AG mayor seeks restraining order on public speaker
October 10, 2014
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Arroyo Grande City Council members met Wednesday morning to “discuss” hiring a private investigator who apparently had already started his job, and Mayor Tony Ferrara angrily asked for a restraining order on outspoken critic Otis Page.
According to the agenda, the council was meeting to discuss hiring a private investigator from Ventura to look into a employee scandal and alleged cover-up. However, city employees said the company had already been selected, the private eye was hard at work, and the meeting was a “sham.”
Several city employees said officers who had first-hand knowledge of a recent city government scandal were contacted for interview appointments by Sintra Investigations in the days before the special council meeting, which had only the one item on the agenda.
Sintra Investigations will be looking into the late-night City Hall rendezvous on July 3 between City Manager Steve Adams and a subordinate employee, Teresa McClish, as well as the council’s handling of the issue. The incident was first reported by CalCoastNews on Aug. 19, and since then numerous Arroyo Grande residents have expressed dismay at the response by Mayor Tony Ferrara and his council mates in meetings and in letters to council members.
Ferrara, responding to one resident’s email asking the council to approve an independent investigation, recommended his fellow council members not reply to the resident.
“No need to reply,” Ferrara said in an Aug. 21 email to council members Tim Brown, Jim Guthrie, Joe Costello and Kristen Barneich, and copies to Adams and McClish: “This is an FYI. I wanted you to know where I’m coming from. Not about to take this crap from anyone.”
About 25 citizens attended the rare morning session, many criticizing a “lack of transparency” by city officials, a failure to fire Adams, and the already-completed deal with Sintra.
Resident Page said both the meeting and selection of the investigator was “a sham” as the council had already hired the firm. Ferrara then ordered microphones and public broadcast television cameras to be turned off, and demanded that a police officer escort Page from the council chambers.
A visibly irritated Ferrara asked a nearby police officer if he could “get a restraining order” against the outspoken Page, a police department employee confirmed. Ferrara was then informed that it was unlikely he would be able to secure a restraining order against Page.
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