Arroyo Grande citizens have a right to know

October 12, 2014


The citizens of Arroyo Grande’s rights to know, per the Brown Act, that they may be informed, is preempted, forestalled, obstructed and blocked by California Code 54957. It provides for the exclusion of the citizens from the examination of witnesses regarding the City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish matter.

Further, that exclusion is magnified if it is a personnel matter that infers the right of privacy in a personnel matter.

This preemption is especially acute in disguising the detail on two major issues in the Adams/McClish incident that are, ironically, not specifically relevant to their conduct on July 3. Those issues are the denial of the “coverup” and the criticism of the police assessment of the incident. This is the true ballgame — not the actual issue of what Adams and McClish did on July 3.

California Code 54957 does not directly apply to either of these two issues, but their resolution may depend on the current interview process, conducted by retired police officer Charles Hookstra of the employed Sintra Group.

Council member Tim Brown is running for reelection. He blames the citizens that their actions “was mirroring what they are accusing the council of doing … that what I see is the public prejudging.”

Where Brown on Aug. 26 rightfully argued for a “process” and where he was joined by Councilman Joe Costello arguing for “transparency” (that later in a forum he contradicted himself admitting that he believed a reinvestigation would not reveal any new facts) the paralysis of the preemption of the citizens right to know became evident.

There has been no process or transparency to inform the citizens. The reinvestigation was sprung on the citizens at a meeting held at 9 a.m. on Oct. 8. The citizens came to give their testimony of a reinvestigation were shocked that the deal had been done. The meeting was a pro forma exercise done as a formality to inform the citizens that the council had acted — ignoring the benefit of the citizens testimony on that day.

Remember, throughout this matter from the disclosure of the “tryst” by CalCoastNews on Aug.19, the council meetings on the closed sessions have been under Code Section 54957. This means the final report by Hookstra will not be all encompassing — such as the disclosures by the police as to what they held to be “inappropriate” when they confronted Adams and McClish. It’s a personnel matter. The preemption of citizens’ rights to know is because it’s a personnel matter.

Further, since the council’s deliberations were in closed session, they also were on a personnel matter. Secrecy by law abounds.

It is reasonable to expect those matters regarding any council member’s conduct will also be omitted from the report. For all those closed meetings dealt with a personnel matter — not the substance of Adams’ accusations, or Ferrara’s urgency to cover up matters since he was running for mayor and the presidency of The League of Cities. And who approves the report before it is presented to the citizens? Why of course, the council.

California code 54957 was inappropriately applied. It was not a true personnel “performance evaluation.” Nor is it now. It is the cover up of a personnel matter which is being reinvestigated and will probably be sent to the tombs of covered cover ups. What is the truth here?

It is the matter of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association’s veracity who have vigorously and competently expressed their views. But it certainly appears, however, AGPOA’s goal, “that the selection process, all communications, and the investigation itself be made completely public” so that there is “transparency” will not be served.

That POA’s judgment that, “certain members of this council have chosen to prejudge the so-called evidence and have already pre-determined what the outcome should be” may be fulfilled.

Why? Because the seminal issue is not the conduct of Adams and McClish, the issue is Mayor Ferrara’s insistence there was not a cover up and Adams confused statements on the veracity of the police.

So, the inquisition by Hookstra of the police regarding their observations may be interesting, but the issue is why did Adams slap the police about it, and then why did Ferrara expend his considerable political capital and reputation to cover it up? These are the two net most significant issues and not the probable dalliances in City Hall after a celebratory evening of dinner, wine and tea.

Hookstra’s interviews may confirm same details. He is a serious and wizened professional who obviously knows the angles. But will he put the finger on these two major issues — the veritable big picture? For there is no sworn testimony.

The preemption on the citizen’s right to know is conflicted for all these reasons. And on top of this, Tony authorizes Sintra’s payments and Adams writes the checks. Yep, the fix could be in! If I am wrong — and I pray that I am — drinks on me at McClintocks.


Earlier posts have identified the two areas of concerns which we need to focus on—the election on November 4th—to vote out Mr. Ferrara, the other area I see is that Mr. Adams did in fact violate his employment contract. However, here is the rub, after reading a considerable amount of case law and commentary on case law around employment contracts. In my opinion, in order for the fair and impartial hearing to really be fair and impartial, a person versed in employment law needs to address the employment agreement of Mr. Adams, the law is varied and convoluted—there will not be a fair investigation without considerable research done in employment law and contract language.


good job Leann

The council has ultimate authority to hire or fire Adams, and some of the language is open to interpretation , it would now be up to investigator to have employment attorney review it and make judgment on this issue but don’t know if that is part of contract?


Of course you don’t know…. if that is part of the contract because we do not even know who they are interviewing?

Leann is correct

This is about Tony and Steve.and their needed termination from their current posts in AG.

We also need to restore confidence in the AGPD that their work will not be criticized, questioned and instead validated.


Yes, up to the investigator who is directly/indirectly connected to our current mayor—I will be sure to trust this process—NOT—-our current council and city attorney should have made the recommendation to have an employment attorney look into matters of Mr. Adams and issues revolving around whether or not he violated his contract—I am sorry to inform you, but having a group of people who used to be in law enforcement, connected to Mr. Farrara, should not be the person or group to determine whether or not this matter needs to be sent to a more qualified person, in fact, I am pretty sure that this is not within the scope of the contract our beloved city officials signed with Mr. Hookstra and Sintra. I could be wrong on this point, but I highly doubt it.

I am happy for you that you trust this wack process, if you could call it that—-things are running amok in AG—people need to recognize that this is not about “drinking tea in city hall”, it is about how the business of the city is run—and right now, it is not being run very well at all. Keep telling yourself this process is on the up and up and you might just believe it. I do not.


Just guessing here…there is no authorization for the investigation to, in any way, inconvenience Adams, and that includes authorizing an employment legal expert to investigate Adams’ role in Nookiegate, the subsequent cover up, and how it impacts Adams’ continuing absurd presence in the role of city manager.


Let me get this right….

We need to FIRE his. ASS

But instead, we gave him a 10 per cent raise!



Yeah, dolphingirl says his catch up raise was long overdue since he’d been passed over, does that make you feel better?


Dolphin boy is misguided.

Mr. Adams cannot expect to have a good working relationship with any of his underlings if in fact his pay raise was higher than theirs.

Perhaps he should have to take a hit for the bad financial decision to move City Hall?

I hear that Teresa is in charge of the project management of the police station remodel. I’ m guessing we are already behind schedule. Just guessing.

And where did Tonys tress go? Removed when it was in the cities best interest but not the vet clinics?



It would be interesting to know if the PD project is on budget.

Trees…what trees? You mean those diseased sticks that needed to be removed only once the property became the city’s? How convenient!

Dolphingirl is about as phishy as the tree scenario, the tea party, the no-cover up cover-up, and council transparency.


Agag1 It is more than a little ironic that the city can remove the trees and the Veterinary clinic was not able to accomplish the same. I failed to mention this in my earlier post as one of the things I disliked about Tonys actions. I wonder if the city was required to replace the trees that they removed?


Yeah, ironic alright…

about as ironic as Tony’s signs being on his buddy Nick Tompkins’ properties.

That’s not ironic dolphin, THAT’S PLANNED!


You are not alone in your skepticism, Dolphingirl, nor are you deserving of the ridicule you are recieving for merely having an opposing opinion. Among these posters are some of the most closed minded and rabid personalities I’ve encountered. Insecure, as well, insofar as they leave these pet issues far behind when someone interrupts a diatribe for clarification or a request for expansion.

I will apologize for the things they’ve said to and about you, secure in the knowledge that none of the offending parties will.

No matter what problems AG is facing otherwise, this blood-thirst and personal abusiveness is not a solution.


Any disciplinary or investigative council action legally have to be handled privately and confidentially. We found that out in Morro Bay with the dismissal of the City Manager and City Attorney. Opening it up to the public leaves the city open to a law suit.

The funny thing about the AG situation is that the small vocal group of citizens wants to go against those legal restrictions. They keep asking for another investigation and want to be included in all of the details, and then complain that they ultimately will be paying for it. Plus, Adams and McClish are not their targets, there was no verifiable tryst… merely a perceived gateway to go after the mayor. If the citizens of AG were so unhappy with Tony why did they not have a candidate to run against him long ago? Or launch a recall election? It appears a great many AGians are not for him, so it is perplexing that no one decided to enter the race months ago.


I think you are misguided about the size of the group who is dissatisfied with the current council and the current mayor, the current city attorney, and the current city manager.

I am not sure why it is so hard to wrap your brain around the fact that people are done with business as usual and that is why we are working to vote a new person in—why does it truly matter when someone filed papers to run for mayor?????

Again, this is not about what did or did not happen on July 3rd, did this event cause a series of related events to unfold that members of the public decided were not okay? It definitely did.

Accept the fact that there is another candidate and move on………..


…proverbial “Last straw” that broke the camel’s back. We’ve had enough for some time, Toni’s handling of this was the straw alright.


City of Arroyo Grande TIMELINE of July 3rd incident of City Hall – 2014

April 22, 2014 – Employment Agreement for Steven Adams is amended to include a $15,235 increase over the previous contract effective July 4, 2014

July 3, 2014 -Soft Opening at new restaurant “Roberts” in Arroyo Grande Village : Adams and McClish attend. Restaurant closes at 10 PM. McClish and Adams leave and walk to Rooster Creek restaurant and bar. (Closes at 10:00pm)

10:00PM give or take – Teresa McClish calls her husband Dana to inform him her cell phone was dying and she was leaving work.

11:04 PM – Call received by husband, Dana McClish for citizen assistance to AGPD to look for Teresa McClish.

11:07PM-No answer on her office number. AGPD checks Ralph & Dwaynes Tavern for McClish ( one of two only establishments open at that time within walking distance)

11:38PM- 5 Cities Fire Authority are called for service to City Hall and cancelled prior to arrival

11:39 PM Adams and McClish are discovered in City Hall

11:43 PM – Fire returns with no assistance recorded.

11:43 PM –McClish is responsible for contacting her husband Dana McClish.( 1 hour 45 minutes after her previous phonecall)

July 4th @12:09 AM – Police Close Incident

July 4, 2014 – 10.5% salary increase takes effect for City Manager Adams.

July 4, 2014 – Alarm set and reset multiple times at City Hall by Adams

July 4, 2014 @3:55PM – City Hall left unlocked – call for service to lock.

Sunday, July 6th – City Attorney Carmel enlists assistance for colleague McMahon to conduct an investigation.

July 7-8 – Attorney McMahon conducted phone interviews with police officers and Adams and McClish. No recordings, no report, no report out.

July 7th, 2014 11:00AM – Special Meeting of the Executive Team of City called by City Manger Adams “told it will be brief” to share with employees what had occurred. In attendance are: police chief, administrator services director, city clerk, and others

July 7, 2014 – Special Meeting Agenda Posted.

July 8, 2015 – Regular Meeting of the City Council


July 8, 2014@ 10:18PM- 11:48 ( 90 minutes) Special Closed Meeting after regular meeting.Closed Session item: Public Employee Performance Evaluations: City Attorney & City Manager. No reportable action, says City Attorney.

July 8, 2014 – Michael McMahon of City Attorney Carmel’s law firm reports to City Council in closed meeting after phone interviews of the 7th and 8th. ($1,254) though the CC never reported out this action. July 12, 2014 – Increased agreement with Tim Carmel for attorneys services to cost 3% approximately $7,000. Approved at August 12th meeting


July 22, 2014 – Regular Meeting of the City Council CANCELLED


August 12, 2014 Regular Meeting of the City Council.

Minutes read: “On Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the Council met in Closed Session regarding: Public Employee Performance Evaluation pursuant to Government Code Section 54957: Title: City Attorney”

August 19, 2014 – Cal Coast News runs story: ‘Arroyo Grande Tryst a Group Affair” detailing the events that occurred on July 3rd. This is the first time the public is notified of incident of July 3rd, 2014.

August 20, 2014 – Steve Adams makes statement to press:

“I acknowledge that after attending a restaurant opening, I was at City Hall with a fellow employee to have tea and wait an appropriate time before driving home to ensure our safe travel. I recognize this resulted in an appearance that could be easily misinterpreted. I deeply apologize for any negative reflection it has had on our organization and community and accept all responsibility. However, claims that have been published by another news source that we were found unclothed and involved in inappropriate sexual behavior are false, hurtful, and have caused great pain for us and our families. Unfortunately, I believe they have been generated by people that feel they can benefit by damaging my reputation and are published by a news source that did not base its story on factual information”.

August 20, 2014 – Arroyo Grande / Grover Beach chamber Luncheon at the South County Regional Center After the keynote, Mayor Ferrara took the microphone to volunteer that “the incident was looked at and followed up by the City Council” which then determined no further investigation was warranted, Ferrara described the July 3 incident as “a personnel matter” about which he could provide no details, but added the two parties involved “have a high level of integrity.”

August 23, 2014 – KSBY reports that Council member Tim Brown is quoted as saying” cannot discuss anything that happened during a closed door session. The Council voted and the majority of the members decided not to pursue further investigation.”

August 23, 2014 – Adams admits to having 3 glasses of wine and putting the police officers in an awkward situation.

August 26, 2014 – Public Meeting of Arroyo Grande City Council. The City Council agreed to hold a public session regarding the Adams/ McClish incident at City Hall on July 3.

Item 13. Council Communications- Councilmember Brown seeks to have an independent investigator and recommending “agenizing a public process that included the scope of the process”. (2:44:19) Costello agrees. for “issue of public trust and transparency is significant”; to be discussed at next meeting. Guthrie did not want to wait 2 weeks and looked for an expedited process. Councilmember Barneich “was in favor of an outside investigation and favor of doing as soon as possible”. (2:48:44) Mayor Ferrara stated “we didn’t let this go, we didn’t.” “You could call it a very significant reprimand” ( 2:51: 04)… “ I’m fine with the rest of the council. I think we do need to sit down and discuss this

and figure out where we go from here.” (2:53:45) if it is in fact it means bringing in another investigator, “if that’s what it takes for this gray cloud to kind of wander away and dissipate that perhaps that is what we need to do. “We need to thoroughly examine this. We can’t do it if it is not on the agenda. Ferrara said : “We need to bring it back and put on the agenda” . ” We will try our level best to be as transparent as the law will allow us to be in this particular situation. (2: 54:22) As far as the timing of it…We are gonna have to look at all of our calendars and decide when we can find a spot. We might be able to accelerate it. “We will try to make it more than 24 hours so we can make sure that you all know that this is coming. and resolve this sooner than later “ not have it continue to linger” We will do

whatever it takes to get us there.

It will be placed on a subsequent agenda. (2:55:55) more details to follow as soon as we can coordinate calendars.

September 5, 2014- LEAGUE OF CALIFORNIA CITIES SWEARS IN MAYOR TONY FERRARA as president of theLeague for 2014-15

September 9, 2014 – Public Meeting of the Arroyo Grande City Council Closed Session item 16. Public Employee Performance Evaluation: City Manager. Report the City Council had taken NO ACTION and will not pursue an investigation. Comments out of closed session by Guthrie and Barniech. Barneich stated : “There are lots of people in this community who share a different opinion than most of the people who spoke tonight, and I

feel we are representing them,” she said. Guthrie stated: “ I felt there would not be anything gained by doing an outside investigation.”

September 15, 2014 City Attorney Carmel states in Brown Act violation letter to Kevin Rice that Council Member Brown is incorrect and there was no vote in closed.

September 15, 2014 Grand Jury Complaint filed with SLO County by Otis Page and Julie Tacker.

September 17, 2014- The AG Police Officers Association files formal complaint and VOTE of NO CONFIDENCE for City Manager Adams and Mayor Ferrara.

September 19, 2014 – Special Meeting called on a Saturday at 1:00PM. 50 citizens attend.

September 20, 2014@ 1:00PM – Special Meeting of the City Council of Arroyo Grande

Agenda: Public Employee Performance Evaluation: City Manager. 60 citizens are in attendance.

September 20, 2014- Report out by Mayor Ferrara: “It wasn’t because we thought the police (umm) were trying to hide something. It’s because we believe them. And we still do. But if it takes another person to look at this, and come back with a determination that yes, they were telling the truth, then (umm) I think that’s what we want to report right now out of closed session. We have made a determination that if that’s what it is going to take, and I should indicate to you that (umm) we anticipated this, we anticipated this a couple meetings ago, There was some, (umm) there was some (umm) direction or some concern about the time limit after the incident. And when we had our special meeting that I can tell you. We were doing our homework back then. We put together a list of investigators, potential investigators. (Umm)We asked for costs. So that’s the direction that the Council is willing to move in if that’s what it is going to take (umm) to make this right (umm) and yes, we are going to have to pay (umm) money to have it done…… And we are going to go outside of the County to do it so nobody can come back and say we have had prior contact with the City. That’s not going to happen.” There is a subcommittee that we decided will work with the City Attorney to make that selection.

Councilmember Brown and Mayor Pro Tem Guthrie….

September 23, 2014 – Regular Meeting of the City Council

AGPOA read out loud their vote of NO CONFIDENCE for the MAYOR and CITY MANAGER and declined to be involved with selection committee for “independent investigation”. Public comment lasts well over an hour.

September 26, 2014 – SLO Tribune publishes police surveillance video from July 3.

October 1, 2014 – City Manager Steve Adams says he will resign at an unknown future date. “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, Mrs. McClish was standing out of view in response to her fear for her safety” says Adams. A long resignation in the future letter was published in the Tribune and New Times.

October 8, 2014 @ 9AM Special Meeting of the City Council of the City of Arroyo Grande

Agenda Item: Contract with possible investigator.25 citizens attend. 10 or so provide public

comment. The agenda item was never introduced. The Mayor took public comment and then the Council, with Costello absent, spoke of the 7 am start the following day of the interviewer. Mr. Otis Page was asked to leave the meeting after he shouted out of turn: ”Why are we here?”.

October 9, 2014 @ 7 am – the investigation begins.



Wowsie! Sure you got it all?

Love how eloquent the mayor is.

Time for change folks.


Thank you for the excellent timeline. Copies should be handed out to at the council meeting

to bring people up to speed.


Will do!


Oh, YES.


Can someone please make sure our little dolphin friend gets a copy?


You’re going to have to mail it to Sun River. We are heading out on a camping trip this morning with a few of the neighbors. I’m sure you’ll miss me. Either way, although I have some dislike for your method, I admire your conviction. Good luck. I’ll check back in when I return. Don’t worry, i’ll be back in time to vote!


Again, so much personal info, trying to make friends?




Dolphin girl no response to the DETAILED time line and what happened?

Well we have a lot of dislike for the city’s method and their conviction to keep things hidden.

Thank goodness for tenacity and truth I think we may pull this off.


we need to hand this out at the council meeting…..and the rally


Thank you for sharing the facts, this timeline might be helpful to investigator you may want to forward to him


Got enough there?

I especially like the word for word Ferrara quotes. Thanks.

Please repost so all can see.

Did you read this Tony? Old Joe? Steve?


Keep adding to that for Tuesday night.

I’m gonna go to bed praying our Mayor will bless us with another sermon.

Man he takes way too much.

Half of this would not have happened if he could KEEP his mouth closed.

Mr. Holly

The investigative report will be interesting. As stated most of it will be referred to as personnel items which we will never see. As far as the cover-up, will the investigation be able to get to that in a transparent format or will it too be restricted by the personnel issue?

I’ll put my reliance on the reports that have been submitted by the Police Department which pretty much tells the entire story.

The sad part is that none of this will come out prior to the election. With that in mind it is important that those in Arroyo Grande, who want a professional and legal city council, get out and vote for Mr. Hill.

Should change not occur at this election the arrogance of Big Tony will be hard to live with.


Gimme an T!


Gimme an O!


Gimme an N!


Gimme an Y!


What’s that spell ?


What’s that spell ?


What’s that spell ?


Yeah, come on all of you, AG women and men,

The Mayor needs your help again.

He’s got himself in a terrible jam

Way down yonder at City Hall

So put down your phones and pick up a sign,

We’re gonna have a good time.

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for ?

Don’t ask him, He don’t give a damn,

This is just another sham

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the investigative gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,

Whoopee! we’re all gonna hear another lie.

Well, come on council, let’s move fast;

Your big chance has come at last.

Gotta go out and fire Steve

And hire someone with integrity

And you know that Tony’s gotta go

To put an end to his dog and pony show

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for ?

Don’t ask Tony, He don’t give a damn,

This is just another sham

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the investigative gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why

Whoopee! we’re all gonna hear another lie.


Well, come on people, don’t move slow,

Why man, this Mayor has got to go.

There’s plenty good candidates that can make the grade

By election day we’ll make the trade,

Just hope and pray that Steve goes too,

It’s been far to long and is way over-due

And it’s one, two, three,

What are we fighting for ?

Don’t ask them, they don’t give a damn,

This is just another sham.

And it’s five, six, seven,

Open up the investigative gates,

Well there ain’t no time to wonder why

Whoopee! we’re all gonna hear another lie…..


Wow! Mr. Page one of your most insightful postings.

So what does Steve have on Tony?

Why did all 5 of the Council say they wanted to go for another investigation and then quash it

Will the Council continue to support a sinking ship name Ferrara? Or will they jump ship?

The letter to J and M is not the beginning, there will be more once KV gets all her public records requests fulfilled.

Mr. Mayor, quit now, this is not going to go your way and better to quash more requests of the Clerk of your good intentions toward the citizenry.


all five did not say they wanted an investigation some did some did not


What does mcclish have on adams?


I was told they are both nerds and are friendly.

My goodness, go home to your family and take care of the collateral damage.


a good time


Yep all five committed to revisiting this on August 26th at 2:44:19. Ferrara himself says “we need to bring this back and put it on an agenda.”.

To quote the mayor: ” if that is what it is gonna take to make this grey cloud to kind of wander away….. I’m fine with the rest of the council.”

In fact to reply to his wacky 9 am meeting Ferrara states: ” we need to bring it back and put it on the agenda. We will try our level best to be as transparent as the law will allow us to be in this particular situation” (2:54;22)

He then goes on to state….. As far as the timing of it… We are gonna have to look at our calendars and decide when we can find a spot”

I guess Joe (wake me up) Costello forgot to check his calendar since he was absent from the Wednesday morning charade.


before that they did not, after that meeting investigation was not quashed , facts only



looks like doglover been watching a lot of SLO SPAN. Thanks/

Lets hope Mr. Hookstra is reading this!

robert a

Looks like someone forgot which posting ID he was using….

It must be difficult to keep them all straight !!


We may never fully have all the facts on this incident.

Clearly what we have learned is that we have a growing disconnect between our elected city council members and the community. Next, we have a very unhealthy relationship between Senior Level Administrators and the Elected Council on how they view residents free speech, and opposing views.. I view it as a “Us” vs ” Them” mentality. ” We know what is best for You”. A Very Top- down management approach!

The Voters and Local Citizens have been sending a clear message on a wide variety of concerns for several years: police bond defeat, fire tax increase defeat, south county sanitation, charter city, sales tax extension, automatic rate increase process, water conservation education spending, number of senior level administrators, lack of budget for infrastructure and maintenance, building rents, pension funding, salaries, benefits.

I encourage citizens to Vote. To inform others in our community. Support Tax and Rate Relief.


THE issue is why did Adams slap the police about it, and then why did Ferrara expend his considerable political capital and reputation to cover it up? These are the two net most significant issues and not the probable dalliances in City Hall after a celebratory evening of dinner, wine and tea.

This is the $64,000 question

Throw in Tony’s astounding amount of arrogance and lack of the ability to see thru any other lens and you gotta wonder what else does Steve have on Tony that he did not immediately put him on leave?


Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that the terrible trio of Tony, Tim Carmel and Stevie Wonder Adams aren’t up to their eyeballs in this whole mess?

There is absolutely no logical explanation for their actions, other than CYA.

The more they try to cover for Steve, the more they expose themselves.


I love it when the MAYOR speaks.

He uses so many condescending words and explains things that people do fall asleep to ( especially council member Costello)

Keep talking Tony and Steve

You provide so much evidence that it is time for change.

I can’t wait to hear about how you would like to wiggle out of the November 11th Council Meeting.

Make an annual calendar of your meeting duffus.

Isn’t that the job of the city manager?


the truth will come out


Our current council and leadership, including the mayor, the city attorney, and the city manager or ethically deficient—more on this on Tuesday…….


Bring a crow along with you in case you need something to eat.

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