Steve Adams threatens to sue Arroyo Grande

January 18, 2015
City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish

City Manager Steve Adams and Teresa McClish


Former Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams filed a claim against the city last week threatening a lawsuit if the council does not extend his paid administrative leave for six months. The city will meet in closed session on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. to discuss the threat of litigation.

Following a Sept. 17 Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association vote of no confidence, on Oct. 1 Adams announced his resignation.

“My resignation will become effective once my replacement has been hired and starts work,” Adams says in his letter. “My primary motivation is to serve the best interests of the community I cherish so much.”

Last week, the city hired interim City Manager Robert McFall. Though the city accepted Adams resignation in September, he was able draw full pay until last week when McFall was hired.

Nevertheless, Adams is claiming that his resignation was to take place after a permanent and not an interim city manager was hired. He is demanding six months paid administrative leave along with retirement benefits.

Adams is currently 54-years-old and will turn 55 in late 2015. If the council agrees to extend his paid administrative leave and he utilizes his accrued vacation and sick leave, he could greatly increase his monthly retirement package from the city.

In his resignation letter, Adams also praised former Mayor Tony Ferrara and City Attorney Tim Carmel and chastised those who said there was a cover-up.

On Nov. 19, after reviewing the investigation into the alleged sex scandal., the Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously to place Adams on paid administrative leave where he remained until last week.

During the November meeting, Councilman Tim Brown admitted that Carmel had informed him of a previous inappropriate incident involving Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish, a subordinate employee. Brown’s statement came on the heels of repeated claims by city officials that there was no evidence that Adams and McClish were involved in a romantic relationship, nor was there any proof of a cover-up by Ferrara and the council.

Nevertheless, because the previous council voted to give Adams a verbal reprimand as punishment his late night rendezvous with McClish’s July City Hall, the newly seated council cannot terminate him for cause related to that event.

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  1. Rex Quadrovecchio says:

    The best thing for Arroyo Grande, and the least expensive way to get superlative city management, would be to REHIRE STEVE ADAMS.

    Be honest and ask yourself, what would the the downside of rehiring Mr. Adams? It would sure save taxpayers a heck of a lot of money and do at least something to right the scales of justice.

    (-19) 31 Total Votes - 6 up - 25 down
    • kayaknut says:

      What would be “best” depends on whom you believe and it is clear whom you believe but more voters think otherwise. If you state you believe they were drinking “tea” that tells us all we need to know about you. Good luck.

      (16) 20 Total Votes - 18 up - 2 down
    • agag1 says:

      The downside of hiring Steve Adams would be simply,
      Steve Adams

      He admittedly used bad judgment—let him go.

      (18) 20 Total Votes - 19 up - 1 down
    • surferdude says:

      What rock have you been living under?

      (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
    • ccmom says:

      Say what? You DO know the situation, right?!

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

    Adams claim would entitle him to six months of severance pay including benefits — estimated in November as approximately $105,000.

    Adams earned $157,294 annually. The city paid him $26,553.87 in gross pay from the time the council accepted his resignation and put him on paid administrative leave on Nov. 19 until an interim manager was hired last week, Administrative Services Director Debbie Malicoat said.

    In addition, he was paid $54,219.51 for the annual leave balance he had accrued, which was capped at 725 hours.

    Who implements and enacts these ridiculous contracts? These jobs are high paying prestigious positions with great benefits and perks. This itself is the problem. Remove this kind of velvet lining from future contracts. If an applicant for a position complains that it is a necessary clause in the contract, then keep interviewing applicants who would be grateful for the opportunity. Time to stop this kind of insane waste of my money. As much as I’m appalled at his grab for more money when he himself f–ked up his own career, I’m just as appalled with the lack of oversight when handing out gold lined contracts that always end up badly.

    (26) 26 Total Votes - 26 up - 0 down
    • whatsinaname says:

      Unfortunately, the AG position is considered underpaid when compared to comparable cities. There is not a long line of qualified candidates for this job, let alone those that would also desire to be underpaid (by comparable standards, not mine). The idea that we just keep interviewing people until someone accepts the job is a sure way to get an underqualified or scandalous individual in a key position. You can complain that it is too much money, but it is the going rate, and not a problem with our local government handing out bad contracts.

      (-9) 13 Total Votes - 2 up - 11 down
      • kayaknut says:

        Why not look at it this way, All the other comparable cities are overpaying for the city manager’s position and perhaps A.G. should stick with their salary and just see who applies, easy to state there would be no “qualified” applicants but until you actually look and see the taxpayers will never know.

        (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
        • agag1 says:

          Agreed, time to live within our means.

          (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
        • whatsinaname says:

          I’m not the one stating there would be a lack of qualified applicants. The company that our new city counsel hired to help us find a city manager stated this. I would love to pay less and know we are getting a great person to fill that position. But I live in the real world.

          (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  3. agag1 says:

    Clearly the City of AG and the City Council
    are not being represented very well by Tim Carmel.

    How in the world can we be exposed to even the slightest threat of litigation by Adams
    if Carmel is looking after our best interests
    while he is sitting in on EVERY closed session meeting,
    and charging us who-knows-how-much $$$$ for discussing this matter
    with council members individually?

    What, and why are we paying him?

    If he can’t protect the city from potential litigation when an employee resigns–
    he should resign, or the council should terminate his contract.

    (24) 34 Total Votes - 29 up - 5 down
  4. Kevin Rice says:

    Facebook post:

    Rose Adams
    I’m starting to feel threatened by the online bloggers at CCN…including police personnel…

    Yeah, a “threat” of the money train coming to a half. “Threat” is replacing “racist” as the en vogue means to quash opposition speech when you lack any rational argument. Losing employment because you came to work inebriated isn’t a threat. It’s lack of judgment. Resigning, then wanting severance is lack of judgment.

    (24) 44 Total Votes - 34 up - 10 down
    • agag1 says:

      Sounds like Rose may well be considering her own harassment suit.
      Why should she be left out?
      Perhaps she and McClish can get a twofer deal on an attorney.

      Giving serious consideration to starting up a collection to buy their home,
      maybe then the Adams Family will leave AG,
      and let us get on with it.

      (8) 32 Total Votes - 20 up - 12 down
      • Kevin Rice says:

        It’s just bogus rhetoric thrown out to manufacture a victim card. Previously, there was sympathy toward the family, which is squandered now.

        (12) 28 Total Votes - 20 up - 8 down
        • agag1 says:

          Adults make their own decisions.

          I suspect almost everyone has sympathy for the children involved.

          They did not ask for this.

          (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
  5. Vagabond says:

    If this is the cost of finally getting a honorable and competant local government,then I’d say AG got off cheap. Sadly, the same rules are in place.

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

    I am tickled to announce that tomorrow (Wednesday) I will be guest hosting The Dave Congalton Show, our local Hometown Radio from 5-7pm.

    My guests and topics include: 5-5:30pmFormer Grover Beach Mayor, Debbie Peterson Subject: South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District and her hard hitting OpEd on She will be promoting the SSLOCSD meeting scheduled for 6:00pm Wed. in the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers. The Agenda for the meeting will discuss a forensic audit, ongoing litigation and the performance review of the district’s legal counsel.

    5:30-6:00pm Concerned Arroyo Grande Resident, Vanessa Andrews Subject: Anticipated litigation regarding former Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams. She will be promoting the Special Closed Session AG City Council Meeting on this topic scheduled for Thursday,

    7:00pm. 6-7:00pm Cambria Community Services District Director, Amanda Rice Subject: Cambria’s emergency water plant start up this morning.

    You are invited to tune in at or find the show locally at 920 on your AM dial.

    (9) 21 Total Votes - 15 up - 6 down
  7. surferdude says:

    The Tribune just posted a story on the meeting and the “letter” from Adams wanting 6 months serverence

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
    • Julie says:

      I was told today by staff that there was no letter/claim. Oops! Someone is not in the loop.

      (2) 14 Total Votes - 8 up - 6 down
      • Kevin Rice says:

        Wrong. If Adams is asking for or believes he is entitled to severance, that is a “claim”.

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

          Wouldn’t a “claim” have to be an “official” request for something, likely in writing and submitted according to certain procedures?

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

            Official word from City Hall
            “No separation agreement, no amendment to the employment agreement” A official letter was sent to Adams on Nov 20th telling the outcome of the Nov 19th meeting.

            Jim Guthrie reported out that night very reluctantly. He did not know how to do it.

            No one on the Council was bold enough (or smart enough) to require a negotiated resignation from Adams. Carmel still could not protect the City too busy crying over the blunders of Adams and Mrs. McClish.

            After that farce of a resignation epistle in the Tribune,; the Council was too “emotionally connected” to Adams to do the right thing.

            So, perhaps the NEW COUNCIL can TERMINATE for CAUSE- ” bringing a semi truck full of embarrassment and discredit to the City”

            Tony was supposed to take care of everything. Oh, that’s right. He did not campaign and lost the election.

            Tony and Adams are gone. Carmel and McClish need to go too!

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

              Should not be that hard to terminate Adams for cause given the language in his contract, “conduct unbecoming the position of City Manager or likely to bring discredit or embarrassment to the city”, he certainly has meet this requirement, regardless of what Mr. Carmel thinks.

              (15) 19 Total Votes - 17 up - 2 down
          • Kevin Rice says:

            Kayak: Not really. But in this case we have two letters from Adams’ attorney. That formal enough for y’all? Yup. That’s a “claim” for sure!

            (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
            • kayaknut says:

              But what about Adam’s original “letter of resignation”? Where is that?

              (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  8. doglover says:

    Sad Insider
    How are things going in City Hall?

    (16) 18 Total Votes - 17 up - 1 down

Comments are closed.