Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is the Arizona Centennial Commission dysfunctional?

The newly revised website for the Arizona Centennial Commission ( now has a “Project Spotlight” icon.  It features the Arizona Centennial Penny Drive as the first Signature Event.

In the words of the commission:

The goal of the drive is to raise funds to clean and reseal the historic Arizona Capitol Museum Copper Dome in Phoenix and endow any remaining funds for future cleaning and resealing.  ----- this project will provide educational lesson plans relating to history, math, and science, as well as the importance of copper to our state’s economy and government.

Children will learn about science and math and the economic importance of copper by collecting pennies?


Before the Governor (with the help of the Centennial Commission) reassigned the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to the Arizona Historical Society, the mineral museum was in the process of completing a Copper Gallery.  This new gallery was to provide a learning experience on the:

        Formation of copper deposits
        Copper exploration techniques
        Maps of Arizona copper deposits
        History of copper mining in Arizona
        Mining and processing of different ores
        Uses for copper in daily life
        Beauty and diversity of copper minerals
        Applications of copper in art

Many of the displays were already complete, and private funds had been raised for more.

The mineral museum had also just completed a large (29” x 20’ & $60,000) new diorama of a copper mine. This interactive display provides a detailed learning experience about copper mining and copper production.

So how is the Centennial Commission going to teach children about science, math, and the economic importance of copper?

1. By dismantling the existing and top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and having the Arizona Historical Society convert the building into a 5C Arizona Centennial Museum featuring cotton, cows, & etc.

2. By having the kids collect pennies at school.

Brilliant two step plan!

This will help tighten Arizona’s grip on last place in education. Fifty out of fifty is a catchy motto worth protecting.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Arizona Mineral and Mining Foundation changes name.

According to the New Year 2011 newsletter (Volume 1, Number 1). the foundation has changed its name to the Flagg Mineral Foundation. The change makes it clear that the Foundation is not affiliated with the Arizona Historical Society. The AHS took over the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum at the end of July and plans to convert it into the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum featuring cows, cotton, etc.

Fortunately, the Foundation owns many of the best mineral specimens currently in the mineral museum. They were considered too valuable to place under the control of politicians when the collection was begun 5o years ago.

The Foundation recently paid $2,000 for an appraisal required by the AHS for a loan agreement. However, a satisfactory load agreement has not been negotiated with the AHS thus far. The Foundations is considering offers from other museums to house the collection.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Can a historic building be made "green"?

The December 7th post reported that the $400,000 in Federal stimulus money was available for improving the "environmental infrastructure" on the Polly Rosenbaum Building. That building is currently occupied by the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and is to be converted into the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. The building is already under the control of the Arizona Historical Society.

According the the grapevine, the money will be used to install solar panels. That raises a question.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Can solar panels be installed on a historic building? More specifically, can the exterior appearance of a registered historic building be changed to that extent?

Does anyone out there know the answer?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Who’s on first? (in the Arizona Centennial Commission)

Yesterday, December 16, the Arizona Centennial Commission hosted an “Informational Summit”. The event was held at the Arizona Historical Museum at Papago Park in Tempe. Attendance was by invitation only.

Attendees were told that Gallagher and Associates is the designer for the Centennial Museum, and that the museum will open in November of 2012.

The opening date of November 2012 is consistent with the information posted yesterday from the Prescott City Council meeting. That permits ample time for repairing and installing used displays from three prior events.

The information about the designer is not. The grapevine says that Gallagher and Associates has been replaced with a designer from Tucson. The Prescott presentation named Entertainment Solutions, Inc, of Scottsdale, AZ.

So, there are many, many unanswered questions about the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum, and the list just keeps getting longer and longer. A few key examples are:

  • Why will it be called a centennial museum if it will not open until 10 months after the centennial?
  • Who is designing the displays?
  • Where is the money coming from?
  • Who is directing the planning of the “centennial” museum?
  • Why has the Board of Governors for the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (established by HB 2251) never met?
  • Do the people that are involved (if any) have the authority to do so under the governing laws (HB 2251)?
  • Why has there never been any public presentation or meeting concerning the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum?
  • Will centennial museum planners preserve a separate Arizona mining and Mineral Museum, as prescribed by HB 2251?
  • Who’s on first?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Will there be second hand displays in the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum?

The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum was introduced to loyal supporters of Governor Brewer (invitation only events) last February. Her grand plan for this centerpiece of the centennial celebration was to be something really remarkable with $9 million dollars of displays prepared by a renowned east coast design firm. The director of the Arizona Historical Society told the board that the museum “may end up being the State’s main Signature Centennial project”.

The Governor proudly announced this was her birthday present to the state of Arizona and that it would be completely financed by private money. The AHS director said plans for the museum theme and for funding had been prepared with “the Governor’s Office, the Office of Tourism, and five representatives from private industry”.

What a difference 11 months can make.
Today, little is heard about Arizona’s grand birthday gift. As in the early planning stage, participants appear to be scurrying about in the dark. Unless, of course, they are doing absolutely nothing.

No announcement about grants or donations has been made. According to rumors, four of the five industries have decided that the 5C museum was a really uninspired idea and have bailed out. Apparently the high dollar, high profile east coast designer is gone as well. Also, according to rumor, the AHS has recruited a Tucson designer to put together some sort of a plan to solicit a grant from one possible remaining supporter (Freeport McMoran).

Now, it appears the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum, the supposed main Signature Centennial project, may be furnished with second hand displays.
From main signature centennial project to second hand shop. Quite a transformation.

According to Cindy Barks, the “state has contracted with Entertainment Solutions, a firm that has coordinated large events “such as the Phoenix area Fiesta Bowl block party”. The Arizona Centennial Best Fest will held sequentially in Prescott, Phoenix, and Tucson. A fundraising effort is reportedly underway.

According to slide 11 of Entertainment Solutions, Inc. presentation to the Prescott city council, the “event elements” will include “educational pavilions”. Those will feature “Historical, Arizona Industry, Cultural, Aerospace Aviation & Military, Sports, Natural Resources, and Arizona Future”. A footnote on that slide states:
Displays to be constructed for use at all 3 Best Fest Celebrations and for potential use at Arizona Centennial, Arizona State Fair, etc.
So, reality is arriving. The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (main Signature Centennial project) may be a second hand shop and warehouse for State Fair displays.

Well actually, a fourth hand shop. The displays will be used in three centennial events in three different cities before being placed in the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. That should bring in the crowds.
That is hardly a worthy replacement for the existing and top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, which is to be displaced by the 5C second (fourth?) hand shop.

For this mess, the hired help (elected leaders) simply had to push through House Bill 2251 last March. 5C had no plan and no budget, but it was written into law.
Fore this mess, the Governor added 2.2 or 3.0 million dollars (depending on how you count it) to the Arizona Historical Society budget.

Arizona deserves better.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Brewer despises critics

This blog began last spring as Governor Brewer introduced a multimillion dollar project of questionable value. That project is her proposed 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. At the time, the new museum looked like a waste of money. That problem was compounded by the fact that the new history museum was to displace an existing top rated museum, the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. Many believe the proposed museum has less merit than the existing one, and millions of dollars should not be spent to degrade a state museum.

The controversy now has a new and more profound basis. The Governor said she had to terminate coverage for organ transplants because Arizona simply does not have the money. Surgery has been cancelled for at least one 32 year old patient at this time. The Arizona Republic has estimated that Arizona is saving 1.3 million dollars (per year) in state funding by canceling transplant coverage. Prior posts on this blog show the Governor is spending more money than that to support her new museum. The money has been transferred to the Arizona Historical Society, and is clearly shown in the FY 2011 budget summary.

Despite her obviously flawed priorities, the Governor appears defiant in the face of criticism about funding cuts for transplants. A recent article in the Arizona Daily star quotes her as saying:

Bickering and ankle biting is very unfair and not solving the problems of the state of Arizona.

Ankle biting.

Apparently the Governor does not appreciate hearing whining from the “little people”.


Paul Davenport, The Associated Press, Arizona Daily Star, Rhetoric grows heated over transplant eligibility,

Posted Saturday, December 11, 2010

Note: See the July 21st post on this blog: Who will pay for the Arizona Centennial Museum

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is squandering tax dollars a Governor’s perk?

The recent debate over organ transplants in Arizona is asking an important question. Exactly what is money being spent on that has a higher priority than organ transplants?

In fact, the Governor is squandering millions of dollars on completely useless projects. She is doing this with both federal and state money. Millions are going into her pet project, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum, and the associated Centennial Way project.

The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum is getting $400,000 in stimulus money for solar panels. It is also getting supported by a very recent $2,200,000 increase in the stage budget for the Arizona Historical Society (centennial museum administrator). She used state money that she could have used for anything.

Centennial Way is getting $7,000,000 in federal stimulus money. This useless project replaces the side walk passing in front of the Arizona Centennial Museum with a new one including art work. The existing side walk is in perfectly good condition, and is not used anyhow. Few pedestrians or vehicles are ever seen on this street (formerly West Washington Street). A few winos do sleep on the side walk now and then. Perhaps they will appreciate the art.

The Governor added 2.2 million dollars to the history museum budget in July. In October, she said the state could not afford 1.4 million for organ transplants.

She squanders tax dollars on new toys, but does not pay doctors bills. Is that a Governors perk?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Arizona Centennial Museum taking shape?

The following paragraph appeared in the Winter newsletter of the Museum Association of Arizona (Volume 28, No.4, page 21):

The Arizona Centennial Museum Begins to Take Shape

The former Arizona Mineral and Mining Museum became part of the Arizona Historical Society at the end of July 2010. The Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting and the Arizona Department of Administration are working with AHS to sort through all of the issues regarding personnel, budget, procurement, and the infrastructure. The Governor’s Centennial Commission will hire a dedicated fundraiser and approximately $400,000 of stimulus funds are available for the environmental infrastructure of the building.

Taking Shape. Really?

In December 2010 the Governor is planning to hire a fundraiser. Exactly which centennial is she planning for?

February 2012 or February 2112?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Arizona keeps getting dumber

A recent editorial in the Arizona Daily Star stated that from 2002 to 2008 educational funding increased in Arizona but the graduation rate dropped significantly. Clearly, something is very wrong.

Over that time period, high school graduation rates dropped significantly in 3 states: Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. In Arizona, total spending per student increased from $4,941 to $5,391 (adjusted for inflation). The graduation rate dropped from 74.7 to 70.7.

So, the problem is not money, the problem is how the money is being used. Perhaps Arizona schools are no better than Governor Brewer in identifying proper priorities.

In 2010, the Governor pushed through House Bill 2251 to convert the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum into the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (yet another history museum). Over seven million dollars of state money are now used to support history museums across the state. Few people visit these museums.

The top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum is the only earth science museum in the state. Operating on a small fraction of the budget for history museums, it actively supports K-12 students and teachers. Students remember their class field trip to this fascinating museum for a lifetime. It inspires the careers of earth scientists and engineers.

Bored students drop out of school, even if they are brilliant. History museums are boring, and do not have economic value. Future scientists and engineers are needed to support a future technology based economy. There is no market for historians. History majors that do manage to stay in school and graduate become food servers, tree trimmers, and sanitation workers. The public funds used to subsidize their education are wasted.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Will Arizona lose both mineral museums?

Previous posts on this blog documented the plight of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. The states other mineral museum (University of Arizona Mineral Museum at Flandreau Science Center) is also in trouble.

The UA Mineral Museum can trace it roots back to at least 1892. Mineralogy was one of the original subjects taught at the university. For over a hundred years, it has served as an educational tool for mining engineering and geology. It also serves K -12 students on field trips, and has undoubtedly sparked the careers of many scientists and engineers.

In 2009, faced with budget cuts in a failed economy, the university cut off funding for the museum. It was saved, at least temporarily, by Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, Inc.

Freeport provided a $250,000 grant to at least keep the museum open several days a week. Ironically, Freeport had provided a one million dollar endowment to support he mineral museum just the year before the university decided to close it.

Curiously, while attempting to save one mineral museum, Freeport may at the same time be killing another. Rumors persist about Freeport providing a one million dollar grant for the 5CArizona Centennial Museum. As reported in prior posts on this blog, that new history museum will displace the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.

Freeports apparently contradictory actions continue to bewilder mineral museum supporters.


$1,000,000 donated to UA mineral museum, Renee Schafer Horton, Tucson citizen, February 14, 2008

Flandrau center’s doors aren’t completely closed, Aaron Mackey, Arizona Daily Star, July 21, 2008

Mineral Museum continues to be open to the Public, Sam Kane, UA News, June 29, 2009

UA Mineral Museum saved – for now,, July 1, 2009

Freeports $1 million donation to UA Mineral Museum,, March 14, 2008

Major contribution to Centennial Museum reported,, August 4, 2010