Looking for a dramatic backdrop for a campaign commercial on crime fighting, state Sen. Tom Hayden was drawn last week to the towering stone walls of the legendary Folsom Prison.
So was a representative from the state Department of Corrections, who tried to shoo Hayden and his entourage away.
It seems the senator failed to obtain the proper permits for commercial filming. Corrections officials require a written letter requesting access, which they then forward to the California Film Commission for a filming permit.
Duane Peterson, Hayden's gubernatorial campaign spokesman, insists that he received a verbal OK from officials at Folsom Prison, near Sacramento.
But when the Santa Monica Democrat arrived there with his film crew, "We were surrounded by armed guards who told us that the political authorities in the Department of Corrections had disallowed access," Peterson said.
Tipton C. Kindel, Department of Corrections assistant communications director, tells a different story.
"There wasn't anybody armed," Kindel said. "There was a representative who went out and explained they had not followed the necessary procedures to film on state property."
Hayden was making one of several stops in the Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco areas to film segments that his campaign hopes to air on network and cable TV before the June primary.
The aim, Peterson says, is to "describe how corruption affects people in their everyday lives, to explain why political reform is not some egghead, abstract concept."
Hayden, ever the rebel, and his crew tried to stall after being asked to leave, unloading and reloading their car and spreading out maps as if in earnest search of Plan B. Finally the guards ran out of patience and left.
" 'No can do,' is what they said about our filming," Peterson said. "And we did it anyway. We were in a public parking lot."
Says Kindel, "We hold anybody who wants to film on state property to the same standards. If they chose to ignore that, I'm not sure there is anything we can do about it."
DOUBLE TAKE: Passersby in Century City recently might have questioned the patriotism of one of the area's most visible buildings.
The large lettering on the Sun America building at the corner of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars changed slightly when repairmen took down an S for repositioning. Employees of the financial services company said they received numerous calls about the new "un America" logo.
But rest easy: The building's lettering--and loyalty--has been restored.
LIGHT READING: Southern California Edison once again has flexed its public relations muscle, this time to dissuade Culver City from taking over the task of providing electric service in the city.
The giant utility recently ran a three-quarter-page ad in a weekly newspaper reminding residents of the quick action it took after lightning damaged two 66,000-volt power lines--and thanking them for their patience. Electric service was out over a wide area but was restored within about an hour.
"He would have thanked you personally, but he's been kind of busy," read the headline under a photo of a weatherbeaten lineman straddling a utility pole.
Edison has been putting the heat on the city since November, when the City Council voted to study the possibility of a city-run utility. The utility's campaigning has drawn fire from Councilman Al Vera, who proposed getting the city into the utility business.
Vera said the money Edison spends trying to sway the public comes from rate-payers and could be put to better use by the city. "Edison hasn't faced the reality that municipalities are going to be looking for other ways to generate income," he said.