Big guns show for Arroyo Grande Council meeting
October 15, 2014
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Arroyo Grande city officials imported backup law enforcement fire power for Tuesday’s council meeting, but a tightly-regimented gathering of citizens remained in check as debate surrounding a July 3 City Hall incident continued to simmer.
At Police Chief Steve Annibali’s request, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson and Commander Brian Hascall were among the audience. Parkinson said they were there to “help maintain the peace.” Annibali, in a Monday memo to Adams, referred to “repeated outbreaks” at a recent special meeting of the council and noted the “repercussions following” the July 3 “personnel matter,” have “placed the role of the Arroyo Grande Police Department in a most difficult position.”
The chief said that “mounting tensions at public meetings and beyond have called for uncommon measures in order to preserve even the appearance of influence over the police department by any side involved.”
In the aftermath of the Adams-McClish incident, Mayor Tony Ferrara and Adams tried to shift blame for the public brouhaha to police personnel, who were at the time involved in contract negotiations.
They suggested details of the incident were leaked to reporters, and that there was disagreement regarding specifics and credibility of subsequent police reports. That caused the police officers’ union to vote no-confidence in Adams and Ferrara, and has caused many residents to vocally assert their support for police at council meetings.
Dozens of people, many carrying signs, marched outside City Hall prior to the meeting, some supporting write-in mayoral candidate Jim Hill, and others demanding the resignation of City Manager Steve Adams.
Adams and a subordinate employee, Teresa McClish, were found in Adams’ darkened City Hall office near midnight July 3 after the pair had been drinking in local bars. When McClish’s husband worried about her health, police were dispatched to locate her.
Adams has been under fire ever since the incident was revealed in an August CalCoastNews article, and he has submitted a letter informing the council he will be “resigning” after a successor is chosen.
That often requires a six to nine months search.
Tuesday’s meeting was closed to many attendees because of city building capacity regulations.
At least two rows of chairs, 20-25 in number, appeared to have been removed from the main council chamber, and most of the remaining chairs were occupied a half hour before the meeting’s start by people supporting Adams, Ferrara and the council. Consequently, the 140-person capacity room was limited to about 55 people, with another dozen-plus in an adjacent room.
Acting Five Cities Fire Chief Riki Heath said he was asked to monitor the meeting by Annibali. Heath said he did not know that fewer chairs had been placed in the main council chamber.