Arroyo Grande offering Adams severance pay

January 23, 2015
Steve Adams

Steve Adams

In response to a threat made by ousted city manager Steve Adams, the Arroyo Grande City Council has opted to offer a settlement to its former top bureaucrat.

Adams is currently threatening to sue Arroyo Grande if the city does not give him six months severance pay with benefits. The package he is requesting totals $107,000.

On Thursday evening, the council met in closed session for a special meeting on the lawsuit threat posed by Adams. During closed session, the council chose to task interim manager Bob McFall with negotiating a settlement with the former city manager.

The council opted not to let City Attorney Tim Carmel do the negotiating. Several member of the public spoke out against Carmel at Thursday’s meeting prior to the closed session hearing.

During an investigation last summer into a sex scandal involving Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish, Carmel absolved Adams of wrongdoing. However, Councilman Tim Brown later stated that Carmel had informed him of a prior inappropriate incident involving Adams and McClish, a subordinate employee.

Adams announced his resignation on Oct. 1. In his letter of resignation, he stated that his departure from the city would take effect when his replacement started work.

McFall began his job as interim city manager on Jan. 14. But, Adams claims that when he was placed on paid administrative leave in November he was fired, even though he continued to receive pay and benefits until McFall was hired

Adams’s contract allowed him a severance package if the council fired him without cause, but not if he chose to resign.

Both Adams and McFall previously worked for the city of Glendale. Adams worked in a subordinate role to McFall there, and the city of Arroyo Grande has cleared McFall of having any conflict of interest in dealing with Adams.


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31 Comments

  1. AGDUDE says:

    WTF are you guys Smoking pot???

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Josh Payne says:

    In response to: Negotiation with Steve Adams is right move for Arroyo Grande.

    It is in my humble opinion that if Mr. Adams receives his severance pay of $107k, he should prove to the residents of Arroyo Grande that he truly cares about this amazing town and donate it entirely to the education of the youth. Branch, Ocean View and Harloe could each put $36,000 to good use. Or he could even include Paulding and AGHS which would bring his donation to $21,400 for every school in Arroyo Grande. If Mr. Adams wants to do the right thing, he will give that money back to the children of the taxpayers of this community. Acts 2:44-45. Exodus 20:17.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  3. Otis says:

    o “If a city manager or city attorney feel that their professional advice is improperly or illegally applied or ignored by the city council, they have the option to decline to follow the inappropriate direction. ….. In the AG situation, if Carmel felt his legal and professional advice was not being appropriately followed by the City Council, he had an obligation to the citizens ”

    Respectfully, panflash, I suggest your view is unrealistic. We are not talking about Nuremberg events. The Council as the executive is the only one answerable to the citizens. That is the law. The City manager and Council’s jobs are to serve the Council in all matters, and if this is incorrect I agree I am wrong. A Council cannot rely on a “second guessing” city manager or legal counsel.

    It goes to the concept of trying to advise in making the right decision to the end of making the decision right. City managers and counsels are often charged in implementing decisions they may disagree with.

    Should Carmel have quit because the Council decided to cover up the Adams/McClish matter on July 8? Where the record is proven that it was the will of a majority of the Council strongly swayed by Ferrara’s and Costello’s position — followed certainly by others on the Council? It was Carmel who insisted the Council knew the facts according to Brown’s admission on November 19.

    The City Manager’s job is to implement and follow the directions of the Council which is directly subjected to the citizens by public comment and referendums of recall.

    I put it this way. The Council is a thousand pound gorilla, a law to itself only constrained by the law as advised by the legal counsel. If a City manager or legal counsel objects to the Council’s decisions they may be immediately fired by a majority vote.

    I suggest it is unrealistic to believe that the City Manager or the legal counsel should be responsive to the wills and conflicting interests of the citizens. They may be sensitive politically — but not legally impelled to be responsive. That is not my experience here — nor that of others I know who have been active. We may be politely considered but we are ignored generally as is the many commissions answering to the Council. My twenty year history here is replete with this reality.

    I don’t say this with the intent of being an apologist for Carmel but to make the point that the Council is totally responsible for its decisions — and to suggest Carmel was responsible avoids the real issue of Council conduct. The lawyers obligation is to cite the legal risks — and that in a client and privileged relationship. Carmel doesn’t answer to the citizens.

    What is the test put another way? How many of you have put your job on the line and quit by being in disagreement with your boss on issues that the boss and only the boss must decide? I have done this and was wrong in doing so. And I was fired. It turned out I was right — but my error was being arrogant and not persuasively enough in changing my bosses mind. I suggest Carmel would not make and should not be required to make that decision.

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

    Regarding Carmel: This is my reply to those who disagree with my above statement, many of whom are friends and co-activists in support of Jim Hill as Mayor and Barbara Harmon as a co-member of the city council.

    The citizens of Arroyo Grande’s rights to know, per the Brown Act, regarding the Adams matter, was legally preempted (forestalled, obstructed, blocked) by California Code 54957. Council member Brown on August 26 rightfully argued for a “process” and was joined by Joe Costello arguing for “transparency” on the Adams matter. But, there was no subsequent process or transparency to inform the citizens as committed. Throughout, from the disclosure of the “tryst” by CalCoastNews on August 19, the Council’s closed sessions have been under Code Section 54957.

    I believe it 54957 was inappropriately applied. A complaint was made to the District Attorney alleging it was not a true personnel “performance evaluation”, that it was a cover up of a personnel matter.

    But., is the use of 54957 Carmel’s fault? 54957 is the law. Carmel reported to City Manager Steve Adams. It was the responsibility of the Council to use 54957 properly — which I am sure it believed it did.

    I argue that Carmel is being unfairly castigated since he stood in the shadow of those he was employed to serve: the then City Manager and the then sitting Council. The heavy hand of politics has been served by the election of Jim Hill and Barbara Harmon to the Council — and the rejection of Ferrara and Costello. Adams has been fired for his indiscretion — and the matter should be left there.

    To cast Carmel with blame may be politically satisfying for many of those who have sincerely supported Hill, but I suggest it is an excise in Guillotine logic placing blame where it does not belong, a reprisal that does not serve the truth as to Carmel’s true responsibility and obligation to serve the City Manager and the Council.

    (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
    • panflash says:

      Generally speaking, under a council-manager form of local government, the city council hires the city manager and the city attorney. Although it is the council that hires and fires them, too often it seems to be forgotten that the official relationship is that the manager and the attorney actually work for the citizens and the taxpayers, but under the direction and supervision of the council.

      If a city manager or city attorney feel that their professional advice is improperly or illegally applied or ignored by the city council, they have the option to decline to follow the inappropriate direction. And if the inappropriate council direction is so severe or occurs so often, the manager or attorney have the option to resign.

      The basic point here is that the Nuremberg defense (“I vus chust followink orders”) is not morally or ethically acceptable for government employees and officers. Those officials and employees are paid to serve the best interests of the citizens and taxpayers. Their careers and their compensation packages are not the controlling factors in determining appropriate behavior on the job.

      In the AG situation, if Carmel felt his legal and professional advice was not being appropriately followed by the City Council, he had an obligation to the citizens and taxpayers to do the right thing- not the expeditious thing that served his interests.

      Local government does not exist to provide employment opportunities and careers for public employees- it exists to most effectively and efficiently serve the best interests of the citizens and taxpayers. It’s time for a mid-course correction to re-establish the proper structure and relationship. The citizens of Arroyo Grande have begun that process in their city, but there is still much left to do. When they are finished, AG may serve as a model for local governments throughout California and the United States. With or without Carmel as City Attorney.

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
    • analyticone says:

      Carmel may have reported to the City Manager, but his duty was to report to the Council. It is the Council who hire the City Manager and City Attorney. If Counsel is reporting to the City Manager something is wrong. Look around the county and you will note that those agencies in which Counsel reports to the City Manager are the agencies where the tail wags the dog and where Staff dictate policy, rather than the Council or Board.

      Counsel reporting to the City Manager, rather than the Council is one of the first red flags to look for in checking for corruption.

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  5. Pelican1 says:

    Simply put, it’s time to get off of this Merry Go ‘Round.
    Enough is enough. No more brass rings, no more free rides, no more waste, fraud, and abuse.

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
  6. MaryMalone says:

    QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “During closed session, the council chose to task interim manager Bob McFall with negotiating a settlement with the former city manager.
    The council opted not to let City Attorney Tim Carmel do the negotiating.”
    “Both Adams and McFall previously worked for the city of Glendale. Adams worked in a subordinate role to McFall there, and the city of Arroyo Grande has cleared McFall of having any conflict of interest in dealing with Adams.”

    ——————-

    Oh, SNAP! I get the feeling Carmel isn’t going to be AG’s legal counsel for much longer.

    I also think McFall isn’t going to be so compliant to Adams’ demands, as was AG’s legal counsel, Tim Carmel. And how HUMILIATING it must be for Adams to have to face his ex-boss, especially in this situation.

    (24) 30 Total Votes - 27 up - 3 down

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