One of the things that you expect from leaders is to understand the real challenges of governance versus rhetorical hysteria, which does nothing to advance civic dialogue.
Less than a week after the Kerr County Commissioner’s Court suffered a stinging rebuke of their ability to manage the county’s future; two commissioners decided to waste two hours stoking fear and division about LGBTQ+ people.
Those two, Harley Belew and Don Harris, are upset about a handful of library books that they perceive as pornographic or child pornography — how they reached this determination is a logical uncertainty. It’s easy to paint the two as a pair of dopes who spend their time texting during meetings or whose only helpful contribution is discussing the weather. However, these elected officials are paid more than $60,000 annually with benefits. The expectation of actual work is minimal. Instead, they are more focused on cultural wars and virtue signaling rather than trying to fix years of neglect of the county’s governmental infrastructure.
It would be easy to say that Proposition A and B’s defeat is related to a citizenry tax-averse or weary of bond measures, but that’s just part of the story. What should have happened on Monday morning was a careful discussion about what’s next on how to solve the county’s problems with the courthouse and other facilities. To be clear, what happened on Nov. 8 was a referendum on the commissioners’ work. Remember, the decision to place Props. A, B and C on the ballot was a unanimous court decision.
Certainly, many voters opposed bonds because they’re opposed to any form of taxation — but not more than 60%. All three of those bonds should have passed. Instead, Prop. C was the lone winner.
To further hammer the point about the court’s public perception, Rich Paces, the chief opponent of the county’s $27 million bonds and incoming Precinct 2 Commissioner, argued the most unnecessary bond was C — the $5 million plan to build a new animal shelter. Instead, Kerrville Pets Alive and animal lovers turned out and sent a message to the court — that the shelter matters.
So, what are we to make of the Kerr County Commissioner’s Court? Here are a few ideas: term limits and recall power would be nice. We’ve seen it repeatedly from this lot — when there are serious matters, they punt.
We saw no discussion about moving forward in fixing the county’s problems, one that puts employees at unnecessary risk and threatens the county’s ability to recruit and retain future employees.
And that’s what we witnessed on Monday, an embarrassing spectacle of hate speech and idiocy directed at a noble institution — the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library. Devoid of fact and filled with fear, Commissioners Belew and Harris set off in a tawdry effort to humiliate the city of Kerrville, the librarians and those who may disagree with them.
The comedically dumb spectacle featured veiled threats and comments like: “Don’t die on this hill.” Such scary talk.
Belew and Harris probably imagine themselves fighting the forces of wokeness, liberalism and people with pesky pronouns. In reality, they’re fighting against their cherished conservative values — keep the government out of someone’s personal life. But they can’t resist legislating morality, backing a ludicrous suggestion that prosecuting librarians is the answer without consideration of their potential actions.
With Texas’s immense potential at stake, it’s hard to believe that Harris and Belew have a say, but it shows election mistakes are hard to overcome.
(Louis Amestoy is the founder of The Kerr County Lead)