Arroyo Grande council’s questionable political conduct
December 2, 2014
OPINION By OTIS PAGE
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.