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

I think people need to understand what is at stake for the officers who are considered liars.


They could lose not only their jobs, but their careers, forever.


They get logged in a data base as liars and no dept is going to hire them.


Then the DA has the right to go back 20 years on all their arrest/convictions, and possibly get them over turned stating the officers lied in the report.


Retirement is gone.


This is why they did the ZERO CONFIDENCE I feel, they were pushed into a corner with some very bad consequences.


The council wants to keep mentioning sexual activity to keep the public thinking we are upset about an affair. We need to push forward with the fact we are upset with the cover up and could give a damn about whether they had sex or not.


I hope to see folks come early to the council meeting Tues with signs of support for the AGPD or with your feelings toward our current council and mayor. We need to keep the pressure on. I think 5:30 to 6 we do our own demonstration and help get the word out.


Tony has experience as a spin doctor and pressuring people, the news is not covering what we have to say, but Tony gets the camera time. Let’s take it to the people, let’s get our side out there.


Mr. Holly

if your comments are true and Big Tony comes out the liar will any body go back over his 40+ years in law enforcement?

This is really going to be interesting to watch. The future credibility of AG is at stake if they can recover al all whenever it comes to an end.


dogeatdog

Mr Holly Big tony is no longer in law enforcement.If he had been caught lying on an arrest report or anything involving others, Yes his career could have been over.


If you do not believe my statement is true go ask any officer on any cities police force, they will tell you the same thing.


This does not just apply to AGPD it is all police depts.


Mr. Holly

I’m fully aware of what you have said. But, once a liar always a liar. Do you think that Big Tony may have ever fabricated the truth when he was a sheriff in LA working in the Watts area to put somebody away? He wouldn’t have been the first to do it. Just commenting on what may have happened and if anyone may have unjustly been convicted of a crime? Kind of like saying the police were liars?


dogeatdog

Mr. Holly you are correct also.


Tony is a Liar, and has probably always been a liar, and will continue to lie until his dying day.


He is so narcissistic he does not think he is lying, he is doing the best thing he can for all of us poor slobs.


agag1

Just googled Temple City city manager…seems we’re not the only ones with city manager drama.


1/14/14

TEMPLE CITY >> Just a month after giving their top administrator a $10,300 bonus for his outstanding work, the City Council fired City Manager Jose Pulido on Monday.


Could it be that Adams turned the job down after learning Temple City knows how to fire a city manager?


kayaknut

It seems they may restrict the investigator to looking at only the July 3rd issue and not have them look at everything since then, and that would deny a true independent investigation.


agag1

Absolutely, the focus MUST be on the scope of the investigation.

Our City Council, and City Attorney need to be included in the dragnet.

This is waaaaaaaay beyond Adams and McClish.


HarryMalone

Excellent point Kayaknut!


agag1

Certainly don’t mean to make light of this situation, but seriously folks,

how many of us could have one or both of our parents get to the bottom of this…

before bedtime?


agag1

Laugh of the day– just reading today’s Tony Trib since the subscription hasn’t expired yet.

They have an article asking for volunteers for The CA Coastal Cleanup Day from 9AM to noon…

TODAY!


Is it any wonder folks who only read the Tony Trib seem so clueless when it comes to what’s REALLY going on at our city hall?


OMG

If the council is now having the city’s counsel select the investigator (and also get paid for that selection) isn’t that just a waist of more money as it isn’t very independent and I’m not sure folks will be satisfied. Think the original $1200+ should be refunded and the city’s counsel should now be working pro bono


wineguyjc

The title should have been something like “City Halls Cover-Up of Uncovered Management” or “Whitewashing the black smear on the City’s Solid Reputation?”


Gordo

Everyone should read the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brady vs. Maryland. The court held that information that shows an officer has lied in an official capacity must be disclosed to the defense. In effect this case renders an officer who lies unemployable. For Mr. Adams to even suggest the city police officers lied in their official documents puts them and the city at risk. What if the D.A. refused to file criminal cases sent from A.G. because the officers involved were accused of lying in this matter.

The city better clean this up quick and they can start by apologizing to the officers and. canning Mr. Adams.


dogeatdog

Did anyone else notice that Tim Brown was saying how if they made a mistake blah blah but never even stated ” I apologize”


He could have easily stepped away from the pack and taken personal responsibility and apologized to the officers right then and there. But we all know he would have heard it from Tony if he did not fall in line.


agag1

The scope of the investigation is what is important.

We don’t care if Steve had his pants on, or if Teresa had her shirt on.

We need to know why Steve’s account of the events doesn’t reconcile with that of the officers, but MOST importantly who on the council wanted the whole incident watered down enough to make it appear like NO BIG DEAL.


doglover

As it was reported, big Tony did not want this pimple on Steve’s record even shared with the rest of the Council.


A good question for the Candidate Forum on Monday….pProvide an instance when you did not agree with the Mayor, how did the issue resolve itself?


Tony was the hush hush man here. He likes his milk yeast puppet Steve and cannot lose the

power he currently reigns on the council and City


Please do not cast your vote for Costello – look at his voting recode, it is identical to Ferraras.


dogeatdog

agag1 how did cal coast news even find out about this whole ordeal? did a city employee tell them? As much as Tony is trying to water it down, I wonder how it even got out.


agag1

Not sure, there are so many folks unhappy, and disappointed with how things have been handled, not just recently, but for years—the initial tip-off could have come from any number of sources.