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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Stiles on the other important Perry in Texas politics, E. Smith interviews Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Aguilar on the illegal cash moving between the U.S. and Mexico, yours truly on the horse race and other results from the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, Philpott on this year's efforts to turn out Hispanic votes, M. Smith's talks on camera with Judge Sharon Keller about her ongoing tangle with the death penalty, Grissom on a sex offender who's angry about his return to ankle bracelet monitoring, Hu on the Texans in line for hot committee assignments if the Republicans win a congressional majority, Galbraith on a courthouse restoration program that's on the budget chopping block and Hamilton's interview with the co-founder of one of the nation's most successful charter school programs: The best of our best from Oct. 25 to 29, 2010.

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Over the last decade, two Republicans with the last name Perry have dominated the Texas political landscape. One is Rick, the state’s longest-serving governor. The other is Bob (no relation), the state’s largest individual political donor during that time — with no close second. Since 2000, the wealthy Houston home builder has contributed about $28 million to more than 400 candidates and political action committees in Texas, according to an analysis of campaign-finance data by The Texas Tribune. During that time, he's also contributed at least $38 million more to candidates and groups outside of Texas.

An interview with Tom Leppert, the mayor of Dallas, on the challenges of leading the state's third-largest city, why he endorsed Rick Perry despite being a nonpartisan elected official, what he thinks of federal health care reform and whether he'll run for the Senate in 2012.

Each year, billions of dollars are smuggled into Mexico through Texas ports by drug cartels for the purpose of bribing government officials, hiring assassins and purchasing arms. For now, at least, there's not much that the U.S. or Mexican governments can do about it.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads his Democratic challenger, Bill White by 10 points — 50 percent to 40 percent — in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 8 percent of respondents; Deb Shafto of the Green Party gets 2 percent. And: The economy, unemployment and jobs are the most important issues facing the country, according to the new UT/Texas Tribune poll, while immigration and border security top the list of the biggest problems facing the state.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White has spent plenty of time reaching out to the Hispanic voting bloc as part of his strategy to oust Gov. Rick Perry. Republicans have launched their own PAC focused on bringing Latinos under the GOP tent. But the soon-to-be-majority population doesn't appear to be rushing to the ballot box.

The soft-spoken and — until now — media-shy presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals sat down with the Tribune to talk about capital punishment in Texas, what she was doing on the afternoon she closed her office at 5 p.m. to a last-minute death row appeal, the flaws in the way the state sanctions judges, what it's like to be known as Sharon “Killer” Keller and the "ridiculous" idea that she doesn't care about defendants or indigent defense.

Marvin Brown is a convicted sex offender who was released from jail in 1999. Today, he's ill and elderly, suffering from diabetes, stage-four renal disease and congestive heart failure. He's had three mini-strokes in the last two months alone. On good days, he walks with a cane. Other times, he gets around with a walker or an electric wheelchair. But according to Gov. Rick Perry, he poses such a threat to society that he has to wear an ankle bracelet so he can be continuously monitored. Brown says that's a violation of his civil rights, and on Tuesday he filed suit in federal court. "They can't give you freedom and then take it away," he says.

At stake in next Tuesday's elections are powerful committee chairmanships in the U.S. House of Representatives, a few of which will likely go to members of the Texas delegation if the GOP does as predicted and wins back the majority. We've built an interactive chart that takes a closer look at which of our Republican congressmen are poised to wield the gavel — Smith? Hall? Hensarling? Burgess? Barton? — and how public policy could be impacted here and elsewhere.

Since 1999, dozens of county courthouses — some dating to the 19th century — have been spruced up with the help of state funding, and workers have uncovered old artwork or other historic features. But advocates fear that the renovation program will be yet another casualty of the coming biennial budget shortfall.

Mike Feinberg, co-founder of the KIPP charter school network, on why its approach to education reform has flourished in Texas, whether the model can work for any kid or any family and if teachers' unions are really the villain they're made out to be in Waiting for Superman.

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