Mayor Ferrara responds to vote of no confidence
September 21, 2014
Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara responded in writing Sunday to the city’s police officer association’s complaint against the mayor and the city manager.
On Thursday, the Arroyo Grande Police Officer Association lodged a formal complaint and a vote of no confidence against both City Manager Steve Adams and Ferrara because of disagreements over the city’s failure to investigate an alleged violation of city policy following a late night romantic interlude between Adams and a subordinate.
At a special meeting Saturday, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted to seek an independent investigation into the July 3 incident between Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish. Police reported they found a partially undressed McClish in Adams’office which officers said appeared to be a violation of city policy.
Ferrara contends that because Adams and McClish were not caught having sex, no wrongdoing occurred. But nevertheless, the council has agreed to pay an outside firm for an investigation.
Ferrara said Saturday he expects the investigators to agree with his conclusion.
In addition, the city has not announced plans to have the investigator examine the allegations of a cover-up that led the officers to a vote of no confidence against Ferrara.
The following is a response from Mayor Tony Ferrara to the Arroyo Grande Police Officer Association:
“Let me begin by stating that despite what you have read in the fringe media or listened to on talk radio shows affiliated with the same source, I am very proud of the City and Community of Arroyo Grande. I have the greatest respect for our employees and I further believe we have one of the finest Police Departments in the State.
“In the letter of “no confidence” the AGPOA alleges a “cover up” relating to the incident involving our City Manager and that the City should have investigated further. The letter was not specific as to what they believed was “covered up.” It also cites that as Mayor, I should have pushed for another investigation. As the presiding officer in a general law city, I have a single vote as relates to decisions. And the majority decision of the Council determines the direction that the Council moves. And when those decisions are made, the Council should move as one body. The Council determined initially that based on the information before us, there was no basis for expending city revenues on another investigation.
“Most of the community and certainly the media are well aware of the incident involving our City Manager. I won’t go into the details of that incident. Let’s deal instead with what the Council had in front of it that led to our decision. We had 5 trained, experienced police officers that responded to City Hall. After their response they were directed to write memorandums by their commander outlining what they saw. I do not believe that either of the Police Commanders or the Chief would try to influence what their officers wrote. So we take it at face value that they wrote what they saw without any interference from anyone. Within approximately 48 hours, there were follow-up phone calls to each of the officers from the Deputy City Attorney. He was not interested in innuendo, he was inquiring about facts. Did the officers at any time observe the parties involved in anything illegal or inappropriate? Their collective response was “NO,” both in their memoranda and in their statements to the Deputy City Attorney. These are police officers that are used to testifying and being questioned by attorneys. The Council had confidence they were telling the truth. We still believe this. Based on the officers’ statements, there was nothing more to investigate other than the judgment issue on the part of the City Manager, which he acknowledges.
“The Council did not take this lightly. We took preliminary steps to prepare for an additional inquiry. The costs for an outside investigation ranged from approximately $5,000 to $25,000. We took further steps to ensure the list of potential investigators were outside of the county and had no prior connection with the City.
“The Council also received many messages from our community stating that they did not want their tax dollars spent on another investigation that likely would not produce any new information. They too had confidence in the statements made by the officers. The words from many in the community were, “move on.” This notion was also supported by media editorials.
“Now, more than two months after the incident, the AGPOA is alleging a “cover up.” I’m puzzled by this and I suspect the Council and some in the community are as well. The Council acted in a manner that was consistent with the nature of the information provided to us by the officers themselves.
“A letter of ‘no confidence’ with allegations of a ‘cover up’ serves no useful purpose unless it is accompanied by more than accusations. The only body of information we could possibly “cover up” is the information provided to us by those officers who were in the building that night. And that, we clearly have not done. If there is additional information that the 5 officers are not sharing, we would encourage them to step forward through their chain of command and let the Council know.
“At our special meeting this afternoon, the Council recognized that there are some in the community that apparently are not satisfied with just the statements of the officers. As such, the Council is in agreement to move forward with another investigation of this matter. The Council appointed a task-force of the Council consisting of Council Member Brown, Mayor Pro Tem Guthrie, and the City Attorney to select an independent investigator. We have also requested that a representative from the AGPOA participate in the selection process if willing to do so.
“In closing, despite the emotional statements by some in the community, I firmly believe the integrity of the Council remains intact. There was and is no cover up.”