Sunday, February 27, 2011

Will Arizona’s Centennial be postponed?

On Arizona’s 98th birthday, Governor Brewer announced a magnificent centennial “birthday gift”. The nine million dollar 5C Arizona Centennial Museum, featuring cotton and cows was to be absolutely awesome. The Governor promised:

“This new Centennial Museum will be a vibrant, interactive facility, offering state-of-the-art technology and exhibits unlike any in Arizona.”

Unfortunately, her 5C Arizona Centennial Museum project managers dropped the ball. The Arizona Centennial 2010 Foundation and the Arizona Historical Society have accomplished nothing since the Governors exciting announcement. Now, following Arizona’s 99th birthday, they have a serious problem.  The “centennial” museum can never be open until a year or more after Arizona’s centennial. So, what do you call a centennial museum that has nothing to do with a centennial?

In their recent belated solicitation for a general contractor, the project managers introduced the name “The Arizona Experience.”  That may not be as absurd as centennial museum, but it also has a problem.  The name is completely worn out.  A Google search on the phrase “The Arizona Experience” brings up hundreds (perhaps thousands) of prior uses.  A few examples are:

·        A 2011 dog show sponsored by the Border Terrier Club of America
·       A children’s coloring book by Carole Marsh
·       A presentation on wolves by Kim Crumbo
·       A book about Arizona by Adrian Peterson
·       A package deal at the Adobe Rose Inn Bed & Breakfast in Tucson.
·       An article on managed medical cost savings by Nelda McCall
·       An endowment campaign by the University of Arizona Alumni Association
·       A national weather service article on data collection by Al Haffer
·       A Federal Highway Administration report on ADOT asset management
·       A paper on Colorado River water rights by lawyer Robert Glennon
·       A report on charter schools by the Goldwater Institute
·       A Kino community Hospital report on mental health care by JM Santiago
·       A panel discussion on Arizona experience with SB 1070 on KCPW news.
·       What the Town of Cave Creek claims to offer tourists
·       Group Communication Therapy for Aphasia patients
·       A paper on rubberized asphalt by Julie Kliewer of the Arizona DOT
·       A paper on acute cared hospital beds by Frank G. Williams
·       Service provided by Private Coach Limos of Sedona, AZ

Renaming the centennial museum just won’t work.  Even with a name less lame that “The Arizona Experience” a “centennial” museum that misses the centennial will be a flop.  There is only one workable solution. Arizona’s centennial must be postponed.

Arizona cannot be cheated out of a fitting introduction for “exhibits unlike any in Arizona.”  This magnificent gift must be introduced with appropriate pomp and ceremony.

The centennial can wait!

The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum must be presented on Arizona’s centennial, just as the Governor promised.

                        Artists sketch as of February 2010

                     Artists sketch as of January 2011
                     (note chnged name above doors)

Press Release: Office of the Governor
Governor Announces Centennial Birthday Present
Privately-funded museum dedicated to telling Arizona’s remarkable story of growth Phoenix, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cocktails or Education?


In February 2010, Governor Brewer announced her “Birthday Gift to Arizona”.  It was to be a centennial museum built and maintained with “no public money.”  The Governor’s wondrous promise of a free gift is documented in her February 12, 2010 press release entitled “Governor Announces Centennial Birthday Present.”  The “free” museum was to be administered by the Arizona Historical Society, a state agency with prior museum management expertise that could purportedly make the new museum self supporting.

A year later, the “gift” is beginning to stink.  Private funds to build the museum have not been raised, and the Governor is trying to sneak public money into the project. An example is Senate Bill 1262, which transfers some license plate fees to the centennial museum.  The AHS has obvious museum management experience, but no expertise. Their current Marley Center Museum in Tempe is poorly attended and their continued existence depends on multi-million dollar subsidies from taxpayers. The museum portion of the building is not maintained, the classrooms are full of junk, and the library is closed. The layout of Marley Center strongly suggests it was designed for cocktail parties rather than education.

Due to AHS incompetence in the cost estimation process, the centennial museum is already 50% over budget even though work has not started. Because the Governor’s “private sector funds” did not really exist and funding is still not available, the museum cannot possibly be completed until long after the centennial is over.  Yet, the Governor says it will be built.

Why the continued push to complete a centennial project that can never be complete for the centennial?  Does the centennial museum really have anything to do with either education or a museum?  Or, is to be a place for politicians and lobbyists to host cocktail parties?  Unused floor space in the preliminary design sketches, the reference to an “event space” in the RFQ, prior comments by the AHS and Governors staff, and the obvious precedent of Marley Center strongly suggest the latter.

Unfortunately, if built, the centennial museum will displace important education programs. The building is currently occupied by the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.  The museum currently conducts K-12 earth science education programs. Teachers receive instruction and class room materials, students receive structured earth science field trips, and outreach programs are provided on site at schools.  The museum mineral collection is also used as a reference collection by geologists and mining engineers. All this will end if the centennial museum, featuring the trivial 5Cs theme, is built.  Like the Marley Center, it will not support education.

In summary, the Governor appears to have given cocktails priority over education. The agency she chose to administer the centennial museum obviously did exactly that when they planned Marley Center. For Arizona’s children and Arizona’s future, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum project must be stopped before it destroys the existing top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. There is little time. The AHS (with the Governor’s assistance) has already executed a hostile takeover of the mineral museum and has announced a June 1, 2011 closure. Student field trip requests for the next school year are being refused.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Students protest upcoming loss of mineral museum

The Arizona Historical Society executed a hostile takeover of the Arizona mining and Mineral Museum in 2010.  The AHS now announced the mineral museum will be closed June 1st 2010.  According to AHS plans, it will eventually be converted to the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum, which will feature the trivial theme of the 5Cs. Arizona children and teachers will very much miss the top rated mineral museum and its K-12 earth science education programs.  A lifetime learning experience will eliminated.  Even worse, millions of precious dollars will be spent during a financial crisis to down grade education.

Clayton is sad because he enjoys looking at the many beautiful mineral and rock displays. He does not understand why the Governor is not willing to save his mineral museum, especially when doing so would save millions of dollars. He is begging the Governor to reconsider.

Johnny enjoys the historic mining machines, especially the ones that have been restored to the point where they actually work. He learned al lot about mining by watching the old machines operating on Family Day (February 19th). He discovered that Arizona has one of the few operating stamp mills in the county, and he just cannot understand why the Governor and the AHS would scrap it.

Andrew loved learning how to facet gem stones. He cannot believe the Governor and the AHS will actually end important and interesting education programs at the mineral museum. He thinks the Governor should place more importance on education. He also wonders why Arizona would want a centennial museum that can never be open in time for Arizona’s centennial.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Students protest 5C Arizona Centennial Museum

Last spring, the AZ Legislature gave the Arizona Historical Society control of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. The AHS plans to replace it with the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum.  The AHS has announced that the mineral museum will be closed June 1st. Thus far, the AHS has refused to reveal what will happen to the mineral collection and historic mining artifacts.

The first student protest against the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum was held on Saturday, Feb 19th.  Students are outraged that the mineral museum is being scrapped to make room for a centennial museum that will never be open for the Arizona centennial anyhow.  Thus far, the centennial museum is 50% over budget and a year behind schedule. Furthermore, the required private funding has not been raised, and there are efforts, such as SB 1262, to sneak public funds into it. That breaks the promise made in the Governors Feb 12, 2010 press release about Arizona's “birthday gift.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Special Arizona Centennial plates will damage K-12 education

Senator Linda Gray of Phoenix sponsored Senate Bill 1262.  The bill will create a special license plate commemorating Arizona’s centennial.  That seems innocent enough, but this is a very bad bill for Arizona. It will cause serious damage to K-12 science education.

In 2012 and there after, $17 from each plate sale will go to the Arizona Historical Society to operate the new $14 million 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. That superficial history museum will displace the existing top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and the associated earth science education programs. The mineral museum currently provides training materials for teachers, conducts out reach programs for Arizona schools, and hosts K-12 students on structured educational field trips. Those trips are a lifetime learning experience. Arizonians now in their 50s vividly remember their class field trip to the mineral museum. Those trips have inspired many engineers and scientists. The AHS is already refusing to schedule more field trips.

Also, when Governor Brewer signs SB 1262, she will be breaking the promise she made to the people of Arizona in her press release of February 12, 2010. In both the press release and a presentation, she promised that no public funds would be used for the new 5C Arizona Centennial Museum.

PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE special Arizona Centennial plates.

Lawmakers propose bevy of specialty license plates
Rabekah Zemansky
Cronkite News Service
The Arizona Republic
Page B3
February 18, 2011

Although work has not even started on the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum yet, it is already 50% over budget and a year behind schedule. It cannot possibly open until long after the Arizona centennial is over.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why attack the Arizona Historical Society?

The following comment appeared under the February 4th post.  It is a very good question, and deserves further discussion.

It seems as though your position is one against both the AHS and the museum. Regardless of the problems with AHS, the work it does is important, and focusing on the AHS only drives away many of those that would otherwise support your position against the museum.

In the quoted comment, “museum” means 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. Others have asked a similar question.  The questions obviously assume the AHS is really dedicated to Arizona history.

This blog did begin as a non-political attack on the proposed 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. At the time, the AHS might have been just another victim in the Centennial Commission’s plans. However, it later became apparent that the AHS was not an innocent party. Documents now show that, beginning in mid 2009, the AHS was a willing participant in the plans for a hostile takeover of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.

As a result of that takeover, Arizona’s scientific mineral collection is now under the control of the AHS. That is completely inappropriate and unacceptable. Recovery of the collection is urgent, and collateral damage to the AHS cannot be a concern. Furthermore, the hostile takeover of the mineral museum is damaging K-12 earth science education and Arizona’s mining industry. The AHS has already started shutting down the education programs.

Claims that the AHS had museum management expertise were found to be flawed. The AHS obviously has experience, but not expertise. The AHS is either not interested in, or does not understand, the operation of a top rated museum. The design and condition of the Marley Center Museum clearly demonstrates that.  The somewhat hidden museum area is in a state of disrepair, and the library is closed. The AHS does not appear particularly interested in its assigned mission.

The AHS, with funding for 50 full time equivalent positions, never produced a top rated museum. The mineral museum, with funding for just 1 full time position, did. The AHS has powerful political connections, but no community support. It pays a lobbyist to harvest tax dollars, but is unable to rise any private funding.  Arizona is not being well served by the AHS.

The work that the AHS is supposed to be doing is indeed important.  Nothing on this blog takes a position against the mission assigned to the AHS as it appears in the Arizona statutes.  However, the AHS is apparently not focused on that mission. The AHS needs to be cleaned out and refocused, or replaced with a private foundation.

Thus, the attack is now directed on the AHS as well as on the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

$50,000 bonus for the Arizona Historical Society?

Looking from the outside, there is nothing exceptional about the Arizona Historical Society.  In spite of massive state support, it does not have a top rated museum.  Attendance is apparently so embarrassing they will not even release numbers. The AHS is unable to support itself, and depends on tax dollars and land trust funds to exist.

The AHS has also had several taxpayer funded fiascos.  The Marley Center Museum was ridiculed at length in the media, and criticized severely by the Auditor General.  It gave Arizona a big black eye, and taxpayers are still not out from under the debt.  The Rio Nuevo museum ate up $1.5 million in public money and nothing was ever built.  The highly controversial 5C Arizona Centennial Museum looks doomed from the beginning.  Although no work has even started yet, not even preparation of designer’s and architect’s drawings, it is already a year behind schedule (see note 1) and 50% over budget. The “centennial museum” can never be open for Arizona’s centennial. Yet someone is getting performance pay (AKA: a bonus).

Who?  Why?

The performance pay is shown on under category 6028: Performance Pay.  In FY 2009 the state paid $49,000, and in FY 2010 the state paid $42,500.  Thankfully, few payments are shown for FY 2012 thus far, but why were there ever any?

What exactly did the AHS accomplish that merited taxpayer funded “performance pay”?


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Will there be a Goldwater bobble head in the US Capitol?

Many curious bills appear in every session of the Arizona Legislature.  However, the 50th legislature’s Senate Bill 1506 is probably the most ludicrous. The bill, in its entirety, reads as follows:
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona: Section 1.
Arizona historical society; funding Barry Goldwater statue.
The Arizona historical society shall organize a solicitation for monies for the creation of a statue of Senator Barry Goldwater.  The monies shall be used to select and contract with a gifted and experienced sculptor to create a suitable statue of Senator Barry Goldwater and to make the statue available for placement in the National Statuary Hall, or in the Old Hall of the House, in the United States Capitol.
The Arizona Historical Society might not be able to raise funds in a room full of lottery winners. They have possession of Arizona’s historic documents and artifacts. They have the use of of 19 state owned buildings with a total of 208,000 square feet. They are permitted to rent some of those to private groups for fees. They receive a $4 million dollar per year subsidy from the state. Yet, with all those resources, they have not produced a top rated museum.  They are not even keeping Arizona’s historic documents available to the public as required by Arizona statue (Marley Center library is closed).

The Arizona legislature built the enormous Marley Center Museum for the AHS. All the AHS was expected to do was raise funds for the displays. According to Auditor General reports, they failed.

The AHS spent $1.5 million of public money designing their Rio Nuevo museum in Tucson, but did not raise funds to build it.

The AHS has been working on the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum project for over a year now, but has not raised the required funds. Now, that museum can never be open before the centennial is long over.

A couple of years ago, as the financial crisis struck, they were given a very generous budget offer. Rather than having their budget zeroed out (as it should have been when state parks and rest stops were closed) they were to have just a 20% per year budget reduction for five years. That budget was designed to give them time to establish public support to continue their mission.

The AHS panicked at the thought of having to be self supporting, and ran to their political supporters. They recovered their full budget and more. The AHS cannot and does not want to do fundraising.  It has gotten way to comfortable in the public trough.

Yet the senate writes a bill stating “the Arizona historical society shall organize a solicitation for monies …”

Will the Arizona Senate be happy with a two inch tall pewter likeness of US Senator Goldwater?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A treasure worth saving!

As demonstrated by prior posts on this blog, the Arizona Historical Society apparently has no interest in preserving Arizona’s mining history.  Their misguided 5C Arizona Centennial Museum project (AKA The Arizona Experience) may actually destroy some of it.

A newspaper reporter however, does value Arizona’s mining history.  Arizona Republic reporter Kathleen Ingley’s recent article (A treasure worth saving) describes an effort to purchase and preserve the Vulture Mine near Wickenburg.  She tells the story of Henry Wickenburg’s discovery of the fabulously rich mine, and follows its story through its closure in 1942.  She goes on to recommend supporting the preservation of the historic site as a fitting birthday gift for Arizona’s centennial.  The Vulture Mine Preservation and Restoration Association is currently raising funds to purchase and preserve the Vulture. Their website is:

Arizona also has an opportunity to preserve mining history and save money by stopping the Arizona Centennial Commission and the Arizona Historical Society’s misguided attempt to spend millions displacing the existing top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum (and its K-12 education programs) with the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA The Arizona Experience).  The 5C “centennial museum” museum cannot be open for Arizona’s centennial anyway, so the centennial celebration will not be diminished in any way.

Call Kathleen Ingley at 602 444 8171. Thank her for the fine article she wrote about the Vulture, and ask her to help preserve more of Arizona’s mining history (especially the mineral museum).

A treasure worth saving
Decaying Vulture Mine a spot rich in Arizona history
Kathleen Ingley
The Arizona republic
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Pages B10 & B11

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The end of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum?

Why the Arizona Historical Society wanted the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum may forever be a mystery. Clearly, the AHS desperately wanted the building the mineral museum occupied, but the building did not belong to the museum. The museum simply occupied a state owned building assigned to it.

The assets of the mineral museum (established by Arizona statute) consisted only of the mineral collection, displays, and mining equipment. Those could have been relocated or stored and the building could have been assigned to the AHS.  Instead, the AHS proponents pushed through a bill that revised Arizona law and transferred the mineral museum to the AHS.

Now that the AHS has possession of the mineral museum, it appears to be in the process of destroying it.  Schools are no longer allowed to schedule field trips, and Arizona students will be deprived of a lifetime learning experience (50 year old Arizonians fondly remember their 3rd grade field trip to the mineral museum).  Planning for the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum suggests that many of the existing mineral museum assets will be eliminated.

As reported in the Feb 4th post (Cockroaches …), 5C planners and promoters work in secret.  However, one of their documents has recently been exposed to daylight, and it reveals some of their intentions.  The two page document is titled:
Request for Qualifications (RFQ)
Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R)
The Arizona Experience
It requests corporate resumes for a 5C constructor manager. The RFQ identifies the following point of contact: Janet Collegio, Arizona Department of Administration, 100 North 15th Ave, Suite 202, Phoenix, AZ, 85007.

The RFQ states that the current mineral museum will be shut down on June 1, 2011, and that the target opening date for new museum is November 30, 2012. The design time is 10 months and the construction time is 12 months.  The RFQ further states that:
The primary goal of the project is to renovate the existing building to create the “Arizona Experience,” that showcases the 5C’s Gallery depicting Cattle, Citrus, Climate, Copper and Cotton as well as a Gem and Minerals Gallery. There will be an Orientation Theatre, and Event Space, New Main Lobby and Gift Shop, Education and Public Programming, as well as administration and support space for both the Southern Arizona Division and State Historical Society Headquarters.

Another portion of the RFQ states that the total floor space will be 18,000 square feet. Therefore, given every thing that will be added inside the existing building, the museum area cannot be very large. That suggests the primary purpose of this new AHS project may have little to do with the museum. A token museum is perhaps adequate to justify the use of public funds to maintain and staff the “museum.”  That would be consistent with the design and layout of the Marley Center Museum as described in prior posts.

Given the existing design of the Marley, the “Event Space” for the new 5C museum presumably means cocktail lounge.  So, students will probably be forever deprived of a lifetime learning experience so that the Governor and the AHS can rub elbows with the upper crust at a conveniently located watering hole on the Capitol Mall.

Too bad the kids won’t enjoy “The Arizona Experience.”

Added Note on Feb 10th: Ron Vokoun of Mortenson Construction tweeted their selection as the 5C contractor.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 5Cs and the Arizona Historical Society

In early 2010, the Arizona Historical Society participated in a hostile takeover of the top- rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. They intend to convert it into the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum featuring cattle, citrus, climate, copper and cotton.

The pedigree of the 5Cs is a bit fuzzy. Someone fluffed the classic 4Cs from old Arizona history books into the 5Cs by adding “climate” which supposedly represents tourism. Where did the AHS get their burning desire to present either the 4 or 5Cs?  Not from their history.

In the 1990s, the AHS was handed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to build the Marley Center Museum (described in the Feb 6th post).  They could have included a cattle yard and a citrus orchard had they wanted to.  Does the Marley present the 5Cs?


Does it even present 4Cs?

Well, yes and no.

On the second floor, the south east corner of the Marley does display 4Cs: cattle, citrus, cotton, and chickens. Yes, CHICKENS! A large glass case displays a bale of cotton and related items.  A large mural shows cattle and citrus. Another large case, similar to the one with the cotton bale, features chickens.

Is there any display in any way related to copper within sight (or hearing) of the chicken edition of the 4Cs display?


Finding anything related to copper in the Marley takes some effort.  There is a copper room.  That turns out to be the kitchen down on the first floor. The door says “Copper Room,” but it is really the stainless steel room. The only things remotely related to copper are a few pictures of old mines on one wall.

Around the first floor courtyard, there are some large rocks containing copper minerals. They are not labeled.  The uninformed visitor would think that maintenance workers spilled a bit of blue and green paint on them.

Back on the second floor, far from the “4Cs,” there is a relatively small case labeled “Manufacturing and Mining. ”  It includes a rock drill and a half roll of small copper tubing!

The Marley makes absolutely no attempt to tell the story of Arizona’s unique mining history. Nor does it explain the contribution of mining to Arizona’s economy, past and present.  Rather, the Marley misinforms any visitors that should happen to appear. It implies that mining is insignificant relative to cattle, citrus, cotton, and chickens.

Perhaps that explains the AHS's desire to destroy the top rated (and historic) Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. It simply dislikes mining, is embarrassed by Arizona’s unique and historic mining heritage, and seeks to rewrite history to make mining disappear.

                           Cattle and Citrus


Copper Tubing

"Copper Room"

Unlabeled Copper Minerals

1. The sarcastic September 16th post (Will Governor Brewer put chickens in the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum?) was written long before this blogger’s Feb 11, 2011 tour of the Marley and the actual discovery of a chicken display.

2. The June 16, 2010 post (Will the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum be relevant in 2012?) showed that the other Cs are insignificant relative to copper.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A private tour of the Marley Center Museum at Papago Park.

Mid morning on Friday February 5th, we visited the Arizona Historical Society’s Marley Center Museum in Tempe.  The AHS does not refer to it as the Marley Center Museum anymore. Their website now calls it the “Museum at Papago Park.” Nor is the Marley name in the big letters along the top of the building.  However, the Marley name can still be found in very small letters above an arch as you approach the museum.

We were treated to a private (unguided) tour. We received no invitation and we made no reservation. It just so happened that no one else was there. Upon completion of our private tour, as we were leaving, a family of four approached the museum. They looked through a glass wall at a few Sandra Day O’Connor dresses and gowns (only things that can be seen without paying) and then declined to pay the admission fee. They left when we did. 

As we approached the Marley on College Avenue, it did not look particularly large.  That was because there is an enormous parking lot between the Marley and College Avenue.  However, when we crossed the parking lot, the colossal size became very apparent.  A wide stairway lead took us up to a gigantic patio.  Other than its size, the most striking thing about the patio was that it is completely barren.  There are no historical artifacts, murals or any other features that suggest the presence of a museum. There are no landscaping features; not even a potted plant. Apparently, all of the enormous space is needed for special events.

The huge patio leads to an arch that opens on a courtyard filled with tables and chairs. Left of the arch is a kitchen, beyond which are a bar and a glass walled room filled with tables and chairs. The building is attractive, but sterile, especially for a museum.  After wandering about in bewilderment for a few minutes we spotted letters above a door in a glass wall that said “museum entrance” above it.

Inside the door is a huge lobby with nothing in it.  The only visible feature is an enormous stairway leading to the second floor.  To the left of the stairs is the glass room containing Judge O’Connor’s dresses.  To the right is a small desk with an attendant collecting admission.  Still farther to the right was a hallway leading to a children’s area, a library, and two classrooms. There was a closed sign on the library, with no indication of when it might open again. The class rooms were piled full of junk.

The second floor contains museum displays and historic artifacts. Some cars and trucks, a tractor, and horse drawn cannon are distributed about the museum area. There is also a windmill, a gas pump, an airplane, and a fiberglass statue from a defunct fast food store.  A variety of building facades in various styles have small rooms behind them displaying a variety of historical artifacts. The most striking thing about the second floor museum is the same as that of the fist floor non-museum area: conspicuous consumption of floor space with large garage-sized gaps separating various clusters of displays.

Many of the displays were designed to be interactive. There are buttons to push, headphones to wear, and touch screen displays to activate.  Few of them work anymore.  One area of displays has a large permanently lettered “out of order” sign, but most of the non-operable displays are not signed or tagged.  There is nothing suggesting that they will be repaired, or that anyone is aware they don’t work.

The museum portion of the building has a lot of floor space, but it represents only a small percentage of the total building floor space.  Much of the second floor is used for boardrooms (for rent) rather than for museum space.  The first floor has only a small museum area contain gown and dresses. The remainder of the first floor (other than the gigantic lobby) is taken up by a 272 seat auditorium, staff areas, and the unused library and classrooms.

The layout of the building and the condition of the museum area left us with a question as we left:

Was the Marley designed to be a history museum, or was it designed to be a high-end special events center with an assortment of historical artifacts on a portion of the second floor?  

Note: The AHS website states that the big lobby can be rented for cocktail parties for a fee of $500. The courtyard (right next to the bar) is available for another $500.

As seen from College Avenue (main entrance)


Bar alongside courtyard

Friday, February 4, 2011

Are cockroaches building the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum?

As explained in prior posts, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (that displaces the mineral museum) has been cloaked in near total secrecy. Planning of sorts had been underway for about a year and a half, but publicity has consisted of brief and vague articles in the Arizona Republic and one in the Arizona Business Gazette.  After the Governor’s presentation to a by invitation only group about a year ago, the Governor’s office did post a press release on their website. Curiously, the story did not appear in the media.  Was it a dull and uninteresting release, or did the release not actually get to the media?

If anything, the secrecy is deepening.  A short paragraph about the centennial museum was on the Arizona Centennial Commissions website. Now, that is gone.  That’s very strange for a “number one signature project”. People who call the Arizona Centennial Commission for information about the centennial museum are told the Governor will not allow them to talk about it.  Absolutely nothing is happening or said where it can be seen or heard.

Since nothing is happening in sunlight, either nothing is happening or the centennial museum is being built by cockroaches working in total darkness.  However, that is not stopping taxpayer dollars from being diverted to the centennial museum. Close watch of the house and senate (even in daylight) is revealing that. As one example, a senate committee voting on a bill to partially fund the centennial museum with special license plate fees was recently assured that plans are complete and pledges have been received for a significant portion of the required funds.

Do the centennial museum promoters understand the difference between concept sketches (which accompanied the press release) and plans? If there really are plans, why cannot the people of Arizona see the plans? Why do mineral museum volunteers who worked for decades building displays have to wait month after month with no word of what will happen to those displays?

Just exactly how does a secret fund drive take place?  Have the Governor’s “fund raisers” been shaking down Arizona business in the shadows?  Do the pledges gathered thus far represent protection money?

One of the first ground rules for Arizona Centennial Commission sanctioned projects (according to their website) is that they have community “buy in”.

Why is the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (their own “signature project”) such and exception?

Note: The Governor's press release promised that "no public funds" would be used for the centennial museum.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A historical society afraid of history?

The January 29th post addressed this question: Is the Arizona Historical Society out of control?

If it is only ‘out of control’, it may in fact have improved over the past decade.  In a May 9, 2000 article, Dan Huff (see reference) quoted a former AHS director as saying that the AHS board was "completely out of control."

Huff went on to write:
--- critics, including Jácome and other Tucsonans, as well as other society members from outside the Phoenix area, are complaining bitterly that the current AHS board-selection system has given rise to hermetically sealed, self-perpetuating leadership -- a decidedly undemocratic mode of government for a state-funded agency.
This "oligarchy," critics charge, is controlled by Phoenix-area residents, many of whom have a very limited vision of what constitutes Arizona history, leaning mostly to Anglo-centric, post-1871 events concurrent with the founding of Phoenix. Very few of the society's ruling clique, the critics claim, have formal training in history and related academic disciplines.

Huff then quotes a quoted (in a memo written by the former director) February 23 (2000?) memo from Joe Hiller, AHS interim executive director and former board member as follows:
SB 1445, which has since failed to make it out of committee -- was introduced this year to restructure the society with a seven-member, governor-appointed commission, replacing the current nominating process and member-elected AHS board.
Although Hiller admits the society "certainly could benefit from examining its governance and organizational model from time to time," he said the proposed legislation "is not in the interests of the society, which is a volunteer organization. There are literally thousands of people who contributed in various ways, and we really feel that creating a governor-appointed commission puts at great risk disenfranchising the membership." 

Disenfranchised members due to a governor appointed commission?

That would be so sad.

What about disenfranchised taxpayers?
As reported in the Jan 3rd post (The recent history---) the senate committee recommended a follow up performance audit in 3 to 5 years. That was in 1998, following that years disastrous performance review by the Auditor General.  Why has there been no follow up review?  If the AHS cleaned house, why did they not insist on a follow up review to clear their name rather than letting the follow up review slide?

Why did the Governors office not review the AHS history before giving it a major new responsibility (5C Arizona Centennial Museum) and additional funding ?

This blogger recently received a complaint about digging up dirt so far in the past.  Citing the only two Auditor General reviews ever performed was said to be particularly unfair.

A historical society afraid of history?

How curious.


Arizona's Hysterial Society; Tempers Are Flaring Among The State's Hardcore History Buffs.

Note: This post did not misspell the title of Dan Huff’s article.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is Governor Brewer breaking her promise again?

Senate Bill 1262 establishes a special license plate for the Arizona Centennial. It also requires that part of the sale proceeds be transferred to the Arizona Historical Society for the centennial museum. When Governor Brewer signs that bill, she will again be breaking her promise that “no public funds” would be used for the centennial museum.

On January 31, this blogger spoke in opposition the bill at a Senate hearing. Material previously presented on this blog was presented, and the main points were:

  • More public money should not be given to the AHS (documents reporting problems within the AHS were cited)

  • What will the AHS do with the money if there is no centennial museum?

  • In 2009, the AHS budget was being phased out over 5 years to cut cost. When the centennial museum idea appeared, their budget was restored. That is costing taxpayers $4 million dollars a year in the midst of a financial crisis.

  • The “centennial” museum cannot possibly be open for the centennial

  • The Marley Center Museum experience indicates that, if built, the centennial museum will fail

After the hearing, a person associated with the AHS approached this blogger and essentially stated that these issues should be discussed in private rather than in a public brawl over the centennial museum. However, that person did not wish to participate in such discussions.

Could private talks on these issues resolve anything?


The goal of this blog is as stated in the “about me” section that appears beside each post:

Committed to repealing House Bill 2251 and reassigning the Arizona mineral collection from the Arizona Historical Society back to an entity with appropriate scientific credentials.

Who wants to talk?

Note: The building currently occupied by the mineral museum and the "mineral museum" as defined by state statute are separate issues. The "mineral museum" consists of all assets other than the building, and includes the mineral collection.