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The Lead Oct. 26, 2022: Kerrville City Council tackles the P-word in another chat about the library

Things got a lot of testy on Tuesday night at Kerrville City Hall.

Good morning, Kerr County!

The high winds on Monday night and Tuesday morning certainly wrought havoc across Kerr County, including busting a century-old cedar elm tree near Westland Park on Elm Street. Aquatic rodent enthusiast and local physical therapist Russell Nemky was an eyewitness to the collapsing tree — because it was in front of his house. Nemky estimated it to be 120 years old, Kerr County historian and City Councilman Joe Herring said the tree was decades old. Here's the damage:

And by Tuesday afternoon, things warmed up, and it was back to being warm. The rest of the week features a fading chance of rain. There's a 60% chance on Thursday night, but Friday's weather increasingly looks partly cloudy. The weekend looks mild and pleasant.

On today's The Lead Live

Fitch Estate Sales takes over the show to update us on their latest sales, and we'll get a visit from the Riverside Nature Center about their events this weekend.


This week's featured event at Arcadia Live!

Buy tickets here:

Today's events

Wednesday, Oct. 26

Halloween candy

  • Trunk or Treat — Kerrville Church of Christ, 6-7:30 p.m. Information: The details: They will serve hot dogs (while supplies last), candy, games, and more. Wear a costume or wear your daily get-up. Free and open to the public.

Live music

  • Buddy Mondlock — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 7 p.m. Information: The details: Buddy Mondlock is an American musician and songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee, born in Illinois. His most famous song is "The Kid," covered by David Wilcox, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Cry, Cry, Cry.
  • Texana Troubadour Competition — Southern Sky Music Cafe, 6:30 p.m. Information:

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.

College basketball

  • Maroon Madness — Schreiner University, 6 p.m. The details: Meet the 2022-2023 Schreiner University men's and women's basketball teams, who will also hold a skills competition.

What a night at the Kerrville City Council

On a day when one elected official called another a liar, a speaker at a City Council meeting repeatedly used the P-word to describe female genitalia and then there was the Fatmucket. Yup, Kerrville is never boring.

If the virtue-signaling crowd upset about content at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library wouldn't speak, Monday's Kerrville City Council meeting may have lasted about 30 minutes. Instead, the meeting dragged on for about two hours.

Once again, the right-wing fringe group "We The People, Liberty in Action," demanded the termination of Library Director Danielle Brigati, that the library disassociate itself from the American Library Association, suggested the books in the library were going to lead to Earth's imminent destruction.

Part of Tuesday's show was the instigation of two people — Bethany Puccio and Harley Belew. Puccio is a leader of We the People, while Belew — well, he's on the Kerr County Commissioner's Court, representing Precinct 1.

During his morning radio show, Belew accused Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner of lying about the library situation.

"I have a feeling tonight at the Kerrville City Council meeting that the filter is going to get changed," Belew said. "They are going to change the filter; I'm hearing rumors of that. That ought to scare the Mayor of Kerrville. She ought to be scared. She's lied about what's going on at the library. I don't want to say that the librarian has lied about it; she's certainly mischaracterized it. What the banned books week is and the undue influence of the American Library Association."

That accusation came Tuesday morning, at about 8:30 and then at 11:40 a.m. Puccio's group sent out an email to supporters urging them to attend the City Council meeting.

"If we cannot get pornography and pedophilic and sexualized books out of the children's areas of the library — what can we do?," Puccio implored in her email. "They are after our children, and they must not win. Rally again, and let's keep the heat up! Email, call, speak and let's win!"

The runup stress of the meeting was evident, as were the tensions — stoked by Puccio. During her four-minute public comments, Puccio read from the book "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl." Her intent was clear — to shock everyone in the room with the language of the book — a crass conversation between two teenage boys about performing massive amounts of cunnilingus on girls.

Yes, for the first time, the word "pussy" was used over and over again in a City Council meeting — and we're not talking about a James Bond character. The conversation irritated Eychner, who asked Puccio to stop, but that only seemed to inflame the situation.

To put it into context, "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is a young adult novel — found in the teen room at the library. It's a challenged book because it contains candid discussions about sex, but it's also about a teenage girl dying from leukemia.

Ignoring Eychner, Puccio pressed on in her readings, suggesting the book "Out of Darkness," was a disgusting book about rape — it's not. And that's when things got weird because Puccio got applause from her band of supporters. Eychner lost her temper — a bit — and gaveled down, saying she'd remove those who applauded speakers from the Council Chambers.

But there was more. Another speaker, adorned in an Infowars T-shirt (you remember Infowars? The same outfit that just lost some massive lawsuits for spreading misinformation about school shootings), made loud and veiled threats before nearly being removed by Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall for violating his four minutes.

And in the end? Well, nothing happened. The City Council still sits with a 4-1 majority that protects city staff. Now, it's up to the commissioner's court to decide if it will exit an agreement between the two governments that trade animal control for library services.

A precursor of the tensions may have happened in the executive session

To say things are back to being tense among members of the Kerrville City Council is like saying things are tense among Texas A&M football fans.

Before the City Council's meeting started, the group sequestered itself for a performance evaluation of City Attorney Mike Hayes. Councilmember Roman Garcia is no fan of Hayes — stemming from an incident last year over Garcia's persistent habit of suggesting the city breaks laws.

We don't know what the deliberations were like, but when the Council returned to the Council Chambers, there was a 4-1 vote to approve a new contract for Hayes — one of Kerrville's longest-serving employees. Garcia was the dissenting vote.

But wait, there's more!

During the public comments portion, George Baroody spoke to the City Council, essentially accusing City Manager E.A. Hoppe of lying about telling Kerrville Independent School District's board of trustees and the Kerr County Commissioner's Court about the city's plan to implement a public facilities corporation.

Baroody made the rounds last week to inform KISD and the county about the city's plan, which could lead to apartment developments, but here's where things get fuzzy. Baroody said he received acknowledgment from trustees and commissioners that they had no idea about the city plan, but that must have been in private because not one member of those bodies confirmed that in public.

Baroody, however, wasn't done because he then accused Mayor Judy Eychner, along with other members of the City Council, of violating the Open Meetings Act when the mayor and two other councilmembers were at a private party — held at Buzzie's Bar-B-Q, which Brenda Hughes owns. Baroody inferred they were discussing city business and had a "walking quorum."

Baroody suggests that at least three members discussed city matters at a private event. The suggestion irritated Councilmember Kim Clarkson, who asked for guidance from Hayes if they could answer an accusation. While Baroody was quoting the state's Open Meeting handbook, there was one notable element he left out:

"The term does not include the gathering of a quorum of a governmental body at a social function unrelated to the public business that is conducted by the body, or the attendance by a quorum of a governmental body at a regional, state, or national convention or workshop, ceremonial event, press conference, or the attendance by a quorum of a governmental body at a candidate forum, appearance, or debate to inform the electorate, if formal action is not taken and any discussion of public business is incidental to the social function, convention, workshop, ceremonial event, press conference, forum, appearance, or debate."


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