All I Want for Christmas Is...

A shopping list for your favorite political types

• Commissioner-elect Sylvia Garcia: A buried-treasure map to find the locations of all the county employees and equipment hidden away over the years in Precinct 2.

• County Judge Robert Eckels: A job counselor to help him decide what he wants to do when he grows up, and a bodyguard to protect him from bullies like Commissioner Steve Radack.

• County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt: The next rung upward on his political career ladder, plus an acting coach to give him some depth beyond that bland Goody Two-shoes image. It makes Fred MacMurray seem cutting edge by comparison.

Gift suggestions for the politicos
Gift suggestions for the politicos

Walk Softly and Carry a

Big Husband!

Two Houston appellate judges are hopefully waiting for a Christmas gift from Governor Rick Perry. Justices Adele Hedges and Sherry Radack of the First Court of Appeals both covet the chief justice position vacated by Mike Schneider when he moved on to the Texas Supreme Court. Both women have prominent Republican husbands who are trying to help them get it.

In Adele's corner is Dan Hedges, the trim and dapper former U.S. attorney and supporter of President George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Sherry has more beef and bluff with her spouse, hulking County Commissioner Steve Radack.

Both of the Hedgeses drew some unwanted spotlight in August, when Adele interviewed for the job with Perry appointments secretary Ken Anderson. During that same visit to Austin, Dan blasted Perry's Democratic opponent Tony Sanchez for his ownership of the failed Tesoro Savings. That led Sanchez to accuse Perry of bartering the chief justice judicial appointment to Adele in exchange for her husband's campaign attack. Adele and Dan denied there was any link.

A GOP judicial source says Commissioner Radack's support for his wife may also have drawbacks. Last summer, Judge Elsa Alcala was appointed by Perry to the First Court of Appeals, and Anderson -- concerned about the lack of Hispanic judges in the county -- pushed for the appointment of another minority to Alcala's vacant state district bench. Sheriff Tommy Thomas and Commissioner Radack instead backed the sheriff's son, Tommy Brock Thomas Jr., for the position and won over Governor Perry. That didn't gain Radack any brownie points with the gubernatorial staffers, who were more concerned with currying minority support for Perry than indulging Harris County nepotism.

Further complicating the current contest for the chief justice appointment is the fact that Sherry has a clean judicial record, whereas Adele botched a 1996 appellate opinion. She upheld the conviction of a Houston police officer in the high-profile shooting death of a black woman, Ida Lee Delaney, in 1989. Hedges mistakenly used facts presented in the first trial of the officer to justify the conviction obtained in a second trial. For example, she cited extensive testimony by the defendant, Alex Gonzalez, despite the fact he never took the stand in the second trial.

"Anderson isn't doing back flips to appoint Radack's wife," says our source, "but on the other hand Hedges' wife put phony facts into an opinion in this very important case. So the governor's really facing a conundrum."

Our suggested solution: When Santa Claus comes flying through Austin on Christmas Eve, the governor's elves should deposit the hot-potato appointment on his sleigh and let the bearded one decide which judge gets the prize.

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