If You Stand Up, You Get Knocked Down.

The El Paso County Historical Commission stood up to the fat cats trying to kick the poor people out of Duranguito. So the County Commissioners Court is going to hand them their asses.

From a story in the El Paso Inc. by David Crowder:

At Monday’s Commissioners Court meeting, [County Administrator Betsy] Keller said, the size of the historical commission will be expanded from 22 to 25, with each member of the court nominating five members.

Exactly how they will be voted on is up to Commissioners Court, Keller said, but she will recommend voting on each nominee individually.

But before the vote takes place, Commissioners Court will discuss the “composition and selection” of the historical commission in a closed-door executive session.

Max Grossman, the historical commission’s vice-chairman, said he is concerned that Commissioners Court may decide to make major changes to the historical commission because of the investigation and commission’s stance against the arena location.

He said he and [historical commission chairman Bernie] Sargent met with County Judge Veronica Escobar on Friday to that explain that any violation of the meetings law was unintentional and to learn from her how things might go on Monday.

“This is the first time that re-appointments have been handled this ways, and she didn’t give us any indication about what would happen,” Grossman said after the meeting.

Since when did anyone care about the Historical Commission? Oh, yeah, since they stuck a stick in the spokes of the people trying to put the arena in Duranguito.

Before the arena flap, the County was so uninterested in the Historical Commission that they never even gave them training on the Open Meetings Act. Bernie Sargent has been on the Commission for 17 years. He’s been chairman for 13 years. In all that time, the County never gave the Commission training on the Open Meetings Act.

Now it looks like the County Commissioners Court is going to stack the Historical Commission with good dogs who will lie down for the fat cats.

God forbid that the County Historical Commission would actually try to preserve historical buildings.

So who at the County is behind this effort to muzzle the Historical Commission?

Here’s a clue. Here’s a letter Precinct 3 Commissioner Vince “Do you know who I am?” Perez sent to District Attorney Jaime Esparza.

As you commence your seventh term in office, I write to respectfully urge the office of the Disrict Attorney of the 34th to investigate recent possible violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act and actively pursue any enforcement measures deemed appropriate, if violations occurred. These alleged violations involving county boards and municipal representatives weaken public trust in our local government entities and I firmly believe that your office’s examination into these important matters can help reassure the public that violations of the Act are taken seriously, and that appropriate measures are actively used to enforce it.

This letter calls to mind some ideas.

    Commissioner Perez’s Precinct 3 covers the whole lower valley, and the last time I was in the valley, nobody liked a snitch.

    Commissioner Perez writes “These alleged violations . . . weaken public trust in our local government entities. . . .” Whoa, Vince. You can’t weaken what isn’t there. You dragging the Commissioners Court into this mess just makes you look like a tool of the moneyed class.

    District Attorney Esparza recently quit his post on the Chicano Cultural Memorial Committee, as reported in our English language daily.

    District Attorney Jaime Esparza on Monday resigned from the Mexican American Cultural Center Subcommittee, a group tangentially related to an investigation announced last week.

    “In light of the current Open Meetings Act investigation, and in the abundance of caution, I have chosen to exercise my discretion and resign from the committee,” Esparza said in the letter addressed to the subcommittee’s liaison with the city. His resignation was effective Monday.

    I wonder if the sub-committee ever conducted any business by email? Or is the subcommittee exempt from the Open Meetings Act?

    I wonder if County Judge Veronica Escobar polled the Commissioners before they decided to give themselves a raise? Because even if she only talked to them one-on-one, polling them serially would be a “rolling quorum,” a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Our local political scene is a cesspool. A nest of vipers.

Like Brutus says, we deserve better.


  1. A few points to make on this story. There are currently 19 members of the Historical Commission. They will find out tomorrow who will remain and who will leave, at the County Court meeting. Veronica Escobar, Betsy Keller, and Chief General Counsel Lee Shapleigh have all admitted that the Historic Commission has NOT been trained properly. Kind of hard to know you’re breaking the law when you don’t know what law applies. Commissioner Perez is married to Cit Council member Claudia Ordaz, who’s publicly attacked members of the Historic Commission FROM THE BENCH, without giving them a chance to reply. Think Commissioner Perez MIGHT have a conflict of interest there? The Historic Commission is being “investigated” by Bob Moore of the El Paso Times, investigated by the Texas Rangers, and investigated by the county itself. Why hasn’t the Times EVER tried to do a story about the dealings between the city and the Paso del Norte Group OR those e-mails from Joyce Wilson to others? Why hasn’t any news media in El Paso looked at why certain members of the last city council already seemed to know how the ball park vote would go? Could go on forever on why the shady dealings that have been going on for years while still being hidden in the shade, but I won’t.
    You’ll probably see at least half the Historic Commission relieved tomorrow with new people taking their place. Most of the applicants who aren’t already on the Commission have been regular attendees at the meetings. I’m betting their applications will be declined and a call will go out to get new members.

  2. Sad to say that today, the County Commissioners destroyed the County Historical Commission. Bernie Sargent, Max Grossman, Joe Nebhan, Rod Linkous, and 6 others were not reappointed. In their place, 9 members of the Commission were reappointed and 16 new members were appointed. There are rumors that some of the 9 reappointed are resigning in protest. Since there is no leadership with the knowledge and connections of Bernie and Max, whoever takes over the leadership of the Commission is starting from scratch. This move effectively destroys or delays ANY work that was in progress for at least the next 2 to 4 years. A terrible injustice was done because the Commission angered the wrong people in this town.

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