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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if you think arrroyo grande city council is behaving badly then like the following facebook page….more fringe media for Tony Ferrara to discount…



Nicely written..

Concerning…Strong, Intelligent Women who aren’t afraid…

You and JULIE TACKER might should get together as you have that in common.

I’d also include Karen Velie and Lisa Rizzo in that in that same category of women.


Should I be offended? Know this…I am not. I personally do not care what you think about

me or what I wrote, or who you think I am like or not like.


Believe me, it’s a compliment!


not sure what the point of the above comment is….


BRAVO LeAnn!!!


What a breath of fresh air!

Just what we need to reenergize us for tonight’s council meeting, THANK YOU!


We need to make sure we tie in that if the Charter passes, more power will be placed in

hands which are already corrupt and hungry for more power………


Leann, THANK YOU for an excellent, spot-on opinion. It is my hope that San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson will read your words and reflect on his role and purpose in our County. In my opinion, he should have stepped down prior to the June election. He has done nothing to garner the respect or trust of his constituency and general County populace.


Hi Mariposa,

It is time to clean our house politically. I am sure we could write something regarding Bruce Gibson. I am not familiar with the issues revolving around him, but it sounds intriguing….maybe that will be my next stab at this……..


LeAnn–stab away, plenty more meat where this came from!


Do a search on CCN. They have been around the buoy many times on that one


If I was the mayor, despite the “sex scandal”, I would have fired the city manager for just hanging out at city hall as a place for him to sober up. Police should have breathalyzed them and given them tickets for drunk in public seeing how it is owned and is a public place.


Good point. They should be fired for misusing city property.


“No policies were violated” according to Mayor Ferrara, majority of Council and City Attorney Tim Carmel.

Hard to believe AG tolerates, and then defends this type of behavior from two high level management employees.

Hard to believe we pay for such implausible legal advice.

Hard to believe…


Plus another thing I don’t understand, they say no policies were violated but then they tell us the disciplined the city manger, why would they have to do that if he did nothing wrong?????


Reprimanded for bad judgment, PERIOD.


Oh geeeez the mayor of AG is just as bad as the one we have in Morro Bay, Jamie Irons. No wonder why the mayor of Morro Bay has so much respect and admiration for this guy. They are just alike!


I think I poked holes in the “no policies being violated argument with what I sent

in tonight. Know that council members will be sent a personal copy in the mail

as well. I wold hate for them not to read what I wrote for them.


Not sure if you heard the comment of council member Barneich who said going to hall was their best option, better than driving home.

Kristin is apparently not aware that AG has a cab company available, or that Steve has a wife who could have picked him up if need be.


LOVED the former AG officer saying Adams could have been handcuffed for lying to an officer.

Something tells me THOSE video minutes would have gone missing faster than you can blink!


@ Leann Akins: One of the best opinion pieces I have read.

Stay involved … Your community needs your insight and participation.



Thank you. Have a great day.


Have you considered the impression given to children by flogging issues like this? Going pretty Old Testament on this one I feel. A more accurate reading of Jesus would be, “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” Like our new DA was absolved of unethical behavior by his oversight group, so these folks have been absolved by their oversight group. Get over it, go back to work.


It is apparent slomike has no clue as to the undertow of this event.

Its not about casting stones slomike.

It’s about behavior that if left unchecked, results in sex harassment and gender discrimination law suits.

It’s about flying things under the radar so the public is left in the dark (no pun intended).

It’s about altering or failing to produce evidence

It’s about slaying the messenger when a misdeed is exposed.

It’s about the hypocrisy of managers who punish line level employees for engaging in similar behavior.

It’s about management destroying employee moral with a mindset of “do as we say, not as we do”

Do you even have a clue as to the number of AG employee related lawsuits that have occurred in the last 15 years? Do your homework first before you spew your sillyness about casting stones.


its about character, integrity, and honesty. clearly the council thinks we can not see that they are lacking in these qualities, which is why I can not trust them.



You are clearly offended by my opinion. Was it the strong sentiment and statements, or was it the reference to Jesus who, consequently is not simply Old Testament? Maybe you should re-read the Bible. Jesus, while mentioned as Messiah, in the Old Testament, is truly alive and teaching in the New Testament.

And I will only refer you to the paragraph regarding the larger culture and accepting bad behavior from anyone, including our leaders. Clearly you are okay with it. I am not. Maybe you should get over the fact that I am strong woman with deep opinions and a vocabulary and writing skills that allows me to state those opinions clearly.

I don’t believe my opinion piece is whining or pouting, but strongly worded, true, and correct.I think that if any leader is not effective, they should not be a leader.

On a final note, please do not tell me to get back to work. You don’t know me. You don’t know my work ethic or how truly dedicated I am to anything I pursue in my life. And you clearly have no backbone built on any ethical or moral standards.

With that said, have a nice day.


Please don’t waste your breath on slomike.

He is a lost cause, and obviously a lost soul.


LeAnn, we are so looking forward to your piece on county Supervisor Gibson.

Thank you so much for your opinion. Now get back to work! (just kidding)..what a JACKA@#. Undoubtedly a fan of Tony, Bruce Gibson, Adam Hill, and the rest in their “boys club”.


slomike — Ms. Akins is referring to Arroyo Grande City LEADERS. Leaders are held to higher standards than other community members. Leaders are tasked with overseeing and setting a good example for the community to follow.


Should not the DA be held to those same high standards as well?


You fail in your attempt to reframe the argument.

As in most political scandals, the downfall of those involved is due to the cover up. Voters have repeatedly shown that they are forgiving of personal failings of their elected officials.

However, once the scandal becomes a cover up, voters are much less forgiving because a cover up is illegal, an insult to the intelligence of the voters, and a bleak demonstration of the lack km of ethics and trustability of the involved officials.


Well said. I would vote for you.

Ben Daho

Thank you Leann. I’m embarrassed that we have to specify what leaders should be doing. They aren’t true leafers. They’re managers. Terrible terrible managers