Thursday, December 5, 2013

Summary of a 100 year blunder

This blog began on June 5, 2010, documenting the hostile takeover of the then successful and historic Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.  Since then, 284 subsequent posts have explored various aspects of and related to this sad story.  Surely, it includes the dirtiest trick ever played by a handful of politicians, and the dumbest votes ever cast by a state legislature.

In 2009, the Arizona Historical Society imagined themselves to be in a crisis. The state legislature had just pulled the plug on their multi-million dollar Rio Nuevo boondoggle, and they were being required to wean themselves completely off of the taxpayers’ purse over a period of five years. The idea of supporting itself was truly fearsome, and the AHS therefore besieged various political connections for relief from this onerous dictate. In the summer of 2009, secret meeting began at the governor’s office.  Eventually, the governor championed their cause, and in early 2010 announced the development of yet another AHS museum, the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum (AKA the Arizona Experience Museum). Unfortunately, the building selected for the centennial museum was the Polly Rosenbaum Building, just east of the Capitol building.  It housed the mineral museum. In spite of considerable public opposition, political allies of the AHS pushed through a bill that gave the AHS control of not only the building, but also the complete state mineral collection.

Like other major AHS projects, the centennial museum failed. The failure mode was a crash on takeoff.  Funds for the museum were never raised, and the museum was never built. Inexplicably, that did not keep the AHS from closing and destroying the mineral museum. Large dumpsters behind the building were filled, and the building is apparently now empty. It seems the irreplaceable mineral collection, with scientific, historic, and monetary value, is being scattered about the state. Teachers and students are being deprived of the K – 12 science programs once provided by volunteers. During the last year of operation, over fifty thousand children visited the mineral museum. Depriving students of this resource, provide at no cost to taxpayers other than the use of the historic, state owned building, makes no sense whatsoever. It was a very dirty trick with no apparent motivation.

Having given the AHS the authority to implement this disaster, the legislature has steadfastly refused to correct their error. For two years in a row, bills to restore the mineral museum and its K-12 science education programs have been killed in committee.  Why?

Perhaps the only thing dumber than committing a hundred year mistake is refusing to correct it.