Rumors that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev might...

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Rumors that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev might visit Southern California late this year caused a minor earthquake (3.0 on the open-ended Protocol scale) among civic and security planners--and brought one cautionary note of remembrance.

Twenty-eight years have passed since the last visit here by a Soviet chief of state.

The 1959 arrival of Premier Nikita Khrushchev was attended by smiles and hoopla. But his departure a few days later passed in stony silence--and was followed by a long chill in international relations.

Various reasons for the change in emotional climate were advanced at the time, but in their hearts everyone knew what had gone wrong: Disneyland. Khrushchev wanted to go there, but police, caught by surprise with no security arrangements in place, said no.


So maybe now we get a second chance. If he wants to meet Mickey Mouse. . . .

Other visitors from abroad had other problems: The Soviet national volleyball team, in town for the Gatorade USA Cup series, went shopping for American jeans at a department store in the Century City Shopping Center on Friday--but only two of the 15 players bought clothing. Not enough time, they said. And not enough American cash. And one other thing:

“I wish I could find something,” sales clerk Claire Abramson said, “but unfortunately, they’re just so tall.”

And speaking of foreign relations: Beverly Hills and the French resort of Cannes are sister cities, and their representatives have a date to do lunch Nov. 15 at the Rotary Club on this side of the Atlantic, but there’s trouble about the tab. . . .

Beverly Hills Councilman Robert K. Tanenbaum said he thought his city should pay the $325 it will cost to feed and entertain 25 Cannes businessmen and their wives; after all, he and Mayor Benjamin H. Stansbury were guests at a Cannes Rotary Club luncheon earlier this year.

But Councilwoman Donna Ellman and Councilman Maxwell Salter were outraged. “A sexist organization!” Salter thundered, referring to the club’s male-only policy. (Despite the fact that the Supreme Court struck that policy down last May, Beverly Hills Rotary still has no women among its 107 members.)

Tanenbaum called Salter’s opposition a “cheap shot” because “you wanted to be a member of the Rotary club--but you were rejected.” Mayor Stansbury (a Rotarian himself) said Tanenbaum ought to be ashamed.


But the meeting finally broke up without deciding who’s going to spring for lunch.

Los Angeles County lifeguards said they fielded a flood of telephone calls from people concerned about a barge they saw dumping material into Santa Monica Bay this week, about a mile off Will Rogers State Beach. Everyone who saw it suspected the worst.

“They thought it was from New York,” senior ocean lifeguard Nick Steers said. “The weather was hazy and you couldn’t see it too well, and everyone seemed to jump to the conclusion that it was the notorious nomadic garbage scow from back there. . . .”

Steers and his colleagues tried to explain: The barge, they said, was indeed dumping things into the bay. But not garbage. Its cargo was the first of 48 loads of quarry rock from Santa Catalina Island scheduled to be dropped offshore in a $375,000 effort to turn the area into the nation’s largest man-made fish-breeding reef.

“Nice, clean rock,” Steers said. “Just right for fish--and fishermen.”

But the calls kept coming.