Arroyo Grande’s timeline reveals inconsistencies

August 26, 2014
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker

By JULIE TACKER

Arroyo Grande needs an independent investigation into what began at the “soft opening”, as characterized by KSBY news, of Robert’s Restaurant in the Village of Arroyo Grande on July 3. City Manager, Steve Adams and Community Development Director, Teresa McClish, enjoyed dinner and some wine, according to their own accounting, and reported in the Aug. 21 web-edition of the local daily, they also went to Roster Kitchen, another restaurant/bar in the village, and enjoyed yet another glass of wine.

Both restaurants in the village of Arroyo Grande close at 10 p.m. and according to the Arroyo Grande Police Department (AGPD) at 11:04 .m. Dana McClish, the husband of Teresa McClish, called AGPD to request that officers check the City Hall parking lot to see if his wife’s vehicle, a 2013 light green Ford Focus, was still there.

Dana McClish told the dispatcher his wife had a pacemaker. He explained that she had called him one hour earlier to say she was leaving work and that her cell phone was dying, but she had not yet arrived at their home in Morro Bay. This puts Teresa’s call to Dana at right around 10 p.m.

Police were dispatched just one minute later and arrived in the village at 11:07 p.m. Over the course of the next 30 minutes officers found the car in the city hall parking lot, ran its license plate to confirm ownership to be that of McClish.

One officer begins checking the building; all lights appear to be off. He telephones McClish’s work number, there is no answer.

At the same time another officer inquires at Ralph & Duane’s, a bar just two blocks west of city hall and the closest establishment open after 10 p.m. He doesn’t find the couple.

Meanwhile, a third officer calls Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA), “Code 11-98” (meet officer); he relays the need to access the Knox Box, a small, wall-mounted safe that holds building keys for emergency personnel to retrieve in emergency situations. FCFA records reveal they were dispatched at 11:38 p.m., moments later, the first officer makes contact with the couple.

Characterized as “disheveled” (McMahon/Tribune interview) the officer reports “C4” (Code 4, No further assistance needed) and McClish “will contact husband.”

McClish would then be responsible for calling her worried husband as the officer who had called FCFA now calls off the four firefighters in route at 11:43 p.m. and Engine 66 returns the station on Traffic Way, the record shows.

The AGPD report indicates that the incident was not entirely resolved until 12:09 a.m. on July 4. Ironically, July 4 was the day that Mr. Adams 10.5 percent raise took effect, taking his annual salary up to $157,000.

Realizing that police and firefighters come upon the most uncomfortable situations in the line of duty, this particular “uncomfortable situation” must have been extremely awkward to warrant a Special Closed Session meeting of the City Council agenda to be posted the following Monday for Tuesday.

Under the guise of “Performance Review” for both the City Manager and Legal Counsel, the meeting minutes reflect the city council’s July 8 meeting was extended by an hour and half, and didn’t adjourn until 11:48 p.m. Meeting minutes also indicate “no reportable action” took place that night, but City Attorney Michael McMahon, of Carmel & Naccasha, LLP, told the daily newspaper that he was tasked to investigate the incident. That direction given by the council is reportable.

Over the past six weeks, McMahon conducted interviews with Adams, McClish and the officers involved. Yet, McMahon generated no written report and estimates the city will pay $1,254 for his “investigation.” It is likely, as the cover up continues, the legal bills will too.

Additionally, the City Council’s July 22 regular meeting was cancelled and the Aug. 8 filing deadline for candidates to run for city council and mayor has passed. When the Aug. 12 City Council agenda was posted, there was nothing on it to indicate that any item related to the July 3 incident, the McMahon investigation, or any performance reviews would be discussed in open or closed session.

Irony strikes twice; at this same meeting the council approved an Amendment to Legal Agreement; awarding a 3 percent increase across the board to the legal firm the city has contracted with for the last 21 years, Carmel & Naccasha, LLP.

A week later and nearly six weeks post incident, CalCoastNews (CCN) breaks the story. “The story” is news because public resources, including over an hour of no fewer than four police personnel, some fire personnel, and SLO County Sheriff dispatch are caught up in what appears to be pleasure, not business, at Arroyo Grande City Hall.

CCN’s reporting describes much more than an “uncomfortable situation” that could be “misconstrued” (Adams characterization of the evenings events) giving the impression reporters Karen Velie and Daniel Blackburn spoke directly with officers involved. The daily paper and KSBY then cover the stories and give Adams a chance to tell his side of things where he is accusatory of the responding officers as if they “can benefit by damaging my reputation.”

The KSBY story runs a peculiar statement from City Council Member Tim Brown saying he, “cannot discuss anything that happened during a closed door session,” but does say, “the council voted and the majority of the members decided not to pursue further investigation.”

Mr. Brown’s quote adds to the mystery; there has been no other closed session that would allow for any further discussion on this personnel matter since July 8, and certainly not a vote. Votes in closed session are required to be reported in open session; no such report has been given. When asked Aug. 24, city staff said, “The indication that there was a vote was incorrect.”

The only agendized item since McMahon was given orders to investigate the incident was Aug. 12, when the council went behind closed doors to discuss labor negotiations related to the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association. If the 44-minute conversation included the events of July 3 as part of this discussion then Adams and the council have much more to explain. How officers handled the situation that Adams states, “resulted in an appearance that could be easily misinterpreted” that was brought upon themselves, and has nothing to do with the terms of employment for the entire police force.

Like a puzzle with missing pieces, the public record shows many inconsistencies in the story as the city tries to change history and cover up. The old saying goes, “the cover up is always worse than the crime” and in the instant case, the cover up now involves the Mayor, City Council, daily paper and KSBY to confuse the public into believing this was merely an “uncomfortable situation” that had been “misconstrued” (KSBY August 22).

The story isn’t over and won’t be until there is independent review and, if necessary, disciplinary action is taken. The punishment should fit the crime, but if hiding the crime continues the incident will erode community morale further. Not that long ago, city staff watched Adams fire a policewoman colleague for a relationship with a subordinate, while he appears to “get away” with a similar circumstance.

The Arroyo Grande City Council must realize that there is no putting the genie back in the bottle and must act accordingly. Hire independent council now to put the matter to bed and get on with the important work of the city.

Julie Tacker is a SLO County government watchdog.


23 Comments

  1. AGDUDE says:

    When I drink wine , I tend to lose control.much like other ..

    Signed Nkd Phil

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. AGDUDE says:

    You know I never did like wine,now I know why..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. udontknow says:

    From watching the council meeting it sounds like the decision was already made that mr adams and Teresa are not guilty of anything. It’s unfortunate the council made those comments before knowing the results of a more in depth investigation. Like someone said adams and Teresa are probably great employees and good people. But that does not excuse misconduct lots of good people make poor choices but lying makes it worst. And one more note KSBY is not an investigative news it’s just one sided and the fact they made no mention of the city conducting another investigation misleads the public that the investigation is complete. very poor journalism thank goodness we have ccn.

    KSBY you should not even consider your news anything more than related stories that can be found on any other news your a bunch of cowards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

    • dogeatdog says:

      Watch the news clip when
      Steve says he did not do anything wrong right after showing the box of tea, he looks down and to the right. That is called a ‘tell’ it is involuntary, but it shows how his body reacts to lying. Look away, don’t keep eye contact.

      His body language says something other than his mouth. All he had to do was tell the truth, that would have kept this whole thing from blowing up like it has. And then Tony had to join in with his spin.

      Trust has been lost

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. UncleCharlie says:

    Very nice work here, Ms Tacker. Very nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 5

  5. letsbhonest says:

    Highest Integrity……LMAO!!!!!! People with the highest integrity don’t create nor invite
    questionable situations…let alone married one’s. Husband should replace that
    Pacemaker with a “where are you now” tracking device. They were screwing around and
    If they weren’t why would they set up themselves to make it look that way? Both involved
    Are stupid idiots! Good Job Julie!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  6. dogeatdog says:

    We are getting a independent investigation and the issue will be on the agenda in the next week or so.

    The police dept was there in full support of the truth coming out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 4

  7. missmuffet says:

    Nice job in offering the facts and evidence Julie.

    Let me offer a bit of levity about this whole sorrid mess which was brought on by some unethical officials.

    Remember Ricky Nelson’s 1980s song Garden Party?

    I could not help but tweek the lyrics a bit to help us understand our city disaster. I linked the youtube below so you can sing along with the revised lyrics

    Went to the rooster tavern, to reminisce with my old friends
    A chance to share old memories, sip vintage wine again
    When we got to the rooster tavern, they all knew our names
    No one raised an eyebrow, about my city hall dame

    But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

    And people came from miles around, everyone was there
    Roberts was wearing his orange suit, there was magic in the air
    An’ over in the corner, much to my surprise
    Someone hiding behind a barstool, waiting to tell some lies

    But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

    We headed back to city hall, the place from where we came
    after three good glasses of wine, we didn’t look the same
    I said how bout we sober up and drink some herbal tea
    She said let me call my husband, I think he’s waitin up for me

    But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

    Someone opened up the city hall door and in stepped Johnny Law
    Oh such an “uncomfortable situation”, wonder what he saw?
    We worried about our future, would our manager jobs get cut
    the mayor told us not to worry, the council will cover your butt.

    But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

    An’ it’s all right now, yeah, learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

  8. wineguyjc says:

    Julie, I am note a fan of your politics, but stellar, stellar job bringing this too complete light. What a bunch of lowlifes running our fine city.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 10

  9. Perspicacious says:

    Julie, you are being unfair. These two have the highest integrity…or so we are told.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 17

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