Will the Real Peoria Arizona Historical Society Please Stand Up?

July 25, 2017; YourWestValley.com

When nonprofit boards become polarized, there’s always the potential for a public split. These generally confuse the public, containing as they do a mix of personal rancor and accusations of malfeasance, neglect, or dimwittedness. Add in a shared model of governance with a public body and you have a not-so-savory stone soup, as we see in Peoria, where two factions of the former board try to lay sole claim to being the official Peoria Arizona Historical Society.

According to YourWestValley.com’s reporting, “The society splintered after disputes over items allegedly stolen from the museum and other infighting.” Now, each faction has declared itself the real deal, complete with rival boards of directors, and each calls the other an imposter, pointing to procedural issues to back up their case.

Making the whole scene even more showy is the fact that this standoff involves members of some of the city’s oldest families making accusations about hostile takeovers and the alleged hijacking of the organizational identity and property.

A city spokeswoman, Kristina Perez, said in a statement, “The city is not involved with what’s going on in the historical society.” And, given the situation, who can blame her? But, again, in one of these public private-partnerships NPQ has written so much about over the years (see here and here), the city is actually the landlord to the five buildings the historical society oversees.

“The city owns the buildings and leases the buildings to the PAHS to operate, and has secured its property until such time the Peoria Historical Society decides on its leadership,” Perez said.—Ruth McCambridge