Insider

Mixed Returns
GOP conservative activist Steven Hotze enjoyed one of his strongest primary seasons in years, as a group of incumbent GOP judges targeted for removal by Hotze bit the dust. But Hotze's mother Margaret suffered a surprising defeat at the family's home precinct convention when a group of moderates staged a coup as polite as it was successful.

After the polls closed, the insurgents filed into Precinct 269 in the Decorative Center lobby on Woodway and flexed their muscles by passing a resolution requesting that the Republican Party refrain from placing such divisive issues as abortion and opposition to gay rights in its platform. That shocked Margaret Hotze, long a standard-bearer for antiabortion forces in Houston and one of the founders of the Straight Slate back in the '80s to fight gay influence in city government.

According to a member of the mod squad, a confounded Margaret took the microphone and rambled on about how important issues such as abortion were drawing new recruits into the GOP. The insurgents politely heard her out, and when she was finished, voted to replace her with a precinct chair from their own ranks. The revolution had quietly come to Tanglewood.

Steven Hotze fared much better than his mom, as the judicial candidates endorsed by his Conservative Republicans of Harris County trounced criminal district judges Werner Voight and Lon Harper, as well as county criminal court judge Jim Barkley. Mike Fields, the African-American former prosecutor who'd had his picture darkened on Barkley's campaign literature, scored an easy victory over the incumbent. It's the first time in Harris County history that a minority challenger has ousted a white officeholder in the GOP primary, something of a revolution in itself.

Meanwhile, both Hotze and his critics are awaiting the outcome of an investigation by the Harris County District Attorney's Office into the good doctor's complicated campaign finances. Hotze maintains control of both political action committees and private companies that receive payments from candidates he supports. While he won't tip his hand as to what may or may not result from the probe, Assistant District Attorney Chuck Noll says he'll decide by the end of the month whether any prosecutable campaign-law violations occurred.

More Angel Tracks
Former Houston Post editor Gerald Garcia is putting down roots in Houston, and he's looking for investors to fund his communications company, Heartland Communications and Management.

When last we heard of the self-dubbed Angel of Death, who presided over the euthanasia of the city's second daily, he was checking out the University of Houston for possible teaching assignments. But Garcia's obviously thinking much bigger than that these days, as a flier and investor prospectus for Heartland indicates.

The communications and management company aims at operating talk radio stations, producing newspaper supplements and providing communications consulting. Garcia surfaced at a wine-and-dine presentation to prospective Houston investors last week at Cafe Annie.

Heartland is marketing 2.5 million shares of common stock in an attempt to raise $12.5 million to fund new ventures. For just $5 per share, you too can get a little-bitty piece of Garcia's new biz. Other executives in Heartland include Mike Foudy, the host of the America the Beautiful talk show based at a station in McLean, Virginia, the same city that Heartland calls its home base.

Garcia is planning a magazine directed at teenagers that would be electronically transmitted to client newspapers, which would run it much as the Chronicle does its rather lame "Yo!" special section. Oddly, although the Heartland prospectus is dated last month, a picture touting the successful test marketing of the teen magazine shows a cover date of November 1991, four years before the death of the Houston Post.

When we caught up with Garcia, he explained that due to investment regulations, he could not comment on the exciting investment possibilities of Heartland. Our advice to potential investors: Read the fine print very closely.

One Small Victory
Attorneys for the Texas Regulatory and Protective Services and the natural family of three-and-a-half-year-old Franklin Chatman ["Fighting for Franklin," by Tim Fleck, February 26] scored a small court victory last week in their efforts to return custody of the boy from white attorney James Moore to his grandmother Virginia Howard.

Family Court Judge Annette Galik removed a controversial court-appointed ad litem attorney from the case who had reportedly opined to Texas Children's Hospital personnel that black parents' disciplinary methods with children were "developmentally unsound." The ad litem was replaced by Ozell Price, a board-certified family practice attorney who also happens to be African-American.

An administrative judge in Galik's court awarded temporary custody of Chatman to Moore a year ago, and since then, both TRPS and the boy's family have joined a suit to secure his return to his grandmother.

In another development in the case, Houston state Representative Ron Wilson has joined attorney William Lura as co-counsel for Franklin's grandmother as the custody case moves toward a jury trial next month.

Ready to vent? Call The Insider at (713) 624-1483 or (713) 624-1496 (fax), or send him mail the electronic way at Insider@houstonpress.com.

 
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