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Texas News Roundup

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By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says she's just gotten started in her work as the state's chief financial officer and she's running for re-election in 2010.

The Republican made her announcement today -- surrounded by supporters in Austin.

Combs says she's proud of her efforts to make government spending information more open to the public. She also says she'll continue her crackdown on wasteful spending and fraud.

Combs praised lawmakers for not spending the state's Rainy Day Fund in their recently completed legislative session. That account is expected to have $9 billion in it by 2011, when lawmakers may need to tap it.

US House panel holds hearing on Texas judge's crimes

An impeachment lawyer says a Texas judge heading to prison for lying about sexually abusing two women -- also lied to the FBI and Justice Department.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today in Washington on possible impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Galveston.

Kent will soon begin serving a 33-month term related to sexual abuse of two female co-workers. Attorney Alan Baron says Kent was convicted of lying to a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judicial panel. But Baron says Kent also lied to the FBI in December 2007 and to Justice Department officials last August.

Kent plans to resign next June -- but some House members want him out sooner to cut off his $174,000 annual salary and benefits.

His lawyer says Kent's wife recently had a brain tumor and the judge wants to keep their medical coverage.

Brownsville strikes deal with feds on border fence

Brownsville city commissioners have approved a deal to allow the U.S.-Mexico border fence to be built on downtown city land.

But the measure would preserve the possibility of redeveloping the riverfront.

The agreement with Homeland Security was approved last night. It allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to erect temporary fencing on some of nearly 16 acres of Brownsville city property.

If and when the city comes up with money to replace it with something less intrusive, such as a levee wall -- the government will remove the fence.

The Brownsville Herald reports the deal allows the city to continue with plans to redevelop its downtown riverfront and build a bypass for heavy truck traffic.

Mayor Pat Ahumada, who voted against the deal, says the city doesn't know how much it would cost to replace the temporary fence.

Red Cross in Dallas does "what if" tornado disaster film

A new American Red Cross film with a "what if" worst-case tornado disaster scenario is meant to attract resources and volunteers in the Dallas area.

The 18-minute movie called "F5" refers to the designation for the most powerful tornadoes. The film uses fictional characters to show how lives change and what the community can do to help during tornado disasters.

The film premieres tomorrow night at a theater in Dallas, then will be posted on the Internet.

Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster says volunteers produced the film, with help of the Southwest Community of Motion Picture Artists. Some actual tornado video is used. Government research was done after the 1999 F5 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma.