During Monday morning’s meeting of the Kerr County Commissioners Court, Harley Belew made a motion to terminate the county’s emergency declaration that has been in place since March 24. After a lengthy discussion, the motion failed for lack of a “second,” meaning no other commissioner agreed with Belew on this matter. An abbreviated video of the exchange is available below, and the full video is linked in the references.
Even though the motion failed, the discussion is enlightening because it gives us a chance to see how the court feels about the current governmental response and responsibilities around COVID-19. The commissioners continued their practice of sitting somewhat distant from each other but didn’t appear to be at least six feet separated. County Judge Rob Kelly was the only member of the five-person court to wear a protective mask. The video did not show the audience, so it’s unclear how many people were in attendance.
At one point, Commissioner Belew, who hosts a far-right radio program, injected what sounded like radio banter into the proceedings. In a response to Judge Kelly’s comment that the county could face legal liability if jail inmates became sick, Mr. Belew responded, “Anything’s possible, I guess. When a man can be a woman because he puts on a dress, I suppose anything’s possible.”
Later, Mr. Belew addressed the audience in the courtroom, pounded the table, and stated, “If we keep going down this road, folks, we’re gonna have the government telling us that if it’s 55 degrees or below, you gotta wear a coat… At some point, you have to put your foot down and say, ok, I’ve had enough of it.”
Referring to caring for inmates in the jail, Mr. Belew asked Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer, “I know it’s an inconvenience, but how is this different form everything else you have to take care of?” To which Sheriff Hierholzer responded, “It’s major. It needs to be discussed in executive session.”
Judge Rob Kelly stated, “We are about to go through a very critical transition.” Earlier in the meeting, Judge Kelly also stated, “It is not time to let our guard down.”
The motion that Mr. Belew made at the beginning of the exchange failed for lack of second.
Full Meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pluRY7tCPY