Viewpoint: Shame on us for not protesting sooner and louder

[Source: Ellen Vojnic, Campe Verde Bugle] — Once again I am reading about the legislature robbing the money allocated to the State Parks system.  A large portion of that money comes from voter-approved measures to support our state treasures.  How can the elected representatives decide to just take that money for other purposes without putting the matter back before voters?

As stated in the commentary this week, much of our tourism dollars come from folks coming to Arizona to visit our State Parks.  We have many very fine parks throughout our state including several right here in the Verde Valley area.

Jerome State Park has been closed for a few months now and not only did the closing not make sense, no money has been saved because the employees were just moved to another park.  Lights are still on at night as usual, just NO revenue coming in.  How do we continue to elect people (state and federal level) who seem to have their own agenda (or special interest group) at heart and not what is best for Arizona as a whole.  No one wants to see people laid off their jobs, but the state government is the largest employer in our state.

Probably the same can be said for the federal government, also.  Labor is always the highest cost and the first place you look when trying to save money in a business.  Most other expenses are not negotiable.  Not only are the State Parks being cut, so has the State Historic Archives been cut off.  What a shame!  Shame on us all for not protesting sooner and louder!

Budget cuts hurting Arizona’s museums; institutions, parks falling into disrepair, forced to close

[Source: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic] — Even as Arizona prepares for its centennial in 2012, the state’s history is becoming less and less accessible to the average citizen.  Museums across Arizona are cutting hours, restricting programs, merging or closing altogether in the face of drastic budget problems.  The State Archives, which had been open only two half-days a week, is trying to figure out how to go to a four-day schedule with a diminished staff.

And state parks, many with historical significance, can’t turn enough money at the gate to maintain aging and sometimes-dangerous facilities and stay open.  The impact is significant: In a state where so many people are newcomers, the institutions that can help them connect to their new state’s history are harder to access.  “The more people know about their place, the more likely they are to be good citizens,” said Dan Shilling, an expert in civic tourism and a former executive director of the Arizona Humanities Council.  Museums play an important part in extending that knowledge, Shilling said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here]

Arizona Archives building: dedicated in January, closed in March

[Source: Bill Coates, Dolan Media Newswires] — As principal investigator for Arizona Historical Research, Vince Murray’s livelihood depends on access to Arizona state archives.  That access was severely curtailed March 4, when the new Polly Rosenbaum Arizona Archives and History Building was closed to the public, except by appointment.  And then for only two half-days a week.  

Blame budget cuts.  For Murray, it means a project that used to take two weeks now could take more than two months.  “On any typical project, there’s going to be 40 to 80 hours of research,” Murray said.  “Well, here, you’ve got — what? — eight hours that you’re allowed to do it in a week.”  Clients for his historical consulting firm include state agencies, he said.

The archives closure was perhaps the most notable cost-cutting move by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records department.  Other divisions are operating on reduced hours, said GladysAnn Wells, the agency’s director.  Until the cuts, the library department had $2 million in operating funds, expected to carry it until June 30, the fiscal year’s end.  In January, however, the Legislature reduced that by nearly $1.5 million, she said.  There was one place to cut, Wells said. “All we had left, really, was salaries,” she said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]