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WESTSIDE WATCH

Louis Gossett Jr. Tapped to Lead Christmas Parade

October 30, 1994

This year the celebrities had better stay in formation.

The grand marshal for the 63rd annual Hollywood Christmas Parade will be actor Louis Gossett Jr., who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of a tough drill instructor in the 1982 movie "An Officer and a Gentleman."

The Nov. 27 parade, which is expected to draw more than a million spectators to Hollywood Boulevard, features a procession of celebrities and an appearance by Santa Claus. It will be seen in more than 150 cities nationwide and aired in international markets by the Tribune Entertainment syndicate.

Past parade grand marshals include Jimmy Stewart, Sammy Davis Jr., Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlton Heston, Bob Hope and Roseanne.

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COURTING CONTROVERSY: Candidates have several ways to respond to attack mailers: they could send out one in response, hold a news conference or file a lawsuit.

Going to court seems to be a recent solution of choice.

State Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D-El Segundo) sued opponent David Barrett Cohen last week for

$1 million over a mailer stating that Dills collects a legislative pension at the same time he serves in Sacramento. That's prohibited by state law.

"That implies that I am in collusion with the retirement system," said Dills, who is running for reelection in the 28th State Senate District, which includes Marina del Rey, Venice, Westchester and Playa del Rey.

Dills collects Social Security and pensions from his days as a schoolteacher and municipal judge. The suit also names Republican Julian Sirull, who is running against Assemblywoman Debra Bowen in the 53rd Assembly District, because he was included in the mailer.

On Monday, Cohen issued a statement of apology and took full responsibility for the statement. He said that it was placed in the mailer--recently sent to absentee voters--after a consultant mistook Dills' legislative salary for a pension.

"In my opinion, the error was a minor one," Cohen said. "It's important, however, to correct the record so voters can decide."

Dills is being represented in the lawsuit by Michael I. Sidley, the Venice attorney who lost to him in the June primary.

Meanwhile, former Palos Verdes Estates Councilman Ron Florance is suing Rancho Palos Verdes Councilwoman Susan Brooks. Brooks beat him in the June Republican primary in the 36th Congressional District, which runs from San Pedro to Venice.

Florance claims he was libeled in a mailer titled "60 Lawsuits and Counting." The ad called Florance "the Republican who can't win in or out of court."

The suit also names Ron Yates, the publisher of California's Republic Reporter, which published an article about his litigation; Republican John Duke, who appeared in the Reporter as part of his unsuccessful campaign against Rep. Steve Horn (R-Long Beach); Brooks' husband, Jim, and campaign worker Les Martin. Florance is seeking punitive damages of $250,000, general damages of $1 and legal fees.

Brooks' campaign charged that the filing of the lawsuits was "politically motivated."

"His new lawsuit is just the latest example of Mr. Florance's inability to solve any problems outside of the courtroom," said Jim Brooks, an adviser to his wife's campaign. "I guess we'll have to change the title of the mailer from '60 Lawsuits and Counting' to '61 Lawsuits and Counting.' "

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