EDITOR’S NOTE: The Southwest Museum Coalition has sent out an urgent request for supporters to call and email key City Council members to take jurisdiction over the Recreation and Parks Commission’s approval of renovations and expansion of the Autry Museum without a plan to fulfill its commitment to restore the Southwest. The Commission approved the Autry plan last week in an underhanded manner without proper notice or public discussion. Here’s the Coalition’s urgent call to action and draft letter demanding a full Council review (CALL TO ACTION–DRAFT LETTER.docx).
City Hall can get away with almost anything and frequently does with every single person in power nodding in agreement no matter how destructive their actions are, no matter how angry it makes the public.
That’s what makes the latest moves on behalf of the Autry Museum so hard to understand.
If the Autry’s latest plan to expand and actually make the museum an attraction that might draw visitors is such a great idea, why was approval by the Recreation and Parks Department and its Commission done in a manner so lacking in transparency and honesty?
All that was achieved was to inflame the wounds of the Southwest Museum Coalition and leave its supporters — betrayed time and again by the Autry — no alternative but go to war in the political arena and go to court with a lawsuit to tie up the project for as long as possible.
The Coalition has to put together a coherent narrative of all that has happened in the long struggle to bring the city’s oldest museum back to life as exhibition space for the vast collection of Indian and Western artifacts.(Southwest Museum-Back Story.docx)
The short story is that two years after abandoning its plans for a massive expansion of its Griffith Park facility, the Autry is back with a major renovation and expansion within its current footprint in the park but still refuses to offer a plan or assistance to revive the century-old Southwest Museum on Mount Washington in the Arroyo Seco.
Rather than taking the plans to community groups, Autry officials took their case behind the scenes to Rec and Parks officials and Commission President Barry Sanders — architect of the advertising signs in city parks plan — called a special commission meeting and slipped the Autry deal into a long list of items, none of which required an urgent special meeting.
What makes it more sinister is that Southwest Museum Coalition activists never received email notices of the special meeting, apparently because their emails were deleted from the Rec and Parks list without their permission.
Attorney Dan Wright of the Coalition pleaded Wednesday before the City Council for an investigation of this apparent illegality and for the Council to take jurisdiction over the Rec and Parks Commission’s approval of the Autry expansion.