Most people think it's a good thing the Alamo, the site of the 13 Days of Glory, has been nominated to become a World Heritage Site through the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Considering the deal is expected to bring in lots of money (more than $100 million) and jobs (more than 1,000) by 2025, officials down in Bexar County and with the state's General Land Office, which manages the historic site and surrounding properties, love the idea.
But GOP State Sen. Donna Campbell still thinks the Alamo is still under attack by foreign invaders. "I can tell you, anything that starts with 'the UN' gives me cause for concern," Campbell said during an utterly absurd discussion about her proposed "Protect the Alamo Act" in a Senate committee hearing yesterday.
Campbell faced a wall of skepticism from her fellow senators. "I'm trying to figure out what problem we're trying to solve here," said Craig Estes, a Republican from Wichita Falls.
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Campbell told the natural resources and economic development committee that she fears the state of Texas could ultimately sell off Alamo. A deputy for Land Commissioner George P. Bush was on hand to assuage that concern, saying lawmakers would first have to pass legislation before the office could do anything with the Alamo -- an unlikely prospect. Sen. Carlos Uresti from San Antonio chimed in, "I don't think there is any member on this committee that will allow the Alamo to be sold."
Not only is Campbell's law pointless, it could actually be harmful, Bexar County's facilities and parks director told the committee. "There's nothing in the operational guidelines that indicates that UNESCO intercedes in the operations or management of any site," according to Betty Bueché. Campbell's bill, she said, could send the unfortunate message to UNESCO that the state of Texas doesn't want the Alamo recognized as a World Heritage Site.
Perhaps the best part of the hearing came when Kel Seliger, a Republican senator from Amarillo, pointed out that Campbell essentially knows nothing about UNESCO. Whate are some of the other UNESCO sites in this state and country?" he asked Campbell. "I don't know, because my bill is about preserving the Alamo," Campbell responded. "It is not about having a discussion regarding UNESCO." (As the Texas Observer reminds us, there are 22 such World Heritage sites across the country, including the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, and Independence Hall.)
Needless to say, Campbell's bill was left pending in committee yesterday.