The Lead Sept. 30: The real reason for Kerrville City Council's tensions

A pre-meeting workshop turned into a bit of a mess on Tuesday.


We're having a big conversation at 9 a.m. today with Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly about the county's plans to build new buildings and replace aging facilities. Delayne Sigerman and Brucke Stracke will also be on hand this morning for the discussion. It's also the last day of September.

In other items of interest:

  • We dug back through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission website and discovered that Hilltop Village, a Kerrville nursing home, had three COVID-19 deaths of patients earlier this month. The nursing home had weathered the COVID-19 crisis last year better than some, but it had a significant outbreak in the first two weeks of September. Based on our research, 33 people have died from COVID-19 in Kerr County since Aug. 1 — that's 11 more than the Texas Department of State Health Services reports.
  • For those of you skeptical about electric vehicles, a flood of new pickup trucks may change your mind. Ford Motor Co. has already reserved more than 120,000 electric models of its F-150 model — the most popular pickup truck in the nation. In addition, the company is expanding its manufacturing capabilities for electric vehicles in Tennessee and Kentucky. While Ford was making its moves, electric truck manufacturer Rivian rolled out its first truck last week. The company has funding from Ford and Amazon. It's an interesting turn of events, and some are heralding it as the beginning of the electrified future. What do you think?

  • In case you missed it, we had a great conversation on Wednesday with Kerr County YMCA CEO Greg Peschel, who also serves on the Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees. Like many of his friends, Peschel found himself back in Kerrville, where he went to high school. However, he can't imagine being anywhere else and he's enjoying his work on the school board. We also chatted with Kerrville musician Konrad Wert, who goes on the road as Possessed by Paul James, about his epic road trip that starts tonight in Tyler, Texas. Wert will hit 16 cities in the next 21 days, covering 13 states and more than 5,000 miles. Watch it here:


Tuesday night's tense Kerrville City Council meeting resulted from a contentious final 40 minutes of a workshop that preceded the regular meeting at the Cailloux Theater.


The City Council convened for a 4 p.m. workshop, ahead of the 6 p.m. meeting, to discuss proposed ethics and rules governing the Council. However, when Place 1 Councilmember Roman Garcia balked about discussing the items in the workshop, saying he wanted to talk about them in the regular meeting, the Council squared off with accusations that Garcia was ducking longheld processes.

Councilmember Brenda Hughes said it was Garcia's idea to have this discussion in December — something Garcia admitted was a mistake — and that he told her he didn't care if the ethics and procedures review happened in a workshop or regular meeting.

"I was planning on doing this in a workshop in December," Hughes said. "To hear now that you don't even want to have a discussion unless it's in the regular meeting, I find that just a little counter-conducive to your statements that we could address it in a workshop, which is what you said when you asked for sponsorship."

There were several things at play here.

  • Garcia asked Hughes to co-sponsor the agenda item, outside of a procedure to place items on the agenda at the end of regular council meetings. That move is allowed if there is a co-sponsor.
  • It appears there is a looming battle over the use of workshops as a way for the Council to conduct non-voting business.
  • There was a question about Garcia's use of a personal laptop during meetings. Each member of the City Council is issued a city-owned iPad to access agendas and other city documents during meetings. Garcia has a personal Apple laptop with him at meetings. All in-meeting communications are subject to public records requests.
  • Clarkson addressed a previous effort by Garcia to read into the record two letters that were critical of the City Council that falsely accused the councilmembers of criminal conduct. Clarkson said the Council should refine its civility policy.
  • And what appears to be a fractured City Council.

Garcia defended his decision on holding off on his discussions until the regular meeting.

"We did have a discussion before about the frequency and use of our workshop, and one of the statements that I made in that meeting was the fact that if we have an item on our workshop agenda, as well as the very next regular meeting agenda, I'm not usually in favor of having all of the discussion happen there and then taking action in the regular meeting," Garcia said. "In the spirit of everything, we should be transparent and open."

That last statement caused Clarkson to cut Garcia off.

"This is a transparent and open meeting," said Clarkson, adding it was appropriate to discuss items in a regular workshop, which is a public meeting.

"Excuse me, Councilor, I'm still talking," Garcia said to Clarkson.

Garcia's comments raised the concerns of Place 3 Councilmember Judy Eychner.

"Councilman Garcia, this is the time to discuss and to give us an idea of the things are proposing to change," Eychner said.

Mayor Bil Blackburn attempted to remedy the situation by urging discussion about the rules and procedures. However, the damage was already done.


The Kerrville City Council is trying to dig its way out of a tricky situation by removing memorial bricks downtown. Earlier this summer, the city took out bricks that residents in the early 1990s purchased to serve as dedications or memorials to loved ones. However, the move generated a lot of anger from those who said they bought the bricks believing they would be there forever.

During Tuesday's City Council workshop, city analyst Megan Folkerts laid out the situation — brick-by-brick. Folkerts explained that city records dating to 1993 presented no claim perpetuity to those who spent $50 for the bricks. The money raised was spent to install the star in the middle of the intersection at Earl Garrett and Water streets.

The challenge is that a lot of the records are vague — and all of them are paper. The city is also in consideration for a community development block grant from Texas to improve downtown sidewalks, which would require the removal of the bricks anyway. In turn, the City Council is faced with relocating the remaining bricks — originally 3,035 engraved bricks — to another location. The leading candidate is possibly Arcadia Live, where they would be mounted to a wall on the east side of the theater. The Council seemed to like this option because it would potentially protect the bricks. City officials estimated more than 300 bricks had become worn and damaged, creating unsafe conditions along the sidewalks.


During a Sept. 20 meeting of Kerrville's Economic Improvement Corp., Arcadia Live was granted $200,000 in funding, but the EIC board unanimously voted it would only give the theater another $200,000 if it found matching funds.

The Arcadia Live board of directors, led by Larry Howard, the board president, made its case to the EIC that it needed an additional $400,000 to pay down debt service and ensure programming. The ask seemed to catch the EIC board off guard, who raised concerns about the theater's business model.

"I'm not convinced it's going to work," said EIC vice president Danny Almond, who raised the first objection about the funding request. "I hope it does. Another presentation based on where they are, based on the financials in six months. We are going to help the theater, and that's good, but I think we ought to go a little slow and be sure that things are still progressing."

Howard said Arcadia Live had met its benchmarks set by the EIC for programming and funding as part of $600,000 invested in the revitalization project to the historic theater.

However, there was near unanimity in the EIC board's guidance in wanting to see ongoing fundraising by the Arcadia Live board to ensure financial stability.

"The money EIC invested in this theater is working," Howard said. "We have a board committed to it, and the money that you approve here will assure that additional programming will go into this theater, which is vital."

The agreement approved by EIC grants Arcadia Live $200,000 almost immediately and another $200,000 when it shows it has met the matching requirement.

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