Saturday, April 18, 2015

ABC15 update

David Biscobing of ABC15 news did an update of the mineral museum mess. The news video summarizes four years of folly.

The link is:



Misguided Arizona Historical Society



Two witnesses at the April 17th AHS State Board meeting were shocked by what they heard. Making disparaging remarks about mineral museum supporters and the Legislature, attendees discussed their determination to use the Governor to convert the mineral museum into a “protocol meeting room and reception area for the Governor.” They made derogatory remarks about the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs. They also discussed their hopes of recruiting Senator Adam Driggs to frustrate Legislative efforts to stop their plan.

They also observed how the AHS is stonewalling the Legislature and the Office of the Auditor General over the findings of the unsatisfactory performance (Sunset) review. Representatives of the OAG reported that, after all this time, only 5 out of 45 deficiencies have been corrected.

Clearly, current AHS leadership has no interest in education, children, or even history. They are solely focused on their selfish interest of having a posh trophy facility near the Capitol that functions as a cocktail lounge for lobbyists. They also have no respect for state statutes or administrative policies.

This confirms claims made on this blog since 2010. Since 2009, the AHS has coveted a prestigious presence on the capitol mall, and they coveted the historic mineral museum building. Even though multiple efforts to achieve their goal have failed over the past five years, they still hold the building hostage for their dreams.

Kids be damned. They were in the way.

Note: Former Phoenix Mayor John Driggs (now deceased)  was a leader in the AHS effort to eliminate the mineral museum. However, Senator Adam Driggs voted for SB1200.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Agenda?



 Note item 9A(1)

Notice of Public Meeting of
The Arizona Historical Society
Board of Directors
Mission: To collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the
history of Arizona and the West.
Friday, April 17, 2015, 12:00 p.m. at
the Museum at Papago Park, 1300 N. College Ave., Tempe, AZ

9. Items Scheduled for Board
Discussion
A. SB1200, SB1201:
(1) Post-veto plans to address mining and minerals future*
(2) Preparations for transition to a Governor appointed board of
directors 

*Surely the AHS can't believe that the veto ended the dispute?

Lawless Arizona Historical Society



The prior post (and some others before it) asserted that the AHS did not comply with Arizona statutes.  The following legal documents support those claims.

Text from Rench Law PLC letter of Nov, 21, 2011 to AHS:

This firm represents Richard Zimmermann who retained us to take whatever steps are necessary, including litigation, to force the Arizona Historical Society to honor its statutory duties.
The Arizona State Legislature transferred control of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to AHS in 2010. The transfer of control came with specified duties to the museum and the public. Since the transfer, AHS has wrongfully neglected or flatly disregarded its statutory responsibilities with regard to the museum.

AHS inherited control of the museum when the Forty Ninth Legislature passed House Bill 2251. The law provides, “The Arizona historical society shall operate and maintain the centennial museum that houses the mining and mineral museum “with a purpose to” maintain the mining and mineral museum” and to “operate educational programming” among other things. A.R.S. 41-827. The law specifically states that he AHS “shall maintain the items, artifacts, and other inventory received for display or storage, including equipment and outdoor displays, and shall not sell or otherwise dispose of material received for the centennial museum or the mining and mineral museum”.

The state legislatures mandate is clear. AHS must ensure that the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum continues to exist, operate it, and keep and maintain all of the artifacts received by the museum.

Notwithstanding the clarity of the legislature’s mandate, AHS has flatly ignored its duties and obligations with regard to the museum. It closed the museum to the public on April 30 and stopped offering education programs. AHS has also plainly threatened to dispose of invaluable and irreplaceable artifacts and other inventory belonging to the museum. These actions are in direct violation of the 2010 mandate from the state legislature.

The Arizona Historical Society’s website boasts, “Saving Arizona’s History Since 1864.” The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum has existed since 1884, and thousands of children and adjusts and benefited from the educational programming for which the museum has come to be known. In short, a large and significant part of Arizona history has been entrusted to your care by the legislature’s mandate that you care for the museum.

Demand is hereby made that the Arizona Historical Society cease and desist from disposing of the invaluable and unique artifacts belonging to the museum. Additionally, demand is made that the AHS reinstate availability of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to the public as well as the educational programming required by the statute.  If AHS ignores these instructions, my client will have no option but to seek an injunction prohibiting further disposal and bring a mandamus action requiring you to perform you statutory obligations.

Dec 14, 2011 reply from the Office of the Attorney General:

Our office represents the Arizona Historical Society. You sent a letter dated November 21, 2011, to the Arizona Historical Society on behalf of you client Richard Zimmermann. You and I has a discussion on December 14, 2011, where we discussed the concerns of your client regarding the Arizona Historical society’s management of the items belonging to on loan to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in light of A.R.S. 41-827.

It is our position that the AHS has met and continues to meet the requirements of the statute. The legislature has charged the AHS with the task of maintaining and operating the centennial museum which houses the mining and mineral museum. The AHS is actively working to repurpose the building on West Washington Street to house both as required by statute.

Apparently, the AHS assured the AG that it would comply with state statutes, but then did not. Now, it has implicated the Governor in its illegal active by successfully lobbying him to veto SB1200 (mineral museum restoration).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

VIOLATING LAW TOSSED KIDS FROM THE MINING AND MINERAL MUSEUM



The following is a guest post by Mardy Zimmermann, a retired teacher. She is currently mitigating some of the damage done by the AHS with out reach programs to K-8 classes on rocks and minerals. On the behalf of students, she attempted to save the mineral museum in 2010.

 The sad state of our Arizona democracy is that our students were rudely locked out of “their” loved and much used Mining and Mineral Museum at the end of April of 2011 in violation of law.  What most people don’t remember is that  Governor Brewer announced her birthday gift to AZ for the Centennial—a 5 C’s Museum paid for by her asking each of the 5C’s to give her a million dollars for it.  She and the AZ Historical Society had already joined forces and chose the expensive east coast designer, Gallagher and Associates, to design it, without following AZ law which requires competitive bids.  Their high-handed approach caused a great deal of opposition and questions about the fate of the popular Mining and Mineral Museum, used by 40,000 students a year for earth science education.
 
I became involved at this point as an advocate for students, who were horrified at the thought of losing the MMM. When presenting a guest science demonstration at a local high school, I encountered a group of very anxious students who wanted to talk to me about the MMM.  I agreed to meet with them after school.  This impressive and caring group of students formed the Students’ Committee to Save the Mining and Mineral Museum and crafted a petition that outlined what was wrong with the Governor’s and AHS’s plans.  They waged a very effective campaign and got thousands of signatures.  I agreed to serve as their advocate to get their concerns and message to the legislature and Governor.

At the same time, great effort was expended by AHS, who already had management responsibility for the MMM, and the Governor’s office to gag all museum employees.  This failed, as much opposition was coming from non-employees.  Finally a meeting to quell the mounting concern about the 5 C’s  Centennial project  was held in the Governor’s office.  I admit to being very outspoken and after some testy exchanges the meeting ended up with an agreement that the MMM and a 5C’s Museum could easily share the building.  AHS  failed to work with the MMM staff, who were willing to help, to get a 5C’s display designed for the Centennial. 


The next important event was the Senate Hearing on the bill to give the Governor permission to create a Centennial museum.  AHS advocated for a fancy museum, and MMM supporters opposed it.  I advocated  for the students and presented their petitions to the committee.  The bill passed, but with the sponsor, Senator Allen, agreeing to amend it to specifically provide for the joint use of the building, saving the MMM , as was previously agreed upon in the Governor’s office.  Senator Allen called participants from both groups to meet with her and Rep. Russ Jones to write the amendments.  Dr. Ray Grant, Charlie Connell (engineer) and I, as the advocate for students, as well as Dr. Woosley and Jim Norton from AHS, and Kevin Kinsall from the Governor’s office crafted the legislation. The amended bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Brewer.  It was entered into the AHS statutes and can be seen today by going to the AZ Revised Statutes.  The law provided for both the MMM and 5C’s Museum the Governor wanted.  Specifically, the equipment and outdoor displays of the MMM were mandated to remain.

This law was blatantly violated when the AHS fired the MMM staff, closed the MMM despite scheduled fieldtrips, and removed the contents of the building without explanation.  They had not raised the $5 million for the 5C’s part of the Museum.  What emerged next, without legislation, was a $15 million fancy AZ Experience Museum that, of course, never happened either. AHS’s final act was to hire a contractor to remove the rare working outdoor mining display and move it to the desert near Bisbee.  The building was now empty, the Centennial gone, and still an attack on what remained of the MMM.  My husband and I responded to the anguish of the kids, and hired a lawyer to advise AHS that they were violating their statutes (law) and were able to prevent the needless destruction of the still standing display by scaring the contractor off.  The issue should have been resolved when the Attorney General’s office responded to us that AHS would comply (with their statutes).  They didn’t put the displays back in the building or even attempt to restore the MMM—even if they didn’t want the 5C’s. 
 
 We had hoped that the serious violation of their own statutes, that they helped to craft with Sen. Allen and MMM supporters, would have been addressed in their recent problematic Sunset Review.  We supplied the auditor with the lawyer’s letter, and the response to it, but AHS was given a free ride on the violations which were simply not addressed.  We asked for an explanation from the auditor, but have not received an answer.  Was the powerful AHS lobby  involved in this omission? 

So now we still have the kids booted out of their Mining and Mineral Museum and the building has been empty for four years.  AHS is once again trying to get rid of the outdoor working mining display—their mission is to keep and preserve AZ history and artifacts!  Why do they continue to violate their statutes?  AHS, with its powerful lobby, was able to get Governor Ducey to veto the bill, and even suggest that it might be OK to not preserve history.  AHS wants the building as a reception center or other expensive use, which would strengthen their lobbying efforts, and allow them to have downtown parties, complete with help from their state liquor license.  What do we want on West Washington—to restore the MMM and welcome kids back, even if the MMM building stands out as not “holistic”,  or to pander to AHS’s lack of concern for their statutes and kids?   Oh yes—AHS expects taxpayers to pay for altering the use of the building, with an added charge for removing that pesky mining display.  I will continue to advocate for kids and science education until we get the Mining and Mineral Museum back and under a responsible agency, the AGS, which is a perfect scientific fit. SB1200, with its overwhelming legislative support, would have eliminated the legal issues, as well as served kids and earth science education without requiring major remodeling costs for taxpayers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lobbyists dirty deed



The following letter was distributed to newspapers under the subject line "Governor vetoes science education". On April 13, the Arizona Republic published it (page 17A) under their own heading of "Unfortunately, Arizona's kids have no high-powered lobbyists". The Republic focused the blame on lobbyists who make their living by defeating the will of the people.
 


In 2010, the Arizona Historical Society gained control of the formerly top rated mineral museum in Phoenix. At the time the museum was serving over 40,000 children a year with earth science education programs. School buses came from as far away as Yuma. In 2011, the AHS locked the doors for no apparent reason, even though they continued to receive and spend the annual state budget

Senate bill SB1200 would have corrected the problem by assigning mineral museum assets to the Arizona Geological Survey, an agency capable of and willing to restore services. The obvious merits of the bill generated overwhelming support in the legislature. It received 58 votes out of 60 in the House and 25 out of 30 in the Senate. Unfortunately, the AHS used lobbyists and other political connections to secure the Governor’s veto. Unfortunately, the children had no lobbyist.