Arroyo Grande council eyes reopening Adams inquiry

August 27, 2014
AG Council Member Tim Brown

AG council member Tim Brown


Stung by accusations of a cover-up, the Arroyo Grande City Council Tuesday decided to probe further into a late-night rendezvous between two officials who were discovered in a darkened City Hall last month.

Prodded by council member Tim Brown and a string of angry residents, the panel decided to set a date to consider an independent investigation into the July 3 incident involving City Manager Steve Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish.

More than 70 people attended the overflow meeting, including a dozen public safety officers.

The council may set an emergency meeting for next week, or may handle the issue at its next regularly slated meeting.

According to law enforcement records and reports of people who were present at the scene, the pair appeared “disheveled” when found following a 911 call for assistance from McClish’s husband. He was concerned about his wife’s heart condition, he told officers.

Police officers responding to the call later reported feeling “uncomfortable” by the circumstances.

When CalCoastNews reported the incident last week, Mayor Tony Ferrara denounced the website and asserted that an internal investigation by an assistant city attorney found no “wrongdoing.”

Deputy City Attorney Michael McMahon conducted an inquiry into the incident, and told council members Tuesday he had “not skewed the report in any way.” He noted that the officers had said they did not find the pair in a sexual encounter. Then he contended that Adams and McClish said they were fully clothed when discovered, which differed from officer accounts.

In his cautiously crafted commentary, McMahon said,“There was not evidence that improper sexual behavior occurred.”

Nevertheless, as details of the incident surfaced in the 18,000-population village, residents began expressing “embarrassment” and “suspicion” and demanding a more thorough investigation.

Adams attended the meeting but made no comment about the episode.

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McMahon said,“There was not evidence that improper sexual behavior occurred.”

Improper sexual behavior is always in the eyes of the beholder. Therefore, I agree that in McMahon’s eyes this was proper sexual behavior vs improper. Thank you for your clarification Mr. McMahon, now we all know what you consider proper sexual behavior and at a bargain basement price of only $1254 which for government spending for an attorney and the outcome is unknown!

It was probably also sexual behavior in the eyes of Bruce Gibson.

“…proper” sexual behavior…”

The issue here is not so much what Steve and Teresa did while in a darkened City Hall on July 3, we need to know why city officials are choosing to indiscriminately adhere to their own policies. Giving Steve and Teresa a pass on accountability based on the fact that council thinks they’re “good people of integrity” does not justify giving them special treatment. No where does it state that the rules apply “except to employees we think have done a good job for us in the past”. We expect them to step up and make the tough calls, that’s what leadership does.

The council must look beyond the night of the incident when taking action. Will the actions of these two individuals negatively affect their ability to continue to work together in a rather intimate work environment? What affect will allowing this incident to pass (seemingly unpunished) have on other employees? Is the city “setting themselves up” for future litigation when Steve is allowed to keep his job?

Last night Mayor Ferrrara referred to the incident as” a little gray cloud”, that he hopes will pass quickly. I for one feel this is more like a big black eye on the face of Arroyo Grande. The pebble has just hit the pond.

A murderer is not a murderer until the first time. As agag1 states this does not justify giving them special treatment. And as a speaker pointed out last night they have now made city hall a hostile work environment.

If this was any company they would have both lost their jobs, PERIOD!

I don’t think they had to get caught in the actual act of intercourse to lose their jobs, but that is what the council is trying to say. I am sorry their alleged first mistake and bad judgement is enough I think they both need to move on.

I am tired of this garbage this Mayor puts up with, Ed Arnold he tried to keep on the council right to the bitter end, John Wallace with the sanitation dist, no conflict of interest according to Tony. This is not a little grey cloud Tony, it is a black eye.

While I agree with you, agag1, that what Steve and Teresa do as two consenting adults in none of our business. However, when you go to a City invited function representing the City, use City facilities, cost taxpayers for emergency services, and then deny what the public safety personnel saw and indirectly threaten their jobs it does become the public’s business. We have a supervisor who was having (may still be having) an affair with his administrative assistance, taxpayers paying her salary, traveling together, communication that is inappropriate, and behavior unbecoming of elected professional officials.

Yes, they cross the line then it does become the public taxpayers business!

I agree. I merely want to make the point that whether or not Steve and Teresa “did the deed” it can’t be the determining factor on holding them to the same standards as other employees.

I got the impression from council last night that unless the police memos indicate they were literally “caught in the act”, some do not feel compelled or required to termination the relationship with Adams or McClish. How far do we think the ” these are persons of high integrity” defense will get us when the City is defending us from litigation?

You’re right, just the fact that they were in a public facility, after hours, and NOT conducting official business is grounds for termination. It’s all spelled out clearly in the city personnel regulation document. One has to wonder what constitutes and embarrassment to the City if not this incident? Nowhere does it state that you must be caught with your pants down to be in violation. This verbiage may be added to the next revision, stay tuned.

Adams and Mclish need to resign now, Tony should be recalled.

I don’t get all the hoopla here. What does anyone else care about what they are doing at 11 at night? It only looks like people are jealous about somebody getting some. Yes an affair is shameful. I feel for her husband of course, but why such the big deal of needing to resign?

Wow…really? Who do you think will be responsible when the sexual harassment (on behalf of McClish) and hostile work environment (on behalf of other employees if these two are not terminated) lawsuits start rolling in?

Employers, and WE ARE THEIR EMPLOYERS, can NOT allow our public facilities to be used for any purposes than which they are intended. Capish?

Really LAH? In the WORK PLACE? Inebriated?

Agag1 said: Is it unreasonable for citizens to demand ethical, and honest leadership? –

If we as “The voting people” could make this happen, WE can stop wasting OUR time and $ over situations like this. You are unethical? BAmm you are fired!! How I wish this were true,

While I totally agree with Agag here, we can’t forget that the County Heads have already set the precedence for this issue! Good ole’ Bruce the Shmoose had his day in bed and nothing really came of it. He is still there! So why wouldn’t these 2 “lovers in the Hall” think they could get away with the same?

Why should they resign when the Brucey didn’t have to?

I do agree Kevin, In the work place is not acceptable. But you darn well know Gibson and his girly cultivated their affair in the work place too! And what about Mr. Collins of DSS? He dumped his wife for his worker girl? He shamefully holds himself above reproach.

I haven’t forgotten Mr. Major #1 #$% David Edge and his antics either. That was YEARS of inappropriate activities! And yes that ended in a law suit. Personally I thought that suit was a total joke, AS would I feel that any SHarassment case that would come from these 2 would be. Agag1, is so sure there will be lawsuits? They were BOTH found there, hard to prove you are being harassed.

Like I said, I do not accept their behavior as being OK, but what a waste of time and resources for nothing to really happen in the end.

Unless you charge them with trespassing on City property after hours without doing City business?

Put the Ethics law on the Ballot, I will be the first to vote for it!

Inaction guarantees us more of the same.

And how lucky you are! You sound like a guy who’s never been sued by any of your employees when they did something in clear violation of your company policies, but YOU get sued, because they work for……YOU!!

We hear about a lot of these workplace indescretions, but not so much about the big payouts. Those they REALLY try to cover up!

Agag1 said: Inaction guarantees us more of the same

Exactly my point! But what makes this case worse than the others?

All Pay outs need to be announced. My question is, why is it tolerated (let go to continue on in their position) in some circles, but not in others (in government)? Everyone is screaming about this here, an after hours affair, (granted on city turf.) Terminate, Resign! And they probably should! But why not limit all unethical behavior by Terminating across the board?

If you work for any public office your private affairs become culpable when related to other public officers. IF the public pays your paycheck you must abide by a strict rule of ethics. No passes for “special positions”.

Officers stated, “The pair appeared “disheveled” when found.”

Let’s face it, it seems to me that the Officers used the word “disheveled when found”, instead of stating that they found them half nude or in different stages of getting dressed in a hurry.

Police Officers often use discretionary writing skills or tactics depending upon the situation and or persons involved to minimize an explosive situation, or to avoid having to arrest someone.

But in this case it seems the PUBLIC wants all the facts and for them to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so Help them GOD…!

Disheveled: PC terminology for “bed head”?

I loved the fact that Kristen just sat up there and sang praise for Steve and Teresa, I think I got a cavity from it all.

Then she said, she did not want to spend a lot of money on another investigation. Good thing it is not about her, and it is about what the citizens want. We want to know for sure what happened because we do not trust you guys right now.

The police were there because they don’t like how they were portrayed in this situation. They are used to being lied to, and they know damn well when it is happening. So they did not catch you in a sexual act, maybe you had not gotten that far into the touchy feely game you seemed to be playing.

Then big Tony says how Steve came to them so apologetic about his lapse in judgement, and he just feels terrible about the whole thing. If he had not been caught, and his $157k a year job be on the line, I don’t think he would feel so bad.

I wonder how long it took Steve to practice the sad, mournful, whoa is me look he had on his face the whole time the public spoke.Body language speaks volumes, and Steve you acted like someone who got caught. You did not act like an innocent man, with a lapse in judgement.

Mr. Mack had no trouble calling Steve out on crap and staring him down. I think most of the speakers tried to be respectful, but it showed the under current of dis trust and of a badly functioning city.

good thing we have someone new running for a city council seat. Maybe Tony will finally get a woman council member who is able to stand up to his games and not bend under his controlling ways.

Seats in council chamber should be equipped with barf bags. Such glowing praise for one so recently involved in an incident that has embarrassed AG to this degree is nauseating. “Good people” are fired all the time for bad decisions, sadly, that’s life.

This isn’t about what’s best for Adams and McClish, it’s about what the citizens of AG have the right to expect from our elected officials.

Thank you COUNCIL MEMBER TIM BROWN for making the motion for transparency!

Making the motion is only the beginning, lets make sure he actually follows through with transparency. Many politicians make claims that sound good and they just hope the public moves on before it’s time to follow through.

Maybe someone should investigate the mayor, in addition to city manager and planner. And, get an independent investigator; not carmel’s office.

It needs to be the Grand Jury and they need to look at the entire issue from the beginning right up to this point in time. If everyone is absolved, great. The point is, whomever investigates has to be trusted and above reproach, not someone hired or appointed by the city. We have to believe in the outcome for the healing to begin.

The Trib reported that the mayor said the manager received “a very serious reprimand.” This of course begs the question, if nothing occurred as the mayor claimed last week, what was he reprimanded for?

For an unconvincing ” nothing happened”

He should be reprimanded for his unbelievable KSBY infomercial. Very poor PR for City of AG.

Definitely a “Duh” moment.

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