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Morning scoop: prison pointers, the case of the curious octopus, wishing for Wal-Mart

February 27, 2009 |  8:22 am


Happy Friday from the City Desk! We've got  a wonderful collection of reads to wrap up your workweek.

In Column One, Mike Anton writes about a career choice that could be just right for hard times -- being a prison coach, preparing the perpetrators of Ponzi schemes and mortgage scams for the big house.

Bob Pool tells the tale of the gregarious, curious two-spotted octopus that disassembled a valve in its tank at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, letting loose about 200 gallons of water.

In our Orange County edition, Dana Parsons writes an eloquent goodbye column.

In his Out There column, Scott Gold writes about an unlikely campaign to bring Wal-Mart to the Florence-Firestone area, where some think the jobs and low prices it could bring would be worth some significant trade-offs.

Paloma Esquivel tells us about Irvine heiress Joan Irvine Smith and the hundreds of oak trees she grows and tries to give away.

The Los Angeles County Probation Department has suspended billing for more than 100,000 probationers -- just before it was going to start intercepting tax bills to try to collect debts. The public defender has challenged the legality of many of the bills.

A jury is now deliberating the fate of Raymond Lee Oyler, charged with setting the deadly 2006 Esperanza fire, which took the lives of five firefighters.

In Sacramento, lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do about our increasingly dire drought situation. After three years of drought, key reservoirs are now at 35% of capacity.

A judge has unsealed a messy lawsuit filed in August against comedian Chris Rock. It involves a Hungarian-born model with whom he had a brief encounter more than a decade ago.

Walter Moore is running a longshot campaign to unseat Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has almost 14 times more money in his campaign chest. According to our City Hall reporter Phil Willon, Moore's found a comfy home for himself in the not-so-Villaraigosa-friendly world of local talk radio.

One of the other nine contenders seeking to unseat the mayor, David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg, was questioned by police Thursday about whether he made a death threat about another candidate.

Speaking of the Los Angeles primary next Tuesday, go to our Election Central to brush up on the issues and candidates.

And while you're at it, do stop by our new interactive map of Los Angeles. Join the discussion about how we've defined the city's 87 neighborhoods.

We're finding out more this morning about the mayor of Los Alamitos, who resigned over charges of racism. And we'll bring you other news as we discover it.

-- Nita Lelyveld

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