Arroyo Grande Council attendees pick sides, the mayor or police

October 29, 2014

wet paintBy KAREN VELIE

At Tuesdays Arroyo Grande City Council meeting, proponents and opponents of Mayor Tony Ferrara spoke out during public comment while three San Luis Obispo sheriff deputies and a police commander stood by in case of any altercations.

Fifteen people spoke during public comment, five in favor of the mayor and 10 supporting the police department or speaking out against Ferrara. At one point, a speaker asked those who support the mayor to stand up and about half the room rose to their feet. Than another speaker asked those who support the police officers to stand and the other half of the room stood up.

Members of the public and the police officer’s association have accused Ferrara and the council of attempting to coverup a late night romantic interlude between City Manager Steve Adams and a subordinate employee.

On July 3, police 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. A few years ago, Adams terminated a police sergeant for violating the same policy.

City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish

City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish

Immediately after the incident was first reported by CalCoastNews, Ferrara and Adams began claiming the police officers had fabricated the story in an attempt to manipulate salary negotiations between the city and the police officer’s association.

The officers fired back with a vote of no confidence against both Ferrara and Adams.

Since then, supporters of the police officers have shown their alliance by attending council meetings.

Two weeks ago, city staff removed several rows of chairs lowering the amount of public seating in the council chambers. Consequently, the 140-person capacity room was limited to about 55 people, with another dozen-plus in an adjacent room.

On Tuesday, the council chamber doors were opened at 4:45 p.m., more than an hour earlier than usual. Multiple people arrived early and quickly took up the bulk of the still limited seating.

In addition, the benches outside had been painted earlier in the day and had wet paint signs on them until after the meeting started prompting some to claim the city was attempting to dissuade Ferrara opponents from attending.

Members of two unions which have endorsed Jim Hill for mayor, the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association and the Carpenters Local 1800 in Arroyo Grande, and off duty police officers attended the meeting to show support for a change of leadership in Arroyo Grande.

Mayor Tony Ferrara

Mayor Tony Ferrara

Shortly before the meeting concluded, Ferrara took time to explain why city staff had removed a fallen tree from his yard. It is a violation of city and state laws for public officials to use government employees to do work at their private residences.

Ferrara said he arrived home and tried to move the tree, but wasn’t able to. And because the Harvest Festival was the next day, Ferrara then called the city’s public works department to have staff and equipment sent to remove the tree which had branches blocking the sidewalk.

Ferrara said he helped staff load the branches into a city vehicle to be taken to the city’s corporate yard for disposal. After CalCoastNews inquired about the use of public services, the city sent Ferrara a bill for $198 for the use of three employees, two trucks and backhoe for an hour while stating that the removal was justified because branches were blocking a public right-of-way.

At the end of the meeting, Ferrara took a few minutes to tell the public that after he is reelected on Oct. 4, the city will return to the way it was before the scandal.

Ferrara’s opponent, mayoral candidate Jim Hill, announced plans to run after being approached by critics of the mayor and the current council. He is running as a write in candidate.

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Here’s a bit from W.C Fields movie the Bank Dick. It’s so appropriate in it’s own weird way.


Egbert Sousé:

My uncle, a balloon ascensionist, Effingham Hoofnagle, took a chance. He was three miles and a half up in the air. He jumped out of the basket of the balloon and took a chance of landing on a load of hay.

Og Oggilby:

Golly! Did he make it?

Egbert Sousé:

Uh… no. He didn’t. Had he been a younger man, he probably would have made it. That’s the point. Don’t wait too long in life.

The MAYOR loves to talk when he has to COVER UP his actions.

When a citizens tree falls, touching a sidewalk….Call for help and see what happens……First, after hours means waiting until the next business day for mere mortals. Real folks scenario as follows; Call city hall, only to be transferred to two or three other departments. End up being hung up on. Call back and start again. Finally get transferred to the correct department to hear a recording saying, I’m sorry I missed your call, I’m either away from my desk or in “the field” (secret name for lunch / bar)? Leave info. Maybe have someone from the city drive by, three or so days later, then call to tell you the main part of the tree is on private property, your problem.. Get served an official notice to remove said tree or be fined for obstructing a public walkway. Mr. Mayor, You stand for everything that is corrupt, immoral and filled with self entitlement. When aren’t you lying? You should have a great future in politics.

Did anyone’s else enjoy his campaign speech grand finale?

I for one would like to personally observe the size of the remaining stump in order to gauge for myself the enormous size of the tree in question. It must have been huge to require 3 workers, a backhoe, and 2 trucks all for the paltry cost of $198.

Its obvious that the CalTrans equipment rate book (the rates contractors are forced to charge for equipment/trucks on City jobs), nor was the employee’s loaded salary rates charged to the good Mayor – its good to be King!

Anyone know the address?

The tree appears to be about 8″ or so in diameter. I saw the stump, looks about the same size. It is not a huge tree, and there are many on the street. They are all just about 10 years old.

What I can’t figure out is how it just “snapped” for the base. All I can assume is overwatering? Originally Tony said the root ball pulled up, but is clearly still under ground. A very clean break at the base, with no disruption of the grass around it.

Check out the picture he put up at the council meeting on the overhead (show and tell). you can see how clean the break is.

What I want to know, is it a violation of the Brown Act that he could bring up this topic, with graphics, when it was not an item on the agenda?

I want to know if the replacement tree will require, not only the same number of workers to accomplish the job, but an explanation spanning two, possibly more, council meetings and staff time?


Courtland in Berry Gardens. From Grand it’s on the left, white 2-story with shutters or something in a dark blue or green I think.

Ray, Costello and Katcho signs in front.

Tim Brown obviously didn’t make the cut…may be a reason to vote for him!

blackberry does any one like Blackberry

Well 4 1/2 man hours (1 1/2 hours for 3 men) at $25 is $112.50 so then there’s the $85.50 left over that we probably paid for the trucks, dump, haul, etc. All bloated fees I might add. A neighbor kid or two could have handled a 20 spot each and done it quicker.

Or support a local business and call a tree company!

Oh no! Mr Mayor emphatically stated the work took 45min

but he paid the fee for a WHOLE hour.


He doth protest way too much. Tony, when you talk so much, it makes you look guilty.

Look guilty? Tony seems to look guilty about a lot of things that have been brewing for years!

Those folks at the council meeting that spoke about his dealings on the sanitation district? They’ve been after him, his buddy Wallace and the like for years.

Convince us there’s nothing to that Tony, just like the tree, and who knows how many other things you’re involved in.

Could someone please explain how everyone at the city knew of the longtime Adams/McClish affair and our council wants us to believe they knew nothing of it, and the tea party was an innocent one time event?

Great article on the mailer about the South County Sanitation District.

We all need to learn more.


Thrums up if you do, down if you don’t

The City would have cut the tree of the right of way for free.


The remainder of the tree, would be on the property owner.

Sounds like the MAYOR asked the City for a bill once the word came from City Hall that CCN was asking about this.

What chiropractor does the MAYOR use?

He’s got to have a sore neck for all that looking over his shoulder.

Actually, the rate may not have been that outrageous. There can be more cost to the disposal of a tree (chipper or dump) than to the cost of cutting it down and cutting it up. Even though that tree was not big, it would have still filled a lot of green waste containers and, if I remember correctly, pieces over 6″ diameter need to be further cut down or treated as regular waste.

The rate was only outrageous if you consider “the steal” the Mayor got on the deal outrageous.

Using Stunned’s example of 3 guys each making $25/hr., when you add in the City’s benefit package cost and the CalTrans equipment rates, it looks more like this;

Labor/Benefits 3 guys x 1.5 hrs. x $36.75 = $165.38 (add $56.25 if O.T.)

2 Light Trucks 2 trks x 1.5 hrs x $21.78 = $65.34

Backhoe 1 BH x 1.5 hrs x $41.80 = $41.80

TOTAL $272.52 – $328.77

CalTrans rates are set so that the cost of ownership is recovered over the life of the item, and therefore should apply to this project like any other to compensate for the purchase price, upkeep, and wear and tear etc.

The employee benefits should also be included as they are a real cost to the City, and therefore should be passed on to the end user of the services.

Bottom line is Tony got a deal, especially if this took place after hours.

Damn if I was making $25/hr I’d still be working there! The mayor got a better deal

than you think. Right now there are only 4 workers in the street department, 2 are

part time working 28.5 hours per week(thanks to Obamacare) making $14-$16/hr

with NO benefits. The other 2 full time workers are not making anywhere near $25/hr, only the supervisor is making that much.

First I don’t know what having the tree fall the day before Harvest Festival had anything to do with this. If anything, the workers were busy prepping the village for the set up.

Second, I almost fell off my chair when I heard him say it was a busy thoroughfare. I drive through Berry Gardens neighborhood all the time and can count on one hand the number of people I have seen outside or on the sidewalks. A blatant lie to defend his story? Please Tony, we are really not that stupid.

Tony and his terrible tree saga…part two!

Last night’s city council meeting was yet another opportunity for Mr Mayor (this time with a full page color picture of the offending tree displayed on the OHP for all to see) to explain why it was SO necessary for him to call out 3 city workers, after hours, to help him deal with his tree.

Oh, the trouble this tree caused! Blocking a few feet of his sidewalk, also referred to as the “busy public right of way”, and on, and on, and on…

Really, Tony?

Any other citizen would have:

1. Sawed the tree apart and placed it in the green waste container (over the course of a few pick ups, if need be)

2. Called a neighbor to come help, that’s what good neighbors do. Maybe even borrow their green waste container too!

3. Tied a rope around it, hooked it to a pickup and moved the stupid thing until you could deal with it.

Good ‘ol Tony, the more he tries to make himself appear to be a regular Joe, the more obvious it is he’s not.

As you point out, the mayor’s explaination misses the point entirely. Would any other citizen have those same resources at his disposal for this issue?

Anything on private property is the responsibility of the property owner. If a limb did indeed fall onto city property (sidewalk), then it should be reported and the crew would remove it up to the property line.

Public works does not bill property owners for removing debris from the public right of way. This is the first case in which I have heard of a public works department working on someone’s private property.


You must be fairly young or fairly new ’round these parts. About 25 years ago or so, a couple of AG City workers were found to be pouring a concrete driveway at a private residence on City time and were summarily dismissed.

The “funny” thing about this was how it came to light… a phone call to the City Corp. Yard asking why a couple of City employees were napping on the hood of a City truck in front of her neighbors house – turns out they were waiting for the concrete to harden in order to put a broom finish on it.

Touche! The only thing that surprises me about that story is that they were fired.

Apparently those were the days when employee guidelines did not permit such actions.

Things are obviously a lot more loose these days.

Private tea parties and the like aren’t a violation of policy according to Mr Carmel.

So, maybe we should fire the Mayor?

Yes, we should fire the Mayor…on Nov 4th.

The Mayor did go to great lengths to reassure each and every citizen

that they too, qualify for this wonderful service.

Who wants to bet the City will see a spike in trees that “just happen” to fall on residents’ sidewalks so as to take advantage of this reasonably priced service we never even knew existed?

Gee, thanks Tony!

I saw the video. He said “My trees are ganging up on me.”

In Berry Gardens? Man this guy has absolutely no clue how the rest of us live.

I have NEVER seen a leader who has NOT. ONE ounce of EMPATHY for others.

His ARROGANCE has permeated EVERY ACTION he makes and every word he SPEWS.

Exciting as in,

he couldn’t figure out how to saw off a few branches when the tree was too heavy to move,

or exciting that he helped the workers load it in the truck after they’d sawed off the branches?

Response to Stunned, below…sorry.

He took time to AGAIN explain why city workers had removed a tree from his yard except with a third new and exciting twist to it.

Anyone see a pattern here?

i laugh when he refers to the “website” or CCN…..meanwhile he is running his own lil website or CCF, with muppet/puppet Aaron Ochs at the driver seat. The site should be renamed “Parroting Corrupt Government Officials”.

So Tory, does this mean you gave up following the police around with your camcorder and calling the police azzholes on your facebook page? Hypocrite

if you are referring to exercising my first amendment right, no, i will never give that up.

what i find hypocritical is you calling me a hypocrite for pointing out the hypocrisy of a police officer parking in the fire lane on a non emergency call, risking innocent lives if there was a fire. Had a public citizen done the same thing, they would have been ticketed and towed. Government power does not grant anyone extra rights to be above the law that everyone should follow. It’s no wonder the AG Council can run roughshod over this city with your vision.

What next AG…

This Mayor has become a laughing stock of the County.

We can only hope the League of CA Cities agrees.

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