SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE ARE SIGNS: One person's political message is another's graffiti. Consider Hawthorne City Clerk Richard L. Mansfield's reaction to the campaign banners displayed around town.
"I think it pollutes the area," said Mansfield, who is running for reelection. "It's hypocritical for politicians to speak out against graffiti and then plaster their signs all over town."
Many of the campaign banners in Hawthorne hang on fences along busy streets. A chain-link fence surrounding Shaw's Marine, a boat and accessory dealer at the intersection of Rosecrans and Inglewood avenues, sports five large banners.
The other candidates in Hawthorne's Nov. 2 municipal races say Mansfield must have a lot of time on his hands these days.
"If the city clerk has time to run around and look at signs, then he has nothing better to do," said city council candidate Ginny Lambert. She also brought up a little history. "When he ran before, three times, and lost, he had signs all over town."
Mansfield said he posts his banners only "in residential areas."
MEA CULPA? Hermosa Beach City Councilman Robert (Bergie) Benz is not exactly apologizing for having swilled beer on the beach during this year's famed Ironman contest.
But the councilman says he is ready to pay the price for his role in the unusual endurance event, which requires participants to run a mile, paddle a mile on a surfboard and then guzzle a six-pack of beer without vomiting.
On Friday, Benz says, he flagged down a police officer who was patrolling near his home and asked the lawman to give him a ticket for drinking on the beach, a violation of city law.
"I just said, 'Listen, I'm admitting I drank on the beach.' He said, 'Yeah, sure I'll give you a ticket.' He said it was one of the easiest tickets he had ever given," Benz said.
Police said they had not cited Benz previously for his transgression because they had not seen him in the act of breaking the law.
Benz, who has been under fire from school board officials, the mayor and members of the community ever since a videotape of the event aired on cable television in July, said he decided to seek the citation to calm the uproar it has caused.
"I was calculating that we spent three to four hours talking about what a bad guy I am," Benz said. "I think it is certainly more cost-effective for me to pay the fine and to hopefully shut up the whining at the council meetings so we can get on to more important things."
BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME? It could have been worse, but no one can say the Los Angeles Harbor Department is getting off easy under Hizzoner Richard Riordan's latest budget-balancing plan, unveiled last week.
For one thing, the port will have to pony up about $3.6 million to settle an old lawsuit dealing with the illegal offshore dumping of hazardous materials in the harbor.
The payment had long been expected. But then there was the new matter of the port having to pay more for fire protection--long a touchy issue between City Hall and the harbor.
Under Riordan's plan, the port and the airport department would pay a combined $125,000 in the coming year to maintain fireboats in the harbor and crash rigs at the airport. In addition, the port would be asked to reimburse the city for $1.2 million in Harbor Department-related expenses at Fire Station 40 on Terminal Island.
If the numbers were troubling, port officials were not squawking. At least not publicly.
"Right now, we are reviewing (the mayor's plan) in the context of the money we give to the city every year. So we don't know yet what the impact will be," said port spokeswoman Barbara Yamamoto.
HILL LINGO: U.S. Open winner Pete Sampras, a former Rancho Palos Verdes resident, has introduced Palos Verdes hills lingo to the rest of the world via Newsweek magazine. In a recent issue, the magazine notes the tennis superstar's penchant for using expressions like " 'flake-off' and 'PV' to explain, in order, what he doesn't want to become (crazy, weird) and where he used to live (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.)."
Sampras, the magazine says, now lives in Tampa, Fla.
Or is that "TF"?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"There are a lot of problems with barking dogs driving people crazy . . . and we have had poisonings or rock-throwing incidents. But actually having somebody shoot a dog is unusual."
--Redondo Beach City Prosecutor John Slawson reacting to the arraignment of a city resident on animal cruelty charges stemming from the shooting of Christy, a 4-year-old Doberman mix. Police contend that the man shot the dog because it was barking too much. Christy survived.
LAST WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
Inglewood: For the third time, the City Council has put off approving an agreement with the Inglewood Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. to rehabilitate substandard housing. The council has been unable to agree with the agency on a contract.
Hermosa Beach: The board of the Friends of the Library in Hermosa Beach unanimously voted this week to urge city officials to separate the local library from the Los Angeles County library system. The board's vote follows recent reductions by the county in library operating hours.
THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
Redondo Beach: The City Council will consider an ordinance that would bar minors from possessing "graffiti tools" anywhere in the city. Aerosol paint, felt-tip markers, paint sticks and spray nozzles are all considered graffiti tools under the measure.