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February 24, 1988|JACK JONES | From S taff and Wire Reports

It seemed better than laying out a lot of money on attorneys, said television executive James B. Pollack after his company agreed to pay $2,500 to settle a 72-year-old former Mr. America's lawsuit over the way Judge Joseph Wapner ruled against him on "People's Court."

Plaintiff Rex Ravelle complained that he was made to look like a "big macho villain" on the show in which he was seeking $2,000 in back rent and return of a bedroom set from a tenant he had evicted. "I was instructed to project my voice and assert myself, while the defendant was submissive and scarcely audible," he said.

He called Wapner's decision "so bad it was unbelievable."

But Pollack, vice president of Ralph Edwards Productions, said the company is sure it would have won the case. "We didn't think it was going to make a news story," he said. "In the future, we won't be making any settlements."

Wapner said he couldn't even recall the case, had no part in the settlement by the producers and hadn't even known of it. "I don't intend to badger anyone. . . ," he said. "I try to be fair and our track record is there."

According to the official count, no less than 341 Los Angeles city employees turned out on their lunch hour Tuesday to sweep up the Civic Center area bounded by Broadway, 2nd, San Pedro and Aliso streets.

After being treated to pep talks, balloons and band music, the volunteers--including Mayor Tom Bradley--went to work for about 15 minutes with green brooms. "From the size of the load they picked up," said the Public Works Department's Gordon Clint, director of Operation Clean Sweep, "they must have covered the area thoroughly."

He and his coordinators stand ready, he said, to help any neighborhood in the city anxious to do the same thing.

Anyone who has written to Fat Magnet in Beverly Hills lately should not expect a quick answer, says the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which is holding up the firm's mail. Fat Magnet, according to inspector Steve Schneringer, has been advertising pills purported to "flush" fat out of the body.

Postal inspectors contend that the advertising contains three false representations:

1--Overweight people can continue to overeat and lose weight.

2--Body fat is secreted in the intestines.

3--The pills can attract it, bind it and then flush it away.

"It appears something besides fat was being flushed out of the buyer's system," said Schneringer, noting that Fat Magnet received more than 1,600 pieces of mail daily since the ads began running last September. If each letter contained $20 for a 90-day supply of pills, the gross would amount to $224,000 a week.

The Postal Service has filed for an order allowing it to return all letters to the senders. But those who previously purchased the pills "may be less fortunate in trying to recoup their money," Schneringer said. "There's one born every minute," he added.

Fat Magnet did not have a listed telephone. Schneringer said the address is a mail drop.

First, Caltrans acknowledged that it made a mistake in crowning the Ventura Freeway the world's busiest (rather than the top-clogged Santa Monica). Now, the state highway agency is having to explain to fans of the San Bernardino and Pasadena freeways why their favorites weren't listed in the survey.

Nick Jones, associate Caltrans engineer, said the San Bernardino was omitted because it has the same route number (10) as the Santa Monica. But, he said, the Berdoo carries 240,000 vehicles a day between Soto Street and City Terrace--tying it with the Golden State for fifth place in the county.

An identity crisis also kept the Pasadena off the list. It shares the number 110 with the Harbor. But it carries only 182,000 vehicles a day, making it a pathetic 13th out of 17 freeways in the county.

Recent disclosures that an outfit called Southern California Monorail Project hopes to get a sales tax measure on the June, 1990, ballot to construct a 750-mile monorail system in Los Angeles and surrounding counties might prompt one to note that local monorail proposals have been around for a long time.

Indeed, the monorail idea was hot around here about the time Disneyland opened in nearby Anaheim with its own version of the overhead transit system. Asked what the amusement park would do if Los Angeles got its own monorail and riding a monorail was no longer a treat, a Disneyland executive replied, "We'll wait."

That was a little more than 30 years ago.

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