided to pursue a recall in early 2020, motivated not by Newsom’s pandemic policies but by his support for immigrants in the country illegally and other liberal policies.