Electoral Gift

There's nothing a candidate for public office likes better than a glowing profile right before Election Day. Last year it was Mayor Lee Brown being feted by the on-board magazine of Houston-based Continental Airlines (which more recently delivered a kiss-up to Governor Rick Perry). Now it's Family Court Judge Annette Galik's turn.

The free glossy monthly Houston's Best has proudly announced that Galik will be writing a column for it in future issues. It did so via a glowing cover story, with a beaming Galik posing glamorously next to the headline "A Judge of Good Character."

"As judges go," the story's second paragraph stated, "Galik stands out. Defying the stereotyped portly image. This five-foot-three, petite blonde is charming and dons a winning appearance. Unfortunately, beauty, brains and power in [the] eyes of some are not a welcomed combination, but her professional record speaks for itself and distinguishes her as a completely dedicated and devoted servant in family law."

It goes on from there: "Because of her love of children, her high level of integrity, honor and morality and her deep belief and faith in the judicial system," the story noted, Galik agreed to a chorus of calls asking her to run for the bench in 1994.

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(The spread, by the way, included a photo of her with her associate judge, Philip Warner, the pre-Hearst editor of the Houston Chronicle.)

This must all be true because, according to the magazine, "When you need the best print media coverage in Houston, look no further than Houston's Best." (Full disclosure note: The Houston Press and Houston's Best once tangled over the smaller publication's wish to call itself Best of Houston.)

But gosh, there's just so much more to say about Galik, as our Tim Fleck has proven throughout the years.

Three months ago, Fleck noted that a fellow family court judge had issued a temporary restraining order against Galik, preventing her from overnight stays at the home of her oil business boyfriend, Hal Kuntz (see The Insider, "Judge Love Strikes Again," July 25). The boyfriend's ex-wife testified that after her nine-year-old daughter returned home following a visit with Kuntz and Galik, the words "naughty girl" were scrawled on the child's arms and legs. (Neither Kuntz nor Galik testified.)

Four years earlier, it was her affair with a married man that dogged her effort to get re-elected to a court that, obviously, deals regularly with allegations of infidelity (see "No, No, Annette!" October 1, 1998).

None of that made Houston's Best story. Must've been a space crunch.

Editor Ramona Branch didn't return our phone calls, but maybe the judge's colorful career will be addressed in one of her upcoming columns.


Update one: Score a coup for the Chronicle.

As noted previously, while the nation's law enforcement authorities frantically searched for the Washington, D.C., sniper, the experts at the Chron's editorial board were applying their skills to the case. Whenever the killer was captured, they analyzed, "he no doubt will turn out to be a sociopathic misfit."

Well, the killer has been captured, and hey -- they were right! The killer indeed did not turn out to be a well-adjusted, happy-go-lucky guy who lights up whatever party he's at!

We hope the Chronicle editorialists, with proper civic spirit, turn down the $500,000 reward money.

Update two: The contretemps between U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the royalty of Thailand and the Chronicle that we noted last week also played out on a national stage.

Lloyd Grove, the gossip columnist of The Washington Post, took note October 17 of the previous day's item by Chronicle society columnist Shelby Hodge about Lee's alleged ignorance of protocol at a Houston dinner for visiting Thai Queen Sirikit. Hodge told Grove, "I was so embarrassed [by Lee's behavior] I could hardly eat."

Lee called Grove to dispute the article, saying everything she had done at the dinner had been okayed by Thai representatives. "I'm very sorry that Shelby Hodge is so prone to indigestion," she told Grove.

Hodge, for her part, replied, "I absolutely stand by my story. I called it as I saw it."

She didn't mention that some of what she called -- a paragraph quoting an anonymous Thai official blaming "cross-cultural differences" for the controversy -- got axed in late editions of the Chron and was removed from the online version of the story.

Update three: We heard from a reader regarding our item on Channel 11 meteorologist Dr. Neil Frank and his propensity to get very excited whenever a hurricane threatens Houston. (And "threatens" is defined as any hurricane existing on Planet Earth.)

She says she once wrote KHOU, noting Frank's heavy-breathing act. "I asked them why they only showed Dr. Neil from the waist up whenever a hurricane was in the Gulf," she wrote us. "They wrote back, 'So you can see the map better.' "

Either the folks at Channel 11 have a sense of humor, or Dr. Neil sports himself one big funnel cloud when conditions are ripe.

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