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County Historical Commission Chair resigns: 'It's no longer about history, it's about politics'

EL PASO, Texas - Recently appointed County Historical Commission Chairman Joseph Nebhan resigned at Tuesday's meeting.

"The historic commission is no longer about history or the preservation. It's about politics and legalities, we can't do our job," Nebhan told ABC-7, "This is a volunteer organization and it's so orneriness on us. We can't do anything, we cant talk to anyone. It's a very heavy handed management."

The County Historical Commission underwent some major changes in Feb. after County Commissioners voted to reappoint only nine of its 21 members.

Most notably, the court did not bring back chairman Bernie Sargent, and vice-chair Max Grossman, who had a combined 25 years of experience on the board.

The two were also major advocates for preserving the Duranguito neighborhood from being demolished to make way for the new Downtown arena.

County Judge Veronica Escobar released the following statement to explain why those members were not retained:  "All members of the Commission have been very dedicated and passionate members, and the commissioners court is very grateful to them for their service. For the two most visible members, Bernie Sargent and Max Grossman, it was an issue of confidence for me. While I am grateful for their volunteer work, information provided to us made me believe it was time to move forward with new members."

Nebhan, a downtown property owner, told ABC-7 in February, "It's a shame the commissioners court took the action they did, but they're the boss, and we have to do what the boss says."

At the time, Nepham told ABC-7 the court's decision to remove the members was due to the group's Texas Open Meetings Act Violation when it conducted an online vote.

"The commission was moving forward wonderfully until this procedural error," Nepham said. "The walls came tumbling down."

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