Taken for a Ride
The question before the house today is, "Does the MTA hold secret meetings?"
Ralph P. Merritt, MTA executive director, says no. Carter Barber of this newspaper says yes.
"What's the difference?" you may ask. The answer is that the MTA, a legislatively constituted body, handles matters vital to the public interest. Bus passengers particularly are entitled to know what's in store for them.
It is reporter Barber's contention that the MTA meetings held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month since last October have been secret and that in them the board formulated agenda for the public meetings held on the first and third Tuesdays.
THE MTA'S REASON for excluding reporters was that confidential personnel matters were discussed.
On April 14 MTA's policy board met from 9 until 10:20 a.m. Reporter Barber, denied admission, crashed the meeting at 9:35 and, during the 20 minutes he was permitted to remain, only his presence was discussed. What the board discussed during the other 60 minutes was later disclosed by individuals.
Time and again, Barber charges, the MTA has secretly discussed travel patterns, labor, legislation, policies, purchases and construction work -- all of public interest. These have been reported by the press only after the public meetings when they werefait accompli.
"So what?" you may ask again. Possibly you read that a major concern of the American Newspaper Publishers Assn. in New York this week was the increasing trend of government officials to deny newsmen access to public information.
If reporters can't cover meetings, the public can't know what's going on.
TOMORROW the choir of the First Presbyterian Church of Sherman Oaks will sing "As Torrents in Summer" -- from the poem by H.W Longfellow, music by Edward Elgar.
Jack Halloran, the director, makes no claim to being a rain maker, but the choir rehearsed "Torrents" April 16 and the first sprinkle in 55 days fell April 17.
He recalls that for four straight years on the spring Sunday his choir in Evanston, Ill., sang the song it rained.
It's worth a try. Besides, it's a nice song.
ON ONE OF his Treasure series on TV recently, Bill Burrud presented a visual report on buried gold in Haiti. In it was a genial beachcomber named Charlie, who said he hoped to come home to the United States but didn't have the money.
Since then, dollar bills have been trickling in to Burrud to bring Charlie home.
Burrud has sent Charlie the first remittance, but has asked him to reconsider.
"As a symbol of man's dream to get away from it all," he wrote, "you have an obligation. Besides, maybe you don't know when you're well off."
ONLY IN Eagle Rock -- Rob Brooks believes he has discovered the secret of the Occidental College track team's success. Two girls, students or wives, were jogging around the track the other day with the athletes -- jackrabbits, so to speak, pacing the greyhounds.
The Shady Years
Reduced to lesser living.
Restrained from earning more.
Existing on fixed income.
You're a year past sixty-four.
You find your forced retirement seems a somewhat sinful plot -
Despite how far you may have climbed, you must backslide a lot.
- MATTIE RAE
FOOTNOTES -- A postal card water bill returned to the Dept. of Water and Power mail room had "Deceased" written on it. Also, ironically, the stamp cancellation imprint, "Live Better. Go all Electric" ... Joe Weston believes he encountered the so-called living end. A couple were riding a mechanized golf cart on a Palm Springs pitch-and-putt course ... No matter what anyone says, that is not me playing bass in the Doris Van trio at Harris' in Garden Grove. Fellow named Frank Wylie, apparently a near double ... In the event the S.F Giants run short of gimmicks to lure the customers into Candlestick Park. JackBalley suggests they hire Liberace to bat for Willie Mays.