Current Challenges


Support Texas House Bill 1663 NOW


SB 1663, the bill that protects both the Alamo Cenotaph and all of the other statues and monuments throughout Texas, has just been placed on the Senate Intent Calendar. That means that the bill can now be placed on the floor of the Senate for debate and a full vote. For that to occur, however, the bill is first required to have 19 votes to put it up for debate.

Right now the current Texas Senate is composed of 19 Republicans and 13 Democrats. One Democrat, Juan Hinojosa, is possibly willing to vote with us. On the other hand, two Republican Senators have indicated that they will not. It is therefore imperative that we immediately call and email these three with the following message:

“I respectfully request that you allow SB 1663 to be debated on the floor of the Senate and that you vote yes to suspend the rules to allow that to occur. After the debate, vote your conscience but at least allow the issue to be debated. Thank you.”

Contact Information:

Senator Joan Huffman, 512-463-0117,
Senator Kel Seliger, 512-463-0131,
Senator Juan Hinojosa, 512-463-0120,

The above action needs to be taken NOW. Time is not on our side. The current session of the Legislature adjourns on May 28—less than one month away. And the clock is ticking. We must generate tons of contacts so that the members move quickly on this. PLEASE DO ALL YOU CAN. -Rick Range

Dallas City Election May 4, 2019


This will be one of the most important elections in the history of Dallas. Even if you have not voted in a City Election in YEARS, please turn out for this one. We have got to put Dallas back on the right track and to do that we need YOU.

Below is the list of candidates who are dedicated to saving our Texas heritage from the hands of the extremists:

Mayor—Mike Ablon

District 1 (North Oak Cliff and Kessler Park)—Giovanni “Gio” Valderas

District 2 (Oak Lawn, Maple and Harry Hines Area from Woodall Rogers up to Love Field, Old East Dallas between Haskell and Fitzhugh)—Barbara Coombs

District 5 (Pleasant Grove)—Yolanda “Faye” Williams

District 6 (West Dallas and Far Northwest Dallas)—Monica R. Alonzo

District 7 (Buckner Terrace, Urbandale, Urban Park, Parkdale, South Dallas)—Korey Deon Mack

District 9 (Lakewood, Forest Hills, White Rock Lake, Casa Linda, Casa View, Merriman Park)—Tami Brown Rodriguez

District 10 (Lake Highlands)—Adam McGough

District 12 (Far North Dallas)—Carolyn “Cookie” Peadon

District 13 (Northwest Dallas)—Jennifer Staubach Gates

District 14 (M Streets, Lower Greenville, Uptown, Turtle Creek, north Oak Lawn, Downtown, South Lakewood)—Warren Johnson    


Rick Range


Latest News

Bush dogged by slow Hurricane Harvey response


 The Alamo and Hurricane Harvey relief are top issues as Land Commissioner George P. Bush’s seeks re-election, two topics that highlight difficulties of his first term.  

Read the Article

Houston Chronicle Endorses Suazo


Suazo has our endorsement  ...


Suazo is a political neophyte and lacks executive experience, but he has drive, a clear vision for the agency and impressive political instincts for a first-time candidate.  

Find out more

Final Call to Save the Alamo



Vote for Miguel Suazo for Texas General Land Office Commissioner for the sake of the Alamo.

Details Here

The hammer is ready to fall


 The final version of the “Reimagine the Alamo” plan was passed by the Advisory Committee on Thursday, August 30th. It STILL includes MOVING THE ALAMO CENOTAPH.  

Full Editorial here

Second Siege of the Alamo


 Suazo is adamantly opposed to George P. Bush’s Reimagine the Alamo plan, including any removal of the Alamo Cenotaph. Our supporters have absolutely no qualms about supporting him.  

Find out more

The Most Critical Political Race in Texas History


 We must let you know that there is a political race of great importance to Texas this November. It involves the future of our most revered Shrine in the state—the Alamo. This race is for Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.  

Find out more

Why Republicans are endorsing a Democrat for Texas GLO

Commentary By Jerry Patterson Sep. 21, 2018


Apparently taking heed of Winston Churchill, in 1952 the conservative Democratic governor of Texas, Allan Shivers, did something not often done then or now. He put his state before his party and endorsed the Republican nominee for president, Dwight Eisenhower. The issue was the tidelands, submerged land in the Gulf of Mexico that Texas retained when it joined the Union in 1845. In 1950, the U. S. Supreme Court decided Texas didn’t own those 3.5 million acres and the Democratic presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson, endorsed that decision. Eisenhower supported Texas, and for that reason, Shivers and the State Democrat Executive Committee endorsed Eisenhower. Ike won and Texas regained title to the tidelands. As a result, billions of dollars of oil and gas revenue have been generated for the Permanent School Fund and Texas public schools.

Today we have different, but equally as important, issues in the race between incumbent Republican Land Commissioner George P. Bush and his Democratic challenger, oil and gas attorney Miguel Suazo.

Attracting the most attention is Bush’s mismanagement of the shrine of Texas liberty, the Alamo, which Bush operates with nonprofit entities that are exempt from public disclosure. He precipitated a disastrous lawsuit with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, lost on all counts and was compelled by the court to use state revenues to pay the DRT attorney fees. He is negotiating a lease agreement with the city of San Antonio that could give the city the ability to “monitor compliance” in order to satisfy requirements of the UNESCO designation of the Alamo and the other San Antonio missions as World Heritage Sites. He has refused to take a position on the movement of the Cenotaph, a memorial to the Texans and Tejanos who died at the Alamo fighting for liberty. In fact, when asked if he supported moving the Cenotaph to another location he responded with, “As long as I’m commissioner, the Cenotaph will always stand.” So much for actually taking a stand.

But in actuality, he has taken a stand. On September 12, 2018, George P. Bush signed the order mandating that the Cenotaph be moved off of the Alamo Battleground and then strongly urged the Mayor and City Council of San Antonio to do the same just as soon as possible.

The Hurricane Harvey shelter-at-home emergency housing effort, known as Partial Repair Emergency Power and Shelter (PREPS), was inexplicably delayed until mid-December when he finally signed the necessary contracts to start a program that should have begun in September — when thousands of Harvey victims suffered in shelters across coastal Texas.

While the General Land Office has had great success in generating revenue from Texas school lands, last month Bush, for the first time, decided to forgo the biennial transfer of GLO revenue to the State Board of Education-managed PSF portfolio. Last week all 15 members of the Republican-dominated SBOE signed a letter asking him to reconsider his decision, a decision that flies in the face of more than 100 years of GLO and SBOE co-operation.

Suazo is a cattle rancher and attorney with experience in oil, gas and other forms of energy as well as land use and real estate — critical issues at the Texas General Land Office. He has worked on Capitol Hill and has experience with federal agencies and public policy. He has stood up for the Alamo and has committed to putting Texans in charge of their Alamo and keeping the Cenotaph in its rightful place. And finally, Bush just doesn’t have the leadership fit for a state like Texas. He rarely gives interviews, resorts to calling criticism “fake news” and refuses to debate his political opponents to defend his record and set forth his vision for the future. Texans deserve better.

All four of Bush’s former Republican primary opponents have decided to follow Shivers’ lead. Alamo historian Rick Range and I, after lengthy discussions with Miguel Suazo, have decided to endorse Bush’s opponent for land commissioner. His other 2018 primary opponent, land surveyor Davey Edwards, has unequivocally said he will not vote for Bush. His 2014 Republican primary opponent, author and photographer David Watts, adamantly opposes Bush’s re-election as well.

While we don’t intend to “change our party for the sake of our principles” as Winston Churchill opined above, we do agree there is one Republican we cannot support for re-election this coming November. His name is George P. Bush.

Patterson is the former commissioner of the General Land Office.


“Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.”

— Winston Churchill

Suazo's Strong Position on the Alamo

Check out this great video

The Hammer is Ready to Fall

"Reimagine the Alamo" Passes Advisory Committee


The final version of the “Reimagine the Alamo” plan was passed by the Advisory Committee on Thursday, August 30th. It STILL includes MOVING THE ALAMO CENOTAPH. (Objectors and opponents were ejected by the Police.) All that remains is approval by George P. Bush and the San Antonio Mayor and a final vote by the City Council, probably in mid-October. Then it will be done. That’s it. The Cenotaph will go.

There now remains only one single way of stopping this. Both the Mayor and the LAND OFFICE COMMISSIONER have ABSOLUTE VETO POWER over any element of the plan. Both Bush and the Mayor are fully committed to moving the Cenotaph.

Bush faces re-election in November and there is only one candidate who CAN defeat him—Miguel Suazo. Suazo has publicly vowed that he WILL VETO any effort to move the Cenotaph. There is the choice. These are the facts, and this is the reality. If you REALLY want to save the Cenotaph, there is only one logical conclusion. 

Don’t cry later once the Cenotaph is gone because you obstinately refused to vote for a DEMOCRAT just so you could say that you maintained your ideological purity. You DID have the opportunity to stop this travesty; you simply refused to employ it.

Let’s prevent this irreversible tragedy while we still have the chance. On November 6 VOTE FOR MIGUEL SUAZO and get everyone else you possibly can to do the same. We CAN defeat Bush and we CAN still save the Cenotaph. And this is the ONLY way. -Rick Range-


Miguel Suazo posted this comment to his Facebook page on August 31, 2018.

"There's only one way to Save the Alamo. To vote George P. Bush out of office. He won't defend the Alamo. I will, using the full weight and power vested in the Land Commissioner by the TX Legislature. This plan is wrong on history, wrong on respect, wrong on the Cenotaph, and wrong by not keeping Texans in control of THEIR Alamo. Those working on this plan better start drawing up a plan that entails keeping the Cenotaph where it is because when I end the Bush Dynasty in TX in November, that's where it's going to stay, out of respect for the fallen. But, I need your help to do it! VOTE for the Alamo!"

The Daughters of the Texas Republic posted to their Facebook page on August 31, 2018.

"This site doesn’t usually post current events; however, after receiving many phone calls & emails wanting to know what is happening with the Alamo, ..."

And this is the article that prompted us, Miguel Suazo, and the DTR to post these comments.


Alamo committee moves ahead with plaza makeover during tense meeting

About a dozen onlookers were removed from the meeting when they spoke out in protest of the plan.


Final Call to Save the Alamo

Vote November 6

THIS IS THE FINAL CALL for you to turn out and help us save the Alamo. Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th. If you have not already done so, please make sure to go vote that day, and please get everybody else that you possibly can to go vote also. Most importantly, remind them all to vote for Miguel Suazo for Texas General Land Office Commissioner for the sake of the Alamo.

If enough of us who truly care about our Texas heritage and the Alamo do this, George P. Bush will be defeated in this election. This is absolutely necessary if we are to ensure that the Alamo shall remain the Cradle of Texas Liberty and not be transformed to suit the present-day forces of political correctness. Only the Texas General Land Office Commissioner has the power to do this. George P. Bush will not do so and Miguel Suazo will

Let all of us do our duty at this critical point in the history of our state. 

Remember the Alamo!


Jerry Patterson
 Former Republican Texas General

Land Office Commissioner

Rick Range

President of the
Save The Alamo Committee

Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—”

—William Barret Travis—


 All of you please seriously bear in mind that this election is absolutely our last chance to save the Alamo, the Cenotaph, and our precious heritage for future generations. Don’t let your shot go unfired.  


Second Siege of the Alamo

The Reimagine the Alamo Plan is Flawed




    My name is Rick Range. As you may remember, I am President and Founder of  the Save The Alamo Committee and was one of the three candidates running  against Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush in the  Republican Primary this past March. I am convinced from the results of the March Primary that the great majority of Texans still knew virtually  nothing about Bush’s plans for the Alamo when they cast their vote.  Although we were ultimately unsuccessful in forcing Bush into a run-off, there is still one last opportunity to save the Alamo from his designs.

    It is absolutely essential that we do so. His “Reimagine the Alamo” Master Plan contains many flaws, but among the most egregious are that it takes  the focus entirely off of the world-famous 1836 Battle and also includes the removal of the marble 1936 Texas Centennial Cenotaph Memorial  to the Alamo Defenders. We must remember that Bush said these actions are necessary “in order to promote unity and not division in our society.” It  is political correctness run amok. And just within the past few weeks, both  George P. Bush and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg have already signed the order to remove the monument.

    It must also be remembered that prior to the adoption of this ill-conceived plan, one of Commissioner Bush’s first acts in office was to terminate the longtime role of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas as custodians of the Alamo, a duty they had faithfully performed for 110 years. He then seized their library building, and also attempted to illegally confiscate all of their documents and artifacts. As a result of this foolhardy action, a one-year court battle ensued which ended with the Daughters retaining all of their possessions and the General Land Office having to pay two hundred thousand dollars in their attorney fees—our tax money.

    Bush’s most recent radical act has been to publicly call for the abolition of Confederate Heroes Day in the State of Texas. Contrary to his touted claims, Bush is no “conservative.” He is a politically correct radical of the same ilk as the Mayor and City Council of San Antonio—to whose wishes regarding the Alamo he will fully acquiesce if re-elected.

    I have not personally voted for a Democrat in decades, but in this case I am perfectly willing to make an exception. Bush has proven himself to be totally unfit and unworthy of the office, and we dare not leave the future of the Alamo in his hands.

    Some might prefer to vote for the Libertarian Party candidate Matt Piña or to even abstain in this race. That would definitely be preferable to voting for Bush. However, all that does is decrease Bush’s vote total by one vote. Voting for Democrat Miguel Suazo carries a double punch—it not only decreases Bush by one vote but also adds an additional vote to Suazo’s total—twice the impact. And realistically Suazo is the only candidate that has any chance of surpassing Bush. Since there is no 50-percent requirement and no run-off in the General Election, Suazo only has to surpass Bush by one vote in order to win the election.

    With the large Democratic Party base behind him, this is definitely possible with Suazo, but no minor party candidate will get anywhere near    within striking distance of Bush. Attempting to succeed with any other option will be a mere exercise in futility. (The most convincing example of this is the 1992 Presidential Election in Texas where charismatic and widely popular native son Ross Perot received 22 percent—the highest ever in Texas for an independent or third-party candidate—but was still handily outdistanced by George H. W. Bush at 41 percent and Democrat Bill Clinton with 37 percent. In fact, no independent or third-party candidate has ever come in first—or even second place—in the entire history of Texas and it is not going to happen this time.) If anybody is to take out Bush it is going to have to be Suazo. He is the only viable option. And he is an excellent option.

    Rest assured that Miguel Suazo is no wild-eyed radical leftist that is unfortunately so commonplace in today’s Democratic Party. And on the issues that are germane to the Texas General Land Office, he is in total agreement with us—the issue of the Alamo in particular. Suazo is adamantly opposed to George P. Bush’s Reimagine the Alamo plan, including any removal of the Alamo Cenotaph. Our supporters have absolutely no qualms about supporting him. And voting for Suazo will do nothing to undermine the rest of the Republican ticket in Texas. Mr. Suazo is the only candidate running on the Democratic ticket that has any chance of being elected statewide—and he is the only Democratic candidate that ought to be elected.

    Miguel Suazo is totally in agreement with everything that we all have been     fighting for. To give you just a few of the details:

    1.  The Battle of 1836 and the heroism of the Defenders shall remain the primary focus of any future plans for the Alamo.
    2.  The marble Cenotaph Memorial to the Alamo Defenders shall not be moved one inch from where it currently stands.
    3.      The Daughters of the Republic of Texas shall be restored to their proper role at the Alamo.

    Mr. Suazo grew up in a ranching family—9 generations on the same land. He is imminently qualified and has well-thought-out positions on all the duties of the Land Office. And unlike George P. Bush, his intent is not to use this office as a stepping stone to higher office—he wants to repair the mess that Bush has made of it. Full details can be viewed at Mr. Suazo’s website at

    Even though he avoided a run-off, Mr. Bush still had 42 percent of his own party vote against him in March, indicating that he is definitely vulnerable. This is very likely to be the closest statewide race of all in the November General Election. Make no mistake, the conservative voters who really care about our heritage hold the balance of power in this race, and if we utilize it to the fullest Bush and his Reimagine the Alamo Master Plan will be defeated.

    Please do all you can to help us make that a reality. This result is absolutely essential for the future of the Alamo. Because of this fact, all four of Mr. Bush’s prior Republican Primary opponents—Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Davey Edwards, David Watts (2014), and myself—are unanimously urging that George P. Bush be defeated for re-election.
    Thank you very much for your consideration of this critical matter, and for your loyalty to our Texas heritage. Remember the Alamo!

Rick Range
President and Founder of the Save The Alamo Committee
702 Briarwood Dr. Garland, TX 75041
Phone: 972-278-9241 or 214-881-2764

History Must Survive

The Alamo is vastly more important than one man or the issue of personal loyalty to any one particular political party.  

Find out more

The Most Critical Race in Texas History

Do not cast your ballot until ...


    This is Jerry Patterson and Rick Range. We were both candidates who ran against George P. Bush in the Republican Primary last March. The results of the Republican Primary this past March clearly demonstrated that the vast majority of Texans still know almost nothing about this issue.

    You should be aware that current-Commissioner George P. Bush brought in out-of-state planners who devised a scheme for the Alamo called “Reimagine the Alamo” that took the focus entirely off of the 1836 Battle and would have turned the site into a politically correct Disney-style theme park for the City of San Antonio. Included in this plan is the removal of the marble 1936 Texas Centennial Cenotaph Memorial to the Alamo Defenders.

    Prior to the adoption of this ill-conceived plan, one of Commissioner Bush’s first acts in office was to terminate the longtime role of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas as custodians of the Alamo, a duty they had faithfully performed for 110 years. He then seized their library building, and also attempted to illegally confiscate all of their documents and artifacts. As a result of this foolhardy action, a one-year court battle ensued which ended with the Daughters retaining all of their possessions and the General Land Office having to pay two hundred thousand dollars in their attorney fees—your tax money.

    In contrast to Bush’s “Reimagine the Alamo” Master Plan, an excellent plan is already available for the Alamo. This plan was passed and funded by the Texas Legislature three years ago. It would close off the streets and remove the traffic, get rid of the freak shows, incorporate a new world-class museum to display the hundreds of battle artifacts as well as all of the mission’s history, and reconstruct the 1836 battle footprint where possible. It is a wonderful plan for the Alamo.

    This plan will be one that all Texans can be proud of, and will ensure that the focus of the Alamo will always remain on the world-famous 1836 Battle, the heroic Defenders, and their glorious fight for freedom. Fortunately we have a candidate running for Land Office Commissioner who will act to fully implement this plan and restore the Daughters to their rightful position—Miguel Suazo.

    Mr. Suazo will be a forthright defender of the Alamo and its legacy. He will also work tirelessly to return accountability, transparency, and responsibility to the Texas General Land Office, crucial factors that are now sorely lacking. Mr. Suazo is eminently qualified to accomplish this. (For more details go to For this reason, as well as the dire threat to the Alamo, we are asking for your vote and for your assistance in doing everything that you possibly can to ensure that Mr. Suazo is elected as our new Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. Remember the Alamo!


Jerry Patterson
Former Republican Texas General Land Office Commissioner

Rick Range
President of the Save The Alamo Committee
Republican Candidate in the 2018 Primary
against George P. Bush

Bush in trouble with his own party

George P. Bush’s handling of the Alamo was condemned last September by the Republican State Executive Committee, the party’s highest governing body, by an unprecedented vote of 57 to 1. 

News as the Election Nears

Suazo 'Likes His Chances' in Bid to Unseat Bush


 When voters head to the polls in November, one attorney hopes to claim the votes of millions of Texans who have never considered voting for a Democrat before now. 

Read the Article

Councilman Treviño Doubles-Down on Removing Alamo Cenotaph


Last Wednesday, San Antonio City Councilman Roberto Treviño hosted yet another meeting to convince an incensed public that the General Land Office’s unpopular and expensive plans to re-imagine the Alamo are actually awesome, while simultaneously reassuring them that the ambitious initiative is going forward, no matter how much it is hated. 

Find out more

City still firm on moving the Cenotaph



A new draft plan for the Alamo to be shown publicly next month will include renderings that illustrate why the 1930s Cenotaph has to be moved to provide a better visitor experience, City Councilman Roberto Treviño told about 150 people at a meeting Wednesday night.

Read the Article

Restore, don't relocate the Cenotaph


A proposal to relocate the Cenotaph to a nearby location has generated opposition.

Read the Article




Today we of the Save The Alamo Committee want to announce our full endorsement of Miguel Suazo in his race to defeat George P. Bush as Texas General Land Office Commissioner on November 6.

Find out more

Officials try to avoid battle over Alamo plan


When a committee takes another look this week at a proposed plan for redoing Alamo Plaza, it will see some different options on the table.

Read the Article

July 2018 Articles

Councilman Treviño Doubles-Down on Removing Alamo Cenotaph


 July 24, 2018

Ryan Thorson


Last Wednesday, San Antonio City Councilman Roberto Treviño hosted yet another meeting to convince an incensed public that the General Land Office’s unpopular and expensive plans to re-imagine the Alamo are actually awesome, while simultaneously reassuring them that the ambitious initiative is going forward, no matter how much it is hated. It is uncertain if they really expected that using date-rapesalesmanship, (e.g. “You’ve got no choice, but you’re gonna love it!”) for their Alamo plans would work, but it had the effect you’d expect.

Much of the controversy surround the removal and relocation of the 1930’s cenotaph that memorializes the war-dead of the 1836 battle. Treviño and his collaborators tried to persuade the assembled that the undertaking is only to ensure an improved experience for visitors. However, all of this was ill-received by the crowd who at times responded with chants of “‘not one inch!'”

According to an article by Scott Huddleston from San Antonio Express-News, other apprehensions about the project were raised at the gathering, such as concerns over “access for tour buses, emergency vehicles and parade floats,” of which the current plan would greatly encumber through it’s street closures. One gentleman appealed to the council that driving through the plaza was the only way he could visit the Alamo these days, saying “’Please don’t take that away from me.’”

All of this was to no avail, however; the plans are not changing. And Treviño, to clear up any misunderstanding regarding the possibility of retaining the cenotaph in its current location, afterwards stated, “‘We’re not considering not relocating it.'”

Anyone following the on-going controversy regarding the re-shaping of the Alamo has to ask themselves, “Why is the San Antonio city council and the GLO so insistent on this project?” With as hugely unpopular as it is, why is it worth it for these politicians and their wealthy donors to force this on a state that by-and-large doesn’t want it? Is it really about refining the visitor experience, as Councilman Treviño maintains? For this, they’d be willing to fall on their political swords, as you’d think would be the fate of politicians attempting to force-feed such a detested concept to their constituents… or is there something else?

Above all, there is one thing that I’m certain of: the current location of the cenotaph helps to frame the interpretation of the Alamo. Being so close in proximity to the chapel, visitors to the Alamo can’t help but notice this amazingly beautiful tribute to the victorious dead and the cause of independence. It correctly recognizes the fact that the site is only significant for what happened on its hallowed grounds in 1836; It is the cradle of Texas Liberty and civilization. The fact that these people want to remove that message speaks volumes, far more than 100 such re-imagining public meetings could possibly do, and the Texas people instinctively understand this. It’s not the Alamo that they’re trying to re-imagine, it’s Texas.

City still firm on moving Cenotaph


July 18, 2018  San Antonio Express-News

Scott Huddleston

A new draft plan for the Alamo to be shown publicly next month will include renderings that illustrate why the 1930s Cenotaph has to be moved to provide a better visitor experience, City Councilman Roberto Treviño told about 150 people at a meeting Wednesday night.

Relocation of the nearly 60-foot-tall monument honoring 189 Alamo defenders killed in the 1836 battle has been the most vocally contentious issue in a master plan being developed since 2014 by the city, the Texas General Land Office and nonprofit Alamo Endowment.

“We will demonstrate what it looks like to have the Cenotaph in place,” Treviño told the crowd at Jefferson High School, another of San Antonio’s local landmarks.

That comment was perceived by some as an indication that the design team would consider an option of keeping the monument in its current location. But later, after the meeting adjourned, Treviño called to clarify his comments, saying the updated plan will have illustrations that demonstrate “how the Cenotaph doesn’t fit on the site.”

“We’re not considering not relocating it,” the councilman said late Wednesday.

The illustrations will show the Cenotaph in its current location — not as part of the plan, but to show why the planning team thinks the current location does not work, since it obscures views of the Alamo church and Long Barrack, officials said.

The audience at the meeting grew vocal at times, chanting “not one inch,” in reference to a proposal to move the monument about 500 feet south. Some feel it should remain in the middle of the battle site.

Others said they still are worried about access for tour buses, emergency vehicles and parade floats. The plan proposes to convert Losoya Street from one-way to two-way traffic and close parts of Alamo, Crockett and Houston streets to traffic, redirecting some northbound vehicles now traveling on Alamo to a new northbound lane on Losoya.

“This is how a two-way Losoya would work,” Gene Dawson, president of Pape-Dawson Engineers, said while narrating a computer animation, based partly on a downtown traffic model his firm created for the city six years ago.

Dawson said the firm is working with restaurants and hotels on Losoya on ways to accommodate deliveries. But he said the plan “will better separate pedestrians from traffic” and provide for workable emergency access and parade routing.

Some said they fear the plaza will become a theme park, while others said they will miss driving up Alamo Street and seeing the iconic mission-era church.

“I drive through Alamo Plaza because that’s the only way I can visit it any more. Please don’t take that away from me,” San Antonian George Briscoe said.

The project, Treviño said, will enhance and expand the mission and battle site — not take anything away.

“It’s unlike any project in the world, and we’re trying to be very thoughtful about that,” he said.

Alamo CEO Douglass McDonald, who oversees the 4.2-acre, state-owned Alamo complex adjacent to the city plaza, said the area causes spatial confusion because walls were added in the 1930s around the Alamo Garden, long after walls of the 1836 compound were torn down.

“People have a hard time discerning what’s authentic and what’s not authentic,” McDonald said. “We want them to leave yearning to learn more.”

The Land Office hopes to add more living history period demonstrations and other interactive presentations that connect visitors to personal stories from the site, including its 1700s mission era and use as a Spanish military fort in the early 1800s. Perhaps most importantly, the Alamo needs to do a better job of “orienting people to the site,” McDonald said. Visitors often get in line to enter the church, then wish while waiting in the line that they had purchased an audio tour.

One design challenge in the project is balancing visitor flow with use of the plaza by locals who walk through. In May 2017, the City Council approved a master plan with five key concepts: restoration of the church and Long Barrack; delineate the 1836 Alamo compound footprint; recapture the historic plaza as a place of reverence and respect; reuse three state-own buildings in the plaza as a museum; and create a sense of arrival. At that time, the council gave conceptual approval to the street closures and relocation of the Cenotaph.

Treviño and City Manager Sheryl Sculley have asked their colleagues on a six-member Alamo Management Committee to study options for Alamo Plaza without fences or railings, and with retaining all of the historic commercial structures, rather than demolishing any of them. They also want to study the concept of building a museum at the rear of the state-owned complex.

People entering the meeting were screened by security officials with metal detector wands. City and state officials said the security measure was requested by the city manager’s office.

Scott Huddleston is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. 

Officials try to Avoid Battle over Alamo Plan

Committee Reviews the Plan


San Antonio Express-News

July 8, 2018       Scott Huddleston


When a committee takes another look this week at a proposed plan for redoing Alamo Plaza, it will see some different options on the table.

The plan, while still a work in progress, has proved controversial, with organized opposition coming from a diverse spectrum of interests: T-shirt-wearing gun-rights activists, Fiesta parade officials, some noted downtown architects and one of the nation’s oldest, most active local historic preservation groups.

If nothing else, there is consensus among city and state officials and private philanthropists to pursue preservation of the Alamo’s mission-era church and Long Barrack and to build a top-tier museum to house the Alamo collection of musician Phil Collins and galleries explaining the nearly 300-year history of the mission and battle site.

Two aspects of the plan that the city is now rethinking are the possible demolition of historic commercial buildings on Alamo Plaza and the addition of railings and other barriers around the plaza to mark the location of the historic compound’s outer walls.

But even if those issues are peacefully resolved, there still are others to work through, including proposed closures of sections of Alamo, Houston and Crockett streets to traffic; re-routing of Fiesta’s two major street parades; and repair and relocation the 1930s Cenotaph.

“We have little special interest groups — some are bigger than others — for every aspect of the project, and we’re trying to balance all this out,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley said. “We want the plaza to be as open as possible, but we also want to create a sense of place.”

The next public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Witte Museum, where the Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee will receive an update on the plan. By the fall, the City Council could take action on it and terms of a long-term lease for the Texas General Land Office to manage the portion of the city-owned plaza that is in the historic footprint.

The latest plan for Alamo Plaza would, if approved, close Alamo Street and part of Houston and Crockett streets. That will require the two big fiesta parades, the Battle of Flowers and Flambeau, to take a different route around the Alamo instead of in front of it.

Much of the 1836 Alamo, a 3-acre complex of walls and buildings defended during the siege and battle for Texas independence, was destroyed by Mexican troops after Santa Anna’s capture at San Jacinto so it could no longer serve as a fort. The local village grew around its ruins as San Antonio evolved into a modern city. The area that once was the Alamo’s main courtyard became a gathering place for cattle drives, markets and demonstrations and now is a bustling, noisy urban square.

A group of local architects that is objecting to the closing of Alamo Street and the addition of fences and other barriers believe that residents will lose access to one of the city’s most important public spaces for the sake of tourism.

“We are very concerned that others are going to take over control of the Alamo or of Alamo Plaza — our civic space,” architect Madison Smith, one of seven people representing various groups with concerns about the plan who spoke to the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board recently.

In response to some public comments, Sculley, one of six members of the Alamo Management Committee, overseeing implementation of the Alamo master plan, requested that a draft site plan be adjusted to avoid building demolitions and installation of railings and fences. The letter also asked the committee and design team to explore the idea of building a museum at the rear of the state-owned Alamo grounds as an alternative to the site of the state-owned Woolworth, Palace and Crockett buildings on the plaza.

Sculley and Councilman Roberto Treviño, the other city representative on the committee, serving with officials of the Land Office and nonprofit Alamo Endowment, also have asked for detailed plans for reusing those buildings as a museum complex. But Sculley said it would be “nearly impossible,” unless the Palace and Woolworth buildings were gutted, to have the three structures, which have varying floor heights, function seamlessly together as a museum.

‘Thumbprint of history’   The San Antonio Conservation Society, which has circulated petitions opposing demolition, barriers in the plaza and closure of streets, was “very disappointed” to learn of a proposal to raze up to five buildings, retaining only the front half of the 1882 Crockett Building by noted architect Alfred Giles, said Vince Michael, the group’s executive director. Just last year, the management committee had said it did not intend to raze any structures, he said.

Concerns also linger about pedestrian and vehicle access to the plaza, as well as the rerouting of Fiesta’s Battle of Flowers and Flambeau parades. The first Battle of Flowers, started by society women in the plaza in 1891 as a tribute to the 189 fallen defenders of the Alamo and veterans of San Jacinto, led to today’s annual Fiesta celebration, which draws 3.5 million partygoers, with an economic effect of $340 million.

Anna-Laura Block, president of the Battle of Flowers Association, said closure of Alamo Street from Commerce Street to north of Houston Street may destroy the tradition of placing floral tributes from each parade entry directly in front of the Alamo church and the “goose-bump moment” when a local military general in a horse-drawn carriage salutes the Texas shrine. She is worried that proposed alternate parade routes will not leave adequate room for floats and marching bands to make tight corners.

“We have our own thumbprint of history that’s harmonious with the Alamo,” Block said. “How better is it to highlight the Alamo and San Antonio on TV during a parade? And they see the reverence that we’re using when we give our floral tributes.”

Architect Smith and others say there are ways, using retractable bollards and other movable barriers, to temporarily or periodically close Alamo Street to traffic, for parades for example, but not block it off permanently.

Sculley and Treviño counter that the historic interpretation of the Alamo footprint, including lowering the surface by 16 inches and replication of an old acequia, would preclude vehicle access on Alamo Street.

Gene Dawson, president of Pape-Dawson Engineers, which created a downtown traffic model for the city in 2012, said there will be “large turning radiuses and large, open no-tree areas for firetrucks to get through” — as well as parade entries.

R. Michael Berrier, a small-business man and concerned resident, is distrustful of the plan to close streets and fence off the plaza and the process as a whole. He believes that most of the plan, aside from structural repairs to the shrine and a new museum, is a waste of money.

“There’s a charge here. And the charge is to close it off, to sanitize it and make it a state park in the middle of our city,” Berrier said.

He has called a 20-foot-wide walkway planned on the west side of the plaza a “cattle run for local citizens.”

Sculley and other officials have denied that there is a hidden agenda driving the Alamo plan. “That’s offensive,” she told the Editorial Board recently.

Officials acknowledge that they want to remove street preachers and demonstrators from the battle footprint while allowing free-speech activities in the Plaza de Valero to the south, near the Menger Hotel and the Shops at Rivercenter.

Alamo CEO Doug McDonald said the plan currently calls for 24-hour access to the plaza from a main entry point to the west, but with gates to the north and south closed during daytime museum hours. The Alamo does not intend to issue tickets to visitors but will direct them through a “common point of entry” in order to provide a “premiere visitor experience.”

“And I think if this project happens, when we’re all done, you’re not going to find any San Antonians that think they’ve lost anything,” McDonald said.

Cenotaph relocation   Another organized opposition group, This is Texas Freedom Force, is focused solely on relocation of the Cenotaph. At public meetings held June 18 to 21, about 20 to 35 members attended each night, holding up signs and shouting, “No!” whenever the proposal was mentioned. Brandon Burkhardt, a San Antonian and the group’s president, said he and his members will continue to object to moving the monument about 500 feet south.

The group opposed removal last year by the city of a Confederate monument in Travis Park, then for a short while waged a petition drive to recall Treviño and Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw, the two councilmen who led that effort.

The group, whose mission is “to protect Texas history and Texans’ rights,” joined others earlier this year in demonstrating against anti-open-carry firearms ordinances in Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and other suburbs that were later repealed.

Officials say relocation of the Cenotaph would enhance visitors’ experience in an open plaza and provide better views of ceremonies and re-enactments. But for months, TITFF members have appeared before council members, reading comments from Texans and others who oppose the move.

“We’ve won several of them over already,” Burkhardt said. “We just need a few more.”

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas has two members, Erin Bowman and Sharon Skrobarcek, serving on the citizen advisory committee but has not taken a position on the plan as a statewide organization, even though the group saved the Alamo ruins from neglect and operated the state-owned grounds from 1905 to 2015.

Tookie Walthall, a former president-general of the DRT, said she still feels an emotional attachment to the Alamo but does not care for the proposed changes, including Cenotaph relocation and closure of the streets that would reroute the parades and put an end to drive-by views of the church.

“They’re just going to put a lid on our history pot, and we’ll just dry up,” Walthall said.

Scott Huddleston is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. | | Twitter: @shuddlestonSA 


June 2018 Articles

Restore, don't relocate the Cenotaph

June 21, 2018    

John Courage for the San Antonio  Express News

The marker on Pompeo Coppini’s simple yet powerful structure reads in part, “They chose never to surrender nor retreat.”

Why would we consider forcing the fallen to give ground now?

A District 9 neighbor summed it up perfectly when he conveyed this to me: “We should honor the fallen where they fell.”

That was the intent of Texas in 1936, as it was the intent of Mayor Maury Maverick when he dedicated the Cenotaph in 1940.

San Antonio is defined by the Alamo, considered by most Texans to be a sacred structure in a city that would not exist as it does today without the sacrifices of a couple hundred brave volunteers.

Though the volunteers never witnessed the goals they fought for, their commemoration should remain at their resting place for all to see.

As a former San Antonio educator, I have taught the story of the Battle of the Alamo as a lesson of ultimate sacrifice — one that took place right in our backyard.

Alamo Plaza and the Alamo structure itself do not concretely honor the actions of those who became the legend that pervades so much of our culture. The Cenotaph adds the appropriate perspective to the true history of our city, and should remain as an integral component of Alamo Plaza.

We should be supportive of making the Alamo and its surroundings more inviting as our city grows and evolves, but those plans should work around our standing memorials.

Creating the future of San Antonio should not be done at the expense of our hallowed past.

Over the past few months, the City Council has heard from many Texans who have expressed a desire to leave the Cenotaph where it stands. If we are to determine the fate of the spirit of sacrifice, we must reconsider its relocation and instead opt to preserve and restore the memorial.

If the Cenotaph must be moved for restoration, it should be returned to its current location. It is a small sacrifice we can make in our plans now to honor those who gave their lives to Texas.

They stayed behind to serve as a war cry to the idea that a free and independent Texas would not be denied. As the dust settled, the fallen were simply heaved onto the pyre — their ashes left to the wind.

It took 100 years for Texas to physically honor the sacrifices of William Barret Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and all their brothers- and-sisters-in-arms. We can better honor them by leaving the Alamo Cenotaph where it stands today.

Councilman John Courage represents District 9.

Plan Conflict Continues

Second Alamo meeting draws larger, quieter crowd — and more criticism


San Antonio Express-News

June 19, 2018    Scott Huddleston


The second in a series of four meetings on a draft plan for Alamo plaza drew a larger but more sedate crowd, but Tuesday’s participants also criticized the proposed street closures, demolitions — and any efforts to move the Cenotaph, which drew opposition from a councilman in attendance.

About 200 people filled the Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center on the North Side — about one-fifth having also attended Monday’s meeting on the far West Side. There are two more meetings on the updated plan set for this week, and a second round is set for July, Assistant City Manager Lori Houston said.

“And if we have to do another round, we’ll do it again” before the City Council takes action, possibly in the fall, she added.

Eric Kramer, principal with Reed-Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, explained how the design team envisioned re-establishing the Alamo as a place, not just a building, with lots of shade, and replicated features turning the mission and battle site into an open-air museum.

Although rails and plantings are envisioned to delineate the footprint of the 1836 battle compound, Kramer said the plaza would be open, walkable space.

The team is developing the interpretive design as part of an Alamo master plan that has been in development since 2014.

The design team has said the 1930 Cenotaph, a monument to the 189 known Alamo defenders killed in the battle, would be treated with dignity in a new spot about 500 feet south of its current location, providing a sense of arrival for visitors approaching along a promenade from the south. Moving the Cenotaph would make the plaza a more “active space” for interpretation and re-enactments, Houston said.

Some have said the location of the Cenotaph, dedicated in the plaza in 1940, seems historically arbitrary. But descendants have said there is no other place, besides its current spot in the center of the battle site, that is more suitable for the dramatic imagery captured in Pompeo Coppini’s sculpture, “The Spirit of Sacrifice.”

City Councilman John Courage, who joined Councilmen Manny Pelaez and Clayton Perry in welcoming the audience, said he is open to dialogue, but favors repairing the Cenotaph and returning it to its current spot.

“I personally believe that the Cenotaph was placed in a very special place in the middle of a battlefield where many people died,” Courage said, drawing applause.

He and the other councilmen urged everyone to try to stay calm about the future of a place that evokes strong passions.

“Let’s be respectful and keep our collective cool,” Perry said.

The San Antonio Conservation Society is circulating a petition “to save Alamo Plaza.” It opposes fences and glass railings; relocation or demolition of buildings; and closure of streets to traffic — a move the group says will cut off the plaza’s connectivity.

The conservation society, distributing the petition as hard copies and on its website,, began collecting signatures Monday afternoon, and had gathered more than 200 in the first 24 hours, said Susan Beavin, conservation society president.

“Alamo Plaza is not about barriers or creating a one-dimensional experience for tourists,” the petition says. “The plaza can be both dynamic and respectful of its long history as mission, fort, and civic hub — welcoming ALL.”

Beavin said the group was dismayed to learn that the draft plan, unlike renderings released last year with key concepts of the master plan, proposes possible demolition of up to five buildings.

“The petition is a way of getting their attention. We feel like they’re not willing to compromise,” she said.

Beavin said the group does not want the contentiousness attached to some of the plan’s components to delay structural repairs and restoration of the fragile, original limestone walls of the Alamo’s mission-era Long Barrack and church. The church’s crumbling, iconic facade was crafted by master masons of the Spanish colonial era.

This week’s remaining meetings are each set for 6:30 p.m. The Wednesday event will be at Embassy Suites San Antonio at Brooks, 7610 S. New Braunfels Ave.; Thursday’s at San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels Ave.

Scott Huddleston is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. | | Twitter: @shuddlestonSA

Meeting on Alamo plan turns heated


San Antonio Express-News

June 19, 2018    Scott Huddleston


Nearly 100 people turned up to discuss a proposed Alamo plan at a public meeting that became heated Monday night.

During the meeting at the Darner Parks and Recreation Operations Headquarters, people submitted questions or feedback via text or comment cards. Many were also passionately vocal.

City Councilman Greg Brockhouse urged the audience, some voicing opposition to a proposed relocation of the 1930s Cenotaph or a better interpretation of Native Americans of the site’s 1700s mission era, not to disrupt the speakers. The meeting was held at a West Side location in his district.

City Councilman Greg Brockhouse struggled Monday night to keep the tenor civil during a meeting in his district concerning a plan for the historic Alamo area that has drawn the scrutiny of the public.

Media: San Antonio Express-News

“We’re already in the first minute on our conversation, and I’m already hearing booing. It can’t happen that way,” Brockhouse said.

Members of the design team addressed the group, which sometimes jeered as the consultants acknowledged being from outside of Texas.

The plan proposes removal of traffic on portions of Alamo, Crockett and Houston streets; relocation of the Cenotaph about 500 feet south; possible partial or complete demolition of up to five buildings in Alamo Plaza; and construction of a museum on the west side of the plaza.

Some heckled Eric Kramer, principal with Reed-Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, as he explained components of the draft site plan, which could be voted on in the fall by the City Council.

People yelled “no” when references were made to relocating the Cenotaph. Others voiced concern about access into and out of Alamo Plaza.

“Is it going to be a public plaza?” one man asked.

“Where are you going to find trees like that?” a woman shouted, referring to rows of upright trees shown in artist renderings that some have said do not look native to Texas.

An hour into the two-hour meeting, Brockhouse urged the crowd to work within the citizen-input process.

“Quantify it. Work together on it. Bring your opposition to City Council,” he said. “This is not representative of what we are when we argue to this extent.”

He handed the meeting over to Leonard Rodriguez, a member of the Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee with lineal connections dating to the 1830s Texas Revolution and Spanish colonial period. Asking by a show of hands or applause, Rodriguez found many opposed to closing the streets and demolishing buildings.

Alamo CEO Doug McDonald spoke about the need for a state-of-the-art museum.

“People say they don’t understand the story,” McDonald said. “We need a bigger space to tell the story.”

The plan is part of a public-private project to enlarge pedestrian space and improve the state-owned Alamo complex and city-owned plaza. The city of San Antonio, Texas General Land Office and nonprofit Alamo Endowment are partners in the project, with completion targeted by 2024. A proposal to make structural repairs to the mission-era church and Long Barrack, also included in the project, has not drawn opposition.

John Hinnant, sixth-generation Texan, said in an interview that he has problems with the plan, although he supports closing part of Alamo Street to bring reverence to the site. But he hated seeing the meeting turn contentious.

“I am, for the most part, opposed to this entire plan. It’s overengineered, and it’s not necessary,” Hinnant said. However, he added that, “I’m seeing the worst example of bad manners tonight.”

More meetings, each set for 6:30 p.m., are set for Tuesday at Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center, 8400 N.W. Military Drive; Wednesday at Embassy Suites San Antonio at Brooks, 7610 S. New Braunfels Ave.; and Thursday at San Antonio Garden Center, 3310 N. New Braunfels Ave. More meetings are planned for mid-July.

Earlier in the day, singer Phil Collins, who has donated his collection of artifacts to the Alamo, was in San Antonio for unveiling of bronze models depicting the evolution of the mission and military fortress over more than a century. The bronzes, on display in Alamo Plaza, were created by historian and artist George Nelson.

McDonald told people at the meeting that Collins did not object to any specific parts of the plan when briefed on it Monday.

“He believes the site ought to be reverent,” McDonald said.

Scott Huddleston is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. | | Twitter: @shuddlestonSA

Donald Trump Jr. Cancels Fundraiser


Empower Texans Quicktakes

June 19, 2018


Donald Trump Jr. has canceled a fundraiser he was scheduled to hold for Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush after multiple members of the Bush family levied harsh criticism at President Donald Trump’s administration for its enforcement of immigration laws.

The barrage began earlier this week when former First Lady Laura Bush (the wife of former president and Texas governor George W. Bush and George P. Bush’s aunt) wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in which she called Trump’s handling of illegal immigration “immoral,” a narrative pushed by national Democrats and, in Texas, retiring Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.

Straus himself worked in the White House during George P. Bush’s grandfather, George H.W. Bush’s one-term presidency.

After Laura’s remarks, a source told the political news site Axios that George P. Bush was told the attacks must stop or the Trump clan would not be able to continue publicly supporting him.

That warning was not heeded.

Today, George P. Bush’s father, former Florida governor and failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, doubled down on Laura Bush’s criticism, calling Trump “heartless” in a post on Twitter yesterday.

This tweet was reportedly the final straw for Trump Jr., and the decision to cancel the event was made shortly after. The fundraiser was scheduled to be held in New York City on June 25 and its cancellation cannot be understated.


Because Bush is the last “survivor” of a political dynasty that long controlled much of the Republican Party, but one that voters and activists have large scale rejected over the past decade.

While his family’s vast resources and political infrastructure ensure he doesn’t need help from anyone from a fundraising perspective, George P. Bush does require constant infusions of access and legitimacy in order to maintain his ability to make a weak claim conservative credentials and keep his political ambitions alive.

After narrowly avoiding a runoff in the Republican primary and being booed at the Texas GOP convention for his mishandling of the Alamo, the Texas Land Commissioner is finding himself relegated to a subsidiary status among statewide officials at a time he is seeking to grow his political brand in the hopes of securing higher political office.

Alamo Plan Controversy

Proposed Alamo plan would overhaul heart of downtown but is stirring controversy


San Antonio Express News

June 7, 2018   Scott Huddleston


A new $450 million re-imagination of the Alamo seeks to triple the size of its historic plaza at the heart of downtown and turn what now is a cramped, touristy experience into what one design consultant called a shaded, parklike “place of reverence and learning.”

The new proposal, put forth Thursday by the city, the General Land Office and the nonprofit Alamo Endowment, envisions closing parts of three streets to traffic, demolishing up to four buildings and moving the 1930s Cenotaph.

It will be shown June 18-21 during three days of public hearings and could be approved as an interpretive plan by the City Council this fall.

The plan would expand outdoor walking space in the plaza from 3 to 9 acres, with emphasis on views of the famed Alamo church and offer cafe seating amid rows of trees.

Highlights of the proposal

Vertical glass walls no longer proposed

Partial closure of Alamo, Houston and Crockett streets

Expanded Alamo Plaza to function as open-air museum

Make Losoya Street two-way

Relocate Cenotaph

Possible demolition of plaza buildings

Construction of 135,000-square-foot museum

Replicated cannon station at Alamo’s southwest corner

Lowering of ground to exhibit historic architecture

Removal of curbs, other impediments to pedestrian access

Addition of shade trees in plaza

Removal of 1930s Alamo Arcade

Replacement of stone wall with fence around Alamo Garden

Interpretation, to be determined, of historic acequias

Interaction with greeters or docents in the plaza

Curbs and steps would be removed. In some places, the ground would be lowered by 16 inches to its historic level to fully expose the base of the church and Long Barrack and footings of the historic outer walls of the compound that could be shown in outdoor exhibits through a translucent surface.

Removal of traffic from the streets, including Alamo and Crockett streets, around the Alamo remains the cornerstone of the plan, but with two new proposals: closure of part of Houston Street, and conversion of a stretch of Losoya Street to two-way traffic.

“That has to be endorsed, or else we can’t do this,” said Doug Reed, principal with Reed-Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, one of three out-of-state consultants that developed the plan.

The Cenotaph, which has become a contentious point of focus, would be moved about 500 feet to a spot of “greater prominence,” officials told the San Antonio Express-News.

An earlier proposal to move the nearly 60-foot-tall monument about two blocks to a pocket park on Market Street drew vehement opposition last year from Alamo defender descendants and other Texans. Some still feel it should be repaired, but returned to the center of Alamo Plaza, where it has stood since it was dedicated in 1940.

Under the new plan, the Cenotaph would be disassembled, then rebuilt with a new steel frame on the approximate site of a gazebo that now stands in front of the Menger Hotel.

In that spot, it would be treated with reverence and seen by everyone entering through a promenade from the south, design officials said.

The Cenotaph’s current location, the one people are accustomed to, is “out of context for the point in time” when the siege and battle for Texas independence occurred in 1836, City Manager Sheryl Sculley said. She called the new proposed Cenotaph location a thoughtful compromise.

“We took that input that we heard from the community, and this location we think better matches the overall context of what is trying to be explained about the centuries of development at that site,” Sculley said.

A proposal to raze the Woolworth’s Building at 518 E. Houston St. already has drawn the ire of preservationists.

The building, which once housed the first lunch counter in the South to desegregate in 1960, was listed in 2016 by one advocacy group, Preservation Texas, as one of the “most endangered places” in the state. It’s one of three structures in Alamo Plaza, along with the Palace and Crockett buildings, that the Texas General Land Office purchased in 2015.

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Those buildings now house amusement attractions that are viewed by many as irreverent. The city is working on creation of an entertainment district where they could be relocated. But officials are not sure the three buildings can function together as a unified museum without being gutted.

Eric Kramer, principal with Reed-Hilderbrand, said the design team is looking at a range of options, including one that keeps all three buildings intact.

“The lunch counter and the desegregation story is an important one,” Kramer said. “And our study of removing that building isn’t one about erasing that story. It’s just a question of how it should be told on that site.”

The plan also proposes demolitions of buildings at 301 and 307 Alamo Plaza that house Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium, Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks and Ripley’s Moving Theater, to provide open space by a replicated cannon station at the Alamo’s southwest corner. An 18-pound cannon was fired three from the Alamo in response to Santa Anna’s call for surrender to start a 13-day siege.

Frank Ruttenberg, a lawyer and member of group that owns both buildings, serves on the 26-member Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee, said he was unsure of a plan that includes tearing down the buildings.

“To the extent that people talk about buildings coming down, I would say that I always think it’s better to not take down history to focus on a certain part of history,” he said after the draft site plan was presented to the committee.

The plan will be the shown at more public meetings later this month. The public-private project, including construction of a 135,000-square-foot museum complex and repairs to the mission-era Long Barrack and Alamo church, have been estimated to cost up to $450 million.

At the meeting Thursday night, the committee invited responses from many of its members, but did not take comment the public. Nonetheless, some people in the audience of about 200 expressed disapproval at the mention of moving the Cenotaph as well as closing down the streets and converting Losoya to two-way.

Kramer’s suggestion that the Cenotaph could be moved outside the mission footprint was met with a chorus of “No” from some.

One was Jane Klein.

“We don’t want it moved,” she said. “It was put there for a reason: It’s the gravestone for the tomb. … And it might get damaged if we move it.”

Anthony Edwards, a member of the advisory board, questioned the removal of the Woolworth’s building in particular. He wasn’t confident that its history could be adequately preserved without the building itself.

“The Woolworth’s building, for me as an African-American, that’s symbolic as the first place to move toward de-segregating,” Edwards said. “I’m kind of torn there as to whether that should be torn down or not.”

If the latest plan wins general support of stakeholders and the public, it could be presented to the City Council in the fall for adoption of an interpretive plan and an agreement with the state on management of the plaza.

“We’re not in the design stage yet. We’re still thinking strategically about broad concepts and how to resolve those broad issues in great ways,” said John Kasman, vice president of PGAV Destinations.

One such broad concept that some feel has not been addressed appropriately by the Alamo is the matter of painting its history as a “winners and losers” dichotomy.

George Cisneros, anothr member of the advisory committee, said the Alamo site should do more to correct misconceptions fostered by Hollywood representations and other legends.

“It’s always given as a good-versus-bad scenario. There were patriotic, heroic, brave young men who died on the outside of the wall defending their country. We never talk about those men,” he said.

When key concepts of an Alamo master plan were revealed publicly in April 2017, many criticized a concept of enclosing the plaza with interpretive glass walls. That idea has been withdrawn. Design officials said they also have tried to respond to concerns raised about shade, treatment of the Cenotaph, openness and access to the plaza and the impact of street closures on downtown traffic.

“I hope that we’ve come up with some design solutions that have really tried to address the tensions,” said Doug McDonald, Alamo CEO.

The Legislature has committed about $100 million for the plan, including $75 million appropriated last year, while the city has pledged $38 million in capital or voter-approved bond funds. The endowment has said it intends to privately raise at least $200 million. But officials have not said whether the latest changes might affect the final cost. The project would be completed by 2024 — 300 years after the Mission San Antonio de Valero moved to its third and final site, where it became a Spanish fort known as “El Alamo” in the early 1800s.

Susan Beavin, president of the San Antonio Conservation Society, has seen the plan, and is worried about several things, including demolitions, street closures and access to the plaza for Fiesta parades.

“I see there certainly are a lot of bones of contention,” she said.

As for the Cenotaph, the society’s leadership voted last September, deciding it should stay put. The group has not had time to consider the latest proposal for the monument, which depicts the work of sculptor Pompeo Coppini, titled, “The Spirit of Sacrifice.”

Gary Foreman, a historical Alamo re-enactor and filmmaker who has lobbied for decades for an extensive makeover of the plaza to duplicate the 1836 fort as much as possible, said he supports moving the Cenotaph, which he said takes up too much room for interpretive and educational activities in the plaza, where the main courtyard of the battle compound had been.

He also favors demolition of post-battle structures to help visitors remember the Alamo — the end goal since the 1980s, when people began calling for a more reverent, engaging battle site.

“People need to remember how this started before they find things to criticize,” Foreman said.

Scott Huddleston is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. | | @shuddlestonSA

Analysis: When George P. Bush says something is fake news, remember the Alamo


Texas Tribune

June 4, 2018    Ross Ramsey


As the election season rolls on, keep this in mind when Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush opens his mouth: The officeholder from the state’s best-known political family certainly knows how to spin a story.

Back in February, Bush was in a noisy Republican primary fight with his predecessor, Jerry Patterson. Among other things, Patterson is an Alamo buff. He has made it abundantly clear that he thinks Bush has mismanaged things at that monument. And he got some support for that view from a draft of an internal audit critical of the “structure and funding model” at the Alamo put in place by the General Land Office.

“Internal” is an important word in the previous sentence. That draft audit — along with the final version that came out this week — was issued by the internal auditor in Bush’s own agency. That’s what internal auditors are supposed to do: to tell you when there’s spinach on your teeth, toilet paper stuck to your shoe, oddities in your accounting and so on.

They point things out to management. Management is supposed to clean things up.

The draft audit was first revealed by the Austin American-Statesman in early February, and other reporters caught up with the land commissionerto see what he thought about it. “I can’t really comment on the document,” Bush said at the time. “I cannot disclose, but we do have evidence that it was a doctored memo.”

Here’s the lead paragraph from the draft audit — also the lead paragraph of the final audit:

“GLO should reconsider the structure and funding model it uses for operating the Alamo. A contractor performs the daily operations, but it uses state resources to do this, as it does not have its own funds or other assets. This is an unusual situation that has created complexity and a lack of clarity regarding the nature and the use of the funds used for Alamo operations. It is also the root cause of several of the observations in this report.”

The land commissioner’s suggestion that the draft memo was “doctored” temporarily sunk the stories about his management of the Alamo, for the most part, and it did so at a critical time: Less than two weeks later, early voting in the primary elections began. Bush easily won the nomination for another term with more than 58 percent of the vote. Patterson ran second in that four-candidate race, pulling in just under 30 percent.

Now that the final audit is out, you can audit the land commissioner’s political spin. Give him an A-plus. While the leaked draft didn’t foul his re-election bid, the final document is both direct and damning — not the sort of thing a politician wants on his report card to the public:

“We determined that the financial formation and accounting of the Alamo Complex fund did not comply with state requirements,” the auditor wrote. “Also, not all contract requirements of the agreement to operate the Alamo are being met. In addition, controls over budgeting, expenditures, contracting, and reconciliations should be strengthened.”

They made several recommendations to straighten things out.

Auditors typically give space to the people and organizations under the microscope, a place to make arguments, to disagree or to point out things the auditors might have missed. In this audit, the top line sort of slams the door: “Management concurs with the recommendations.”

Managing the Alamo is going to be noisy, no matter who’s in charge. It’s a Texas shrine, and between various factions of historic preservationists, political interests, tourism promoters and people and groups disrupted by the GLO’s efforts to modernize operations and spruce up the site, it’s the subject of a long-lasting, ongoing rumble.

That rumble is a management issue, and Bush is the top guy at the agency in charge. It’s his job. But the hat he was wearing earlier this year was that of a politician, not a manager, and the spin he applied at the time did what he needed it to do: It put off the spanking detailed in the final audit until now — long after the primaries where Patterson was a threat.

The delay helped, but didn’t put the issue of the Alamo to bed. Just read the day-after-the-audit emails from Miguel Suazo, the Democrat challenging Bush in the fall: “It clearly demonstrates that George P. Bush is in over his head and lacks the competence to manage our state’s most historic landmark.”

He sounds like Jerry Patterson, doesn’t he?

Audit’s release sparks political battle over Alamo


San Antonio Express-News

May 31, 2018   Scott Huddleston


A final audit addressing financial operations at the Alamo is in the crossfire of a battle between Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and the Democratic candidate hoping to unseat him.

Bush called the audit and resulting changes by the General Land Office “a deep dive into the Alamo’s financial management policies.”

But his opponent in the Nov. 6 general election, Miguel Suazo, has said the audit should concern everyone who cares about the mission and battle site.

“It clearly demonstrates that George P. Bush is in over his head and lacks the competence to manage our state’s most historic landmark,” Suazo said hours after the Land Office released its internal audit Thursday.

The Land Office, which has endured criticism over a public-private master plan to repair the Alamo’s two 1700s structures, add a museum and refurbish Alamo Plaza as a reverent battleground by 2024, expects to enter an agreement by July 1 with the nonprofit Alamo Trust Inc. to provide daily operations at the state-owned Alamo grounds.

Since 2015, the Land Office has contracted with the Alamo Endowment to help with preservation, management, operation and restoration of the Alamo. That same year, the endowment created the Alamo Trust as a subsidiary and assigned it responsibility for the Alamo operations.

For the first time, the Alamo Trust, which replaced the Daughters of the Republic of Texas as operator of the Texas shrine, will have a management agreement requiring accounting and operational best practices recommended in the audit, GLO officials said. In a news release, Bush said the audit “represents a cultural shift in the oversight of the Alamo’s financial management policies.”

“Many of the recommendations have already been implemented while others are being fulfilled through the implementation of a new Alamo management contract with the Alamo Trust,” Bush said.

Land Office officials said the state agency, assigned oversight of the Alamo by the Legislature in 2011, hired three people with experience in finance for state agencies to oversee Alamo accounting and report to the Land Office’s chief financial officer.

It plans by Sept. 1 to have new policies in place regarding budgeting, purchasing and contracting, including timely reimbursements of operating costs, an electronic purchase-order system, monthly bank reconciliations and vetting of contractors to avoid conflicts of interest.

But Suazo, an Austin-based attorney specializing in energy and natural resources, said vulnerabilities exposed in the audit are disturbing.

According to the report, the Alamo Trust and Land Office did not fully comply or have systems in place regarding procurement, daily deposits into the state treasury and timely requests for and payment of replenishment funds, among other areas.

“This means that the Alamo is also risking the misuse of taxpayer funds,” Suazo said.

The flare-up is the first major one between Bush and Suazo over the Alamo. Suazo favors portions of the Alamo master plan, including closure of the plaza to traffic and relocation of amusement businesses in the plaza, to provide an atmosphere that respects the memory of hundreds of men killed in the battle on March 6, 1836.

But unlike Bush, who terminated the DRT’s Alamo operations contract in 2015, Suazo has vowed to negotiate a contract with the Daughters to manage the site, with “final authority” resting with the land commissioner.

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Alamo audit recommends ‘operational changes’

The Daughters had been custodians of the site since 1905, but were the subject of a 16-month attorney general’s investigation into alleged mismanagement that began in 2010.

A draft version of the GLO audit was leaked to the media in February, prior to March 6 primary elections for commissioner.

Bush fended off an election challenge by former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, but not without enduring criticism from Patterson and others, including state senators, about confusion and lack of openness involving the Land Office’s role at the Alamo in conjunction with the Alamo Trust.

Bush since has resigned from the Alamo Trust board to avoid a conflict. The board held its first quarterly meeting that was open to the public on May 16.

The Alamo has incurred troubles in the past related to errors or questionable expenses.

In February, the San Antonio Express-News, through a Public Information Act request, obtained an electronic scan of a check for $65,078 to the trust from the Remember the Alamo Foundation — another Alamo Endowment subsidiary created to raise funds privately for the Alamo master plan. GLO officials said the check corrected an error by Alamo accountants regarding personnel expenses.

Last year, another document obtained by the Express-News listed more than $1,600 in personal expensesmade by an Alamo manager that did not qualify for reimbursement. The manager, who resigned but agreed to repay the trust, had made personal expenses that were unauthorized, or for which there were no receipts, using a credit card issued by the nonprofit. They included restaurant tabs, a painting and several unspecified purchases on Amazon.

Scott Huddleston is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. | | @shuddlestonSA

Scott Huddleston

Scott Huddleston

Staff Writer | San Antonio Express-News

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Alamo Audit Recommends Operational Changes



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In 1952 the Democratic Governor of Texas, Allan Shivers, and the State Democratic Executive Committee, did something unusual in politics: they put their state ahead of their party and endorsed the Republican candidate for President, Dwight David Eisenhower. 

The issue was 3.5 million oil & gas rich acres of submerged land in the Gulf of Mexico that Texas had title to since it entered the Union in 1846—acres lost due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1950.  Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson supported federal ownership.  Eisenhower supported Texas. Governor Shivers and the Texas Democratic party endorsed Dwight Eisenhower. Dwight won, and Texas reclaimed ownership to its submerged lands, making billions of dollars dedicated to public education.


Today there's another issue of equal importance—the current mismanagement of the Shrine of Texas Liberty, the Alamo. The multiple nonprofit entities not subject to public disclosure and failed litigation against the Daughters of the Republic of Texas are just part of the story. On the issue of the removal of the Cenotaph, it was Bush himself who originally requested last year that the City of San Antonio pass the motion to remove the Cenotaph. Furthermore, Bush has full veto power on any element of the plan and he knows this full well. 

The GLO's botched Hurricane Harvey recovery effort and Bush's recent decision to cease sending money to the SBOE for public education are other examples of the Bush General Land Office’s "amateur hour" of woe. 

Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and Alamo historian Rick Range, after long discussions with the Democratic GLO candidate, have decided to have an Allan Shivers, or maybe a Spartacus moment, and endorse the Democratic nominee, oil & gas attorney Miguel Suazo. Both Patterson and Range opposed Bush in the 2018 Republican primary.

Bush's 2014 Republican primary opponent, David Watts has unequivocally stated he will not vote for Bush in November, as has Commissioner Bush's other 2018 primary opponent, Davey Edwards. 

This is quite possibly a first in the rich political history of Texas; all of the past primary opponents of a statewide candidate are voting for the other party nominee. - Jerry Patterson 

November 6 is Critical

For the first time since 1952, the State of Texas comes first in political candidates' hearts. Republican challengers are crossing party lines and endorsing Democratic candidate Miguel Suazo for Texas General Land Office Commissioner.