Saturday, February 27, 2016

Status of SB1440

SB1440 is on the Senate Rules Committee agenda for Monday. There is no public hearing. Following that, it will go to the majority and minority caucuses, and then to the COW.  That’s legislative schedule short hand for Committee of the Whole, or the entire legislative body. In this case, that is the Senate.

From there, it goes to the House. Committee assignments are usually made on Friday, so there could be more public hearings the following week.

Now is a good time for SB140 supporters to send messages to their House representatives and to the Governor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Seven to One

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB1200 with little discussion and a 7 to 1 vote.  A dozen mineral museum supporters were present and 5 of them spoke briefly. The AHS lobbyist opposed the bill with AHS standard talking points 3 and 6. All seven of the talking points were used in the prior Government Committee hearing and in several committee hearings in 2015.

List of standard AHS talking points used to oppose reopening of the mineral museum:

1.      1. AHS Claim: The mineral museum is closed because the recession defeated the fundraising effort for the centennial-experience museum
Comment: The recession began well before the AHS ever began planning the centennial-experience museum.

2.      2. AHS Claim: The museum building has structural problems and requires extensive renovation to be habitable.
Comment: Arizona spent $1.5 million upgrading the building in 1990, and an engineering study determined that it was in an excellent state of structural preservation. No evidence of a structural problem has been presented at this time.

3.    AHS Claim: It would cost $2.1 million to reopen the mineral museum 
Comment:  The mineral museum could be reopened for far less utilizing existing improvements made in 1990. Most of the line items in the $2.1 million AHS estimate are discretionary

4.      4. AHS Claim: If the state provides funds needed to reopen the museum, it should be managed by the AHS because the AHS excels at museum management
Comment: While the AHS does have five museums in Arizona, they are not successful museums. For example, the extravagantly expensive museum in Tempe has such low attendance that each visitor costs taxpayers hundreds of dollars.

5.      5. The mineral museum should not be transferred to the AZGS because the AZGS may be consolidated with the UA.
Comment: Is the Geology department of the UA any less qualified to manage a mineral museum than the AZGS?

6.      6. The mineral collection is now effectively displayed in Tempe and other locations.
Comment: That is an admission of guilt rather than a statement of accomplishment. Arizona statutes clearly required the AHS to continue operating the complete mineral museum and K-12 education programs at the Phoenix location. It also required the AHS to preserve the historic mining equipment which is now abandoned at the Phoenix location.

7.      7. If the building is transferred to another agency, they will not be able to accomplish anything either until the State provides the millions of dollars needed for any project using the mineral museum building.
Comment: The fact that the AHS cannot raise funds (Experience Museum, History Museum at Rio Nuevo, Marley Center Museum) does not prove that another agency cannot. Only10% of the AZGS budget comes from State taxpayers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SB1440 delayed

SB1440 was not heard today because of a procedural error. We expect it to be heard next Tuesday after 2:00 PM.

More public support for the bill would be helpful. Speaking at the hearing is difficult because the hearings often have long delays, but supporters can send comments to the committee online. They will be read before the vote. Go to and click on "request to speak". You must login once at the Capitol to activate you account. After that, you can submit comments from your PC.

Monday, February 15, 2016

SB1440 hearing

SB1440 (mining and mineral museum transfer) will be heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow, February 16th.

The hearing will be held in Senate Hearing Room 109. The hearing begins at 2:00 PM, but there are many bills and the order in which they will be heard will not be determined prior to the hearing.
After registering on, Arizona citizen can provide comments on line. The comments will be read before the Senators vote.

Public testimony is important to inform the Senators of the urgent need to transfer the mineral museum to an agency willing an d able to reopen it.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Historical society obstructs science education

The following letter was distributed to 700 media contacts across Arizona:

Over 40,000 children visited the once top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix every year. Most were brought by teachers or scout leaders to participate in structured earth science education programs. School buses arrived almost daily, and came from as far away as Yuma.

Then, the Arizona Historical Society gained control of it in 2010.  In early 2011, the AHS inexplicably locked the doors even as children were still scheduled for field trips. Every year since, the AHS has accepted and spent the full mineral museum budget, but has refused to operate the museum.

Now, Senate Bill 1440 would reopen the museum and restore the K-12 education programs by transferring all mineral museum assets to a state agency willing and able to operate the mineral museum. The AHS is now using public funds to hire lobbyists to oppose the bill. The AHS has no plans for the building, but does not want to allow others to reopen the mineral museum for students and teachers.
                                                                              Dick Zimmermann, Tempe

Friday, February 12, 2016

AHS defying the law

AHS lobbyists are currently lobbying against the mineral museum transfer bill (SB1440) and bragging about scattering the contents of the mineral museum across the state. This places the AHS in ovbious defiance of state law..

In 2010, the Allen amendment to the centennial museum bill specifically tasked the AHS with continuing the operation of the mineral museum and its K-12 education programs in the centennial / mineral museum building. The failure of the centennial museum project in no way relieved the AHS from that legal obligation  The AHS was at the table when the Allen amendment was drafted. Therefore, the AHS knowingly defied the law when they closed the museum and removed its contents. The AHS has also been accepting state funds to operate the mineral museum each year since, even though they are not. That might be considered misappropriation of state funds.

The AHS is now in the very curious position of lobbying to kill a bill that would extricate it from its illegal position by transferring mineral museum responsibilities to another state agency.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Let's fake history?

 The current motto on the Arizona Historical Society website is "Lets Make History". One letter in that motto may be in error.

The Senate hearing on the current mineral museum transfer bill (SB1440) was held on Wednesday afternoon. This year, instead of feigning neutrality and then lobbying for a veto, the AHS is actively opposing the transfer bill in public hearings. Their spokesperson opened their opposing argument with a worn out talking point from years past.

The AHS claims the closure of the mineral museum was not their fault, but the result of an economic downturn. They argue that their centennial museum project failed because the recession made fundraising impossible and the mineral museum is closed because the centennial museum project failed. This lame atempt at revising history is nonsense. The recession began two years before the AHS began planning the centennial museum.  The ongoing recession was certainly not a surprise in 2010, and the centennial museum really failed because  the people did not want it..
When the AHS locked the children out of the mineral museum in early 2011, they knew the fundraising effort had failed. There was no reason to close the mineral museum, even temporarily, because there were no funds to begin construction of the centennial museum.

Furthermore, the AHS had a statutory responsibility to continue operating the mineral museum as part of the centennial museum, and was fully funded to do so. The fact that the centennial museum displays could not be built was no reason to lock the doors in front of children coming to visit the mineral museum .