Papp responds to History Center allegations

July 10, 2017

James Papp

OPINION by JAMES PAPP

It would be hard to imagine a greater concentration of false statements than in Kevin Rice’s recent opinion piece “History Center Allowing SLO County archives to rot.”

First, Rice exaggerates the size of the History Center subvention by almost 50 percent. It is not $150,000, it is a little over $100,000, a fact easy to check for someone who is interested in facts.

Second, Rice states that that the subvention is for archiving and storing historic county documents. It is not. It is for providing (1) “artifacts and exhibits suitable for display and museum services,” (2) “assistance to the county’s department of general services in the development of historical displays, research, and information related to county operated parks and facilities,” and (3) “coordination of services for historical societies, governmental agencies, and foundations.”

All of these things the History Center does eminently well, as can be vouched for by county staff, anyone who runs a historical society in the county, or any of the thousands of museum-goers and hundreds of researchers who use the center every year.

Third, Rice’s accusation that the History Center “tosses” old journals around in a “shanty” is so ludicrous in its hyperbole as to scarcely warrant being addressed. The center has several storage facilities. All are secured from the ten agents of decay that professional curators, conservators, and archivists work against, including the two that Rice has heard of, moisture and pests.

The History Center employs an experienced and professionally qualified staff, and they do their job to professional standards. As Rice is not a conservation professional and has no affiliation with the History Center, he has no means of knowing how any archives should be professionally cared for, let alone how the History Center cares for its own archives. He has never seen them, and he does not refer to a source for his speculations.

Fourth, not a few hundred dollars but tens of thousands are devoted to care of the center’s archives, and this money is donated by people like me, members and supporters of the History Center and members and supporters of the historical societies it assists. Fundraising from grants and individuals has been dramatically increasing because of the sterling reputation the History Center has developed in collections care and the enormous amount of professional help it has provided to other museums and archives in the county.

Fifth, Rice’s accusation that the History Center is misusing ten of thousands of taxpayer dollars is one he provides no evidence for, making it conveniently impossible to correct. The center and its expenditures are overseen by a board elected by its members and by county staff through an annual report. The forty cents that county government contributes to the History Center per member of the county population is a fraction of the center’s budget and a considerable bargain considering the services the center provides to communities throughout the county.

Rice’s attempt to use CalCoastNews to incite harassment of individual History Center board members on an issue about which he is not in possession of a single accurate fact is not worth dignifying with a response.

James Papp is the president of the Friends of the Jack House and the chair of the City of San Luis Obispo Cultural Heritage Committee.







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25 Comments

  1. Pelican1 says:

    Kevin, perhaps you should walk a mile in Mr. Papp’s shoes before you judge him.I would like to see more substantiated evidence and proof of your allegations before I’m willing to make a judgement.

    (10) 40 Total Votes - 25 up - 15 down
  2. October says:

    I’m sure most people who are jumping on Kevin Rice’s bandwagon have never been to the History Center or utilized their services. I have done both and have been quite satisfied with my experiences. Let’s step back a moment and think about all these “important historical documents” that the center is tasked with preserving. What would you consider important? Is your monthly utility bill important? Maybe not today but 100 years from now it might be of interest to someone. I, for one, look forward to tossing my bills in the trash annually and dumping my tax documents every 5 years. Would you be willing to save all of your documents in your house from now until eternity? Do you have the space for it? Can you imagine if the History Center preserved every County resident’s monthly utility bills forever? What kind of space would that take? At what cost? Don’t you think that preserving certain documents is more important than others? Kevin Rice did not say what type of documents are
    being stored in this old shed. That would have been a useful bit of information. Is it practical to preserve every single document regardless of its relevance using expensive measures or would the limited budget be better spent focusing on the critical documents? And for those of you advocating scanning, that is a worthy goal, but not all those documents are going to fit on your regular copier/scanner. Anyone who has ever had to send out large documents for scanning knows that it is not cheap. Multiply that by thousands of documents and you’ve probably used up the History Center’s County funding for 10 years.

    (-1) 33 Total Votes - 16 up - 17 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      Another government subsidized agency that when questioned with doing their job and duties questions the costs, The only time they care about money is when they are held accountable for it! Nice try… Maybe we don’t need them anymore and they should not be getting this money and since everything in the past 20 years has been computerized, microfiched, etc.

      (10) 28 Total Votes - 19 up - 9 down
  3. James Papp says:

    In response to Mr. Rice, I am not the “live-in boyfriend of the History Center director,” though we were previously partners. My response to Rice’s piece was written by and on behalf of myself as a current member of the History Center and leader of local history organizations that the center assists, with the factual knowledge of the center’s budget and operations that is available to any member of the public but that Rice chose not to pursue, since fabrications were a more convenient means to support his “opinion.”

    (-4) 56 Total Votes - 26 up - 30 down
    • RonHolt says:

      There you go Mr. Rice. Have you seen (or at least tried to see) the Center’s budget and other public documents about its operations? If not, I think that your accusations are at least in part baseless. I say this reluctantly because I think you have done some good probing of public agencies in the past.

      (-7) 15 Total Votes - 4 up - 11 down
    • thomaspain says:

      I suggest you not respond anymore to this inane crap. Recognize that a troll is a troll and arguing with them is futile.

      (-4) 8 Total Votes - 2 up - 6 down
  4. Snoid says:

    Columbo Jr?

    (-10) 10 Total Votes - 0 up - 10 down
  5. panflash says:

    Well, so we have James Papp telling us that everything is A-OK at this history center, and Kevin Rice telling us that it isn’t.

    So how ’bout we have the 2017-18 SLO civil Grand Jury step in and investigate, then issue an objective opinion on the status of the center?

    If everything is fine there as Papp has told us, then, presumably, Papp should have no problem with a Grand Jury investigation. Right?

    Right, Mr. Papp?

    (30) 66 Total Votes - 48 up - 18 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      Excellent idea! This is one of the purposes of the Grand Jury, when a citizen has a complaint or feels that wrongdoing is occurring, then the County Grand Jury should investigate! These documents are important we our heritage, history and government. I remember many years ago the City of SLO got rid of our their leader bound journals, offering them first to the County Historical Society – they said no thank you – and after several employees took one or two they rest were dumped! In fairness, there were a lot of thing, guessing maybe a hundred or so, and they are heavy (leather binding) and large…

      (20) 28 Total Votes - 24 up - 4 down
  6. PolyProf says:

    Dr. Papp is indeed qualified to comment on this issue. Mr. Rice offers ZERO proof of his allegations against the History Center. Has he seen the damage first hand?

    (-7) 73 Total Votes - 33 up - 40 down
    • kayaknut says:

      and Dr. Papp’s proof was????

      (20) 42 Total Votes - 31 up - 11 down
      • RonHolt says:

        It seems to me that the accuser has the burden of proof in a case like this. If Mr. Rice has it, he should present it.

        If Mr. Papp has proof that Mr. Rice is making stuff up, he should present it but isn’t really obligated too. If he does show proof, Kevin Rice owes the History Center a public apology.

        (7) 21 Total Votes - 14 up - 7 down
    • ActaNonVerba says:

      You sound like a whiny shill.

      (3) 21 Total Votes - 12 up - 9 down
  7. kayaknut says:

    Are the accounting books for the History Center open and available for anyone to see? This would solve the whole he said he said stuff. Publish the money received and where it all goes and things might be much clearer.

    (32) 36 Total Votes - 34 up - 2 down
  8. Whyaduck says:

    From the 2015 Tribune”s Top 20 under 40 piece:

    Director and curator, The History Center of San Luis Obispo County
    Eva Ulz
    David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

    Eva Ulz, 33, is director and curator of the History Center of San Luis Obispo County.

    She moved to the county in 2012 and lives in San Luis Obispo with her partner, James Papp.

    (37) 57 Total Votes - 47 up - 10 down
    • Scarlet says:

      Ummm. Why the thumbs down? It’s a fact.

      (4) 28 Total Votes - 16 up - 12 down
      • billygatez says:

        Because it is a baseless article and Kevin is slandering and involving peoples relations? No sources cited, why even ask? Ya, that is “one” fact here, also a fact, the sky is blue.

        (-4) 38 Total Votes - 17 up - 21 down
        • Scarlet says:

          Because he does not have an unbiased take on the situation. And he shouldn’t b/c of the relationship. However, he should have disclosed the relationship or asked someone else with this knowledge to write the rebuttal.

          (8) 22 Total Votes - 15 up - 7 down
        • Ricky2 says:

          You saying the Tribune’s 20 under 40 is nonsense? That’s choice!

          (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
  9. Kevin Rice says:

    Papp should disclose he is the live-in boyfriend of the History Center director and, this, his opinion carries a vast amount of personal bias. Why can’t the History Center director write first-hand? Because she would then be accountable for her words, so she wouldn’t have the same creative leeway as her boyfriend doing it for her. Sad.

    (14) 84 Total Votes - 49 up - 35 down
    • Noodly Appendages says:

      What is this?!!! Some kind of a Papp smear campaign?!!!

      (25) 63 Total Votes - 44 up - 19 down
      • slomark says:

        “What is this?!!! Some kind of a Papp smear campaign?!!!”

        Come on downvoters, this was pretty funny!

        (13) 41 Total Votes - 27 up - 14 down
        • panflash says:

          “Come on downvoters, this was pretty funny!”

          Hmmmm, maybe. But mismanagement of $150,000 of taxpayer money every year isn’t.

          (20) 44 Total Votes - 32 up - 12 down
          • kayaknut says:

            But they will tell us $150,000 is a drop in the bucket, heck that’s only what Katie Lichtig makes in 3 months, and many others in government in 6 months.

            (22) 40 Total Votes - 31 up - 9 down

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