Friday, September 26, 2014

Arizona Taxpayers Fund Ghost Museum



The following article was released to Arizona newspapers. The Sierra Vista Herald was the first to publish it.

Taxpayers pay for many questionable government expenditures, but in Arizona they are paying for a state museum that actually ceased to exist over three years ago. 

The mineral museum in Phoenix began as a mineral display at the 1884 Territorial Fair.  As of 2009, it was one of Arizona’s top rated museums and received nearly 50,000 visitors a year. Most of them were students and teachers participating in in its very popular K-12 earth science education programs. It was the only resource supporting teachers attempting to comply with the state mandated earth science curriculum, and it provided educational programs and materials free of charge.

In 2010, the museum was transferred to the Arizona Historical Society, a state agency.  Then, in the spring of 2011, before the end of the school year, the AHS closed the museum for reasons unknown.  Children anticipating class field trips were disappointed. The closure was not due to funding cuts.  The AHS, receives millions of dollars of public funds every year. In 2011, and every year since, the complete mineral museum budget for facilities and staff has been included in the public funding provided to the AHS. Those funds are again included in next year’s AHS budget.

Today, the historic building at the corner of 15th Avenue and Washington Street stands empty and quiet.  It has now been over three years since the last school bus arrived, bringing children who eagerly lined up at the door for a unique and exciting learning experience.  The AHS is scattering the mineral collection to various locations across the state, where it is of little use and subject to damage or loss.

How long will the AHS continue to receive funding for an empty building that now provides absolutely no service to Arizona?

How long will the Arizona legislature continue to fund something that ceased to exist over three years ago?

Dick Zimmermann, Tempe, AZ

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kids and Arizona Museums


The Arizona Republic recently published two articles about “great museums” that are recommended to entertain and educate kids. The first was about 10 museums outside the Valley and the second was about 12 museums in the Valley.

Taxpayers pour millions of dollars into the Arizona Historical Society museums each and every year for seven museums. So, was at least one AHS museum included on the recommended lists?

No.

As demonstrated by prior posts, this reveals a continuing pattern of mediocrity. Despite an overly generous government subsidy, the AHS has never produced a top rated museum. They were given control of a top rated* museum that was very popular with kids in 2010 (Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum). However, the AHS destroyed it in less than a year for no apparent reason.

Each year since, they have continued to receive the budget for a museum that no longer exists. Today, the building stands empty at 15th Avenue and Washington in Phoenix as the AHS seeks even more taxpayer dollars to convert it into an unneeded “event center”. The AHS already has a newer and much larger event center / museum in Tempe.

School busses used to line up at the mineral museum nearly every school day. It was the only museum many school would approve for a classroom field trip.

How much longer will Arizona taxpayers allow the AHS to squander millions of dollars, each and every year, on museums no one wants to visit and a museum that does not exist?

* see 4/26/11 and 6/7/10 posts

References:
Summer of the Kid: Day at the Museum
Arizona Republic
August 28, 2014, page D1

Summer of the Kid: 10 museums outside the valley
Kellie Hwang, The Republic, azcentral.com, July 31, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is civics class a hoax?



The following article was distributed to newspapers in the state of Arizona:

Students in the USA are required to take a civics class and are taught that they live in a democratic republic. They are taught that the people elect representatives to make laws and also elect administrative leaders sworn to uphold those laws. The people control government.

As students grow older, they eventually learn that democratic republics are imperfect.  Too many politicians that get elected do not make an honest effort to faithfully represent the people.  Rather, they pursue their own interests or those of special interest groups that are all too eager to support them.  Thus, the system is corrupted, and history books are filled with resulting scandals. A large government bureaucracy further corrupts the system.  It has become all but impossible to remove corrupt, non-elected bureaucrats from office, so a democratic republic never really works like it should in theory.

Unfortunately, some Arizona students learned the realities of a corrupted democratic republic way too early in life.  When the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum bill threatened the student’s museum (the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum) and its popular K-12 education programs in 2010, the students became involved. They called, wrote to, and emailed elected representatives.  As a result, the Allen amendment to the centennial museum bill was drafted, approved, and signed into law.  The amendment specifically revised state statutes to preserve the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs. The students were pleased.  Their democratic republic had worked as it should.

Unfortunately, in the spring of 2011, the doors of the mineral museum were locked in front of students still arriving on school field trips. Then, in defiance of the law, unelected bureaucrats destroyed the mineral museum by removing all displays, fixtures, and furnishings. Today, three years later, the mineral museum building stands empty, a small but graphic monument to government corruption.  The unelected bureaucrats who destroyed it are now making plans to dispose of the building and remaining equipment in a way that will prevent any possibility of restoring the student’s mineral museum.
Arizona students are wondering why government does not work like civics class says it does.

Note: The demise of the mineral museum was not related to funding cuts. Not one tax dollar was saved by closing the mineral museum.

Dick Zimmermann is a retired aerospace engineer, former mineral museum supporter, and author of the blog Mineral Museum Madness

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Funds for destruction?

The prior post described how the AHS is attempting to finalize the destruction of the mineral museum, and how they may obtain tax dollars to do so. Presumably, any of the options would include removal of the historic mining equipment still surrounding the building.

If the AHS does receive funding to finalize the destruction of a museum that was more successful than any that the AHS ever built,  the Arizona Joint Legislative Committee will be responsible.  The following table provides the names of JLBC members and their email addresses.

Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee
E-mail Addresses
The general format for reaching JLBC Staff via e-mail is
  first letter of the first name plus the last name @azleg.gov.

Representative John Kavanagh
Chairman 2013
Senator Don Shooter
Chairman 2014
Representative Lela Alston
Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford
Representative David Gowan, Sr.
Senator Gail Griffin
Representative Adam Kwasman
Senator John McComish
Representative Debbie Lesko
Senator Al Melvin
Representative Stefanie Mach
Senator Lynne Pancrazi
Representative Justin Olson
Senator Anna Tovar
Representative Michelle Ugenti
Senator Steven B. Yarbrough