Friday, January 16, 2015

Letter to the Auditor General

The following letter was sent to the Auditor General two months ago. There has been no response as of this date.

Debbie Davenport, Auditor General
Office of the Auditor General
2910 North 44th Street, Suite 410
Phoenix, Arizona, 86018

Reference your letter of Oct 27, 2014 to Doug Lindsay concerning Arizona Historical Society

Dear Debbie Davenport,

The above referenced letter to Mr., Lindsay implies that is acceptable for the Arizona Historical Society to place material and equipment from the mineral museum on loan in other locations.  If you read the entire half page content of ARS 41-827 you will see that is not correct.

The Allen amendment to the 5C Arizona Centennial Museum bill, established into law via ARS 41-827 and ARS 41-827.01, was very clearly intended to preserve the operation of the mineral museum and its K-12 science education programs.

Specifically, the AHS was required to:

1.      “operate and maintain the centennial museum that houses the (existing) mining and mineral museum”
2.      “to maintain the mineral museum …
3.      To employ a qualified curator…
4.      To operate “educational programming” ….
5.      To maintain the items, artifacts and other inventory … including equipment and outdoor displays  … and shall not sell or otherwise dispose of materials” …

If you look at the equipment and outdoor displays still standing at 1502 West Washington, you will see that the obvious intent of the Allen amendment was to preserve the mineral museum and K-12 science education programs that served 40,000 students per year on the existing site.

The AHS was well aware of the intent of the Allen amendment. They were represented at two meetings where the amendment was drafted. Furthermore, the legislature transferred the complete mineral museum budget to the AHS. They continue to receive it at this time, even though they are not operating the museum. However, they inexplicably defied every provision of the amendment by closing the museum and then scattering its contents across the state. They even sold some material on eBay.

When I had a law firm challenge the lawless AHS behavior, the Arizona Attorney General responded on their behalf.  The letter from the AG said the AHS would comply with the statutes, but they did not.

Most inexplicably, your office ignored this lawless AHS behavior during the AHS sunset review, even though your auditor was provided with detailed information by multiple individuals. Now, when questioned, you appear to claim that the AHS actions are acceptable (per above referenced letter).
Although I cannot imagine why, it looks like your office is protecting the AHS as they engage in their stature defying activities. 

I respectfully request that you review this situation more thoroughly. The AHS has seriously damaged K-12 science education, in knowing defiance of Arizona law, for no apparent reason. They must be held accountable for their irresponsible actions.


  1. Hopefully the Board of Directors of the Arizona Historical Society would read this. If they did they would see that Woosley and Ponder would be looking for a new job.

  2. Some of the board members represent museums in our state that receive grants from the AHS. I doubt they would bite the hand that feeds them and call for the director's position. It would end their allocation of grant monies.

    Does anyone know if the AHS actually does any outreach mineral and rock programs to schools or in-house tours and lectures about this science subject at the Tempe location?

    1. The grant money normally ran about $50,000 a year spread out over many local museums and historical societies. Not a lot per museum or facility.
      To answer the second part of your question you should ask how many school tours does the AHS get for all of their museums.

  3. The AHS began offering school tours this month, as noted in the Dec 21, 2014 post. They want $4 per student for a program that is unlikely to match that previously provided for free by the mineral museum.