RTD directors were hardly prepared for the impromptu speeches of two bus drivers who got their retirement plaques at Thursday's board meeting. Retirees usually mumble their thanks and disappear quietly.
Not Ronald D. Neill, retiring after 28 years, and Lenwood Stevenson, reaching the end of the line after 13. While board members listened in awkward silence, Neill and Stevenson complained at length about lousy maintenance, passenger overcrowding, cockroaches, heaters that don't work in the winter and air conditioners that don't work in the summer.
Neill said he hadn't planned to give his little speech but, "I figured, 'Well, I've got one shot. And I'll tell them.' "
He told reporters: "They (the Southern California Rapid Transit District board) have got their priorities screwed up. Their troops are not happy. The last two years were hell. . . . There's no working together anymore. Nobody gives a (expletive). The morale goes down every day."
To which Stevenson added, "You write it up (that something is broken) and the next day you see the same bus out on the street."
When a manager told them their complaints would be investigated, Neill scoffed. "I've been getting that for years."
Rich Davis, RTD director of maintenance, conceded that there was some truth to what the two said and that there is a "lot of frustration out there," but "the big picture may not be quite what they make it out to be."
Hardly had the ground settled down Thursday morning when radio astrologer Farley Malorrus was reminding everybody that he put his KFOX-FM audience on an "earthquake watch" five days ago.
And he noted that on Wednesday he had told listeners there would definitely be one within 48 hours. It's all because of the way Saturn and Uranus are aligned right now, according to Malorrus. "The last time the planets were lined up like this," he said Thursday, "there was Pearl Harbor."
Perhaps, but Caltech seismologist Dr. Kate Hutton pointed out that although Southern California normally has only one or two quakes a year that measure 6.5 or stronger on the Richter scale, "if you get down to magnitude 3, there is one every two or three days."
Since the big Whittier quake last Oct. 1, Hutton said, "there have been a lot of rumors going around." About the only predictions she puts any stock in, she said, are those like the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey forecast--based on records of past temblor cycles--of a major shake along the San Andreas Fault near the community of Parkfield in Central California.
People, she said, "have misinterpreted that" to mean that the Southland is in for it.
To all of which Malorrus responded: "I don't predict them unless I think they're going to be recognizable." He says he predicted the Oct. 1 quake and then left town.
It might be noted here, by the way, that in a Times article last August, Malorrus advanced a few other predictions: George Bush will be the next President of the United States and the St. Louis Cardinals were going to beat the New York Yankees in six games in last fall's World Series.
On Thursday, Malorrus clarified his Bush forecast: "Not by election. Either due to Reagan's health or some other cause for him (Reagan) to leave office."
As for the World Series (in which the Twins beat the Cardinals in seven): "When it comes to sports, I'm (often) wrong, but I'm humble about it."
Which brings us to the forecast made some time ago by Ernesto A. Moshe Montgomery, who describes himself as a "British Jamaican and Caribbean Jewish psychic." Montgomery claims that California is going to "fall into the ocean" during a big quake March 2.
Way back in 1979, he said, he alerted U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) to the impending loss of his constituency. Cranston (whose staff doesn't recall it) apparently passed along the warning in routine fashion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA--according to a copy of the letter obtained by Montgomery--pointed out that the self-described psychic provided "no supportive scientific information which could be used to evaluate his prediction."
Neither Hutton nor Malorrus is worried about California falling into the ocean.