Arroyo Grande manager on paid administrative leave

November 19, 2014
Council member Tim Brown

Council member Tim Brown


The Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to place embattled Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams on paid administrative leave after reviewing an investigation into an alleged sex scandal. The order takes place immediately, and Adams will draw full pay until a new manager can be named.

Following a closed session to determine Adams’ future, council member Tim Brown admitted that City Attorney Tim Carmel had informed him of a previous incident involving Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish, a subordinate employee. Brown’s statement came on the heels of repeated claims by city officials that there was no evidence Adams and  McClish were involved in a romantic relationship, nor was there proof of a cover-up by Ferrara and the council.

“I commend Mr. Carmel for revealing this,” Brown said.

Brown also said that outgoing Mayor Tony Ferrara had attempted to keep details of the July 3 incident from city council members. Ferrara, defeated in a stunning upset by write-in candidate Jim Hill, was not present at the meeting, opting instead to attend a conference in Texas. Before he left, however, Ferrara leveled a blast at Hill and his supporters, claiming Hill “hid behind an unethical and vicious write-in campaign.” Hill won by 95 votes.

Police officers found Adams and McClish in a darkened City Hall office on July 3 after the pair had been drinking at several local establishments. Memorandums written by five officers the night of the incident reported McClish was discovered partially dressed, an apparent violation of city policy.

The officers reported that Adams initially lied when asked if McClish was in the building, angrily questioning why police were in City Hall. Several years prior, Adams had insisted on firing a police sergeant for having a relationship with a subordinate employee.

Adams and Mayor Tony Ferrara claimed officers had lied about McClish being partially undressed in an attempt to manipulate salary negotiations. Those assertions were parroted by the daily paper, and one columnist called the situation “a pseudo scandal.”

However, according to a presentation Wednesday by Chuck Hookstra of Ventura’s Sentra Group, police acted in “an entirely appropriate and professional manner” in the aftermath of the affair.

It was the fourth time the council has met in closed session to disuss Adams’ behavior.

Like CalCoastNews on Facebook.


Let me give you council members who suffer from “failure to launch” a bit of friendly advice…success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.


Whew…3 down and 2 to go.

After Tim Brown enlightened the council meeting last night with the information that this was not the first time there has been an issue concerning the inappropriate relationship between Adams and McClish. Thank you for bringing the truth out into the open.

I am not going to forgive anyone in this debacle. I believe City Attorney has not only shown he is sneaky with his revelation about his legal advice regarding closed door sessions and never take a vote ?? What ?? That’s what we have been told for years that Personnel Issues are to be dealt with in closed session, with the action, if any reported when they reconvene…I think I am going to have to watch and record what he said again because I am confused.

The City Attorney, Tim Carmel has been in the position two times that we know of now after last nights meeting, where he showed an untrustworthy and unprofessional side of his performance as the City Attorney’. We know on two occasions he agreed with Mayor Ferrara (Mayor McSneaky) to keep pertinent information from the rest of the City Council regarding the improper conduct occurring between Adams and McClish, including the July 3rd incident. What don’t we know about? Secrets continue to boil up to the surface.

. My point, City Attorney Tim Carmel is hired to represent the City’s best interests, not that of himself, Mayor F, and not for Steve Adams. His services should be terminated immediately, and the extra bill voided, where he charged the city for that shoddy investigation by his associate, designed to protect Steve Adams etal, and keep the incident quiet instead of seek fact. The reasons for this behavior can only be speculated on now. This is why I believe at a minimum we have a possible conspiracy to withhold information from the council as a whole and it seems to have 3 main players, Adams, Carmel, and Ferrara, All three seem to not play by the rules that are set before them They all FAIL THE STINK TEST…and anyone associated with these outside dealings are co-conspirators.

I am confident that once Arroyo Grande installs Jim Hill as their Mayor , and Barbara Harmon, we will see honesty and transparency, and learn additional details of the secret dealings between those suspect parties. Audit Audit Audit !

Remaining City Council members, you should be outraged at Mayor Ferrara’s behavior and disregard for all of you and your reputations, his and Tim Carmel’s actions put you all at risk, and made you look stupid. Prove to the City you aren’t one of the rotten apples that have been around too long and done too much damage.


The city attorney’s first duty is not to the Mayor, the City or the Council. Counsel’s first duty is to the people.

First and foremost counsel is there (From the Brown Act):

“…to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and ensure that governments’ actions are taken openly and that their deliberations are conducted openly.

The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.

The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.

The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”


Under the new Mayor the council will be expected to lead…not follow. Decisions like the one council made last night, simply won’t happen.

If ANY of the members truly cared about their city, paid administrative leave would never have been an option.

What I witnessed was a council of followers who are afraid for their political future. Afraid of the past, and afraid of the future following the election. In the absence of any real leadership…they decided to take the low road…just as they did under the old Mayor.


The whole Sintra Group report can be summed up in a line from page 7, “combined with some unfortunate comments”, unfortunate for whom?, Mr. Ferrara, Mr. Carmel, Mr. Adams? Some us would see them as fortunate comments, certainly given the outcome of the election. The use of the “unfortunate” word shows me their bias in their report. They feel the comments were unfortunate for their fellow brother in blue.

Also, no comment of the video issues, missing footage, edited footage or exactly what. again the report fails to have any real information. Or was the video issue also a personal issue?


Also, both investigations had no comment about the partially undressed McClish.

And why is McClish getting a free pass on this? She should be out on leave, as well.




Just for the record, and for future reference, we’re not talking about a “personal issue” here. The correct term is “personnel issue.”

Two totally different things. The term “personnel issue” has important legal ramifications when involving public employee matters.

“Personal issue” doesn’t actually mean anything.

Briefly, in summary, when a public governing body is considering a matter involving public employees, it is considered to be a “personnel issue”, and that provides certain protections to the employees involved and grants the governing body the right to consider the matter in closed session until any action is taken.


I’m sure the “personal issue” means something to her husband who made the 911 call.


I believe the city attorney has drawn a very, very wide interpretation of what is a personnel issue.


The public report is not worth the paper to print it on.

No surprise.

They should be embarrassed to bill us for it.

Sure hope they don’t put AG on their list of satisfied customers.

Can’t wait for the LA Times article to come out.


Teresa McClish had a lawyer at the meeting? Is she still employed?

If she was a willing participant in playing footsies – no other female employees were knockin the boots with Adams – why would we be required to pay her salary, she gets an extra roll in the hay, and then we might have to pay her? No way!

The 2nd “get together” was after hours, after drinks, late at night, not normal work hours, they were just too cheap or drunk to pay for a motel room. Now we have to foot the bill? We should be charging them!


McClish has an attorney present because she knows she is as guilty as Adams is in having such a relationship. What is keeping her safe so far, IMO, is the fact that she has said NOTHING about the incident(s).


Yes. She is also in a protected class (female). I think I read she is a “manager” or “director”, but I guess Adams is still superior to her, so she could claim coercion or pressure, though it all looks very consensual. One of the reasons women are often attracted to higher ranking men are their power / prestige / money.

Is he her direct line supervisor? It all gets very sticky.


Mr. Adams is the direct supervisor of Ms. McClish.


In other words, he’s on top.


Not necessarily! Have you ever seen Whitney Cummings “Compliation” stand-up?



It’s priceless.


I suspect that if she is not at least put on administrative leave, the city will open itself up to a discrimination lawsuit brought forth by Steve.


Well this has been the gist of the AGPOA’s complaint, re: Policy and Procedure, regarding Sexual Harassment (in this case it could be a case of Quid Pro Quo), hostile work environment, I could go on and on. Everyone is protected, but the City Manager having the top spot is the odd man out, he sets and enforces policy, and it’s got to be by the book.

It’s those inappropriate relationships perceived or real that set people up (who should know better when they have the training and pay) that open work places and supervisors up for lawsuits (valid or frivolous) that can send the train a rolling faster and farther until you get it under control. This is a start. I don’t think he should be rewarded, especially since the prior incident(s) were kept from the rest of the council. This gives them excellent cause to terminate him with cause, immediately. I don’t care it he worked for 100 years. OUT, No golden anything.

Mr. Holly

It may take a little time to clean the manure out of Tony’s stall at city hall. It’s always an unpleasant job doing this but the light at the end of the tunnel is that there will be a clean stall with a bright future. I hope he doesn’t forgets his carrots that are laying around.


Brown said it is time to “forgive and forget” NOT

McClish is going to sue.

The councils failure to act could cost them more lawsuits. Perhaps this is why they did not terminate Adams last night. They waited too long. ( all that good advice from Carmel!)

The TRUTH must be revealed before the healing can take place.

At least Adams is out of City Hall. Those poor people working there. To know your boss is not only lying, but also willing to sacrifice other employees ( the police) to perpetrate his lie to save his ASS



ITA. If we “forgive and forget” we are just welcoming the same behavior in the future.


And we should not just roll over like good doggies and let bygones be bygones.

A wound cannot heal unless the infection is scrubbed away and the wound is exposed to the light of day (or other antiseptic).

We have to scrub away the infection caused by Ferrera, Brown, Guthrie and KB (recall) and expose their coverup and corruption, if we ever hope to really put this behind us.

If we just bend over and forgive without demanding accountability from them, the message it will send to the remaining council members and future council members is this: AG residents are simple doormats, and can be kumbaya’ed into letting us get away with anything we want.

The message we need to send to them is this: we will hold you accountable if you screw us over.

Otherwise, we should get us some vaseline because we will need it for the next round of screwing by the city council and city attorney.

Jorge Estrada

Gov Juice should be treated as a hazardous waste. I wouldn’t touch it, just move forward and rebuild as fast as possible. Funding temporary infill is better than funding a void..


So the blue code prevails….Tony finds some cronies willing to write the report that he thought would smooth everything over EXCEPT wait…..enter Jim Hill.

Now, on to Mr Brown and the rest of the BS academy. Now you’re admitting to knowing more? I propose a total recall my AG friends. Now that we know what it takes, what would it take to toss the remaining bunch of those who failed the integrity test?

I personally spoke to Mr Brown at the Harvest Festival and he intimated that if we’d just wait this investigation would clearly show the truth. What you really meant was the results wouldn’t surface until you’d been reelected. Touche’ on that count but, you’ve deceived your people and you must go.


ITA. The entire City Council knew about this…how could they not? And they did nothing but lie to us with every one of their votes to accept as valid both invalid investigations.

I agree with the total recall. As Ripley said in the movie Aliens, “I suggest we nuke them for morbid. It is the only way to be sure.”


Council members, would you please explain WHY you chose paid administrative leave over immediate dismissible. By so doing, do you believe that you acted in the best interest of the citizens of Arroyo Grande? Using your example, it’s true that crime does pay.

Even in the absence of the Mayor you weren’t willing to go that extra mile to ensure that justice was done. I’m disappointed.


Plain, pure, and simple—there weren’t three votes on that council to terminate with cause.

Joe’s out, what does he care?


Brown, maybe?

Guthrie? Who knows.


Lets hope on Dec 2nd there will be three votes,

Jim Hill Yes

Barbara Harmon Yes

Tim Brown Yes

the other two will be a No

Mr. Brown you grew half a one last night, maybe by Dec 2nd it will at least become a full one.


He didn’t grow anything. It was all show.


Share with the class what way you sense Tim Brown grew? He denied knowing something….he admitted knowing what he denied knowing. Is it his growing NOSE that you’re touting?

I understand loyalty and you should stay on that friend horse but, do not say he grew as a human last evening unless it’s a saddle built for two (you and Tim).


There is no loyalty, Mr. Brown said more last night than has any other council member said in months, maybe my standards right now are very low for having anything said. Perhaps when Ms. Harmon and Mr. Hill are seated my standards as well as what is considered right for a city manger and community development director will be raised.


Ok kayaknut….I see where you went with that but doggone it we need to put on our straight lace pants and restore some respect and decency down town don’t we?

I’m sick of seeing how politicians behave in other areas and then when I see it at home it hurts. We’re better than that…..I thought!