Contracts, Contributions Mix at Bush’s Alamo Project

While the contracts and contributions are entirely legal, they illustrate the convergence of the Alamo project and Bush’s political ambitions.

Contracts, Contributions Mix at Bush’s Alamo Project

We Say: Battlegrounds are preserved and memorialized with Cenotaphs (empty-tomb) worldwide, India to London, Omaha Beach to the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetary. Only a few are located within sight of the actual battleground, fewer still are inscribed with names.

The Alamo Cenotaph is situated so that visitors see both the tiny mission church where defenders made their last stand and the marble memorial with the names of those fallen at that spot. The takeaway image that merges both is what, to some of us Texans, makes the Alamo not a ‘site,’ on a registry, but a ‘shrine.’  A shrine to the spirit of independence and sacrifice for greater, future good that Texans cherish. A shrine to the Heros of the Alamo. Quoting William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s never even past.”

Mayor Nirenberg, your effort to put the Cenotaph “out of sight, out of mind,” is misguided. Change the plans handed you by the experts-from-afar who don’t understand what or who they are dealing with.

Now, investigative reporter and SATP contributor Kenric Ward uncovered even more ‘crony’ deals than we suspected.


Republished from TexasMonitor.org, by Kenric Ward, October 30, 2017. Image credit: image not covered by license – Contributor Donald Krebs.


Kevin Ward

Kevin Ward

A prominent San Antonio company and campaign contributor engineered a “donor” agreement and a $982,000 contract to work on the state’s controversial “Re-imagined” Alamo project.

Before and after signing the donor agreement, executives at Pape-Dawson Engineers made a series of campaign contributions totaling $13,500 to George P. Bush, the Texas Land Commissioner who is making the Alamo venture the cornerstone of his re-election bid.

Bush’s campaign finance report shows Pape-Dawson CEO Sam Dawson contributed $8,500 in three installments on May 15, 2013, Dec. 10, 2014, and April 21, 2016. Eugene Dawson, listed as director, gave $5,000 on Dec. 10, 2014.

Pape-Dawson’s 2017 contract with Bush’s General Land Office includes $495,000 for archaeological studies, along with GIS mapping and traffic and parking work, according to documents The Texas Monitor obtained from the Land Office through a public records request.

Earlier, the company had an agreement with Bush’s office to “contribute in-kind services to the GLO towards execution/implementation of the Alamo Complex site work.” Signed by Sam Dawson on Jan. 20, 2016, the one-year agreement stated, “The donor (Pape-Dawson) shall contribute to the GLO, free of charge, engineering services at the Alamo Complex Grounds.”

While the contracts and contributions are entirely legal, they illustrate the convergence of the Alamo project and Bush’s political ambitions.

Cenotaph is currently prominent in Alamo Plaza

Cenotaph is currently prominent in Alamo Plaza

Amid questions about Bush’s stewardship of the Alamo project, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ordered the Senate Finance Committee to investigate expenditures at the historic downtown shrine.

Patrick directed the committee to determine if state funds appropriated to the General Land Office “are spent to emphasize the architectural design and the historical impact the 1836 battle had on the development of Texas as a nation and as a state.”

Public-Private Partnership

The cost of revamping the legendary site is currently estimated at $450 million. The Texas Legislature earmarked $110 million over the past two sessions and San Antonio dedicated $38 million from two public bonds. More than $200 million is expected to be raised from private sources.

The Texas Monitor this month quoted Bush’s political director as saying a $250,000 donation was a pre-condition for a seat on the Alamo Endowment and Foundation boards.

GLO records list $25,480,219 in expenditures for the Alamo project as of this month.

Alamo CEO Douglass McDonald last year described the Alamo overhaul — including the proposed removal of the Cenotaph monument from the battlefield grounds — as a “world-class re-imagining of the site.”

Part of the evolving plan extends to the purchase of three private buildings across Alamo Street and relocation of the businesses elsewhere downtown.

Asked about Pape-Dawson’s role, McDonald said in a statement: “The Alamo is not seeking any in-kind contributions from Pape-Dawson. The Alamo is not in discussions with Pape-Dawson regarding any work beyond the master plan.”

A spokesman for Bush told The Texas Monitor in an email: “Pape-Dawson is a Texas-based firm that was subcontracted by the master plan committee to do much-needed preservation and archaeological work at the Alamo.”

The highest-paid vendor listed in the GLO documents is the Preservation Design Group of Philadelphia, PA. Bush’s office contracted with the architectural firm for services totaling $5,377,452 so far.

Pape-Dawson did not respond to requests for comment.

The engineering company performed pro-bono work in 2014 on another politically charged public-works project: San Antonio’s Vista Ridge water pipeline. Subsequently, the company was named project engineer and led right-of-way negotiations for the $3.4 billion, 142-mile-long pipeline that will tap aquifers in Bastrop, Caldwell, and other Central Texas counties.

In the process, Pape-Dawson donated $9,500 to then-Mayor Ivy Taylor. The contributions triggered an ethics complaint against the mayor. The complaint was dismissed by a special counsel for the city’s Ethics Review Board.

San Antonians familiar with Pape-Dawson say in-kind donor agreements have opened doors to lucrative contracts. “The cost of the [earlier] work is built into those contracts,” a local real-estate manager said, speaking on background. “Sam Dawson is a very ethical guy,” the source added.

See more of Pape-Dawson’s political contributions here.

Bush on the Run

Bush, the 41-year-old son of Jeb and Columba Bush, is a prolific fund-raiser with access to large corporate donors. He collected $1.35 million in just two months for his first run for office in 2014.

He ultimately raised $5.9 million, easily won the Republican primary, and swamped Democrat John Cook in the general election.

“The Commissioner receives donations from Texans from all over the state,” Bush’s spokeswoman told The Texas Monitor via email this week.

With more than $3 million banked for his 2018 re-election campaign, Bush has no major Republican challengers for the March 6 primary. The Associated Press reported that he is “unlikely to draw a formidable Democrat in the general.”

That was back in June. Since then, growing protests over the Alamo have prompted Bush to begin airing radio ads explaining and defending his plans for the San Antonio shrine. His office also put up a new website — SaveTheAlamo.com — to counter the SaveTheAlamo.us site produced by his detractors.

Texas’ 30-day filing period to run for office opens Nov. 11.

The Houston-born, Florida-reared Bush has pledged to “preserve our proud heritage for generations to come.”

“We will protect the hallowed grounds and story of the Alamo — a story bigger than Texas … a story about the triumph of freedom over tyranny,” Bush declared during his swearing-in ceremony in 2015. 


Republished from TexasMonitor.org. CLICK HERE to read the Original.


 

 

 

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Kenric Ward
Kenric Ward is a veteran journalist whose work has appeared at Fox News, Houston Chronicle, Washington Times, Washington Examiner, TownHall, Roll Call, and Human Events. An editor and reporter at three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Ward was Virginia bureau chief for Watchdog.org before relocating to Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

5 Responses to "Contracts, Contributions Mix at Bush’s Alamo Project"

  1. Debbie Linck  November 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

    What about NATIONAL PARK SERVICE & NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES do these people not understand? Thought this nonsense ended when Ivy Taylor was voted out, guess not. Get over it!

  2. Debbie Linck  November 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

    What about NATIONAL PARK SERVICE & NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES do these people not understand? Thought this nonsense ended when Ivy Taylor was voted out, guess not. Get over it! Remember & Save The Alamo!

  3. GranPaSmurf  November 2, 2017 at 6:17 am

    From my first visit to the Alamo, maybe 50 years ago, I had the understanding that the Cenotaph stood on the site of the funeral pyre of the Texians. The only guess of how I came to that idea is that it might have been from one of the docents of the Alamo (little ‘ole blue-haired ladies) that answered hundreds of questions from visitors.
    There is a believable article in the Express-News, http://www.expressnews.com/sa300/article/Mystery-surrounds-remains-of-Alamo-fallen-12199351.php
    that reads like sound historical research except for a paragraph in the middle that looks like a planted comment by the experts-from-afar to justify moving the Cenotaph.
    “An Alamo master plan under development for the city, Texas General Land Office and nonprofit Alamo Endowment includes a proposal to repair the Cenotaph and relocate it, possibly to a pocket park along Market Street, on the south end of the pedestrian bridge, in proximity to the Ludlow and Springfield sites.”
    I expect we will see more of this type of reporting from the Express-News to try to sway our opinion. They are going to start to say, “more historically accurate.”
    The gist of the article is that the location of pyre is lost to history along with the ultimate burial of the remains. Lost and unknowable. So pick a place.
    OK, we pick ‘right where it is.’
    One credible reference says the pyre was “about 550 yards from the Alamo church.” About where the Cenotaph stands today. Several of the references say remains were buried “in a peach orchard” nearby.
    MY SUGGESTION:
    1. repair the Cenotaph. Of course. Carefully, lovingly, respectfully. If it needs to be removed to repair it, then make a pageant of returning it to its traditional (existing) location.
    2. plant or pot a number of peach trees to encircle the (existing) site.
    3. add a plaque that tells that the final resting place is somewhere nearby, but historically unknown and likely unknowable. That the ‘peach orchard’ is referenced therefore planted and maintained, all to evoke a reverence for the fallen Texians.
    Their “pocket park” can be right where the Cenotaph stands. It can be a quiet(er) reverent spot that evokes the feel of a cemetery. Right where the historical spot “could have been.’
    It doesn’t have to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind like the experts-from-afar want, so they can emphasize ‘togetherness, not divisiveness.’

  4. Bill Crumrine  November 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    There is more behind the scenes that this article did not mention. While former San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor was minority woman, there were people working against her from the time she won her first and only election as Mayor. Can we say, names like Boy King Henry Cisneros, former glamour boy Mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of the Department of Housing & Urban Develop-ment. Of course, let’s not forget the Hispanic “Howdy-Doody,” Julian Castro, his twin brother U.S. 25th District Congressman Joaquin Castro. Then there is the City Manager Shelly Sculley, Police Chief Bill McManus, and a host of others too numerous to mention. Ron Nirenberg was going to win, as many so-called ethnic/racial minorities do not have great relation-ships, as this article and May’s election show so well.

  5. Tim Anderson  November 1, 2017 at 8:58 am

    As a descendant of an Alamo defender, Andrew Kent, I urge everyone to contact the mayor’s office and the GLO to oppose moving the Cenotaph. Our ancestors died here defending liberty and as their bodies were burned and their ashes scattered by the wind the cenotaph is the closest these men have to a headstone. IT MUST NOT BE MOVED!!

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