Thursday, October 21, 2010

Governor Brewer jeopardizing Arizona’s future

When Governor Brewer succeeded Governor Napolitano, she also became cochairman of the Arizona Centennial Commission. The Arizona Centennial Commission had already planned Arizona’s centennial celebration. Whether Governor Brewer supported any existing centennial celebration projects is not know known, but it is now apparent that she quickly began planning her own pet project; the Arizona Centennial Museum.

Planning for this museum began sometime in mid 2009. The Governors office held secret meetings with the Arizona Historical Society, a sole source out of state contractor, a lobbyist, and persons not yet identified. The Governor announced the plans in February, but only at two by invitation only events. The Governors office did issue a press release, but it was not published.

The Governor promised that “no public funds” would be used for the centennial museum, but apparently began diverting several million dollars a year to the Arizona Historical Society (AHS) to support it. As a result of the financial crisis, the 4.2 million dollar budget for the AHS was scheduled to be cut by 20% per year over a period of five years. Not only did Governor Brewer not cut the 2010 AHS budget by the planned 20%, she actually increased if by over 50%.

The unnecessary expenditure of funds during a financial crisis is a concern, but the Governors action will cause far more serious damage. The building she chose for her centennial museum is the one which was occupied by the Arizona Department of Mining and Mineral Resources (ADMMR) and the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum (AMMM).

The ADMMR maintained data on Arizona’s vast mineral resources that was collected for over a century. This data, combined with mineral samples in the AMMM, was an invaluable resource to prospectors and miners attempting to locate new mineral deposits. The ADMMR was forced out of the building, and most of their budget was transferred to the AHS. The data files are now stored in two different locations because the new ADMMR quarters are totally inadequate. Because of the severe budget cut, the ADMMR will not be able to provide service to the mining industry for much longer. Future development of Arizona’s minerals resources will be greatly impaired. The security of the mineral data is threatened, and the data has been separated from the mineral specimens which are now under the control of the AHS.

Even more serious that that is the impending impact on K-12 earth science education. The Governor revised the law to give the AMMM to the AHS. Currently, the AMMM is still open and the earth science programs are continuing. However, that is probably only because the AHS does not have the funds to begin the centennial museum at this time. The Governor has “mandated” that they convert the museum to a history museum featuring cotton, cattle, citrus, copper, and climate. They are planning a nine million dollar conversion with their sole source, out of state contractor.

This conversion will be disastrous for the future. Arizona has only one earth science museum, the AMMM. It currently has many history museums, and adding another will have little value. However, the loss of the earth science museum and its education programs can cause serious damage. If future earth scientists are not inspired and trained, the future economy and standard of living will be threatened.

Arizona is currently ranked last in science education (out of the 50 states) and the USA is ranked 48th in science education. This is a very dangerous time to convert the only earth science museum into another history museum. Scarce resources should be shifted to science education, not from it if the future Arizona and American economy is to recover and prosper.

All Arizonians, whatever their personal interests and political affiliations, should be concerned about the Governors actions.

Note: This post will be the first picked up by the Tucson Citizen, and was designed to succinctly summarize the sorry mess for new readers. There are 40 previous posts at

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