Sunday, April 27, 2014

Political mayhem and Arizona Historical Society

The AHS, a state agency receiving public funds, has a history of flaunting applicable policies and statutes. Their scofflaw attitude is reflected in a half dozen unsatisfactory Auditor General reports from 1995 to 2013. Even though the most recent sunset review was unsatisfactory, the House prepared and passed a bill (HB 2016) that did not schedule the next review until 2023.  The Senate Government Committee, correctly seeing that closer oversight is required, amended that bill to schedule the next performance review in 2015. The AHS could have simply accepted that, worked hard to correct their many documented problems, and obtained a clean report in 2015.  Their reputation would have been greatly enhanced. However, that is not what they did.

The AHS ran to the media and screamed persecution (see link on Apr 22 post). Then, political friends crafted a plan to evade such oppressive oversight.  Normally each agency is reviewed individually and their next review is then scheduled. Instead, the House lumped all the good apples (other agencies that were reviewed in 2013) with the bad apple (AHS). The House sent the Senate a single bill scheduling follow up reviews for all the agencies ten years later, in 2023.

The Senate rejected the new bill, but the House dug in. They refused to vote for session closure until the Senate passed the House catch all bill protecting the AHS from timely oversight. The standoff drug on into the night as antsy out of town legislatures chomped at the bit to go home. Eventually, weary senators caved in, one by one, until there were enough votes to pass the catch all “give the AHS a pass” bill. The first 2014 legislative session then officially ended at 1:42 a.m.

Will the AHS actually be free to play fast and loose with public funds for another ten years, or will responsible lawmakers find some other way to rein them in?

Arizona Legislature adjourns sine die after 16-hour workday
Alia Beard Rau, The Republic | 6:13 a.m. MST April 24, 2014


  1. We can only hope that a few more legislators who had to wait hours to adjourn because of an AHS fiasco will start to take a closer look at this agency. It's time to start cutting their budget and to treat them like other agencies. AHS has a long history of problematic reviews, but always gets refunded. WHY? They destroyed history for the centennial (the Mining and Mineral Museum) and were not stopped. Now, three years later the JLBC is apparently condoning AHS's actions and asking them and the Department of Administration to submit a proposal for the use of the empty Polly Rosenbaum building. Is the JBLC going to consider other uses besides the potential AHS/Driggs fiasco which expects private businesses to donate their money to AHS or the state? At very least someone needs to negate the resolution that named the building for Polly Rosenbaum and dedicated it as a permanent location for the Mining and Mineral Museum.

  2. Sometimes AZ politics simply stinks! Why isn't the JBLC looking for agencies/proposals for the use of the Polly Rosenbaum building in keeping with the legislature's resolution? It would seem that AHS forfeited any need or right to this building when they destroyed a historic museum and utterly failed to get their new museum for the centennial. It has been unused for three years and AHS performance reviews are so problematic that they need to concentrate on their mission, not on a community center for the legislature.

  3. There's a big problem for the AHS/Riggs/AZDOA coming up with a proposal for the use of the building--the incredible working and unique mining equipment display, especially the large stamp mill, that still stands as a tribute to Polly Rosenbaum. The above mentioned trio will need to have a plan to destroy more history as it won't fit with a community center and they do not have the knowledge or ability to run or maintain it. It will be expensive to remove or just plow down and basically only the incredible group that assembled it could ever put it back together. I've always been awed by the display and have been assured that it has been, and will continue to be, watched on a daily basis. Plans are to film it's demise to preserve history, because history is so important!!!

  4. Is this the same John Driggs that had the statue of John Greenway removed from the US Capitol and had Sen. Barry Goldwater put in? Who elected this fool to be in charge of Az history.
    Don;t get me wrong I liked Goldwater but Driggs should not have the power to do this.
    From what I have heard the staff of AHS has always thought he was a meddlesome Phoenix power hungry fool. One of many. Couple that with someone like Woosley and a powerless Board and you have a mess.

  5. The idea that AHS, Driggs, and ADOA need to come up with a proposal is really problematic. They failed miserably during the centennial, allowed the destruction of history, and we should have no reason to believe businesses or people will want to donate to AHS or the state now, especially after failing miserably.
    Driggs may have a conflict of interest, as his son is in the legislature. ADOA shouldn't be a part of this--there is a legislative resolution and name for the building and it simply needs to be respected as it was before the centennial museum fiasco. This smells like an attempt to cover up the disaster of the closing of the Mining and Mineral Museum.