Bishop Museum - loss of State funding

Robert H. Cowie rhcowie at BISHOP.BISHOP.HAWAII.ORG
Tue Feb 24 13:51:54 CST 1998

Please read the following important message about budget cuts at Bishop
Museum. If you have ever borrowed specimens from Bishop Museum, used its
collections or its online data resources, interacted with its staff, or if
you simply value its continued existence as a research institution, PLEASE
write to the people listed in the message.

The State funding, which we may soon lose entirely, constitutes an enormous
portion of our day to day operating costs. The rest of our overall budget is
mostly tied to grants, contracts and so on. Cutting the State funding will
lead to significant job losses, perhaps as many as 25% of the staff.

We need your support.

Thank you very much.

Robert Cowie

8 February 1998

Dear Friend:

I am writing to request that you write a letter of support to the Governor
and Legislature of the State of Hawaii to continue funding to the Bishop
Museum.  Although Bishop Museum is a private non-profit institution
governed by a self-perpetuating board of directors, we were designated in
1988 by the Hawaii State Legislature as the State Museum of Natural and
Cultural History.  This designation brought regular state funding to
Bishop Museum.=20

In 1992 this amounted to ca. $2.5 million (16% of our total revenues).
During the past several years our current governor, Benjamin Cayetano, has
steadily decreased support to the Museum because of a state fiscal crisis.
During this current fiscal year we are due to receive $805,000.  This
represents a decrease of 67% since 1992.  And now the state budget
director is reportedly threatening to withhold that funding beginning 1
July 1998.

This could have devastating consequences on our ability to get grants and
obtain other support that have allowed us to maintain research and
collection activities despite a yearly loss of $1.7 million in state
funding since 1992.  The $805,000 that has been appropriated by the
legislature for FY 1999 is absolutely essential to the continuation of
those activities.=20

Those of you from other museums will immediately recognize that our current
level of funding from the State of Hawaii is low compared to most other
large, free-standing museums.  This is a source of considerable frustration
to us, given the importance of our collections and associated activities
to the citizens of Hawai'i.  The absence of predictable state funding was
one of the major reasons for passage in 1988 of Act 398 (see Appendix 1)
which designated us as the State Museum.  Although it now appears that the
Cayetano administration will not succeed in recent efforts to remove funding
provisions from Act 398, the Governor could still withhold all but one=
of our FY 1999 appropriation of $805,000 and still meet the provisions of
that legislation.  Your testimony is essential if we are to receive this
current support and eventually increase the level of support in the future.

We have listed in Appendix 2 some of the important reasons why state support
is important to our research programs.

You can help us by writing or emailing a letter of support to the governor
highlighting the importance of our collections (23+ million items) and
associated research activities.  Your voice in this matter is essential in
showing the State that curtailing of funding to us will result is serious
cutbacks or possible discontinuation of our services to you. It is
important to take a constructive approach and to indicate that you
understand that the State is trying to solve a serious fiscal crisis, but
that withdrawing support from Bishop Museum is a short-term solution that
simply does not make long-term economic sense.  Our ability to identify
agricultural and other pest species, provide expert guidance to resource
management agencies, and assist State agencies in innumerable other ways
all have a strong economic basis.  In addition, even though the State
funding we currently receive is relatively small, it provides a crucial
match to obtaining out of state grants and other support that increases
the investment of this funding many fold.=20

It is also important to mention ways in which our research or collections
have allowed you to advance science and society. To those of you who have
provided significant donations to us, it might prove useful to indicate
the importance of the Museum and its programs that led you to support us.

Please feel free to circulate this request to anyone whom you feel would
also be interested in helping.  For additional details about Bishop Museum
please point your browser to =20

Additional details on our Hawaii Biological Survey program are available

and information on geology is located at:

Please address letters to those listed below and include your postal address
in all e-mail correspondence:

Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano=20
Executive Chambers=20
Hawaii State Capitol=20
Honolulu, HI 96813=20
Phone: (808) 586-0034=20
Fax: (808) 586-0006
E-mail: gov at

Please also send copies of your letters directly to the leadership of the
Senate and House, and to the co-chairs of the Ways and Means Committee of
the State Senate and the chair and vice-chair of the Finance Committee of
the State House of Representatives. Or, you send a copy of your letter to
Tracie Mackenzie, Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, 1525=
Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817, phone (808) 847-8204, Fax (808) 847-8252,

e-mail: tracie at

and we will copy and forward. =20
Contact details are:

The Honorable Norman Mizuguchi,
Hawaii State Senate
State Capitol
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone (808) 586-6870
Fax (808) 586-6819
[No e-mail address]

The Honorable Rosalyn Baker, Co-Chair
Ways and Means Committee
Hawaii State Senate
State Capitol
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone (808) 586-6070
Fax (808) 586-6070
Email: senbaker at

The Honorable Carol Fukunaga, Co-Chair
Ways and Means Committee
Hawaii State Senate
State Capitol
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone (808) 586-6890
Fax (808) 586-6899
E-mail1: senfukunaga at
E-mail2: senfukunaga at

The Honorable Joseph M. Souki
Speaker of the House
Hawaii State House of Representatives
State Capitol
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone (808) 586-6100
Fax (808) 586-6101
E-mail: repsouki at

The Honorable Calvin K.Y. Say, Chair
Finance Committee
Hawaii State House of Representatives
State Capitol
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone (808) 586-6200
Fax (808) 586-6201
E-mail: repsay at

The Honorable Bertha C. Kawakami, Vice-Chair
Finance Committee
Hawaii State House of Representatives
State Capitol
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone (808) 586-6280
Fax (808) 586-6281
E-mail: repkawakami at

Please also send a copy to:

Dr. Allen Allison
Vice President, Research
Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Phone (808) 848-4145
Fax (808) 847-8252
E-mail: allison at

Thank you!

Allen Allison, Vice President for Research



Major statements included in Act 398 which was passed by the Hawaii State
Legislature in 1988 and signed into law that same year:

The legislature finds that Bishop Museum has been the primary repository
of Hawaiian and Pacific region artifacts in the State and Territory since
1921, and for ninety-seven years has made its reputation as a world-renowned
scientific and cultural institution.

The legislature also finds that Bishop Museum continues to serve all of
the people of Hawaii, from school children to adults, and from tourists
and other visitors to our island to scholars throughout the world, who all
benefit from the outstanding collections, research, exhibits and educational

The legislature also recognizes that the Bishop Museum, throughout its many
years of service, has established critical areas of expertise and references
of lasting value to Hawaii and its people through:

1.      Its gathering, preserving, storing and sharing of the tangible evidence
of Hawaii's natural and cultural history;
2.      Its staff, who annually contribute hundreds of hours of expertise and
support to over fifty state government agencies, departments, and affiliated
organizations; and without whom many basic questions concerning Hawaii's
people, plants, animals could not be answered with efficiency and=
3.      Its library, which serves as one of the three main Pacific libraries
in the world, with more than 90,000 items, half of which are considered
rare; a photographic collection of more than half a million images; and
the only geographic center in the world devoted exclusively to the Pacific;
4. Its press, which is the oldest continuing publisher of scholarly books
west of the Mississippi having published over 1,200 titles, including
classics such as "Hawaii: A Pictorial History" and Mary Kawena
Pukui's "Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetic Sayings"=20

The legislature also recognizes that the Bishop Museum has served "de
facto" for nearly a century as Hawaii's state museum without benefit
of regular predictable support from state sources to assist in the
preservation of its irreplaceable collections, to staff research programs,
and to plan and present its exhibits and educational programs




Bishop Museum research - the quest for new knowledge in cultural and
natural history - is a vital investment in the future of the economy and
environment of our state.  Through research, we come to understand our
world and learn to preserve and manage our cultural and natural resources.=
If we neglect our natural resources, tourism will decline, our best and
brightest people will leave the State and we will be in an even worse
economic calamity than we are today.  Bishop Museum research is an
important element in preventing this tragedy.=20

=A5 In 1992 Bishop Museum was designated by the state as the Hawaii
Biological Survey (HBS) and charged with the task of developing a complete
inventory of our plants and animals. This important Museum program, which
has been highly acclaimed by the scientific community, is supported
largely by federal grants and national foundations.  As a result of Museum
leadership, Hawai'i is the only state in the union with a comprehensive
biological survey (all organisms, terrestrial, freshwater and marine), and
the only state with an accurate, constantly updated list of the plants,
animals, and microorganisms within its boundaries.  This information is
crucial to a wide range of activities including environmental management,
outdoor recreation, and the development of biotechnology.  A testament to
the usefulness of HBS to the community is that the HBS website received
over 170,000 hits by users of its databases, endangered species
information, and educational information during 1997.=20

=A5 Museum researchers provide a significant financial return on the state's
investment. During 1997 alone they brought in to the State of Hawaii's
economy 6.2 times their salaries in national and international funding,
obtaining a total of $2.2 million in grants (17 funded out of 18
applications submitted).  This places us at the top of museums nationally.
Much of this funding is awarded through intensely competitive national and
international granting programs.  The State's annual appropriation to us,
which demonstrates a local commitment and provides a financial match to
many of these grants, is absolutely essential for obtaining and continuing
this out-of-state support.=20

=A5 State agencies have local access to world-class experts at Bishop Museum
who provide identification and other scientific services that are
essential to the interpretation of cultural sites, control of alien
organisms including agricultural and household pests, and to the
preservation of Hawaii's endangered species.  In many cases state agencies
would not be able to do their jobs without Museum help.  For example, our
quick response and scientific detective work in 1995 was crucial to
preventing the establishment of sand flies in Hawai`i.  The establishment
of these beach-dwelling biting insects in Hawai'i would have had a
devastating effect on our multi-billion dollar tourist industry.=20

=A5 Bishop Museum is an important reason that Hawai`i is seen as a world
leader in efforts to combine research findings with information
management, and to translate this into useful products and services for
the public and to support environmental management and the preservation of
important natural and cultural sites.  Such attention attracts money and
expertise to our state. In 1978, then Museum anthropologist Dr. Adrianne
Kaeppler's research on the Cook Voyage artifacts established a template
for research on pre-contact Hawaiian material culture, created inventories
of such artifacts in the world's museums, and forged an exciting exhibit
here in Hawai'i.-And if for example, you are bitten or stung by an unknown
small critter, your can refer to an extremely popular book entitled
"What bit me?"  co-authored by Gordon Nishida of our Hawaii
Biological Survey, which has received high acclaim from the public.=20
=A5 Museum researchers answer more than 2,000 inquiries each year.  In many
cases our staff are the only people in the state with the knowledge and
experience to answer such inquiries.  A high percentage of these inquiries
originate with or are referred to us by Hawaiian as well as other state
agencies. In one well-publicized case, Museum entomologist Dr. Al
Samuelson was contacted by New York state officials to help them identify
a non-North American beetle that was ravaging many of their street trees.
Why was Bishop Museum called upon? Because we are nationally and
internationally renowned as having the most comprehensive collections of
Pacific and Asian insects of any museum in the world. We were able to
accurately identify the beetle and now specific control measures can be
implemented to eradicate it.=20

=A5 Museum researchers serve on at least 25 state committees dealing
with agriculture, plant quarantine, and other important state regulatory
functions.  The museum probably has a higher percentage of its staff serving
on state committees than any other research organization in the state.=20
This attests to the importance of our specialized knowledge and expertise
in assisting the state to meet its regulatory responsibilities.

=A5 Museum researchers are important mentors to Hawaii's school children.
 They also constitute, through unpaid honorary appointments, a significant
fraction of the University of Hawaii's graduate faculty in the cultural
and natural sciences.  This relationship helps attract students and funding
to Hawai'i and contributes to the growing reputation of the University of
Hawaii for excellence in teaching and research.  Museum research expertise
is also essential to the development of the Museum's exhibits and education
programs that serve the local community and attract visitors to Hawai'i.

=A5 With continued state support the role of Bishop Museum research will
grow to meet the needs of the future.  One mutually beneficial way to
support reasonable growth in state support would be to integrate selected
state functions into museum programs for more efficient, economical and
effective service.  Identification and monitoring of agricultural and
other alien pests, survey and monitoring of endangered species as well as
sensitive cultural sites, the development of information systems for
determining environmental management priorities, or providing
environmental education programs are just a few of the ways that Bishop
Museum research could directly serve the state and reduce overall costs in
the future.=20


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Robert H. Cowie, Ph.D.
Department of Natural Sciences
Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817-0916

Phone:  (808) 848 4118
Fax:    (808) 847 8252
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Views expressed in this message are not necessarily those
of Bishop Museum.

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