Who fashioned the Arroyo Grande coverup?

September 20, 2014
Mayor Tony Ferrera

Mayor Tony Ferrara

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

As Arroyo Grande officials prepare for their third review in weeks of City Manager Steve Adams, municipal employees are raising questions about Mayor Tony Ferrara’s handling of a late-night interlude between Adams and a subordinate.

For more than two months, city official elected to ignore staff allegations that Adams had lied to officers, was belligerent when discovered, and had engaged in conduct that has cost other employees their jobs. Adams’ support from city leaders persisted until this week, when the Arroyo Grande Police Officer Association lodged a formal complaint and a vote of no confidence against Adams and Ferrara — the latter for his part in the alleged whitewash.

City staff has generally complied with public records request for documents and video recordings providing insight into the event, as well as a subsequent “investigation.”

The city recently provided 80 minutes of City Hall video recordings that had been missing from a previous recording received through a public records request.

From city documentation and recordings:

On July 3, Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish attend the grand opening of Robert’s Restaurant, across the street from City Hall.

At 8:27 p.m., Adams and McClish leave Roberts Restaurant and walk to Rooster Creek for another glass of wine.

At 9:39 p.m., McClish walks across Mason Street and turns the alarm off at City Hall. She then exits the building and sits in her car.

While in her vehicle, McClish phones her husband to say she is on her way home from work, and that her cell phone battery was dying, according to city documents and video recordings.

At 9:46 p.m., Adams crosses Mason Street about two car lengths from the brightly-lit crosswalk. As he nears McClish’s car, several people leave Roberts Restaurant. Adams then turns and runs back across the street.

At 9:51 p.m., the people who departed Roberts Restaurant drive away, McClish flashes her car lights and Adams dashes back across the street towards McClish’s car.

The two then enter City Hall and, by their admission, make drinks in the conference room. They then walk through the building, lighted only by emergency hall lights, into a dark office.

Shortly after 11 p.m., McClish’s husband calls 911 and notes his concern because of his wife’s heart condition.

At 11:09 p.m., the first of three officers arrives at City Hall. All three officers walk around the building beating on doors and windows with flashlights.

Adams and McClish do not respond to officers.

At 11:20 p.m., the officers leave to check other places in Arroyo Grande where McClish might be.

At 11:40 p.m., officers enter City Hall, begin opening one office at a time. Each room they enter, they turn the light on and then off.

In the 80 minutes of previously-missing video recording, other than emergency hall lights and the conference room while they made drinks, the building remained dark until officers entered.

Adams has stated previously that officer statements that the building was dark were incorrect. Adams claims he and McClish were in his office with the lights on drinking tea when officers arrived. Adams contends they were attempting to sober up before driving home.

As officers shout McClish’s name, Adams walks from his office, initially lying to officers, saying McClish was not in the building. When officers notice a partially-dressed McClish holding clothing in front of her chest, Adams becomes angry with officers, according to officer reports.

“McClish was hiding behind the door as I reached the entry way of the office,” Senior Police Officer S. Day wrote. “She peeked her head from behind the door and appeared to be holding a shirt to her chest….she appeared to have been sleeping due to her hair being messed up and her eyes being droopy.”

On Friday, July 4, Adams is in his office much of the day, turning the alarm off and on four times.

On July 5, Adams and McClish are at City Hall. Also on Sunday, Mayor Tony Ferarra allegedly asked City Attorney Timothy Carmel to conduct an investigation — apparently without securing even informal council approval.

Around this time, Adams applies for a city manager position at Temple City, city officials said.

On July 7 and 8, assistant city attorney Michael McMahon claims he interviewed officers and determined no wrong doing occurred and that McClish and Adams were not found in an intimate situation.

Officers have countered McMahon’s claims, saying the city assistant attorney interrogated them with “leading questions” and without a recorded account, and did not perform a valid investigation.

On July 8, the city council met in closed session for 90 minutes discussing both Adams and Carmel’s performance. While some council members say they voted to order an investigation after the fact, the council agreed to take no further action.

After receiving assurance from the council that his job was secure, Adams rejected an employment offer from Temple City, city officials confirmed.

In backing Adams, city officials made claims that the officers were being dishonest in an attempt to influence salary negotiations. Offices disagreed and contend this was a tactic used by city officials to silence officers.

In response to the failure to conduct an outside investigation, Arroyo Grande police officers lodged a formal complaint and a vote of no confidence on Sept. 18 against Adams and Ferrara.

Supporters of the police department are planning on joining officers and their families at Tuesday’s council meeting to demand an investigation into both Adams, Ferrara, and the alleged coverup.

Even though more than a dozen officers have attended the past two city council meetings to show their support for an investigation, Ferrara responded by claiming the officers should have let the council know their concerns about an alleged coverup before taking a vote of no confidence.

Seeking to head off a growing firestorm of community anger, the Arroyo Grande City Council announced a special meeting Saturday at 1 p.m. to discuss the job performance of Adams.

Nevertheless, supporters of the officers say they still plan to attend Tuesdays meeting, where supporters are asked wear black, in an attempt to hold city officials responsible for the alleged coverup.

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63 Comments

  1. StakeHolder says:

    IF YOU ARE READING THESE POSTS WE HOPE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN CREATING A CHOICE IN ELECTING A MAYOR FOR THIS COMING TERM. BUT, WE CAN NOT DO THIS WITHOUT HELP!

    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

    EMAIL: contact@WriteinJimHillMayor.com

    VISIT: http://www.WriteinJimHillMayor.com

    FACEBOOK: coming soon!

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. Niles Q says:

    Here’s some food for thought…

    McClish’s husband and Steve Adams were both on the committees that interviewed the applicants for Morro Bay’s city manager job. This was in July and August, after all this stuff happened.

    Must have been an awkward situation for sure.

    (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  3. StakeHolder says:

    Oh, my! Dave Congelton really blasted today at Tony! If you missed it, check the podcast in a couple of days. Whoa!

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
    • SamLouis says:

      The contents which Ferrara will likely try to discount because KVEC is a “fringe” (LOL!) news source…

      (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
  4. doggin says:

    Its been said repeatedly that the actual allegations of a midnight fling pale in comparison that the circus that has followed trying to find the truth. This is not the first rodeo your Chief Officer (Ferrara) has been tangled up in. Over the years there has been many, police dept issues, the handling of the Sanitation District and his buddy Wallace, his comments denouncing the Grand Jury and their investigative findings of corruption within the San Dist. What motivates a person like Ferrara to garb onto every position of power and authority they can?A mayor. I believe there are three categories politicians can fall into. One being for absolute power. The need to control and feel important, like the obnoxious egotistical punk from kindergarten, that’s always right. In politics its the more they get, the more they need. So much so they lose sight of what their job is which is to serve those who voted them in. They are superior in ability and knowledge, average folks in dissent are nothing more than annoying obstacles to be silenced. Sound like recent BOS or BOD board meetings? How dare you question their motives or agendas, they will protect at all costs to remain untarnished in self gratification. Next, Money and corruption, Think Leyland Yee. Ever question why a person runs for president of the USA when they make less than SLO’s attorney damn near. lastly, there is the person who loves their community, they are greatly distressed at what they see happening around them and to its people. Truly a person of humble intentions who wants to serve his fellow man because they believe they can do better that the last person. Consider Ferrara’s track record and place him in the appropriate category, its pretty easy for me where he fits in. Consider the city’s financial state. Half the public works staff is gone, Moral is nonexistent, services have suffered,money is tight isn’t it? Then why did he approve a raise for the Attorney and Adams if things are so bad? Stand up, now is the time to complete the closing chapter of corruption in AG.

    (16) 24 Total Votes - 20 up - 4 down
    • casappleton says:

      Dont forget the sex scandal between shift super and lab tech at San dist. they covered up for wallace

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  5. agag1 says:

    On November 4th we can cast our vote of NO confidence for the Charter City.

    (24) 28 Total Votes - 26 up - 2 down
    • Julie says:

      Also, to ensure that there is a new voice on the council, cast just one vote in the two-seat race.
      It’s a numbers game.

      Vote for ONLY Barbara Harmon to ensure she is seated.

      (20) 30 Total Votes - 25 up - 5 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Plus I am waiting for someone more familiar with the political process to start the recall of Mayor Ferrara, I will sign and encourage everyone I know to sign

        (23) 27 Total Votes - 25 up - 2 down
        • agag1 says:

          Better yet, vote for our write-in candidate!

          We now have an option!

          (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
      • doglover says:

        I’m voting for Tim Brown only!!

        (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
        • agag1 says:

          We need Tim and Barbara now that there’s a write-in candidate for Mayor!

          (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • nurse1 says:

      And we thought our mayor in Morro Bay was sleazy! This guy makes Iron’s look like snow white!

      (12) 20 Total Votes - 16 up - 4 down
      • MBwaiter says:

        Irons is worse if that is possible.

        (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
        • MBwaiter says:

          And at the Last MB Council meeting King Irons praised and congratulated Ferrara because he is now the president of some Cities group. Irons was acting like he has boy crush on him.!!

          (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  6. doglover says:

    Check up the newly posted 8 pm article on the Tribune.
    Tonys driving over the officers again

    (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
  7. doglover says:

    After spending the weekend off and on in City Hall, on Monday Steve Adams called his cabinet and director core for a brief meeting so he could share with them his tea party story (knowing they would hear rumblings from someone).

    King Tony did not want to share the incident with the rest of the Council. After that 12-15 employees at AG higher ups knew the so called story and got to experience every day awkwardness at work.

    Imagine?

    You share with 5 officers and 15 higher ups, they tell their spouse and now eventually all these people are waiting for the bubble to burst.

    Funny how it all came out after the August 8th filing deadline to run against Tony
    During that time Steve’s new 10% raise went into effect and he bestowed a 3% on Tim Carmel.

    And they though we were not gonna find out.
    I could give a rats ass what the two of them were doing to each other on July 3rd.
    Perhaps mr. McClish called cause he knew something was up and he wanted to declare Independence Day.

    The LYING and cover up is what the investigation needs to focus on.

    (34) 38 Total Votes - 36 up - 2 down
  8. diamond says:

    This new nugget of information that Adams applied for another City Manager job in Temple City only three days after “the incident” is so telling. The fact that he spent the next day, the 4th of July at city hall is also interesting. What was he really doing there when he knew no one else would be there and every government agency on the planet is closed? Why was he turning the alarm on and off? How “out of it” do you have to be to not hear officers pounding on the doors and windows with flashlights? Then again how out of it do you have to be to think, a great idea for a fling would be at city hall? On Saturday, yes, a Saturday, July 5, Adams and McClish are again at City Hall. Why? Was Tony there too? Anyone else? Also, on Sunday, Mayor Tony Ferarra allegedly asked City Attorney Timothy Carmel to conduct an investigation — apparently without securing even informal council approval. Shouldn’t the city attorney have counseled Tony on the appropriate and legal course to take on this matter? Tim Carmel and other city attorneys should be given a new title, perhaps, personal defense attorney to city council and staff. The title, City Attorney, implies representing our city and the citizens, not the seemingly endless misdeeds of officials. I count four. Four people at minimum that should be terminated. If there’s nothing to cover up then why spend so much time covering things up?

    BTW, When did the missing video magically re-appear and where was it???

    (34) 38 Total Votes - 36 up - 2 down
    • ml1999 says:

      They met on a Sunday to align their story. I find the supposed job offer suspicious.

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

Comments are closed.