I recently sat down for an interview with Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the shadow of the Alamo to discuss the future of the cradle of Texas libetry. If you missed it live, the archived video is available to watch on Empower Texans’ YouTube channel.
Many of Bush’s answers were reassuring in light of many grassroots concerns regarding the “Reimagine the Alamo” project that is being overseen by the General Land Office. But on some issues, Bush was less clear and it will be up to him to reestablish trust with Texans by taking bolder stands moving forward.
Bush stated definitely that the battle of 1836, and the memory of those massacred by Mexican General Santa Anna, would remain front and center for everything at the Alamo. That was good to hear, since several people involved with the “master plan” for the project have intimated otherwise.
Indeed, Mr. Bush took complete ownership of the project and its outcomes – “I’m the boss.”
He made it clear that the buck stopped with him. Except when it did not.
When I asked him about projections showing the “reimagine the Alamo” would cost $400 million, he said that he wasn’t concerned about the money right now… Come again?
“Well, I’m not as focused on the numbers, the numbers have been floated in the media,” he said.
If he isn’t, then who is?
Similarly, he did not offer new assurances on the transparency for the dollars given to non-profit groups by the GLO for specific aspects of the reconstruction.
Most concerning were his answers regarding the Cenotaph – the giant monument that serves as a tombstone to those murdered by Santa Anna’s soldiers on March 6, 1836. Commissioner Bush said he was for it remaining in place … for as long as it remained in place.
“It will only move on my watch if it is in a more prominent and deferential position than where it is now,” Bush told me, describing a place closer to where people enter the Alamo’s south gates.
He went to say that he was committed to “the process” of the Alamo project. “If I had the magic wand, it would stay” where it is, he said.
As it happens, Mr. Bush does wield a “magic wand” when it comes to the Alamo. Under the statutes authorizing the current restoration projects, Mr. Bush has a veto over all parts of the project. If local government officials want to dismantle the Cenotaph – which they do, under the auspices of renovating it and locating it in a park near the city’s convention center – Bush certainly has the power to stop them. That plan removes the historic context for the Alamo that Mr. Bush says he supports and should be a non-starter for any Texan who cherishes our state’s rich history.
Commissioner Bush’s comments in the interview were his strongest to date, and to that extent, they were reassuring. But he can and must do more to ensure that nothing is done to diminish our shrine to the 187 Texans who made our freedom possible.
Citizens who want the Alamo remembered as the Shrine of Texas Liberty must take an active and vocal role in asking questions about the reconstruction and expansion. Let your lawmakers know what you expect.