Tuesday, August 25, 2015

After A Restraining Order and Computer Hacking Claims, Alamo Library Divorce Gets Messier

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 2:52 PM

The battle of the Alamo Research Center continues to rage on. - VIA FLICKR USER ANDY EICK
  • Via Flickr user Andy Eick
  • The battle of the Alamo Research Center continues to rage on.

Changing the locks on the doors, swapping legal notices, accusations of hacked computers.

It’s not the product of Ashley Madison-fueled relationship ruination. It’s the plot of the latest development in the messy saga between the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the state's General Land Office.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas filed a temporary restraining order yesterday against the General Land Office and its leader, George P. Bush. The order, which is valid for two weeks, will ensure that the DRT has access to the Alamo Research Center, a 38,000-item library which sits on the grounds of The Alamo. It will also prevent either party from removing items from the library.

The DRT, which had managed The Alamo for over a century, relinquished control of it to the Land Office in March. But questions linger over who owns the contents of the library. Many of the maps, photographs, paintings and manuscripts which comprise the collection are one-of-a-kind artifacts pertaining to Texas and San Antonio history.

Both the DRT and the Land Office claim the collection. The DRT sued to retain it in March, stating that the Land Office had “unilaterally declared that Texas is the rightful owner” of the collection.

“We have endeavored to work with the state to quickly resolve the questions of ownership and future location of the DRT Library collection,” Lamont Jefferson, the DRT's attorney, said in a news release. “Instead we find ourselves needing to return to the court to secure our rightful access to the library collection we own.”

While the two parties negotiated to resolve the dispute, the staff of the Alamo Research Center continued its day-to-day business. In May, the DRT made an agreement with the Land Office to maintain a “supervisory role” over the library's five staffers.

The DRT later terminated that agreement. They did so, according to Bill Noble, a hired spokesperson for the DRT, because it hindered discussions with Texas A&M University — San Antonio, with whom the group is currently negotiating to house the collection.

“We need to begin the process of moving the collection if we’re not wanted at The Alamo. It is clear to us from the state’s actions, including the ham-handed approach taken yesterday, that there doesn’t seem to be a willingness to work toward an amicable solution,” Noble said to the San Antonio Current.

The agreement officially ended on Sunday. On Monday morning, the center’s staff arrived to work and found that the building’s locks had been changed.

DRT representatives filed the restraining order against the Land Office the same day, which was granted at 11:14 a.m. by Judge John Gabriel of the 131st Judicial District Court in Bexar County.

When asked to comment, Brittany Eck, spokesperson for the GLO, gave this statement:

"Under the Rule 11 agreement (Section 1, part c), on July 11, 2015, Alamo Complex Management became, and continues to be, the employer of the Alamo Research Center employees, but the DRT was given a limited supervisory role over the staff (5 employees). The DRT chose to terminate the agreement, effective Sunday, August 23, at the end of the 30 day termination time period, and then filed a temporary restraining order (TRO), which the judge granted. There will be a follow up hearing in the next few weeks to discuss these issues in a court of law."

Eck would not comment about another claim made by Noble — that one of the Alamo Research Center computers was “hacked.”  

An individual was seen on Monday at one of the center's computers who did not work there. The person’s identity has not yet been revealed, but Noble said “it appears to be an [information technology] vendor for the GLO.”

Noble and other DRT representatives are talking with the state to determine what was taken, if anything. The computer housed emails between library staff and DRT leadership, including communications related to the lawsuit, and archival records and images.

"We don't use ["hacked"] lightly. The computer was secured with password protection and yet data was being offloaded off it," Noble said. "We've asked the state to return the items taken and for more information on how it all transpired."

Noble said that DRT representatives were "beside themselves" with indignation when they head about the hack and the employees being locked out.

The library is currently open to the public by appointment. A court date between the two sides will likely take place in September.


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