I have many fond memories associated with South Lake Tahoe – renting a cabin with friends, a couple of weddings, a couple of rowdy New Years Eves… I’m sure I’m not alone in having a lot of great times at this great postcard perfect vacation spot.
But while many of us visit South Lake Tahoe, believe it or not there are nearly 35,000 people who call that city their home.
Whether a visitor or a year round resident of South Lake Tahoe, everyone sees the signature “Go Blue” public buses that zip all around town. For someone like me who doesn’t like to drive in the snow, I’ve hopped on them a time or two.
The reason why I bring this up is because today I am going to devote my column to exposing the bizarre story of John Andoh. John Andoh is the Big Kahuna of the Go Blue public bus transit system – in charge of all aspects of their operations. An employee of the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority, someone in Andoh’s low-profile role for a local government agency would not normally get on my radar screen.
That said, I have trained a whole cadre of FR readers to alert me when they see something interesting going on in their area – and so I had a link to an article sent to me that appeared in the Lake Tahoe News, detailing how the local transit chief, John Andoh, had been arrested last October for giving false information to the police.
Previously he had been involved in a car-on-bike traffic collision (he was in the car) and gave fishy information to the police. According to the article, the police interacted with Andoh and information kept changing – to the point where a couple of weeks after the accident an arrest warrant was issued for providing false information. He was arrested in October at the scene of some bizarre incident with a car with its hazards on dragging around a trash can. Crazy and bizarre.
The article sent by my buddy was sent with a note saying – “This is funny, the guy who runs the buses drove his car into a bicycle – talk about covering all of your bases!”
As I read the article, my eye caught an interesting paragraph at the end of it…
When Andoh was originally hired by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency he did not have to go through a drug test, have his Department of Motor Vehicle records pulled or have a background check. Those are things requested of BlueGo drivers – who Andoh oversees. He drives the buses and has access to agency vehicles for work purposes.
The article also mentioned that Andoh’s contract was being reviewed in closed session by the Board of the STATA on Oct. 3, the day after his arrest.
I made a quick call, since it’s been four months since this article ran (it takes me a while to get to these things), and Andoh is still running Go Blue. And since I found it pretty egregious that someone would be running a public transit system, and from time to time is driving public buses – and yet had no DMV or other background check, I thought I would surf the internet a bit and do some snooping of my own.
Since South Lake Tahoe is in El Dorado County, I punched in Andoh’s name on the county’s Web site form (click here and try it yourself) for active traffic court cases (in this instance, helpful his name wasn’t John Doe).
When I did, I hit the “mother lode” of alleged traffic violations… 21703 VC, 22349(A) VC, 22349(B) VC, 22349(A) VC, 12500(A) VC, 12500(A).
A little cross referencing here and all of those numbers translate to driving way too fast (a lot), and — the one I found most interested — an Unlawful To Drive Unless Licensed charge… Bear in mind this is just in a six month period and only for El Dorado County , a few more clicks and I found some similar activity in Contra Costa County.
I wonder if that last charge means that Andoh doesn’t even have a driver’s license?
Wouldn’t that be awkward for a transit chief? I can’t easily access someone’s driving record, but it would be very easy for his employer to do so – and you think that they would have done that already. Andoh is in a public job working for a public agency – so I think the public has the right to know if their transit chief has had his license suspended.
It might actually be more appropriate to call him a “transient chief” because in my quick online Google search of Andoh, this guy has worked all over California: Blythe, Santa Barbara, Escalon, Rio Vista, Sacramento, Benecia, San Joaquin County to name a few (and he’s only 29!).
It certainly begs the question of what kind of hiring and employment standards are in place over at this Transit Agency. I mean if I can find this kind of anecdotal information in ten minutes on a computer, it could just be the tip of the iceberg.
I thought I would look on the STATA website to see if I could figure out who is in charge over there. It turns out that this regional agency is government by a pretty huge board, with members in California and Nevada. I noticed that one of the board members is El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago.
I have dropped her an e-mail asking her “What’s up with Andoh? Does he even have a driver’s license?”
In the meantime, I sent a note back to my friend who sent me this article in the first place, telling him about this guy’s apparently lousy driving record. His response to me… “Seems to me like this guy should spend less time driving a bus, and more time riding as a passenger.”
While this was a humorous response, the reality is that this situation isn’t funny at all.
If Andoh truly is a terrible driver, and possibly doesn’t have a license – he should NOT be authorized to drive a bus, and frankly probably should not be running a transit agency at all.
Are there more “John Andohs” out there running our public transportation systems?
I know how expensive insurance is for my car, insurance for Mr. Andoh and others like him has to cost taxpayers a bunch of money that we can’t afford to spend — on top of the great benefits?
For more from Jon Fleischman, visit The Flash Report.