Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hogwash from the Governor’s office?

Correspondence (email) with the Governors office (from last spring) about converting the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum into the 5C Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum is included in the appendix to this post. The Governor’s office claimed the change was primarily motivated by a need to cut cost.

The Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (ADMMR or DMMR) has now been moved out of the museum building and the entire building has been assigned to the Arizona Historical Society. ALL of the rent money from ADMMR was transferred to the AHS so that they can maintain the building for Centennial Museum use. The ADMMR budget problems are now even worse than they were. They do not have enough funding to pay the remaining 3 employees for the rest of the fiscal year.

So, was the change really motivated by a need to cut cost? Or, was the plot to convert the mineral museum into another history museum just a hoax cloaked under the guise of cost reduction?

You decide.


Correspondence with the Governors office about the mineral museum (italics added):

February 27, 2010 email to Governor:

I really wish you would spend one hour with the curator at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and ask her to explain how the museum helps teachers meet state mandated standards for earth science education. Then, you would understand how the Centennial Commissions current plan to use that building for the Centennial Museum will be so devastating to K-12 education.

Response from Governors office:

Thank you for your email. We would like to provide further explanation as to why Governor Brewer and her staff are proposing a Centennial Museum. As you know, like all state agencies, 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 a rather large facility and still have sufficient staff to accomplish its mission. The rent on the facility is currently $524,700 per fiscal year. The State owns the building, but rent is still paid by all agencies because the State has debt payments for sale/lease backs, build to own, and other borrowing over the years and the Legislature has established a means to appropriate rent for each facility and then collect the money back to pay its obligations. The rent issue is
primarily one of the reasons
DMMR and Governor's office started looking at moving the staff and records of DMMR to less costly facilities, and re-purposing the MMM. That is where idea of the privately funded Centennial Museum was brought forward.

There is no single private entity funding the museum. The Centennial Commission will raise funds from any and all public and private sources to pay for the museum and other Centennial projects. In addition, the Governor has asked the modern day representatives of the original 5Cs to raise the money specific to their museum exhibit. There also is planned a rotating exhibit which will high light modern day industries important to Arizona, and funds should be collected from them as well. There will be a non-profit foundation formed to collect all funds received and pay for the various projects. The mineral collections and all other exhibits will be owned by the State, and the Centennial Museum will be under the direction of the Arizona Historical Society. The museum is intended to be a permanent museum and as long as the Legislature appropriates funds for that purpose, it will remain permanent.

The current 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 will close it for short periods over the course of the next two years. The Centennial Museum
will be a permanent museum and will be state of the art and a big attraction for the public. We believe visitors will have a wonderful experience visiting the Centennial Museum which is expected to open in time for Arizona's 100th birthday!

We trust we have adequately addressed your concerns. Thank you again for your message.

Office of Constituent Services
Governor Janice K. Brewer

Response to Governors office on March 5, 2010

Your statements about the rent are not true, and we have proof. Lyn White admitted, as over a dozen witnesses listened, that you are transferring the entire mineral museum budget (rent and salary) to the historical society to operate the 5C museum. There are also statements out or you office, now posted on the internet, which says the same thing. You are actually increasing the total expenditure for rent after you pay for the new office space for Madan Singh and his remaining staff.

I had hoped that you cared enough about Arizona children to at least listen to how you 5C plan will damage K-12 science education. I see that you do not.

I am the volunteer that has been traveling around Arizona promoting the mineral museum. I will now continue my travels around Arizona telling people about your Clinton speak, explaining why the mineral museum must "re-purposed", and about your willful disregard for K-12 education.

Response from the Governors office on March 6, 2010:

Mr. Zimmerman, your e-mail to Constituent Services was forwarded to me for further comment. The rent for the museum space will be transferred to the Historical Society so they can continue to pay rent on the building. The Department of Mines and Mineral Resources will be moved into available space, hopefully, already being paid for by another agency. With all the budget cuts, there are many agencies with fewer staff and available space. 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 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 fundraising effort. We hope donors will be generous so we can actually have a museum at all. 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, not just the 1st floor. I personally hope that I can find adequate space for the Department of Mines and Minerals Resources in already rented space where it can have a public library and perhaps a smaller minerals museum, but rent could still be an issue in some locations, and obviously we don't have money to increase rent payments. 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 some way.

Michael E. Anable
Natural Resource Policy Advisor
Office of Governor Janice K. Brewer
State Of Arizona

No comments:

Post a Comment