.NUZ: The MAH Will Be OK; Santa Cruz Mayoral Musical Chairs

As recently as September, highfalutin’ art lovers were wondering just how poor the financials were at the Museum of Art and History (MAH).

It’s true that the MAH was not as transparent as it could have been. So there was really just one burning question on donors’ minds: Is the museum’s cash flow abysmal … or just really bad?

Well, here’s a pleasant surprise: it turns out the numbers are actually pretty good!

MAH Interim Executive Director Antonia Franco has released its new State of the MAH report for Fiscal Year 2017-18, as well as eight years of financial audits and IRS filings. The museum reported $2.7 million in income and $2.1 million in expenses in the most recent cycle. The nonprofit has $9.8 million in assets. Not too shabby.

Over the summer, acrimony was on full display in the power vacuum left by the MAH’s former director and visionary Nina Simon. Critics painted a troubling portrait of the museum, which they argue lost its way under Simon. Longtime supporters also accused museum leaders of taking donor names off the walls.

secure document shredding

Of course, under Simon’s guidance, the MAH did also earn international renown as a more diverse, inclusive and exciting space. Simon has since founded the nonprofit Of/By/For All, which aims to take her approach and spread it worldwide. And she’s now been awarded the prestigious Ashoka Fellows Social Innovators Award for her work, which was announced last month.

Going forward, the next step should be for the MAH to re-hang the donor names that apparently came down. Other than that, all these developments are good news for people who legitimately love the museum and want to see it thrive.


Last year, Santa Cruz City Councilmember Chris Krohn, with a new majority behind him, nominated recently elected Councilmember Justin Cummings to be vice mayor

It didn’t just jumpstart the political career of one of his political allies. It also allowed Krohn to pass over Councilmember Cynthia Mathews, who would have been next in line, per tradition—as she was the second-highest vote getter in the 2016 election.

The problem is that it isn’t clear who the council should nominate to be the next vice mayor, when the opportunity comes up, once Cummings presumably gets appointed to be the new mayor in December. Krohn and allied Councilmember Drew Glover both have baggage, and could be facing a possible recall soon, so either would seem to be a surprising choice for the spot.

It also wouldn’t make much sense to nominate Mayor Martine Watkins, who frankly deserves a break. And Krohn and his supporters express dissatisfaction with her, anyway. 

Councilmember Donna Meyers was the second-highest vote getter behind Cummings last year, so she would normally be next in line after him, but she’s in the same wing of the council as Mathews and Watkins. Since Krohn and Glover often paint politics as an ideological battle, showing reluctance to cede any ground, her chances are low.

That would leave Councilmember Sandy Brown, who could make sense as a pick if she’s interested—and if she wants to run for re-election next year, potentially giving her a chance to be mayor in 2021.

That, however, raises a number of other potential issues, starting with this one: Who the heck would wanna run for re-election right now?


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