The Lead Nov. 2, 2022: Schreiner makes its announcement; No the librarians are not going to be arrested

Speculation about the Kerrville librarians reaches ridiculous levels.

Good morning, Kerr County!

The National Weather Service alleges there's going to be rain today. We're skeptical. That sporadic chance of rain continues through Friday before clearing for the weekend. The weekend forecast calls for sunny and mild.

On today's The Lead Live!

It's wonderful Wednesday, which means Rachel Fitch, but she will not be able to make it today. So, in her place, we're joined by Kerrville Pets Alive President Karen Guerriero. We'll get an update on all of the projects the group is working on in the coming weeks as we head for the end of the year. Join us at 9 a.m.

News and notes

  • Texas Hill Country Bank has stepped up and become the official sponsor of Kerrville's Lighted Christmas Parade!
  • A changing of the guard at JAM Radio, morning radio personality Mikaela Taylor has left Mike-FM to pursue opportunities in Florida.
  • If you see bearded Kerrville Police officers, don't think it's because they lack discipline — they don't. However, more than 20 officers are participating in No Shave November. Each officer paid $25 for the privilege of not shaving; the funds will help the Hill Country Crisis Council.
  • Schreiner University announces its football future at 4 p.m. today at the Junkin Ministry Center.
  • The Schreiner men's basketball team visits UTSA today for an exhibition at 7 p.m. at the UTSA Convocation Center. Admission is free if you want to drive down.

Today's events

Markets and sales

  • 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.

Win and food

  • Wild West Wine Wednesday — Museum of Western Art, 5:30 p.m. Information: The details: Join the representatives from Becker Vineyards for an enjoyable presentation – Plus samples. See and learn about our new exhibit, "Works We Love," featuring Fred Harmon.

Live music

  • Steve Seskin — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 7 p.m. Information: The details: Steve Seskin is a successful songwriter who has written seven No. 1 songs, including Grammy-nominated "Grown Men Don't Cry," as recorded by Tim McGraw, and "Don't Laugh at Me," winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year as recorded by Mark Wills. His other No. 1 hits are "No Doubt About It" and "For a Change," both recorded by Neal McCoy, "No Man's Land" and "If You've Got Love," both recorded by John Michael Montgomery and "Daddy's Money," recorded by Ricochet.

The never-ending culture wars

Rumors were flying Tuesday that the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library librarians were facing arrest over allegedly "naughty" books housed at the rotund Water Street building. Some reached out to The Lead, and we thought they were kidding, but there's some genuine worry that librarians face prosecution.

Now, the Kerrville Police Department received a criminal complaint last week about content at the library. Members of "We The People, Liberty In Action," and other "patriot" groups have cited Texas obscenity laws during public meetings.

The reality of an obscenity prosecution is hard to imagine because it would have to pass the "Miller" test. For the uninformed (see fringe groups above), Miller is Marvin Miller, the California pornographer who faced prosecution for distributing porn. Miller fought his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, where he won a 5-4 decision that conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger decided. The court provided these standards:

  1. Whether the average person, applying contemporary "community standards," would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
  2. Whether the work depicts or describes, in an offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions, as specifically defined by applicable state law and;
  3. Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

No matter your feelings about the books, it's hard to suggest they are pervasively offensive. They are pervasively offensive to a small group, who aren't upset about the sex, but who is having that sex.

But what about the criminal complaint? Here's how the Kerrville Police Department responded: "On Oct. 20, a KPD officer responded to the lobby of the Kerrville Police Department to meet with four individuals regarding complaints about the banned book display at Butt Holdsworth Memorial Library, which took place in September. These complainants reported that they believed the Texas Penal Code had been violated by the display of certain books. An information report was taken along with written statements that the complainants provided. After an initial investigation and review of the information provided and any possible applicable Penal Codes, the investigation indicates no crimes have been committed; however, out of an abundance of caution, the information gathered is being discussed with the appropriate prosecuting attorney's office for any additional legal guidance."

The 216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke told The Lead that she did not know of any impending criminal action. However, don't expect the arch-conservative and "patriot" groups to stop their verbal assault on the library or staff.

Like all censoring matters, as some propose, the history here is long and familiar. Maybe we can get a reading of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" at the next City Council meeting.

Speaking of controversy

The Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 4 p.m. on Thursday, and guess what's on the agenda? Short-term rentals. Six of them.

With new city ordinances in place, the planning and zoning commission is whittling down its conditional use permit public hearings on short-term rentals. The last should be approved in December. That puts an end to the short-term rental battles for the time being — at least until the City Council finalizes another round of permitting regulations.

Hill Country voter turnout is strong

When you look at voter turnout across Texas, it's clear that there is enthusiasm in the deeply red Hill Country counties, with six of the 10 largest turnouts (by percentage) in those counties.

Kerr County is currently ninth and joins Blanco, Llano, Mason, Kendall, Bandera, Kimble, Gillespie and Burnet with early voting and mail-in turnout topping 25%. Blanco and Llano are above 30%. That's certainly good news for the Republicans because that rural voter is a bedrock in its efforts to keep the state red.

Of course, the flip side of this is that 40% of the early votes cast are in five of Texas' largest counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis. The next five largest counties accounted for 16% of all votes. However, there's weakness in El Paso and Hidalgo counties. El Paso, the home of gubernatorial challenger Beto O'Rourke, had an 11% voter turnout, while Hidalgo County had 15%. Both counties went for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

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