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Texas Lobbyists And Lawmakers, All In The Family

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas government's close kinfolk, the Bush family gets hacked, parks from parking lots in Dallas and more.

State government is the family business for three members of the Ratliff family.  Former lieutenant governor Bill Ratliff is now an education lobbyist.  Son Thomas Ratliff is an elected member of the  State Board of Education.  Another son,  Bennett Ratliff, is a House freshman and Republican from Coppell.  

Ramsey calls the Ratliff family a "petri dish" for efforts to keep lobbying and lawmaking from getting too cozy and messy. 

Ramsey says the Ratliffs have an elaborate strategy for how to  dodge land mines:

Bill Ratliff and Thomas Ratliff developed a system. Thomas would let an aide to his father know what legislation he was lobbying, and the aide, without being specific, would keep his father out. When Bill Ratliff was lieutenant governor, the Senate parliamentarian was the gatekeeper, alerting him to hand the gavel to someone else — a senator — when legislation Thomas Ratliff was involved in was up for debate.

Read Ramsey's piece for the Texas Tribune.

  • On the kin token: An investigation has begun after a hacker acquired emails with sensitive information sent between former President George H.W. Bush and his family and friends, a spokesman confirmed. Phone numbers and addresses for Bush family members were put in jeopardy of distribution. And the hacker accessed photos of paintings former President George W. Bush had been working on -- including self-portraits -- sent to his sister. [Houston Chronicle]

  • KERA VP of News Rick Holter and health/science reporter Lauren Silverman were surprised when they didn't find a truly definitive profile of Garnet Coleman, the State Rep. from Houston who shared his experience with bipolar disorder at "Erasing The Stigma" on Tuesday. So KERA's Shelley Kofler did an in-depth piece on the Democrat and his fascinating journey from a dark closet - literally - to influential advocacy for those who've suffered like he has. [KERA News]

  • The City of Dallas is pulling a reverse "Big Yellow Taxi" on multiple urban parking lots they plan to turn into parks. Pacific Plaza, West End Plaza, Carpenter Plaza and Harwood Park are the first projects for this mini paradise initiative. The ultimate hope is to (pretty much) double greenspace in the Central Business district. [Unfair Park]

  • Craft breweries are multiplying in North Texas. Rahr and Sons in Fort Worth and Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas have drawn thick communal followings with a more patient, cerebral appreciation for beer. It all started in Texas with Houston's Saint Arnold's, the first craft brewery in the state. It's where Bobby Mullins of Armadillo Ales (Denton) got his start. Founder-brewer Brock Wagner explains how Saint Arnold's won't rest until they're making an annual 50,000 barrels of beer. [KUHF]