AG council yields to officer probe demands

September 20, 2014
Tim Brown

Tim Brown


Prodded for weeks by growing sentiment to deal publicly with a prickly situation involving City Manager Steve Adams, the Arroyo Grande City Council will now seek an independent investigation of Adams’ “uncomfortable” behavior with a subordinate in a July 3 incident.

“If that’s what it’s gonna take to make this right,” said Mayor Tony Ferrara in the aftermath of a rare Saturday “special meeting” of the council, meeting behind closed doors, to consider Adams’ future.

Ferrara’s comments came after a parade of residents alternately criticized and praised the council’s actions to date.

Adams and Teresa McClish, the city’s community development director, were discovered in Adams’ darkened City Hall office near midnight by police officers, who had been asked by McClish’s husband to help locate her.

Responding officers later reported that they walked into an “uncomfortable situation” after finding Adams and McClish with their clothing in disarray.

Immediately after the incident was first reported by CalCoastNews, Ferrara deflected efforts by council members Tim Brown and Jim Guthrie, both of whom said they wanted to delve more deeply into the issue than had the city’s assistant counsel, Michael McMahon.

McMahon, at the behest of Ferrara, had already conducted a swift telephone interview of the officers who had responded to the scene. None of the officers reported having found Adams and McClish in an obvious sexual situation, although several said the situation they encountered was “uncomfortable,” McMahon said.

This prompted Ferrara to announce at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting that the matter had been “fully investigated” and that “nothing illegal” had occurred. Ferrara and Adams also hinted that officers may have colored their formal reports to benefit current labor negotiations.

That angered officers, who this week issued a vote of “no confidence” in both Adams and Ferrara.

According to city policy, managers cannot engage in intimate relationships with their subordination. In the past 15 years, the city has paid out more that $1.5million in sexual harassment claims.

In July, both McMahon and Ferrara had read officer statements from July 3 that noted McClish was partially undressed in Adams unlit office when they discovered the pair.

The council announced it now will seek an outside investigator to take another look at the matter. Ferrara said Saturday he “anticipated this two weeks ago” and expressed confidence that an independent investigation will simply show that “our officers were telling the truth” and that nothing untoward happened that night.

“I believe the police when they reported no obvious sexual behavior by Adams and McClish,” Ferrara said.

Brown and Guthrie comprise a “subcommittee” that will conduct a search for an investigator.




  1. StakeHolder says:


    Please help elect JIM HILL for Mayor! As a write in candidate, you have to be sure to check the box under Tony’s name and write in JIM HILL.

    You can help with passing out flyers, posting (and creating?) signs, writing letters to the editor, etc.

    CALL: (805)441-5133



    FACEBOOK: coming soon!

    (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
    • doglover says:

      My God!
      Mayor Ferrara said:
      “ It wasn’t because we thought the police (umm) were trying to hide something. It’s because we believe them. And we still do. But if it takes another person to look at this, and come back with a determination that yes, they were telling the truth, then (umm) I think that’s what we want to report right now out of closed session.

      We have made a determination that if that’s what it is going to take, and I should indicate to you that (umm) we anticipated this, we anticipated this a couple meetings ago, There was some, (umm) there was some (umm) direction or some concern about the time limit after the incident. And when we had our special meeting that I can tell you. We were doing our homework back then. We put together a list of investigators, potential investigators. (Umm)We asked for costs.

      So that’s the direction that the Council is willing to move in if that’s what it is going to take (umm) to make this right (umm) and yes, we are going to have to pay (umm) money to have it done…… And we are going to go outside of the County to do it so nobody can come back and say we have had prior contact with the City. That’s not going to happen

      There is a subcommittee that we decided will work with the City Attorney to make that selection. Councilmember Brown and Mayor Pro Tem Guthrie….

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
    • nurse1 says:

      Wishing Mr. Hill and the residents of Arroyo Grande all the best. Hopefully the majority of your voters are much brighter then the ones we have in Morro Bay. We have a city full of people that BLINDLY follow our egocentric mayor, regardless of all of his inept decisions that have cost our city hundreds of thousands of dollars, and now soon to be millions when and if our new sewer plant is ever built.Given your mayor Tony is his mentor, it is not really a surprise. Just the sad reality for so many that have called Morro Bay home for a long time. Our city, under Jamies Irons, Noah Schmuckler, and Christine Johnson’s inept leadership is on its way to becoming unincorporated.

      What recent history proves is that you do have voters that were, and are smart enough to at least put Dan Dow in office, as well as the new, soon to be 4th district supervisor Lynn Compton. Good luck in kicking Tony to the curb!

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. doglover says:

    If we can change the 3-2 on the Council and get someone in there, they can always put Adams termination back on the agenda?
    Perhaps they will agenize revising their HR Handbook?
    The fact that they came out of closed and announced another investigation when the agenda topic was Adams performance is till baffling/


    He and Adams are going to be in full force at the Harvest Festival acting like we are all crazy
    MAKE your plan now how you will react to that!

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  3. SadInsider says:

    Hi Otis,

    Heather Jensen would make a very viable candidate, and I’ve heard two other names being mentioned as well.

    Time is an obvious factor, in particular due to the challenge of being a write-in candidate. Despite these challenges, there is a sizable amount of resources and people accumulating to support such a candidate in every way possible. Ferrara is making himself, and sadly our city, look worse by the day. Hopefully a good candidate steps up to the plate very soon. Our citizens deserve so much better…

    Thanks regardless for filing your half of the grand jury complaint, and your courage and honesty when you have spoken during public comment. It means a great deal to those who are not in a position to voice their concerns.

    Thank you Sir

    (16) 24 Total Votes - 20 up - 4 down

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