FISH MAN: They called him "Fish Man." Tens of thousands of visitors and residents came to know Bob Potter during the nine years that he taught at the Manhattan Beach pier's Oceanographic Teaching Station and rescued distressed sea creatures along the coast.
At the teaching lab, they found a 35-year-old marine biologist who as a boy got hooked on Jacques Cousteau documentaries and as an adult emulated his oceanographic hero, leading visitors through the wonders and mysteries of the South Bay marine world.
But last week Potter left the teaching station. Time to move on, said the Whittier native, who earned his nickname partly for his efforts to rescue sea creatures trapped in a Redondo Beach electrical plant's undersea intake device.
The teaching station, he said, provided him a chance to fulfill his mission to educate the public about the ocean environment, but "I guess you could say I outgrew the place."
He leaves behind what he believes will be his legacy: a 2,200-gallon shark tank, completed last summer, that he designed and maintained.
"Everyone agrees. He is one of the best teachers we have ever seen," said James Babbitt, president of the teaching station's board. "He was a good role model."
Though he is leaving the teaching station, Potter will stick with marine biology. He has formed a nonprofit organization, Ocean Quest Inc., which runs a floating marine lab two miles off the coast and coordinates programs to educate the public about the ocean environment.
POLICE ACADEMY: Looks like crime-fighting continues to be a hot topic in Inglewood.
More than 200 people recently attended a meeting of Mayor Edward Vincent's newly organized crime task force and promised to come back in about a month with suggestions for stemming crime in the city.
And people continue to show strong interest in a new Police Department program called the Inglewood Police Citizens Academy.
Now in its fourth week, the 10-week program is designed to teach people about every aspect of police work, from training and traffic patrol to the use of Mace, dogs and deadly force.
At Wednesday night's session, the 27 residents enrolled in the program will spend three hours learning about investigations of property crimes, domestic violence and child abuse. In the coming weeks they will ride along with patrol officers and do a case study of a crime.
Inglewood is the first South Bay city to offer such a program, said department spokesman Sgt. Alex Perez. Pomona and Santa Barbara, he said, are the only other cities that offer similar programs.
On Friday, Councilman Garland Hardeman declared a "gang state of emergency" in his southeastern council district, saying that gangs and drug-related crimes are out of control. Hardeman has persuaded the city to develop a program under which neighborhoods could be mobilized and "recaptured" by the residents there.
AMBASSADOR WATSON? Could it be that state Sen. Diane Watson's long wait is over?
After being disappointed in the past, the Los Angeles Democrat, whose district includes all or some of Playa del Rey, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale, El Segundo and Gardena, said last week she is "fairly confident" that President Clinton soon may make her political dream come true by naming her to an overseas State Department post. Her first choice? Bermuda, where Watson said she is a finalist for the job of U.S. consul general.
Her confidence about an appointment stems from a recent visit to Washington, where she met with White House officials about her prospects. "I was told it was on schedule," said Watson, who has been angling for such a job for more than a decade.
Administration officials, however, were noncommittal. One top official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no decision has been made concerning Watson, adding that she is among a large group of people under review for diplomatic posts.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"God bless you"
--Arleigh Eugene Cox, a former Lutheran minister from Gardena, thanking his lawyer after a judge ordered Cox freed because he did not have a competent defense during his 1991 trial on charges he sexually abused a 16-year-old parishioner.
LAST WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
San Pedro: Los Angeles City Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr. asked that the city temporarily continue land-use restrictions, due to expire soon, along San Pedro's Pacific Avenue. The action is aimed at curtailing multifamily development along the commercially zoned street until the council adopts permanent restrictions on such development.
Inglewood: The City Council rejected a suggestion by the administration to hire a full-time cable television ombudsman to handle residents' complaints about cable service. Assistant City Manager Norman Cravens said council members apparently didn't want to spend the bucks for a new hire.
Wilmington: The Los Angeles City Council instructed the city staff to study renaming the community's C Street to Harry Bridges Boulevard in honor of the late founder of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union.
THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
Palos Verdes Peninsula: The mayors of Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, and Rolling Hills, will give "state of the city" reports at a Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday. The luncheon will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Palos Verdes Golf & Country Club, 3301 Via Campesina, Palos Verdes Estates. The public is invited.
Wilmington: Harbor-area Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr. has scheduled a town meeting for Thursday at 6:45 p.m at the Banning Park Recreation Center, 1131 Eubank Ave. Along with Svorinich, representatives from the Los Angeles police, fire and environmental affairs departments will address resident concerns. A question-and-answer session will follow.