Did Ferrara throw Adams under the bus
November 3, 2014
OPINION By OTIS PAGE
To protect his reputation, did Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara throw City Manager Steve Adams under the bus?
The Adams indiscretion occurred on July 3. A record of the event was prepared by five police officers on July 5, the day after the July 4 holiday. On July 6, Ferrara architected the cover up of the incident.
Instead of forthrightly disclosing the incident the wheels of the cover up was initiated by City Attorney Tim Carmel’s appointing a member of his firm to administer cursory interviews of the police officers and Adams and Director of Development Teresa McClish. On July 7 the cover up began. The city staff met and a gag order was instructed not to disclose the incident.
On July 8, the council was told of the incident in closed session under the guise of California Code 54957. That it was a personnel matter not to be disclosed, thereby enforcing the cover up. The council was alleged to have been told that Adams was not guilty of any major legal infraction, just a minor indiscretion.
The fact has been acknowledged by many citizens and some council members that if the matter had been disclosed at that point, Adams would have been disciplined and would have kept his job. There would have been public embarrassment, but given the will of the council to forgive and move on, the matter would have ended and the compelling fiasco that has now been realized would not have happened.
But, the cover up continued until Aug. 19 when the incident was disclosed by CalCoastNews based on a leak from an authentic source in Arroyo Grande troubled by the closure of the incident.
All of this begs the question if Adams was not guilty why then was there a cover up on July 8? Why were the political implications not openly disclosed as provided in the Brown Act and in the resulting closed council meetings after Aug. 19, all of which has seriously offended the police? Was it because Ferrara was running again for mayor and that he was in position to become the next President of the prestigious California League of Cities?
On July 17, I pulled papers to run for mayor of Arroyo Grande. It was my intent to raise issues for discussion since there had been no past opposition against Ferrara in past elections.
I did not take seriously that I could best Ferrara in the election, but I was motivated because of the evident success defeating a tax increase on property owners through a proposed benefit assessment district for the Fire Cities Fire Authority that was unanimously supported by the Arroyo Grande City Council.
Ferrara became very cool towards the author, and he refused to meet with him at that time or any time subsequently. Ferrara’s wrath is well perceived by those who Tony disagrees with, not that in my case I lost any sleep over it.
In any event, I decided not to run being compelled by a number of reasons — including being 84-years-old. But I did become sensitive to the issue of Ferrara becoming the next President of the League of California Cities.
On Aug. 5, I sent the following Email to Steve Adams: “I bumped into Tony near the location of Grace Stillwell’s old house in the Cherry Creek development. (7/30/14). We talked about my running for Mayor. He answered two of my concerns: His becoming League President and the Russom incident. Tony confirmed being League President would be jeopardized if he isn’t Mayor. You advised me of this and it is a “bell ringer” for me! I want you to know that I will not be running for Mayor being satisfied because of these two considerations: The importance to the City of Tony’s League presidency and Russom leaving the PC.”
I was never informed of the Adams/McClish matter — and I should have been as a candidate! But because I was not informed, and with this experiential background, I had a certain view on the subject, an opinion framed by the questions raised herein in this document.
So, in review, one should consider these facts: It is not the alleged indiscretion that became the big issue. It was the cover-up of the investigation as to what was alleged — the secrecy and administration of the matter in closed sessions — the citation of gag orders on all those concerned — the use of an attorney that has a clear conflict being a member of the city attorney’s law firm in assessing the matter — the attempt to maintain secrecy as a “personnel matter.”
Why the cover-up if there was no problem? Why the secrecy after facts were established that there was no problem? Why wasn’t there a clear and decisive explanation by Ferrara at the time the determination was made that Adams was not guilty on July 8?
To protect his political position, did Ferrara in initiating and continuing the cover up of the event throw Adams under the bus? To answer the two questions, why the cover up if Adams was not guilty? Was he thrown under the bus? One should consider the following postulation regarding Ferrara and the situation.
To understand the answer to these questions one should give credence to the background on the political elevation of Caren Ray. This is her political chronology: First, Councilmember Ed Arnold fell on his moral sword in 2010. He was derelict and had to resign. Ray as head of the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission was selected to take his place.
Then Ray was appointed to be 4th District supervisor by California Governor Jerry Brown late in 2013 after Paul Teixeira died unexpectedly earlier in the year. Ray was appointed to serve out the remainder of Teixeira’s term, which expires at the end of this year, Nov. 2014.
But the engine supporting Ray’s political evolvement was the endorsement by Tony Ferrara, especially considering her appointment to be supervisor. But why didn’t Ferrara wish to become supervisor in Teixeira’s place, and how did that effect the probable issue of throwing Adams under the bus?
It is believed that Ferrara chose not to pursue the appointment to Teixeira’s term because of its short duration. That it would by necessity be subject to reelection as has now occurred.
Ferrara as vice president of the League of California Cities appears to have had a larger plan. He had indulged in a higher threshold of politics with the league — such as hobnobbing with the Senators Boxer and Feinstein — and he apparently relished the psychic gain of politics by becoming the president of the California League of Cities, a position he attained on Sept. 19 during the League’s 115th Annual Conference and Expo in Sacramento.
Apparently, Ferrara’s ambition to attain the league’s presidency became a major factor in his wish to not have any circumstance interfere with this ascendancy. He wished to run unopposed to retain his being mayor of Arroyo Grande — being mayor a mandatory requirement if he was to become president of the league. And he appears decisive by using the cover up in not exposing the indiscretion of Adams given that it would reflect on his greater ambition to become President of the league.
It is highly probable that he appears to have thrown Adams under the bus to achieve his greater ambition.
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