Hotze's Blue Angels

Not-so-divine DWI help arrives for a conservative kingmaker

McClellan "dismissed it when we lost our key witness," says Rosenthal. "But now we've got our key witness back, and I think Lyn intends to pursue it."

Exactly when that might happen is another question. McClellan reports he is tied up in a major felony case and does not want to refile against Hotze until he has time to try the DWI case himself. He's also checking to make sure witness Adams is back in good standing with HPD.

Asked why he couldn't find another assistant D.A. capable of handling the DWI trial, normally a Prosecutor 101 assignment, McClellan laughed.

Hotze at his booking: He kept his license when a cop was a no-show.
Courtesy of the Houston Police Department
Hotze at his booking: He kept his license when a cop was a no-show.

"That's what the judges always say," responds McClellan, who indicates a DWI against Hotze is not a run-of-the-mill matter. "I just feel an obligation to handle this case along with the chief of the court ... by [the media] asking about it, that's one of the reasons I'm handling it."

Hoof and Mouth?

Real estate businessman Michael Berry is one of the City Council candidates out on the hustings, running for the Position 4 At-Large seat being vacated by mayoral candidate Chris Bell. Berry says he has the support of several movers and shakers, including Bob Lanier and Ben Love.

Berry is also bucking some precampaign turbulence, including claims that he told a pregnant political consultant that her condition ruled her out for the job of running his race. It's a charge Berry denies.

Veteran consultant Nancy Sims says Berry left a message on her phone last December saying her pregnancy "troubled him." He had concerns that impending motherhood and her other campaign clients would prevent her from adequately representing him, she says.

"I was outraged," Sims says. "I've been in the business for 11 years, and I've always managed my business well and handled multiple clients. To say that becoming a mother would change my business, or that I wouldn't be the same consultant I've always been, was just insulting and something of a chauvinistic attitude."

Sims claims she'd already had problems with Berry because he was telling people he'd hired her before they'd ever even talked. It was after she had called him to arrange a meeting that Berry left the message that he'd hired conservative Republican consultant Denis Calabrese.

Berry says political opponents cooked up the accusation that he dumped her because of her pregnancy. "What I said was there was a number of factors that influenced me not to use her." He says she was handling Bell's candidacy, and he had heard from several people, including Chronicle writer Julie Mason, that Sims was retiring.

Sims says one of her clients, Councilman Gordon Quan, had told Berry months ago that the retirement rumors weren't true about Sims.

(In the interest of full disclosure, The Insider must reveal that he has known Sims since her days in the Kathy Whitmire administration nearly 20 years ago and considers her a good friend. Also, Sims and hubbie Chris Pando delivered a healthy seven-pound, 9.6-ounce son, Hunter Bryan Pando, last week at St. Luke's Hospital.)

Another hopeful making waves is former council aide Johnny Soto, who is considering running for the District I seat of term-limited Councilmember John Castillo, his former boss. In a rather offbeat e-mail circulated to friends last week, Soto denied he'd been fired from that job.

"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated," wrote Soto. He noted that some unnamed people were having "Johnny Got Fired" happy-hour parties.

"The reality is that I resigned on my own free will leaving an office that was suffering from hoof-and-mouth decease" [sic].

As for his political plans, Soto struck a note as uncertain as his punctuation: "Speaking of running, the next phase would be to run for council.still polling that question. So far. if I run, I win,. hmmm?. ponder..ponder..."

Soto later e-mailed The Insider to say that his criticism was directed at Castillo staffers rather than the councilman. "Now this is like a bitter divorce," explained Soto, "because this is politics."

Councilman Castillo had a different take on Soto's departure. He says Soto pulled a Cheshire cat act, gradually disappearing without giving notice or resigning.

"Basically, he just quit coming to work," says Castillo. "We marked him off for time sick, and the rest of the time we marked him off on vacation. But it got to the point where this is my last year, I've got a lot of work to do, and I need all able hands on deck. I just had to terminate him."

As for that stuff about office "hoof and mouth decease," the councilman professes to "have no idea what that means."

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