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People and Events

<i> From staff and wire reports </i>

It ain’t Lotto. But then, you don’t have to buy a ticket to be eligible. You only need a faulty memory.

State Controller Gray Davis on Thursday handed an accountant for a 91-year-old Hancock Park woman a check for $90,631, representing a savings account that she had apparently neglected.

Davis said that more than $41 million has been returned to about 77,000 residents since passage of a law last year that requires financial institutions to turn over assets that have been inactive for five years.

And Davis still has $460 million in unclaimed accounts on his hands.

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“As incredible as it may sound, people lose track of money that belongs to them,” he said.

Davis noted that the elderly woman was easy to locate because she had been living at the same address for a long time. “But frequently we don’t have a current address,” he added. “In those cases, the money can be returned if people call our toll-free number (800-992-4647).”

Some recipients may not even be aware that they have an account.

“We had a guy, a homeless guy, whose father left him a couple hundred thousand dollars and he didn’t know it,” said Dario Frommer, a spokesman for the controller.

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Other absent-minded types receiving forgotten money are Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner ($166) and actor Gene Hackman ($893).

Don’t expect commentary in this newspaper castigating the forgetful.

Among the accounts that have not yet been processed, Davis said, is $2,979 belonging to the Los Angeles Times.

A sighting in Cerritos of what was initially reported as a stolen cylinder of hazardous gas caused a brief closure of the Artesia Freeway. The object turned out to be a wrapper for French bread, the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported.

If you don’t think society--and the press--is changing, consider that the Greater Los Angeles Press Club no longer has a bar.

The club went on the wagon last year when it migrated from its longtime headquarters in a converted theater on Vermont Avenue to the Burbank Equestrian Center (sparking jokes about the common products of horses, reporters and publicists).

The result has been a decline in business for the club, which rents space for news conferences at $100 per half-hour. But Executive Director Jim Foy cites non-alcohol-related reasons, including confusion over its whereabouts, the profusion of fax machines and the trend toward having news conferences in the field for better “visuals.” However, Press Club membership has increased.

The club, which also sponsors several events, including an awards banquet at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 31, hopes to move into Hollywood later this year but won’t have a bar there, either, because it plans to seek status as a charitable institution.

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A new home would be at least the sixth for the club. Sketchy records show that as long ago as 1916 members honored President Woodrow Wilson’s secretary of the Navy at the Alexandria Hotel in a banquet hall made up like a ship.

A reporter of the time hinted at previous organizing attempts when he noted that membership was small that year because “of the disastrous histories of previous press clubs.”

Corned Beef Alert:

Though Catholics are observing Lent--a period when they’re obliged to abstain from eating meat on Fridays as a sign of penance--the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has granted them “a dispensation from abstinence” today in honor of St. Patrick.

First, kosher burritos, now. . . .

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Alpha Beta markets are stocked with green bagels.


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