Sunday, November 23, 2014

Centennial license plate mystery

The following article was distributed to 90 newspapers across Arizona. The Sierra Vista Herald was the first to publish it:

In 2010, Arizona Revised Statute 28-2448 established the Arizona Centennial specialty license plate.  There is an extra $25 fee for purchasers of specialty license plates. Of that, $8 is kept by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for the extra cost of producing the specialty plate and $17 is given to the charity or nonprofit organization sponsoring the plate. The statute establishing the centennial license plate provided for the $17 to be given to the Arizona Historical Society for the maintenance and operation of the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. In 2013 alone, ADOT distributed $126,500 dollars to the AHS from the specialty license plate fund.

However, there is no 5C Arizona Centennial Museum. There never was. The money given to an east coast designer produced a plan for a 15 million dollar museum display to be installed in an existing building. Not surprisingly, the fundraising effort for this ill-conceived project failed. The centennial museum boondoggle was a replay of the History Museum at Rio Nuevo fiasco. In that case, nearly one and a half million dollars of state funds was given to the same out of state designer to prepare plans for an impossibly expensive (85 million dollars) museum that could never be built.

Why does the state legislature throw money at the AHS for poorly planned projects that fail?

What is happening to the money collected for centennial license plates?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sylvia Allen returns to the senate

Due to the sudden death of a State Senator from District 6, Sylvia Allen became the Republican candidate in the 2014 election. Election results now show her to be the winner.

Senator Allen served in the state senate previously.  In the spring of 2010, she prepared an amendment to the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum bill to preserve the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs. The bill, with the amendment, was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor to become law in August of 2010. 

In spite of receiving the complete mineral museum budget every year since, the AHS closed the mineral museum in the spring of 2011 and then destroyed it by scattering equipment and materials across the state. In doing so, the AHS knowingly defied every provision in the Allen amendment. The AHS was represented at the meeting where the Allen amendment was drafted.

Part A of Arizona Revised Statute 41-827 begins as follows: The Arizona historical society shall operate and maintain the centennial museum that houses the mining and mineral museum ---. 

Follow on paragraphs state:

 2. To maintain the mining and mineral museum as the state depository for collecting, cataloging and displaying mining artifacts and specimens of various ores, gemstones, lapidary material and other valuable mineral specimens.

8: To operate educational programming for the museum.

B: The Arizona historical society shall maintain the items, artifacts and other inventory received for display or storage, including equipment and outdoor displays, and shall not sell or otherwise dispose of materials received for the centennial museum or the mining and mineral museum.

Will the AHS be held accountable for defying specific legislation clearly intended to preserve the once top rated mineral museum and its science education programs?