Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Another Arizona Historical Society Fiasco?
The Tucson Weekly reported a complex rent dispute between the Community Storytelling Arts and Arts Marketplace and El Centro Cultural de las Americas. The dispute involves space in the historic C.O. Brown house. In addition to rent, the dispute appears to include selling liquor without a license.
A particularly curious part of the story is that the house is actually owned by the Arizona Historical Society, a taxpayer funded state agency. The house was given to the AHS on the condition that it be used to preserve culture and arts in Tucson. Apparently, the AHS has leased the building to El Cento for $1 per year for the last 20 years. In a reported quote by an “AHS representative” the article appears to say that the AHS has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the building.
The details are very sketchy, but obvious questions appear:
Assuming the AHS is actually, as reported, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a building and then leasing it for $1 per year to another entity that rents it out, why are they doing that? Why are Arizona tax dollars being used to subsidize whatever is being done here? What section of the Arizona Revised Statutes gives the AHS the authority to do this?
Why is liquor being served on state owned property? This looks like the same pattern associated with the Marley Center Museum and the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. Something that is supposedly intended for the preservation of history and education ends up becoming a taxpayer subsidized cocktail lounge for a privileged few. What section of the ARS gives the AHS the authority to serve liquor on state owned property?
The practice certainly cannot be justified based on fundraising. If that is the intent, it is failing miserably. The AHS is far from self-supporting, and appears to have no sincere interest in becoming so.
A historic downtown building sits at the center of a rent dispute
Tucson Weekly, April 14, 2010