Arroyo Grande needs to dump its city attorney

December 1, 2014
Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker


The question posed at last week’s Arroyo Grande City Council meeting by newly elected Mayor Jim Hill revealed a $32,000 expenditure for just one month’s work by legal counsel.

This is a billing trend that began with the now infamous July 3, 2014 incident. A search of the Carmel & Naccasha, LLP law firm’s invoices indicate that the city’s legal workload has been directly affected to the detriment of city coffers.

At the Nov. 25 city council meeting, legal counsel Tim Carmel explained that during the month of October he was fielding a large number of Public Records Act requests needing redacting and assisting with the outside legal investigation done by the Sintra Group. His explanation only leads to more questions, how independent is an “independent investigation” if the city’s chief counsel is assisting?

Carmel had handled the incident himself back in July, by assigning Deputy City Attorney Michael McMahon at $165.00 an hour to “investigate” the after-hour’s incident. The incident was quietly swept under the rug with a reprimand, keeping the public in the dark.

Carmel’s poor handling of the matter has become a make-work project for his law firm. Monthly invoices are averaging $7,000 over those a year ago. The firm did receive a three percent raise from the council in August, but that small increase taking hourly rates to $170.00, doesn’t equate to invoices jumping from $19,500 on average in fiscal year 2013-14 to $26,500 per month on average so far, this fiscal year.

Carmel has had a professional relationship as the Arroyo Grande attorney for over 21 years. According to Councilman Tim Brown, Carmel handled a previous incident with Adams and McClish giving them both second chances. That second chance was bungled, costing the city a tremendous amount of money and costing Adams and former Mayor Tony Ferrara their jobs.

As important as it is for the city of Arroyo Grande to “heal,” the city needs to take a good hard look at its legal representation. Carmel has become complacent and is being paid to be part of the city’s problems including cover ups.



  1. AGDUDE says:

    The Dude say’s Dump Him!

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. R says:

    First you want an independent investigation, and when they do so and that costs money, you bitch about the cost.

    (4) 16 Total Votes - 10 up - 6 down
    • LeAnn says:

      It wasn’t independent or impartial—so yes, it was a huge waste of money.

      (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
  3. agag1 says:

    The fact that Carmel has to have his fingers on every public records request is ridiculous.
    Exactly what is going on at our City Hall that requires an attorney be involved each and every moment?
    It makes you wonder WHAT they’re so afraid of the public seeing!

    (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
  4. MBwaiter says:

    The only competent and ethical city attorney in the County was the former Morro Bay City attorney who was fired for absolutely no reason by King Irons and who was then hired for substantially more money in the Bay Area less than 2weeks after he was fired. This County is so messed up!

    (14) 24 Total Votes - 19 up - 5 down
    • Human Reason says:

      I have heard they are paying well over 20 k a month for the new attorney in MB. Can that possibly be true? Can CNN do a public records request on how much each City is paying these yoyos?

      (7) 15 Total Votes - 11 up - 4 down
      • taxpayer says:

        It could definitely be true. CNN should do an investigation on that and much more as far as the Morro Bay City Council is concerned. They are spending money in our city much faster than it is coming in. We’ll be broke soon.

        (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
        • mb business owner says:

          There are many of us that hope Cal Coast News soon turns their investigative reporters to the City of Morro Bay.

          (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Only $20k, you are getting a great deal, we in AG recently paid $32K for our attorney and for what? We asked and we still are not sure, but that will hopefully change soon.

        (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
    • mb20 says:

      Maybe AG can get him, I’m sure he would love to be back in SLO.

      I hear his family is still living in SLO and he commutes all the way up to Los Gatos!

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • mb20 says:

      Maybe AG can get him, I’m sure he would love to be back in SLO.

      I hear his family is still living in SLO and he commutes all the way up to Los Gatos!

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. JB Bronson says:

    CRLA just got rid of Michael Blank.

    Arrogant, self-centered, incompetent attorneys appear to be at the root of so many dysfunctional political dynamics.

    (13) 17 Total Votes - 15 up - 2 down
  6. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Let’ls get rid of the city attorney in San Luis Obispo, too!

    (28) 40 Total Votes - 34 up - 6 down
    • pasoparent5 says:

      While you’re at it, also ax Paso Robles City Attorney Iris Yang. She’s awful.

      (30) 40 Total Votes - 35 up - 5 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        Lord, is she ever.

        (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
      • poolboy says:

        Why are city attorneys allowed to hourly bill in addition to their salaries? If you had a true city attorney who worked for the city instead of an outside hired gun with a law firm concerned with billing hours you wouldn’t have this problem! All the cities should have city attorneys as salaried employees and not consultants!

        (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down
        • taxpayer says:

          That’s exactly what Morro Bay had. Now they’re spending money like drunken sailors.

          (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
          • mb20 says:

            Why don’t AG/SLO/Paso hire Mr. Schultz and get him back in SLO county?

            (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  7. slocal says:

    Me thinks we’ll see a lot more that has been covered up with a longtime outgoing Mayor,
    who is either guilty of something himself or scared. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Politician
    disapear so fast.

    (27) 39 Total Votes - 33 up - 6 down
    • agag1 says:

      Ferrara may have no intention of disappearing.

      (16) 24 Total Votes - 20 up - 4 down
      • LeAnn says:

        I feel that he is not going to disappear but continue to try and work things behind the scenes. I don’t trust him at all and no one else should either…there is nothing in the last few months that points to his “ethical and functional council”.

        (18) 30 Total Votes - 24 up - 6 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      I think Ferrara is the one manipulating KB. Clearly, she is not smart enough to do it herself.

      (13) 27 Total Votes - 20 up - 7 down
  8. agag1 says:

    Something tells me Mr Carmel’s invoices are going to be closely scrutinized by Mayor Hill as well as Councilwoman Harmon.
    The holdovers are going to either get on board with questioning what Carmel’s been up to or there’s going to be another firestorm.

    (43) 57 Total Votes - 50 up - 7 down
  9. LeAnn says:

    Unfortunately he is just as dangerous, if not more so if he is fired. He knows where all the bodies are buried and everyone’s dirty laundry. This is an unfortunate mess.

    (27) 47 Total Votes - 37 up - 10 down
    • Julie says:

      Carmel is bound be attorney client privileged to keep his mouth shut on those sensitive matters of the city. No laundry will be aired unless it’s public record. To do otherwise he could lose his license to practice law.

      (26) 42 Total Votes - 34 up - 8 down
      • LeAnn says:

        Hi Julie,

        Totally get it, I think what I was trying to say is that he might use what he knows against people remaining on the council if there is an attempt to let him go—and that whether he stays or goes, there is a lingering question for me—can he be the attorney the city needs, or will he still report to Ferrara?

        I hope you don’t think I was questioning your piece, because that was not my intent of my first comment at all.

        (12) 24 Total Votes - 18 up - 6 down
    • agag1 says:

      No kidding it’s a mess!
      There’s no telling what Hill and Harmon are going to find
      once they start digging up the bodies and dirty laundry.
      It’s more than Carmel’s recent invoices that stink in AG.
      His explanation for how closed session meetings are conducted was one for the books.

      (27) 41 Total Votes - 34 up - 7 down
    • willnose says:

      In related news – a Cessna 172, 4-seater air plane crashed into a cemetery near A. G. There were no survivors, at last count 350 dead, more expected to be found… ;-)

      (-5) 19 Total Votes - 7 up - 12 down

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