A.G. won’t pursue investigation of Adams

September 10, 2014


Two top Arroyo Grande officials escaped further sanctions late Tuesday after council members veered from promises to probe deeper into the pair’s late-night rendezvous in City Hall.

The July 3 incident involving City Manager Steve Adams and subordinate Teresa McClish, community development director, was kept submerged from public view following a brief inquiry into the matter by the city attorney’s office. Deputy City Attorney Michael McMahon elected to believe Adams and McClish’s accounts over police officer official reports.

The council went into closed session Tuesday at the end of their regular meeting to discuss Adam’s job performance. After an hour, they emerged to report they had taken no action, meaning the matter is now officially closed.

City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish

City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish/Photo by Daniel Blackburn

Police responding to an emergency call from McClish’s husband led them to a darkened City Hall, where they discovered the pair in a back office with clothing askew.

According to Adams, the pair had been “drinking tea” to sober up after attending a restaurant opening.

Grainy video provided by the city shows Adams running across the street toward City Hall to join McClish in the parking lot following the event. He then turns and runs after several people leave Roberts Restaurant and returns several minutes later after McClish flashes her car lights.

Tuesday’s meeting drew a slightly smaller crowd than two weeks ago, when three members of the council expressed their desire to schedule a discussion of the matter on the regular meeting agenda. Instead, the item was placed at the very end of the agenda and conducted in secret as required by law, according to City Attorney Timothy Carmel.

Resident Otis Page told the council, “You lied to us. You promised an agenda item to discuss this openly yet you did not agendize it. This issue has legs and it is not going away. Dishonesty has costs.” Vanessa Andrews said she is “one of those people who is upset. If you support Adams and McClish in this you are creating a hostile work environment. Do the right thing for once.”

Heather Jensen said she was “disappointed” by the lack of an agenda discussion.

“We citizens need to know what happened,” she said. “We need a Grand Jury probe.”

Connie Avila noted police department personnel were “gagged” by city officials, and Beatrice Spencer said city officials were accepting Adams’ version of events over the interpretation of four police officers.

Bob Hatch, who said he is a 40-year resident of the city, asked the council to stop the investigation.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who don’t want this to go on,” he said.

Adams and McClish sat together for a brief period while McClish outlined a city program for the council.


OK we really need to rally and do something. We can complain and express our disgust of the City Council. I am outraged and embarrassed to live in AG now.

Can someone put together a petition for the Grand Jury to investigate? Or does anyone know if we can write anyone in the State to look at the corruption going on here?

My biggest concern is Mr. Adams should have been fired without any severance. There should be a zero tolerance to entering his place of work intoxicated. He has gone on record that he was intoxicated and was not able to drive safely. Does anyone know of ANY company that would allow their employees to go into the office, under the influence and have that liability?

I agree with the others on here that there needs to be a complete recall on the City Council and clean house.

Maybe if someone puts together a petition, CalCoastNews can post it or state where the petition is so it can be signed? (Maybe outside, City Hall, Walmart?)


They reported that Adams was reprimanded. Did he have to give back his 10 % raise?

These two should be looking for work elsewhere if our Council is incapable of letting them go.


Wanted to post earlier but needed to cool off, because this has become disgustingly sad for so many reasons. Glad some of our citizens are starting to finally see EXACTLY how our city really operates. This city used to be a great place. You used to get treated fairly, and you treated the city and everyone else fairly, because there was an abundance of mutual respect. Those days are long gone.

Those days are long gone because we all collectively failed this City. As citizens, we allowed this City Council to get way too tenured and way too entrenched. We had several warning signs about their behavior. It had been going on for a long time, but we were too innocent or too busy to hold them accountable. One speaker said “Apathy is this Council’s best friend.” Not sure truer words have ever been spoken. We did not collectively hold our City Council accountable, and they proved it last night when they kicked our teeth in.

On page 2 there is an interesting comment by dogeatdog who states, ” I talked to a merchant today who stated Bob Lund sent out a letter singing the praises of Steve and Teresa since the last council meeting, and basically saying that they need to stand behind these two, The letter I was told was initiated by Tony Ferrara, and Bob was just the foot soldier.” Dogeatdog if you can get this letter, and especially any email chain, please post it for us.

It didn’t escape my attention last night how there were a few public speakers who came across as much more loyal, say to a friend or someone they know, rather than to the core issues of concern which have affected our community. That’s their right under public comment, just like it’s the right of whomever is increasing the “dislikes” for these stories as they accumulate. But if dogeatdog’s words are true, I care far less about the long time loyal citizen involved, when compared to a COUNCIL MEMBER potentially being involved.

This reeks of Manipulation and Lack of Trust, which are two of the core issues here. Let’s be honest, chilling the uproar is an old tactic which has been used by politicians for a long time. It is concerning though, if this manipulation was used to not only silence the rights of our citizens to speak freely during public comment, but especially so if it was used in their incredibly weak attempt to justify our Council taking no further action in this matter.

Then there were statements and concerns about the cost of a truly independent investigation. After the amount of TAXPAYER money this city has wasted on consultants, attorneys, litigation, settlements, grossly overpaying for city hall, and at the very last council meeting allocating $70,000 for a water “education” program, and all of a sudden they are mysteriously worried about cost? A massive amount of taxpayer money has been abused, good luck getting people to believe that excuse.

Several praises were made about the city attorney’s investigation into this matter, and how thorough and well done it was. Perhaps then, the Entire Council can explain to our Citizens why the INTERVIEWS WERE NOT RECORDED. If this is true it ends up being a he said, she said, the cops said, and now the attorney says, with no recorded statements to prove otherwise. You as Council Members were given every opportunity to disclose this to the public, but chose not to. Don’t worry, there’s much more coming…

There are many paths leading forward should our Citizens choose to finally hold this City accountable. Some have mentioned the Grand Jury which is a local start, here is the link to their complaint form. http://slocourts.net/grand_jury/citizen_complaint_forms


From the moment this situation began to unfold, special treatment was given to both Steve and Teresa based on who they are.

I understand that to a point, but when Adams began to lie, all bets are off.

He deserves to be treated like any other city employee, the law demands it.

Obviously Tony’s getting the advice he needs from Mr Carmel which allows him to keep Adams in place. More prudent council surely would have advised suspending Adams and McClish pending the investigation.

Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the services of Mr Carmel, he seems to be steering the city towards future litigation.

AG–hang onto to your wallets for this one!


I know Bob Lund Have for many years I refuse to Believe he would write a letter much less get involved in a Word Mr.Lund has class.


Do you believe he would write the letter if he believed Tony’s version of the events?


Will try to obtain a copy of the letter, I should have thought about then when it was told to me.

mb business owner

Good people of AG, based on my experience as a long time business owner in Morro Bay, let me tell you that a mayor and council people that bully and intimidate residents is not a good plan! We are seeing the repercussions of that now and its only to become worse.


I totally agree MB is no longer a place to work or live thanks to the current Council. But I just don’t get. MB Council. It fires two educated, experienced, ethical, well liked by the community and employees for absolutely no reason but AG sticks with these two idiots. Now MB has two uneducated, non experienced, unethical and hated by the community and employess running the City. I just don’t get it. .


The AG City Council is not much more than one big circle jerk.


Know I’ve said this before, but I think Tim Brown is often a lone voice.

He’s the closest thing to an independent thinker our council has.

It’s hard for me to believe he did not want the independent investigation,

my guess would be he was outnumbered…again.


That would have required a vote that was not reported out.

As the world turns

How could anyone trust or respect the city council? How could anyone trust or respect the city manager? How could anyone trust or respect the community development director?

There is a circus going on in Arroyo Grande, which has been occurring for years.


Guthrie thinks if they keep doing what they’re doing that’ll win our trust back.

Full speed ahead, business as usual…


Ok to spend 70K a year for marketing not to use excessive water but no further investigation…that marketing company must be someone’s buddy. Like anybody that has to do business with the city is going to criticize the city council or city officials


Of course she’s somebody’s buddy!

You’re either an “A” lister, or you’re in the group of people who are fed up with the way things are going and hoping to change it.

Don’t for a minute believe there aren’t repercussions for those who speak out,

thanks to those who feel compelled to do so in spite of them.


You Are Correct, you see how they have done things in the last four or five years..Signed a NON A lister!


Welcome to the club!

Membership growing by leaps and bounds daily!

Daniel Blackburn

Until I can get this on our CalCoastNews site, here’s my YouTube video.


Did Adams tell his staff the same story he told KSBY?

Don’t you give up your right to privacy when you’re in a public building?


What does these people’s salaries have to do with the price of tea in China?

So they got caught making whoopie in the dark. Big deal. Embarrassing, sure. But

reaction to this confirms the Victorian era lives on.

Good for the council.

As the world turns

The taxpayers are paying these individuals a great deal of money, only to have them violate the public’s trust. It has nothing to do with Victorian era thoughts; it has everything to do using government property at taxpayers’ expense to conduct a personal liaison.

You obviously do not care how employees utilize their time on government property.



You obviously are not aware of how much AG has spent over the last 10-15 years on lawsuits and settlements for claims of harassment. If you did, it would make your head spin. The salaries of Adams and McCllish amount to peanuts in comparison.

Employees who work in an environment where one set of rules applies to some, but not to others, grow bitter, and resentful. They also have good legal standing when they file a lawsuit claiming a hostile workplace.

Happens all the time, more often that we know. The City keeps these things hush, hush.

Every time the City’s insurance company pays off another unhappy former employee who convinced the court they were treated unfairly, we ALL pay. This of course does not include the claims settled before they go to court.

Insurance rates go up, as they are based on claims paid. Some claims are paid when it is determined that it would be less expensive to pay than to challenge.

Add in legal fees, etc…hopefully you get the picture

Who do you think pays for this?? The taxpayer!

People in positions like those of Adams and McClish have a duty not to expose their employers(us) to undue risk.

They are paid well to make good, intelligent decisions, not use city hall for their personal recreation.

If you think this is about Steve and Teresa doing whatever they do when they think no one’s looking, guess again.

Mike Byrd

Most people I’ve talked with don’t care what two consenting adults were or were not doing or if they were drunk or sober. The concern is probable violation of city policies for which other employees had their careers ruined. Then came the police reports, edited video and the apparent cover up. Finally the question, how can the mayor and council say the manager did nothing wrong then say he was reprimanded for doing nothing wrong? None of this makes any sense and it could have been resolved so easily.


Mike, how can Carmel claim no city policy was violated?