Latest Woes for Texas’ Alamo Caretakers? Rats and Money

May 4, 2011

The troubled caretakers of the Alamo are facing more problems: rats and rent payment woes.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas are already in jeopardy of losing stewardship of the Alamo after 106 years. On top of that, the San Antonio Express-News reported Tuesday that the group is having trouble paying rent and utilities at its Austin headquarters.

“The newest problem is rats!” stated minutes of the DRT Headquarters & Museum Committee, which were obtained by the newspaper.

Minutes from the April 20 meeting go on to discuss challenges with a leaky roof, insurance and an air conditioning system. The headquarters-museum complex in Austin also “has no money to pay their bills or employees’ salaries,” or monthly rental fees of $800 for the museum.

Alamo spokesman Tony Caridi said the problems in Austin don’t reflect on the management of the Alamo in San Antonio. The Alamo operates on state funds generated by the gift shop and is managed by a professional, paid staff.

“That’s separate from the Alamo, even though the DRT is running the Alamo,” Caridi said. “The Daughters hire professionals like myself and (Alamo curator) Bruce Winders to manage the Alamo.”

The problems in Austin are another public and ill-timed embarrassment for the Daughters, whose longtime custodial role at the Alamo has been threatened amid allegations of financial embarrassment and poor decision-making. The legislature is considering bills that could diminish the DRT’s role at the Alamo or put the group under stricter oversight.

The Senate version of the bill was placed Tuesday on the chamber’s intent calendar. That bill, by Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, would put the Alamo under the jurisdiction of the Texas Historical Commission yet allow the Daughters to continue running the shrine.

The Senate version is tougher on the Daughters than the House version, which the group endorses. Under the House bill, the state would require more financial reporting from the Daughters but not put the Alamo under the historical commission.

“The DRT has failed to properly maintain the structural integrity of the Alamo, in addition to entering a highly questionable marketing contract with William Morris Entertainment Agency that has since been cancelled,” the Senate bill analysis reads.

The Texas attorney general’s office is also investigating the group, but has not made its findings public.

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