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The Lead Oct. 6, 2021: Facebook gets grilled in Congress; Foster Care homes in Texas to receive more funding

We also provide a breakdown of some of the key events to look forward to this week.


We are looking forward to a big Wednesday on The Lead Live with Fred Henneke coming in to talk about the county's capital improvement plans. We'll also have Britney Lehmann on to discuss the work of the Special Opportunity Center. All of that starts at 9 a.m.


Are you enjoying our content? As our region continues to grow, how will our communities handle the challenges of development, water and preserving what makes the Hill Country special — the natural beauty. These are the stories we are telling daily across our platforms, from our live morning webcast to our email newsletters. So, please consider subscribing to The Kerr County Lead.


Look, we've got a lot going on this month and it's going to be a challenge keeping up with all of it but here goes for the rest of the week:


  • KPUB's Open House, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kerrville Public Utility Board will have an open house in celebration of "Public Power Week." They will be offering "light refreshments," and you might get a free L.E.D. lightbulb. There will be other giveaways as well.
  • The Lead Live, 9 a.m., Delayne Sigerman is the host, and she will chat with Kevin Bernhard of J.K. Bernhard Construction. Clifton Fifer will be joining the show to discuss the opening of the Doyle Community Center on Saturday.
  • Planning and Zoning Commission, 4:30 p.m. We know what you're thinking — this sounds really boring. However, we assure you this is where the sausage of city planning happens. It's always a good time. Chance that commercial real estate guru Bruce Stracke will be asked to speak? We're calling it about an 86.4% chance.


  • Clear your schedules, folks — Bond, James Bond hit the theaters. The final James Bond film with Daniel Craig, who we think is second only to Sean Connery, at the helm debuts on Friday.
  • If you're not going to see James Bond, the Kerrville Farmers Market is probably just as interesting — and there's beer. The farmers market is from 4 p.m. in front of the old Schreiner-Schellhase mansion along Water Street.


  • KPUB's Bucket Truck Ride, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Louis Hays Park. Ever wanted to ride up in the lift in KPUB truck? It sounds like fun to us, but the good folks at KPUB are augmenting the experience with hot dogs, face painting and playing with electricity — literally.
  • The Doyle Community Center's grand opening, 5 p.m. The much-anticipated re-opening of the renovated Doyle Community Center is going to be a remarkable event. Expect a lot of smiling faces on this project.


  • Dedication of Hal Peterson Middle School, 3 p.m., the dazzling new middle school campus is dedicated. Expect a lot of dignitaries.


The hard part about being a one-person operation (for now) is that we can't be everywhere, especially when it comes to sports. However, sometimes it's just nice to go out and enjoy high school sports. On Tuesday night, Ingram Tom Moore High School volleyball snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-0 victory over visiting Austin IDEA. Madi McClintock led the Warriors with 10 kills, while setter Kiley Goodman added 23 setting assists for Ingram, which improved to 2-2 in district play and 11-20 overall.

Ingram's Madi McClintock led the team in kills on Tuesday night against Austin IDEA.


Peterson Health has been under COVID-19 siege since the first of July, and is only now coming out of the worst of it. On Tuesday, Peterson formally announced the postponement of its gala next month to kick off a capital campaign to fund building projects at the Kerrville campus. In a news release, Peterson said they would reschedule the gala for some time in 2022.

The timing comes as Peterson sees a downward trend in cases and hospitalizations. There were 12 people hospitalized on Tuesday, including four in intensive care. Peterson reported seven new cases — that's 24 in two days. Kerrville Independent School District said it had 34 active cases among students and staff.


There are a few ways to look at what happened on Tuesday when you pull back all of the vitriol and finger-pointing. First off, The Lead receives support from Facebook, and we publish through its platform. However, there are issues raised that are important to discuss.

Does Facebook profit from harmful content? Facebook's guilt is around the power of niche, meaning it serves us content that we want to see. In the early days of newspaper websites, serious conversations happened about developing this ability dating back a decade.

One of the interesting arguments you hear from people is that Facebook is a place to find trash. But is Facebook publishing that trash? Nope, our friends and neighbors are publishing it. They're also interacting with that content, which pushes it upward in the company's algorithms.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed some of these issues in a post after whistleblower Frances Haugen spoke in a Congressional hearing, where she urged oversight of the company.

"The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical," Zuckerberg wrote. "We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction."

However, Zuckerberg acknowledged that he is concerned about social media impact on children. An internal study from Instagram found that teenage girls particularly struggled with the images and messages delivered to the platform. While Facebook heavily polices itself against pornography, guns and violence, there are plenty of unsettling elements to the platform that are harder to manage, like bullying or sexualization.

"But when it comes to young people's health or well-being, every negative experience matters," Zuckerberg wrote. "It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I'm proud of the work we've done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further."

And finally, Zuckerberg signaled that there could be some sort of regulatory oversight, but how this would be implemented is very much in the hands of Congress — one that can seem to make decisions very well.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill allocating more than $90 million in funding to help shore up the state's foster care system — one that has been widely criticized, including by federal courts.

The signing was good news for Ingram's Hill Country Youth Ranch, which will see additional funding. All of this comes on the heels of closures of more than 28 care facilities that housed nearly 1,500 at-risk children.

"We are greatly appreciative of any increase in the rate structure," Hill Country Youth Ranch Executive Director Krystle Ramsey. "Like the majority of providers, HCYR cannot operate solely on the State foster care rates and relies on community support to offset expenses. The Texas foster care capacity crisis continues to worsen, and we need more providers willing to fill in the gaps and partner with existing providers to care for children. We need the state to support providers and continue to advocate for adequate rates. This is just the start and the conversation needs to continue."

We are developing this into a broader story with more context from Ramsey later this week.


The New York Times featured a guest column from the University of Texas Professor Steven Pedigo, who argued that Texas is the future of America, but that comes with some caution.

"Here is what you have to understand about Texas," Pedigo wrote. "First, it is growing. It added 4.2 million residents bet67ween 2000 and 2010, and another four million in the last decade for a growth rate of almost 40 percent — double that of the country as a whole."

His main takeaway is that Texas' urban areas are growing at an astonishing rate — data backed up by the 2020 U.S. Census. From 2018 to 2019, 67 Texas cities with 50,000 residents or more ranked among the fastest growing in the country. Leander had a year-over-year growth rate of 12% — No. 1 in the nation. Leander is a suburb of Austin with more than 62,000 residents.

Texas had 14 cities among the top 50 in terms of year-over-year growth. Second place was Florida with six, while Arizona and California had five each. However, this aligns with what Pedigo argues that Texas' growth connects to its major cities.

And that continuing shift in demographics could forever change the state.

"The conservative members of the Texas Legislature might be threatened by diverse cities, but most Texans aren't afraid of them, because 90 percent of them live in or around them," wrote Pedigo, the founding executive director of the L.B.J. Urban Lab and a professor of practice at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

If you'd like to read the entire piece, here you go:


As the previous capsule noted, Texas cities are rising, and the state has 69 now with 50,000 residents or more. Houston is No. 1, and Texas City is No. 69, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. California is still the biggest, with 178 cities with 50,000 or more residents, but 73 cities have more than 100,000 residents.


The legislature moved forward on a bill that better explains the laws for restraining dogs after Gov. Greg Abbott had previously vetoed an earlier version. The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday that there was feeling among members in the legislature that Abbott would sign this latest version that maintains criminal penalties for abusive conditions. Kerrville Pets Alive, like many animal advocacy groups, had expressed shock and frustration to veto the bill, which had broad bi-partisan support. Here's a link to the story:


Thanks to the great "supply-chain" crunch of 2021, Amazon kicked off its Black Friday specials early — as on Monday. Yes, that's right, you're into the third day of the Christmas shopping season on Oct. 6, 2021.

In a news release, Amazon said it has a whole bunch of great deals for shoppers. It was CNBC that noted the supply-chain issues as the chief reason for the early start.

"Major retailers have tried to encourage consumers to start their holiday shopping earlier than usual to ensure their gifts are delivered on time," CNBC reported. "Like Amazon's early holiday push, Target is launching "deal days" online and in stores Oct. 10-12, the company announced last week."

Here's what Amazon had to say about the early start: "We're excited to help customers get great holiday deals even earlier this year, including thousands of small business products," said Dave Clark, CEO, of worldwide consumer, Amazon. "Customers can confidently shop early knowing they are receiving incredible deals starting today, letting them get a head start on their holiday to-do lists so they can truly enjoy the holiday season. And I want to thank our incredible team around the world for everything they do each day to support each other and our customers—I couldn't be prouder to work with you all."


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