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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:47 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
I'm going to try to address some points here and then the rest of you can have the floor.
@Lima Superpower:

It doesn't matter what the "original intentions" are with regard to the engine. Once it is acquired-it is held by PHMC as a custodian. In short, if they are simply sitting in their offices cutting deals, then we need to revisit why we are paying them and remind them why they exist. They are trustees managing property-and trustees are supposed to manage the property entrusted to them as they are mandated to do-for the exclusive benefit of the beneficiaries-not for the benefit of the property , the trustees, convenience or public acclaim of the agency or its employees.

I find it odd that people claim that the engine in such a state of disrepair that disposition is a necessity-as if the PHMC had nothing to do with its condition and Zeus hurled a lightning bolt at it. Then the same folks can't believe that the agency that allowed this to occur over 50 years can have their decisions questioned.


And yes, I have a dog in the fight in that my relatives donated some tools from a late great-uncle who worked in the Lehigh Valley's Ashmore roundhouse. Pictures of the tools appeared in the Milepost, about fifteen years ago. I'd like to know that the gift is being used as intended-kept and displayed for visitors to Strasburg. I have looked for these items-and never seen them, realizing that not everything can be displayed. Still, I wonder are these some of the things that were lost, or are then just holed up somewhere as "insignificant".

Hypothetically, since they aren't being displayed, could I get them back to free up some space?


@Nathansixchime

No we aren't curing cancer here- but this deal raises questions about how collections are curated-especially by public employees. Among my other professional duties, I spend a couple of weeks dealing with the accounting for functional assets-things that are mean to be used and disposed of when obsolescent-and are not "artifacts". If we went and cut a deal for some motor vehicle that we allowed to fall into disrepair and gave it away, rather than following disposition rules, I'd be "up on charges". In addition, I conduct financial analyses of potential vendors to ensure that they have the financial capacity to provide the services they intend to survive. You guys may acquire, move and care for this engine in fine fashion-but that doesn't tell me why PHMC shouldn't be bound by the same rules every other agency is expected to follow.

@ns2110

That's the problem with doing things without public notice. I'd contact the current Auditor General, but DePasquale is the sort of Aud General that is only using the office as a stepping stone, so he's busy virtue-signalling about events in Virginia, instead of doing what we pay him to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:58 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 958
I think I detect a whiff of hypocrisy on the part of BG, a.k.a. Superheater, in his disquisitions over the past weeks concerning the deaccession of NKP 757 by the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. He is, by his own account, an employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and he is therefore responsible to me as a taxpayer. Let the record show that among the 22 posts authored by Superheater on this subject since August 1, more than half seem to have been written during working hours, if one accepts the time stamps on each post.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:04 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:46 pm
Posts: 21
superheater wrote:
I'm going to try to address some points here and then the rest of you can have the floor.
@Lima Superpower:

It doesn't matter what the "original intentions" are with regard to the engine. Once it is acquired-it is held by PHMC as a custodian. In short, if they are simply sitting in their offices cutting deals, then we need to revisit why we are paying them and remind them why they exist. They are trustees managing property-and trustees are supposed to manage the property entrusted to them as they are mandated to do-for the exclusive benefit of the beneficiaries-not for the benefit of the property , the trustees, convenience or public acclaim of the agency or its employees.


Personally, I would rather them manage to the benefit of the property they have been entrusted with and make sound decisions based on what is best for that property. If the best thing is for somebody else to take possession of the property, then so be it.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
Ok, I can't let this slide w/o a follow up.

"Personally, I would rather them manage to the benefit of the property they have been entrusted with and make sound decisions based on what is best for that property. If the best thing is for somebody else to take possession of the property, then so be it."

What part of that's not their job don't you understand?


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:09 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:46 pm
Posts: 21
Well, it's a job that NEEDS doing. If not them, then who? You're too hung up on the process. I'm more concerned with getting the right answer.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
"Well, it's a job that NEEDS doing. If not them, then who? You're too hung up on the process. I'm more concerned with getting the right answer."

The difference is, I'm informed and know what I'm talking about, and you keep going "Choo-choo", "Choo-choo". The only answer you want is the one that you want.

When the professionals and adults talk, listen.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:16 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 958
Okay, Mr. Professional Informed Know-It-All Adult Superheater, tell us all the history of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and how its mission and policies have changed over the past 50 years as the perceptions of its professional historians and managers have changed. Explain to us how the political agendas of the folks who control the purse strings have influenced decisions that perhaps were not to the benefit of the Commission or the artifacts under its care. Don't forget to include how the personal beliefs and insights of multiple administrators at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania have influenced the collection and its care while you're at it. And also, please give us your thoughts on the Commonwealth's budget over the past 50 years has forced the PHMC to make decisions that have had long-range implications over which those in charge today had no control over. C'mon, tell us. Inquiring minds want to know. Give us the unbiased, unvarnished truth!


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:36 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8401
Location: Baltimore, MD
I'm not Superheater, but I'll throw something out for discussion:

Ages ago, I was involved with brainstorming ideas between some parties with regards to potential loco donations and "trades." One possibility that arose was grabbing an extant, VERY relevant (to the RR Museum of Pa.) locomotive then in private hands, and then by whatever means getting it to the RR Museum of Pa. in trade for a "duplicate" PRR steamer (there are three 2-8-0's after all) to go to, say, Altoona's Railroaders Memorial Museum for display--temporarily or permanently. In effect, we wanted to do some of the "great benevolent dictator" reallocation that some curators and tourist line execs have joked about for years. And some stuff was then available.

Before these ideas could go anywhere and folks started asking prices or making bids, I asked the then-curator of the RR Museum of Pa. whether there was any possibility of such a proposal going forward. I was told to perish the thought. PHMC collections policy, strengthened by regulations put in after some deaccession scandals ages ago, would never allow it. "Sorry, but it would take an act of God, co signed by Allah and Buddha, to get one of these steamers to be allowed to go."

So we dropped the ideas.

Now someone else comes along, and so far we've seen at least three pieces (a Brookville, a pier mule lokie, and the 757) head off or get promised to other homes.

So, if the policies are changing, does this mean that NOW we should send some guys to try and talk them into letting a PRR steamer go to Altoona or wherever?

NOTE: That is simply a hypothetical example. I have no power to do this; the locos that we were talking about as trade fodder are in better hands now, or so we believe; etc., etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:08 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:46 pm
Posts: 21
The rules and regulations you mentioned MIGHT have prevented some things from happening that shouldn't. It sounds like they have also prevented some things that should HAVE HAPPENED. That's just sad. I think all of these cases should be judged on their individual merits, and as I have stated multiple times, the action that represents what is best for the artifact should ALWAYS be the number one consideration. Saving stuff and watching it rot into the ground just so you can say you have it when better options exist is just short sighted and stupid. I'm reminded me of some backwoods idiot on the TV show American Pickers that had an Indian motorcycle frame sitting in the woods where it had already rotted half way up the forks, and yet the fool STILL wouldn't sell it to someone who could actually put it to good use. The ONLY reason a museum exists is to preserve artifacts and educate people about them. If they are not doing that, then as far as I'm concerned, they have no moral right to hoard the artifacts.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:04 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
Okay, Mr. Professional Informed Know-It-All Adult Superheater, tell us all the history of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and how its mission and policies have changed over the past 50 years as the perceptions of its professional historians and managers have changed. Explain to us how the political agendas of the folks who control the purse strings have influenced decisions that perhaps were not to the benefit of the Commission or the artifacts under its care. Don't forget to include how the personal beliefs and insights of multiple administrators at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania have influenced the collection and its care while you're at it. And also, please give us your thoughts on the Commonwealth's budget over the past 50 years has forced the PHMC to make decisions that have had long-range implications over which those in charge today had no control over. C'mon, tell us. Inquiring minds want to know. Give us the unbiased, unvarnished truth!

Is there a coherent question in that ad hominem or do you just want to concede my point, that there are "agency costs", political and private agendas that affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the agency-but that they don't completely excuse the findings of the 2010 audit?

Emotional indignity, laced with nebulous rhetorical questions isn't very productive. and tantrums tend to impeach one's credibility.

Tell me how the disposal conforms with this:-it is current.

http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Preservation/Abo ... 2-2017.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:22 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:29 pm
Posts: 38
This is a great report. However it does not do anything to help the fact they are under funded, understaffed and overpopulated with artifacts . A typical useless government report
that money was wasted on to research, format, print and distribute. In stead of spending the money on the actual problems. IN 5 years they will do the same report with the conditions being dire with no help.
The fact remains this collection as a whole is begin left to rot. Some of these pieces have received no care what so ever since they were acquired. The taxpayers of Pennsylvania could give to craps about this collection. The politicians will never give up the money that is needed to take care of properly if there is a chance they could put it in their own pockets.
What is the answer? i don't know, if i did i would have won Powerball.
Checkmate.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:07 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8401
Location: Baltimore, MD
A similar, almost identical in fact, controversy erupts "across the pond" with another steamer being "deaccessioned" from a government-held collection:

http://www.museumsassociation.org/museu ... ontroversy

Quote:
The NRM is part of the Science Museum Group, which has seen its budget cut by over 30% from 2010-14, then a further 5% in 2015-16. The NRM is currently planning a £40m renovation of its York site, with new gallery and exhibition spaces.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:48 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1753
@fixologist61

"This is a great report. "

Actually, I would categorize it as interesting, for a couple of reasons. It has the beginnings of a strategic vision and several good ideas. Unfortunately, it's written like this:

Action 1.14: Continue to educate communities about the strong connections
between preservation, community character, quality of life, environmental stewardship, and economic competitiveness (page 42)

The problem with that item is that it typifies the action items in the report, superficially compelling; but utterly devoid of any real meaning in that it lacks details and any quantifiable expectations against which progress and performance can be measured.

Worse, there's no indication that they can pursue these initiatives without impairing any attempts to remedy the findings in the 2010 audit. I spend a lot of time writing, reading and reviewing reports, policies and procedures and I understand the temptation to engage in bureaucratic lofty-speak, with all of its ponderous self-importance to evade conspicuous failure that can impair a career path.


"However it does not do anything to help the fact they are under funded, understaffed and overpopulated with artifacts."

Once again, PHMC is slated to engage in building a replica roundhouse. That's not historic preservation. This may be a creative legislative imposition but if there wasn't as many inefficiencies as cited in the audit report, they might have less of a problem in this regard.


"A typical useless government report that money was wasted on to research, format, print and distribute. In stead of spending the money on the actual problems. IN 5 years they will do the same report with the conditions being dire with no help."


In PHMC's defense, page 13 shows that the report is required by Federal Legislation and that is likely the strings that come with the moneys dispensed by the United State Department of Interior, through the National Park Service.


"The fact remains this collection as a whole is begin left to rot. Some of these pieces have received no care what so ever since they were acquired."

So you agree that there has been a systemic problem with lack of due care of the kind noted in the 2010 audit? What do you think Senator X thinks during the annual budget theatrics when PHMC's requests come up, if they do what you say-assuming that they are aware of this purported neglect?


"The taxpayers of Pennsylvania could give to craps about this collection. "

Outside of a few people, this is largely true. Historic Preservation isn't part of Juvenal's successful governance hydra of panem et circenses and it never will be-and if popular whim is going to determine what's preserved, well things will not only be neglected but be actively destroyed-as the mobs come not only for the statuary of morally imperfect figures from history, but also seek to eradicate all traces of the past that don't meet their exacting standards.


"The politicians will never give up the money that is needed to take care of properly if there is a chance they could put it in their own pockets."

To be fair, the politicians actually don't line their own pockets, but those of the people who can help or hurt them in the next election. The next time you are in Harrisburg, walk about the capital in a radius of a few blocks-the people paying big bucks for that primo real estate are the real power in state government. The Pennsylvania State Education Association is just about directly down the capital steps. You won't see any historical, cultural or or similar advocacy groups there.


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:49 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 907
Quote:
"So, if the policies are changing, does this mean that NOW we should send some guys to try and talk them into letting a PRR steamer go to Altoona or wherever?"


Not as much as renewing the effort to see if they'll trade their unwanted Metroliner and that other thing to a certain well-known museum in return for a very significant Pennsylvania artifact...


The situation with the British T3 is, I think, very different from the situation with 757, although I'm not going to carefully review all the semantics until the horse is paste. I do suspect there is some 'sweetheart' dealing going on here, with a careful plausible-denial 'excuse' as to why the locomotive was transferred to Swanage ... perhaps to be seen better and be more loved than at NRM. And Davies decided to start a stir on procedural grounds about the expediency of the excuse.

Where 757 is concerned: what is missing is precisely any sort of explanation about the reasoning or process for the transfer. Even if the transfer were made for a dollar, it would have established the paper trail and reasoning behind asset transfer; personally, I do think the 'people of the state of Pennsylvania' are entitled to an explanation about why something in trust for them is being disposed of, even if that explanation doesn't have some sort of fair-market compensation for the "value of the asset" directly associated with it. For example, it would have been comparatively simple to tot up the costs involved in properly restoring and maintaining the 757 for display, and indicate that the transfer saves the NPV of that stream...

_________________
R.M.Ellsworth


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 Post subject: Re: Another (The Last?) Word on 757 and PHMC from PA Auditor
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8401
Location: Baltimore, MD
Overmod wrote:
Not as much as renewing the effort to see if they'll trade their unwanted Metroliner and that other thing to a certain well-known museum in return for a very significant Pennsylvania artifact...


Just because YOU declare the Metroliner "unwanted" does not make it so (as with the 757). The Metroliner has several significant ties to the Commonwealth, the PRR, Penn Central, passenger rail advancements, etc.

And I don't know what "that other thing" is supposed to be, but the Museum has to be relevant to today's generation. Too many rail museums have perished, or are in the process of perishing, in large part because they or their management have acted as if railroading history and development stopped in 1950, or when movies got color or sound.

We've already been formally warned that we must start strategizing how to save an Acela, after all..........


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