Arroyo Grande council’s questionable political conduct

December 2, 2014


With the election and seating of Jim Hill as Mayor of Arroyo Grande, it is important for citizens to place in perspective that among the accomplishments of the past Tony Ferrara Council there were major failures.

The council was politically wrong allowing the Steve Adams and Teresa McClish incident to be subjected to a legal tactic that confused a personnel matter — which may be handled discreetly in closed meeting sessions — with that of a political matter — that requires openness and public comment as required by the Brown Act.

The Council was politically wrong in contracting with the Sintra group for a report regarding interviews of the Adams and McClish matter and the Council’s cover up — without sworn testimony of all — that excludes information that should have been disclosed to the citizens: “information pertaining to the personnel investigation … would be exempt from public disclosure.”

The Council was politically wrong allowing Sintra to give only an oral report on Code 54957 personnel items that led to the immediate firing of Adams, whose resignation was contingent on the hiring of a new city manager. The Sintra report should be submitted in writing since a possible Grand Jury investigation and other probable criminal matters may be evident.

Besides these major items dealing with Adams/McClish matter, there is the following:

The council was politically wrong in its unanimous support of the Assessment District Fire Tax matter that failed by a 66 percent majority.

The Council was politically wrong in not insisting on a bid from Cal Fire when the Five Cities Fire Authority sought a tax increase from the property owners in the area it serves.

The council was politically wrong in allowing a drawn out pay raise negotiation for the Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association (AGPOA) while granting major raises to the city manager and legal counsel.

The Council was politically wrong in not aggressively pursuing a forensic audit of past practices of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District in an attempt to possibly reimburse ratepayers for misappropriated funds.

The Council was politically wrong in sponsoring propaganda overtures alleging AGPOA influence to selected media — the SLO Tribune, New Times, the Santa Maria Times — to support the political campaign of the Mayor and in defense of Adams.
The council was politically wrong by unanimously supporting Caren Ray for supervisor and by denying any support for the winner, Lynn Compton.
Further, the council was politically wrong in allowing a negative if not belligerent campaign by certain council members against those supporting the Jim Hill campaign — and those critical of the council’s cover up of the Adams and McClish matter.
The council was politically wrong in allowing a reconfiguration of seating at the council chambers — stacked by Ferrara supporters — limiting other citizens concerned about the Adams and McClish matter — orchestrated by the father of one of the council members.

Where certain council members plead for civility, is it any wonder why citizens became proactive and critical if not cynical of the council as a result of these incidents and tricks, especially since it has bungled and mislead the citizens on the cover up of the Adams and McClish matter?

The election of Jim Hill and Barbara Harmon to the council, and a fresh start and cooperation by the remaining members, hopefully will restore a positive initiative to regain the confidence of the citizens critical of the council’s actions as particularly centered and manifested in the past by the strong assertive power of the past mayor, Tony Ferrara.

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So sick of it all.

If it is business as usual for Guthrie , Brown and KB tomorrow; I say vote them all out!


As always, you have nailed the situation for what it is, especially the larger scope of the issues. Our city truly has been in the clutches of people who have not been listening the people and who has misued their positions to either better themselves, their friends, or associates. They have not been effective and have taken wrong turns repeatedly, especially with regards to their ethics.

Our job is seriously not finished. There is still cleaning that needs to occur. It would be too Pollyanna to think that we can trust those who remain from the old guard. There are too many ties, too many connections, and too many bad decisions which have been made. We need thoughtful leadership. Doing you homework goes beyond sitting in Doc Berstein’s later in the evening listening to music or noise from a local establishment.

Thank you Otis for helping to hold our leadership accountable in our city!

Apparently since Miss Barniech was appointed, she does not require the 90 days waiting period to start a recall.

Mary Malone, do you have the paperwork yet?

Anyone can plant flowers, where Tony Ferrara really failed is in his relationships with people ( the voters, the merchants, the police officers and families)

People were afraid of him.

Now we only have Guthrie, Brown And Barniech who are still in fear.

Mr. Page:

Cograts to you and the other involved citizens who became involved in this debacle. When I see what I consider is government run amok at all levels, most notably the Federal Government, I welcome the day when citizens insist on change. A nice start would be to see greatly increased voter participation.

Centralcoastscott, we have missed you! Where have you been????

LeAnn, I choose to comment selectively and try to be constructive.

Once again, kudos the the AG community! It seems that there was dirt on both sides but at least it got the AG community involved.

One of my biggest fears with respect to the future of this nation is that the citizens abdicate the power the Constitution promises them. The low voter participation rate is the biggest example of this.

How can people complain so much, but then so many people don’t even bother to vote? How can that be?!

I’d rather have 100% voter participation where my views were the minority than I would our current situation where the nation is stuck in place because of voter apathy on both sides of the aisle. This preserves power for a small, special interest minority.

The people of AG decided to break this impasse by exercising their Constitution right to vote. The “AG Story” should be investigated and broadcast by 60 Minutes. Maybe it would help get the American public off their disinterested, lazy, apathetic butts.


Well, we missed you—so welcome back. The story isn’t over—the house cleaning is still happening—and I agree, the low voter turn out is something all communities need to address. I fully believe that while national elections are important, it is the local government arena where citizen action can have the greatest impact. If our local politicians practice clean and ethical politics, that would serve as the foundation for the national group to change how they do business. But the key to it all is citizen participation and citizens willing to stand up when things don’t feel right.

We do need to get the AG story to 60 minutes. We have made a significant impact that is positive. My goal would be all communities along the central coast rise up and take back their town’s and counties. We do not have to submit to misuse of power, unethical leadership, or corruption. We can affect change and we can send a message to all political leaders that they are not entitled to the positions they hold, they are truly accountable to the group of people who elected them.

I hope you stick around—it is going to be quite an adventure! Have a wonderful evening.

What “dirt on both sides” are you referring to?