Robert Cuddy does not speak in facts

January 9, 2015
LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins


Perspective is a difficult thing to argue against, and that is precisely what Robert Cuddy’s opinion piece “January 1 didn’t erase 2014’s wounds in Arroyo Grande” attempts to do.

Perspective depends on a person’s opinion, which is also difficult to refute. Words used by Cuddy like disgraceful, engineered, burst into City Hall, scurrilous, mugger, stealing, wood shredder, most likely needed to go to MapQuest and rancid horse all come from a perspective, an opinion—these words are not factual, nor do they tell a truthful account of the events played out in the media prior during the mayoral election of 2014.

My perspective, having been a member of the group who worked to elect Mayor Jim Hill truly felt that, aside from “a scandal,” Tony Ferrara had overstepped the lines governing his position as mayor, on more than one occasion. People from across the city of Arroyo Grande shared their stories with committee members working to elect Mayor Hill about misguided actions as well as acts of deceit coming out of the City of Arroyo Grande—from the mayor and council members.

To correct errors in Cuddy’s opinion piece, please make note of the fact that Mayor Hill did offer a platform and it was published in CalCoast News as well as heard over Dave Congalton’s radio show.

What is also factual regarding the platform issue is that other members of the media, when approached by Mr. Hill and committee members to publish this platform, were dismissed. Another fact is that Mr. Ferrara did not, at any time publically state or publish a platform stating his agenda for the upcoming mayoral term. Mr. Hill’s platform consisted of term limits, transparency in governing decisions, and collaboration. This short list is not exhaustive, but it gives a snapshot of the platform Mr. Hill campaigned on.

I do not recall seeing one piece of documentation regarding Mr. Ferrara’s platform. I saw signs around town and I heard explanations about why city workers removed the tree from his front yard, but I did not see a viable platform coming from Mr. Ferrara or his supporters.

Could it be that the long-time incumbent underestimated the power of the democratic process, the sentiments of the citizens of Arroyo Grande, and the power of Mr. Hill’s campaign? Did he wrongly assume the election was in the bag?

Mr. Cuddy goes on to say the police “burst into City Hall.” In fact, according to police reports, officers knocked on the doors repeatedly for someone, namely Mrs. McClish, to open the door to after receiving a phone call from her husband who was worried for her safety. Not getting a response, keys were used to access City Hall to ensure their wellness check produced some results.

“Burst into” is hardly a phrase which describes the situation. Police reports are used a factual evidence and the word “burst into” was not used to describe entry into City Hall the evening of July 3.

Mr. Cuddy continues to further attempt to discredit the AGPOA by stating they were “dragged into the politics of this.”

Fact: the AGPOA took a vote of no confidence in then Mayor Ferrara as well as the City Council. They made this vote of no confidence public knowledge at a City Council meeting during public comment.

Fact: the AGPOA was disparaged by Ferrara supporters as a group using this situation to improve their chances of negotiating a more favorable contract. The AGPOA stood on its own in this situation and people who supported Ferrara used this against the AGPOA to not only discredit the AGPOA, but to attempt to discredit the entire Hill campaign.

Let us not forget the fact that chairs were removed from council chambers to limit the number of people allowed in by the fire marshal attending one particular city council meeting. Let us also not forget, at the same meeting, people were turned away by the fire marshal, even before the 140 person limit was reached.

These are facts, not merely opinions or statements coming from a person’s perspective. I was there, I witnessed both factual events.

Another fact that is lost in Mr. Cuddy’s opinion piece is that the roots of the Hill campaign were to provide the citizens of Arroyo Grande an option in the mayoral race. Mr. Hill’s name not being on the ballot is irrelevant. What is relevant is that voters were given a choice, a choice they took full advantage of at the ballot box.

Rbert Cuddy

Robert Cuddy

This campaign was not engineered as an act of retribution, an act of disregard for others, or meant to act as a steamroller. We did not “smell blood.” What we did is organize a campaign to give people a chance to vote for a change in leadership.

Fact: a majority of people in Arroyo Grande decided to elect a new mayor based on their opinions and experiences with the prior mayor and city council. Mr. Cuddy and others may not agree with who was elected; all elections have two sides, sometimes more than two. This goes back to my original point that disagreements about elections are based on perspective and opinion, not just facts.

From my perspective Mr. Ferrara proved himself to be a bully, a liar, someone not concerned about the opinions of others which did not align with his opinions, and someone who very much relished his position of power and used it to his benefit.

If you peel back the veil of the events as they unfolded in Arroyo Grande this past year, there is a sense of this perspective being factual, especially if you attended the council meetings leading up to the election. Let us also not forget that a council member did, in fact, state openly in a city council meeting that there had been a warning given to Mr. Adams regarding his actions towards and his relationship with Mrs. McClish prior to July 3. In addition, it was stated that Mr. Ferrara wanted to handle that situation in-house, which turned out to be ineffective (at best).

I would also maintain Mr. Cuddy that had Ferrara remained in office, he would have had a lot to prove as well. He would have to prove that he was willing to listen to people who did not agree with him, he would have to prove he was not a stooge of Steve Adams, AG in Bloom, certain members of the community at large, Caren Ray, the Wallace Group, John Shoals, Adam Hill—this list could go on. Everyone in politics has to prove something to the electorate; this is not a new reality.

My perspective regarding CalCoast News and their role in the election was not that they took language and ran with it; they provided a platform that other media sources did not provide to the Hill campaign and to people who were working for and wanting changes in leadership. They provided information to the voting public that the other media sources did not provide. They took a risk in allowing and welcoming citizens of both Arroyo Grande and the greater Central Coast to have a venue in which to voice their concerns, their opinions, and work for a change they deeply believed in. Fact: other media sources did not allow for this.

The one and only statement, in Mr. Cuddy’s opinion piece that I agree with is that the citizens of Arroyo Grande need to remain watchful. We need to be diligent in or our participation in the local politics and governance of our community. We need to take an active role in ensuring the greater good is fought for and won. We need to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable for their actions. We also need to recognize that doing so is bound to drawn lines and create fissures between people because, these actions come down to opinions and perspectives. Defining the greater good, deciding who should be elected, and ultimately what decisions should be made with regards to the governance of our city come from a place of perspective, not fact.

Making the request to move forward with governance is something that just needs to happen in the City of Arroyo Grande. The business of the city and the people must continue. This is not simply a “Buddhist philosophy” as suggested by Mr. Cuddy.

Moving forward is a choice Mr. Cuddy. If you choose not to, that is your choice. But factually, change happens naturally, whether you agree with the change or not.

The city, as a whole, will move forward, with or without you and whoever shares your same perspective—that is also factual. Another fact is that the election is over and it is time the new mayor and new council to get down to business. If you choose to sit and lament the election and the “steamroller and fringe group” who worked for change, then do that, that is also your choice. Just know the people who spoke with their voices and their vote in 2014 effected change they deeply believed was necessary.

You are fully entitled to disagree with them, but do not confuse facts and opinions/perspectives. Know your disagreement and recent rendezvous attempting to discredit the new mayor, his intentions, his abilities, and his goals, will not change the outcome of the election, or the fact that Mayor Hill has many supporters.

I respect your opinions and perspectives, but I do disagree with you.

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Bob Cuddy is a chump. He called a friend of mine at their work to berate them for supposedly misusing a quote from one of his articles to demean a local educator. Of course, Cuddy was wrong…the quote was used accurately and Cuddy got his little feelings hurt. he called the day before he retired and said he was not going to let my friend get away with his “lies”. He is a chump who tries to intimidate people.

Cuddy is the one with the sour grapes, maybe too much tea.

Cuddy’s article was spot on; but if anything, it was too tepid.

The nativist ‘rabble-in-arms’ that erupted in AG are symptiomatic of the know-nothing strain that considers itself ( in collective, reaffirming victimization, groupthink, and shared anger ) somehow wiser and smarter than everyone else.

They’re the ‘Cliff Clavens’ that skulk in the shadows, and then suddenly discover each other in a cult of stupidity.

Slowerfaster, Again, your opinion is that we know nothing…however, I know much more than you have given me credit for…I know how to help win an election…and I don’t skulk in the shadows, everything I do and say is in the light and in the open—I have nothing to hide—can you say that about our former mayor and others who are currently serving on the council that have served prior to the election of November 2014?

I don’t pretend to be wiser or smarter than anyone, but I do pay attention and I do collect information and I know how to share that information, based on fact, not merely opinion.

Next time you attempt to attack me or anyone else who worked on the Hill campaign, bring your A game, because this wasn’t it.

You have right to do what you do, I don’t dispute that. Just don’t pretend to be more noble than what the ‘facts’ are.

This whole episode was small town politics, plain and simple. It provided a platform for some bored and noisy people to get their jollies for awhile.

Why they were so aggrieved, I don’t know. I do know that there are some people that are professional complainers.

One could say that they merely made a tempest out of a teapot, but the ‘fact’ is that some of their words and actions were hurtful towards a few individuals without having the evidence to back up their protests.

They engaged in gossip, rumor, and speculation. These are not the kind of neighbors I want to have.

I can assure you that no one the group who worked to elect Jim Hill are professional complainers—we were truly unhappy with Ferrara’s leadership. People who continue to complain about the outcome of the election have left very little room for differences of opinion, perspective, or leadership in AG—I believe that group would include you and Mr. Cuddy. All of the information I provided in my op ed were factually based—maybe you need to take off your blinders so you can see more than the blinder.

I meant to say are NOT professional complainers—-I hate auto correct.

Double negative?

Run-on sentences everywhere.

Tough to read !

I apologize for not being as perfect as you are 3 putt, however, if you are trying to make me feel inadequate so I cease writing opinion pieces, you will have to work much harder.

If I was perfect, I would be 1 putt.

I am only saying, perhaps you should pay attention to composition.. Proof reading is always a plus.

High school level….????

You are wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

Something tells me you know none of us who worked so hard for change in AG, yet you judge us at every opportunity. Don’t pretend to be more noble than those who supported Hill.

You seem to think you know better than the nearly 3100 folks who voted for Jim.

Study the actual facts, not just what you’d like them to be.

only 3100 agag1? would not that number have been higher if Hill was a candidate from the get go? how many people checked the only box with a name by it?

This number is minus the votes that were not counted—our camp doesn’t like to gloat—so, the number would be higher, but Mayor Hill do not request the additional ballots with name written on them to be counted.

I would further state that Mayor Hill filed papers after the filing date as it appeared the mayor at the time, was not going to follow through and do the right thing—now Mayor Hill decided to give the people of AG a choice—that is what is relevant here, not when he filed.

3100 votes represents more than half the votes cast for Mayor.

Hill received more votes than Ferrara at EVERY poling place on Nov 4.

Only 3100? Not really, as several hundred votes went uncounted since they would not have changed the end result.

Considering the fact that less than 3% of write in campaigns are successful, Hill’s victory is a historic one no matter which side you’re on.

It is impossible to know how many would have voted for Hill had his name appeared on the ballot. It is equally impossible to know how many voted for Ferrara because he was the only candidate on the ballot.

What is clear is that enough people made the effort to write in Jim’s name, and AG voted for a new leader.

I think you should all be happy that you at least have some resolution, in our town, we have the inexperienced leading the inexperienced without any regard to budget or policy!

We are happy with the resolution, okay, at least the majority of AG is happy with the resolution. However, the story is long from over. I am sure that this is just the beginning of a series of planned affronts towards Mayor Hill, those who worked for change in AG, and anyone who was not on Mr. Ferrara’s side.

Mr. Ferrara has only one person to blame for his loss including his dethroning on the California League of Cities …..himself

1. He did not run a campaign.

2. Many people had not voted for him in years. The last time he had a competitor, the candidate did not run a campaign and garnered 22% of the vote and again almost 1,000 chose not to vote for the Mayor position.

3. Mr. Ferrara tried to “take care of business” in a closed, friend to friend way with Mr. Adams and could have placed him on leave immediately. He continually rebutted the notion for a real investigation.

4. People voted against Tony Ferrara more than they voted for Jim Hill.

5. The ballot box does not lie. Ferrara had ample opportunities to offer to organize a town hall style meeting, meet his opponents in a casual manner, but FERRARA NEVER EXTENDEDhis hand out to ANYONE. He proved right then he was not a good leader.

6. There were lots of reasons people did not vote for Ferrara- the unions, the police, his bully nature, been in office too long, the tree story, the July 3rd incident, 4 failed ballot measures,mother trees at the Vet Clinic being cut down, the City hall purchase…….

7. Lastly, he shelters two employees at the risk of ridiculing a entire group of employees (AGPD) kind of ironic given the national attention on police departments now.

So stop sulking. No one stole this election. It was won by a different guy! Move on.

Ms. Akins did a fine job of correcting the record as opined in Mr. Cuddy’s article in the New Times. As I read his article, I was at a loss to even know where to start unraveling the misrepresentations and errors. The adjectives Mr. Cuddy used only added to the sense that he injected considerable fantasy into his opinion.

Hard to know another person’s motivations, but this sounded like a severe case of professional jealousy that CCN got a big scoop and followed up on the story. Just my opinion. The Tribune and it’s various reporters have repeatedly dropped the ball when it comes to reporting factual accounts of relevant news; OR they have totally ignored stories that didn’t fit their preconceived narrative. Mr. Cuddy recently retired from The Tribune, so he may still be suffering from the warped concept of news practiced there.

As someone who was very active in the Hill campaign, it seems as though Mr Cuddy described a campaign and election from somewhere outside of AG.

I stood on street corners, walked fliers, attended meetings, met with business owners, and residents, delivered signs to those who requested them…all pretty typical campaign activities to my knowledge.

His impression of what the Hill campaign was about is so misguided and untrue, it’s hard to know where to begin with debunking it, but LeAnn, as someone else who was involved, hit it out of the park.

Mr Cuddy is living in pity-party-la-la land.

Perhaps if/when he accepts Jim Hill’s offer to meet, he will come back to reality.

I hope so.

I am struck by many claims of unethical behavior and lack of moral compass

with no specifics perspectives can be challenged if they are not based in fact

Who made unfounded claims?? And I never said perspectives couldn’t be challenged. I said facts couldn’t be challenged.


Certainly do hope you’re not on the the slowerfaster, Cuddy bandwagon and agree that those involved in the Hill campaign were anything other than hardworking, determined, effective, and utterly awesome!

Thank you CCN for providing a photo of Mr Cuddy.

Did anyone notice Mr Cuddy in attendance at ANY of the council meetings leading up to the election?

His article (and I use the term loosely) is so factually inaccurate, it’s obvious to anyone who paid even the slightest bit of attention to what was going on in AG, that Mr Cuddy took his talking points from one, or both of Mr Ferrara’s written rants, published post election.

i thought it was cuddy via aaron jokes via tony ferrara via kristen fellows? LMFAO

Don’t you just wonder who those “thumbs down” people are? Maybe “they” are reading CCN! They may complain about it’s value, but here they are, reading the stories! Good!

And Mr. Cuddy,

What were the elements of the “dirty ” campaign?

Oh… someone placed a sign in the Cal Trans right of way ( just like Caren Ray, Shelley Higgenbottom, Lynn Compton etc.)

Get over it!

Mr. Cuddly forgot to mention the fatal flaw of Adams and McClish…. The additional glass of wine at Rooster Creek ( this was not the invitation to a City employee) It was a personal out of work inappropriate relationship.

BTW Adams & McClish were the ONLY city staff in attendance.

As well pointed out by the writer….

A City Council person attested to the FACT that the two employees were previously chastised for their inappropriate relationship.!

So the need for the ridiculous “substantive” evidence was unnecessary.

End of Story

Favorite moments of Election 2014…

TF busting in at Chamber luncheon with news he had “taken care of everything”and it was not in any way inappropriate.

The box of green tea prominently used as visual aid by SA on KSBY

The TF description of the “monster of a tree” in Berry Gardens that fell down and the lengthy description of its $196 removal after hours.

The SA resignation letter with the word “undressed” in it!

Lili Tan of KSBY busting out of the back room saying her Pulitzer was gone if she missed Tim Brown’s statement that TF had already “taken care ” of Adams and McClish previously

Dave Congalton calling out the mayor saying he would take him down.

The LA Times reporter sticking around for the entire Council Meeting because “you just can’t make this stuff up,”

TF pity party postmortem published by the Tribune and New Times. Regrets are terrible memories.

CCN and the platform for Pelican, Sad Insider, agag1 and you all. Bravo!

How about you?

Can you add to the list?

Key endorsements from the AGPOA and the Contractor’s Union.

The best is yet to come! Hill takes the lead at the Sanitation District (recently appointed as its chairman).

When TF yelled at the special meeting at 9:00 am “Shut off the video!” as he was trying get Otis Page out of the council chambers.

Free Otis!”

Jim Hill’s campaign story being featured in a half page LA Times article!

The final council meeting prior to the election when more than half the room stood up in support of the AGPOA–leaving few in the room guessing the size of the Jim Hill campaign. I got goose bumps!

The kidney stones, to sick to come to election night party, Weds went to the san dist meeting to collect his $100.00 and Thursday the stones acted back up and he had to go back to the hospital.

The cartoon in the paper showing Tony with dark shadows around his eyes and the caption SOUR GRAPES OF VWRATH

All the phone calls the police got from Kristen Barneich asking for the signs we put up to be removed.

The vandalism to residents vehicles.

But the best of all was the night the votes went in our favor. Thursday night at a local restaurant.

NO matter what anyone says We Won and made history.And we did it because we wanted change, to be listened to from our elected officials and not be bullied.

Tony’s resignation, three days prior to the gavel hand-over ceremony.

Two nasty opinion pieces, (strikingly similar to Mr Cuddy’s) full of inaccuracies, and self pity.

Continuing to blame the police rather than Adams, and the mishandling of the whole mess by Ferrara, the council, and Tim Carmel.

The list of unfortunate steps by Ferrara could get rather lengthy…

Remember when we were prompted by Tony to waive our hands in agreement with speakers rather than clap because clapping was too intimidating????? You just can’t make this stuff up.

And how about that flier with the infamous photos of Costello and Ferrara?


it was good for the cameras…..

Damn. The tree story once and then the tree story again.

Shooing Otis Page out the door.

The pre election lecture at the end of the meetings.

The blonde KSBY a gal who could not find the winning Ferrara on election night and then the next day again she is shunned just like the voters ( he never did thank those that voted for him)

Adams resignation letter

“Caffeine laced green tea”

“Dressed or undressed”

Ferrara after loss

“Well organised propaganda machine”

Lol, I sincerely hope Cuddly is a typo!

No one seems to have much nice to say about the guy, with the exception of slowerfaster, who’s almost always a shoe-in for a pink, or comment hidden due to low rating post.

Do you know who the Dalai Lama purports will save the world? The Western woman.

Ahhh, a very wise man, indeed.

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis, Leann. I would add three points:

(1) This is the same Bob Cuddy of “Swamp Gas” fame from a couple years back. He was wrong about Paso Robles. He is equally wrong about Arroyo Grande.

(2) Mayor Jim Hill called Cuddy at home on Thursday and offered to sit down with him anytime, anywhere, to begin a constructive dialogue and allay any of Cuddy’s concerns. Cuddy begged off the meeting. To me, that speaks volumes.

(3) In terms of Cuddy’s rant about my claiming to be a “former news man,” I would love to know where that came from. I worked briefly for a small newspaper in Indiana and wrote feature articles and columns for the old Telegram-Tribune from 1989 to 1998–so, yes, I was a reporter at one point, but never hard news. I’ve never claimed otherwise on the radio. I would like to think, however, that anyone is entitled to have an opinion about news.

Dave Congalton


Thanks again for featuring Arroyo Grandes’s election so prominently this fall.

Just wondering who really belongs to the sleaze team now…. Tony? Steve?