Friday, January 16, 2015

Letter to the Auditor General

The following letter was sent to the Auditor General two months ago. There has been no response as of this date.

Debbie Davenport, Auditor General
Office of the Auditor General
2910 North 44th Street, Suite 410
Phoenix, Arizona, 86018

Reference your letter of Oct 27, 2014 to Doug Lindsay concerning Arizona Historical Society

Dear Debbie Davenport,

The above referenced letter to Mr., Lindsay implies that is acceptable for the Arizona Historical Society to place material and equipment from the mineral museum on loan in other locations.  If you read the entire half page content of ARS 41-827 you will see that is not correct.

The Allen amendment to the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum bill, established into law via ARS 41-827 and ARS 41-827.01, was very clearly intended to preserve the operation of the mineral museum and its K-12 science education programs.

Specifically, the AHS was required to:

1.      “operate and maintain the centennial museum that houses the (existing) mining and mineral museum”
2.      “to maintain the mineral museum …
3.      To employ a qualified curator…
4.      To operate “educational programming” ….
5.      To maintain the items, artifacts and other inventory … including equipment and outdoor displays  … and shall not sell or otherwise dispose of materials” …

If you look at the equipment and outdoor displays still standing at 1502 West Washington, you will see that the obvious intent of the Allen amendment was to preserve the mineral museum and K-12 science education programs that served 40,000 students per year on the existing site.

The AHS was well aware of the intent of the Allen amendment. They were represented at two meetings where the amendment was drafted. Furthermore, the legislature transferred the complete mineral museum budget to the AHS. They continue to receive it at this time, even though they are not operating the museum. However, they inexplicably defied every provision of the amendment by closing the museum and then scattering its contents across the state. They even sold some material on eBay.

When I had a law firm challenge the lawless AHS behavior, the Arizona Attorney General responded on their behalf.  The letter from the AG said the AHS would comply with the statutes, but they did not.

Most inexplicably, your office ignored this lawless AHS behavior during the AHS sunset review, even though your auditor was provided with detailed information by multiple individuals. Now, when questioned, you appear to claim that the AHS actions are acceptable (per above referenced letter).
Although I cannot imagine why, it looks like your office is protecting the AHS as they engage in their stature defying activities. 

I respectfully request that you review this situation more thoroughly. The AHS has seriously damaged K-12 science education, in knowing defiance of Arizona law, for no apparent reason. They must be held accountable for their irresponsible actions.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Barbarians closed the museum?

The following letter appeared in the Friday, January 2, 2015 Arizona Republic (page 17).

Your recent review of Gov. Jan Brewer’s tenure in office failed to mention her destructive, senseless act of closing down Phoenix’s wonderful Mining and Mineral Museum.
Her plans for replacing it with a museum of Arizona’s “5Cs” never attracted adequate funding, and there was no good reason for closing an important educational facility and tourist attraction. Only barbarians destroy museums. (Barbara Lesko, Gold Canyon )

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Arizona Historical Society no friend of students.

Despite receiving the complete state mineral museum budget every year since 2010, the AHS closed the mineral museum and scattered its assets across the state in the spring of 2011. Each year since, 40,000 students have been deprived of the K-12 education programs.

Now, as of January 1, 2015, the AHS is offering school tours at their Marley Center Museum (Museum at Papago Park) in Tempe.  They have transferred some of the mineral museum assets there and opened what they call a Gallery of Natural History.

The mineral museum provided free educational services to all students and teachers. The AHS wants $4 per student for a watered down version of the mineral museum.

Why do they need to charge students $4 each when they still get the entire mineral museum budget, plus millions more each year from taxpayers?

Perhaps it does not matter. What responsible teacher would take students to a mediocre history museum for a science lesson?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Centennial license plate mystery

The following article was distributed to 90 newspapers across Arizona. The Sierra Vista Herald ws the first to publish it:

In 2010, Arizona Revised Statute 28-2448 established the Arizona Centennial specialty license plate.  There is an extra $25 fee for purchasers of specialty license plates. Of that, $8 is kept by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for the extra cost of producing the specialty plate and $17 is given to the charity or nonprofit organization sponsoring the plate. The statute establishing the centennial license plate provided for the $17 to be given to the Arizona Historical Society for the maintenance and operation of the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. In 2013 alone, ADOT distributed $126,500 dollars to the AHS from the specialty license plate fund.

However, there is no 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. There never was. The money given to an east coast designer produced a plan for a 15 million dollar museum display to be installed in an existing building. Not surprisingly, the fundraising effort for this ill-conceived project failed. The centennial museum boondoggle was a replay of the History Museum at Rio Nuevo fiasco. In that case, nearly one and a half million dollars of state funds was given to the same out of state designer to prepare plans for an impossibly expensive (85 million dollars) museum that could never be built.

Why does the state legislature throw money at the AHS for poorly planned projects that fail?

What is happening to the money collected for centennial license plates?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sylvia Allen returns to the senate

Due to the sudden death of a State Senator from District 6, Sylvia Allen became the Republican candidate in the 2014 election. Election results now show her to be the winner.

Senator Allen served in the state senate previously.  In the spring of 2010, she prepared an amendment to the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum bill to preserve the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs. The bill, with the amendment, was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor to become law in August of 2010. 

In spite of receiving the complete mineral museum budget every year since, the AHS closed the mineral museum in the spring of 2011 and then destroyed it by scattering equipment and materials across the state. In doing so, the AHS knowingly defied every provision in the Allen amendment. The AHS was represented at the meeting where the Allen amendment was drafted.

Part A of Arizona Revised Statute 41-827 begins as follows: The Arizona historical society shall operate and maintain the centennial museum that houses the mining and mineral museum ---. 

Follow on paragraphs state:

 2. To maintain the mining and mineral museum as the state depository for collecting, cataloging and displaying mining artifacts and specimens of various ores, gemstones, lapidary material and other valuable mineral specimens.

8: To operate educational programming for the museum.

B: The Arizona historical society 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 materials received for the centennial museum or the mining and mineral museum.

Will the AHS be held accountable for defying specific legislation clearly intended to preserve the once top rated mineral museum and its science education programs?