People and Events

From Staff and Wire Reports

In the City of Radials, it's nothing short of radical.

The "Pedestrian Bill of Rights" is to be declared today by two city councilmen, and it is no footling proposal.

The legislation would save crosswalks and double sidewalk-littering fines; encourage street vendors, sidewalk cafes, development that allows people to walk to work, and hire a public advocate for pedestrians.

In Los Angeles, where the thousands of jaywalking tickets issued each year--the most in the United States--show the speed at which you were illegally walking, streets need to be "pedestrian friendly," said an aide to Councilman Michael Woo, co-sponsor of the feet-first legislation.

"It's bold, it's different," said the aide, "but it needs to be done."

Talk about bursting your balloon.

In June, 1986, Heather Weiss, like everyone else in her sixth-grade class in Agoura Hills, launched a red balloon with a note asking whoever found it to return the card to prove how far the balloon traveled.

And when 12-year-old Heather got the faded red card back last week from a couple in Cheshire, England, her spirits soared as high as the balloon. "I wish the little postcard could talk," she said. "It must have a lot to say."

But on Monday, less than an hour after the BBC interviewed her about her transatlantic message, the Lindero Canyon Middle School student learned that it was, says Principal Joe Nardo, "a hoax."

Heather's balloon had evidently been picked up in Monterey, Calif., long ago by someone who persuaded the vacationing Brits to send it to Heather from England "as a joke," Nardo says.

And after a call to the remorseful couple, and a closer look at their letter, the hoax became evident, to Heather's dismay.

"When you work with kids," Nardo says with a sigh, "you're trying to build up trusting relations with adults."

Only 16 unplugging days left in this special offer:

Stay out of jail, free.

In a holiday amnesty that expires on New Year's Eve, Century Cable is promising "no questions asked," and no prosecution, to anyone who 'fesses up to tapping illicitly into their video signal--by tampering with the cable box, for instance. The Santa gesture will both "keep it in people's minds it is illegal, and we're going to turn our heads this time," pledged General Manager Louise Anelynan, who says couch-potato cutpurses cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in "degraded signals" and extra service hours.

Cable filchers haven't exactly been mobbing the company, but calls have been steady. "It hasn't been a flood of phone calls but it has been a trickle of phone calls," says Anelynan, if not all from the filchers themselves, then from people "reporting other people who they think are stealing."

While the only reward for turning yourself in is getting your cable disconnected, there is something to be said for that special warm holiday feeling of . . . guilt.

"I think (it's) the Christmas spirit," says Anelynan, "plus the fear we're gonna catch them."

It was an act of unbearable callousness.

The ransom note arrived with a Polaroid photo of the victim, bound, gagged and blindfolded, with the muzzle of a blue-steel .38-caliber pistol held at his fuzzy head.

"$500 for return of the bear," the message demanded.

The blue-uniformed teddy bear, a resident's gift to officers of the LAPD's Foothill Division, vanished last week, and in his place--the note, and the ominous photo.

Sgt. Dennis Pelch says a memo on the disappearance of "Billy (Club) Bear" indicates an inside job: "Suspects: Males, funny blue suits with silver buttons impersonating policemen . . . with a Scrooge attitude."

"It's a joke, but it's not a real funny joke," said Sgt. Ken Dionne. Among officers, he said, it "is fine because you can understand how it was intended. But when it gets outside of the immediate group, it causes a little embarrassment and hurt feelings in terms of the person who donated it."

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