Dirty dealings at Arroyo Grande Council meeting

October 15, 2014
Mayor Tony Ferrara

Mayor Tony Ferrara


As I walked into the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers on the evening of Oct. 14, after having done so many times over the last year, I immediately noticed one thing, instead of the usual six rows of chairs that are customary, there were only four rows of chairs.

There were only a couple of chairs left and most chairs were occupied by people whom I had not seen previously in the last few months. There was a lot more space between the four rows of chairs than the cramped feel when there were six rows of chairs.

Additionally, there is usually standing room on the sides of the room and the back of the room. The sides of the room had been restricted by added tables for the media, limiting the number of people who could stand at the sides of the room. Also apparent was that one row of the chairs that were normally grouped in the center of the room had been moved to the back wall of the room, where there is usually standing room. This further limited the number of people who could fit inside the chamber.

I took a step outside the Arroyo Grande Council Chambers and noticed that most people who were outside campaigning for Jim Hill – a write in Mayoral candidate – were now being restricted access to the chambers, by a fire marshal. The presence of the fire marshal was also another magical first this evening.

To me this was a very obvious action to limit the number of people who could fit in the room and voice their opinions. This became more evident as the night wore on and the folks who occupied the chairs in the council chambers were pro-council speakers, headed up by Chuck Fellows, the father of Councilperson Kristen Fellows Barneich.

At Chuck Fellows side, taking up more space was Mr. Barneich, Kristen Fellows Barneich’s husband. Some things are just too obvious to ignore.

In summary, if the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers were an airline that infamous evening, I would have been a very satisfied customer, given all the extra “leg-room” that had not been experienced in previous council sessions. However, since the council chambers are supposed to be a place where people can exercise their first amendment right, I feel like certain citizens have had their first amendment rights “herded” to the halls of the chamber.

God Bless America.


I have seen some very unflattering things written about Mrs. Fellows Barneich here. If she were my wife or daughter, you can bet your ass that I would accompany her to any function where she was likely to bump into you or any of your little junta.

You all have formed your little group. Everybody else shares that right, and the right of attendance. Maybe next time stop playing in traffic and take your seats a little earlier.

If you all had conducted yourselves a little nicer here and in the meeting halls, maybe nobody would have thought to form a group to oppose you.


you are right everyone hast the right to attend. And by limiting chairs you limit everyone’s right to attend, but that doesnt suit your argument, does it?


You chose the tone of this conflict, sir, and while I’m not surprised to find you cry


ing foul, you must realize that given your behavior and communications up to this point, nothing is beneath the tone of this fight.

Everything you feel you’ve accomplished here could’ve been done with respect and decorum.


We are not crying foul, but we are pointing out that the mayor has no right to limit attendance (prior to reaching the 144 person capactiy) in council chambers, and that is exactly what happened last night—so, it is business as usual in the city of AG, and some are content with it, and others are not.

The tone of this issue Ish was set by the council and the mayor for their inability to handle a situation when they should have acted. It was also set when they chose to ignore citizen concern which is valid and founded in examples spanning many people and situations.

They set the tone Ish—you may not want to realize that, and that is also your right, but I would ask if you have truly determined through expereinces, or just this post if you know facts regarding the situation at hand.

I don’t mean to call you out, but I have to wonder if you have attended any meetings, dug into any of the information that has been posted here, or if you are here to lash out at the whistle blowers—I know what my intentions are….what are yours?


I began on the side of the “ousters,” LeAnn, which is to say, on your side. I remain of the thought that the mayor has certainly acted questionably.

Your side lost my support through hate-speech, and the failure of more enlightened minds to provide censure.

I have not attended a meeting, nor do I watch reality tv or MMA fights, because the fare offered represents the lowest example of human behavior.

You used the word “disconnected” in the context of a feeling. Reasonable people understand that perfectly in this case, because we cannot connect with either group.

Remember the Occupy Movement, and how so many said it was a good thing and that it was a shame all the freaks had to make it hard for “normal” people to show up because they didn’t want to be associated with the public face of the movement? Well there you go.


As I recall, the tone set by city hall was something on the order of: we have conducted an investigation, and we have reprimanded those who we found lacking in perfect judgement.”

It was your side who started screaming words like “slut” and “whore” and “liar” and “pig” and lowered the bar, thereby alienating those of us who ideoligacally agreed with you, but weren’t willing to drag AG through the sewer to catch a rat.


And LeAnn, you’ll find me as well read on this matter as anybody.


My apologies to the Mayor, for that comparison. I should’ve re-read it, and if I had it would not have remained. It occurs to me that what you’ve done throughout is alot like what anyone might’ve done if they found themselves the victim of a well-thought and executed political hack-job. All behavior is questionable when it finds itself under a microscope, let alone an odd dozen microscopes operated by people who want you to look guilty.

You were elected. In the absence of evidence, you deserve the benefit of the doubt.


sorry to see that your conviction is so easily swayed by what others do vs. what you believe in.


I’ll admit that my thinking was swayed by your actions. I wouldn’t say it was easily done, or that what I believe in has changed in the least.

I have become primarily concerned that no one – for all the days of my life – characterize me as somehow associated with toryrand, agag1, surferdude or any of the other bullies who have spoken so irresponsibly and cavalierly in this forum.

I know for a fact that I’m not alone in this view… by a long-shot.


Lot of signs all over town by people believing in a change

Hardly a small group of malcontents

Citizens are donating and requesting signs.

Last night rally and meeting only fuelled the interest of everyone after seeing the fan club provide all on TV a character reference for Big Tony

But…do those people think the police lied??

That is the line in the sand with Adams and Ferrara.

Who do you believe? The police or Ferrara and Adams?

I’ll go with my guys in uniform everyday.

Mike Byrd

Ishmael09p, you make some very good, thoughtful points. There is no doubt that this has become an emotional issue for a lot of people on both sides. Most of us have tried to remain courteous and respectful and I hope you will, too. The issue isn’t what some angry people on each side may being saying. The overriding issue is, has Arroyo Grande city government been run appropriately and has the mayor overstepped his role? For me the record is clear – he has. And tactics such as were employed Tuesday night only reinforce my conviction.

I would encourage everyone no matter their leanings to dial back the emotion a bit and continue this discussion calmly, in a dignified manner and sticking only to facts and the opinions those facts have influenced. If we all do so and if voters pay notice of what has been happening in our city, I believe Jim Hill will be our next mayor.


Not crying Foul Really?

that is all you have been doing.


so true


Hi Ish, The “junta” is not upset about the new group being formed—do what you have to do, but don’t limit the seating because you don’t want others to attend….don’t be underhanded in your dealings—this is why the first group of people formed in the first place—things like limiting the number of chairs because you don’t like what you are hearing—tough—poeple need to take responsbility for the actions, good or bad. If you can’t, then you shouldn’t be in public office.

I am learning that people don’t like the truth, because it is usually ugly and people don’t want to deal with ugly—well, our group is trying to deal with ugly. You don’t have to agree Ish, but at least try and understand that the current leadership isn’t following the rules…they aren’

t including the people (as a whole), and they are doing things behind our backs.

Form whatever group you want to form, but don’t take away other’s rights to attend a public meeting be removing chairs…the total number of persons allowed in chambers is 144—the people capacity that night was strictly limited to less than that….


Call it what you want.

You’ve created an atmosphere where anything the other side does is going to be criticized in the crudest of terms. They have nothing to lose.

This is not what the founding fathers conceptualized: they conceptualized a citizenry who embraced responsibility and respect as an understood recirpocal for the freedom they would enjoy. The histrionics and hyperbole and hatred employed by your little junta flies in the face of democracy, reaping all the benefits but embracing none of the responsibilities.

Take your chairs? I wouldn’t blame him if he set fire hoses on you, given the way he’s been treated and characterized.

You sought to slay the monster and you became one, and your history is played out in the media for all to see, reflect upon, and refer back to.


What flies in the face of democracy is:

1. removing chairs from the council chambers and limiting the number of people who can attend a public forum (below that of the psted 144 persons)

2. not truly listening to what a large group of AG constituants are saying

3. not following ethical guidelines when undertaking business of AG on behalf of the citizens

4. not following policy, procedures, or contractual language

5. lying about an investigation team being vetted to the point where there would be impartial judgements and recommdations made

6. violating the Brown Act

7. disregarding citizens to the point of writing emails to the rest of the council saying no need to respond and that he “will not take this crap.”

When violations occur, there is a diminshed recipricol freedom. And honestly, if they council did turn on the firehoses, I would hope the news is there and would welcome it—that would only show the level Mayor Ferrara and the council would go to to keep their positions and keep people quiet—that would only make a stronger case for new leadership—so bring it on.

There is no hysteria. There is outrage. There is no hatred, but there is frustration with the lack of leadership overall. I see no one at this point reaping benefits on any level except the current council and the special groups they serve. Keep in mind that the history of the current leadership is also played out in the media. The stories and information published in the opinion pieces as well as news stories paint a picture of the current leadership in AG, some see it, others do not, and even though some do, they choose to ignore it.

There might have been a point in all the leadership’s political careers where they truly cared to do the right thing for the city of AG and that they would consider the concerns of those that might not be aligned with their desires, but I do not see that at this point.

I have actaully worked hard to remain calm, but have failed on a couple of occasions and have lashed back at people who have been crude to me—that is human nature—I am sorry you are so angry with people in AG who want change and have had the courage to stand up and not only say something, but do something about it.

The actions of the current leadership should be under a mircoscope, they have acted very poorly and have lost the confience a large number of people—we are not only a small group of a dozen people—there are more…I take full responsiblity for my actions. The council and the current management of the city needs to do so as well, that is what we have asked for, they turned their backs on that, so we are taking action to replace them.

I disagree about becomming the monster–aggressive at times, but not the monster. How would you characterize leadership who has zero intention of changing their ways, even when they know they have not done what they needed to and in the manner in which they needed to do it? How would you characterize leadership who takes away the rights of cititzens to share their concerns by limiting access to a public meeting and completely disregarding the posted limit of occupants inside the council chambers?


the founding fathers were against tyranny, oppression and taxation without representation.

fishing village

Manipulating the seating (restricting it) is wrong.


they had a fire marshall enforcing it as well, with a sherrif and commander standing over them.


What they have done is to simply rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Captain Tony has ordered the band to play on as they face the inevitable, hoping to be the first one into a lifeboat….before any women, children, or residents of AG.


Oh it was sad (so sad)

Oh it was sad ( so sad)

It was sad when the great ship went down… to the bottom of the

Uncles and aunts (itty bitty babies wet their pants)

It was sad when the great ship went down.

My God Tony must be sick of looking over his shoulder.


I did get a chuckle last night during Mayor Ferrara’s ” I just a regular guy” story about his experience dealing a fallen tree. I hope I have his story correct…. The mayor return from a weekend away on a recent Sunday evening to discover a fallen tree, one in the grass strip between the sidewalk and street. He called Mr. English, Head of Public Works I believe, who dispatched some city workers to remove the tree and take it too be disposed of at a city yard. Which the mayor joked he received a bill for and promptly paid. Yeah you are a real regular guy. Sorry to break it to you Mr. Mayor, but regular guys would not have been able to call the head of public works on a Sunday evening or any day and get workers out that quickly. We would have had to call the regular number and likely left a message to be handled during the regular work week.

I too, notice the sudden change in seating setup, maybe the mayor figured it would make it easier for the police to remove people, remember those the mayor feels he need not take crap from.


This (and most) “regular guys” rip the chainsaw to life and begin sawing up free firewood joined by his sons and neighbors who drop what they’re doing to help! That’s a regular guy. Regular guys don’t have “people” that handle little things!

The arrogance of being disconnected!


I guess we are going to have to keep saying the same mantra




All instructions and directions should be dished out by the administrator, not the elected figurehead mayor.


Our new theme song.


Mr. Mayor what about city crew workers moving furniture from your house into your garage, did you get billed and pay for that?


This is not about little things where Big Tony has crossed the line

Big Tony has crossed the line for years because he has TOTALLY forgotten his role on the Council.

They make policy, not enforce it.

His intimidation of the citizens, merchants, employees, council members and management will only stop when brave retires, current employees or council people speak up.

This is not worth it.

What the hell does he think he is doing?


if this is true, this needs to come out. get ccn the details. that is abuse/theft of public money.


I think the council wants people to feel defeated and disconnected. The perception they are giving, to the people who recognize the patterns of their behaviors, is that only certain people matter in the community and only certain people will have a voice.

I do not claim to speak for anyone other than myself, but I do belong to a group of people who are not content with busness as usual. The claims made by people who support our current leadership maybe correct when they say that the council as a whole as done things to better the community of AG, but what they do not see is that the ends don’t always justify the means. And as I shared last night, just because something is legal, does not mean that it is ethical. Local government ethics are important; they set the tone for how the leadership conducts the business of the people.

Our current leadership has lost site of what it means to operate in a democracy. Our current leadership has lost site of what it means to be a servant of the people—that means everyone, not just a select few.

Last night we heard a quote from Benjamin Franklin, a great and respected founding father. But there are so many other quotes which define the current crisis in AG much better:

“In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.

James Madison

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.

James Madison

The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.

James Madison

The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.

James Madison

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

James Madison

As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.

James Madison

Regardless of who you support or how you feel about the current situation, truths have been hidden, lies have been told, policies have been broken, and a significant number of citizens in AG have lost their confidence in our current leadership.

It was also mentioned last night that AG needs to begin to heal. Yes, it does, but when the wound is open, gaping, and infected, care and attention to the wound is required in order for it to heal, it doesn’t just do that one it’s own. Steps from many different groups need to be taken in order for the city to heal and from where I sit and sat last night, our current leadership is not willing to take any steps. Again, perception is just as important as reality.


I think it is telling that people do not like Madison’s quotes—–yes, let’s bash democarcy folks.


Recycling your old high school history exams can get boring. Just sayin’.


To cowtipper—-I know more than enough to know that personal digs are a distraction because you have nothing more intelligent to say or don’t know anything—go get an education and maybe you can keep up with the big kids…….


“go get an education and you can keep up with the big kids”


After stating that you “know more than enough to know that personal digs are a distraction because you have nothing more intelligent to say or don’t know anything”, you reply with a personal dig.

That really speaks volumes about your character


And yours


Thank you, LeAnN, for your advice on how to keep up with the big kids and the “democarcy” folks.


No. You’re wrong. Tory is spot on about what’s happening here. The strategy is quite common in situations like this: Limit space. Fill the room with your people. Create the impression that “the public” is on your side. The Hill supporters have to develop a counter strategy for the next meeting. The good news is that the mayor is taking the challenge seriously.


Perhaps the strategy should be to not have a rally before the meeting, instead just show up early, take one of the newly arranged seats, take their opportunity to speak during the public comment, and then when the “regular” business starts, start their rally on the public sidewalk in front of the council chamber in clear view of the council members. This would get their message across as well and prevent the mayors seat stuffing.



TUESDAY, October 21st

6 PM


The Brown Act requires any body governed by the Brown Act to allow for PUBLIC COMMENT

Let’s See if McClish will be there!


What does planning commission have to do with actions of mayor?


Perhaps we should just hand out in berry gardens park having a fund raiser with signs and a band!


*took a moment*


Sorry “Somebody’s Daddy” (AAADADDYO) but, Tory’s right on in my book. Why would the mayor suddenly shrink the room when he’s taking heat for screwing up so bad? Why would council members suddenly need to feel the presence of loved one?

We’re getting a grip AAADADDYO….it just a moment to do so!


Get a Grip ! now you think its an issue of chairs? Mr Fellowes and Mr. Barneich have just as much right to be their as you evev if they dont share your same opinion .

You lose all crdeibilty saying nonsense like that


No body is saying people who support the council can’t attend and speak their mind—what we are saying, what Tory said, was that the logistics of the room significantly changed…..unless you attend these meetings, you wouldn’t know that….but I was there, again, and saw it for myself…..and he is right….there were less charis than normal.

Mike Byrd

Of course they and everyone else has a right to attend. But when seats are removed, standing area blocked and others are turned away at the door that would seem to deny some of us that right. I hope even the mayor’s supporters would agree that tactics such as this are not okay.


i absolutely agree they had every right to be there. however, as in most major events i see the council opine on, there is always a lack of independence and level of manipulation. this shrinking of the room and Chuck Fellows starting a “pro-council” “support group” that just so happened to occupy most the newly limited seats, was highly coordinated event between the council and Fellows. Adding a fire marshall? comon.

Was the City Hall Purchase an Arms Length Transaction?

Was the Verdin Marketing Contract an Arms Length Transaction?

Was the Investigation an Independent investigation?

This is taxpayer money. Treat it as such.


Let’s remember this is about the MAYOR and his actions.

As Otis said…

” 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.

This is about whether we want a BULLY as a MAYOR.

Do not let last nights Council meeting discourage you. Look at the signs popping up all around town. The rally was a success. All the TV news left before the meeting.

Talk to you friends. It is downright amazing how much everyone wants

“ANYBODY but Tony 4 MAYOR”


But the mayor never gave anyone credibly in first place.

He must decide for us as we know so little.

He is so bloated and the whole council is in such fear of his retribution much like all the employees.

I thought both Guthrie and Brown would break away that their hearts would over ride their fear, but I was mistaken.


I don’t dis agree with the fact Mr Fellows and Barneich have the right to be there, and I have been to a lot of city councils meetings and stood in the back against the windows. In fact Daddyo there is even a little red sign there stating “not to sit on window ledge” If the chairs were normally back there why would there be such a sign.

I guess I will have to watch the council meeting and do a quick check of how many chairs there seem to be in each row and then go from there..

There were fewer seats I don’t care what you say, but maybe you are just one of Tony’s minions and here to try and throw us off course.


crdeibilty AAADADDYO? Have you been drinking

tea with Steve?