Friday, April 25, 2014


The following is a guest post by an anonymous individual concerned about the future of the AHS.

I know this blog is specifically dedicated to the issues surrounding the unfortunate closure of the Mining and Mineral Museum.  But the issues with this agency and their mode of operation are more far reaching than that.  I am choosing to remain anonymous so the focus remains primarily on issues, and on people only as it relates to the accuracy or inaccuracy of what they said.  I love history and am concerned that recent events at the legislature put the taxpayer funded AHS back in the negative limelight.  My goal is to encourage the AHS to look at itself critically, and take action to establish credibility and transparency.

AHS was in the news again this week, but not because of the high standards they displayed on their recent Sunset Review.  The issues, unfortunately, were the same ones that were detected in earlier reviews.   By this time AHS should be sailing through Sunset Reviews with almost no needed changes, like other agencies (AZ Geological Survey) who set and meet high standards.  AHS’s mode of operation is to promise to change, but then use political pressure and connections to change the dialogue to “we’re being attacked and history is important” if their performance is legitimately questioned. They are enabled by weak legislators who pour money into the agency and then resort to weakening, or even rendering useless, the Sunset Review process which is about ACCOUNTABILITY.  AHS, with its poor record, was able to sneak in another 10 year approval, but it really is meaningless, as it only creates an illusion of competency, while diminishing the importance of getting a good review for the other agencies.  This is not where AHS needs to be—the 10 years gotten by political maneuvering does nothing to protect from future funding cuts.  Worse than that, any potential big donor should, and in all probability will, check AHS out and, if they read AHS Sunset Reviews and recent publicity, will keep their money!

Next, AHS must have a Board that closely supervises the high-paid administrative staff; all major projects must be approved and show in your minutes with transparency.  As an agency using taxpayer money, AHS cannot afford to pile up failed expensive projects and the negative publicity that goes with them.  Things like the failed Rio Nuevo project and then bringing an expensive east-coast designer up to Phoenix for another unrealistic, and also failed, centennial project do not help AHS.  But when AHS destroyed history for the centennial, they got the bad publicity they deserved.  The next potentially negative fiasco looming is the AHS/Driggs $10 million project that uses the Polly Rosenbaum building for something she would not like. The Board needs to look at this closely and make sure it can and will succeed.  Of major concern should be the “48 Women” really agreeing with what a small group appears to want to do. Have all 48 women agreed to even be involved?  One has informally indicated that is not true!  AHS needs to distinguish between needs and wants.  Failure on “pie in the sky” exciting wants is hurting AHS.  Do the citizens of AZ need or even want a “Community Center” that will obviously mostly be for the state government people because of location?  What makes AHS think anyone will use it, except for the elite?  AHS needs to get behind projects that meet real needs and get positive publicity.

Future state funding for AHS will diminish, and you were asked to start moving to self-funding years ago, along with other agencies that have already lost their funding.  And it has nothing to do with liking or not liking AZ history.

I don’t expect you to like what I just said, but advise you to really think about it and do something to get AHS into a positive rather than controversial position.  I wish your agency the best. I’m using this blog because I know AHS follows it (inside information from within AHS) and I have run an agency using state money and know the necessity of high standards and consistently good reviews.


  1. The Arizona Historical Society has been great in the past. At one time they had great directors and Board of Directors.But not in recent memory.
    The problem is simple. Dr. Ann Woosley and her inept board. Time to fire her before she destroys the once great museum. As for her Board of Directors....why have such inept people.

  2. What a thoughtful guest post! I hope you plan to send copies to key legislators and they do something to restore the integrity of the Sunset Review process.

    1. You are so right in saying copies should go to key legislatures. For some reason, they have not wanted to pursue the cause and effects of the actions of the AHS.

  3. AHS should have accepted a two-year review and gotten a stellar one. Now they got 10 years and have boxed themselves into a corner of three not so stellar ones that potential donors will have easy access to. Marshall Trimble did not help AHS for the long pull, and his diverting from the history of AHS reviews got them negative publicity.

  4. Oh well, this isn't the first time Trimble's input was way off. During the Mining and Mineral Museum fiasco he said shutting the MMM down was OK because nobody came to it anyway! It's the AHS Museums that have very poor attendance--the MMM beat all of the AHS ones put together!

  5. The excellent guest post inspired me to pretend to be a big-buck donor and check AHS out. It's worse than I thought. AHS just got their first 10 year extension and got it by political whining and petty politics by the House Government Committee holding up adjournment over the AHS issue! I went onto the internet and looked at the history of AHS reviews, The '95 review showed serious issues and AHS did not get a 10 year "clear", they had another performance review in '98 followed by a financial and investigative review in 2002.
    This performance review was 15 yrs. after the failed '98 one. Sen. Griffin was right on, and I would be keeping my big donation after reading this!

  6. I just got done looking at AHS's review history since '95 and given how bad it is, why in the world are legislators still pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into this consistently under-performing agency? AHS has shot themselves in the foot, and the undeserved 10 year review will not save them. Trimble already let the cat out of the bag--donations are drying up. The AHS record is public!!

  7. The fact that the insightful guest post appears on this blog points out another serious weakness the AHS needs to correct--lack of public defense of their actions. We don't hear from the director or board about why their review record is so bad, or why they abruptly closed the Mining and Mineral Museum when the funds for the obviously unwanted Centennial Museum were not materializing. We don't know who wrote the guest blog, but we sure could use you, whoever you are, to shed daylight on the AHS issues down at the legislature!!!

  8. I also became curious about AHS's review and looked at the public records. This review started with a financial procedural review. A previous one in 2002 followed the problematic Performance (Sunset) Reviews of '95 and '98.
    The first letter cited AHS for three problem areas financially. The recent financial procedural review cited five areas and is very serious. The Performance Review (Sunset) also indicated continued on-going issues. AHS wanted the 10 year go over the Sunset Review.
    Wake up!! The very damaging recent financial review is what will keep donors for the AHS/Riggs proposal from donating. Even if they get a follow-up saying they have fixed their procedures, the damage has been done. AHS's record of repeated violations will keep donors away. Business people will look!