RIO VISTA — So where are the “missing” records?
When Jim McElroy, Rio Vista’s transit consultant, was hired last spring to review the city’s transit system and provide interim management support after the departure of John Andoh, McElroy couldn’t find much of what he needed to find: Records dealing with such items as grant documents and ridership numbers.
He documented his search and findings in a recently released transit study presented to the City Council. The report surprised some, but not others. Andoh was one of the ones surprised.
McElroy insisted he’s not finding glaring or flagrant issues in the system, nor an intent to “mislead or misinform.” He described the issues as a simple accumulation of problems.
“I’m not trying to be critical of prior management, I’m just handed what I’m handed,” he said. “My rule is to deal with exactly what is right in front of me when coming in.”
What was in front of him appeared to be little.
But Andoh, who began with the city in 2005, said the records should have been there.
As a part-time coordinator of both the airport and transportation system who operated frequently from offsite locations, Andoh said the records were in his office located at the airport. He also kept electronic records on a memory stick, since he “did a lot of work outside the office,” he said. More records were also kept on his computer.
Andoh said when he joined the city, he was tasked with consolidating all the transit files. He said they were “all over the place” in City Hall, such as the city clerk’s office, public works and finance.
“I was very diligent in my files,” he said.
He described his relationship with the interim city manager, Joe Tanner Jr., as tenuous and said much of the issue is that it was a “poor” transition when he left, charging Tanner with disinterest in files or explanations.
Tanner initially declined to talk about personnel issues, but said he disagreed with the transition being the issue and said, “The files that are missing go back much further than transition time.”
“We asked for a number of things when he left,” Tanner said.
When asked about the memory stick that Andoh said he tried to turn over, Tanner said, “We take mail.”
Tanner commended McElroy’s report and said that nothing in it surprised him.
“I thought it was a good report,” he said.
Councilman David Hampton, who was absent when the report was presented but has since read it, said, based on hearsay, he wasn’t surprised at the report’s results. The report noting the missing records did surprise Councilwoman Constance Boulware, who said, “The previous councils were getting reports.”
“I know that we have gotten staff reports over the years,” she said.
The lack of in-house paperwork, McElroy said, caused him to “back into things” to get the needed records by contacting “the range of agencies that we interact with that have received reports from us in the past,” he said. McElroy added that the reports were done and filed with the proper agencies but “normally when (you) walk into an entity there is a file system that supports that.”
“I’m having to find things by roundabout paths,” he said.
McElroy said his next step is to look at the service itself. Plans included a risk assessment concerning currently used discretionary federal funding sources, which, he said, are declining. The impact of the decreased funding isn’t known right now, he said. He also plans to increase ridership of the city’s transportation system.
He will go again before council in about three months.
“What’s going to be a critical piece is . . . to get the administration functions in place and increase ridership within the existing resources,” he said.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.