Sunday, April 13, 2014

Letter to the Arizona Auditor General

The following letter was sent to the Arizona Auditor General 30 days ago. There has been no reply.

Debbie Davenport
Auditor General, State of Arizona
2910 N. 44th StreetSte. 410
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Dear Ms. Davenport,

As initially conceived, the Sunset Review process would assure taxpayers are provided some level of competence and efficiency in state government. However, the process depends on your office providing a complete and objective report for the review committee.

In the case of the recent AHS audit, your office failed. Multiple individuals provided the auditor with detailed information on serious problems within the AHS. All of it was ignored. The report was fluff, focusing only on very minor issues.

The enclosure is an FYI copy of the October 18, 2013 post on the blog Mineral Museum Madness. It is a letter that was sent to each member of the JLBC. Both your office and the AHS are not acting responsibly. The people of Arizona need to know that, and I will be pursuing every means possible to bring it to their attention.


                                                                                                Dick Zimmermann

Sunday, April 6, 2014

More Arizona Historical Society Nonsense

The following appears in recent AHS meeting minutes:

 Woosley said AHS is in discussions with the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) and a steering committee from the 48 Women group on a project for the El Zaribah building , the former Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. The idea is for the facility to become a publiccenter for events, receptions, and programming that is inclusive with broad participation.  It would include mobile exhibits. The 48 Women group are committed to a $10 million fundraising effort. Woosley said that initially a core committee consisting of representatives from the 48 Women group, Brian McNeil and whomever he assigns from ADOA; together withUrman, Ponder and herself for AHS, will map the nature of the public/private relationship. She commented that this offers a real opportunity to establish a productive function for the building.

 Now that the failure of the Arizona Centennial Museum project is finally acknowledged, the reasonable thing to do would be to restore the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs for the children of Arizona.

Instead, the AHS wants to build another cocktail bar and entertainment center for the elite. They already have one at the Marley Center in Tempe.  It alone costs taxpayers million dollars a year and provides the public with little service.  Apparently, one is not enough.

A state agency that promotes cocktails and entertainment for the elite over children’s education is not something that taxpayers should be funding.  The AHS receives over 3 million dollars in cash from taxpayers each year. In addition, it receives free rent on the many state owned facilities across the state.

What do taxpayers receive in return?

Given all that public support, the AHS should be doing something for the good of the public.

The Arizona Historical Society
Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Yuma, Arizona
Page 4, lines 95 through 110

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Legislature inviting the Arizona Historical Society to ask for more funding?

The October 1, 2013 post was a copy of a letter sent to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee. It summarized problems with the AHS that were ignored in a recent Auditor Generals performance review.
Rather than addressing any of those issues, the JBLC appears to be more interested in further fattening the AHS budget.  The following appears at the bottom of the last page of the current JBLC proposed budget:

Arizona Historical Society
Adds footnote requiring the Society and Arizona Department of Administration to submit joint report to JLBC by Nov. 28, 2014 on options for use of the now-vacant Mining and Mineral Museum.

Why the presumption that the currently vacant Polly Rosenbaum building (former mineral museum) should become another AHS facility?

Why the apparent interest in increasing the budget of an inefficient, ineffective, and nonessential government agency?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chutzpa and the Arizona Historical Society

The following is currently posted on

Welcome to the Arizona History Convention
Prescott Resort and Conference Center
April 10-12, 2014
10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Session 2A: The Arizona Historical Society at 150: Where
We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We are Going.
Location: Sedona Ballroom.
Chair: Anne Woosley, Arizona Historical Society.
Participants will chart the history of the Arizona Historical
Society since its establishment by the First Territorial Legislature
in 1864, showing how it has evolved as a cultural institution,
highlighting significant people and events in its evolution, tracing
the development of its collections, and explaining plans to meet
future opportunities and challenges. ἀ e discussion will include
photographs illustrating the Society’s growth from territorial
times to the present.

This is inappropriate. The AHS should be hiding in shame, not attempting to strut its stuff amongst reputable historians. Despite infusions of tens of millions of tax dollars, the AHS has never produced or operated a successful museum. When given control of a successful museum, the former Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, the AHS quickly destroyed both it and it's very popular K-12 educational programs.

The AHS has destroyed more than it has preserved. Serious and competent historians should not be associating with the AHS.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wrong budget priorites?

On Arizona (March 3, 2014) the Arizona Republic posted a photo of the elaborate and sinfully expensive entry way to the Marley Center Museum in Tempe. Beneath the photo, they placed this caption.

Why is there money in a proposed state budget for a museum but not for funding research at the University of Arizona?
On the editorial page, they printed the following letter:

 On the Monday Opinions page, there was a guest column about insufficient research funding for the University of Arizona ("Increase universities' research funding").
Is the problem really a "tight budget," or is it the inability, or unwillingness, of our elected leaders to prioritize?
 For example, the budget includes millions for the Arizona Historical Society.
Which should have the higher priority?
History museums with very few visitors, or university research?

Dick Zimmermann, Tempe


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Who is really responsible for the Arizona mineral museum mess?

When the seriously flawed 5C Arizona Centennial Museum plan was unwrapped in early 2010, Governor Brewer was the spokesperson. Therefore, some of the posts on this blog are very critical of the Governor. However, was this foolish plan really the Governor’s idea?  If it was, why was the AHS chosen to administer it rather than the nearby Capitol Museum? The timeline of related events from 2009 through the present now make it appear unlikely that the Governor initiated this mess.

In 2009, the AHS was being squeezed for cash. Their multiple million dollar boondoggle at Rio Nuevo was abruptly cancelled. The state budget developed during the state financial crisis prescribed a 20% per year cut in their normal baseline state budget over a period of 5 years. They were to be weaned of the tax dollar trough, and were expected to become self-supporting except for their free use of government buildings.

They appealed directly to the Governor to restore their annual budget. They also had access to the Governor due to their position on the Arizona Centennial Commission. Soon, they and their favored Rio Nuevo contractor were engaged in secret meetings at the Governor’s office planning the centennial museum. Such planning went on for about six months before the Governor announced the “birthday gift to Arizona” in early 2010.  It included an inspection of the mineral museum physical facilities without any regard for the children’s K-12 education programs.

The AHS claimed the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum was a “mandate” from the Governor. Perhaps it was in 2010, but, in 2009, where did the idea of a centennial museum come from? Also, why was the mineral museum the only site considered for it?

Did the AHS and their sole source, out of state, high dollar contractor develop the centennial museum plan and pitch it to the Governor to save their financial hides?  The AHS had motive, and they had opportunity. The case is circumstantial, but it is a strong circumstantial case. Is the AHS guilty?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cocktails instead of education?

The following appeared in the last meeting minutes of the Mining Foundation of the South West (MFSW):

Below are some of the main points of the brief presentation:

 Senator Edward Ableser introduced legislature again to reopen Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.
AHS is currently engaged in a major capital campaign and is re-provisioning its mineral exhibits.
AHS will open a natural history exhibit of several state’s rocks and minerals at the museum at Papago Park in Tempe in April.
The Bullion Plaza Cultural Center & Museum in Miami has undergone some wonderful changes. Basement has been remodeled to house a mineral display in a mine-like setting while the main floor features mining artifacts, cowboy memorabilia and ceramic exhibits.
MFSW has yet to finalize plans to reconfigure the current exhibit to include an interactive kiosk at the Tucson location.

Informal input suggests the "major capital campaign"  is trying to raise $10 million from wealthy Phoenix families to convert the old mineral museum building into a venue for "activities". Does that mean that it's most prominently displayed feature would be a cocktail bar, just like the AHS museum in Tempe?