Dear Media and Friends,
The El Paso County Historical Commission is down to only about a dozen members, the lowest number in more than 20 years. In fact, making a quorum has become a serious challenge.
Among those who recently resigned is Dr. Nancy Gonzalez, who had been the Vice-Chair and refused to oppose the demolition of Duranguito. (In spite of her efforts, this past November the Historical Commission voted 9-1 in support of preserving the historic barrio.)
The low membership certainly does not stem from a lack of leadership. Chair Barbara Welsh has done an extraordinary job of leading the group and has actively supported several important initiatives. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about her and her able colleagues.
But why are so few El Pasoans volunteering to join the group?
One of the primary reasons is because Vince Perez is still the County Commissioner of Precinct 3, although he is facing a runoff election July 14 in which Iliana Holguin will hopefully unseat him.
In a malicious act of cowardice, Perez wrote a letter to District Attorney Esparza on January 5, 2016 in which he accused members of the County Historical Commission, including myself and Bernie Sargent, of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act (over a single email) and urged a criminal investigation, even though the County had failed to educate the commissioners about the Act as required by law. The Texas Rangers declined to interview the commissioners and ultimately terminated the investigation since there was no basis for Perez’s allegations.
During the “investigation”, Vince Perez and Veronica Escobar led an effort opposing the reappointment of several members of the Commission, who were duly humiliated by the El Paso Times under the direction of their friend Bob Moore. The newspaper painted Sargent and me as criminals and ignored our combined 25 years of service on the Commission, which won awards from the THC every single year under our leadership.
So who in his right mind would join the Historical Commission with Vince Perez on the Commissioners Court?
What if he again uses his office to persecute historians and other professionals?
Perez is a menace.
If Holguin defeats him in July, I have no doubt that many qualified El Pasoans will volunteer to serve on the Historical Commission again.