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Author Topic: As we look at OUR museums around the country struggling by  (Read 8873 times)
Mark Sarsfield
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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2014, 08:37:45 AM »

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By the way, I'm going to be perfectly blunt: I think there are many cases where museum operators and boards get JEALOUS of volunteers instead of being proud of them.

DING DING DING DING DING!

We're seen as threats, rather than aids and assets.  If we don't play the politics, we're out on our ass.
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Mark Sarsfield
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"If you have one bucket that can hold 5 gallons and one bucket that can hold 2 gallons, how many buckets do you have?" - IQ test from Idiocracy
Darrin
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« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2014, 04:20:11 PM »

And that my friend is truly sad when it happens.  I don't know about you but I am all for free labor to restore anything for me or the people that I work for, that means that I don't have to spend more money to have it done and it maybe done incorrectly. But what the heck do I know I was only a lowly TM3(SS) that retired as a Staff Sergeant in the Army

Darrin
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MWALLEN
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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2014, 02:59:49 PM »

Well...I'm not sure where to begin.  I've held my mouth shut (on this issue on volunteers) but now I feel the need to speak out because things are happening or have happened to me that require some explanation.  For years I've had a problem with the Batfish board's apparent apathy and the Batfish Foundation's tight reins on the money.  Here lately, I'm upset with my treatment from park management.  This does not apply to the new guy because I don't know him nor have I heard from him.  So...here goes my last salvo, guaranteed to burn that last bridge to the Batfish.  Frankly, I've sick of all of it at this point and my wife suggests I permanently walk away.  I'm considering following her advice.  So...here goes.

Most of you have hopefully read my rant on the USS Oklahoma mast currently on the grounds at the Muskogee War Memorial.  And you understand the lack of effort in preserving it.  My finger is pointed directly at the former management (who always had a plan but never acted on it), the foundation (who must be the ones prioritizing the release of funds since no one can explain why the mast issue hasn't been addressed), and the board (with their apparently apathy and lack of direction).  Now a bit more about me, hopefully tying this all together.

Back in mid 2008, I approached Rick about being the park military historian (non-salaried, volunteer position).  I had been at the park for 10 years and was in the middle of my master's degree in military history.  Rick agreed to do it as an intern-type position until I graduated.  I agreed and began working on my book, scheduling work days, updating the website, etc..  Everything was rolling along until an ex-submariner showed up and made his own badge and claimed to be the "ship's historian".  I asked Rick about this and was told in an email dated 7/14/2012:

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[he] made his own badges.  You are still the ships historian and will remain as such.  I would have preferred the title of “Docent”, but they were already at the engravers.   Please do not take this personally.  No one intended to cross any lines.

Well, nothing was done about it on the other persons end. Rick waffled on it as he always does when a personnel decision had to be made.  I realized nothing would be done about it.  Anyway, I continued on in my historian and volunteer coordinator rolls.  However, as volunteer coordinator, I could not get others to help me coordinate work and let me know what was going on.  I had no plans to "lord over" anyone or "boss them around", I simply wanted to compile what was being done, who was doing it, and estimated completion times.  I was continually frustrated and I gave up and resigned.  By this time most of my "Relief Crew" volunteers had left and we were left with semi-annual BLHA events and some random days by the radio guys.  

I took some time off to see if my view was jaded or if things were as bad as I was thinking them to be.  I've corresponded with others offline to compare notes.  I toured other museums to see what was working and what wasn't.  My conclusions indicated that nothing had really changed in 15 years of my working at the Batfish.  Yeah, we did some good stuff (deck, 40mm, bunks, etc...) but the overall feel of the place was the same.  So I decided to stay away and find something else to do.  However, my thoughts always strayed back to the Batfish.

Then all the issues with the Save the Batfish website surfaced and correctly shows that malaise and general apathy at the park.  I was embarrassed at the conditions I saw.  I wasn't sure what to do.  While trying to figure it all out, it was pointed out to me by a third party, that the museum management tried to have me banned from the park but had no evidence I was involved.  I've discussed that elsewhere.  So, that brings me to the presents...where I'm no longer the volunteer coordinator...and I'm not sure that I was welcome at the park.  Then I see this from the July 16 Muskogee Phoenix:

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“There’s no job settled there, yet,” Dennis said, adding that he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in history. He said he will continue working with the Batfish as historian.

http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/local/x1736715556/Couple-marry-aboard-Batfish

So it seems I've also been replaced as the park historian without even an email or phone call.  And this after Rick told me I was the historian as shown above.  So the question is...did Rick self appoint himself or did the new guy appoint Rick...not knowing that I am/was the historian?

Let's look at qualifications.  The submariner w/ the badge: not sure if he has had any college courses in history or military history.  Service doesn't always equal historical knowledge.  Rick: currently earning a B.S. in history.  Mark: M.A. in military history with 15 years at the park.  Something sounds fishy.

I also noted in the same newspaper link some of "Rick's" accomplishments at the sub:

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During Rick Dennis’ tenure, the Batfish received new lighting, new footings and a mooring line. In 2013, the City of Muskogee Foundation granted funding for improvements to the museum’s Walk of Honor as well as a media and video system.

No mention of the big projects from the volunteers such as the new deck and the boat's interior A/C system all donated and installed by Vaughn.  No, what was listed is foundation funded projects.  I can't help but wonder why the USS Oklahoma mast wasn't listed as an accomplishment?  My guess is that it's a failure of management and he didn't want that brought up.

Another issue I have is a post on the Park's Facebook page:

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As a reminder, The best way for our museum to advertise is through word of mouth and our friends telling their friends about us. Please share your museum experiences with your friends and family.

Really? What about the www.ussbatfish.com website?  According to today's stats (see image below), the website has had so far this month 2846 visitors at 1 pm central time.  Is that anywhere close to the Facebook total?  Hell, the park FB page doesn't' even have that many people following it.  Does the FB admin (is it Lyle or is it the new guy?  Who knows?) know I do the website?  Are they even aware of the website?

Anyway, the volunteers (Relief Crew and BHLA) have made a huge impact to the park.  To have them and me treated this way is beyond pathetic.  If I'm no longer wanted there, have the cajones to tell me either face to face, email or call me.  Like I've said other places...and you can see it by browsing the forum...the volunteers have done a lot for the park.  I'm as baffled as Darrin first stated as to why volunteers are treated the way were are.

Well, the bridge is on fire...people are mad at me...and I'm not sure if I'm welcome at the park or not.  Don't know what the new guy has been told about me, not sure if he's aware that I do the website, his greatest advertising tool that I do for free (for them).  I think I'm going to take my wife's advise and turn the page.  There are other places that want volunteers and frankly I'm tired of trying.  There is too much strife and backstabbing.  In closing, I want to say thanks to all my Relief Crew who came out and helped.  And thanks to my Forum friend Fred for his kind words:

Quote
That being said, I also have to give some props to Mark Allen at the Batfish for leading a stellar volunteer effort

I've enjoyed it...but I will not be treated this way.  If Rick wants to be historian...go for it.  Maybe he'll do what's being done on the FB page...cut and paste from Wikipedia.  Yeah...that's real investigative history.  I'll put up their history against my two books any day of the week.

Flood negative...I'm going deep.

Mark


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« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 03:23:40 PM by MWALLEN » Logged

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke
Mark Sarsfield
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« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2014, 04:40:32 PM »

I feel bad for the new manager/director, because this ship is going down fast, stern first.  For the record, we weren't the first ones to burn the bridge, but we definitely brought the gasoline to the party...  knuppel2

Mark has been kind in many of his posts, I think.  He hasn't brought up, yet, the $40k sidewalk/retaining wall repairs (way over-priced) or the fact that the car port over the mast was an after thought with leftover grant funds or that Rick randomly drilled holes in original equipment inside the boat to hang video monitors which still don't have any videos running.  (Btw, Bravo Zulu to Correy for taking them all down before the last event in Feb.) 

I could go on and on about many promises made, but never kept, all the while volunteers and BLHA crew kept slaving away....  but there's no reason to continue on with this.  I think I'm ready to pack it in, too.
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Mark Sarsfield
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"If you have one bucket that can hold 5 gallons and one bucket that can hold 2 gallons, how many buckets do you have?" - IQ test from Idiocracy
Darrin
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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2014, 07:42:51 PM »

Keep the faith Mark A and Mark S, send the new director a link to this bbs and SHOW them what you all have done over the last few years and how much has been taught because of all of the people and museum boats on here telling it the way that is regarding learing the boats and what we have gone through during restoration projects and now with piss poor management in different museums both past and present and probably future managements.

Darrin
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Fred Tannenbaum
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« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2014, 08:17:09 AM »

Moral of the story: Working on a museum ship (paid or volunteer) can be among the most rewarding, satisfying AND exasperating experiences (both at the same time) of your life. Someone brought up an example of a vet who would rather see a museum sub destroyed when he died? That's not an isolated incident.

No one can blame anyone from walking away from such a lousy situation and treatment at the Batsh*t. But from the silver lining department, one of the things that has kept me interested, studying and enjoying the museum ship I used to work on (even after the management moved it to another state) was the retired WWII officers (including a wartime CO who earned 3 Navy Crosses) I met during a reunion on board. We wrote back and forth (this was before e-mail and when long-distance phone calls were expensive) and enjoyed wonderful visits (including sailing in San Diego Bay). They answered countless questions about the ship but also took a genuine interest in me and realized the importance of keeping young people interested in history, especially of their beloved vessel. These guys "got it." We got to be close friends and before long we talked as much about our families and life in general as about WWII. Sadly, all have passed. I miss them individually and collectively but am a better person for knowing them.
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MWALLEN
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« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2014, 12:14:11 PM »

Thanks Fred and Darrin.

The Batfish crew (both WWII and 2nd Commissioning) have been nothing but wonderful to me and to talk to.  In all  my time at the Batfish, I've only seen two snotty vets.  One I described griping about us out in the heat working on the deck while he was in the A/C building.  The other was part of the Batfish board who had a ego problem.  These two were not Batfish vets.

I always assumed the Batfish vets were happy with us.  Why would they present Ed, me and the late Barre McGowan with these plaques? (see image below)?

My problem is on the managerial level and above.  The vets and their family have been nothing but kind and gracious to the volunteers. 

Mark


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Fred Tannenbaum
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« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2014, 12:21:20 PM »

WHOA! That's beautiful, Mark. Ultimate proof that you have served the Batfish and her legacy well.
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Lance Dean
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« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2014, 12:33:04 AM »

I have been curious as to who runs the Batfish FB page. I guess you guys see that I try to share ANYTHING museum submarine related there.

It sucks to see things at the Batfish the way they are today. One can only hope that new management will do what needs to be done. From what I have seen, the Batfish had one of the biggest followings of YOUNG volunteers out there, which is what every museum sub needs.
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MWALLEN
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« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2014, 01:13:20 AM »

Lance - the Batfish/War Memorial Park FB page was started by Rick.  After a while, I asked to help moderate it to put Batfish history on it that was date relative.  Soon afterwards, Lyle Lookingbill (a.k.a. "Doc") joined the ranks of moderator.  It wasn't long afterwards that I noticed some of my posts being deleted.  It didn't take a genius to figure what was going on.  I asked to be removed as moderator and told Rick why.  He reluctantly agreed.  In addition, Doc wanted access to my Batfish website...I told him no.  I don't know who is doing the FB page now (new guy, Doc, Rick).  Some stuff is Batfish related, but most of what is posted is copied from somewhere else such as Wikipedia.  That's a bad place to get reliable information...universities won't let you cite that as a source.

As for the park...I can't and won't say more than I have.  The ball is in the new guy's court...I'm waiting for a call or email that doesn't seem to be coming.

Mark
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Fred Tannenbaum
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2014, 05:03:35 AM »

Speaking of which, Lance posted some pictures of their "change of command" ceremony on the SubMuseums.org FB page. Love how the former and new directors are shaking hands over a rusty podium.
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Jim
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« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2014, 11:03:28 AM »

Actually Fred, that's not a rusty podium.  It's a bad angle.  That's a rusty placard holder for one of the displays.  The problem is that 90% of the placard holders have nothing on them.  The placards have been gone for years.
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Rick
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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2014, 03:21:27 AM »

Mark Allen,

I apologize for the delay in reaching out to both you and this forum. I am still getting settled in as the Park Director, as well as finding my way around a brand new city. Many of the problems that you mention about the operation of the Muskogee War Memorial Park are issues that concern me as well. I will be more than happy to discuss this with you over phone or in person.  

On a side note, my wife and I did chuckle about the rust on the placard stand in the picture. I know a few young men who will be painting quite a few of them this weekend.

Thanks,

Brent Trout

This post is from Brent but under Rick's account. We'll fix this up.  - Jim

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MWALLEN
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« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2014, 12:23:14 PM »

Brent...I sent you a PM.  Please read it and get back to me when you can.

Thanks,

Mark
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Darrin
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« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2014, 11:13:09 PM »

Mr Trout,

I truly appreciate you joining this site and hopefully you will see how far the volunteer's whom have supported your museum have come over the last few years, it was a shame to see the volunteer group and the re-enactor's leave the Batfish because they gave so much to the museum and to the tourist's due to prior management issues.

Give them a chance, they have so much knowledge now that you can't find anymore and the best part is that they can and will donate that knowledge and their time just to be apart of the Batfish once more if you give them the chance to do so.

Thank you,

Darrin

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