Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Did Rep. Russ Jones read the Arizona Centennial Museum bill?

In a recent Capitol Times article, Russ Jones is quoted as saying that is was necessary to transfer the mineral museum to the historical society to ease the budget of the department of mines and mineral resources. For Jones, a prime sponsor of the bill, to say that is astonishing. It suggests that Jones may not have even read the bill he sponsored.

The bill transferred the entire rent budget for the building to the historical society. The building, pictured in the Capitol Times article and located at 1502 West Washington in Phoenix, has two occupants; the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (ADMMR) and the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum (AMMM). The bill Jones sponsored transferred funding for the rent of the entire building to the Arizona Historical Society (AHS).

The budget of the ADMMR is not eased; it is in far greater jeopardy than it was. The department has not one dollar more for staff and non facility expenses that it did before the bill was passed. Not only that, but the ADMMR is now being required to move out of the building. They now don’t have insufficient money for rent; they have no money for rent. They are now reduced to mooching floor space in another building during the coming fiscal year. When they can no longer find a place to mooch space, they are out of business. The ADMMR loses and the mining industry loses.

The Arizona taxpayer doesn’t do well either. Before the centennial museum plan was hatched in secrecy, the State portion of the AHS budget that was being phased out over five years. This “necessary” change requires that the State portion of the AHS budget not only be restored, but increased substantially. The taxpayers will have to provide six million dollars per year to AHS for the centennial museum plan to work (see July 21 blog posting). The Arizona taxpayers lose.

The mineral museum does not do well either. As a best case, it is compressed into 20% of the floor space it now occupies and loses all of its outdoor displays. Since statements by the Governor and the AHS issued since the Governors initial press release say the 5cs will be supplemented with many other Arizona industries, the 20% will shrink to far less than that. The mineral museum loses.

A mineral museum thus decimated will be unable to continue the earth science displays and educations programs. Arizona teachers depend on the mineral museum to assist them in complying with the state mandated earth science education curriculum. They have no other resource to help them with this part of the curriculum. Students and teachers lose.

Finally, the historic and scientifically significant Arizona mineral collection, assembled over 125 years, is placed under the control of the AHS. The historical society does not have appropriate scientific credentials for this responsibility. The Arizona mineral collection, an irreplaceable State treasure, is at risk. Arizona loses.

Yet, Russ Jones believes this mess is a “win- win”. Did he ever read the bill?.


Museum is now history
Grizelda Navarez
Arizona Capitol Times
Aug. 6, 2010

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