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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:18 am
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Ignoring everything about the 757 for a minute.. How does a railroad museum lose an entire Hopper car? (Referenced on page 68 of the PDF). Is it a case of a donation never received, yet on record?


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
In the way MY brain quantifies this stuff:

"Maintenance" = things done to keep the thing intact and still of use/value (replacing a roof, an oil change, resurfacing a worn-out floor/walk, etc.), typically mandatory if you're going to own/use it.

"Investment" = improving the thing (making the loco operable, adding ADA-compliant rest rooms, adding solar panels and modern lighting, installing a new engine, etc.), typically optional.

The work done to PRR 460, 4465, 5901, etc. is cosmetic, but also mandatory if it's going to be kept around long term or presented to the public. The "investment" in this case is actually in the building in which this stuff is housed and kept secure long-term.

The question is, if the roundhouse had been completed ten years ago by some benevolent benefactor, would 757 have warranted a space inside? I would have made the case that it should have, at least in rotation with other pieces; others obviously think otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:46 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
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I'm staying out of this discussion, at least until someone provides an actual link to an actual report and I can read that report. But

Quote:
"Ignoring everything about the 757 for a minute.. How does a railroad museum lose an entire Hopper car? (Referenced on page 68 of the PDF). Is it a case of a donation never received, yet on record?"


Isn't this precisely what Mr. Crosby mentioned earlier, as the result of an idiotic clerical error mistaking the acronym for Lehigh & New England?

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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
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This recent set of posts regarding 757 is especially confusing to me because Superheater seems to imply that government employees do not do a good job of preservation.


I implied no such thing, I addressed PHMC, not government employees. My immediate concern is that 757 is being alienated outside of the Commonwealth by an agency whose duty is to the Commonwealth. I had forgotten about that report until I got the snippygram that attacked my motives as some sort of territorialism. I will tell you that I've rarely seen an audit report that is quite that damning and I read a lot of them.

He is going out of his way to document this alleged collection mismanagement by the Commonwealth.


Posting a link to publicly available audit report of a public agency-in response to a outside communication that indicated that I might need to document the basis for my concerns to a wider audience is hardly "going out of my way"-and to me it seems extraordinarily odd that people would not want to know how effective and efficient a state agency is at the mission that mandates its existence and indignantly attack those who provide that information when they have the duty to report everything isn't cupcakes and sunshine.

By the way, it's not alleged. It's documented.


He also has stated that a gift of 757 to an OH group for nothing in return, something that most of us see as sound collection management in the best interest of this particular artifact, is in violation of the fiduciary duty the elected and appointed officials and the government employees have to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.


What I have discerned about this disposal is that there are two motivating factors. First, that the 757 is in poor condition. Well, it has been in the CUSTODY of PHMC for fifty years, so that would tend be Exhibit 1 supporting Finding No. 2, wouldn't it?

I don't really care about ad populum arguments. I care about public officials doing their job and there are rules about the disposal of taxpayer property. Even beat up state police cruisers and obsolete computers go to auction. I , and my coworkers spend weeks every year accounting for the property entrusted to our care. I don't get to jettison the stuff I don't particularly favor without ensuring the taxpayers interest is protected FIRST.

The second is that it is somehow superfluous and there's no explanation about how this is the case. It provides much needed collection diversity.


He has also inferred that this was an issue in reference to the Federal Government's transfer of Canadian Pacific 2816 to Canadian Pacific, a for-profit corporation, in 1998. As Superheater noted in “B&M #3713 Restoration Thread Part 2”, “I don't have details on the transaction, but when we were prepping the 2816, it was with the implicit idea the repatriation of CP 2816 was an exchange transaction. CPR was supposed to provide something of value in return, perhaps favorable moves or diesel locomotives."



Absolutely true, and I didn't infer it, I explicitly stated it. It's still grinds my gears that either it was given away or the promised consideration was never received.



It is highly likely that 2816 is in better condition now than if it had spent the last 19 years outside in Scranton, but the 2816 transfer by the Park Service to a for-profit entity could be viewed as even more troublesome than the transfer of 757 because it greatly hindered public access to the artifact, especially here in the US.


Agreed.



The public access aspect of collection management is an issue that comes up often, most recently with regards to the Berkshire Museum's announced plans to sell off some of its artworks.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/ ... ium=social


Is this museum a public entity or a 501c3? That matters.

It appears that Superheater is saying that government fiduciary duties are at odds with sound collection management, and that government management of preservation is often lacking.


No. I'm not sure who decided giving away things for free to outside entities is "sound collection management" but it isn't sound fiscal management.

So should government get out of the museum and preservation business? If so, then why does Superheater constantly flame Mr. Rowland when he suggests that STEA should be privatized?

Again with the accusatory language and leaps that could span the grand canyon. My argument with Ross isn't that he advocates privatization, it is that he seems not to understand that it takes an Act of Congress to decommission a site, or can define what a privatized Steamtown would look like. Steamtown is more than big engines making long excursions. Even if his supersecret plan would manage to run something that looked like Steamtown at half the cost (5.8m operating budget), that likely means needing to triple or quadruple visitation. I'm a big believer in proven results-and Ross has not provided a proof of concept of his ideas.

If he did manage to come up with something that looked workable, I believe in following the facts and if the facts state that it could be done, I'd be an advocate.

Show me the plan and we can discuss-until there's a plan-it's a dream, void of substance.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:18 am
Posts: 155
Overmod wrote:
I'm staying out of this discussion, at least until someone provides an actual link to an actual report and I can read that report. But

Quote:
"Ignoring everything about the 757 for a minute.. How does a railroad museum lose an entire Hopper car? (Referenced on page 68 of the PDF). Is it a case of a donation never received, yet on record?"


Isn't this precisely what Mr. Crosby mentioned earlier, as the result of an idiotic clerical error mistaking the acronym for Lehigh & New England?


It states the car has an Ex-Reading Railroad history to it within the document. Perhaps they are also the same, and the clerical error is even worse than Mr. Crosby implied.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:37 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
@cood101


"It states the car has an Ex-Reading Railroad history to it within the document. Perhaps they are also the same, and the clerical error is even worse than Mr. Crosby implied.


There are several "implicit assertions" operative here:


1.) Existence-Simply, have everything you say you have, not having records that I have something that does not exist. This is the big issue in this report.

2.) Completeness- The flip side of No. 1, that is saying you have everything you have, not having things for which the records don't exist.

3.) Rights and ownership. Having the right to possess and display the items in your inventory.

4.) Proper Classification. Identifying items in an inventory properly, having records that accurate describe the object, its history, acquisition, significance and location.

Misclassification errors in the historical record would be problematic, but there is likely to be some errors in a 4.6m item inventory with a card system. where through error or omission would indeed be an error. Its magnitude would depend on the type of error, how it occurred, how frequently it occurred, etc. Significant amounts of classification errors would likely give rise to the need for (additional) completeness testing.

@ScrantonYard


I'd be especially interested in how the group works with intelligent gentlemen like Mr. Rowland and Mr. Crosby, who may have differing views but are both dedicated, in different ways, to bringing the important story of steam railroading to the current generation.


Since neither asked to "work with" the group, it would be difficult to make a blanket statement about any requests for hypothetical participation or joint ventures. One thing that would be problematic with regard to Mr. Crosby is that he is employed by an entity that has contractual relationship with Steamtown and would that be a conflict of interest that would have to disclosed and considered before any involvement, and would likely be disqualifying for appointment as a project manager, board member or officer. I assume his employer would consider that most active participation with a support group for an entity the employer does business with would be problematic.

We would be open to any written proposal and acting in good faith on it. At some point, we may hold public meeting(s)and both are welcome to attend.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:00 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:46 pm
Posts: 21
Superheater, as a fiscally responsible guy, I can appreciate your insistence on all of the balls and strikes of the museum and of the 757 transaction being conducted properly, BUT, like most people here, we are more concerned with what's best for the ARTIFACT, and I don't think very many people would argue that the current situation is what's best for it. Sometimes I think we all get too wrapped up in the minutia of the situation, and lose track of what is important.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:28 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8393
Location: Baltimore, MD
There's another problematic issue at work here.

Proper museum curatorial dictates the following (in broad terms):
  • If you have an asset or artefact, care for it and make it accessible and available as warranted. (You don't have to have all the paintings hanging at once, for example, but if someone has a need to examine it, they can get to it.)
  • If you deem an asset or artefact surplus, find it a good and appropriate home (another museum).
  • If an asset or artefact has value, it should be the duty of the museum to at least attempt to extract some return on its value if deaccessioned to another party--preferably through an appropriate trade. And you DON'T use cash from any such asset sale to pay operational expenses, payroll, etc. unless you're desperate to be audited and eventually fired or shut down.

Example of the latter--in the 1980s, the Steamtown Foundation still held title to N&W 1218, even though it was on loan to the museum at Roanoke. NS wanted clear title to 1218 before restoring it to operation, and gave Steamtown two diesel locomotives in exchange. Whatever you may think of "Dieseltown," those diesels have proven quite useful and valuable for them and the NPS successor.

The question being raised is whether or not the RR Museum of Pa. saw the 757 as an artefact/asset or a surplus liability. If it was the former, the Museum should have demanded even the token $1 of sale, or better yet SOME kind of assets in trade, even if they then turned around and traded the new item(s) for something else or just catalogued it into the library. If it was deemed "surplus," then many of us have some serious issues with their collection management philosophy and prioritization.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:33 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
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Location: Youngstown, OH
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/5/24/1211506/-How-Museums-Get-Rid-of-Stuff-Museum-Codes-of-Ethics-and-Detroit

It is a long standing rule that if a museum's artifact is sold, that the proceeds must be used for the direct care of collections. With a state run museum, is it possible that such funds can indeed be earmarked for that purpose? As I understand it, any funds generated by a state run museum goes to the state's general fund. The legislature (acting through the PHMC) sets the total budget for the museum. I do not see how proceeds from the sale of an artifact can have a paper trail going back through the general fund and through the appropriations/budgeting process, earmarked as restricted and added to the appropriate budget for direct collections care.

Perhaps this restriction on sale proceeds is at the root of why a state run museum has a policy of transferring deaccessioned artifacts instead of selling them. It may be too onerous of a task to account for those proceeds and assure that they are used properly, and the recordkeeping involved may outweigh the benefits received.

Those rules were created so that museums are not tempted to sell artifacts to make up for shortfalls in operating funding. I witnessed the Western Reserve Historical Society sell on ebay the original drill milling machine that Cleveland Twist Drill used back in the 1800s when they started the company. We knew the original donor and he was livid that the museum just sold the milling machine on ebay with no restrictions whatsoever. That is a worse case scenario as to what can happen when a museum violates the trust that it has engendered with the community it serves.

In my opinion, and as someone who has cared for artifacts for years, I would rather give an artifact to an organization that I know will appreciate and care for it than to sell it and risk that the guy with the highest offer is not just going to either resell or scrap it. I also think that museum artifacts should not be assigned a monetary value as their true value is of a non monetary nature.

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Steel Industry Preservationist, Narrow Gauge Railroader and ALCOhaulic


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:54 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
@Lima Steam:

"as a fiscally responsible guy, I can appreciate your insistence on all of the balls and strikes of the museum and of the 757 transaction being conducted properly, BUT, like most people here, we are more concerned with what's best for the ARTIFACT"


And that is the problem. When the artifact was first constructed, it was an asset that served the business needs of it's owner; when it ceased to be an asset of the railroad; it was transferred to the citizens of the Commonwealth. I am interested in the welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth first.


"don't think very many people would argue that the current situation is what's best for it."

Nor would I attempt to make that argument. Remediation in my mind means establishing accountability for the situation and taking proper remedial measures. The question was why was this one locomotive allowed to undergo a lifelong "selective languishing". Its care did/does not impose any unique costs upon its custodian and it does provide in one artifact, needed diversity in the collection. It appears to me that for decades it was disfavored because instead of being regarded as unique, it was regarded as odd.

Sometimes I think we all get too wrapped up in the minutia of the situation, and lose track of what is important.


Agreed-exactly the problem here, most everybody is focusing on the minutiae of the outcome, and forgetting about mission, accountability, purpose and process.


@Rick Rowlands

"the legislature (acting through the PHMC) sets the total budget for the museum. I do not see how proceeds from the sale of an artifact can have a paper trail going back through the general fund and through the appropriations/budgeting process, earmarked as restricted and added to the appropriate budget for direct collections care,"

First of all, do think, even for a minute that the word "fund" means to the governmental accounting what it means in the popular lexicon, it does not. Secondly, you are confusing "appropriation" with "fund"-and I'm just going to stop there before somebody dies of boredom.

That having been said, there is always the problem of "opportunity cost" here. Even if there was no other course of action here than to deaccession and dispose of the locomotive; at the very least the disposition should gone through a public comment period where the people or groups in the Commonwealth had a right of first refusal. When people cut deals behind the scenes, there is the potential that the deal is tainted. There's a reason for "sunshine laws". At the very least, disposal removes a question about whether this artifact was treated less favorably for some idiosyncratic reasons.

Look, I doubt that I'm going to change anybody's mind here. To many people look only at a result and say I like that and don't give a damn about how it is being done-assuming it is done. I think it is going to be a long time before they raise the $250K that is necessary for transport and cosmetic restoration, and those ambitions should be met with an escrow account, long before it leaves the property.


Last edited by superheater on Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:05 pm 
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The "longstanding rules" are ethical guidelines set forth by various museum associations. As far as I know, for a "private" museum, you can legally sell owned "artifacts" and not necessarily have to earmark those proceeds to acquisitions. Is it legal? Yup. Will you pay taxes? Probably. Is it free of restrictions? It better be to save face. Will everybody like it? Nope, but sometimes you can't keep/save/restore/display everything while keeping the operation afloat. Do you have to be careful to protect your non-profit status? You betcha.

I will agree that a state or federally run institution likely has to deal with a ungodly quagmire of red tape to do the same thing, though.

My 2 cents for what it's worth....

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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
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Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
If it was deemed "surplus," then many of us have some serious issues with their collection management philosophy and prioritization.
I don't follow this museum, but I have noticed that NKP #757 left not long after Amtrak #915 arrived.

#757 represents a class that pulled freight thru the northwest corner of the state for a mere 14 years,

#915 represents a class that spent 35 years moving people between the state capital and the nation's political and economic capitals, plus 15 years running to Beantown.

It seems to me that it would be easy to defend the disposing of #757 if that was necessary to free up space and resources to preserve #915.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:46 pm
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superheater wrote:
@Lima Steam:

"as a fiscally responsible guy, I can appreciate your insistence on all of the balls and strikes of the museum and of the 757 transaction being conducted properly, BUT, like most people here, we are more concerned with what's best for the ARTIFACT"


And that is the problem. When the artifact was first constructed, it was an asset that served the business needs of it's owner; when it ceased to be an asset of the railroad; it was transferred to the citizens of the Commonwealth. I am interested in the welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth first.


Well, I guess that's the difference between you and I. I could care less about the citizens of the Commonwealth. I care about about a steam engine that is going to be much better off in its new home, the home it was SUPPOSED to go to in the first place. The citizens of the Commonwealth have had 50 years to do something with 757, and yet there it sits. I would say after 50 years of having it, they got back out of it what they put into it (next to nothing) many times over. 765 was given to the citizens of Fort Wayne, and the city first leased it, then "sold" it to the FWRHS and got essentially nothing in return for it. As a citizen of Fort Wayne, should I be upset over this?


superheater wrote:
@Lima Steam: "don't think very many people would argue that the current situation is what's best for it."

Nor would I attempt to make that argument. Remediation in my mind means establishing accountability for the situation and taking proper remedial measures. The question was why was this one locomotive allowed to undergo a lifelong "selective languishing". Its care did/does not impose any unique costs upon its custodian and it does provide in one artifact, needed diversity in the collection. It appears to me that for decades it was disfavored because instead of being regarded as unique, it was regarded as odd.

Sometimes I think we all get too wrapped up in the minutia of the situation, and lose track of what is important.


Agreed-exactly the problem here, most everybody is focusing on the minutiae of the outcome, and forgetting about mission, accountability, purpose and process.



The outcome IS what's important, whether it happens the way you think it should or not. Right or wrong, and I'm not saying you're wrong, by the time you win this battle of details, the locomotive would be a pile of rust. Save the artifacts NOW, and improve the process for later.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:06 pm 

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Gents, we're arguing over a report which doesn't mention the subject of this thread and attempting to rationalize what was never explained to us in the first place in the absence of evidence. Unless somebody has something concrete to present, I see no point in carrying this on any longer. Even the education about accounting - which seems like a black art in many ways - has about come to an end.

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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:38 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
superheater wrote:
I think it is going to be a long time before they raise the $250K that is necessary for transport and cosmetic restoration, and those ambitions should be met with an escrow account, long before it leaves the property.


I've half a mind to make a wager with you on that. But there's a good reason I can't.


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