SAFE BET? Now that Irvine has been...

SAFE BET? Now that Irvine has been named Money magazine's safest place to live in the United States among cities over 100,000 population (B5), City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr. hopes it will help persuade Taco Bell officials to stay put instead of moving their headquarters to the Dallas suburb of Plano, Tex. . . . Plano, after all, was only 13th on the magazine's list. Says Brady, who faxed the list to Taco Bell: "It's a clear indication that Irvine is a far superior place to do business."

MORE THAN A SONG: Barbra Streisand, who was to open her six-night performance at The Pond of Anaheim tonight, is spreading goodwill as well. She's donating $25,000 to music education at a school in each community on her tour. Her record company, Sony Music, will match that with $25,000 worth of equipment. . . . Lucky local recipient: Spurgeon Intermediate School in Santa Ana. Says school spokeswoman Diane Thomas: "The criteria included a diverse student population and a dynamite music program. Spurgeon's got that."

LEGAL MOVE: A new legal group was born in the county this week: The Asian American Bar Assn. . . . . Newport Beach attorney Art Nakazato, its first president, explains: "Traditionally, Asian Americans have shied away from litigation. Our group wants to make this place a better place to live by pushing for more Asian judges and making people aware of their legal rights." The county has about 500 Asian American attorneys.

DID THEY JUNK IT? Local artist Mitchell Syrop's photograph of a tropical beach with the words "Junk Bond" was such a hit with Columbia Savings & Loan that it bought the piece for its corporate art collection. Columbia failed, of course--partly because of junk bond investments. Now the Laguna Art Museum is looking for the piece--sold at a bankruptcy auction for $5,500--for its photo exhibit "Commodity Image." . . . . In the meantime, Syrop, who's speaking there tonight at 7, created a copy for the museum's exhibit.

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