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Union Stalls Transit Talks, Nolan Asserts

August 03, 1988|JERRY GILLAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Three months of talks with union leaders over proposed reorganization of the beleaguered Southern California Rapid Transit District have failed to produce an acceptable compromise, Assembly Republican Leader Pat Nolan announced Tuesday.

Nolan (R-Glendale), who wants to allow competitive contracts so RTD services could be provided by private companies, blamed transit district union leaders who, he said, have been trying to protect their monopoly.

"We have gotten absolutely no place," the GOP lawmaker said of the negotiations. "We have gotten no response to our proposal other than 'no.' But we aren't going to let this special interest stop us from getting reforms that mean better service for the riders at less money to the taxpayers."

Earl Clark, chairman of the United Transportation Union, countered that Nolan really wants to "destroy" the RTD and "break" the unions. "That's the main idea," Clark said. "There's no question about it."

Nolan said he next plans to try to amend his ideas into a bill on the Assembly floor, presumably by enlisting the aid of the rebel "Gang of Five" Democrats, who are in a power struggle with Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco).

"Several Democrats like our ideas and are willing to vote for them," Nolan said. "We can't wait any longer. We are running out of time in this legislative session."

More than 2,000 bills remain to be disposed of in the final weeks of the Legislature's 1988 session, which is scheduled to end Aug. 31.

In recent years, the RTD has come under heavy public criticism for poor service, management problems, fare increases and safety problems.

Both the Assembly and Senate approved a Democratic-sponsored RTD reorganization bill last year, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, who instructed the parties to go back to the drawing board.

In his veto message, the governor said: "If I were to have signed this bill, it would have raised false expectations that the transit service would improve. In reality, many of the differences between the old systems and new are of a cosmetic nature." The bill would have disposed of the RTD and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and placed transit under a new agency.

Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda), the lead author of the vetoed measure and the chairman of the Transportation Committee, scoffed at Nolan's remarks. "The unions made some offers that were rejected," Katz said. "So Nolan also refuses to budge from his position."

Mike Lewis, chief deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, chairman of the county Transportation Commission, said: "Everyone agrees the RTD has to reorganize. The only people who like it now are the RTD employees."

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