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.

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Now, why isn’t the other idiot who willingly violated city policy o paid administrative leave – McClish? It takes two to tango.

Will the council under Brown investigate and discipline all those responsible for the cover up. It took a dozen employees to help with the initial cover up, thus they are all guilty as co-conspirators. Fire that idiot, fat finance director? She willingly participated in the cover-up plan. Fire the IT manager, since he directed his staff to alter video surveillance footage.


Here is a revised post I made on the Trubune article about our new mayor, Jim Hill and his amazing victory over Ferrara.



● The first “investigation” was conducted by AG’s legal counsel, Timothy Carmel, who is

a partner and co-founder of Carmel & Naccasha LLP. This is a clear conflict of interest, since Carmel and his business directly profit from being paid by AG for their services, and since Carmel is complicit in the coverup.

● The second “investigation” was conducted by Sintra Investigations. This “investigation” is fraught with conflicts of interest. Clearly, Sintra Group was chosen because of the oodles of Ferraro cronies involved in the process. Here we go:

● The owner of the Sintra Group is Steve Bowman.

● Ferraro for years worked for the Ventura PD, during the same years Sintra Investigation’s owner, Steve Bowman, worked. Both Ferrara and Bowman are retired from the Ventura PD.

● In addition, Bowman hired as investigators for the AG investigation some of his former co-workers at Venura PD (who also worked during the same years as Ferrara).

● One of those co-workers is Charles Hookstra, the same Charles Hookstra who was the lead investigator for Sintra Group’s investigation of the AG coverup of the Adams-McClish tryst.

● The second investigator, Peter Ruggiero, is a retired Oxnard PD police officer, who worked during the same years as Ferrara.

● Charles Hookstra has his own investigation firm, Charles Hookstra Investigations. One of Hookstra’s investigators is Peter Ruggiero.

● Ruggiero is the second investigator in the Sintra AG investigation.

● It is against AG regulations for an AG employee to have a romantic relationship with a subordinate employee. The second “investigation” indicates this same rule applied to Adams.

● Adams had previously fired an AG employee who had a relationship with a subordinate employee. Therefore, he well knew about the potential fallout from his romantic relationship with McClish. Indeed, when Adams was not the person involved, he believed the best thing to do in such a situation was to fire the superior employee involved in the relationship.

● The police report indicated when the police first located Adams, they asked him if McClish was with him. Adams said “no.” Lying to a police officer is an arrestable offense. This also was not in either report.

● After Adams told officers (in the darkened office building, standing at Adams’ office door, on 7/3/2014) McClish then suddenly appeared from behind the semi-closed door. This was not mentioned in the investigation, either.

● When McClish appeared from behind the semi-closed door, she was holding her blouse up in front of herself. All five officers described both Adams and McClish as appearing disheveled.

CONCLUSION: With so many conflicts of interest, both the investigation by AG’s legal counsel, Carmel, and Sintra Group’s investigation, it cannot be, and should not have been, considered for anything other than it is: a fraud designed from the beginning to deliver “findings” exonerating Tony Ferraro, members of the city council, City Manager Steve Adams, and Community Development Coordinator McClish.

The residents of Arroyo Grande cannot let this go unaddressed, otherwise we will face the same lack of transparency and accountability, as well as outright abuse, we have been forced to suffer already.


Carmel and Naccasha are also Wallace’s dirt bags of choice when it came to his losing battle against the SSLOCSD employees who sued him for termination. Seems this group are all tied together as some of our counties finest.


And Wallace is on the consent agenda for Tues in AG.

Tony doing one last favor for his buddy before he hits the road? If our council has one ounce of common sense they will NOT act, and let the new council handle it.

Thank goodness Jim Hill will be heading back to the san dist before much longer.

He’s got a lot of work ahead of him.


I doubt it will be the “one last favor.”

Unless we get rid of Carmel and at least Guthrie and Brown (who sanctioned the choice of the conflict-of-interest-laden Sistra Group to do the investigation, AND the results of both the Carmel and Sinstra investigations “findings”), Jim Hill and his supporters will have little control over what is passed by the City Council.

Worse, a city legal counsel basically just finds any twisted legal excuse to sanction what the most powerful members in the group he serves dictate.

We have to get rid of Carmel, Guthrie and Brown. There can be no real change otherwise.


They make an incestuous little group, don’t you think?


Interesting morsels to chew on;

When and why did Carmel tell Brown about the previous incident? Did Carmel inform the rest of the council at the same time (or before?) he discussed this with Brown? Why would Brown go so “over the top” in praising Carmel for disclosing what is clearly a Brown Act Violation? There’s a stink hidden in the council’s sofa that has yet to be discovered IMO.

I don’t buy the “back to business” rhetoric; hope the AG residents don’t either as there is still something that just doesn’t feel right.


With all this attention “above the fold”. I am sure the Grand Jury and the District Attorney himself MR. Dow will be looking into actions that were either taken or not taken in Arroyo Grande. This is the mission of the Grand Jury and it is hard to believe they will be able to ignore the mess in A.G>

I say bring them on, Clean house and provide a fresh start for Hill.

The truth must be revealed and admitted before true “healing of the city” can occur.


Hey, doglover, explain to us, please, how it is that you are “sure” that “the Grand Jury and the District Attorney himself… will be looking into” this and why you feel “it is hard to believe they will be able to ignore the mess…”

Frankly- right or wrong, good or bad, like it or not- in their minds, it’s very possible that the results of the election give both the Grand Jury and the D.A. the excuse they need to avoid dealing with it at all.

At this point, it could well be that neither have anything to gain by weighing in on this mess. And that’s especially possible for the Grand Jury, which is often fraught with conflicting personalities and viewpoints on anything even remotely “sensitive.” With any Grand Jury, never assume that they enjoy fighting among themselves, especially if they have a valid excuse to avoid it.


There was a previous complaint to the Grand Jury and the GJ placed it on hold until the “independent investigation” was completed.

Since that summary report was brief and not specific, I am confident the complaint will be amended and resubmitted and looked at.


There are too many unanswered questions:

Why did Ferrara expend ALL his political capital to protect Adams?

How did so many people keep the July 7th meeting with Adams a secret? why? Were they afraid for their jobs?

Why has the role of the City Attorney grown to be not that of advisor, but as a cabinet or deputy city manager?

The process did not work here and that is what the Grand Jury is usually looking at: process.


You raise several good questions, doglover, and I share your curiosity about each of them.

What I was doing in my previous post is drawing the distinction between what the SLO civil Grand Jury SHOULD do and what they most likely WILL do (or, in this case, will NOT do).

The civil GJ is comprised of 18 human beings, and too often human nature invites people to avoid conflict. A volatile issue like this one clearly elicits conflicting viewpoints. Then the matter of clashing personalities can additionally complicate any effective consideration. This GJ group, as with most, by now at this point in its service understands its limitations and makes decisions accordingly.

And you raised the matter of process, which actually itself could be a major obstacle to the GJ pursuing the matter any further. Without knowing more about the composition of this year’s civil GJ, I don’t know if this group will have sufficient consensus to agree to continue to pursue the matter first of all, sufficient expertise to properly and effectively investigate it, and sufficient consensus on any resulting draft findings to confidently issue a final report.

The GJ process could present further obstacles. For example, if the present GJ has some AG residents as members, those folks may have personal relationships with some or all of the parties to be investigated, in which case they may need to recuse themselves from that investigation. That would leave only non-AG residents, and many of those may view the significance of this matter with less passion and priority.

I’m sure we all would love to see truthful and complete answers to the questions you raised, and many other related questions as well. But the present SLO civil GJ may not be able to provide that, and they themselves may be the first to realize it.

It might be interesting if they do take it on. I’m just saying don’t hold your breath. And don’t assume that they would effectively do the comprehensive and thorough investigation that you envision with all the findings that you would want.


Follow the $$$…


ITA….we cannot expect to get anything other than what we got before from those who did Ferrara’s bidding at the expense of the Arroyo Grande citizens.

And if the Grand Jury was waiting to decide whether they will address this heinous situation until they received the report from the second investigation (which was concocted to find no wrong-doing by Ferraro, the city council and city legal counsel), I think–unless the original two GJ reports submitted can file an addendum–the GJ will not be investigating the cover-up and rein of abuse visited upon the AG citizens.


I agree MaryMalone, the present council and the present counsel are not strong enough to stand on their own merit in Ferrara’s absence—the looming question is, will he truly be absent and I have a deep seated feeling that he will work hard to remain connected to his groupies on the council. I don’t trust them and they should not expect us to trust them after this story has continued to unfold. All members are responsible for how badly this was handled. All members are responsible for lying and being deceitful to the community. There was a cover up, the second investigation was rigged, nothing has been transparent, and they have done nothing to make things right.

I will support Jim Hill and his work as mayor. I will also support Barbara Harmon, but I will not support people who have not been truthful and have done everything to protect only themselves.


I REALLY agree with your post, LeAnn!

I keep pushing for a recall because I think we have the momentum now to do it. We have to wait the period after the election, but I don’t want to let this momentum die down.

If, after he becomes office, our new mayor, Jim Hill, doesn’t want there to be a recall, that is something we will have to deal with then.

I am with you….I will support Jim Hill and Barbara Harmon, but I would just as soon see the rest of them recalled, disgraced, and living in a homeless camp.

They have been jerking us around FOR YEARS. They deserve one helluvalot of payback.


if you review tape he says exactly when he knew of previous incident.



Guthrie gave it up on Wednesday. He said that SA and TM complaint came a month before the July incident.

TF will say anything to spew sh#t always trying to get out of its way but ending up being covered by it in the long run.

Finally someone came out to try to start the ball rolling. Brown was the only one to try to start anew. I am willing to forgive someone who admits mistakes.


Whether or not he “admits mistakes,” IMO, is irrelevant. I am more interested in whether we can trust him to magically–after being unethical for so long–to become ethical again.

In my experience with others, once someone launches into unethical behavior, they cannot turn back the clock.

I think it is highly probable that all of the current city council members will continue to do Ferrara’s bidding. They have done it so long–despite the damage and tax dollars it cost the residents they are supposed to serve. I just can’t imagine that, suddenly, just because Jim Hill is sworn in as mayor, the current city council members, and Carmel, will be able to ignore Ferrara’s manipulations.

Ferrara has trained them well to be his servants, and he probably has collected something to hold over every one of the current city council members’ heads, to keep them kow-towing to Ferrara’s demands.


I have more hope for Brown’s ability to snap out of it than any of the existing three. I have little to no hope for KB, and no clue about Guthrie.

Can’t imagine Tony pulling all of his fingers out of the pie and riding off into the sunset to let AG be. Waaaaaaaay too much ego for that.



KB is under spell of both TF and???

Brown is trying and with TF gone, they will flounder for awhile, so let’s slow down those agendas and not make crucial decisions right now ( such as building anything)

Heaven knows the City has played the stall game before.


There’s something I don’t quite understand, if they never vote in closed session, as Carmel say’s is the norm so you never have to report anything to the public, how then was a decision reached to “reprimand” Adams? I would think that for any disciplinary action to take place, there would need to be agreed upon by all council members would it not?


Just like on this message board, with a thumbs up, a wink or a pat on the hand. All of it stinks.


I’m envisioning a good ‘ol game of heads up,seven-up like we used to play on a rainy day recess. No peeking!


This is a great question, DennySLO. And there’s a reason for your confusion, and that of many others. Simply, there have been so many and varied violations of law by Carmel and his followers that they are very hard to follow. In this case, at the meeting it was admitted by Brown without refutation by Carmel, that the city attorney applied the “discipline” to Adams. This, needless to say, is the sole purview of the council. What’s happening here is the public unraveling of methods of governance by people with no respect for either the public, or the law. Carmel looks for all the world like a mob mouthpiece.


QUOTING IronHUB: “imply, there have been so many and varied violations of law by Carmel and his followers that they are very hard to follow.”


That is why God gave us Grand Juries.


No doubt McClish’s attorney will have a very definite opinion of Mr Carmel’s strategy as well.


That is a very good point.

Tim Brown went out of his way to make the argument that, because McClish had kept silent, she should not suffer any repercussions of the pathetic late-night tryst with Adams…on either occasion.

IMO, when she showed up all lawyered up, that ended any ridiculous “gentleman’s agreement” about giving McClish a free pass.

Whether or not she is a subordinate, she still knew it was wrong–she and Adams had been caught before, and she must have known that at least Adams was “talked to,” or whatever.


Certainly if something warrants being discussed in CLOSED SESSION first, the last place it should be in open session is the consent agenda.

If it is so serious in nature, it should be brought forth as a report or action item.

Both Carmel and KB stated on Wed night meeting, that most the time it is brought onto the consent agenda.


If Ferrara’s recent string of comments to the media during,

and since the election, are a true indication of his temperament,

Arroyo Grande will be able breathe a big sigh of relief

beginning Dec 1.

Best of luck to Mayor Jim Hill!


They will be no relief as long as the same @ssholes in the city council and serving as city counsel are still in positions of power in the City of Arroyo Grande.

1. It is clear from his post-election spewing that he has a bone to pick with our new mayor, Jim Hill.

2. The “same @assholes” proved they have zero ethics and even less consideration for AG’s residents by doing Ferrara’s bidding for years. Indeed, Tim Brown is STILL trying to coverup what happened…sweep it under the rug and make all of the bull$hit we have had to deal with FOR YEARS simply go away. If that doesn’t show a lack of consideration for the residents of AG, I don’t know what does.

Combine #1 and #2 and I think it is clear that Ferraro will STILL be attempting to manipulate the city counsel and the city council.

Based on what we have seen so far, I have absolutely NO reason to believe that the city counsel and city council will do anything other than continue to do Ferrara’s bidding.

I believe our new mayor, Jim Hill, will have nothing but problems from Ferrara and his step-and-fetch-it city council and city counsel. That is not fair to him, and it will greatly impede Hill’s ability to address the many problems Ferrara has left in his wake.


New Trib article, no surprise—

Tony doesn’t like what Tim Brown had to say.

Imagine that!


LOL, did Ferrara throw Brown under the bus, or what!

Gotta’ keep his bought-and-paid-for city council members in line, don’t you know.


I watched the City Council meeting, and I was disgusted at Brown’s attempts to kumbaya AG residents out of dealing with this cover-up in a way that future council members will be wary of getting involved with another one.

I was alarmed by the audience clapping every time Brown intoned the bull$hit mantra of “let’s put this behind us and heal AG.”

Healing cannot be started until the infection has been exposed to the light of day and scrubbed from the wound.

KB, Brown, Guthrie and AG’s legal counsel are the infection, and the light of day is holding them accountable for their actions.

I believe we need to recall KB, Brown and Guthrie. We need to get a new AG legal counsel.

The mayor, city council, city manager and city legal counsel have used us like doormats–so sure we can be cowed into simply letting them get on with what they have been doing for years–screwing us over.

I don’t know about y’all, but my mother did not raise any doormats.

Let’s seek true healing–exposing their actions to the light of day and scrubbing the infection they supported in AG–and not settle for just putting a band-aid over an oozing wound.



What did you think of Mr Carmel’s explanation of how closed session meetings are conducted?


It was bull$hit, just like everything else that oozes from his fetid mouth.


I think some here need to take a wider view when it comes to potential lawsuits from Adams, McClish Carmel, and Ferrara.

AG City government was corrupt. The aforementioned were exercising governmental power to cover their own backsides. They WERE in control of their destinies. The minority of non-corrupt council members were virtually powerless to initiate any real reform.

Now things have drastically changed. I think a judge/jury would look very negatively at the Sentra Group’s report if it were offered by any of the aforementioned in a lawsuit.

Mayor-elect Hill is already showing he wants to do the right thing for the city. As long as there are no missteps once he is sworn in, I think lawsuits from the above would not conclude in their favor.


I disagree. Brown, KB, Guthrie…all involved in the coverup. All did what Ferrara wanted.

They are tainted. They have shown they are too easily swayed to do the wrong thing, even if it hurts the very residents they are supposed to be serving.

We can never trust them again, so why would we keep them in office? Jim would never be able to trust them at their word, or be assured that Ferrara is not still working behind the scenes to undermine Jim’s administration.

Mark my word…if we allow these frauds to kumbaya their way out of being held accountable, they will make Jim Hill’s term in office living hell.

Ferrara is going to be trying to settle a score, and he will turn to his co-conspirators on the city council and the city council. Really, it is not fare to saddle Jim Hill with this kind of BS.


Doesn’t anybody see the forest for the trees….

The AG City Council paid a professional outside organization close to $20K to investigate the matter of July 3….

And they found nothing of any significant consequence occurred…

And that was no big surprise…

BUT the precedent was set…

Adams was found NOT GUILTY for all intents and purposes…

Thus the council now can’t fire him with no pay because he did NOTHING wrong.

If Adams was let go WITHOUT pay he would have an easy path to a winning lawsuit.

IMO that was the AG City Council’s modus operandi all along! Dumb like a fox!


They have let him go.

They waited too long to terminate him.

They needed to accept his resignation so he cannot come back and sue them

We have NO idea what was negotiated behind closed doors.

There were 2 reports and the Council acted on the private personnel issues.

When that council walked in, there were not 3 votes to terminate. I am relived he is gone.. The employees are lucky to have him out of City Hall finally.


Dude- All we need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and Jim as Mayor.


I am not sure that Adams ever actually submitted a letter of resignation. Has anyone posting here actually seen the letter in question?


Interesting question. Veeeeeeery interesting. Karen? Dan?


Maybe it was the Ad in the Tribune?

I’m sure Big Tony edited and blessed the epistle before it was submitted.

Remember it was held til the following day by the Trib?

Who writes a resignation letter that has the words”clothed or unclothed” in it?


Even the investigator seemed shocked when he saw the dang thing!

Who gets a nearly full page ad to announce their resignation, especially when they should have been canned to begin with?

Steve’s two attempts at media explanations are a complete and utter flop!

The KSBY tea party infomercial, and the Trib “non-resignation” resignation letter.

How could he really expect anyone to believe this stuff?


Do you have a link to that letter of resignation in the Tribune? or a date of publication?

I avoid reading the Tribune like the plague, so I haven’t seen the article.


Never mind…I think you mean the “statement” Adams had printed in the Tribune.

That was not a letter of resignation. There is no signature. There is no date on the “statement.”

In a letter of resignation, you don’t go into four pages of spewing excuses and trying to shift blame to others.

It is just Steve Adams trying to manipulate the uninformed public with, I am sure, the help of AG’s legal counsel and perhaps even ex-mayor Ferrara.

Here are examples of letters of resignation:


They haven’t let him go.

I PRAY they do not hire a city manager before Jim Hill takes office, although I would not put it past the current city council to do it, if Ferrara demanded it.

THAT is why we have to get rid of the current city council members. They cannot be trusted to do the right thing.