Arroyo Grande manager clearly violated city policy

September 27, 2014
LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins


You may or may not have read my letter which was published on the CalCoastNews last week. You may or may not remember I spoke at the Arroyo Grande City 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.

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.

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.

You are unaware. I use the word unaware because as public comment closed on Tuesday night at the council meeting, Mayor Ferrara shared he understood this was a very emotional situation. Public outrage is not couched in emotion as alluded to by the mayor. It is couched in the knowledge policies and rules were broken. The outrage is aligned with the fact people in authority looked away knowing rules and policies were broken. The outrage is connected to the fact tough questions were not asked nor were tough decisions made. Individuals who should be terminated based on policy and employment agreement violations remain in their positions. This leads the public to conclude authority is being misused. This is not merely an emotional topic.

This is a situation which was handled inappropriately as soon as it left the hands of the Arroyo Grande Police Department. You are also unaware that it is you who created this situation and because you are unaware that you created this situation, you are unaware of why the community is showing its outrage. You listen but you do not hear and you do not understand.

You are policy breakers; you do not follow your own rules. I have read several documents available to the public including, but not limited to the 1995 document with the Personnel Regulations and the Employment Agreement with Steve Adams. Within the binding language of each of these documents, it is clear that violations of these policies occurred. It is also clear that you did not treat the behaviors displayed as violations, but again, merely as bad judgment.” Rules were not created to be ignored, broken, or violated. They exist for a purpose and that purpose is to provide a broad spectrum of protections. You have not only violated policies, you have violated the spirit of the law and in so doing, are restraining the laws from doing their job, providing those protections. I have included a short list of violations from the current situation:

Munincipal Code 1.16.020 Violations—“Aiding, abetting, and concealing Every person who causes, aids, or conceals the fact of a violation of this code is guilty of violating this code.”

Sadly, from where I sit, you are all guilty of this. Mr. Adams is definitely guilty of this by initially lying to the police officers who responded to the call on the night of July 3. That lie should be grounds for dismissal.

Personnel Regulations

Section D: Behavior:

“1.Improper Employee Conduct. The term “improper employee conduct” means not only any improper action by an employee in the employee’s official capacity, but also conduct by an employee not connected with the employee’s official duties that brings a discredit to the City or that affects the ability to perform the employee’s duties officially or any improper use of the position as an employee for personal advantage.”

Where to begin with this one…the behaviors of the city manager on the night of July 3 has brought discredit to the city. That is a fact that you cannot ignore; you only needed to attend the meeting on Tuesday evening to realize this.Discredit is defined as: (verb) To cause to be no longer believed or valued, to prove or show to be false, to give no credence to, to damage in reputation. Mr. Adams’ actions have caused shame and dishonor to his position. The community does not believe him, or value his services. He has lied and continues to cling to those lies. There does not need to be any further proof gathered with regards to this violation; his actions meet the definition of discredit. We have no confidence in Steve Adams’ ability to run the city. We are asking for him to be terminated.

f. Improper or unauthorized use of city vehicles or equipment or misappropriation of supplies.

“Using city buildings as a sobering center (or an additional place to partake in some alcohol) is not only improper and unauthorized, but a misappropriation as well. Misappropriation is simply defined as improper or wrong. Again, Mr. Adams’ actions meet that definition.”

j. Willful violation of these rules and regulations, departmental rules and policies, or any written policies that may be prescribed by the city.

There was willful violation with regards to the policies and rules Mr. Adams is subject to and the council is standing by him (therefore standing by his actions). Willful violation is an “act done voluntarily with either an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to,” the requirements of Acts, regulations, statutes or relevant workplace policies.” As city leaders, you have also ignored your due diligence with regards to the policies and rules you are bound to.

l. Any action, including negative attitude or behavior, that is a direct hinderance to the effective performance of city functions.

The focus should be placed on “any action.” That road is broad and should be interpreted as such. Couldn’t we all agree that the actions demonstrated by Mr. Adams and Mrs. McClish fit the part of this regulation which points to the ‘direct hinderance to the effective performance of city functions? How could they feel that their choices and actions would not impact their ability to effectively perform their duties?

n. Sexual or other illegal, improper, or inappropriate harassment of another employee.

Given the half-dressed subordinate to Mr. Adams, you could point to harassment just on that basis. Nothing about the events of the evening of July 3 were proper.

2. An official or employee of the City shall not engage in conduct that would tend to discredit or dishonor his/her position with the City. (discussed above)

Employment agreement:

“Whereas, it is the desire of City to (a) secure and retain Employee and to provide inducement for him to remain in such employment; (b) to make possible full work productivity by assuring Employee’s morale and peace of mind with respect to future security; (c) to act as a deterrent against malfeasance or dishonesty for personal gain on the part of Employee; (d) to provide a just means for terminating employee’s services at such time as he may be unable to fully discharge his duties or when City may desire to otherwise terminate his employment; …”

Now, therefore, in consideration of the mutual covenants herein contained, the parties agree as follows:…

Section 6:B:

“It is understood and agreed that the employment relationship established hereby shall be “at-will”…In the event Employee is terminated for good cause, then City shall have not obligation to pay the sum designated in this paragraph. For the purpose of this Agreement, “good cause” shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, any of the following:

(1) A material breach of the terms of this Agreement;
(2) Misfeasance;
(3) Malfeasance;
(4) A failure to perform his duties in a professional and responsible manner consistent with generally accepted standards of the profession;
(5) Conduct unbecoming the position of City Manager or likely to bring discredit or embarrassment to City”

This agreement certainly did not deter against malfeasance or dishonesty. Nor has it given the city council a reason to terminate Mr. Adams, even though it is clear he has not met the terms of said agreement. This is a covenant; very strong language for a document being disregarded. A covenant is a binding agreement made by two or more individuals to do or keep from doing a specified thing.
So, this employment agreement is binding. Binding isn’t a word used lightly. Binding means that you hold to that agreement, promise, etc, both with regards to the policies and the results of not following those policies. The use of “at-will” ‘means, at least in theory, that the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. Given the circumstances, I think we can all agree that ‘cause’ has been met. The idea of ‘good cause’ focuses on the idea of legally adequate or substantial grounds or reason to take a certain action. Without stretching too far, I believe that ‘good cause’ has been met to terminate the agreement between the city and the city manager.

Malfeasance has been met and exceeded. Malfeasance is defined as a wrongdoing or misconduct, especially by a public official. The list of misconduct is fairly lengthy. With regards to conduct unbecoming, Mr. Adams’ actions on the evening of July 3 fully fit with unbecoming conduct. Conduct on the part of a certified professional that is contrary to the interests of the public served by that professional, or which harms the standing of the profession in the eyes of the public is one definition of conduct unbecoming. It is fairly easy to see the parallels between the definition, Mr. Adams’ actions, and the results of those actions.

What I have learned over the last few days is that our city government has no intention of using the tools it has as its disposal to truly deal with the situation at hand. I have also learned that the people of Arroyo Grande are raising their voices to the deaf ears of the council, I witnessed that first hand. I have also learned that our community is hungry for strong leadership and leadership that will hold itself accountable to the rules, policies and statues it is bonded to follow.

I will continue to learn more and continue to bring this to the public’s attention as well as yours. Please understand that this is an issue which will not die, there are too many of us who are concerned about the outcome because we deeply care about our city. We want our city leadership we were promised when you were voted in and hired. You have not met the terms of our binding agreement with you and we vote to terminate that agreement.

LeAnn Akins is an Arroyo Grande residents and an educator for more than 20 years.



  1. LeAnn says:

    This is a message to StakeHolder—-who would be willing on the Tribune to post something I have written???? I did forward my first piece there, but it feel on deaf ears/emails. Maybe we can chat about the tone of my work and see if that would get it published……any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
    • agag1 says:

      Tony’s Trib?
      Hate to tell you LeAnn, you’re chances are probably slim to none, but don’t give up!

      (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    Regarding personal matters, the two camps are: Those who will throw the stones and those who choose not to.

    (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
    • agag1 says:

      Regarding personnel matters, there are two camps: Those who adhere to the personnel regulations, and those who disregard them.

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  3. JMO says:

    Rudy Xavier just had a letter to the editor published by the TT. There are two camps on the Adams-McClish affair. Those that condemn what they did and those that think it was between consenting adults and no one else’s business. There is no third camp, Rudy. No one believes they were there just drinking tea. Nice try, though.

    (19) 23 Total Votes - 21 up - 2 down
    • agag1 says:

      Those two camps can also be classified as those who want to be informed,
      and those who want to keep their head in the sand, because that takes no effort.

      (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down
  4. Paso_citizen says:

    An absolute excellent article. You hit the nail squarely on the head. While I would totally agree that Mr. Adams and Mrs. McClish are innocent until proven guilty – there are so
    many things about this whole affair that simply do not hold up to any reasonable

    By far the main point – as you clearly pointed out – is the disregard the mayor and city
    council has shown the citizens of Arroyo Grande. Their actions are plain proof that they
    protect their own – with no regard as to what the citizens they were elected to serve
    felt or wanted. And they took these actions knowing they would not be held to the
    standards that would apply to any everyday citizen. The citizens of Arroyo Grande
    deserve much better than this from those they elect.

    In my opinion, something very similar occurred in Paso Robles about 2 or 3 years ago.
    That was the affair concerning the Police Chief of Paso – Ms. Solomon. The result was
    that she was given $250,000 of taxpayers money to just resign and fade away. The real
    truth never came out, our city manager; Mr. App (aka ‘The Phat Bald Guy’) and our city
    council did everything possible to cover this up and sweep the whole thing under the rug.
    All court actions brought by members of the Police Dept. were settled out of court, and
    the real truth was never made public.

    It would seem that the actions taken by mayor and city council of Arroyo Grande are not
    that much different than those taken by the mayor and city council in Paso Robles.
    Small city politics at its finest. The citizens be damned – protect our own first and

    So what will be result? Well, my guess is nothing much will change; until and unless
    enough of the voting citizens demand it. The voters have a choice and should take this
    opportunity to state, in the only meaningful way, that they simply will not accept these
    actions by their elected officials to take place without consequences.
    If those elected officials up for re-election in November are re-elected, then this would be
    absolute proof that the voters really do not care. This is exactly what happened in Paso.
    And that is exactly what the mayor and city council believe will happen in Arroyo Grande.

    The voters have the authority and responsibility to demand better – don’t let this
    opportunity pass. Somehow, sometime, the citizens of a city on the Central Coast need
    to send a clear message to those they elect – these actions are not what is expected or
    demanded from those we elect.

    Good luck to all the voters and may the ballot box speak loud and clear.

    (19) 21 Total Votes - 20 up - 1 down
    • roberttorrance says:

      this issue has far passed Adams and his expose….what is at question is the integrity and character of the Council of Arroyo Grande. Not sure if it is registered with them, because their crony legal advice continues to blow stuff as conspiracy, but hey, welcome to hard knox….

      (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
    • roberttorrance says:

      very true, apart from one minor detail, Kristen Fellows Barneich, was not elected, just like her predecessor, Caren Ray. Both were appointed, in fact, Caren Ray, was appointed twice thus far, never having been elected. food for thought.

      (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
  5. dogeatdog says:

    TWO of us went door to door today and gave out appx 500 flyers asking for them to


    We need more bodies,talk is cheap, let’s see some action people.

    There is an election 4 weeks away, we need to get the word out.

    contact Mike Byrd or go to to find out what you can do.

    (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
    • dogeatdog says:

      Okay here is how to get in touch with Mike Byrd

      call or text 441 5133

      We have got a lot of work to do if we are going to win this campaign.

      (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
    • roberttorrance says:

      the houses in the hill above Albertson’s need to be walked. This where all of Tony’s supporters, who moved up here from LA with him, or down here from the Bay Area, reside. Hit his supporters.

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
      • agag1 says:

        Not everyone who lives on a hill supports Tony, trust me.
        We will canvas this area, please let us know where you’ll be walking so we don’t duplicate.

        (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  6. LeAnn says:

    I am working on poking holes in the City Charter proposal; wow, all you have to do is go on the League of Cities website and see what a disaster the passing of this would be for the residents of Arroyo Grande.

    Mr. roberttorrence, would you be willing to read this before I send it in? I was hoping to get your insights.

    I am also working on the Facebook page for Jim Hill. My goals is to have this done today.

    (18) 28 Total Votes - 23 up - 5 down
    • doglover says:

      You are terrific, Leanne

      (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
      • LeAnn says:

        I also went door to door in my neighborhood. I didn’t quite give out 500 flyers, but I did spread the word. I will do more tomorrow as well. I think I will go the neighborhood where Harloe School is located. I walk there on a regular basis—so some people will know me.

        Thank you doglover :) So are you. :)

        (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
        • dogeatdog says:

          Thanks LeAnn you are a trooper thru and thru. I love that you will put boots to the ground in many ways for this effort.

          (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
    • doglover says:

      Let’s keep it to the one issue
      The mayor and city manager have lied the people and are no longer trusted to lead.

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
      • dogeatdog says:

        Let’s keep it to one issue.

        THE COVER UP!

        (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
    • whoswho says:

      Great job! Here’s a suggestion…forward information to Dan Walters @ Sacramento Bee. He’s picked up the story! @WaltersBee: League of California Cities president Tony Ferrara faces juicy sex scandal in his city staff and re-election battle.

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down

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