Arroyo Grande’s leadership cannot be trusted with a charter city

October 28, 2014
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker


Arroyo Grande voters are facing the question of “Charter City” on Nov. 4 ballot. As they do, it is important to look at its current leadership’s questionable spending and ponder; is now the time to relax the standards in which to spend the people’s money?

Notable charter cities include, Bell, Stockton and Compton, need I say more?

At tonight’s city council meeting, another in a long line of questionable expenses is the $26,000 being considered to hire a consultant to search for a new city manager. Weeks after the “resignation” of Steve Adams, it officially has not been publically accepted by the council.

Tonight’s action sets the stage for as long as nine-months of “transition” allowing Adams his full $13,000 monthly salary. This should provide ample time for Adams to “hide skeletons” and “bury bodies.” This collateral damage is just more in the wake of destruction since the July 3 late night rendezvous with Adams and Community Development Director, Teresa McClish.

The city can’t stop now as it gyrates to clean up the fall out of the cover up as it spirals out of control.
Adams and McClish should have been put on administrative leave immediately and dismissed months ago.

The city hired an “independent investigator” at an early morning special meeting. The very narrow scope focused on the days between July 3 and July 8 when the council exonerated Adams and McClish of any wrongdoing. The impression given was that Mr. Hookstra would be conducting an investigation of the investigation done by Arroyo Grand City Attorney Michael McMahon. The urgency of the meeting and statements made by council members implied work had either already begun or would begin early the next day.

Weeks later and as of yesterday, that $120.00 an hour investigator had only requested the video tapes from City Hall from July 3; he had not sought any documents from the city clerk, not even the officer involved memos or dispatch records. What is he waiting for? The election perhaps?

The risk-taking allowed by charter cities has no place in Arroyo Grande; its current configuration as a general law city takes too many risks as it is. Examples include, spending a cool million dollars on its current creek side city hall. The building needed costly retrofitting to comply with the American’s with Disabilities Act; this included adding an elevator to the two story building.

Additionally, the city has tried to build a police department; voters rejected paying for it — twice. The city pressed on with an expensive remodel; suffering delays and costly overruns. Ratepayers continue to pay for the project’s blown budget. The city attempted, but failed to consolidate police services with Grover Beach, fought against police department staff by hiring special counsel to “negotiate” the contract.

Furthermore, Arroyo Grande was successful in dumping their costs of a standalone fire department onto Grover Beach and Oceano when Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA) was formed. Keeping control of its administration; city accounting staff reconciles the FCFA’s budgets and dwindling funds. While the city is saving an approximate $400,000 annually, where is that money going? As FCFA cries poor, failed to assess the property owners, while the city is hoarding money that once went to fire protection.

Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara has held a seat at the sanitation district for far too long. His defiance in splitting the Wallace Group contract into two and unwillingness to seek a forensic audit has prevented recovery of ratepayer funds. His stubborn stance, protecting John Wallace, has proved costly to the district and ratepayers in Arroyo Grande, Oceano and Grover Beach.

Ferrara kept the district from settling the dispute with the water board. Instead choosing to gamble, the district fought the eight-hundred pound gorilla and lost. Legal costs topped three-quarters of a million dollars; the district still faces a $1.1 million fine.

In light of the recent expose’ by CalCoastNews, the City of Arroyo Grande, with its current leadership can’t be trusted to be a risk-taking charter city and can no longer afford Tony Ferrara as its mayor.


Was it legal for Mr. Ferrero to use city time to push his agenda? I mean himself, I do agree Mr. Hill should have been given equal time to say his spiel.

I have only lived here a few years, but this town sure seems to have a boat load of corruption going on.

I don’t think I have ever seen a write in campaign, I am eager to see how this turns out.

Good luck Mr. Hill


very very well written piece, incisive and comprehensive.


Voting no on the charter initiative is without a doubt the right thing to do.

After hearing Kristin Barneich ask the attorney to explain what “clearly audible” meant, it is obvious this woman is in way over her head.

She voted in favor of a noise ordinance which will require the two bars in town to close their doors when they have music playing, because she said she’d received complaints about people talking and engines revving.

I wish she would have explained how closing the doors is going to solve the problem.

No more power to this council!

Write-In Jim Hill for Mayor, fill in the bubble.


she looked completely lost last night, even more so than usual. The long weird pauses, as she tried to, i want to say collect her thoughts, but i think she was searching for a single one.

Kristen has gone to the Caren Ray school of government. Just add laws where ever there is a complaint, without regard to its impact or cost, then tell everyone what a great job you are doing.


I’m thinking of asking the council to consider and perhaps draw up a Quiet the Coyote Ordinance

since they wake us up at all hours of the night AND morning,

and we don’t live near the business district where noise is to be expected!

Perhaps she could even go so far as to require the critters to have a permit for occupying our driveway without permission.


“feel good” politics…..


Yeah, that is typical of the Dems. The GOP prefers “boogeyman scare” politics.

Joe Bob

When does a candidate running for a political office get to make a speech on how good he and his fellow council members have done in the past, just prior to the election. Plus he talked for more than 3 minutes. The City Attorney (what a Joke) should have stopped him as soon as it became apparent that his explanation of the tree fiasco ended. City Crew should have moved the tree off the sidewalk and left the debris on his yard. If that tree had fallen on home his insurance company would have paid to take the tree off the home but left the pieces in the yard.

King Tony is still getting special considerations.

He should not have been given free time to address election issues at the end of the Council Meeting. The city staff had answered the complaint and showed that he had paid for the city services. By letting him address that issue, he then gets to stand on his personal political soap box. What a way to let the voter know what a good job that he and the council have done and not have to pay for that political advertising.’

They should have let Mr. Hill in for a rebuttal to Mr. Ferrara.


yeah, i saw pretty much the same thing you saw jb.

i didnt know the mayoral seat, while literally on the dais, was meant for campaigning for yourself.


Hope he slept better after verbally puking all that up last night.


I hope no one was standing close to him. It would be terrible if innocent bystanders came up with whatever putrefying disease he has.


Given how most politicians at a higher level of government use their office to trumpet their “achievements” via “informational” flyers, newsletters and emails, I am not at all surprised that Tony F. did the same thing. It might be a bit more crude in form but is not significantly different from a moral point of view. That doesn’t make it right but it is one of the least objectionable stunts he has pulled recently.


Arroyo Grande’s leadership cannot be trusted with REPUBLICANS.

That is who all these whiner victim martyrs are.

Just the usual bunch of squeaky wheel complainers that don’t have satisifying lives.


Well, given the choice between the largely (not entirely) Republicans commenting here and the corrupt elements of the SLO Democrat Party, I can’t blame people who are not hard-core, Democratic Party voters from going that way.

My views tend to be a mix of both sides — perhaps slightly closer to the Democrat positions overall. However, given his history of Ferrera’s costly cronyism, I might even have supported Otis Page against him. I don’t know much about Jim Hill’s political orientation but I am willing to take a chance on him.

If you want “middle-of-the-road” voters to vote for Democrats, maybe you should get the SLO County Democrat establishment to do a better job of vetting the people they support for office. The arrogant elitism of people like Ferrara, Gibson and Hill is such a turn-off that I find it impossible to vote for someone they support (Caren Ray) not because of her positions or qualifications but because of the questions about her character raised by her associations.


Considering the managerial dynamics imposed by the City Manager’s “scheduled” resignation, should there be a call for an audit of the finances and financial practices of the City of Arroyo Grande?


Otis, given all that has gone on, I would recommend a desk audit of the entire city administration. It’s the only way to get to the bottom of the problem and get this city back on the right track.


Oh, lets do!


Great op-ed, Julie.

The AG City Council has already stripped its constituents of their rights to government transparency by using the Brown Act as toilet paper. They have conspired to restrict resident’saccess to City Council meetings.

Then there is their engagement in a conspiracy to cover up the actions of its City Manager and its head of Community Devopment.

Yet they have the gall to actually demand even more power by the charter city ballot measure?

My mother didn’t raise any doormats, and I will be damned if I will vote to give the corrupt leaders of of AG even more power to corrupt.


(Fill in the bubble)


Power attracts the corruptible. Absolute power attracts the absolutely corruptible.”

– Frank Herbert


Mary, may I please have permission to plagiarize your “Brown Act use as toilet paper” remark, in conjunction with rants about Bruce Gibson? You framed the AG council actions brilliantly. Or as Pelican1 said, “well stated”.


It isn’t my remark…it is from my mother. She was very politically active and also very honest about her opinion.

My mother was a liberal’s liberal, and I am sure she would not mind at all if you used that remark.

My request is that you don’t claim ownership of it. Otherwise, be my guest!


Oh, what an idea I just had.

Wouldn’t it be great to get rolls of toiletpaper printed with “The Brown Act” and surreptitiously put them in City bathrooms? Then take a few photos of it?

I do believe I am channeling my mother here.


Well stated.


Amidst everything that has transpired with leadership in A.G. in city hall, the last thing we need is a “Charter City” conversion at this time! As Julie states, plenty of questionable dealings, decisions, and unfinished business is left to clean up without further adding to the caldron of controversy.

Next week’s election will offer the opportunity for changes that is essential to right the ship of state of A.G. To now change to a Carter City, amidst all the controversies surrounding present leadership, seems like asking for the perfect storm to hit us from all sides.

Please educate, then vote against Charter City! We DO NOT need to further complicate the mess city hall has become. Enough bad decisions were made; going Charter City is the proverbial last straw to break Arroyo Grande’s back!

Anyone curious about pro/con of Charter City will find plenty by searching on-line: