Monday, April 25, 2011

Why create a plush private party pad for politicians?

Arizona boondoggle to accommodate lobbyists

Guest post by Ted Rushton
Ted Rushton, now retired, is a former reporter, photographer, columnist and editor for newspapers and magazines in Canada, New Mexico and Arizona.

In days of yore, when Arizona became the 48th state in 1912 and lawmakers proudly wore "copper collars", the old Adams Hotel in downtown Phoenix was the true center of state government. The copper companies, with vast mines at Jerome, Ajo, Bisbee, Globe/Miami and Clifton, would lease vast suites in the Adams to which all portly and pretentious legislators were welcome to indulge in an endless supply of food, booze and perhaps even other "benefits" rented from the adjacent playpens in the "Deuce" neighborhood.

It helped ease the expenses for lawmakers from outside Phoenix when attending legislative sessions. The benefit to the copper companies, of course, was a favorable Arizona business environment. Those were the good ol' days.

In recognition of the Centennial of Arizona statehood, Gov. Jan Brewer and state legislators now want to spend $15 million to recreate a symbol of those days in a more modern setting closer to the state capitol. They will start by closing the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, one of the nation's finest mineral museums and an always popular destination for thousands of schoolchildren. In place of the mining and mineral museum, the announced purpose is to create a "5C Arizona Centennial Museum".

The official proposal is for a "Five C's Museum" to highlight Arizona's long forgotten copper, citrus, cotton, cattle and climate economy. It will be the second state government museum at the capitol. The first is the reconstruction of the original state capitol building, now a four-floor museum of Arizona history, culture, economy and politics. It’s two blocks west of the proposed new museum.

Why a second Arizona history museum?

The new museum is expected by some to become a "Copper Collar" days revival as a reception center, party site and watering hole for formal and informal legislative and gubernatorial functions for local and visiting dignitaries, politicians and lobbyists.

In everyday terms, it will be a "plush private party pad for politicians". Instead of "Five C's", the new facility will likely become the "Five P's" center. Instead of going downtown, lobbyists will be encouraged to sponsor parties next door to the legislative chambers. Think of it as saving travel time and thus contributing to greater efficiency in government (or lobbying).

In terms of impact, consider the accounts of gifts and "educational trips" provided by the Arizona Fiesta Bowl to numerous politicians. The Fiesta Bowl is merely one of hundreds of groups that hire lobbyists. As the Fiesta Bowl scandal shows, laws covering political contributions are rigorously obeyed once the nature of the "gifts" is made public. Until then, such licit and illicit "treats" remain suite secrets.

It's why no final concept of the new proposal is available; display of a proposed plush private party pad for politicians is hardly the way to develop public or corporate support. As a result, fund-raising is noticeably slow; corporations with the ability to contribute significantly to a $15 million "Five P's" project are reluctant to be associated with closing one of the nation's finest mineral museums.

Sadly, the original Adams was torn down. Copper collars are no longer worn with pride by Arizona legislators; instead, "educational trips" to elite sports events are favored. It's helped make the Arizona legislature one of the nation's premiere institutions in support of out-of-state trips to observe "higher education" on the playing fields.

Thus, the need to create this new "watering hole" nearer the capitol for lobbyists to “educate" lawmakers. As a consolation to those upset with losing the top rated and educational mineral museum, Gov. Brewer has offered to set up an educational display in her office to feature Arizona minerals. Plans are for a series of display cases with her world class Arizona mineral collection; a rock from Maricopa county, a rock from Pima county, a rock from Cochise county, a rock from Gila county......


  1. Very true. Brewer doesnt want a mineral museum with a bunch of loud kids around ...she wants a party house with walking distance from her office. The AHS Papago Park museum is too far away, boring exhiits and nobody goes there.
    I saw the KAET interview with AHS Director Woosley. She sounded like she was on Prozac. Guess Brewer doesnt need a history museum running this boondoggle she needs a science/tourism facility doing it. Woosley never mentioned history or artifacts. Thats what her agency does ...or used to.
    What did Brewer whisper in Woosleys ear???? lol

  2. Will anyone be around to make sure that any minerals displayed in Brewer's office will actually be returned when she leaves office? I guess we can send a class over to the state capitol and tell them they can access her exhibit(in her office) and then go downstairs to learn all about the workings of our Arizona government.