Arroyo Grande tryst a group affair
August 19, 2014
By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN
A late night rendezvous at Arroyo Grande City Hall involving two city officials ended abruptly when emergency workers, responding to a 911 call about a missing spouse, discovered a partially dressed couple in the darkened building.
But the sex scandal apparently goes far beyond staff using a City Hall office for late night liaisons, and includes the cost to taxpayers for the emergency response and for the pair traveling together to out of town events. Several staffers said city officials appear to have conspired to minimize the incident.
On July 3, Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish attended the grand opening of Robert’s Restaurant, across the street from City Hall.
At about 10 p.m., McClish called her husband to say she was on her way home from work and that her cell phone was dying, according to city documents.
Shortly after 11 p.m., McClish’s husband called 911 to report that his wife had not arrived home. Though it had only been about an hour since McClish had called her husband, he said he was worried because she has a heart condition and he asked officers to find out if she was still at City Hall, according to city records and sources.
Police dispatchers responded by sending a car to City Hall and another to check out Ralph and Duane’s, a neighborhood bar. Officers did not find McClish at Ralph and Duanes, according to police documents.
At City Hall, police discovered McClish’s green Ford Focus parked in the front lot, with her purse and cell phone inside. The lights at City Hall appeared to be off and no one answered knocks on the door or calls to inside phone lines, police documents say.
Considering McClish’s heart condition, officers called firefighters for assistance, according to city records and sources.
At 11:36 p.m., during their search of the building, officers discovered Adams and McClish in an intimate situation, several sources said. After dressing, McClish informed her husband that she had been found.
In the past, Adams has been adamant about prohibiting romantic relationships with subordinate employees. Several years ago, he insisted on the termination of a female police officer who had a personal relationship with a lower-ranking member of the force.
Following the Adams-McClish incident, city staff said they have concerns about the handling of an investigation because of the close relationships between Mayor Tony Ferrara, city attorney Timothy Carmel, and Adams. In April, Carmel wrote a memorandum recommending the Arroyo Grande City Council approve a 10.5 percent increase in Adams’ salary — to begin on July 4.
Nevertheless, Ferrara selected Carmel to lead the investigation into Adams’ alleged affair with McClish, city sources said.
On August 12, Adams sent a memorandum to the city council asking them to approve a 3 percent increase to the $250,000 the city paid Carmel for legal services in fiscal year 2013-2014.
Calls to Adams, McClish and Ferrara were not returned. A woman who answered the phone at Carmel’s office first said, “Just a minute please…” and then returned to the phone to say Carmel would “be out of the office until September.”
When asked why the city was having Carmel investigate Adams’ alleged affair with a subordinate, Councilwoman Kristen Barneich said she would have to speak with Carmel and Adams before she could respond to the question.
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