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People and Events

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

Prosecutors don’t know whether the telegram sent to robbery suspect Gregory Brooks at the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice jail was a gag by one of his friends (as the deputy public defender suggested) or was part of a jailbreak plot.

“We’re still investigating,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Margaret Barreto-Morehouse said Friday.

The wire, which was routinely opened by jailers, read: “Your plane reservations for Montego Bay, Jamaica, have been confirmed. You’ll be leaving at Terminal Annex on Thursday Feb. 25 at 12:50 a.m. on Flight 578 Air Jamaica.”

It was signed “Mike.”

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As Brooks’ trial is set to begin next Friday--the day after his supposed flight--prosecutors fretted that he was about to pay his $6,000 bail and depart. A judge quickly upped the bond to $50,000, even though it was soon established that no Air Jamaica flight is scheduled to leave Los Angeles on Feb. 25 and that, in any event, the airline has no Flight 578.

Barreto-Morehouse said investigators were especially curious about the reference to “Terminal Annex.” That’s the big Postal Service facility--not far from the Men’s County Jail.

“He’s not going anywhere for a while,” Barreto-Morehouse said.

Gail Katz of Palo Alto was showing English hair stylists Clive Boura and Jeff Tuffin around some high-class neighborhoods here when they came across a Tudor-style Holmby Hills house with its roof ablaze.

There were several expensive cars in the driveway, Katz says, but no fire engines. Katz slammed on the brakes. One of her visitors grabbed a garden house and climbed on the roof while the other began banging on the front door.

Eventually artist Frank Kiss came to the door and--as Katz recalls it--said, “Go away. What do you want?”

Told that his roof was on fire, Kiss stepped out into the wind and looked for himself. He quickly got a ladder and went into the attic with another hose. In the meantime, Katz ran to the telephone and dialed 911 to bring the Beverly Hills Fire Department.

Kiss’ wife, a former Beverly Hills art gallery owner, says the firefighters told her that in another couple of minutes they would not have been able to save the house and the couple’s art collection.

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The couple have invited Katz, Boura and Tuffin to visit--presumably after the roof is replaced. The two hair stylists, Katz says, are artists in their own right. They used to cut hair for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Nearly a year after former Los Angeles general services boss Sylvia Cunliffe had 22 battery-operated toilet seats installed in City Hall and other Civic Center restrooms, workers have begun removing them.

There were just too many complaints that the $100 toilet seats, designed to power a protective plastic sheet into place, malfunctioned and were too much trouble to deal with.

“People complained they’re just not comfortable with them,” said Robert King, building services director. “I think they just got tired of them or felt they weren’t doing what they were supposed to.”

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One complainer was Mayor Tom Bradley, who had one in his office restroom. King said the mayor “didn’t care for it at all” and ordered it removed after only a week or so.

Cunliffe, who recently left city government in a whirl of controversy, ordered the seats in an effort to make city bathrooms more sanitary and easier to clean. They are being replaced by standard seats costing about $40 each. As for the battery seats, King said, “We’re looking for a buyer.”

Canoga Park hot dog vendor Morton S. Diamond, who has battled county officials over what he contends are unreasonable inspection requirements for food stands, now says he plans to run for Los Angeles City Council.

Diamond concedes it will “take a lot” to beat incumbent Joy Picus but insists, “It’s time for a change.”

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Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda) admits that whoever his choice is for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992 may be regarded by handicappers as someone “to avoid.”

Katz was state chairman for Ohio Sen. John Glenn’s 1984 campaign--which died nearly three months before that year’s California primary. This time he was California co-chairman for former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbit, who pulled out of the race on Thursday after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Said Katz: “That’s one of the problems of being from California. It doesn’t give you a good perspective of what Iowa wants.”


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