Fired RTD Official Files Suit, Says He Was Dyer's Scapegoat

RICH CONNELL, Times Staff Writer

The transit official who was fired last year as head of RTD's much-criticized bus operations has sued the agency, saying he was blamed for poor decisions by General Manager John Dyer and other top level managers.

Ed Nash, who was the RTD's transportation director, says in the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that the timing of his abrupt dismissal, combined with favorable performance evaluations during his 3 1/2 years on the job, shows he was "a scapegoat for highly publicized problems relating to [the RTD's] operations."

A 62-year-old retired Air Force major general, Nash was fired by RTD Assistant General Manager Robert Korach in January, 1987. The dismissal came less than 48 hours before Dyer, under intense public criticism for problems in the bus system, announced that there would be major reforms within the agency. (Under continuing pressure, Dyer himself will resign at the end of this month.)

Nash, who previously made only limited and reserved comments about his firing, told The Times on Monday that a series of "ridiculous" decisions by top management--including cutting back on the number of bus drivers in 1986 and shutting down a needed operating division near downtown--overtaxed the bus system that carries more than 1 million riders a day. Those and other decisions, which Nash said he strongly opposed, contributed to a number of problems that surfaced in 1986 and 1987, including increased passenger complaints, driver shortages, allegedly higher accident rates and overcrowded and dirty buses.

In an interview, Nash also became one of the first former high-level RTD insiders to charge that Dyer drained resources off the bus system to fund other activities, such as millions of dollars spent on local, state and federal lobbyists for the Metro Rail subway project. "I know funds were taken and allocated to other sectors," Nash said.

RTD officials said they had not been served with the lawsuit and would not comment.

Different styles

At the time Nash was fired, Korach spoke only of differences in management style and of his dissatisfaction with Nash's lack of previous public transit experience.

Nash, who claimed that he had no warning of his dismissal, on Monday showed a reporter copies of what he said were his RTD performance evaluations for the two years before his firing. Both bore Korach's signature and rated Nash's work highly. "I consider him a remarkably qualified person for this position," said one evaluation.

The former transportation director also said that he met with Dyer after his firing and Dyer, to his surprise, said he would hire Nash as a consultant to advise him on how to improve the bus system. In a later phone conversation, Dyer indicated that he would be sending along a consulting contract, Nash said, but he never received one.

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