TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 7/18/11

Ramshaw on the lioness of the Texas House, Dehn and Tan review 20 years of Rick Perry's political ads, Murphy's latest database includes the governor's political accounts over the last decade, Aaronson's visualizations of what was said in the biggest legislative debates, M. Smith on the woman in the middle chair at the State Board of Education, Galbraith on how the drought is forcing ranchers to sell their herds, Grissom has the story on a cattle rustler who's asking the courts to give him an old-fashioned sentence, Hamilton covers Rick O'Donnell's latest salvo at higher education,  Aguilar on whether and how the sanctuary cities issue will translate at the ballot box next year, yours truly on Ron Paul's candidacy and the candidate in his own words: The best of our best from July 18 to 22, 2011.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman

Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s almost 40-year House tenure is defined by her impassioned and effective defense of the underserved. But her legislative career is peppered with occasional paradoxes, from the campaign contributions she's received from strip club operators to the industry-friendly bills she has carried for energy giants.

Reviewing 20 years of Rick Perry's political advertising reveals his metamorphosis as a public figure — and why he could be an effective national candidate. 

Use our news application to search campaign donations to Gov. Rick Perry from 2000 to 2010 to see who has financially supported the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

The Trib captured every debate, tirade and joke uttered into the mikes in the House and Senate during the 82nd legislative session in our online transcripts. Our latest data apps help you identify when important debates occurred by visualizing the frequency of keywords.

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Supporters say the new chairwoman of the State Board of Education is a mild-tempered, fair leader who is well suited to oversee the fractious board. Her critics say she is a culture warrior who injects her religious and political agenda into classrooms.

The third-worst drought in Texas history has made it hard for ranchers to find hay, and sometimes water, for their cattle. So they are selling them off — and finding eager buyers from rainier states like South Dakota.

Convicted cattle rustler Roddy Dean Pippin wants a Texas court to string him up in the Hardeman County square and let him hang for his crimes rather than remain in prison until the state says he will be released.

A new sure-to-be-controversial analysis of faculty productivity data from UT and A&M argues that the institutions' employment practices resemble “a Himalayan trek, where indigenous Sherpas carry the heavy loads.”

The contentious sanctuary cities legislation debate left a bitter aftertaste for some Texas Latinos, but will it translate into change at the ballot box next year? 

Ron Paul has been a national figure for so long that it’s easy to forget he’s one of ours. You know. Texan. And in a TT Interview, the U.S. representative on his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, candidates who have adopted some of his ideas and a potential candidate he's never met.

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