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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Roll your own political videos ... interactive travel maps of your federal and state legislators ... scary movies, to keep the kids out of the border's scary drug wars ... puttting dropouts back in class ... rates squeezing families out of home health care ... how many lobby and trade associations do teachers in Texas need? ... enjoying the silence before an expected two-month siege of political advertising ... the dean of Texas political writers gets shut out of the gubernatorial debates ... and we have an interactive database of the state's best and worst public schools. The best of our best for a short news week, from December 19 to 26, 2009.

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It was a short week, but the political world is busy. Or is about to be.

We started with an offer: If you're running for state political office in Texas, we'll give you 90 seconds of video time on our website to make your pitch. Just tape the video, post it up like Elise Hu instructs, and we'll do the rest. It might even be fun.

The Texas congressional delegation, with a couple of notable exceptions, has been roaming the planet with other folks picking up the tab. Matt Stiles and Niran Babalola put together an interactive map to go with the earlier story by Andrew Kreighbaum. And Dan Leyendecker added a companion piece on travel by state legislators.

Federal officials are showing scary movies to keep teens out of the drug business along the Texas-Mexico border. Brandi Grissom had a story and, with Hu, a video on that topic.

One way to deal with dropouts? Go get them and (try to) give them another chance. Brian Thevenot visited with some schools that are trying to stitch together a safety net.

Ronnie Earle, the former Travis County DA best known for his prosecutions of other public officials, decided to get into the race for lieutenant governor, and Reeve Hamilton asked him why. And taped him.

Hu asked political consultant James Aldrete why the Latino numbers at the voting booth don't match the Latino numbers in the state's population.

Increased rates for home health care are squeezing some Texas families and, as Emily Ramshaw reports, forcing some to choose between staying at home or switching to institutional care.

Abby Rapoport got curious about something that's been sitting, unexamined, in front of everyone in Official Austin: Why do we have four different groups representing school teachers in Texas?

Ben Philpott, watching the governor's race for us and for KUT News in Austin, stared into the calm before the storm — the absence (mostly) of political advertising during the last week of the year.

Texas Monthly's Paul Burka, a fixture in Texas political debates for the last 20 years, won't be on the panel quizzing Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry next month. He got axed for having opinions.

And finally, Brian Thevenot teamed up with Stiles to assemble an interactive database of the best and the worst public schools in Texas. Keep your eggnog ready.

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