Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cost Cutting Hoax: the Arizona Centennial Museum

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Governors attack on the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum is that, in the midst of the fiscal crisis, it is so easy to fool people into thinking it is a cost reduction. This is true even though the Governors office was very clumsy in presenting the deception. For example, within days of the Governors February 16 press release about the Arizona Centennial Museum, the Governors office released this statement in response to questions (bold italics added):

Note: ADMMR is the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, of which the mineral museum was a part until July 29, 2010.

Plans for the Centennial Museum began many months ago and were born out of the fact that ADMMR was losing ability to deliver on its statutory mission after the series of budget cuts over the last year. The budget cuts necessarily came out of personnel and other non-rent funds, resulting in the loss of significant staff and program capability. It was clear ADMMR needed to find a cheaper facility, which led to the concept of re-purposing the facility into the Centennial Museum. As far as rent, the AHS will receive through a budget transfer the amount of money currently allocated for rent in the ADMMR budget. In future years, the AHS budget will increase by the amount necessary to cover rent. Additionally, the employee position and funds for the curator currently budgeted in ADMMR will be transferred to AHS to assist in managing the new museum. As far as the question of title, that was one of the first questions asked of the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA), and we were assured that the new concept would cause no concern. The plans for the future of ADMMR are still ongoing as the original concept of moving them into empty space at the Governor's Offices with a mineral museum on the 1st and 2nd floors was ruled out due to the metal detectors which could not be relocated. The ADOA is examining other State owned office space where rent is currently being paid by some other agency where we can relocate ADMMR. We have some period of time while the Centennial Museum is being designed to find a new location for ADMMR, so the move is not imminent.

The logic in the bold type can be summarized as follows:

  • The rent for the mineral museum building was no longer affordable
  • All of the currently budgeted ADMMR rent money was transferred to the AHS. In future years, the AHS will be given whatever money is required for the building rent.
  • The ADMMR now occupies space paid for by another agency.

Isn’t third grade arithmetic sufficient to determine that total cost increased?

Note: There is actually a hoax within a hoax. As explained in the original June 5th post, the state of Arizona owns the building and there are no liens. Yet, ADMMR was charged market value rent, as if the State had no equity in the building. Most of the rent money became pork in another department.

Appendix: Other messages from the Governors office

Feb 24,1010 - to Tim in England

Dear Tim
The Mining and Minerals Museum (MMM) which is under the Department of Mines and Minerals Resources (DMMR) has been hit hard by the budget cuts and cannot afford its rent in that rather large facility and still have enough staff to accomplish their mission. For that reason, we started looking at moving the staff and records of DMMR to less costly facilities, and re-purposing the MMM. That is where we came up with the idea of the privately funded Centennial museum. The minerals collections will be incorporated into the mining related exhibits and the outside equipment will be utilized as well. The Museum responsibilities will be transferred to the Arizona Historical Society, which administers many museum collections. The Museum will not close, unless for remodeling purposes, we need to close it for short periods over the course of the next two years. DMMR will probably not move until July, and we are still looking for appropriate space for them. The Centennial Museum will be a permanent museum and will be state of the art and a big attraction for the public. I hope this helps.
ends (apparently the initials of sender)

March 12, to Paul in Arizona

Your e-mail to Constituent Services was forwarded to me for further comment. I understand you would like to see the Minerals Museum continue as is, but with the enormous budget reductions we have seen in the past couple of years, and with more coming, The Department and of Mines and Mineral Resources (which must pay the rent on the building)has been so significantly cut that I believe it is now down to three employees (paid for with State funds). The agency can no longer adequately fulfill its statutory mission, of which the museum is only used as a tool to educate the public. Rather than close the museum and eliminate the agency, the Governor sought private sector donors to replace what is essentially a publicly funded special interest museum, with a privately funded broader spectrum special interest museum. The State's Centennial seemed a logical event to rally a fund raising effort. We hope donors will be generous so we can actually have a museum at all. The current minerals collection is only housed on a portion of the 1st floor. The agency will move its library collection and staff to another location, which will free up additional space. The Director of the Arizona Historical Society has stated that she believes the entire minerals collection can be incorporated into the new exhibits which will occupy both floors. I personally hope that I can find adequate space for the Department of Mines and Minerals Resources in other State owned space where it can have a public library and perhaps a smaller mineral museum, but rent could still be an issue. I am also working on a plan to digitize all of the paper records of the agency so they will be backed up and would be available online, however that comes with a cost as well. While I understand your convictions and probably can do little to convince you to think otherwise, I did feel I should offer some additional information for your consideration. I hope this helps in someway.

Michael E. Anable
Natural Resource Policy Advisor
Office of Governor Janice K. Brewer
State Of Arizona
1700 W. Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007

No comments:

Post a Comment