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.


Message to Mr. Adams:

Your offer is………..The DOOR


Anyone who values ethics, honesty and accountability.



It’s time to stop rewarding bad behavior.


Yeah, but with Carmel still the legal counsel, using Carmel is simply not an option, especially if it comes to fighting a legal suit from Adams the slimy wiener.


The fact remains, he doesn’t deserve to be paid with OUR tax dollars, ANY severance pay.

Enough is enough. To the lawsuit, I say BRING IT!


I am hoping that the council has had good council on this issue. With Hill, Harmon and Brown likely voting together on it, I am assuming that they came to the conclusion that a lawsuit by Adams would either be a likely loser or that the expense to defend it would be more expensive than the settlement. That may leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth (including mine), but it would be showing fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers if that is the case. I just hope that they are more careful about contract terms in the future so that this form of legalized extortion is made much more difficult.

Josh Payne

So let me get this right: Steve Adams gets caught cheating on his wife and makes a statement to the media which says “I will resign when you find a replacement for me.” Now he says, “I didn’t resign, I got fired.” One of these statements is a lie and they are made by the same person concluding Steve Adams is a lier. Rather than fighting back, the City Council is going to deal with this lier. Oh well, it’s just taxpayers money. It’s not like that money could be spent on fixing roads or school books for kids. Let’s send Mr. Adams on vacation to the Bahamas instead. You are a disgrace to Arroyo Grande and it’s taxpayers Mr. Adams.



You are so right. People who cheat on their spouses are LIARS

and people who blame others for their shortcomings ( the AGPOA) are LOSERS


I bet Mrs.Adams and Mr.McClish would also like to give Steve a ‘severance of his package’.




Well, along those same lines, how about this:

Once a settlement agreement is approved by the Council, have the City make the check out to Mrs. Adams.

That way ‘ol Stevie-boy will have to negotiate with his wife in order to actually get his paws on any of that taxpayer money, and I’ll bet she’ll negotiate a hell of a lot tougher than the City Council will.

Can you just picture little Stevie on his knees begging for forgiveness, and thousands of taxpayer dollars?


“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.”

The Council is responsible for the actions it takes. If the advice to Council is bad — no matter the source of the advice — the Council is legally and ethically responsible when acting on the advice — whether in accepting it or denying it.

The allegations critical of Carmel dismiss the fact that he insisted — based on Tim Brown’s statement on November 19 — that Adams’ indiscretion be submitted in closed session to the Council meeting of July 8 — where as Brown has confirmed — Ferrara wished that the Council not be advised. Carmel was right in doing so.

Carmel is rightfully criticized for using an associate for the first investigation of the facts. But the record is not clear, in the subsequent reinvestigation by Hookstra, if there was any fundamental disagreement with the original investigation. In fact the impression is there is no disagreement.

Carmel certainly was not a party to Ferrara’s and Adams’ outrageous criticism of the AGPOA.

Again, the attorney is not the Council’s soul. That lonely attribute — by law and tradition — is the Council’s elected responsibly.

It is this attribute of the Council’s invested power that is exercised by elected people who may have inadequate qualifications for the part. They are honored and honestly bound, nevertheless, to do the right thing for the citizens — even when compromised by politics.

I for one suggest Attorney Carmel has served the City well over many years — but the Council in certain ways has not. This certainly was the issue with the Council as resolved by the past election.


Funny…Council member Guthrie, as the GM of a hotel, should have lots of experience terminating employees for misconduct.

They Council, I am afraid, were too “chummy” with Stevie and thought they were friends. Remember, the Council also thought that Big Tony would WIN and take care of everything that way dissolving Adams intention to resign.

May I suggest that Barneich, Guthrie & Brown need to be reminded of their poor decision making come election time.



I will reiterate what I have said several times elsewhere…I lost a LOT of respect for Jim Guthrie since the Adams/McClish scandal/coverup was outed.

Guthrie handled it like he was Ferrera’s shoe-shine boy.


Tim Brown started out as a fence-straddler on some issues but has since come around and has spoken out about the coverup by Ferrera before the big night at City Hall and is also speaking out strongly on the SSLOCSD issues. Since he also just won re-election, I suggest that any political challenges be directed at Barneich and Guthrie who remain recalcitrant and will be up for re-election sooner. Let’s see if Tim Brown stays the course before deciding to boot him out of office.


The Council was remiss to not

1. Ask their own Human Resources Director for advice.

2. Hire a Human Resources Attorney in the first place.

KFBs got to go. Her professional and life experience is too limited to be an asset to the Council and the 27 phone calls during the election to the PD means she absolutely does not know her role.

Clean up has started but has a long way to go before being finished.


The council opted not to let City Attorney Tim Carmel do the negotiating. Guarantee Carmel has already counseled his slime ball buddy Adams and that’s probably why Adams set up his Resignation the way he did, Leverage. City council needs to study this debacle to start the dismissal process of Carmel and McClish. Keeping employees on payroll in fear of reprisal / extortion is a wake up call for negotiating new contracts with future immoral bloodsucking employees. Waiting to do the right thing eventually costs the city more money. You know that Carmel is getting his ducks in a row. The city’s inaction is making them sitting ducks. It’s just a matter of time before Carmel reaps the benefits of being a professional bottom feeder.


Carmel’s contract can be put out for bid if they choose not to give him the boot.


I am sure Seitz would love to bid on it!!


well put


Wise move not to let Carmel negotiate.

It’s clear Mayor Hill and Councilwoman Harmon are making an impact.

The former council relied heavily, if not exclusively on Carmel’s advice. It is also clear that HR is not Carmel’s strong suit, and the council should have sought more expert counsel.

Speaks volumes when McFall, who’s been on the job a week, is given the nod, and Carmel is viewed by the new council as either too close to Adams, or not qualified to finish the job.

Who’s to say Carmel didn’t blow this whole resignation? / termination? deal as a parting gift to his longtime friend Adams, anyway?

Carmel’s legal advice, and the former council’s following it, will cost AG dearly.

Adams is the least of our worries…wait for McClish.


We as a community of AG, should ask that Mr. Adams never be allowed within Arroyo Grande City limits. He has disgraced the city.

He has shown poor moral judgement regards to his values. The person(s) I feel bad about is his family. I hope that some of this severance goes to his wife, as she wakes up and files for divorce.


While I do have empathy for the wife, the fact that she is still with Adams are clear signs of her being a doormat.


Incompetent government officials wasting your money. What else is new.