Official foresees Confederate plate option
But land commish says it likely will take court fight.
By Scott Huddleston
Friday, September 30, 2011
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson predicted Thursday that the state will get a license plate with a Confederate battle flag, but only after a fight in court.
Patterson also discussed water issues and the Alamo, now in the oversight of the General Land Office, with the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board. His focus was his sponsorship of a license plate like one in nine states whose sales would aid the Sons of Confederate Veterans for grave markers and monuments.
The Department of Motor Vehicles’ board cast a tie 4-4 vote on the proposal in April but could reconsider it. Patterson said it has become too political to pass, especially with Gov. Rick Perry, who appoints the board, running for president.
“It’s probably dead, at least for now,” said Patterson, who plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2014.
He also sponsored a license plate honoring the Buffalo Soldiers, black troops who served after the Civil War. He said that proposal will likely pass, despite the controversial treatment of American Indians by the Buffalo Soldiers, since it’s not as politically volatile as the St. Andrew’s cross flag, which he said was co-opted by hate groups in the 20th century and is viewed by some as a racist symbol.
Patterson, a member of the SCV, predicted the group will take the issue to court and win, as in other states. But Matt Glazer, executive director with Progress Texas, a progressive advocacy group, said the courts should not support a symbol that some Texans associate with hatred.
“We are definitely still focused on making sure it not become an image endorsed by the state of Texas,” Glazer said by phone.
Meanwhile, Patterson said he’s made headway negotiating a contract for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to manage the Alamo under a new state law. A pact could be ready by Nov. 1, well before the Dec. 31 deadline, that will address areas of concern, from fundraising and preservation to financial management, he said.
Today, the DRT board is expected to receive a report from the Land Office at a meeting in Round Rock and a report on training for board members and employees.
“I think they realize we can do things for them that aren’t in their area of expertise,” Patterson said.
He said he opposes an Alamo admission fee but hopes to work with the city of San Antonio and preservation and community groups to improve the Alamo visitor experience.
Patterson touched on water and immigration as topics he’ll tackle in a bid for lieutenant governor. He said he wants to de-politicize water management in favor of inter-basin transfers that could provide water statewide.
“This is an issue nobody’s talking about,” he said. “Somebody needs to get out of the pack.”
© 2011 Hearst Communications Inc