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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Thevenot on the abysmally low community college graduation rate and higher ed's coming budgetary winter. Ramshaw on Terri Hodge's guilty plea and hasty exit. Grissom on the Department of Public Safety's use of dreaded federal stimulus funds to plug a hole in the state's border security budget. Hu on the first of the intraparty face-offs in our Primary Color series. Ramsey and Stiles on the congressional candidates with the most money on hand. Ramsey on whether Farouk Shami's accent and name are an obstacle to his election. Aguilar on the fever-tick epidemic overwhelming South Texas. Rapoport on TxDOT's hard road and the State Board of Education's lack of finance expertise. Philpott on how Barack Obama's budget will impact Texas. M. Smith on whether lawyers giving to judges is a good thing. Hamilton on the latest transportation innovations on the drawing board. The best of our best from February 1 to 5, 2010.

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Few members of the State Board of Education have finance expertise. Should we be concerned that they manage the investments of the $23 billion Permanent School Fund?

The worst outbreak of fever-tick infestations in South Texas in four decades has ranchers and animal-health officials scrambling to prevent not just a loss of billions to the state cattle's industry but an outright ban on our cattle.

Feeling blue over paltry federal funding for high-speed rail? Forget about it. Two Austin visionaries are already looking ahead to the next transportation innovations.

Even if 84 percent of Americans believe judges should not hear cases from major campaign contributors, the big Texas law firms that have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to them over the last ten years see nothing wrong with business as usual.

Community colleges pitch themselves as the gateway to prosperity for masses of lower-income and minority students who've been historically shut out of higher education. Trouble is, despite ever-increasing enrollment numbers, few of them graduate.

A clash over a beloved campus music club at UT-Austin portends the gnashing of teeth at schools statewide as a budgetary winter threatens to envelop higher education.

What happens in Washington doesn't stay in Washington. Lawmakers, industry leaders and special interest groups are studying President Obama’s 2010 budget to figure out how spending cuts and other changes at the federal level could impact Texas.

State Rep. Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, dropped her reelection bid to plead guilty to lying on a tax return. But it's too early for Eric Johnson, her West Dallas-born, Ivy League-educated primary opponent, to claim victory.

Farouk Mohammed Shami, who's running for governor as a Democrat, has a strong Middle Eastern accent and a strange name. Some of his fellow Democrats are loathe to talk about it. He's not worried.

Lawmakers are still perturbed at TxDOT, but the state's transportation agency is trying to do better. The first step, says one commissioner: Figure out how to meet the transportation needs of Texas citizens — which it's not doing.

The six Texas congressional candidates who ended the year with $1 million or more on hand are incumbents. Only two of the candidates with the 20 biggest bank accounts are not.

State Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, and former State Rep. Borris Miles are vying for the same Texas House seat for the third time: The first intraparty face-off in our Primary Color series.

The Department of Public Safety, which is struggling financially, is planning to use $16 million of the federal stimulus dollars that Gov. Rick Perry begrudgingly accepted to plug a hole in the border security budget.

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