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October 07, 1987|TED THACKREY Jr. | From Staff and Wire Reports

Bank security guard Richard Arechiga, 26, beamed with pride as he received a special commendation for heroism from Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner.

The D.A. said Arechiga was on duty at a bank in Boyle Heights when he saw a robber knife a woman and steal more than $1,000 in cash from her. Arechiga, unarmed, chased the robber, took a shortcut, and appeared in front of the man on the sidewalk near Soto Street and Olympic Boulevard, Reiner said, and "held the robber at bay until a uniformed Rapid Transit District police officer arrived and made an arrest."

But Arechiga didn't remember it quite that way.

He said Reiner was right about him seeing the robbery and chasing the suspect. But as for holding the man at bay:

"I told him to drop the knife," Arechiga said, "and he wouldn't . . . so I kicked him in the face."

Think the freeways drive you nutty? Caltrans workers--already shaken by earthquakes and roasted by record heat--groaned when they saw the load spilled from a truck that overturned in southbound lanes of the Long Beach Freeway near Imperial Highway early Tuesday: Forty-one thousand tons of almonds, spread across all five lanes.

(Traffic went nuts for more than five hours.)

City Hall regulars made a special effort to pick up copies of a politically oriented monthly magazine called California Journal that published an article by Alexa Bell, who was press secretary to former City Councilwoman Pat Russell.

Bell's job had not been an easy one--as council president, Russell had been inclined to go behind closed doors to work out compromises, and had a strong aversion to sharing details with the press--so readers hoped at last to get a peek behind the scenes.

But they were disappointed.

Bell rattled no skeletons and exposed no trade-offs, concentrating instead on the nuts-and-bolts of her own job ("Press secretaries are expected to schmoose with reporters, but relaxing can be a mistake") and defining it's basic objectives. Her title:

"Protection, Promotion and Prevarication."

The man who threw a soft drink through the windshield of a bus at the corner of Vignes and Bauchet streets near downtown Tuesday morning seemed to have a poor eye for detail: The bus he picked was painted black and white. It had bars at the windows. It said "Sheriff's Department" on the sides. And the two young men inside were wearing deputies' uniforms.

They caught Darion Turner, 20, in less than a block . . . and booked him on suspicion of throwing an object at a moving vehicle, a felony.

Proposals to convert a ship to a floating prison in Los Angeles Harbor (as one answer to the state prisons' perennial overcrowding problem) have drawn heat from various sources, and quite a bit of it got a public airing this week when the Legislature's Joint Committee on Prison Construction and Operations held hearings on the subject in San Pedro.

Corrections officials said it would be prohibitively expensive, port officials said it would inhibit planned harbor expansion, and Assemblyman Dave Elder (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, said he would oppose it on both economic and safety grounds.

Carl Larson, superintendent of new prison design for the state Department of Corrections, said prisoner security would be much more difficult on a ship.

Nevertheless, Larson said the idea is not totally unheard-of.

"After all," he said, "the state actually operated a prison ship in 1852 at San Quentin Point.

"But of course, we never did anything like that again . . . "

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