Arroyo Grande City Council behaving badly

September 23, 2014
LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins


I am writing this letter to share my thoughts on the current situation facing Arroyo Grande residents and the city leaders. I have not lived in Arroyo Grande for long (close to two years), but the recent unethical behavior of the mayor, the city manager, and other members of the council have left an imprint.

As a high school teacher in the State of California for the last 20 years I was in a position to influence on a daily and minute-by- minute basis the minds and hearts of the students who came into my classroom. I spent a significant amount of time with them teaching content, but also helped with navigating life. Our young people need strong and ethical leaders. Our society needs strong and ethical leaders. Have you provided this kind of leadership in the last few months?

One of the most important things I learned while I was teaching is this: Children watch the behavior of adults. Children learn from the behavior of adults. Our children in the community will learn from your actions. Are you prepared to face that? Are you prepared to defend your actions to the most impressionable people in our community?

The only rule I truly had while I was growing up was, “Do not do anything that would bring a bad name to this house.” Simple enough. All I had to do before doing anything was ask that question. If the answer waivered from the ‘right answer’, then I didn’t proceed with that action, recognizing there would be consequences to my actions. The consequences would be good or bad, but they would be mine to deal with either way. I can tell you that the adults in my life practiced this rule, and showed me how to apply it to my life. Are you applying this rule to your life? And more importantly, are you accepting responsibility for your actions based on the actions you have chosen to take? What even you must realize is that you are not able to do anything you choose and not be held accountable.

On the larger landscape, our culture today allows people to blur the lines between what is acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. Because acceptable behavior is up for interpretation, so is the truth. The problem with truth is, it is based on fact, not interpretation. Sure, everyone may have their opinion about what the truth means for any given person or situation, but you cannot dispute facts. The truth cannot be clouded or changed to fit someone’s desires or needs. The truth is not selfish.

Ultimately the truth is not bendable or breakable. It is just truth. You have attempted to blur the lines of acceptable behavior and have also attempted to cloud the truth, if not bend it outright. You have bought into the larger cultural ideas that this behavior is acceptable and will be tolerated by the community. I will point out that the citizens of Arroyo Grande will not accept nor tolerate your behavior.

So what does this mean for the given situation? It means that the city leaders who have twisted the truth, who have excused bad behavior, and who have attempted to manipulate public opinion by pointing the finger towards the police department and other individuals (for doing their job) have failed at their role in being leaders. You have failed to fulfill your ethical duty to the people who either elected or hired you. It means you have also failed in providing a community government where the leadership has the best interests of the community at heart. It means that there is a lack of trust between the people and the current political leadership.

Let’s be clear, this situation isn’t so much about whether an extramarital affair happened or didn’t happen, that is a personal matter which needs to be dealt with personally. This is a matter of city leadership not doing the right thing in the face of a difficult situation. If you, as a leader, cannot be honest with the people who elected or hired you regarding a clandestine moment, how can you expect the people of Arroyo Grande to trust you with the bigger things, like, running the city?

Remember the definition of a leader. The definition of a leader is “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” You are the chief, the head. But a leader is more than a title you tote around on your business card; you have a role to play in society once you are given that title. Your role is to do just that—lead. You might be a specific kind of leader, an innovator, trailblazer, groundbreaker, pathfinder, etc. You might be effective, or ineffective. You may also be ethical, or unethical. You may be laissez-faire, or see yourself as a servant. Whatever word used to describe a leader, that description, is built on the actions of that leader. I can assure you the recent actions taken by you have defined you as leaders. You are not viewed as effective, or servants, or innovators (hallmarks of all great leaders). You are seen as people who will do anything to hold their positon.

You are seen as unethical, dishonest, ineffective, and untrustworthy.

It is time for the leaders of the city, or at least the people who view themselves as the leaders of the city, to ask themselves, if they are truly the leaders of the city. Are they the people who will help do what successful leaders do in an organization? It may take some soul searching; it may take you down some dark places, but you ultimately need to ask and answer this question and make the decision that is best for the community, not for yourselves. You may even need to ask yourself, the toughest question of all, “What would Jesus do?” I think we can all agree on one thing about Jesus (hopefully more), that he was a transformational and radical leader who put people first—not himself.

Just know this. I will be watching. I will be attending council meetings. I will be asking tough questions. Others will too. I am educated, informed, and willing to define myself as a political watchdog. There is so much to love and value in the city of Arroyo Grande. There is too much at stake, and with poor leadership, even more is at stake. There is also work to be done; work that requires people who are willing to do that work. Only people serious about doing that work should be leading that work. Are you serious about the work? And more importantly, can you deliver on getting it done in an ethical manner?

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An Open Letter to Mayor Ferrara, The City Manager’s Office, and the City Council of Arroyo Grande:

You may or may not have read my letter which was published on the Cal Coast News website on Tuesday. You may or may not remember I spoke at the Council meeting on Tuesday night. You may or may not care that I have opinions related to how you (as a group) are conducting the business of the City of Arroyo Grande. You may or may not read this letter. If you do read this letter, you may dismiss it entirely. That dismissiveness would only confirm your dismissiveness over the last few months.

My first letter identified words which could be used to describe a leader and your leadership. This letter focuses on additional ways to describe your leadership of the City of Arroyo Grande as well as additional observations and knowledge I have gained over the last few days watching the current crisis unfold as well as undertaking some recreational reading.

On Tuesday night I introduced the word nonfeasance. As I stated in the public forum, nonfeasance is defined as “a failure to act that results in harm to another party.” This word adequately describes your leadership over the last several months. You have taken no action when action was necessary and you have caused harm to our city through this inaction.

I would also use the word mismanagement. You have mismanaged resources, people, situations, and your authority regarding not just this most recent incident surrounding the City Manager’s office, but with regards to several other situations as well. We could spend time re-hashing the recent release of 30,000 gallons of potable water down a gutter. We could also discuss the necessity of spending 70,000 dollars on a training program to teach our citizens to conserve water, when in reality you just need to enforce the sanctions currently in place. I can assure you, they are not being enforced as I live near a house which uses the sprinklers every day for the lawn. These are just two examples.

Careless is relatively self-explanatory, but I will explain this a little further. You have been careless in the application of the laws and policies which govern the city leaders as a whole. Given your affinity for carelessness, you have shown yourselves to be equally dismissive of facts as well as public opinion. Because you are dismissive of facts and public opinion, you have a very limited scope or view of your role in our community and of the situation facing all of us. Your dismissiveness of facts has also led you to use phrases like “bad judgment,” when in reality, you should be using phrases such as “city and department rules and policies were broken and we are taking action to terminate Mr. Adams.”

You are also misguided. You insist that your independent investigation will be impartial because you have created a list of possible candidates to conduct this investigation who work outside of our city or have no ties to our city. No offense, but not one person at the meeting on Tuesday believes your list of investigators is impartial of your leadership, nor independent of your leadership. The only way to truly have an independent AND impartial investigation is to let an outside agency make the determination of who will undertake this investigation. Don’t miss this, your independent investigation must be impartial, or it will be a waste of time, money, and resources. These items are not mutually exclusive; independent and impartial are the two requirements for this proposed investigation and something the citizens of Arroyo Grande demand be a goal and an achieved outcome of this investigation.

Respectfully Yours,

LeAnn Akins


Once again, Great Job.

Can and should you forward this to the DA, the Grand Jury, the Police Officers Association and to the League of California Cities?

You still have my vote. Keep up the good work.

They will be forwarded to all of the above today…….

Please come to Red Dirt Coffee Shop tomorrow, Fri 9-10 am if possible!

I can’t make the meeting because I am at work, but I would like to know the details for

tomorrow so I can attend. Please message me here or send me an email at

I hope to hear from you today!

Poignant, direct and so very true. A breakdown in ethical behavior is almost always the precursor to greater corruption (see Enron, al moriarty, countrywide mortgage, and insert name of any politician).

The author demonstrates critical thinking in conveying exactly why the incident and cover-up are truly a problem. Critical thinking is being lost in our bumper sticker culture,

Glad there are teachers like the author.

Thank you for the comment. Let’s hope Cal Coast will publish the piece I just sent in response to the meeting on Tuesday night. Thank you for your positive comments. Have a great’


LeAnn: Rather than be a “political watchdog”, why not become a politician? Why not run for Mayor of Arroyo Grande?

This Ferrara is a cancer on the reputation and operation of AG. He needs to go. You might very well be the sort of person AG voters would support.

Thank you for the supportive comments SamLouis. Wow, Mayor? I don’t know………I will definitely be attending council meetings moving forward to see how things work in our fair city. Maybe in the near future I will throw my hat into the ring…….:)

No! No, Sam, we need LeAnn as 4th District Supervisor….

I am not sure I am ready to go up against Compton or Ray…….but thank you for the

vote of confidence……

Pre write your comments for TONIGHT.

Do not get off focus.


Independent investigation directed by DA

Terminate for cause Adams

Where are the tapes?

What was the reprimand? How did it hurt? Did Adams give back the 10% raise?

Are all City employees allowed to come to place of work after hours to “sober up”.

Terminate contract with Carmel.

Easier to recall Tony than provide for write in

How about asking a previous council person.

Be strong tonight, but keep it professional.

Take the upper hand.

Wow. Just Wow!

I registered five minutes ago so I could comment on Leann Akins opinion piece.

Absolutely magnificent!

I noticed the wanna be journalist Aaron Ochs is keeping his wormy little mouth shut on this one!, Oh I forgot it is Aaron JOKES. Perhaps the good teacher might be able to give you a few lessons on writing. You could graduate from your slimy little FB page to something real!

Now get back to work Aaron! I have patients to tend to. ; )

Welcome to CCN Scott. You’re in for a heck of a ride!

Valid points and she was doing beautifully – until she brought the “Jesus” standard into it. Otherwise, a solid perspective re: leadership.

Really AG gal, really?

There is no higher standard. No “otherwise” to it. A very well written piece.


Can’t wait to meet you tonight at the council meeting.

I and many others will welcome a fresh face, and a new voice,

as we continue to bring change to a badly broken city government.

Let’s meet up at the next council meeting? I also just forwarded a response to the meeting

from Tuesday evening to Cal Coast. Hopefully it will come up in the next couple of days.

Things might feel broken now, but that is temporary.

Let’s meet up Fri morning at Red Dirt Coffee Shop 9-10am

“If you, as a leader, cannot be honest with the people who elected or hired you regarding a clandestine moment, how can you expect the people of Arroyo Grande to trust you with the bigger things, like, running the city?”

What a terrific question! Care to answer, Ferrara?