The Alamo

The Alamo is a hallowed place. The complex history surrounding its construction and early operation, the independence movement, the revolt, struggle, battles and outcome must be related as part of the “complete experience.”

School children feel a special magic when they enter its environs and interior today—I know I did when first visiting it in the 7th grade. Adults gain that magical, majestic affectation, and a personal attachment to the history, as well.

The iconic mission, the visions, the legendary characters and history must be and can be communicated to and experienced by all our visitors in a manner better than it is today. I want all people to “Remember the Alamo” knowing its complex history, special essence, and enduring value as symbol and shrine- always to be preserved and remembered. As Commissioner, I’ll assure that.

But after taking over the management of the Alamo, the incumbent Land Commissioner proposed spending $450 million dollars, which you know will become a half a billion. He has out of state million-dollar consultants to tell us how to “reimagine” the Alamo and its environs. A half billion dollars! And he wants to move the Cenotaph, the statue to the defenders of the Alamo completed by one of the most famous artists and sculptors in San Antonio’s history—difficult to do without destroying it, not to mention that the statue was placed there for several important reasons.

A half a billion dollars? I consider that a heap of money. Now don’t get me wrong, but if you were in charge of this state and had half a billion dollars for our greatest needs, would you say: hell, I’m going to spend it on “reimagining” the Alamo! That’s our greatest problem and I’ll spend the half billion dollars on it. And I’ll follow that Commissioner’s plan that started with a plexiglass wall around its reimagined parts to keep the kiddies and their parents at bay. Friends we don’t need a bloodhound to catch this proposal’s foul scent. A half-billion dollars! And by the way, an audit conducted on the GLO’s management of the Alamo since taking it over shows mismanagement and misfeasance, violations of government rules, and inappropriate payments involving employees.

What would I do? My team would do everything necessary to preserve the Alamo for future generations, in perpetuity.

We need to make sure that all of the renovations are extremely well researched, documented, reviewed and vetted. Firms that have been used in the past have a chance to bid on the work. The finest competent hands must be employed on the preservation, restoration, and presentation both regarding the structure, grounds, and history. Continuity in the maintenance of the physical structure is of high importance. Invaluable documents and history collections must be preserved and displayed in a dedicated museum. We’d use Texas companies and workers, not million dollar consultants for St. Louis. And we’d make sure we did it without the tomfoolery of setting up three non-profit corporations, but all having the same ten members of their “discrete” Boards, with the non-profits now inappropriately, illicitly, and illegally entangled with GLO reimbursements of salaries. The non-profits were not have to have Where’s that bloodhound. This doesn’t pass the smell test.

Close to a half-billion dollars, proposed to be directed by non-governmental committees that could camouflage expenditures and vendor negotiations, avoid public procurement requirements, and violate the fundamental principle of transparency, so essential to any good government, democracy, or republic.

What about that audit? The Commissioner says he’s holding it until the spring, which of course, means until after the primary election. A violation of that fundamental principle of democracy.

Under new GLO leadership, we would preserve the Alamo, upgrade its environs including a separate museum for the historical documents and holdings, and partner with the City of San Antonio and other governmental agencies and private partners to preserve it, its World Heritage status, the Cenotaph, the dignity and integrity of the shrine and battleground, and hundreds of millions of dollars to boot.

The designs, procurements, deliberations, decision-making and quality of work should be conducted with complete transparency and follow all laws of the State of Texas and U.S, as we preserve its World Heritage status. Difficult? Cumbersome? Impossible? No more than those who faced the struggle to achieve independence at the site. It takes a GLO appropriate and unswerving commitment to democratic values, excellence in work, and oversight. My team will lead this major project with efficient and effective and even IT ways, and it will cost a fraction of those half-billion dollars that the Commissioner intends to spend. And we’ll produce a better, world class experience, by completing appropriate restoration and preservation of the Alamo, done with complete transparency and open government conduct.