Adams may quit, slaps police again

October 2, 2014
Steve Adams

Steve Adams


Embattled Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams said Wednesday he will be leaving his job when he decides the time is right, and leveled a barrage of accusations against his police department’s contract negotiators.

In a verbose statement issued to favored news outlets, Adams asserted officers made false claims against him as a salary negotiating technique. He then repeated his version of a late-night City Hall liaison with a subordinate employee.

Adams said his “resignation” will become effective when a full-time successor is hired, which could take as long as six months, according to city council member Jim Guthrie. When he eventually departs, he will not receive a severance package, he said, because he is leaving “voluntarily.”

The manager has been embroiled in scandal which has in turn created a divisive controversy in the community of 18,000.

On July 3, officers found Adams and Teresa McClish, the city’s community development director, in Adams’ City Hall office. Memorandums written by five officers the night of the incident reported McClish was discovered partially dressed, an apparent violation of city policy.

The officers reported that Adams initially lied when asked if Trish McClish was in the building and instead became angry while questioning why they were looking for her.

Asked by an officer if “Teresa McClish” was in the building, Adams then said yes.

“First, I never lied about Ms. McClish being in the building,” Adams said in the statement. “When I asked why the officers were there, I was twice told they were looking for someone with the name of an employee that until recently worked in City Hall. When one of the officers used Ms. McClish’s correct name, I responded that she was there.”

However, city staff said no employee named Trish McClish existed, although a former employee was named “Trisha.”

Another disagreement between officers and Adams centered around office lighting. Responding police said lights were out in City Hall when they arrived. Adams now claims the lights were on in his office.

(Sworn law enforcement personnel proven dishonest in their official dealings can no longer serve as police officers. The Brady decision requires prosecutors to disclose to the defense previous deceptions by officers.)

Adams also attempted to defuse the missing 80 minutes of security tape captured by city cameras.

Adams said the gap was caused by CalCoastNews because the news agency supplied the wrong size drive.

“The so-called “missing 80 minutes” of tape resulted because the representative of the website that requested the tape submitted a flash drive that was too small to hold the entire file,” Adams says in his statement. “Once they submitted a new flash drive, they received the remainder of the tape. However, these background facts were never reported.”

The actual facts are quite different.

After receiving a request made under the California Public Records Act, City Clerk Kelly Wetmore asked CalCoastNews to provide a 32 GB flash drive, which was done.

When the drive was retrieved by CCN, Wetmore said she had made a mistake about the needed space, and was unable to provide the last six minutes requested. However, in addition to those final six minutes, 80 minutes was missing from the middle of the recording, as were all recordings from “camera six” showing an external view of the rear of Adams’ office.

The missing 80-minute video which was subsequently provided clearly shows lights going on from within a darkened City Hall after officers enter the building.

City officials now claim that “camera six” was inoperative because it could not withstand the elements. No other exterior city camera malfunctioned during the same time frame.

Teresa McClish

Teresa McClish

Angry citizens have suggested a level of hypocrisy in Adams’ behavior in the weeks following the McClish situation. Arroyo Grande taxpayers have funded more than $1.5 million in sexual harassment settlements to former employees. As a result, Adams has insisted on terminating employees discovered to be in a romantic relationship with a subordinate.

Adams’ public statements have only served to fuel community dissension. Spurred by city officials’ failure to properly investigate the alleged violation of city policy, Arroyo Grande police officers earlier this month lodged a formal complaint and a vote of no confidence against Adams and Mayor Tony Ferrara.

Officers have not yet responded to Adams’ latest allegations, though several citizen-led groups are attempting to replace the mayor by promoting Jim Hill as a write in candidate.

Immediately after the incident was first reported by CalCoastNews, Ferrara deflected efforts by council members Tim Brown and Jim Guthrie, both of whom said they wanted to delve more deeply into the issue than had the city’s assistant counsel, Michael McMahon.

Here is the full text of Adams’ statement:

“It is with regret that I announce my plans to step down as city manager with the city of Arroyo Grande. After much deliberation, I have determined that the current events have created too much distraction for me to lead the future of our organization as effectively as I would like. To be involved in something divisive to the community would be the ultimate contradiction of everything I have tried to stand for in bringing the community together during these past 14 years. As a result, my family and I have decided to pursue new opportunities elsewhere. I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate the support I have received from so many kind people in our community.

“My resignation will become effective once my replacement has been hired and starts work. Therefore, I intend to remain in my position throughout the recruitment process in order to ensure a smooth transition and enable me to complete a number of important efforts underway. I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation. My primary motivation is to serve the best interests of this community that I cherish so much.
I want to emphasize to the community how fortunate it is to have such an amazing mayor and City Council. I have had the distinct honor to work with each of them on a day-to-day basis for many years. I never cease to be amazed at their level of dedication to the entire community. The effort they take to respond to the concerns of every individual that contacts them is extraordinary.

“They took the July 3 incident very seriously, responded quickly, and handled it in the best way possible based on the information they had. Everything was handled consistently with how similar incidents are dealt with involving other staff. An initial review is first completed to identify if any policies are violated and to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. There seems to be some confusion from people unfamiliar with government procedures who are comparing the situation to an incident involving a potential criminal action or when a formal personnel complaint is filed, neither of which apply in this case.

“There was no so-called “cover-up.” I actually called a meeting of my executive team the first work day following the incident to inform them of what had happened. Personnel matters are not publicized, which is not the same as a cover-up.

“It is reprehensible that negative criticism has been made toward the city attorney’s office. Their level of expertise, hard work, and dedication to effectively protect the city’s and community’s interests day in and day out is something unparalleled to anything I have witnessed anywhere in my career. They handled this incident in that same consistent and professional manner.

“I have also witnessed the city clerk and her staff work tirelessly and with the utmost professionalism to respond to a barrage of public records requests, only to have wild, unfounded insinuations made about altering records and tapes. Our citizens would agree what a travesty this is if they had the opportunity as I do to witness the seriousness with which they take their integrity as it relates to their professional responsibilities. The so-called “missing 80 minutes” of tape resulted because the representative of the website that requested the tape submitted a flash drive that was too small to hold the entire file. Once they submitted a new flash drive, they received the remainder of the tape. However, these background facts were never reported.

“The impact on Ms. McClish’s reputation is an even greater travesty. She has consistently treated everyone she comes in contact with in a kind, professional, and responsive manner. She has served this community with great distinction and does not deserve the meanness that has been directed toward her.

“I have consistently expressed my deepest respect for the important work our officers do in protecting our community. I also fully support the officers that responded to the July 3 incident and early on issued a public apology to them for the uncomfortable position my actions put them in, as well as to the rest of the organization and community. I have never accused any of them of lying, and it has never been my belief that they said anything with the intent of harming me.

“I have tried to focus on my job, stay out of the press, and let the investigation process take its course. However, given the amount of accusations that have been made publicly, I believe I must now speak out to provide clarification regarding some of the statements.

“First, I never lied about Ms. McClish being in the building. When I asked why the officers were there, I was twice told they were looking for someone with the name of an employee that until recently worked in City Hall. When one of the officers used Ms. McClish’s correct name, I responded that she was there. Later reports on a website that they were using her nickname are false, although I acknowledge that they may have thought that was the case.

“Second, the building was reported as being dark, which is an accurate statement given that most the lights were off. However, it is also important to clarify for the public that there are lights at each end of the building that automatically remain on at all times. Therefore, there would be no reason to turn on additional lights in other portions of the building.

“Third, due to the extent of the activity by the officers in the building, our belief was that they could be responding to a serious threat. Therefore, Ms. McClish was standing out of view in response to her fear for her safety.

“Lastly, I continue to confirm my earlier statements that nobody was at any time unclothed or partially clothed.

“With regard to the actions of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association, I continue to provide them the benefit of the doubt that their motivations are sincere. However, given that they are still not satisfied now that the City Council complied with their request for an outside investigation, I believe it is important that the public be provided pertinent background information regarding the city’s labor relations.

“I will be the first to recognize that I have failed to maintain a positive relationship with the POA. I acknowledge that there were things I could have done and/or communicated better to improve this relationship. However, it is important to also acknowledge that we have been through the worst economic period since the Great Depression. We are proud of the fact that during this period, we actually increased reserves, maintained important capital projects to improve our streets and other infrastructure, and maintained key service levels despite skyrocketing pension costs and plummeting revenues. This could not have been accomplished without some tough decisions and tough labor negotiations.

“During this time, the POA hired an attorney to represent them who was a partner with a law firm that posted on its website a “playbook” for negotiations. Among other questionable tactics, it advocated “public ridicule” of blunders by the city manager, mayor, and City Council. It also recommended to “focus on a city manager, councilperson, mayor or police chief and keep the pressure up until that person assures you his loyalty and then move on to the next victim.” They have since gone out of business amongst a variety of their own legal problems, but the POA has continued the services from the same attorney, now with a new firm.

“I am confident that our extraordinary and dedicated staff will carry on to do more great things for this wonderful community that I love so much. I believe my greatest legacy is the effective team we have assembled over the years and am extremely proud of all that they have accomplished. The state of the city’s infrastructure, finances, and economic vitality are at their highest level ever due to their hard work, the council’s leadership, and the community’s support and involvement. My wish is that my departure will remove this distraction and allow them to return their full focus to these important efforts. I cherish all my time serving the city of Arroyo Grande, I bear no ill will to anyone who has opposed me in this matter, and I hope everyone can now seek a new level of cooperation in addressing some major challenges ahead for our community. Meanwhile, I look forward to spending more time with my incredible family who has been so supportive of me throughout this ordeal and my life.”

Don’t miss breaking news stories — like CalCoastNews on Facebook.


I really believe Steve would still have his job if he didn’t listen to Tony who was likely the catalyst for the cover-up.

Had Steve come out Monday after the incident and apologized – it would have likely been accepted. Tony would not have had to pay City Council to do a shoddy job of investigating. But instead Tony is going to waste more of tax payer money on another shoddy investigation just so he can say I told you so. Tony seems to be the real problem.




This man has not resigned. He will be in place until a replacement is found. He will continue to run our city into the ground—with the help of our amazing city council. Steve Adams has proven once again he has no backbone. Does Tony really think that with this announcement Jim Hill will back out of the race? Does he truly believe this whole situation is really about the events of July 3rd and that it has noting to do with him?

We need to focus on getting Jim elected. We need to focus on making sure the Charter does not pass. Remember the City of Bell? Well, that city was destroyed by the leadership and oh, my, Bell was a Charter City.

Keep in mind also, if you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth mainly because you start to believe it. I do not trust one person on the current council. I do not trust our mayor and I do not trust Steve Adams to make the right choices for our city.

Yes, he may be stepping down, but look at the destruction he has left in his wake. Look at the destruction the council and the mayor have left in their wake as well.

VOTE JIM HILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We need new leadership.


I don’t believe he has any intention of resigning. If he truly cares about the city, as he claims, he would immediately resign and leave his post so an interim city manager could be selected and we could move on from the scandal and the cover up.


Steve Adams needs to resign yesterday and since he hasn’t he needs to be exposed to the political equilevant of a tar and feathering along with anyone who attempts to extend his time in our town.

Eliminate him and that ugly easy squeeze he’s been messing around with all this time!


3 dislikes? I’m honored Steve, thanks!


$53K in unused vacation? almost 700 hours? I have never worked for a company that allows anyone to accrue more than 240 hours of vacation. Just one more opportunity to stick it to the tax payers, in essence, this should be considered theft in today’s day and age, when every private company in the world cap’s accumulated or accrued vacation.


There’s no “use it or lose it” with government vacation. Not sure how AG works but state employees can keep up to 640 hours as of 1/1 each year (80 days off) or roughly 4 months pay.

After they’ve been there long enought, they accrue 20 hrs/month off – equivalent to 2.5 days off with pay for every 20 days that they pretend to work. Another dirty little secret of public employees.

fishing village

i hope everyone is happy


Wow, you REALLY don’t get it.


Pouting is not flattering.


Not only do I disagree with your opinion, I believe it shows a degree of naivete that is difficult for me to comprehend, given the kind of unending piles of horsesh!t we have had to endure from Adams and his co-conspirator, the city mayor.

Adams’ promise to resign in the future means nothing, especially when he continues to lie about the circumstances of Nookiegate and the subsequent attempted cover up. At any point he could simply decide to break his oral promise and decide to stay. He has given himself enough wiggle room so he can stay until the election is over. This will allow him to continue his efforts at covering up the Nookiegate scandal, which will get him and the mayor past the election.

There is a reason he has not done what other city managers embroiled in a scandal have done: immediately resign, opening the door for an interim city manager to be appointed. I believe the reason is to deflate the movement to remove Adams and the mayor from office.

We cannot allow ourselves to be sidetracked by such an obvious ploy. Adams’ latest tactic has something to change the situation except to demonstrate another cover up tactic.


I can’t believe this passes for leadership in AG. I hope all this does is generate more outrage towards city hall and add more momentum to Jim Hill’s write-in candidacy.

These so-called leaders probably think this puts the issue to rest . .. . .unbelievable . . . it should only add fuel to the fire. The next city council meeting oughta be a doozy.

Jim Hill for Mayor


Don’t wait for council meeting. We need to be at EVERY meeting! That means Tuesday at the Planning Commission meeting.


When and where is the Planning Comm meeting? Also, are we wearing anything in particular that shows our support for cleaning our messed up house? The more I read the hotter I get at these losers.


Planning commission meetings are held on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month @ 6PM at the City Council chambers on W. Branch in the village.

City Council meetings are the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays @ 6PM.

According to the city website, the Planning Commission meeting for Oct 7 has been CANCELLED.

Let’s spend our Tues walking for Jim Hill and getting out the word. to help! Together we can make an impact, and hopefully change to AG


Okay, I’ll send a note around and maybe “water’ the grassroots a bit, thanks.


Sine the planning commission meeting has been cancelled, our next opportunity to have our voices heard is Tuesday, Oct 14, 6PM at the City Council meeting.

It seems as though black has become part of the official Arroyo Grande dress code, and we want to show our continued support for our AGPD, so black it is…again. There is one good thing about it,

the yellow Write-in JIM HILL badges will show up nicely!


the planning commission meeting that was canceled because Teresa can not attend yet AGAIN. How is this city being run when meetings are being cancelled or held behind closed doors.


JIM HILL for mayor

fill in the bubble write in the name, make history


This is part of her job, to attend these meetings. Is she getting per full pay if she cannot fulfill the duties of her job? Maybe she should use vacation or sick time if she cannot fulfill her functions in the workplace.

Mr. Holly

There is light at the end of the tunnel Evidently Adams saw the light and is probably making the best for all involved. He’s just walking away, no hearings, no lawsuits and no severance pay. Adams should be a role model for Big Tony and follow in his footsteps.

That would be a win win for all.


Adams resignation will improve the work environment in City Hall.

It does absolutely nothing to explain why our City Council has been so inept and handling this situation from the get-go.

How many times does Mr Adams get to modify/change his account of the incident, not that it matters…no one believed it then, don’t believe it now.

One last stab at the PD on the way out Steve…REALLY?

The PD gave a vote of NO Confidence to both Adams and Ferrara which means the bigger part of the problem STILL remains. Unless Ferrara goes, nothing changes. Do we expect the selection of the new city manager to be any different than the initial “investigation”?

No, we do not.

mb business owner

Unfortunately, while the resignation is good news and about time, the fact that he will be there until a replacement is found is not good. Admittedly, he can’t effectively run the city with what has occurred, but he will be running the city for another 3-6, more like 9 months! Continues to make no sense.


It is because of city managers like Adams that god gave us interim city managers.

I don’t trust him or his word because of his history of lies, broken promises, and attempted cover up. I don’t understand why anyone else would, either.


He has not resigned. The City Council has not convened to accept his resignation. All he said is he is looking for work elsewhere and will help the amazing Council find a replacement.

The MAYOR is to BLAME for this.

From the start he has behaved badly and did the WRONG thing

This is about TONY!!!!

Also, if they love their families so much, why did they want to be at City Hall more than at home to start a three day weekend.

Go figure!


I don’t think he has any plan to actually resign and leave the city’s employment.

I wonder what new jobs will be created by the city charter, if it passes?


After all the crap Adams has dished out about his role in the Nookiegate scandal and subsequent cover up, you still take his word that he will, at some undetermined future date, actually resign voluntarily, without a severance package?

No wonder politicians like Adams and the mayor continue to get away with anything they want to do without repercussion.


Camera 6 could not stand the elements.



Since when did lies, and deceit become elements?


Well, they are elements of a cover up but not of weather.


Everything about Adam’s “resign letter” reads flat, false, and pathetic. Adams true

to form refuses to take responsibility and again shoots back at the AGPD.

And what elements is he referring to about camera 6? There has been no

elements to break camera 6. And let’s go a step further, if camera 6 was

not working then how come the city managers, police department and the

camera company did not know it wasn’t working? How much did the city spend

on this operation blue set up and how much does the city pay for maintenance

and daily review of the equipment?

Adams needs to resign now and take his incompetent city mayor, Ferrera,

with him. The citizens and the police officers should be outrage at his

latest letter.