Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Did Governor Brewer make herself a deal with your money?

As reported in previous posts, Governor Brewer promised the people of Arizona that her “birthday gift to Arizona” (5C Arizona Centennial Museum) would be built and maintained with “no public funds”. As reported on the Jan 21st post, the Governor was recently caught trying to break her promise by trying to divert public funds to the centennial museum.

However, was the promise actually not true the day she made it (Feb 14, 2010)? Circumstantial evidence (time line and actions) suggests it may have been.

In 2009, budget plans assumed the Arizona Historical Society would be weaned off of tax dollars and become self supporting.  Their approximately 4 million dollar a year budget was to be reduced by 20% over a period of 5 years to give them time to raise private support.  This is documented in the appendix to this post (June 7, 2009 letter from the AHS Director).

According to the Nov 14, 2009 AHS Board meeting minutes, Director Woosley said the following:

Woosley asked the Board for their patience and trust on a matter that she cannot yet disclose to them. She commented that it was awkward for her because her approach has always been complete openness with them. She has been in discussions at high levels about an AHS directed Centennial project. It is extremely delicate with many moving parts and may end up being the State’s main Signature Centennial project. Woosley said she was directed not to speak about the project until later. This means that she needs the all of the board’s patience because she knows the chapter boards want to embark on planning activities and projects for 2010. Woosley requested that chapter boards hold off and she would appreciate no new projects be identified until further word is received. She commented that if the Centennial project comes to pass, the staff, boards, and volunteers.

Subsequent minutes make it clear that she was referring to Governor Brewer’s 5C Arizona Centennial Museum.  Other documents show centennial museum planning began much earlier than November, when the AHS director first informed the board that there was a secret plan.  In an August 11, 2010 Arizona republic article (see Aug 17, 2010 post), the AHS Director was quoted as saying:

Historical Society leaders sat down with the governor, business leaders and a design firm about a year ago to discuss the museum's new layout. They want the renovated museum to have wider appeal but include components of the mineral museum.

So, centennial museum planning began about August, 2009, just a couple of months after Director Woolsey sent Govern Brewer a letter begging for exemption form the planned 20% per year budget cut.

Subsequently, the AHS budget was
not cut. In fact, the AHS even got a one time 50% budget increase (see Aug 21st post).  This may have been for a balloon payment on one of their buildings.

Did Governor Brewer forgive the projected AHS budget cuts in exchange for AHS support for her Arizona Centennial Museum?  If so, the immediate cost to taxpayers (at the time of the Governor’s promise to the people of Arizona) for the centennial museum was:

FY 2010 -   $800,000
FY 2011 - $1,600,000
FY 2012 - $2,400,000
FY 2013 - $3,200,000
FY 2014 - $ 4,000,000
Every year following FY 2014 - $ 4,000,000

Since the AHS already has a half dozen other museums, the entire $4,000,000 per year will not be spent on the centennial museum. However, did the Governor agree to keep all those other museums open in the midst of a financial crisis just so the AHS would support her centennial museum?


CALL TO ACTION: Arizona Historical Society Threatened

Posted on byklandon
Dear Friends of AHS,
We are in crisis and need your help now!  Governor Brewer released her budget.  The Governor’s budget completely eliminates funding for the Arizona Historical Society by phasing out state appropriated dollars over the next five years.  If her proposal is approved, the Arizona Historical Society will cease to exist.  Please contact her immediately on behalf of the Arizona Historical Society to express your opposition to this provision in her budget.
The following message should be conveyed in the strongest possible terms by phone, email, or letter:
Dear Governor Brewer:
I/We respectfully request that you do not pursue your five year plan to phase out all state appropriated funding for the Arizona Historical Society.  To do so will result in the elimination of the Arizona Historical Society that was established by an Act of the First Territorial Legislature in 1864.  Instead, we ask that you support the Legislature’s proposal for the Arizona Historical Society’s budget, which reduces funding at more manageable levels and will enable the agency to continue.
I/We call for your support of our state’s oldest historical agency and its mission that engages, illuminates, educates, and inspires our communities in the rich history that shaped our state and contributes to the quality of life for all Arizonans.
Please eliminate this proposal from further consideration.
Thank You
Anne I. Woosley, Ph. D.
Executive Director

1 comment:

  1. That's funny the Arizona Historical Society actually had hired a development officer at $60,000 a year. After two years that person barely raised any money. She was let go for lack of performance. She had no experience at raising money but was still hired by the current AHS Director.Pathetic and naive, what a combination.