Snapshots of life in the Golden State. : CAPITOL INSIDER : Lobbying Group Gives Its Moniker the Ax

Under fire in an era of environmental activism, the lobbying group for leading sawmill operators has changed its name from the Timber Assn. of California to the California Forestry Assn.

While Sierra Club director Michael Paparian speculated that the lobbyists are "probably trying to clean up their image," Kevin Eckery, vice president of the 50-member association, insists the change is designed to emphasize that timber companies do more than just chop down trees.

"The timber portion and manufacturing of products is only three to six months out of the 50 to 100 years you might be working to grow a forest," Eckery said. "It just seemed wrong to keep pointing to (the timber)."

ELEVATED HIGHWAY HIGHLIGHTS

In shock: To help the Golden Gate Bridge withstand temblors as mighty as the great quake of '06, engineers are designing what they think will be the world's strongest shock absorbers.

The cylindrical, three-foot-long, oil-filled devices, part of a $125-million seismic strengthening project, are meant to prevent the bridge's suspension span from ramming into its twin towers.

Meanwhile, down the road, government contractors are having a tough time tearing down the Loma Prieta quake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway near San Francisco's Chinatown.

The demolition project has been at a standstill since May because sections of the upper deck collapsed twice without warning. Now the state is considering a switch from hydraulic rams and jackhammers to an old-fashioned wrecking ball--which can be operated from a safer distance.

Doling Out Dollars

A look at how consumers in three major California cities spent their money for living expenses in 1988-89, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Figures are expressed in percentages of total expenditures.

LOS SAN SAN ITEM ANGELES FRANCISCO DIEGO Apparel 5.6% 6.9% 5.3% Cash Contributions 3.3 2.8 2.5 Entertainment 4.8 5.4 7.1 Food & Beverages 15.7 14.8 13.4 Health Care 4.6 3.2 3.8 Housing 35.0 34.5 35.8 Pensions & Insurance 7.5 8.8 7.8 Transportation 17.5 18.0 18.4 Other 6.1 5.5 6.0 Annual Expenditures $33,482 $36,087 $33,351

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

MEDIA WATCH

Wait till John Major reads this: California's role as a money-raising mecca for presidential candidates and other national politicians was spotlighted this week in the British newsweekly The Economist. The Hollywood celebrity circuit drew special attention.

"Democrats are popping up in Malibu drawing rooms as often as damp beach towels," states the lead American Survey article in the magazine's U.S. edition. "And cynics joke that there will soon be enough senior Republicans in town for a Cabinet meeting."

Expensive tastes: State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown elaborated recently on his well-known culinary and sartorial tastes.

To the San Francisco Examiner he revealed a panoply of favorite dining spots. In his home base, the Speaker--who charged more than $33,000 in political dining expenses to one of his principal campaign committees in 1989 and 1990--swears by Le Central, Stars and Postrio. Los Angeles favorites include Spago, Asylum, Nicky Blair's, Le Dome, L'Orangerie, The Ivy and La Scala Boutique. And in Sacramento, Brown suggests that one can find a worthy repast at Frank Fat's, Biba, Harlow's, Paragary's Bar & Oven or Mace's.

Meanwhile, FRISKO magazine published a 10-page spread on Willie Brown's closets. Photos show that rather than skeletons, they are filled with a suave array of Armani, Versace, Kiton and Brioni suits. He rolls his ties and keeps them in clear containers--and has two of each because he is a "messy eater."

"I have 12 tuxedos," Brown said. "It's something I've worked out with the IRS."

DISCORDANT NOTES

LAPD, the Musical: Assigned to compose a cantata, college senior Frank Jansen's first thought was to base it on the biblical Book of Ruth. "But it wasn't panning out," the Cal State San Bernardino student recalled, so he decided instead to explore current events.

The result was "Incident," a 13-minute piece based on the March beating of motorist Rodney G. King by Los Angeles police. The reaction? Anything but incidental.

More than 200 spectators attended the first performance in San Bernardino, and Jansen, 36, has received offers to bring the work to Los Angeles.

In one hymn-like section a performer playing Police Commissioner Melanie Lomax intones, "It happens a-a-a-l-l the time." The performer in the role of Mayor Tom Bradley, during a country music sequence, twangs: "I'm shocked, I'm shocked. I'm outraged and shocked."

EXIT LINE

"This is Destiny. What city please?"

--Northern California long-distance telephone operator answering a directory assistance request this week.

California Dateline will appear every other Friday.

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