Bush Blasted for 'Lack of Transparency' in Alamo Project

The effort to 're-imagine' the Alamo and Alamo Plaza keeps getting more complicated, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush ran into a buzz saw of criticism as he attempted to explain to members of the State Senate Finance Committee how the program is being funded.

State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) blasted what he called the lack of Transparency in Bush's handling of the finances of the massive project, pointing out that the Legislature has allocated more than $100 million in taxpayer money, and the taxpayers have a right to know how it is being spent.

"I think your first goal ought to be to protect the taxpayers of the State of Texas," Watson thundered."Every aspect of what it is you're doing, from employees to dollars to management, are all the kinds of things that would typically fall under our open government laws."

Bush was blasted for keeping the records and the meetings of the four non profit groups which are helping raise private money and coordinate the huge project secret from taxpayers.  The main concern are the Alamo Endowment, which is the fundraising arm of the project, and a subsidiary called the Alamo Trust, which was created to oversee the effort.  Both, as private organizations, are not subject to open records laws.

Watson said he is getting the same lack of transparency from Bush and the General Land Office that occurred when the Daughters of the Republic of Texas was managing the Alamo, and he said that is one reason why the GLO was brought in.

"Part of the reason things didn't go so well under the daughters was because there wasn't as much transparency and openness as we should have had."

Bush said attorneys for the board members of the non profit organizations have requested that their identities and records be kept secret, to shield them from possible liability in what is becoming a very controversial project.

The project, which is set to break ground next year, is currently undergoing major renovations. Bush has rejected several parts of the 'master plan' released earlier this year, including construction of a plexiglas wall around Alamo Plaza, and moving the 1936 Cenotaph to a location along the San Antonio River across from the Convention Center.

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