thanks but this method does not work if the verts you are trying to scale flat do not lie in a plane orthagonal to the axis you scale in. Hence this is why I need to CHANGE the scaling axis like I can change the translation axis.
If the scale axis is not close to normal to the plane the verts are in they go all catywumpus when you scale them and the entire surface gets wanked.
I'll post some pics.
I am using maya 8.5 and I can swear I was though all this in the past and in an older version of maya if you parent objects then the child object gets the axis translations of the parent - ALL of them : scale, translation, rotation. But in maya 8.5 it seems ONLY the translation axis is shared between the parent and child and rotation and scaling for pixels reverts to the childs, which is a stupid and a major frickin annoyance!