Public input unwelcome in Arroyo Grande

August 29, 2014
Mayor Tony Ferrara

Mayor Tony Ferrara

COMMENTARY by DANIEL BLACKBURN

Up until today, I’d never met a newspaper that didn’t love a good, old fashioned investigation by some official agency.

Now that the Arroyo Grande City Council plans to meet publicly to discuss once more a particularly prickly personnel problem, an independent investigation (the best kind) looms.

Not appreciating this, however, is the county’s daily. But maybe that shouldn’t be surprising given the reality that this incongruous McClatchy publication doesn’t much like to do its own investigations.

Editors of The Tribune chose today to editorially chastise residents of Arroyo Grande for showing up at their city council’s meeting earlier this week to vocally express their thoughts. The editorial whines, “Why is A.G. wasting time on inquiry?”

Same editors must have chugged some of the “tea” that has become central to a story being told by City Manager Steve Adams.

Adams and a subordinate department director, Teresa McClish, were found in a darkened City Hall near midnight July 3 by police and emergency workers who were responding to a 911 call from McClish’s husband. Adams and McClish were reported to be “disheveled,” a situation responding police officers later described as “uncomfortable.”

CalCoastNews broke the story Aug. 19, after trying unsuccessfully for two days to contact city officials involved, who, like the Godfather’s Corleone family, had apparently “gone to the mattresses.”

First came Mayor Tony Ferrara, telling a local civic group that all was well, he’d looked into the situation, CalCoastNews is unbelievable, and Adams and McClish are the salt of the earth.

Then Adams and McClish and the city’s legal team made themselves available to… The Tribune.

The pair claimed they had been drinking wine at nearby bars, and were sipping tea and waiting to sober up before driving home.

The spoon-fed  Tribune printed what can only be called the pair’s questionable version without question.

Ferrara would later concede that Adams had been “seriously reprimanded” by the council. But for what?

At Tuesday’s council meeting, a standing-room crowd jammed into city hall, with more people overflowing into an adjacent conference room. Nearby restaurants, also packed, were airing the meeting on the local government access television channel. Dave Congalton, on his Hometown Radio talk show on KVEC-920, broadcast the public hearing portion of the meeting.

When is the last time you heard of that happening?

The reason for this occurring, quite simply, is public interest. People want to know why Adams and McClish put themselves — and the city — in this terribly awkward position, regardless of what transpired behind closed doors that night.

I believe that a primary function of journalism is to give voice to those stifled by powerful interests. The local daily simply gives the politically potent a bigger club with which to pound the citizenry.

From The Tribune’s editorial: “So, again, why is the City Council seriously thinking about funding another investigation? Is it to satisfy the contingent hollering that the city is transpiring to cover up inappropriate conduct on the part of two top employees?”

In a word, yes: That’s exactly why. It’s a matter of responding to the people.

What is happening here boils down to politics 101, because any independent investigation will exacerbate and complicate this situation, keep it in the public eye longer, and generally make things worse. Much better if said independent investigation never occurs.

When the council eventually meets within the next two weeks to vote on such an independent investigation, Ferrara will need two council allies to kill it. Kristen Barneich has made clear in her public comments that she likely can be counted on to be one.

The Trib’s editorial is Ferrara’s truncheon to pummel just one more council member into submission.

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achillesheal

Convenient Transparency – the hallmark of any good government agency.


People who refer to themselves with D’s and R’s – it’s time to realize politicians use those labels, not to divide themselves, but to divide us so we will not realize that the government official (whether a D or an R) is the true enemy.


Dave

I am proud to know you, Dan!


Jorge Estrada

These people working for CCN donate much of their lives to get the news out.


IronHub

Two reasons why this will never be a ‘special meeting’ of the council. First, it would lend too much importance to the issue generally. And second, in a regular meeting, this agenda item can be placed wherever Steve ‘n Tony want it to be… way late in the evening, maybe? The only transparency here is the path of the politics…


As the world turns

The Tribune newspaper and their step-child The Cambrian newspaper are only good for recycling. Their stories are biased and they dare not do actual journalism by getting all the facts and reporting objectively.


Mariposa

Take it a step further…CANCEL publications, like The Tribune, that are purposeful only to feed recycling bins. Be proactive in eliminating anything/everything unwanted/unneeded that doesn’t support honesty and integrity in reporting. Spare yourself the chore of weaning yourself off The Tribune – don’t aid and abet by becoming/being a paid subscriber. Just say NO!


agag1

We will miss our recently cancelled subscription for three reasons:

1. We use it to line the bottom of the bird cage.

2. I use the plastic bag for any snails I see when collecting the paper.

3. We have a wonderful carrier who serves us well.


As the world turns

Agree. Cancel subscriptions to the Tribune and Cambrian.


MaryMalone

Since you don’t need to subscribe to the Tribune to read the content, there really is no reason to subscribe to it.


The only time I read the Tribune is to see what kind of cockamamie, mess they made of their article about the latest scandal involving the powerful in our county.


dogeatdog

I say if Tony gets 2 people to say no to the independent investigation the public wants, the public should respond by starting a recall of the entire council.


And we should continue to show up at EVERY council meeting and when they have public comment at the start, We all just time and time again say we want an investigation.


Tony wants this to be a “little grey cloud that passes over quickly”


He wants a charted city, so he has more control.


Vote NO ON THE CHARTER. Show them we mean business and not monkey business.


MaryMalone

I agree about the tie in with voting for the city charter issue.


Good lord, if they can’t do any better than abusing the power they already have, it would be absolutely insane to vote for the city charter, which would only give them MORE power to screw us over.


Kevin Rice

Just cancel the Tribune already. They are completely irrelevant and actually working against the public interest.


Rawhide

Ferrara will need two council allies to kill the independent investigation.

Kristen Barneich has made clear in her public comments that she likely can be counted on to be one.


Hum, makes me wonder who Ferrara’s been banging in darkened rooms…! ?

Maybe this is just the tip of the ice berg.


agag1

No doubt there’s been almost non-stop correspondence between the city attorney, council members, and Steve. $$$$ CHA-CHING $$$$

They agreed to an impartial investigation for the sake of appearance, but do they REALLY want one?

Stay tuned to learn how they manage to get away without actually having one….you know they’re working on it.


dogeatdog

Barneich is married to a union based employee, I don’t think she has ever had a real job in her life, she was groomed for this position, she is a YES woman. As she said “would you want to lose your job over speculation?” Unless actually caught in the act tony and her are going to do nothing. The best thing she said she wanted the issue on an agenda this week if she could have. Tony cringed, he could not do his control game that quickly.


I think the #3 vote will be Costello. He is friends with Tony, has worked with Tony in the past. During the last election they stood under one pop up tent together at festival telling people what they stood for. I have never seen ANY politician do that before, they are joined at the hips.


Brown will want it, and Guthrie I am not sure about yet.


I think we all need to speak up and say we don’t get an investigation we will start a recall of the whole city council. You get a standing room only, and a few dozen people saying RECALL the council, they might start to listen. It only takes a few signatures to start the recall process.


Tony does not want a new city manager, he has control over Steve. A new manager means he loses control for a time and possibly for good. Steve is Tony’s puppet, like most of this council is.


I wonder if Barbara Hamon the woman running for council would be willing to be a write in candidate for mayor?


MaryMalone

Interesting idea.


sharshofar

Tim Brown and Joe Costello are up for re-election so if either of them agreed with Tony and Kristen it would affect their chance for re-election. Jane Harmon is running for a council seat so I do not believe the Mayor’s position is open for her. I do not think Tim Brown would side with Tony as He is the one that opened the item to come before the City Council, Tim really wants what is best for the city… Joe it is time to Go…Please!


dogeatdog

As a write in I believe Hamon could take the position, if she got enough votes.

Tim is not a Tony brown nose, and with another person who thinks like him, maybe we can get Guthrie to grow a bit more of a back bone.


Kristen will just start looking more and more like the brown nose she appears to be. Which is shocking since her dad, Chuck Fellows is/ was not a fan of tony’s.


As far as time for Joe to go…. I would not say Please, I would say get out and give this city a chance if you really want what is best. You are not impartial when it comes to doing what Tony wants.


Rich in MB

The Tribune has long ago lost the “Watch Dog” position so important of the press and turned “Lap Dog” to play and reside along with the ruling class elite. The people (read rabble) must be told how to act and respond now by not just their elected czars in City and Country government, but by the Press as well.


agag1

Nailed it!


agag1

To a “tea”!


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