Good morning, Kerr County!
We are almost through the May hot streak before we can experience a cold front on Sunday. And when we say cold front, we mean 88 degrees. That's right, it will still be warm next week, with a chance of thunderstorms on Monday, but we're nowhere out of the woods when it comes to the drought.
On today's The Lead Live!
We welcome back Lynn Niles of Century 21 The Hills Realty. Niles is helping the Board of Realtors host a series of informational meetings about homeownership at the Doyle School Community Center. The latest is on how to qualify for a home mortgage, lending and credit repair. The event is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Today's newsletter is sponsored by:
Today's a big day for local elected officials
Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn will be honored tonight.
Elected officials in Kerrville and Ingram will be sworn-in today during meetings in both communities. Here's today's public meeting schedule:
- Kerrville Independent School District — Kerrville Independent School District offices, 9 a.m. The details: Canvass of the May 7 election results. Trustees Michael Tackett and David Sprouse will be sworn-in.
- Kerrville City Council — Arcadia Live, 6 p.m. The details: Swearing-in ceremony of Mayor-elect Judy Eychner and City Councilmembers Joe Herring Jr. and Brenda Hughes.
- Ingram Independent School District Board of Trustees — Tom Moore High School Theater, 5:30 p.m. The details: The board of trustees will canvass election results and present achievement awards. Trustees Adam Nichols and Wayne McClintock will be sworn-in.
- Ingram City Council — Ingram City Hall 6 p.m. The details: Canvas of election results and swearing-in of Mayor-elect Claud Jordan and City Councilmembers Rocky Hawkins and David Britton.
Bill Blackburn gets a sendoff
As part of tonight's meeting, Bill Blackburn will get a sendoff from city staff, residents and his colleagues on the City Council. Blackburn served two terms as Kerrville's 59th mayor and navigated some of the toughest challenges in the city's recent history — COVID-19 and the 2021 winter storm.
Sharing the Blood Moon Eclipse photos
We had some submissions from readers of their blood moon eclipse photos from Sunday night. What a show, by the way!
Photo courtesy of Judy Lopez.
Photo courtesy of Judy Lopez.
Photo courtesy of Chuck Paul.
Reworking the deal for Killdeer financing, but more jobs are headed to Kerrville
Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing is ready to expand its operations in Kerrville, but it has one big problem — the terms of its deal with Kerrville. In most cases, this would be a story of hiding the kids because the company needs more money, but that's not the case with the North Dakota-based avionics firm.
Killdeer is sitting on a directive from airline manufacturer Boeing to grow its business — by more than 125 employees in the coming year. That's a good problem because those jobs are beyond what Killdeer promised. Killdeer runs into trouble because the company's proposed permanent building — across the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport — is going to be more expensive than planned — basically double.
So, as you can imagine, you'd think Killdeer would come asking for more, but they're not. What Killdeer's bank wants is an equal footing with the Kerrville Economic Improvement Corp., which holds the lien on the project so that it can finance the company's plans. North Dakota-based Dacotah Bank, which expects to finance more than $6 million, also wants changes to the grant agreements to prevent potential clawbacks based on the deal's language.
Killdeer and Dacotah representatives made their presentation Monday afternoon to the Economic Improvement Corp. When Killdeer made their 2020 announcement they were coming to Kerrville, city officials plied the company with a $2 million incentive deal, including loans and grants. However, at the time, the company expected the cost would be about $4 million.
Dacotah Bank's Darin Bullinger said the project's original contractor couldn't do the work and backed out. That led to a re-bid of the renovation of the permanent building, and the prices ticked up. Killdeer has invested more than $650,000 in the location for site work, engineering and architectural plans. The 40,000-square-foot factory is ready for construction, and Killdeer plans to expand that by 30,000-square feet by 2028.
At the moment, Killdeer has 39 full-time employees working out of a temporary 20,000-square-foot location.
Bullinger's main concern is that while Killdeer has heavy demand from Boeing, the company is already behind in its timeline and deliverables. The EIC met in executive session and said they took no action but instructed City Manager E.A. Hoppe to continue to work with the bank and Killdeer on the terms.
On the ride
Kerrville's Richard McAlister has always loved riding bicycles, but it wasn't until the coronavirus pandemic that he realized he wanted to be competitive.
The longtime meteorologist for the American Red Cross, who calls Kerrville home, always dreamed about the Olympics, but that dream was long past. However, as he started to ride more and more, McAlister started turning in some pretty quick performance — adding a germ of an idea.
McAlister was going to compete in cycling. On Monday night, McAlister carried the Texas flag into the FLA Live Arena in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as part of the state's contingent at the Senior National Games — a Master's-level competition for those 50 and over.
This week, McAlister is riding in the 5,000-meter cycling time trial and the 10,000-meter time trial. McAlister is competing in the 55-59 division, and he's looking for a medal. McAlisters earned a bronze in the Texas games in March, and he's looking to improve his performances on Wednesday during the 5K ride, 3.1 miles, and the 10K ride on Thursday — just over 6 miles.
Cruz wins a round in the Supreme Court, but is that a good thing for the First Amendment?
The U.S. Supreme Court (Getty Images).
Texas likes to be center stage in many things, and two Supreme Court cases put the state in the First Amendment spotlight.
The Supremes decided the first one on Monday morning, handing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a victory and another blow to campaign finance reform. In the case, Cruz argued that he should be able to loan his campaign money and pay it back at whatever interest rate he wanted with campaign donations. Ok, that's maybe a bit cynical, but Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said placing limitations on campaign finance inhibits the First Amendment.
Here's how Roberts described it:
"The loan-repayment limitation abridges First Amendment rights by burdening candidates who wish to make expenditures on behalf of their own candidacy through personal loans," Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. "Restricting the sources of funds that campaigns may use to repay candidate loans increases the risk that such loans will not be repaid in full, which, in turn, deters candidates from loaning money to their campaigns. This burden is no small matter. Debt is a ubiquitous tool for financing electoral campaigns, especially for new candidates and challengers. By inhibiting a candidate from using this critical source of campaign funding, Section 304 raises a barrier to entry—thus abridging political speech."
Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, argued that the Federal Elections Commission has a duty to protect election integrity through financial regulation. Here's what Kagan wrote:
"The theory of the legislation is easy to grasp," Kagan said in her dissent. "Political contributions that will line a candidate's own pockets, given after his election to office, pose a special danger of corruption. The candidate has a more-than-usual interest in obtaining the money (to replenish his personal finances), and is now in a position to give something in return. The donors well understand his situation, and are eager to take advantage of it. In short, everyone's incentives are stacked to enhance the risk of dirty dealing."
Cruz had deliberately tested the case to force it into the Supreme Court — unleashing a new wave of election fundraising. Just remember, the Supreme Court has consistently pushed back against limitations to campaign finance based on a First Amendment argument.
Once again, we turn to Roberts to explain the issue:
"A provision of federal law regulates the repayment of such loans," Roberts wrote. "Among other things, it bars campaigns from using more than $250,000 of funds raised after election day to repay a candidate's personal loans This limit on the use of post-election funds increases the risk that candidate loans over $250,000 will not be repaid in full, inhibiting candidates from making such loans in the first place. The question is whether this restriction violates the First Amendment rights of candidates and their campaigns to engage in political speech."
In the other First Amendment case, internet trade groups filed an appeal to Justice Samuel Alito to uphold a court ruling that halted a Texas law that attempts to regulate speech on private social media channels. The U.S. Fifth District Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge's decision to block the law from going into effect. Right now, in Texas, if people feel a tech company is unfairly silencing their voices — they can sue.
When it comes to the First Amendment, there is a belief that government instituting mandates on our speech is problematic. This law, authored during Texas' last legislative session, is a knee-jerk reaction to former President Donald Trump's removal from Twitter and Facebook. It's place in Texas statute raises questions that should trouble all of a reasonable political persuasion. Here's what the brief to Alito says:
"Thus, HB20 would compel platforms to disseminate all sorts of objectionable viewpoints—such as Russia's propaganda claiming that its invasion of Ukraine is justified, ISIS propaganda claiming that extremism is warranted, neo-Nazi or KKK screeds denying or supporting the Holocaust, and encouraging children to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior like eating disorders,'' the brief said. "HB20 also imposes related burdensome operational and disclosure requirements designed to chill the millions of expressive editorial choices that platforms make each day."
Alito can pass this over to the full Supreme Court. This raises the tricky issue that the court visited in 2018 when it narrowly ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who declined to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding. In that case, the baker argued the state of Colorado violated his First Amendment rights by claiming he acted in a discriminatory manner. The baker was simply exercising his right to say no based on his religious belief.
Now comes Texas HB20, with a challenge to social media channels by likening them to a public utility with a must-carry provision. In that situation, the state argues that social media companies have no right to regulate any speech, even as private companies.
The can of worms that will open is troubling, but the temperature of the court seems to suggest that Texas could get a win here. If that happens, social media companies could leave states where they are liable for infringing on the legislated protections. (Full disclosure, The Lead is partially funded by Meta Facebook).
And that's a loss for Texans because of a recent University of Texas at Tyler-Dallas Morning News poll showed that 40% of Texans received their news from Facebook. That means a less-informed public. Of course, returning to cynicism, maybe that's the goal.
Plan the day ahead
- Texas Watercolor Society Annual Exhibit — Hill Country Arts Foundation., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Through June 30. Information: https://www.hcaf.com The details: The Hill Country Arts Foundation is hosting the Texas Watercolor Society's 73rd National Exhibit. This exhibit features watercolor pieces by over forty artists from across the United States. In 1949, TWS was founded by Margaret Pace Willson and Amy Freeman Lee with the mission to advance the art of painting in watercolors, and hold annual exhibitions of watercolor paintings. Today, more than 60 years later, TWS continues to promote the high standards set by its founders. Thus, as a national exhibit, TWS proudly takes its place among the elite watercolor organizations in the nation.
- Heaven's Declare Art Exhibition (Recurring through Saturday) — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. Information: https://www.museumofwesternart.com The details: Featuring works by renowned artists who celebrate the heavens. The exhibition will feature works by Phil Bob Borman, G. Russell Case, Tim Newton, Laurel Daniel, Linda Glover Gooch, David Griffin, David Grossman, Michael Magrin, Denise LaRue Mahlke, Phil Starke and John Taft.
- KACC Exhibits (Recurring through Saturday) — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: https://www.kacckerrville.com The details: "Monday Painters" members of the Monday Artists painters group exhibit, Paintings by Laura Roberts, "Guadalupe Watercolor Group" judged watercolor exhibits by members of the GWG. Artist reception April 30th, 1–3 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
- Genealogy — Guadalupe Basin Natural Resources Center, 2 p.m. Information: 830-377-9940 The details: Nancy McLarry will give a speech on life with the Chickasaw.
Markets and Sales
- Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1–3 p.m. Information: https://kerrvillet.gov/349/FOTL-Book-Sale The details: Looking for a great read? Or better yet, come down and support the work of Friends of the Library. Maybe find a banned book? That sounds like a fun day to us.
- Kerr County Produce Market Day — The Big Red Barn, 10 a.m., Information: 830-896-7330 The details: Kerr County Produce Market Day (The Big Red Barn). Local Hill Country wholesale warehouse distributor for the finest fruits and vegetables. Open to the public.