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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dogeatdog

Maybe I would feel better if they let Kevin McBride of the P.D. be one of the people who choose who would do the investigation. I still have to think of who else i would want on that board, but not council members or the city atty.


agag1

Nothing but the highest regard for Commander McBride, he’s a keeper.


aft50s

Conduct the investigation, you control the investigation, and the outcome.


agag1

Why is everyone convinced of that, with the exception of them?


dogeatdog

So once again we hear blah,blah blah from Tony. Now they will give us an independent investigation and the person will be from out of the area. Hmm sounds like what he did with John Wallace and the sanitation dist and that found no wrong doing either.


It is time for a recall of our Mayor.


Strange how Tony and Tim both said they believe the officers were telling the truth, so why do the officers say they were called liars?


And gee whiz, why would Steve look for employment else where if he were doing nothing wrong?


So Tim Carmel, Tim Brown, and Jim Guthrie will determine who they hire, and two of these people are tony’s puppet’s, there goes this investigation.


Tony is so full of himself and he does not want to lose control of his kingdom. The cover up continues


kayaknut

So the outcome of the special meeting…. Three of the people involved in the improper handling of the issue are the ones picking the independent investigator???? Does this seem right to anyone??


Otis

The following letter was provided to the City Council at the heavily attended closed session meeting’s comment period at 1:00pm September 20, 2014,


Office of the District Attorney

County of San Luis Obispo

County Government Center, 4th Floor

San Luis Obispo, CA 93408


September 20, 2014


TO Gerald T. Shea, District Attorney


Subject: AG police officer confidence in Arroyo Grande, Complaints to Grand Jury


Because of the recent revelation of Council misconduct in facilitating a cover up of the Adams/McClish incident, we believe immediate action must be taken so that time — as now implicitly used by the Grand Jury process — will cause the matter to disappear.

The facts are apparent in the cover up as addressed in the Grand Jury complaint and the changes by the Arroyo Grande police. See references below.


The issue is now not the facts — because the facts are obvious — the issue what must be done to rectify the situation by the immediate appointment of a special counsel charged with gaining sworn testimony with the objective to affirm the facts so to discipline the matter and restore citizen trust in the governing of the City of Arroyo Grande.


If necessary, to avoid any questions of conflict, we recommend that the matter should be referred to the Attorney General of California.

Respectfully,


Otis Page

606 Myrtle St.

Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Concerned Citizen of Arroyo Grande


Julie Tacker

P.O. Box 6070

Los Osos, CA 93412

Government Watchdog/Citizen Activist


The meeting, as expected, had a number of participants who argued favoring the Council, but the great majority expressed views of abject criticism, some reminding this is a repeat of the sewer scandal. Tuesday September 23 rd regular meeting will be interesting.


falconbh

The Sewer Scandal, South County Sanitation District , is far from over and the facts will become scandal 2#.

When they come after their New Rate Increase, after the elections, the real truth will come out for residents.

How can our elected officials support another New Tax Increase ? The time to end Automatic Rate Increases is Now !

If infrastructure is a problem, then a Bond Vote is appropriate. I do not believe Big Tony and the board deserve a Open Tax Check book to cover the Mismanagement and Waste of Public Resources.


TheNekkidTruth

when post’ regarding Big Tony’s cover up of a previous sex scandal at the Sewer Plant are being removed, it makes you wonder if it’s even worth posting anything on here. What’s the problem with talking about the allegations that were made during the “difficult” times at the sewer plant ( i.e. employee’s running around naked, employee’s, specifically the Lab Tech and the Shift Supv) being caught actually having sex on the plant grounds during working hours?

It was posted earlier, now it’s gone? Big Tony has covered this type of incident up before, and it was posted earlier. Big Tony has protected his GOB friends in the past, and he’s doing the same now. Why is CCN removing comments about factual events?


agag1

Raising taxes isn’t a problem for these so called “representatives of the people”,

they simply approve pay raises for each other to cover any pinch they may feel personally.

The more they make, the higher their pensions are at the end of the ride.


changes

Someone needs to contact Temple City Council to give them a heads up

of Adams” tea induced integrity” as an employee.


Mr. Holly

Oh boy here we go. Bring out the check book Big Tony. “After receiving assurance from the council that his job was secure, Adams rejected an employment offer from Temple City, city officials said”. Didn’t the new city manager in Morro Bay just go thru something like this and got a big payoff from somewhere? Hey it’s only tax money who cares. Just raise the fees, increase the sales tax and everything will be ok.

If they fire Adams there will certainly be a big payoff if the above statement is true. If Big Tony doesn’t fire him then they all go down. This will be Big Tony’s last chance to try and save himself by firing Adam’s. Saying that, Big Tony is still guilty and has to go. By firing Adams one would have to assume they tried to cover it up but it all has backfired.

The Arroyo Grande police should all get a bonus if they clean house and put AG back on the right track.


whoswho

I guess Steve Adams should have accepted that job in Temple City.


TruthFairy

All this because two adults were or were not making out after work. I hope the PD is doing this on THEIR time.


mkaney

NO Are you oblivious to the facts or are you choosing to ignore them? This has nothing to do with “two adults making out after work.” What this has to do with is two adults VIOLATING CITY POLICY, doing it in an INAPPROPRIATE LOCATION, and then LYING about it and attempting to cover it up! IF they had been ADULTS, then they would have admitted their violation of city policy and they would have accepted at least SOME form of punishment.


These are two people who are playing grown up that don’t have the capacity to act like grown ups. Are you clear on WHY this is happening now?


SamLouis

That’s not the worst part, not by a long shot. The worst parts include:


* Opening AG taxpayers to expensive litigation.


* Adams choosing a subordinate in which to pork after he fired others under his charge for just the same sort of behavior.


* Adams lying to, and getting upset with the cops who responded.


* Adams and McClish publicly lying about what they were doing at city hall at that time of the night.


* Ferrara lying not only to the people, but throwing the AGPD under the bus in the process.


* The AG City Council promising an honest review.


* The AG City Council not following through on their promise and choosing not to investigate any further.


How’s that?


agag1

Sounds like a good start, for what we know at the moment.


agag1

The officers were not simply being nosey or looking for something to do when they went to City Hall. They were dispatched there as a result of a 911 call.


Before you stick your oar in the water you need to make sure you know how to paddle!


dogeatdog

Actually it was not a 911 call, Dana called the regular line to the police dept.


agag1

Thanks for correcting, in either case they were sent there.


dogeatdog

They were sent there and they did their jobs with integrity and honor.


Kevin Rice

There’s no difference. Departments are required to maintain regular 7-digits numbers so non-local callers can reach emergency services. Both go to the emergency dispatch center and utilize the same resources. Usually, 911 lines get answered first. Beyond that, there’s no difference whatsoever.


dogeatdog

Kevin hate to disagree with you, but 911 gets answered by CHP I am pretty sure and the regular number gets answered by the sheriffs dept, who we are now contracted with.


Perspicacious

911 cellular calls get answered first by the CHP. 911 landline calls get answered by the respective dispatch centers for the area, PD, Sheriff, etc. The non-emergency phone numbers also get answered by whoever the caller intended to call, just like any other phone number.


nurse1

TruthFairy, are you related to fishingvillage?


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