Name Change The atmosphere was tense when a group of independent car dealers from throughout the greater San Fernando Valley gathered at the Warner Center Marriott to complain to state regulators about General Motors Corp. The dealers told the New Motor Vehicle Board at the Feb. 26 gathering that GM is giving its Valley business partner, Rydell Automotive Group, preferential treatment. Then Fred Bell, the owner of Community Chevrolet in Burbank, got up to address the board. Bell argued that he, too, had been discriminated against by GM, but he proposed a simple solution. Bell figured his best recourse might be simply to change his last name to better suit GM. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Valley’s newest car dealer, the one and only Fred “RyBell.” Love and War Auto dealers have been hard at work coming up with a business improvement plan to help attract car buyers to the stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard between Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys. But another dealer across town may be stealing their thunder. Glendale Mitsubishi has bought advertising space on a billboard that overlooks the southern end of auto row to deliver a pesky message. The ad reads, “Glendale Mitsubishi. Now you have a choice.” The billboard hasn’t gone unnoticed by the folks at Miller Mitsubishi, just down the street from the needling sign, although they said they’re not particularly upset by the message. “All’s fair in advertising, love and war,” shrugged Dan Kras, sales manager at Miller Mitsubishi. It’s a Dirty Job Cleaning up a neighborhood can make strange bedfellows. Just ask the folks in Panorama City. The community has gotten a boost from a number of new development projects, and some residents are taking the opportunity to spruce up the community’s streets as well. But unlike the developers who are building in Panorama City, area residents have no deep pockets of cash to work from, so they’re using whatever free resources are available. That’s brought about 40 or 50 court-mandated community service workers onto the streets every weekend to work off jail time for various crimes. “They’re mostly drunk drivers,” said Gail Lippner, a long-time Panorama City resident who’s been active in the cleanup effort. The workers have to help anywhere from 40 to 5,000 hours depending on their crime but some they develop longer ties to the community. “One guy was with us for several years for cheating on his income tax,” Lippner said. Though her helpers sometimes make Lippner blanch, she’s developed an appreciation for the program. “We have the cleanest streets of anywhere in the Valley,” she said. Bugged About Y2K Members of the KCBS-TV Channel 2 news team had better forget about taking vacation time immediately before and after New Year’s Eve. The reason is the possibility that the world’s computers may go haywire once the clock strikes midnight. “I don’t think we’ll be in a position where we can whoop it up on New Year’s Eve,” said News Director Larry Perret, who issued an edict to the news department barring vacations between Dec. 29 and Jan. 7. “It’ll be the biggest news story on the planet Earth that day without any problems. If there are problems, it magnifies it,” Perret said. “It’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl for news people.” Still, Perret said he might accommodate some vacation requests if he becomes convinced there will be minimal Y2K impacts.