Good morning, Kerr County!
We’re almost there — Super Bowl Weekend is coming fast. If you watch our morning show, you may have heard us discuss that we’re fans of the Los Angeles Rams, but we’ve got a sneaky feeling about Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow pulling off another upset. Of course, if you’re a Texas High School football fan, it will warm you to know that the Lone Star leads the way with 16 players represented on the rosters of the Bengals (7) and Rams (9). The Rams’ veteran quarterback, Matthew Stafford, could become the fourth quarterback from a Texas high school to win a Super Bowl — who are the other three? Read the answer at the end of the newsletter. Stafford, by the way, was a high school standout at Highland Park.
How about that weather?
Last week was a mess. Today? How about 69 and sunny. That’s right; we’re looking at sunny and pleasant for the next week!
On today’s The Lead Live
Delayne Sigerman takes control of the show, and she’ll chat with John Bull from Hill Country Regional Public Defender Office. Delayne will also cover her usual topics, including her new favorite wine and her latest recipe. The show starts at 9 a.m.
In case you missed our Wednesday show
On Wednesday, Rachel Fitch was our guest, the first of her regular appearances each Wednesday to discuss her various businesses and observations. It was a lot of fun to chat with Fitch.
Things to do today
Chocolate Truffle Creations
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library
Gifting chocolate is a beloved tradition on Valentine’s Day. Join library staff for a Valentine’s Day program that satisfies your sweet tooth with easy-to-make, no-bake chocolate truffles! Indulge yourself or decorate a few for a gift. All supplies are provided! This event is free and open to the public.
Live music by Summer Nicole
Thirsty Thursday Trivia Night
Arcadia Live, Kerrville
Trivia Night at The Boat
The Boat Oyster Bar and Grill, Kerrville
Come and join The Boat for its first Trivia Night. Prizes and drink specials, and Schreiner Alumni "Professor Sparky" to host. Bring your team.
About that City Council Meeting
If there is certainty in our lives right now, it’s that the Kerrville City Council is not dull — ever.
That proved itself again on Tuesday night during a mammoth meeting that covered huge topics. Still, it is two issues that we keep coming back to — the public safety general obligation bond and the municipal election schedule.
And both of these involve a serious disconnect in civic discourse. While the “Let Us Vote” crowd continued to deflect that it wasn’t trying to defund the police, their consistent pushback against the public safety building suggests their only purpose was to deny Kerrville police and public safety professionals a quality place to work.
Once again, conspiracy theories and suggestions of dirty dealing seem to be at the heart of the matter. It has become almost a regular expectation that gadfly George Baroody will accuse the City Council, City Attorney Mike Hayes and City Manager of E.A. Hoppe of malfeasance. City Councilman Roman Garcia has echoed this theme in his rhetoric around the Quixotic attempt to move the municipal election to November because of vagaries about the city charter and the Texas constitution. Baroody continued his quest by implying that the Texas Secretary of State’s office supported his assertion that Kerrville would violate the law by holding its election on May 7. Garcia said during the meeting that there was correspondence from the secretary of state, but in reality, it was just a letter from Baroody suggesting he had support.
Accusations of a lack of transparency permeate the City Council meetings, but the real lack of transparency has been on the part of the opposition. Granted, the city of Kerrville screwed up the messaging on the public safety building early on, but the outright lies told to voters about the city’s debt situation remains one of the more troubling elements in recent city politics. It exposed a thin state law that allows a vocal minority to torpedo public works projects with the bare minimum of support.
However, the night’s biggest whopper was from Barbara Dewell. As a public safety building committee member, Dewell helped shape a $45 million facility plan to house the police department, fire administration, municipal court, and information technology department.
Dewell presented a mega flip flop on the issue by saying she supported the building but said she didn’t sign off on the final presentation because she viewed it as a “gold-plated wish list.”
“Contrary to the media accounts, the committee had met five times,” Dewell said. “That was a very limited amount of time.”
We're not sure what media accounts she’s talking about, but Dewell spent plenty of time asking about the land for the project during the meetings. However, as committee chair John Harrison said during Tuesday’s meeting, there was no directive from the City Council to discuss site selection because it’s a confidential process.
The committee’s purpose was to determine the scope of the building, including the feedback from the new police and fire chiefs. Dewell was right about one thing — it took a public records victory by The Lead, and possibly others, to release the city’s 2019 study about the public safety building. The study showed the city didn’t have a good plan, probably needed more money to pay for an adequate building and then COVID-19 happened.
Baroody commented on The Lead’s Facebook page that the city mysteriously removed the project from the capital facilities plan heading into 2020. The more likely scenario is the plan was shelved for two reasons — COVID-19 and it wasn’t a good plan.
t also coincides with three other issues — a new police chief, new fire chief and adoption of building codes that required changes in the city’s plan. All of this was clear during the committee meetings. The “Let Us Vote” crowd said it wasn’t included in the process, but that’s not true.
If the City Council has been allowed to issue certificates of obligation to begin the process we might be having a very different conversation today, because the City Council would have had the land to construct the new building.
Instead, we have a circuitous conversation about the cost of the building, along with whining about the escalating costs. To make it an even better story we return to Baroody’s whining about the cost to taxpayers without recognizing he’s partially responsible for driving those costs up.
More from the City Council
Kerrville Fire Chief Eric Maloney honored the work of his emergency medical responders during October’s fatal drag racing that left three dead, including two children. At least seven others were injured, three critically. Maloney highlighted the efforts to form a unified command to deal with the crash at the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. The EMS workers were given a standing ovation.
- Maloney led a presentation about the city's response to the winter storm last week, saying most of the city's biggest problems were related to calls for service on Interstate 10. Police Chief Chris McCall said the city asked the Texas Department of Transportation to close Interstate 10 on Thursday due to the hazardous conditions. TxDOT denied that request. Later Thursday night, there was a weather-related crash on the freeway that led to the death of a Kerrville resident.
- Finance Director Julie Behrens spoke about a mid-year budget amendment due to increased sales tax collection and federal COVID-19 relief funds. The city would give city employees a 5% cost of living adjustment and give raises in some areas where the city is competitive in retaining talent.
- Behrens provided a nugget that as many as 100,000 people could come to Kerrville to see an annular eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023 and a total solar eclipse in April of 2024 — both will best viewed in Kerrville. In turn, the city is spending $50,000 anticipating the expected crowds for the eclipses. The eclipses are already dubbed "The Great Texas Eclipse." Other Texas Hill Country communities are already planning for the event, including Dripping Springs, which is advertising its a top spot to see the action.
- That money the city will receive from the controversial American Rescue Plan Act will likely help pay for a new $2.8 million radio system for police and fire departments. The city expects to get a better deal by purchasing the system with the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Answer to our trivia question
The other Super Bowl champion quarterbacks produced by Texas high school football are Drew Brees with New Orleans, Nick Foles the Philadelphia and Patrick Mahomes with the Kansas City Chiefs. Brees and Foles both played at Austin Westlake. If Stafford wins on Sunday, Texas QBs will tie California and Pennsylvania for most Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.