Sunday, March 27, 2011
Update to “What’s happening to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum”, March 2011
In March 2010, Representative Russ Jones and Senator John Nelson pushed through a bill transferring the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum and its’ K-12 education programs to the Arizona Historical Society. The AHS is scrapping the popular education programs and plans to scrap the mineral museum because they want to use the building for a new 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. The centennial museum, featuring the old history book 5Cs of Arizona, will include cotton and cows.
The mineral museum is being destroyed even though funds for the centennial museum are not available. Only about 10% of the currently estimated cost of 15.5 million has been raised. Initially, the centennial museum was projected to cost $9 million and it was to be open for Arizona’s centennial. Now, even though work has not even started, the project is already 50% over budget and about a year behind schedule. Because the centennial museum can no longer be ready for Arizona’s centennial, it is being renamed. Planners are now calling it the Arizona Experience museum, and its theme is getting fuzzy. One thing is clear from the sole source, out of state contractor’s sketches. Virtually no trace of the mineral museum will remain.
In pursuing these plans, the AHS is blatantly defying the law. In March 2010, the centennial museum bill was amended to preserve essential features of the mineral museum; the outdoor displays (mining equipment), the indoor mineral displays, and the K-12 education programs. However, the AHS sole source contractor’s sketches and their recent procurement documents still indicate the mineral museum will be obliterated.
Past reports on the ASH prepared by the Arizona Auditor General show the AHS has a history of incompetence and corruption. Their Marley Center Museum project in Tempe was an absolute mess and drew extensive ridicule from the news media at the time. The 5C Arizona Centennial Museum, or the Arizona Experience museum, or whatever it is ultimately called, appears to be on the way to becoming a similar boondoggle.
Incredibly, the AHS statute defying project is supported by a retired Arizona Supreme Court judge and the current Arizona Secretary of State. As president and vice president of the Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation, they are responsible for the sole source contracts placed with centennial museum contractors. Even though funds are not available, the Foundation released a statement saying contractors have been placed. How these contracts could have been placed without adequate funds being available is unknown. The contracts are for work on a state owned building. If the sufficient funds are not raised and the Foundation defaults on the contracts, taxpayers will be responsible for any liens placed on the state owned building.
A lot of people are willing to defy the law to deprive Arizona students of a lifetime learning experience.