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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phoenix.rising

Just went to Caren Ray’s campaign website regarding events and saw that Mayor Tony Ferraro is hosting a Caren Ray for Supervisor Garden Party fundraiser at the Heritage House Museum on September 20.


Maybe this is not the best of timing for Ray and her fundraising event seeing Mayor Tony and the city council will be discussing the “Sex and the city” independent investigation around that time!


Interesting to also note the entire city council has endorsed Ray!


Tim Brown, we need to take another look at your leaning. Already know that I would not vote for Joe Costello.


Barbara Harmon as city council is a MUST. The best we can hope for in this election is to elect Barbara and Tim Brown. Then in the 2016 election get Tony out.


As the world turns

Ray is a bigger joke than Hill. Her lack of understanding issues make women in politics look terrible. She is an embarrassment.


OnTheOtherHand

I have big questions about her independence and some about her views, but from what I saw of her postings on her website prior to the last election, I wouldn’t say that she lacks understanding of most issues. Just because you disagree with someone on a political basis doesn’t mean that they are automatically ignorant. Criticize the specifics all you want but making unjustified broad generalizations says more about you than it does about her.


agag1

Anyone who belonged to “a drinking group with a naked running problem” probably doesn’t have an issue with what happened at City Hall on 7/3.


AGDUDE

We disagree with Ms.Ray, Tony,and All city city council is putting mildly, To be blunt Ms.Ray is not very smart ,and Tony’s alott less smart hosting a garden party.


For Ms. Ray can not anyone see how screwed up these people are?? This twisted up bunch of crooks are running our city.. .


roberttorrance

on the bright side, ray is better than Barneich?


agag1

We need to understand that often times our council votes as a unit. There are some battles a dissenter chooses not to fight. Such is the case when it comes to council appointments, and supporting Ray for supervisor. These types of things tend to be unanimous , I suspect more do r the appearance of solidarity than actual personal support. How would it look for the council to come out in favor of Caren’s opponent, and against one of their own?


Not going to happen, gotta circle the wagons.


agag1

Oops–more for the appearance…


Gordo

The Tribune suffers from the same malady that their other traditional counterparts are suffering from; alternate news sources. The subscriptions are dwindling and with it their advertising base. Sandra Duerr wouldn’t allow the paper to investigate any government misconduct even if she received a damn road map showing her the way.

The paper has not broken a big story in decades and that type of paralysis leads to reader apathy; the New Times asks more tough questions than the Trib and it’s a free paper.

If Duerr and her staff are not going to probe some of the alleged abuses of power that they have been tipped off about in the past then they ought to shutter their doors and silence their presses for good.


phoenix.rising

After reading Kayaknut’s comment posted on 8/27 under Dan Blackburn’s article entitled, “Arroyo Grande council eyes reopening Adams inquiry”, re positions, if any, taken by the 4th district supervisorial candidates on the AG sex and the city scandal.


So I decided to do my own investigation, and gave a call to the campaigns of the two supervisorial candidates. When asked about the AG City Council scandal, Caren Ray’s campaign person stated that Ray “hadn’t been asked to address this issue and to email the candidate herself.”


Asking the same question of the Lynn Compton campaign, I was told that “Compton believes in open and honest government that works for the people.

Unfortunately, at this point, the questions keep coming pertaining to how this incident was handled after the fact. Because of this, Compton believes an independent investigation is warranted.”


The entire AG City Council is on record by voting on August 26 to call a special meeting of the council within the next couple of weeks to address an independent investigation. As candidates on the November ballot, will Tony Ferraro, Joe Costello and Tim Brown, stick to the position of pursing an independent investigation?


This will be interesting to say the least! So then I called on city council candidate, Barbara Harmon, who told me “..this incident just makes me want to work even harder to bring a new perspective to this city council in November. Given the circumstances, an independent investigation was warranted from the onset. I base this on my experience with Santa Barbara County government. Public trust is paramount. If a matter was even remotely perceived to place the department or county at risk, an independent investigation would be initiated.”


Based on the above, Lynn Compton and Barbara Harmon have my support!


agag1

So nice to know that Caren Ray is already in duck-and-cover mode. No doubt being well groomed and coached by Hill & Gibson. Heaven help us if, after the election, the Dynamic Duo becomes The Three Stooges.

Let’s not forget that Councilman Brown led the charge for the independent investigation. He deserves our support.


JMOpinion

The people are finally tired of being spoonfed horseshit and being told it’s caviar. Keep it up AG


Mr. Holly

The mushroom theory.

Keep them in the dark and feed them s–t.


snooky156

With all the cameras around the Village, I would assume there are some cameras in City Hall. If not, there should be. The council should authorize more building security — asap.


As far as liability, the council should do its best to protect the interest of AG citizens. The cost of an independent investigation is minimal compared to the potential long-term damage of professional reputations and potential civil suits. It’s unrealistic to think this issue will go away without further independent investigation and fact-finding.


Councilman Tim — always the one to ask the “longer view” question. Thank you for your service.


kayaknut

Don’t you know the cameras are only for watching the little people, not for watching the watchers.


wineguyjc

The Tribune is a joke. That paper succumbs to the pressures of their largest advertisers – which in this case is local governmental agencies. Local agencies post all their notices in the Tribune, all events, all press releases and of course all attempts to cover-up and suppress the truth. The Tribune is simply a bought and paid for rag. Pick it up and use it line the bird cage, because that is all it is worth.


As far as the top level management and council in Arroyo Grande they are all jokes. Here is something for people to contemplate. You need to do drug test the other top level managers at the City.


agag1

Power is a drug…is there a test for that?


mkaney

I think a lot of people are missing the significance of the problem here. If I were an Arroyo Grande resident I would not care about whether these two had some kind of fling. But I would care that they had the poor judgement to do it in city hall, that they were sloppy enough that they were found by public safety personnel, that they are being hypocrites because of personnel policies which they enforce, and that they have the audacity to approach it like a corporate public relations cover up.


cry-me-a-river

This paragraph says it all.


OnTheOtherHand

Well said. Exactly my sentiments as an AG resident. I doubt that there is much if anything illegal that was done here but the attempts to hide it and the investigation of it do not say much about the character of the AG City “leadership.” (The South County Sanitary District fiascoes are far more serious indictments of Ferrara’s character IMHO.)


diamond

The people who are supposed to make the rules, apparently are the only ones given free rein to break the rules. I thought the city attorney role was to protect the city and citizens, not be a personal defense attorney for overpaid, bumbling, Immoral and elitist staff. Another soap opera moment that is going to somehow cost money somewhere, while the wrong people keep collecting big salaries and benefits. Clean House. I’m sure there are qualified candidates, who are smart enough to play drunk DR. somewhere besides city hall, who would love to have the job. Time to stop rewarding bad behavior. The Morro Bay fiasco is a perfect example of overpaid staff. We should never be held hostage to keeping a staff members because it cost more to fire them than to keep them. What ever happened to firing people for cause without it being a financial bonanza to the persons fired?


SLO_Johnny

I gave up trying to find some solid political coverage in the Tribune; I gave up the subscription years ago. They spend more effort on high school football. We are lucky to have a source like Cal Coast News. Don’t forget to like them on Facebook and try the links from the ads on the website.


smiley

I was lining the bottom of the parrots cage with the Tribune but he asked me not to. Said not absorbent enough because already saturated with B.S.


As the world turns

Try the Tribune’s step sister The Cambrian. Their reporting is biased and step in line with whatever they are told by government officials. While Cambria is suffering a major water shortage, the Cambrian kept reporting on Lady gaga. Reporters and editor are star-struck.