Local NewsUvalde Mayor, Sen. Gutierrez Ask Abbott to Remove Official Accused of Mishandling Victim Benefits

The district attorney was appointed to oversee the center by Gov. Greg Abbott.
July 5, 2022
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Two elected officials have asked Gov. Greg Abbott to remove local District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee from oversight of the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center (UTRC).

Busbee was appointed to oversee the UTRC, a facility meant to “provide information, support, and resources to residents directly affected” by the massacre at Robb Elementary School in May.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) and Uvalde Mayor Dan McLaughlin called on Abbott to remove Busbee, alleging issues in the UTRC’s operation.

“In the past month, we have heard numerous troubling reports from our constituents about the UTRC and the District Attorney, including the failure to timely deliver victim’s compensation resources to those in need,” the pair wrote in a letter to Abbott.

“One Uvalde family was in danger of having their power cut off in their home at the same time they were praying and caring for their daughter in the hospital. Other families have been offered a meager bereavement benefit for only two-weeks of pay.”

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Gutierrez and McLaughlin asked Abbott to task the Texas Department of Emergency Management with oversight of the program because “the District Attorney’s Office is not equipped or staffed to provide these services.”

Busbee assumed office as the 38th Judicial District Attorney in January 2021. She did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.

A spokesman for Abbott told The Texan, “The initial $5 million investment for the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center was made to Uvalde County. The Governor will support whoever local officials designate as project director of the UTRC. Governor Abbott and his office will continue working with state and local leaders to support the Uvalde community and provide all available resources as they heal.”

After the shooting, the State of Texas made available $5 million to fund the UTRC for the foreseeable future.

The UTRC was created to provide a litany of services to the community, including a mental health hotline, crisis intervention support, counseling, help with insurance claims, childcare services, utility payments, and lodging assistance.

“Whether it’s counseling or assistance with insurance claims, the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center will be able to serve the community as it heals,” Abbott said at the time the UTRC was announced. “Texans are a uniquely resilient people, but that doesn’t mean coping with grief and trauma alone. The State of Texas and local organizations will continue to offer the support the Uvalde community needs going forward.”

Gutierrez and McLaughlin have criticized the state leadership’s response to the shooting. Two weeks ago, the senator sued the Department of Public Safety over unfilled open records requests related to the shooting.

State leaders approved $100.5 million in emergency funding for school safety-related expenditures last week, and on top of that approved an additional $5 million for the Hill Country Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities Center to provide services to Uvalde.

“There is no worse pain imaginable than losing a child,” the letter adds. “This pain is made all the more severe because of the way these children were killed and injured. In short, the State of Texas ought to use every available resource in law to make these families whole.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from an Abbott spokesman.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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